Thursday, January 10, 2013

How the Return of NHL Hockey has Helped My Book Sales

Back in 2009 during NaNoWriMo, I furiously typed up the first draft of my very first novel. The main character was a lot like me - in her thirties, from Boston, and a rabid sports fan. Growing up in Boston it’s almost impossible to avoid being a fan of at least one sport. As a kid I fell in love with three major league sports - football, baseball and of course hockey.

When I started writing Ripple the Twine I knew Sara Quinn would be a freelance Sportswriter and I needed to give her a sport she could cheer for in a meaningful way. In the late 90's I'd stepped away from my love of hockey for other sports. The Bruins weren't very good (Note: this is not a deal breaker for a Bostonian as we are not fair-weather fans, can someone say rabid fan love and no World Series win in almost 100 years? Exactly.) Something just drew me to other sports.

I was heavy into NFL football at the time and following the Patriots (perfect example of a team New England loved but one that still constantly let us down in the 90’s). But I wanted a challenge, something I could research, so I decided to pen her as a Bruins fan. While writing her character my love for this fast-paced, heart-pumping sport was revived (with vigor!) and I found myself at countless games with my Aunt, watching almost every other one on television and out buying myself team merch.

The team was working hard and lots of trades happened that really solidified the power of the team. I worked on editing my book in late 2009 through early 2010 and started shopping it to Agents in late spring of that year. Sadly many a form rejection graced my mailbox.

If only all of us had the foresight to know what was to come over the course of the next year!

I kept querying the book and I tried to tie into the major hockey vein running through the main character's life not to mention her love of the Bruins. Especially since the team was starting to get good. Starting to get really good.

In December of 2010 I told my Aunt I knew they were going to win the Cup that season. Don’t ask me how I knew, there was just something about the team, something surrounding them that hadn’t been there before and all the pieces seemed to be falling into place. Unfortunately I must not have been a very good query writer because I continued to face rejection after rejection.

A stark contrast to the Bruins who just kept winning, kept pushing forward and advancing further and further.

After years of being shut down in the first or second round of playoffs the Bruins took the Eastern Conference title in May of 2011. My Aunt and I were at game 4 when they shut out the Flyers, a night I will never forget as long as I live. They won the next series as well and for the first time in my lifetime the team advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals.

On June 15, 2011 the Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. I was 38. My novel was only 1-1/2. And though we partied at the rolling rally parade I knew I’d missed my window for a major tie-in that could have propelled book sales for a publishing house and for me.

Then we moved from Massachusetts to Phoenix and I put the book in a drawer because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it anymore.

I was frustrated and had moved on to a new manuscript. I’d moved on to other endeavors. I ordered Center Ice and watched as many Bruins games as I could get my eyes on living in the desert. My Aunt even came to visit and timed her trip so we could see the Bruins take on the Coyotes at Arena. My fingers furiously pounded on the keyboard as I blogged constantly or worked on other fiction pieces.

Then I joined the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers and something inside just clicked. I pulled Ripple the Twine back out of the drawer and ran it through two more rounds of edits. I worked on the book non-stop. I hired my mom to shoot and format my cover art. I opened my own publishing house, Writesy Press, in January of 2012. I formatted the pages, found a print on demand publisher I felt comfortable with and said screw Agents and big houses, I’m doing this on my own!

On April 20, 2012 I self-published Ripple the Twine. My excitement for the book couldn’t be equaled. The day I’d gotten my first proof in the mail – a paperback book that I wrote with my name on the cover – I literally danced around my apartment for at least an hour. I told my husband he was taking the sofa that night – my book deserved his half of the bed.

The book did really well in its first few months selling numerous copies to friends and family and even some people I didn’t know. An old friend had even suggested to her husband to pick up a copy for his library in Newton, MA and he did. I considered querying it again but there was no time. I was on to writing and editing my second book!

In early fall sales for Ripple fell off completely. Surprisingly so did the NHL as the players and mucky-mucks couldn’t come to terms on salary and the sport entered a lockout. So I kept at work on my new novella, Reckless Abandon. I was nuts - editing seven days a week so I could have it released in fall as an eBook and then in print just in time for Christmas.

An unexpected health issue arose in November and though the eBook was released to rave reviews (thank you!), the print version was going to have to wait. I finally got that going at the end of the year and released it in early January, 2013. But then I thought back to how simple it was to publish an eBook on Amazon and decided it was high time to format Ripple for e-Readers everywhere.

I completed the formatting on January 4, 2013. Now I’m not saying that my book is responsible for anything in the world of hockey but after the Stanley Cup win and start of the lockout I think it’s only fair to point out that the lockout came to a conclusion on January 6, 2013.


Now as NHL hockey comes back and the premiere of a new show all about a South Boston family come barreling into the mainstream (Southie Rules, A&E January 29 – Can. Not. Wait!) I can’t help but send my love to the Tomboys and Townies back in my hometown. The Google searches and revived interest in our somewhat rough and tumbled Boston culture have spawned new interest and new life in my self-published first title.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go check the B’s schedule, we only get 48 games this season and I intend to watch as many as I can.


JudisJems said...

I love the way your mind works and how you pulled all of this together.
Best wishes for the ebook sales! It is a great read!
Love you, Mum

Sue FitzPatrick said...

I'm sure your ebook readers will be excited to see this in that format. Here's to soaring sales and B's next Stanley Cup run!

Alice said...

Well, kudos to you on all fronts! I only wished you could have done it sooner so there could have been another HBO 24/7 on the Road to the Winter Classic. Maybe next year. I hope you get all your health stuff figured out soon and can enjoy the rest of the year.

Launna said...

That is awesome Jenn, I have to tell you when I first found your blog I loved your excitement for your book, I was SO excited when I won a copy... I am looking forward to eventually reading your second book too. I love the way you write in your books and your blog :)

I hope you feel better soon!

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Thanks Mum! Fingers crossed for a good winter sales market :-) xoxo

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

And let's hope both of those things happen the first half of 2013! xoxo

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Thanks Alice! Sorry had I but known this was all it took I'd have done this conversion back in August so we could've avoided the lockout completely. Dare to dream...

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

I was so excited when you won a copy too! It was really great to be able to send it out to someone I knew was excited to check it out. Thanks my friend, one day at a time right now!

Almost Precious said...

Funny how life happens. When something is meant to be - well it just is and nothing can stop it. Someday there are going to be a number of agents and publishing houses that will be thinking, "Damn, we turned down Jenn Flynn-Shon's manuscript "Ripple the Twine". What the hell were we thinking?" Of course I'm sure literary agents have had that happen before so it will seem like déjà vu for them. :D