Saturday, July 21, 2018
Books

Tamara Lush talks about publishing romance novels serially, like ‘Constant Craving’

Tamara Lush calls her romance novels, published via app in weekly installments, "snack size reading" for your smartphone. Seung Yoon Lee, founder and CEO of Radish Fiction, calls his mobile platform for books like hers "Candy Crush meets serial fiction."

Lush and Lee will appear at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Saturday to talk about this new paradigm in publishing.

Lush’s new novel, Constant Craving, is different from many romances in that it’s set in the world of journalism. The female narrator owns a struggling newspaper, and, despite their difficult past, an ex-love offers to save it financially. "That’s the most fantastical part," the author says with a laugh.

Lush, 46, lives in St. Petersburg with her husband and is a reporter for the Associated Press. (She talked about her books by phone this week from Sutherland Springs, Texas, where she was covering the mass shooting.) She formerly was a staff writer at the then-St.Petersburg Times.

Constant Craving is Lush’s fourth romance novel. Her earlier books were published traditionally and well reviewed, but didn’t take off in terms of sales.

When she heard about Radish from a critique partner, she decided to give it a try. "I got the rights back" for the earlier books, she says, "so I thought, I’ll put my back list up and see what happens." In May, the first month, she made $180, "a nice little revenue stream."

Constant Craving was scheduled to be released as a print and e-book this month, but in July Lush began releasing it as a serial, one 2,000-word chapter per week, at radishfiction.com.

"I thought, this can’t be. Literally, I have made $10,000 on that book since July," she says.

Encouraged by Radish to write a second book in the series, she recast the first-person story from the point of view of the female main character to the man’s. "It had 33,000 views in September," she says, and she’s writing a third in the series this month.

The Radish format doesn’t allow reader comments, but Lush has set up a private Facebook site for her readers to connect. "They await the new chapters, so they can talk about who (in the book) they hate this week."

She has heard from readers not just in the United States but in the Philippines, South Africa, Mexico and the Middle East. Recently, she says, for the first time one of her readers wrote fan fiction about one of her characters. "I was blown away."

Lee, 26, is from South Korea and was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 East Asia list of entrepreneurs to watch. He graduated from the University of Oxford in 2014 and co-founded Byline, an online crowd-funded site for longform journalism, before creating Radish Fiction. Among its investors is author Amy Tan.

There are other mobile apps for readers, among them Wattpad, which was founded in 2006 and has 50 million users.

Radish, Lush says, targets fans of genre fiction, not just romance but YA, fantasy, science fiction and more, using the serial format. The all-original content is free, as is the app, but Radish generates income by selling "coins" that give readers earlier access to new chapters.

Lush says she has learned to adapt to "the psychology of the cliffhanger," structuring each chapter to leave readers eager for more. She’s also learned how well that can work for Radish’s writers: "I spent $6 on a book about zombies called Dead in Bed, and I’m not even a zombie fan. But I had to find out what happened."


. if you go

Times Festival of Reading

Tamara Lush and Seung Yoon Lee will appear in a panel discussion at 2:15 p.m. Saturday in the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute Auditorium, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, 140 Seventh Ave. S. Admission is free.

Comments
Review: Kent Wascom's 'New Inheritors' a novel of love, power on the gulf coast

Review: Kent Wascom's 'New Inheritors' a novel of love, power on the gulf coast

When a woman looks at the hands of the toddler who will become the main character of The New Inheritors, she sees "written in the lines of his palms a bird’s vision of the rivers and creeks that fanned across the region of his birth, the upper ...
Published: 07/20/18
After writing ‘Squeezed,’ about the economy, Alissa Quart reads poetry

After writing ‘Squeezed,’ about the economy, Alissa Quart reads poetry

Alissa QuartYou might find brand-new information in Quart’s book, Squeezed; however, you might also find she is providing a simple answer to your question: No, you are not crazy. Even with your college degree and full-time job, it is extremely diffic...
Published: 07/19/18
Review: Ace Atkins’ ‘The Sinners’ a bloody, and funny, trip to the altar

Review: Ace Atkins’ ‘The Sinners’ a bloody, and funny, trip to the altar

There’s always so much to deal with in the weeks before your wedding. For Quinn Colson, there’s his mother’s threat to sing Elvis karaoke if he doesn’t hire a band, the question of whether his long-gone stuntman daddy will show up at all, his bride-t...
Published: 07/18/18
Tampa Bay Rowdies player Hunter Gorskie is reading about better nights and mornings

Tampa Bay Rowdies player Hunter Gorskie is reading about better nights and mornings

Hunter GorskieBecause soccer fans around the world will be watching the FIFA World Cup’s crowning game today, we decided to touch base with one of our own soccer players: Hunter Gorskie, the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ No. 27. Gorskie, a defender who played c...
Published: 07/13/18
Lori Roy’s novel ‘The Disappearing’ draws from Florida’s Dozier and Ted Bundy

Lori Roy’s novel ‘The Disappearing’ draws from Florida’s Dozier and Ted Bundy

TIERRA VERDEAuthor Lori Roy has lived in Florida since 1996, but it wasn’t until her fourth novel that she wrote a story set in the state. "I just wrote an essay for CrimeReads on the intersection of Southern Gothic and crime fiction," Roy says. "You...
Published: 07/12/18
Review: St. Petersburg author Gale Massey deals a winning debut with ‘Girl From Blind River’

Review: St. Petersburg author Gale Massey deals a winning debut with ‘Girl From Blind River’

Life has dealt Jamie Elders a lousy hand. The 19-year-old wants nothing more than to get as far away as possible from her hometown, a bleak little corner of New York state called Blind River. But she’s stuck there. In the opening chapters of ...
Published: 07/06/18
‘Barracoon’ editor Deborah Plant on discovering Zora Neale Hurston, reading Alice Walker

‘Barracoon’ editor Deborah Plant on discovering Zora Neale Hurston, reading Alice Walker

Deborah PlantWe caught up with Plant, the editor of Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo," a newly published book by Zora Neale Hurston, after her recent appearance at the Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center. The book is based on Hurs...
Updated one month ago

Book events: John Cinchett to discuss ‘Historic Tampa Churches’

Book TalkJohn Cinchett (Historic Tampa Churches) will discuss and sign his book at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Oxford Exchange, 420 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.Teacher and author Rob Sanders reads from his new children’s book, Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and...
Updated one month ago
Poet Donald Hall’s ‘A Carnival of Losses,’ to be published after his death, offers essays on his life

Poet Donald Hall’s ‘A Carnival of Losses,’ to be published after his death, offers essays on his life

Donald Hall, a former U.S. poet laureate, died on June 23 at his home in Wilmot, N.H. He was 89. An influential poet for more than 60 years, the prolific Hall published more than 20 poetry collections as well as memoirs, fiction, essays, biographies,...
Updated one month ago
Review: Tommy Orange’s ‘There There’ a powerful portrait of urban Indian life

Review: Tommy Orange’s ‘There There’ a powerful portrait of urban Indian life

Every American is a child of immigrants.The only difference is how long ago your forebears came here from another land, by sail or steam, on foot or by jet engine, by choice or by enslavement.The clear winners of that contest, of course, are Native A...
Updated one month ago