Lloyd Devereux Richards spent 14 years completing his debut novel, Stone Maidens. He spent nights and weekends writing in the attic at his home in Montpelier, Vermont, while raising three children and holding a full-time job as a corporate attorney.
After completing the manuscript in 2011, he spent months seeking a publisher. He was delighted when Amazon’s trade publishing house, Amazon Publishing, launched the book in 2012. In a surprise twist that perhaps only a writer like Richards could predict, Stone Maidens is now enjoying a second life—11 years later—thanks to his daughter, Marguerite Richards, and a 16-second TikTok she made about her father.
When Marguerite learned that her father finished the sequel to Stone Maidens last summer, she began brainstorming ways to get readers excited about the new book so many years after the first book published. She posted her TikTok in February, and it quickly went viral.
That video now has more than 50 million views, 10.7 million likes, and 40,000 comments. By Valentine’s Day 2023, Stone Maidens had skyrocketed to the top of the Amazon Best Sellers list, ahead of books written by well-known authors. By mid-March, the book had sold more than 100,000 copies and had a review rating of 4.6 stars.
Seemingly overnight, Richards and his daughter became social media sensations. The father and daughter found themselves sharing their story with nearly every major media outlet in the U.S., including Today with Hoda and Jenna, NPR Morning Edition, and People magazine. They were also featured internationally on BBC.com, and Sunrise, Australia’s top morning show.
It has been such a challenge expressing in words the overwhelming, beautiful emotions and gratitude I have been feeling. It’s an author’s dream to have their work spotlighted like this. I am happy and soaking in all the positivity.
We reached out to Lloyd and Marguerite Richards to learn more about their viral adventure.
Marguerite, you created a TikTok that made your dad’s book a viral sensation. How did it come about?
Marguerite: I am definitely not a professional TikTok-er. I was just so inspired by my dad’s positivity and perseverance. I thought a TikTok would help make a few more people aware of his wonderful book. I was anticipating a few people checking out Stone Maidens. I didn’t have a number in my mind, but more like 50 people rather than what has happened so far.
What is the plot of Stone Maidens?
Lloyd: Stone Maidens is a suspenseful thriller about women being murdered and each left with a calling card. After 14 years of writing, I was lucky enough to find an agent. And after much rejection, Thomas & Mercer (the mystery, thriller, and true crime imprint of Amazon Publishing) saw the potential and published Stone Maidens in 2012. Sales were very low. Since my daughter’s viral TikTok, book sales are reaching 90,000 in less than a month.
Why do you think your video has resonated with people?
Marguerite: I think I was able to convey, in such a simple way, how special my dad is. He’s very likable, more than he’ll ever know, and so hardworking—but in the cheeriest of ways.
What was your reaction when you realized your story—and the book—had gone viral?
Lloyd: It has been such a challenge expressing in words the overwhelming, beautiful emotions and gratitude I have been feeling. It’s an author’s dream to have their work spotlighted like this. I am happy and soaking in all the positivity.
How has Amazon Publishing played a role in this exciting time?
Lloyd: Amazon has made all of this possible. And we don’t even mean just the fact that they published an unknown author. Amazon Publishing was able to meet the spontaneous demands of tens of thousands of books needing to be printed on demand out of a dormant decade. No other publisher could have handled this demand, and for that we are so grateful to Amazon!
What has the reaction to Stone Maidens and your story meant to you?
Marguerite: It has meant more to us than we can express. My dad’s story is being shared. We have been on a whirlwind of an adventure, and we have inspired so many people, including ourselves.
What advice do you have for other authors who haven’t been discovered yet, or for anyone pursuing a dream long-term?
Lloyd: Keep going! Never give up! Learn, improve, and have fun! And you are not taking too long, you’re right on time—your time.
Can you share anything about your new book?
Lloyd: I have written a sequel to Stone Maidens (no title yet). The characters “Prusik” and ”McFaron” continue in another thrilling saga. It would be another, new dream to have their next story published as well.