Celebrating with Amanda Brice: Release of Her Debut Novel!

Amanda Brice writes young adult romantic mysteries set in the dance world. Codename: Dancer, a 2009 Golden Heart finalist, was released today as an e-book and will be released in print on May 21, 2011.

Amanda lives outside of Washington, DC in Northern Virginia with her husband and toddler daughter. When she’s not writing, she works as an intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency. Amanda holds degrees from Duke University, Arizona State University, and George Washington University.

In her spare time, Amanda enjoys dancing, reading, cooking, traveling, and obsessing over whether Duke will beat Carolina in basketball. Go Devils!


Amanda, can you believe three years have passed since we received the news that we were Golden Heart finalists and became members of the awesome group known as the Pixie Chicks? Some exciting things have happened in your world, including the birth of your princess. How do you juggle motherhood and writing?

Basically, I don’t sleep! I am so in awe of people like Gemma Halliday, who had her baby only two months before I did, yet she’s written way more words in the past year than I have. But that’s okay. We all take different paths, and she’s incredibly hard-working and prolific.

I took a long “maternity leave” from writing. I actually went back to my day job as an attorney four months after my daughter was born, but it took a full year before I was ready to start writing again. I’m not exactly certain what it was, but I wasn’t ready before then. But then sometime after Christmas, I just felt this weird pull to write. I had a story that was screaming to be told, so I sat down and the words started flowing.

I still haven’t figured out the perfect balance of writing, work, and motherhood, but I’m trying. Every day I do a little more. Fortunately my job is flexible enough that I just need to work 80 hours every two weeks (they don’t really care when as long as the bulk of the hours are during regular business hours), so I’ve found that if I can frontload those hours, then I’ll have a full day off every week to stay home and write.

You’ve taken a big step recently. You’re one of the many brave souls venturing into self-publishing. I rarely interview self-published authors, but I’m eager to hear why you, a Golden Heart finalist and talented writer, ceased your pursuit of a contract from a traditional publisher and decided to go it on your own. What led to your decision?

Well, I haven’t actually ceased pursuit of a traditional contract. For this particular book, yes, but unlike many indies, I continue to love New York and aim for a traditional publishing experience with future (unrelated) books.

That being said, a New York contract just wasn’t in the cards for Codename: Dancer. This book was my second Golden Heart finalist (in 2009, making me part of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, in addition to being a fabulous Pixie!), and received tons of excellent feedback when it made the submission rounds. Editors at several houses raved about the writing, the voice, the characters, the premise…and it made it to final acquisitions meetings at a couple of houses, but ultimately they passed.

Despite editors who loved it, marketing didn’t know where to place it. The Young Adult imprints all said it was Middle Grade, and the MG imprints all said it was YA. In reality, it’s both. And neither. And that was completely intentional. There’s a large segment of kids out there who are ready for something more substantial than what you find in a Middle Grade book, but aren’t quite ready for the more mature emotional themes of older YA. I’d actually written Codename with these girls in mind, but it ultimately made it a very hard sell.

New York called it “niche,” but that’s the beauty of indie publishing. Doing it on my own, I can afford to take risks. Sure, I invested in a freelance editor, a cover artist, and a freelance formatter, so it certainly wasn’t free, but I’ve always spent money (organization fees, chapter fees, conferences, workshops, postage, etc.) on my pursuit of publication. This is merely another cost of the journey. The manuscript wasn’t doing anything for me while wasting space on my hard drive, so I decided to roll the dice and see if I could find it a readership on my own. Get it out there in the world and let readers decide whether it has any merit.

Six months ago, if you’d told me I would self-publish, I probably would have laughed at you. Actually, not probably. I definitely would have. But then a funny thing happened this Christmas. It’s estimated that somewhere between 5 million and 8 million Kindles were sold in 2010 alone. That’s certainly not insignificant. And my target audience is used to doing everything online or on their phones as it is, so the concept of e-books just makes sense to teens and tweens. (Possibly even more than reading print books, as sad as that may be to you or me.) Suddenly the pioneering self-published authors were finding a readership and it because a viable career choice.

So given the choice of leaving Codename to languish on my hard drive or seeing what it could do for me on my own, I decided to take the risk. And I’m having a blast already!

What have been the biggest surprises as you prepared your first book for publication? The biggest challenges? The biggest rewards?

