Holiday Short Stories By WWK Authors Presented This Season:

11/30 KM Rockwell's "Holiday Summons"
12/06 "Death By Dictionary" by Gloria Alden
12/12 E. B. Davis's "The Christmas Tree"
12/18 "Femme Fatally Yours" by Paula Gail Benson
12/24 Kara Cerise's "The Ho-Ho Plan"
12/30 "Last Minute Shopping" by Shari Randall

Put A Shaker of Margaritas: That Mysterious Woman on your holiday list. Three WWK authors have short stories in this Mozark Press anthology. Look for "Moving On" by Paula Gail Benson, "Sauna" by KM Rockwell, and "Wishing For Ignorance" by E. B. Davis. Paper or eformat are available at Amazon.

Gloria Alden has released the fourth book, The Body in the Goldenrod, in her Catherine Jewel series. It's available in print and in eformat. Here are two links to the book: Amazon and Kobo. Put it on your "TBR" or Christmas list!

Carla Damron's latest project, THE STONE NECKLACE, a literary novel about five lives that intersect, and are forever changed, by a senseless accident, has been picked up by Story River Books for publication in 2016. Story River is an arm of the University of South Carolina Press and is under the leadership of editor-in-chief author Pat Conroy. Congratulations, Carla!


A great stocking stuffer, Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays is available at Wildside Press or Amazon. This anthology includes short stories by WWK bloggers Shari Randall ("Disco Donna") and E. B. Davis ("Compromised Circumstances").
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Interview with Susan Schreyer

Susan Schreyer is an Indy Author and lives in Monroe, Washington with her husband, two teenage children, an untrustworthy rabbit and a demanding old cat. Her horse lives within easy driving distance. When not working diligently writing her blogs Writing Horses and Things I Learned From My Horse, articles for worthy publications, or about people in the next town being murdered, Susan trains horses and teaches people how to ride them. She serves on the steering committee of the Sisters In Crime-Guppies Chapter and is co-president of the Puget Sound Chapter of SinC. DEATH BY A DARK HORSE, is Susan's debut mystery and the first of a series. Her website is http://www.susanschreyer.com/.

EBD: Is your novel DEATH BY A DARK HORSE a mystery or is it a cross genre?

SS: I tell people it's a cozy-type mystery. Most of the bloodshed takes place off stage and it's in a small town with a cast of characters who all know each other. That said, there's a bit of "language" you don't normally find in a cozy and there's perhaps more emphasis on romance than what you'd normally find, too, although not in the formula one expects to find in that genre. At one point it was suggested I rewrite it in a romance format—alternate points of view between the hero and heroine, and introduce the hero very early on in the book. I chose not to, mostly because I'd have to change much of what goes on with my main character's love interest. He doesn't play the role you'd expect in solving the crime.

EBD: How much time did you spend writing and revising the book, and were you in a critique group?

SS: It only took me about three months to complete the first draft of DBADH. Now the editing and revising…well…that went on for several years! Being my first novel, it was a learning process of major proportions for me. I was fortunate to hook up with some wonderful critiquers—both where I live, and in Guppies (an online chapter of Sisters in Crime). The generosity of other writers is amazing.

EBD: Did you market the manuscript to agents? How many agents did you query and over what time interval?

SS: I started shopping the manuscript to agents soon after I'd finished the first revision and gained some immediate interest, which was thrilling. Of course the subsequent rejections were equally devastating, but I joined Guppies soon after I started the process, and the support, encouragement, and shared experiences really helped me to keep going. I've queried close to one-hundred agents and small publishers (combined), and still have about thirty-eight queries outstanding!

EBD: What was the pivotal element that determined your decision to self-publish?

SS: There wasn't a single circumstance, but it was rather a nexus of circumstances. The list is quite lengthy! Combine the "query situation" of being continually close to getting an agent, offers from small publishers that didn't sit right with me, the soaring popularity of e-books, my own love affair with the Kindle, other people's experiences with self-publishing in an e-format, the current state of the publishing industry, and my desire to earn a living wage and you could say I was pretty much walked right to the point I am now. I've run my own business in the past, so taking this kind of control over publishing my books is not a foreign feeling. There is a great deal of empowerment in making one's own way. And it's not like there is a void of support and advice. There's plenty to draw from when needed. Still, the decisions are all my own. It's a thrill.

Most important is that when I made the decision to self-publish it felt right for me. I didn't make the decision because I was angry with the traditional path to publishing, but chose this route after a good deal of research because it fit with my goals and desires. And it fits with my personality.

EBD: Did you employ a professional editor?

SS: Yes! Absolutely! I've had three. And I must point out each of the three had a different purpose (although you can't help but get some overlap). I used a copy editor, and two content editors, one of whose job it was to help me polish the beginning of the book—my most difficult part.

EBD: Did you pay for cover art?

SS: Yes. Although I do artwork myself, I knew this was beyond my capabilities. I simply don't know how to use a computer for graphic art, I don't own the software necessary, and the bottom line was I didn't want to do it. I tried, but found I had no vision for the cover, either (which was something that I found astounding). I hired Tracy Hayes because I saw her work and fell in love with it. As I suspected, she came through with flying colors (pardon the pun). She not only had great ideas of her own, but listened to my input, making it feel like a collaborative effort.

Many self-published authors will do their own cover work, others will hire it out, and some have friends who will pitch in and help. You do what works for you. There are no rules, except to have a cover!

EBD: What companies did you contact to self-publish and what formats were required?

