TOWNSEND -- Townsend native and self-published young adult author Amy Leigh Strickland returned home for the holidays this year, and made an appearance at the Townsend Public Library for a reading and book signing last Friday.
A small crowd gathered to hear Strickland talk about research, writing and self-publishing.
The author, who now lives in Alabama with her husband, has published novels in two series for young adults. The Olympia Heights series focuses on a group of teenagers who discover that they have powers which are a product of being the Greek gods reincarnated, while the Royer Goldhawk series is about a university student who travels across the country to save a kidnapped friend.
Strickland read from a book called "Rescue, or Royer Goldhawk's Remarkable Journal," and described the intense research that went into the book, which takes place in the Victorian era.
"When I wrote Olympia Heights, it didn't feel like research, because it was stuff I'd be using for recreational reading anyway. For Royer Goldhawk I really had to learn a lot," she said.
Her research included looking up slang terms used at the time, studying the etymology of words and finding out about events in that time period.
In order to sell her novels, Strickland started her own publishing company with her husband's family, which includes a graphic designer and illustrator, as well as people who are skilled at editing.
"We had everything in the family to be able to do this," Strickland said.
Having everything in the family led to low start-up costs, and the family begin printing the books in small numbers, and giving them away to reviewers in the hope of spreading the word.
"You have to be sending to bloggers for free and getting people who have a following on the Internet to push your book," she said.
She said that young-adult fiction and romance in particular do well for self-publishing authors, but that she personally can't write romance.
She said she normally writes her books in a period of a few months. Two of her novels have been written during National Novel Writing Month, which challenges participants to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. However, she recommends writing every other day and planning in between rather than writing every day in order to have time to think about where the book is going.
When she writes this way, she said, she has to put the book aside before coming back to edit it critically. She then passes the book on to another editor and proofreader to get an outside opinion.
"If you try to do the cover yourself, if you try to edit it yourself, you're never going to catch all of your own mistakes," Strickland said.
Ultimately, she said, selling your work, much like writing it, is about perseverance.
"You have to just kind of keep writing and slowly the audience builds and follows," she said.
The library bought copies of two of Strickland's books for interested readers.