I was very pleasantly surprised at how supportive people have been. I attended a party a few weeks back hosted by one of the biggest names in romance fiction. And as always happens, everyone was asking one another about their writing. I mentioned that I’d decided to self-publish, and braced myself for the inevitable polite-but-sympathetic “that’s nice, dear” responses. Only they didn’t come. Everyone was legitimately interested, and asked me all about the process. Our hostess herself even indicated that she thought it was a smart move and commended me on taking control of my career. Seriously, jaw on the floor.

Obviously I have no idea how this venture will do for me, but I’m already finding it very empowering to be on my own boss. Obviously I’ve hired freelancers to edit, do my cover, and format the book, but ultimately I have total control. Of course, that means I’ll sink or swim all on my own, too. LOL

Please tell us a little about Codename: Dancer.

Aspiring ballerina Dani Spevak is thrilled when hit TV show Teen Celebrity Dance Off comes to the campus of her performing arts boarding school. She trades the barre for the ballroom and gets set to cha-cha-cha to stardom with Hollywood wonderboy Nick Galliano.

At first their partnership is awkward, because Dani is in awe of her longtime teen idol crush. But soon their chemistry is heating up the dance floor and the attraction moves into real life. Could he actually like her?

Her excitement is short-lived, because someone wants her off the show. Bombs, poisoning, arson… Will Dani’s 15 minutes of fame be over before she reaches age 15? Dani and her friends are suddenly at the center of some serious sabotage. And if she doesn’t find out who is behind it, her next pirouette could be her last.

It’s like ‘Nancy Drew in toe shoes’ in this light-hearted tween mystery, a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® Award for Best Young Adult Romance.

Questions for Amanda

Amanda, it’s been wonderful having you here to share your exciting news with us. Congratulations again on your debut novel.

I invite your visitors to ask you any questions they have about your venture into self-publishing or your debut novel. And, of course, feel free to help Amanda celebrate her new venture.

Amanda’s Drawing

Amanda has generously offered to give away and e-book copy of Codename: Dancer.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Amanda by April 27th and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. On April 28th I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well and will contact her/him via email.

Congratulations to Christie Craig, winner of Amanda’s book.

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

Learn More About Amanda

Visit her website ~ www.amandabrice.net

Visit her group blogs ~

The Fictionistas, Killer Fiction, and The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood.

Friend her on Facebook ~ Amanda Brice

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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37 Responses to Celebrating with Amanda Brice: Release of Her Debut Novel!

  1. How exciting, Amanda! You are so right, there are middle school children out there who are advanced enough to need more than what is offered to their age, but not quite ready for the more mature reads of YA. My daughter is one of them. I cannot read fast enought to keep up with her reading demands, but I’m so nervous to give her free reign of any YA book out there w/o a little pre-screening.

  2. Amanda Brice says:

    Thanks, Heather! Yes, that’s exactly my target audience. I really feel like there’s a void in publishing. Sure, there are some books that fit into this niche, but nowhere near enough. At least not for the voracious readers like your daughter or my niece. My niece has sort of solved this problem by loading up on the classics — which is great! — but I know she longs for a more contemporary read.

  3. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Amanda, and Happy Release Day! It’s great to have you here to celebrate your new venture.

    Your story sounds great, the kind my daughter would have devoured when she was younger. She’s twenty now and goes swing dancing with her college fellowship group as often as she’s able.

    • Amanda Brice says:

      Swing dancing is so much fun! I wish I had time to go, but alas motherhood keeps me super busy these days.

      Thanks so much for having me here today, Keli!

  4. This sounds fantastic. Can’t wait to read it.

    CC

  5. Jana DeLeon says:

    Congratulations, Amanda! The book sounds great and I wish you many, many sales!

  6. C.J. Redwine says:

    Love the Nancy Drew in toe shoes aspect! I was an avid Nancy Drew girl myself. 🙂 I can’t wait to see this book find an audience. It sounds amazing. 🙂 Congrats!

    • Amanda Brice says:

      Thanks! I’d been using “Veronica Mars meeting Dancing with the Stars” as the elevator pitch until I realized it’s been a while since Veronica Mars was on TV, so people probably didn’t get the reference anymore. So I needed something catchy and an author who’d read an earlier draft said “well, your heroine is basically Nancy Drew in toe shoes” and I knew we’d hit on a winner!

  7. Amy Atwell says:

    Nancy Drew in toe shoes–I love that description. Congratulations on your debut as an author and as a mommy. I know you’ll be super at both!

