The saying goes,
“What a difference a year makes.”
As I look back on the last year since my first novel The Winning Ingredient was published, the above statement couldn’t be more accurate. These last 365 days have been a roller coaster of ups and downs, sometimes happening in a wave of just minutes or hours. But, in the end, I’m proud to be celebrating so many things, including the publication of three (almost four) books, a thriving imprint, a brand that is resonating with readers, and author signings and events that connect me with that reading community.
Here are the WINNING highlights:
1. First Book Launch – The Winning Ingredient
After leaving my publisher in mid-2021, I quickly took control, changed directions, and decided to publish my debut novel myself, with a release date of September 22nd (the first day of autumn). It was the perfect choice for my fall baking/football novel. Once I made that decision, it was sleepless nights and learning A LOT in only a few months. While I had several initial snafus, including an issue with my preorder printer, I was so proud of the final product. And the icing on the cake was knowing that my book was well-received, including amazing reviews and top rankings in several Amazon categories.
SWIPE --> FOR LAST SLIDE
There has been so much love for my story about a hardworking Italian American teen, who will stop at nothing to save her family’s legacy. It’s sports, delicious baked goods, a little romance, lots of patriotism and friendship, plus a gorgeous cover illustrated by Michael Borkowski. And, while The Winning Ingredient is a sweet story, packed with "giggle-worthy lines," it also tackles tough subjects like grief and forgiveness. For so long, I thought Mia and Bryce’s story was complete, preferring to leave their future up to the imaginations of my readers. But recently, I’ve had a change of heart. With my new holiday novella, Mistletoe and Pandoro, we return to the DeSalvo Bakery, throwing perfect spirals in the snow and tasting scrumptious gingerbread biscotti. Cover reveal for the novella will be in early November before its digital-only release prior to Christmas season!
2. The Founding of Link Press
I decide to pen my first young adult novel simply because I loved writing. It was an experiment of sorts, to see if I could even accomplish that goal. And after completing one manuscript, I was hooked. But my stories were (and will continue to be) inspired by the amazing series books I read as a kid and teen. When I realized these books had almost disappeared off bookstore and library shelves (replaced by much more adult stories), I knew I had a mission. My imprint, Link Press, was born. Its slogan:
“Bridging the Gap between MG & YA fiction, one story at a time.”
My goal for Link Press was straightforward: to bring age-appropriate books back into the hands of tweens and teens. Akin to its logo of two stacks of books linked to one another, Link Press books bridge that often-forgotten gap between middle school and high school (middle grade and young adult), when kids need reading the most. Parents, teachers, and librarians can be confident that Link Press stories are always appropriate for at least ages 10 and up, including advanced readers.
Starting your own imprint, like any business, is not easy. And I say that as an attorney who specializes in start-ups and small businesses! There are the yawn-inducing, fine print, paperwork items that must be attended to, as well as the creative aspect of marketing not just my books but also my own imprint’s brand. But when I hear how the mission statement resonates with readers, it makes it all worth it.
**Learn more about Link Press and its mission here: authorklswantaylor.wixsite.com/home/link-press
3. The Link Press Ambassador Program
With reader enthusiasm high, a few months ago I started the Link Press Ambassador Program. This is a select group of readers, writers, bookstagrammars, bloggers, and book lovers, who are passionate about promoting Link Press’ books and mission. Currently, selection is done by invitation or referral only. This fantastic group has helped spread the word about my books and is constantly brainstorming new ways to get my stories into eager, young hands.
4. Active Memberships in ALLi and ARIA
I’ve gotten to know so many incredible authors over the past couple of years. Honestly, they are the most hardworking individuals on the planet (especially the indie ones). And I say that as someone who was PreMed, went to law school and passed the bar, and worked as a business attorney in Boston for many years. An author's job is unequivocally 24-7. On the days where I find myself on Hour 16 of editing with blurry eyes and barely able to think straight, I know I am not alone. It’s definitely a labor of love.
Sometimes, the job of an author can seem lonely as you huddle alone over your keyboard. And it helps to have the support of others who understand your plight. I’ve found that through many author groups, including the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA). In the process, I’ve gained knowledge about the industry, bonded with those confronting the same creative and business issues, and am invited to participated in new experiences and author events that bring my stories to more readers.
**Visit my ARIA author page here: riauthors.org/authors/
5. Books in Brick-and-Mortar Stores and Libraries
While I love having my books on infinite online sites and stores and highlighted in an online book tour, there is nothing like seeing your book sitting on a physical shelf in a brick-and-mortar bookstore. Syracuse University gave me that spine-tingling experience only a couple of weeks after my first book launch, during my first ever book signing. Since, I’ve had fun finding my books on local bookstore and school library shelves. I’m fortunate to live in an area where indie bookstores are aplenty and highly coveted. And I love supporting them. In 2023, this will be a major focus for Link Press.
6. Donations to LFLs and Schools
Link Press has been thrilled to donate both books and book swag (bookmarks, stickers, postcards, etc.) to local schools and little free libraries all over the United States. I look forward to expanding Link Press' donation program, including to children of armed forces servicemembers and veterans.
7. Signings and Author Events
Being a published author means connecting with readers. The best way to accomplish that is through events where you meet those readers! Many thanks to Karen at my alma mater Syracuse University, for supporting my debut novel and organizing an incredible first book signing. I couldn’t have picked a better place for the experience than with my Forever Orange family.
With so many Link Press books coming out in 2022, I was swamped and found it difficult to find time to schedule author events. Once I discovered ARIA, it has been invaluable on that front. After only a few weeks as a member, I started out strong with my first ever reading at Lively Literati, in quaint East Greenwich, Rhode Island. I was alongside fellow ARIA, YA author, Angelina Singer as we took the mic under a blazing spotlight. Then, I was beyond grateful to be selected to represent ARIA at The Big E (the massive Eastern States Exhibition) on September 25th. I have no idea what a 13-hour book event surrounded by 100,000 people will be like, but I’m about to find out! Finally, after seeing a large billboard advertising the Rhode Island Author Expo last year, I am so excited to be participating this year! My placement is in the main ballroom, and it will be blinged-out with a holiday-themed Link Press table. I may also participate in an author panel, so stayed tuned for more information.
8. MORE BOOKS!
Perhaps my proudest accomplishment this year was the publication of four novels, including three books in my sleuthy upper middle grade mystery series, The Wright Detective. I’ve been blown away by how much readers have enjoyed these books, calling them both nostalgic and a modern. I personally like to describe the series as Nancy Drew meets The Baby-sitters Club. Book 3 of the series, A Haunting in Greeneville, is a spooky caper that will be released just before Halloween. I always say each book and each cover becomes my new favorite and am thrilled that so many readers seem to agree!
But I'll never forget that it all started with:
a patriotic story of unwavering friendship through loss and triumph.
Embracing the past. Looking Forward to the Future:
With such an incredibly full first year, what does this mean for the future of Link Press and me as an author? Well, a bit of rest, honestly. But just from the constant stream of publishing new stories. In 2023, I will be releasing only two novels. These will include Book 4 in The Wright Detective series: A Charming Mystery, in tandem with Valentine’s Day, as well as my chilling, winter/ice hockey-themed YA thriller in late fall. Also, I’ll be announcing a new venture for Link Press with the release information of my thriller, but I am so excited to explore a new genre. Finally, I hope fewer releases will mean more time for building my brand, marketing my books, and (most importantly) WRITING – my favorite part! Thanks for joining me on this journey!
Here's to a relaxing, exciting, and bookish 2023 . . .