It seemed like a practical joke when southern, self-published author D.B. Henson received an email the day after Christmas from one of the leading literary agents in the business. Hensen couldn't wrap her mind around it. Why would the agent who represents the likes of His Holiness The Dali Lama, The estate of Jules Verne, and celebrity Gene Hackman want to talk to D.B. Henson, a newcomer author?
“I was already aware of Noah’s stellar reputation, and I knew he didn’t take submissions. An agent of his caliber would never contact me,” Henson reasoned, as she saw Noah Lukeman’s email staring back at her on the computer. Henson, a middle Tennessean long on talent and determination, had written a Nashville-based mystery and self-published it on Kindle in the spring of 2010. “I wasn’t convinced the book was good enough to send out to agents,” she recalled. “So I self-published on Kindle to test the waters.” The end result was a 2010 Amazon Kindle Bestseller with DEED TO DEATH, selling more than 100,000 copies and making Amazon’s Customer Favorites of the Year.
“Debbie’s success was hard to miss,” Lukeman, who presides over Lukeman Literary Management, said. “She achieved an incredible feat—launching herself into the Amazon Top 100, and staying there for hundreds of consecutive days. And she managed to do it in a crowded genre. Just as impressive, the reviews of her work were terrific, and she was chosen one of the Amazon Customer Favorites of the year. Achieving sales success is one thing—but achieving sales and critical success is another. It is rare. And in her case, it was well-deserved.”
Henson signed with Lukeman, who then sold DEED TO DEATH to Simon & Schuster.
“I’ve been approached by hundreds of authors who have achieved success online whose work I decided not to represent. It all must boil down to the writing, to the writer’s skill and ability,” said Lukeman. “In Debbie’s case, she had it. Her writing is terrific, and sings off the page from the very first words. This was why I made a rare exception in her case. I truly believe she has the talent to become one of the great bestselling authors of all time.”
Henson gives Lukeman credit for helping to fine tune that talent. Before he contacted her, she had read his self-improvement writer’s book The First Five Pages.
“Noah's book was extremely helpful,” said Henson. “It explains the techniques agents and editors use to evaluate manuscripts, and teaches you how to avoid common mistakes in your writing that can lead to an automatic rejection.”
Henson took the reverse route from traditional publishing. Most authors get the print book deal and then the eBook. Henson didn’t know it, but she helped blaze a trail that more often may be walked.
“I never looked at it that way,” she said. “In the beginning, I was just looking for a way to get honest feedback on my writing. I never really expected the book to sell more than a few dozen copies. I was shocked that it did so well. And I know I would never have landed Noah as an agent if I had taken the traditional publishing route.”
“Self-publishing online has definitely become a trend,” added Lukeman. “Debbie was out there on the forefront, way before most others. And she was one of the very first self-published authors to achieve such a success. Debbie helped make the trend. And she was on the forefront of a trend once again, when she was one of the first to decide to go from a self-published success to accepting an offer with a traditional publisher.”
Henson is busy writing a multi-book mystery series, also based in Nashville. With this series Lukeman is confident D.B. Henson will increase her brand awareness in the crowded mystery genre.
“Keep your eyes on her, because she is always on the cutting edge of trends, said Lukeman, “and I feel certain that she will create more in the future, and that other authors will follow.”
Visit D.B Hensen at: http://www.dbhenson.com/