If you told me a year ago that I would eventually play a part in publishing a book, particularly a book that is the best I have ever read by an author that has sold thousands of books and recognized by national icons, I would have laughed at you. Yes, I never thought I would go down this road until I went to my aunt, Eva McCall, and said I wanted to do it. I guess I can now say “never say never.”
A year has passed, and so many things have happened with the production and release of Eva’s new novel, “Murder on Haint Branch.” This is all Eva’s baby, but since working on it with her, I have felt like it’s my baby too. This has been months of hard work. And there were even times that Eva and I didn’t think it was going to work out.
It was Eva’s birthday when the idea hit me. We had all the family and all of the Carpenter sisters at my grandma’s house. Every time I saw Eva at times past, I would ask how the publishing of the book was going. And she would say that no one had picked it up and was waiting for something to happen. I told her that if she was willing to invest some money and time, I would be willing to invest my time and previous experience toward the project. I don’t think I had her sold on the idea at the time, but she said she would look into it and would send me the manuscript for me to read.
It only took me three days to read the book. And when I put it down, I stepped back and said, “Woah.” The plot and the characters were all so well done, and were so rich in Appalachian history. You know it’s a good book when you ponder about it all day. As soon as I could, I called Eva and said, “You have to publish this!”
That’s what started our journey. Eva still wasn’t convinced it was good enough to be published, or that we could do it. But she did send it to Barbara McRae from The Franklin Press, and asked for her thoughts. After a week or two, Barbara too said that it was good and we should pursue the project. That’s what made Eva realize we needed to do it. Eva felt that Barbara would also be good to edit the book and format it. So as Barbara began the long process, Eva and I focused on other aspects of the book.
Those aspects included finding a printer and a cover. Henry Fichner offered to do the cover, so that was easy. Finding a printer, however, was a different story. Because we were doing it ourselves, we quickly found out why authors don’t get much money when they are with a publisher. No matter who we went with, printing was going to be expensive. We wanted to keep the printing process local, but wasn’t able to because the book was going to have to be published in the thousands before each individual book would be cheap enough.
Months later, when Barbara had the editing completed, we still did not have a printer. At the same time, we were pursuing a lead that would possibly get a quote from Dolly Parton on the back of the book. But it all came together when we had the final version of Barbara’s editing, Henry’s finished cover, Dolly’s letter, and the final decision with a printer. We submitted our final product to Book Patch, an online printer stationed out of Arizona.
Nothing can describe the feeling I felt when the first printed copies arrived. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, and months of hard work paying off. These three books were in no way perfect (I have one of the three, and I have hidden it very good. It’ll be worth something one day!), but it showed us what we needed to do to make it perfect and have it ready for mass printing.
April 1, 2013 was the day that people were able to purchase the book in stores. Now that I think about it, we should have done a midnight release like they did with the Harry Potter series (I will make sure to do this with the next book!). I think we had planned on doing a release party with close friends and family, but wasn’t able to work it in our schedules. I was so excited to hear that people were finally buying the book and reading it. And while the journey of getting the book published was over, the next journey, selling the book, began.
Since the release, Eva and I have sold lots of books, and learned new things in the process. Our first book signing at Books Unlimited was a big success, and the signings following were also successful. In May, the book was published in eBook format, which was another brand new experience for me. And it has given me experience in advertising and social media, which is working well for my college major.
I can’t believe it has already been a year since we started the project. I also can’t believe it has already been six months since the book has been available to readers. It’s true what they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” This experience with Eva has certainly been loads of fun, and I have told her to call me up when she is ready to start the next book. I’m expecting to get that call very soon.
The fans of Eva and my family have all been so supportive and have given great reviews for the book. None of this could have been done without you cheering us on. And of course, this couldn’t be done without the mind behind the story. Thank you, Eva, for giving me something to be passionate about and to be proud of.
On to our next journey…
You can now purchase Murder on Haint Branch here.