Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Thoughts on Self-Publishing: Book Birthdays-The Unforgettables

Happy Book Birthday to us!

So we're floored beyond compare that we've released a second YA title. It seems as though it's been forever since we've released a YA title, let alone talked about our journey self-publishing.

 Much like "The Mark of Noba", "The Unforgettables" took nearly a year and a half to write. For those who know both sides of our writing, we write both books intended for teen/YA audiences(ideally ones that also appeal to adult YA lovers too) as well as pen NA Romance. We're venturing into an Adult Romance soon too, but YA is by far the most difficult for us.

Getting voice down, where it not only matches the characters, but also matches colloquial of how teenagers speak is one of the hardest tasks, especially since we're no longer teenagers.

Libertad came up with this story years ago, but it had a different tone until I read it two years ago. It actually had YA and NA elements, but I convinced Libby to take out the last half of the story and make the beginning span an entire book.

It's definitely a labor of love. It's been our most expensive project to date. About two years ago, we did a custom photoshoot for it, but haven't been able to afford the full cover, so we plan on relaunching it in about 3-6 months with a new cover as well!

I think this story is particularly close to Libby, because one of the main characters is Afro-Latinx, dark-skinned and natural haired, but also Haitian-American. Between being exposed to Haitian culture in Miami, and then holding a relationshipwith someone for eight years who was of Haitian descent, we didn't realize how little Latinx culture associates people who are Latinx when they don't speak Spanish.

Latinx could encompass countries that speak not just Spanish, but Portuguese, English, French, Creole, and many different dialects from Spain.

Now that we think about it, we unintentionally created three major characters who are Latinx, one Haitian-American, one Brazilian-American and one with descent hailing all the way from Spain. Even when we're not trying to be inclusive, it kind of just...happens.

Felicia, our leading lady shared a lot of things in common with us, outside of her socio-economic background, but writing a sex-positive story with a girl in the front seat was the goal. But we didn't want to stop with her.

The leading man, Paul, was the polar opposite of Sterling, our first published male main protagonist. He was confident, edgy, artistically gifted and explicitly a boy of color. Getting his learning disability took months to get right. There were times we couldn't even write, because we spent so much time with teachers who specifically had experience with students with dyslexia, to make sure we didn't make any missteps. 

We're not hapa, so his dual identity also took a ton of work trying not to overshadow one more than the other. We thought hard about whether we wanted to make Paul biracial or not, especially after our community has been so outspoken about Eleanor and Park's poor representation of a biracial boy of Asian descent.

At one point, he'd been inspired by Libby's longtime celebrity crush Justin Nozuka, but we thought against it because he shared a lot of things in common with Park(being mixed race, having green-hazel eyes) that resources like Writing with Color have been outspoken in how problematic that can be. We knew we wanted him to have brown eyes, not be particularly tall, buff or oversexualized to the point he didn't look like a teenager. 

We decided to actually go ahead making him biracial, but mainly to showcase the diversity of his parents. We wanted to show a dad who was Asian-American who'd understand what it was like for Paul, growing up with expectations. Granted, his mother is also dyslexic, so he relates to both his parents but in very different ways.

There are so many things we can say about it, but it is no means a serious book. It's about two best friends who eventually grow apart. Add in the backdrop of Maine and the superhero aliases they've created in the world around them, and you've got "The Unforgettables".

We have one last YA book in us this year, and we're happy to say The City of Fallen Stars is next in queue YA wise. 

We made a goal of releasing eleven books this year, and I think we'll fall short in terms of original titles, but we re-released three books, and plan to re-release The Mark of Noba, so if we count those, we went over our goal XD

Now I plan to spend the remainder of our book birthday hyperventilating over the inside graphics😍!


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