South Euclid Author Leaps From Self-Publishing To Traditional Book Deal

Shondra Longino writes as Abby L. Vandiver and Abby Collette.
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Abby L. Vandiver has self-published stories about amateur sleuths solving crimes since 2013. A bit of a sleuth herself, she followed the example of other writers to learn the ropes of how to self-publish and market the books.

“I’d find people that were selling their books and I'd stalk them online,” she said. “I'd buy their book, I'd sign up for their newsletter, and I do things just to find out: How are they doing this?”

Writers may study her now instead, since she landed a book deal with a large publisher.

Four years after self-publishing her first book online through Amazon, the South Euclid resident heard from a small publisher, Henery Press, after participating in a book promotion. Vandiver received a three-book deal with Henery in 2017, and the following year an agent reached out.

“I didn’t really believe the email when I saw it, because agents don’t contact you,” she said.

The agent led Vandiver to a deal with Penguin Random House. She has a new book, “A Deadly Inside Scoop,” for Penguin due out in May under the pen name Abby Collette.

“It’s set in Ohio, and there is a popcorn store that sits over the falls in Chagrin Falls,” she said. “I hijacked that store and made it my character’s ice cream store.”

Vandiver is a pen name, too, for Shondra Longino. Her plan is to continue to publish independently using Vandiver.

“I love being able to have control over everything,” she said. “My stories don’t get rejected.”

She recommends self-publishing to other writers and offers this advice: Don’t self-edit.

“You can’t catch it,” she said. “I don’t care how well you edited it, even if you used to be an editor.”

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