Indie Author Inks Seven-Figure Deal With Penguin After Shooting up E-Book Best-Seller List

UPDATE: The second paragraph in this item has been slightly edited to reflect a more accurate portrayal of the contents of the book.

Tracy Garvis Graves had a “life-changing” moment last week.

According to the Des Moines Register, Graves signed a seven-figure book deal with Penguin following the precipitous rise up the e-book best-seller list of her “sexy” novel On the Island. The book is about a 30-year-old English teacher who gets stuck on an island with a 16-year-old student who has cancer but is slowly becoming a man.

Call it the 50 Shades of Grey-effect.

The story goes the same as many others in the self-published-to-book-deal canon: 45-year-old mother of two slaves over manuscript mornings, nights and weekends; gets rejected by dozens of agents and publishers (40 and 14, respectively, in this case); paid modest sum to have the work edited and designed ($1,500, here); posts on Amazon to weak initial sales (for Graves, 100 in the first month); and then word of mouth and positive reviews take over and before you know it, you have an e-book best-seller. (Hat-tip to the Des Moines Register for reporting out these details.)

After her book rose to No. 7 for e-books on the New York Times e-book best-seller list, Graves saw interest from a bevy of big publishers, including Amazon, HarperCollins and Penguin, according to the Register. Reportedly, MGM has already optioned the movie rights.

Graves called the deal “life-changing.”

Since, she has quit her job and is writing full time. Her first book will be on store shelves by mid-summer and her next book, Covet, is set to come out in 2013.

Read more in the Des Moines Register.

Related: Taking Extreme Measures to Find the Self-Publishing Holy Grail

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