Despite attracting 13 million readers to her serialized novel, Life’s a Witch, on the online writing community of Wattpad, aspiring young adult novelist Brittany Geragotelis decided rather than seek a conventional publisher, she would do the job herself. Geragotelis is publishing the book in print and e-book formats through Amazon CreateSpace and launching the book this week with a party in Manhattan.
In a phone interview, Geragotelis told PW that she’s written six unpublished YA novels (Life’s a Witch is her seventh novel). About six years ago she had an agent and came close to being published in the conventional manner. “My agent came close to a deal with Harper Children’s,” said Geragotellis, who is the managing editor of American Cheerleader magazine when she’s not penning YA novels, “but it didn’t happen and my agent eventually dropped me.”
But like a lot of aspiring writers these days, Geragotelis just kept on writing and eventually found Wattpad, an online writing community aimed at producing content for mobile devices that allows writers to post work and get feedback and develop a following.
Rather than just post her older works, Geragotelis decided to start a new novel just for the Wattpad community. She describes the reception she’s received as overwhelming. Geragotellis said, “I went from getting rejections from agents and publishers to finding an audience that loves my book!” Indeed, Geragotellis said the book, which can still be read on the Wattpad site, continues to gain as many a million readers every week and half.
Nina Lassam, Wattpad director of marketing and publisher relations, called Life's a Witch "one of the most successful books on Wattpad."
It seems as though any publisher would be interested in a book with millions of readers, but Geragotelis said she decided to self-publish because of the enthusiasm and support from her readers on Wattpad. “The Wattpad community is very supportive and my fans really love the book and want to support it,” she said. “Once I saw the reception I was getting, I did take the book to a small publisher but I finally decided to do it myself,” Geragotelis said. “My fans want to be a part of the book’s process and they kept asking when they could buy a copy. They become champions for the book. I’m the same way when I read something I like, I want something tangible.”
Geragotelis’s writing is aimed at teenage girls. “I work at American Cheerleader magazine so I interact with teens on a regular basis. I also write book reviews and do celebrity interviews for the magazine.” She said her other novels are varied and she’s interested in “celebrity as well as supernatural genres. I like sassiness. My books are geared to young women but a lot of adults are reading Life’s a Witch.”
Life’s a Witch is a work of supernatural fiction, based on the Salem Witch Trials. “It’s a reimagining of the Salem Witch Trials in modern times,” said Geragotelis, who said the main character of the novel, Hadley Bishop, is a high school girl who is a descendant of Bridget Bishop, one of the actual women executed during the Salem trials. In the novel, the women are part of a long line of actual witches and the book details Hadley’s struggles against a supernatural enemy while also dealing with the usual social and personal problems of a high school teenage girl.
Geragotelis said that after considering using Lulu.com to publish the book, she settled on Amazon’s CreateSpace, citing the ease of using the service, its lack of upfront costs and international distribution. “Amazon was better for me,” she said. And like most self-publishers these days, she has a blog (Brittany the Book Slayer), she’s active on Facebook, there’s a book trailer for Life’s a Witch, and she also uses YouTube to talk about her writing. She teamed up with American Cheerleader 's art director to design the eye-catching cover of the book.
She’s launching Life’s a Witch at a party in Manhattan this week and she’s started serializing a new novel on Wattpad called Fate Unloaded, about a 15-year-old high school sophomore, and "fate and free will and how the little decisions we make can change our lives." Geragotelis said she’s not looking for a traditional publisher right now. “I used to think the old-school way of publishing was the only way. But once I opened my mind to other ways of publishing, I just wanted to get the book out there. Plus, I like the control!"
Acknowledging some of the downside of self-publishing, Geragotelis said, “I get a bigger cut of the profits but it takes a lot of time. I write at night and I respond to everyone who comments about the book on Wattpad,” she said, citing the importance of establishing a relationship with fans. “I’d love this to be my career but we’ll have to wait and see.”