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NC State lecturer – and best-selling author – Elisa Lorello

Elisa Lorello found a way to ignite sales of her books: e-publishing on Kindle.

Lorello brought along a draft of her first novel, Faking It, when she moved from Massachusetts to Raleigh in 2006 to take a job as a full-time lecturer teaching first-year writing in the English department.

She spent several years revising the book –  a romantic comedy she describes as “‘When Harry Met Sally’ crossed with ‘Sex and the City’” – and talking with literary agents.

Ultimately, she self-published it in 2008 through Raleigh-based Lulu.com, but sales were slow.

“I sold less than 100 copies,” Lorello says. So, in June 2009, she published the book on Kindle through Amazon.com.

Sales slowly began to pick up, reaching 8,000 copies in the last week of January alone. The book surged to the No. 6 spot on Amazon’s Kindle Best Seller list in January, behind five books that were free downloads. Faking It is still in the top 50 and, as of mid-February, had sold over 15,000 copies to Kindle users. Meanwhile, Lorello has seen an uptick in sales of her paperbacks as well.

The success of  Faking It illustrates fundamental changes in the publishing industry. Not only was it sold as an e-book, but its popularity was spread through social media – not word-of-mouth, but word-of-blog.

In addition to doing traditional book signings at bookstores to promote her novels, Lorello goes on blog tours, giving interviews to bloggers from sites such as SellingBooks.com. Maybe it’s the interactive nature of this format that has led to one of the pleasant surprises associated with the success of Faking It – the enormous amount of feedback Lorello is getting from readers.

“The readers are writing to me, telling me their stories, telling me how they can relate to the characters, and I’m really appreciative that they’re taking the time share their thoughts with me on the book,” Lorello says. “It’s more than I expected, but in a very good way.”

Lorello’s second novel, a sequel to Faking It titled Ordinary World, was published on Kindle last November. So far it has sold over 9,000 copies, with sales steadily rising.

The Long Island native is working on a new novel – a romantic comedy set in North Carolina that she hopes to publish by the end of the year. And while there are no book-signings in cyberspace, I’m sure you can swing by her office with a paperback copy.

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