Please welcome our new blogger Margaret S. Hamilton to WWK. Look for Margaret's posts on the third Saturday of each month (and sometimes scattered throughout the month).
If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our September interviews feature: Judy Penz Sheluk on 9/7, Lesley Diehl on 9/14, Julianne Holmes on 9/21, and Vicki Fee on 9/28.
Saturday Guest Bloggers: Lea Wait 9/3, Jacqueline Vick 9/10, and our Saturday Bloggers--9/17 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/24 Kait Carson.
Warren Bull has two short stories, "A Christmas Journey" and "Killer Eulogy" in the Darkhouse anthology titled Black Coffee. Available--Now! Warren's short story collection No Happy Endings is also available at Amazon in paper or Amazon for Kindle.
KM Rockwood's Abductions and Lies, the 6th in the Jesse Damon Crime Novel series, will be released in April. "Last Laugh," a short story in the anthology Black Coffee is available on Amazon. "Tarnished Hope," a short story in Murder Most Conventional, sponsored by Malice Domestic, April 29, at the conference. "Frozen Assets," a short story in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, release date May 14th (an anthology compiled by Chessie Chapter of SINC)
Gloria Alden released the seventh book in her Catherine Jewell mystery series, Blood Red Poinsettias, which is available at Amazon. Congratulations, Gloria.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
An Interview with Susan Schreyer
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.
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.