Author posts her vampire novel online for free — and gets an awesome book deal

Can posting your unpublished novels online for free still lead to a nice book deal, now that the web is saturated with free fiction? It worked for author Marta Acosta, whose young-adult vampire novel will come out from Tor Books.

Acosta says she got tired of waiting for her YA novel, The Shadow Girl Of Birch Grove, to get a book deal. So she posted it online at Scribd, where it became the #1 selling YA novel and got some rave reviews from vampire sites. (LoveVampires.com called it "Bloody brilliant.") Acosta, who also writes the successful adult vampire series Happy Hour At Casa Dracula, tells us:

My book had been with Tor and a few other publishers since last October. We hadn't heard anything back and I was beginning to despair. That's when I put the book online as a free read. I don't know that having it on Scribd inspired the offer, but I was able to get reviews that were presented to the editor who expressed interest. Also showing her the number of reads made a difference.

Author posts her vampire novel online for free — and gets an awesome book deal

And now, it'll be coming out in hardcover as well as paperback. Of course, it probably helps that her novel includes boarding schools as well as vampire intrigue. Here's the description, via Acosta's blog:

Jane Williams has suffered personal tragedy and learned to survive by hiding in the shadows of life. She thinks she will never escape the misery of her foster home when she's offered a full-scholarship at an elite academy. The school even offers Jane a place of her own to live, the old groundskeeper's cottage in a dense grove of birch trees.

The very pale and very elegant headmistress, Mrs. Monroe, is especially kind and suggests that Jane earn spending money by tutoring her son, gorgeous Lucky. A popular group of girls take Jane into their circle, and the challenging classes are all she could have hoped for.

It seems too good to be true. It is.

We asked Acosta how she went about generating this story. She says:

I drew upon my own experience as a scholarship girl at a Catholic girls school. It was a pretty place and there were some great girls there, girls who were smart and curious about the world and full of energy. I wanted characters were had more to them than mere consumerism.

I've lived in a few big houses, one even with secret passageways, and I tried to convey that feeling of eeriness when you think you're just missing something.