SS: I looked into most of the typical self-publishing companies (like Lulu and iUniverse) and ultimately decided to use Amazon and Smashwords as my aggregators. Their business models fit what I wanted. Between the two of them, I have pretty much all the e-reading devices covered. Their ease of accessibility to readers (the people-type) is well known, and their distribution network is extensive. Add to that free downloading, excellent royalty rates, access to up-to-the-minute sales data, a monthly paycheck, my own control over content, price, and samples—it pleases the control-freak in my soul.

EBD: What type of marketing will you do to attract readers?

SS: This is an ongoing learning curve for me. I expect it will be the process I adjust more than anything else. But that's the beauty of e-publishing. There's such a long tail that you can try new approaches. Immediate sales feedback lets you know if your efforts are good or a waste of time. Currently, I've got a website—http://www.susanschreyer.com/—and two blogs which I update weekly. One blog—Things I Learned From My Horse —is aimed directly at my horse-loving audience and the other—Writing Horses--is aimed at those more interested in the writer's perspective. I blog about my journey through the self-publishing world as well as talk about my books, interview characters, and bring in guest bloggers.

I also use Facebook and Twitter, and regularly visit blogs and websites that interest my target audience. My aim is to simply become known, so when my book comes out people will recognize my name and go have a look.

I think it's important to help fellow writers, too. I help them promote as much as I am able, buy and read their books, and write reviews on Amazon or other places. Of course I hope they'll "talk me up" too when the time comes.

EBD: Can you give us the hook and a short synopsis?

SS: My hook is horses, and specifically dressage. My protagonist Thea Campbell is an amateur dressage rider who has a very special connection with her horse Blackie, a seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding (who isn't black, by the way). Here's the short synopsis:

Thea Campbell goes out for revenge when the one person who is simultaneously the most likely and least likely candidate for thief steals her horse. But Olympic hopeful Valerie Parsons is past caring about being arrested. She’s dead. At first Thea’s horse is assumed to have killed the woman, but when the coroner determines it was a human hand and not a horse’s hoof that ended Valerie’s life Thea becomes a person of interest. Now intimidating people with little regard for due process are showing up on her doorstep looking to even the score.

Toss in her wrecked love life, a sexy geology professor who stirs up more than dust, and an alleged psychic horse, and it soon becomes apparent that Thea’s predictable life is now out of control. As she takes charge of clearing herself of the murder she discovers the victim had a knack for making enemies—one of whom is Thea’s ditsy sister. She pursues her investigation with more at stake than ever, and in a seedy biker bar comes face-to-tattoo with information that will lead the police to the real killer. She dutifully reports to the detective in charge. But Thea is wrong. As close to dead wrong as she ever wishes to get.

EBD: Where and when will your book release occur?

SS: DEATH BY A DARK HORSE is scheduled to be released in e-format on both Amazon Kindle and Smashwords (who provides downloads to most of the other e-readers) in February 2011, although that date is looking like it will move up to December 2010. Sample chapters will be available (free!) on my website http://www.susanschreyer.com/. If you don't own an e-reader, content can be downloaded onto your computer from either of those sources. The software for downloading books is free.

Since the time this interview was conducted, Susan's book has been released.  Please look for it on-line at e-book providers' sites. 





13 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Susan,

Good luck with your book. I'm pretty sure I read that it is now available from Smashworks, so eager readers should check that out.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Yes-I had to update this interview because the process took less time than Susan anticipated, I think. The book is now available at Amazon and Smashworks.

Ann Charles said...

Susan and E.B.--a wonderful interview of a wonderful writer!

Susan, I loved your book and am looking forward to both the second in the series and to seeing you soar.

I have a question for Susan--How are you planning to lure in your niche market audience, your horse lovers? Will you be advertising in horse-related magazines or writing articles for them?

Thanks for a fun morning read and good luck,
Ann Charles

Donnell said...

Fantastic interview, Elaine. In depth about Susan's journey to publication and the next steps involved. Well done! Congratulations to you both!

Joyce Yarrow said...

Thanks for all the great insights into both the book and the publishing process! Will be reading Death by a Dark Horse on my Kindle this week!

amberscottproject said...

I'm so impressed with your commitment to put out quality work! I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

Pauline Alldred said...

Great interview giving all the details of looking for publication. With all the effort you put in to improve the quality of your work, I hope it succeeds. I'm looking forward to reading your book.

Polly said...

Nice interview, Elaine. I think many people look forward to the success of Susan's courageous step. Writers work hard to craft a good book with the ultimate goal to have others enjoy our work. Good for you, Susan. I've downloaded my copy.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Susan,
I admire you for taking the life of your novel in your own hands. Good luck with sales!!
Marilyn

Kaye George said...

It's fun to see this happen for you, Susan. Many are eagerly watching your footsteps!

The book is on my e-reader and I'll be opening it up soonest!

Susan Schreyer said...

Thank you for all your comments! This really is exciting!

Jim - yes, DBADH is available on both Smashwords and Amazon. The process took far less time than I imagined.

Ann - I'm still on the marketing learning curve and will be trying the things you mentioned as well as website where my target audience likes to hang out.

Donnell - thank you!! ;)

Joyce - thank you for downloading! Enjoy your Kindle!

Amber - thank you!

Pauline - thank you! Enjoy!

Polly - thank you!

Marilyn - thank you! I like being in charge of my career. It's very empowering.

Kaye - thank you! And you're right there too with your short story collection! Love it!

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for the interview Susan. Good luck with the book and stop back to let us know how your sales efforts and marketing have performed. Hope your horse heals soon and you are able to get back in the saddle.

Susan Schreyer said...

Thanks, E.B.! I'll keep you posted on the book and the horse (who is doing pretty well, by the way. He's a good patient!) This was lots of fun!