  8. Amanada, I am so happy to find you here in the good company of Keli and sharing your great news. So much has already been said, so I will add to the chorus with hail and hearty success. Look forward to hearing more about you and your work in the future 🙂

  9. Rita Garcia says:

    Fantastic interview! Look forward to reading, Codename: Dancer.
    Wishing you great success!

  10. LoRee Peery says:

    This sounds like a book for one of my granddaughters. (After I read it, of course.)
    I’m interested in the self-pub aspect. Did you hire an editor for a good look, or rely on critique comments?

    • Amanda Brice says:

      I did hire an editor. She offers different levels of review, and I told her to really go at it with the red pen (er, Comments feature in Microsoft Word) and not hold back.

      The book had actually gone through editorial feedback and revisions back when my former editor was submitting it for me, so it turned out that there wasn’t much needed in terms of substantive/content editing, because it had benefitted from many sets of eyes before it ever got to the freelance editor. So probably 90% of the comments were closer to copy editing.

  11. Great interview! Amanda, you are so likeable and fun, I’m sure your books are, too! I have downloaded Codename Dancer, now I just need to set a few hours aside! Will do that soon!

    It’s certainly not easy to write with young children. Being a new mother is tough! I’m so glad you got back to writing.

    I, too, have not completely given up being published with a NY publisher. Not by a long shot. But, for now, testing out the e-pub waters is a lot of fun and a great change of pace! Lots of luck with all of your books, Amanda! Congratulations!

  12. Susan Mason says:

    Congrats on taking the plunge, Amanda! You are boldly going where no writer (well, not quite – but you get the idea!) Paving the way for the rest of us!

    Wishing you much success on your release and many, many sales. If your books catch on like Nancy Drew did, you’ll be living the high life! Total Nancy Drew fan!!

    Cheers,
    Sue

  13. Congratulations, Amanda. I’m actually in awe of all you do. And yet you plan to “do more!” Really appreciate all the self-pub tips.
    Hoping to read Codename Dancer this weekend. I have so many YA books on my Kindle, my daughter is constantly nabbing it. Yay for your first release and wishing you wonderful numbers on that dashboard!!

  14. Rachel Grant says:

    Amanda, I’m so pleased you decided to put Codename out there. My daughter is exactly your target audience and her demographic is so ignored. She devoured Codename in a few hours and is already anxiously awaiting the sequel!

  15. Congrats, Amanda! The story sounds interesting. I’m shopping around a YA novel that has a fifteen year old girl and a mystery at its center, so I hope we find similar success!

  16. Tatia Talbot says:

    Amanda,

    This is so exciting! And you’re right about the niche market. There’s even less out there for boys. I thought I could lure my oldest into reading more and picked up a few YA titles at the library, only to discover that they had more spice than some of my own hottest reads!

    I hope to see Codename: Dancer go viral, and will be watching for you to climb the charts at Amazon!

    Hugs,
    Tatia

  17. Rebecca Booth says:

    I love DANCING and Dancing Shows and am a Nancy Drew fan. I would love to read Codename: Dancer.

  18. Good interview, gals. It’s interesting to hear Amanda’s motivation for self-publishing this particular book. I have granddaughters of different ages, most with iPhones, but none with true eReaders. They’re texting all the time, but none of them seems interested in reading e-books, despite being avid readers. So my question for Amanda would be what proportion of your sales do you anticipate will be electronic compared to ink-and-paper copies?

  19. Amanda Brice says:

    That’s an excellent question, Carol, and I honestly have no idea! I do know that several people have indicated that they’ll be waiting until it’s available in print before buying a copy, but I also know plenty of tweens and teens who love to read on their iPhones or steal their parents’ Kindles or Nooks. So I really have no idea! I do anticipate that more e-books will be sold than print, just because of the cost differential ($2.99 vs. $6.99) but lots of people won’t read e-books. It’ll be interesting to see!

  20. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by to read about Amanda’s new venture and to those who left a comment for her.

    I’ve held the drawing for an e-book copy of Codename: Dancer, and the winner is Christie Craig.

    Congratulations, Christie! I’ll be in touch.

  21. Amanda Brice says:

    Thanks again to Keli for having me on the blog. And thanks to everyone for their great questions.

    Just wanted to update and say that the paperback is now available!
    http://www.amazon.com/Codename-Dancer-Dani-Spevak-Mystery/dp/1461184010/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

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