When local author Tammara Webber (’05) released her latest novel, Easy, she hoped it would get noticed among the thousands of e-books available online these days. She never expected it to land on the New York Times’ bestseller list – at least not so soon.
Though the book debuted in May, the online buzz started months before when Webber posted a picture of the cover and short synopsis of the story on Goodreads.com. By the time the publishing date rolled around, more than 2,500 people on the site had tagged Easy to their shelves and were eager to read it.
“The reaction on Goodreads was kind of insane,” Webber said. “I didn’t know what all these people were expecting but I hope they like it.”
As popularity for the e-book grew among bloggers and young adult readers, Easy landed on the Times’ list and snagged national exposure – a feat few authors could pull off with zero advertising or marketing.
“I don’t like promoting or pushing my books,” Webber said. “It’s just word of mouth. [The novel] is doing really well.”
There’s old writing tip that goes “write what you know.” For Webber, setting her young adult novel in a college setting was a no-brainer: the longtime University of Texas at Arlington employee earned her English degree a few years ago and earlier this year left her advising job in the Department of History to write full time. Her husband, Paul Webber, is an adjunct professor in the Department of Finance, her daughter graduated from the university last month, and her youngest son will enroll here in the fall.
Webber said the novel’s college setting is rare in YA fiction; most industry experts tell writers to either focus on characters in high school or in their mid-20s.
“Publishers don’t think it will sell,” Webber said. “I always wanted to write about college students. I spent a lot of time on a college campus. I’m normally a shy person, so I spent a lot of time observing others around me.”
Easy focuses on two college students whose lives intersect during a traumatic event, bringing the possibility of love and healing to them both. Webber said the novel is more mature than most of the YA fiction on the market, which might explain the novel’s popularity. The Fort Worth author has also self-published three other novels in the past year: Between the Lines, Where You Are and Good for You are part of a trilogy.
As news reports reveal e-books currently make up half today’s publishing revenue, Webber said she is content writing and self-publishing her work. She said while Easy is a stand-alone novel, she is eager to explore other characters and elements of life on a college campus. She’s currently mulling a new novel that focuses on a minor character in Easy.
“It’s a different kind of interconnectedness without it being a series of any sorts,” she said. “I like the idea of people not having to feel committed to a whole series of books.”
Webber’s blog, “A Room of My Own,” features original essays, her book-signing schedule and information on how to purchase her novels.