Since the inception of the Middle Grade Mafia, we have showcased a wide range of authors in our Writer’s Block series. We have had debut authors, small press authors, and those who have sold millions of book and have had movies based on their books. The one thing we were missing was the self-published author.

When self-published author Whitney Dineen approached us to review her book, we had our reservations with featuring a self-published book. Once we did a little digging, we knew right away Whitney was doing something right. Her YA books were highly ranked on Amazon and there were many positive reviews. We knew then that we had to share her success with our readers.

Her first venture into MG is titled WILHELMINA AND THE WILLAMETTE WIG FACTORY.

Whitney Dineen

Middle Grade Mafia: We love hearing how authors got to where they are today. Your path to publishing led you to choose self-publishing. What played into you making that decision?

Whitney Dineen:  I had a fancy NYC agent who told me right up front that romantic comedies/ a.k.a. chick-lit was going to be hard to place with the big boy publishers. Yet he loved my first book, She Sins at Midnight, so much he was willing to give it a shot. One of the houses was interested and requested some rewrites. In the short time it took me to do them, my editor was transferred as far away from romance as you could get; something like Eastern religion. And the new editor didn’t want any of her predecessor’s picks. So my agent told me to try another genre. The thing is I want to write rom coms. They’re my thing. So I joined a couple of writing groups and started to figure out self-publishing. She Sins at Midnight just was won the silver medal in the 2015 Reader’s Choice Awards for chick lit. My second rom com, The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan has been at the top of its genre since publication. The first book in my middle reader’s series, Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory has come out of the gate to great reviews. All I can say is I’m glad I went out on my own!

MGM: Even with traditional publishing, a lot of the marketing responsibility falls, to some degree, on the author. How have you positioned yourself to be successful?

WD: Ah, the marketing is the trick! I can’t encourage indie authors enough to get out there and network with other authors. I have met the most giving and encouraging community of writers that have happily shared the benefit of their experience. There’s no telling where I’d be without them. But I assure you, it wouldn’t be at the top of the charts.

MGM: You have received offers from publishers, but have chosen to remain self-published. Why?

WD: Since self-publishing I have received several offers from small-medium publishing houses. Truthfully, I have decided to stay on my own because I am making more money than the majority of their authors. Now that I’ve done the hard work of writing the book and learning how to market it, why would I want to give away half of my royalties and control to someone else? Having said that, if one of the big boys wants to offer me a tidy advance to sign on my books, I’d pay attention to their offer. I would happily trade control and 50,000 + readers for a chance at getting my work read by a couple of million.

MGM: What advice would you give to other authors trying to make it on their own?

WD: My heartfelt advice to authors going it alone is to believe in yourself. I could have given up time and again because I didn’t fit into the industry mold du jour. But I didn’t. I knew my books were good and there was an audience for them. I would have never forgiven myself if I let someone else decide my worth.


Wilhelmina & the Willamette Wig Factory

Review by Lynn Coulter

Red-haired, freckle-faced Wilhelmina “Willy” Snodgrass thinks life couldn’t be any worse. Her family is new in town, and she hasn’t made a single friend. But things are about to change when she meets Tommy, the coolest girl in junior high—and the one who dyed her hair the color of blueberry Jell-O.

Tommy introduces Willy to a neighbor, grandmotherly Mrs. Carbunkle, who tells the girls how much she used to enjoy running the local Willamette Wig Factory. Sadly, she had to close it when there was no one left in her family to help her.

When Tommy goes out of town, Willy decides to check out the old, abandoned building on her own. As soon as she rides her bike down the spooky alley that leads to the factory, she notices a chill in the air. An old-timey carousel sits nearby, surrounded by a crowd of strange-looking people wearing old-fashioned clothes.

Soon Willy learns that some of them are her late ancestors, back from the great beyond—but not as ghosts. They prefer to think of themselves as ministering “angels”. It doesn’t take long before they help Willy and Tommy launch a plot to re-open the wig factory and help sweet Mrs. Carbunkle.

This light-hearted fantasy has romance, adventure, mystery, bullying and some well-deserved revenge. The story also has a few gentle morals to share. Readers will root for the red- and blue-haired protagonists.

Author Whitney Dineen says Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory is the first book in a series, and preteens and their parents should look forward to their next adventure.

To learn more about Whitney’s books, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.