When Westminster, Vt., author Michael Daley learned that a publisher was looking for novels to serialize, he crafted a YA race car thriller with cliff-hanger chapter endings to submit. That initial effort has led the author into a self-publishing journey, and an an unlikely partnership with a handful of local, independent booksellers.
Daley's novel Racing the Blue Monarch, written for ages 12 and up, tells the story of a 16-year-old boy who has to drive a solar-powered race car to victory to save the world from global warming. But, when he went to submit the work to the publisher that had fielded the request, he found the company had disappeared.
So Daley, who has written several other children’s books, including the newly released board book Beach Socks (Star Bright) and the Pinch and Dash series (Charlesbridge), decided to publish the racing car novel himself. He was comfortable with self-publishing after launching his career in 1995 by self-publishing his first book, At Home with the Sun.
But rather than publish his new novel as a print book or a straight e-book, Daley decided to serialize it himself as a PDF and send it out over six weeks via e-mail, starting July 1. At the same time, he wanted to work with local bookstores, who had long supported his career, and who continue to act as a place for book discovery.
“The mantra for self-publishing is ‘go online.’ And I was doing that with disappointing results,” said Daley, who has posted information about the book along with sample chapters on his website. “The fact is, it’s hard to get noticed when no one is looking. That’s when it dawned on me—people are browsing bookstores.”
Seven Vermont bookstores, including Phoenix Books in Burlington and Misty Valley Books in Chester, have agreed to make the first two chapters available in their stores, and to sell all six installments for $5.
“He’s my customer. I hope it works out for him. I have it in my window,” said Pat Fowler, co-owner of Village Square Books in Bellows Falls.
Daley is offering bookstores a 40% discount for each serial e-book, the same as for print books.