Indie Year Reflection

2013 marked my first year as a self-published . I published three coming-of-age novels, Starlet’s Web, Starlet’s Run, and Starlet’s Light. I didn’t participate in a huge marketing campaign as I had planned to do when I conceived the project. Nor did I blast away my modest expectations. I spent most of my time surprised to get interest in the series and then waiting for a commitment from one of the interested parties.

Each time a party showed interest, I signed the NDAs. I waited…for months.

I’m flattered that I had so much interest. I’m bummed that the interest was always conditional on tossing the student athlete’s Christian values and increasing the sexual encounters of the teen actress. Book publishers and film directors were uncomfortable with a teen actor struggling with moral choices. Several told me that teens didn’t buy books so the series had to appeal to women over 40 because they were the only purchasers who mattered.  Those readers, they insisted, were too bitter to sympathize with a successful teen actress who prays.

While I negotiated, reviews started to come in from the ARCs that were out there. The editors were right that some older women did not show compassion for a successful teen actress coming of age in Hollywood. However, most readers did. The reviews were not nearly as bad as the editors told me they would be.

But I didn’t write my series for women who have made their mistakes. I wrote my series to help young men and women not make their mistakes. To me, I think the reviews are as much as a social commentary as is the series.

I lived among Hollywood’s elite when I raised my kids from 2006-2009 in Santa Monica. The series shares what I observed. I know what I’m talking about. I have seen the future of where stories are headed. I predict a huge increase in parents thinking it is fine to cut up girls for beauty, especially since so many women over 40 are cutting up themselves.

I don’t need money. I don’t want fame. I wrote Starlet’s story to make teens aware of how pop culture affects them. I want teens to see that plastic surgery should not be an expected part of beauty, that too thin is unhealthy, that steroids or doping are not okay choices to get that college athletic scholarship, that Mommy Dearest can be a good person who made some terrible choices, and that stories are just that: stories.

The women over 40 made the Fifty Shades erotica series huge, and I’m worried that every teen will see the R-rated film series and think the bedroom scenes are common or, worse, cool. The films are already targeted to teens. Young Hollywood is already promoting them. Miley is twerking. Hollywood is exploiting girls. Social media is influencing what society accepts.

I’m saying, “No; enough with Hollywood’s short-term focus on profit and social media’s focus on ‘Likes’ and the RT.” The few who choose our stories must be more responsible.

We need to accept the world as it is and change what we can to improve the world for our children. Reject the book deals that compromise the story. End the love-at-first-sight YA shortcut, required love-triangle, and happy ending. Writers, make your readers think. Readers, think.

-Carla Hanna, author of Starlet’s Series coming-of-age fiction Starlet’s Web | Starlet’s Run | Starlet’s Light | One of Wattpad‘s most followed users with +28,000 fans and +1,035,000 reads

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