Stephanie McAfee talks about how her self-published novel Diary of a Mad Fat Girl became a bestseller and was picked up by a mainstream publisher…
What inspired you to write Diary of a Mad Fat Girl?
I wanted to write a funny book with characters that normal people could relate to. I thought it would be a refreshing break from all of the “reality” “stars” (note the separate quotes) that we see so much of these days.
Tell us about your journey to publication?
I have a rather unique story about that. I self-published Diary of a Mad Fat Girl on Christmas day of 2010 and in March of 2011, it was on the New York Times & USA Today bestsellers list. That really got things going and, in a matter of weeks, I had an agent and a book deal. It all happened really fast and, to be honest, I’m still kind of in shock.
What did you do to market the book?
I asked my Facebook friends to buy it. That was all I did. I had about four hundred friends at the time and several of my friends told their friends and their friends told other friends and I guess it just kind of went from there.
What advice would you offer others thinking of self-publishing?
Looking back, I wish I would’ve had my book professionally edited prior to publishing, but I didn’t know anyone who did that and wasn’t interested in all of the “send me $6000 and we’ll edit and publish your book” scams, oops I mean offers. So I definitely recommend taking the time to find someone trustworthy to help with editing. After that, I say just do it because the time for self-publishing is now! That door is wide open.
Tell us about your book deal with New American Library.
I have a three-book deal with New American Library. The first book was, of course, the fully revised version of Diary of a Mad Fat Girl that was released on February 7. The second is a sequel, Happily Ever Madder, which should be out this fall. The third, well, it’s going be another round of Mad Fat Girl adventures with Ace Jones.
What do you think of the original vs the new cover?
I liked the original cover, but I absolutely love the new one. It’s so catchy and colorful. Very fun!
Were there any other changes made to the NAL edition?
While the basic story remains the same, there is so much more in terms of character, details, and plot development. The revised print version released by NAL is almost twice as long as the original e-book that I self-published. Thanks to the extensive professional editing, the story is much more finished and complete.
What are the advantages of having a publisher behind you?
There are too many to list, really. It’s like joining this fantastic team of talented, hard-working people who are doing everything they can to help your book reach its highest potential. It’s an amazing experience. I feel very lucky to be with NAL.
Tell us about the sequel Happily Ever Madder.
Ace Jones is going to Florida! She’s moving down there with high hopes of living the life of her dreams with the love of her life. As you might imagine, things won’t go according to plan. There will be new friends in Pelican Cove and old friends from Bugtussle and, of course, some stalking gone wrong action!
Have you got anything planned beyond the Mad Fat Girl trilogy?
As of right now, I don’t. But I plan on planning something soon!
What achievement are you most proud of?
Having a published book on the shelf! After all these years of thinking about it and dreaming about and hem-hawing around with the idea of writing a book, it’s so nice to walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelf.