Thanks for letting us interrogate you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author? Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?
Susan: Hey there! I gotta tell ya, it’s been a long time since I was interrogated. The last was when I was seven and my parents wanted to know who ate the last Twinkie mom had saved for my fathers lunch. My money has always been on my
obstinate younger brother Bob as the culprit, but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, back to your question. I didn’t always dream of being an author, but I have always enjoyed writing. And truthfully, the demands of being an author are pretty substantial if you want to make it your career. You spend your free time thinking about the next book even before you’ve finished the current one. Then there is the developmental edit which is where someone points out to you how unrealistic your characters are and declares the whole book is one big snore. This is followed by a line edit which often resembles the papers you received back from your third grade English teacher covered in red marker pointing out grammar mistakes. When you’ve finally gotten over that punch to your ego (which in my case often means eating an entire package of chocolate sandwich cookies) it’s time for the proofread. At this point you're thousands of dollars in and you haven’t even paid for a cover or formatting. Just talking about it all has me reaching for those sandwich cookies.
But when a reader emails you and tells you how much your story touched their heart and they can’t wait to read more, it is all worth it.
Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
Susan: Well, after a dozen rejections, I signed with a traditional publisher for my first book. And being a naïve new author, it took me a while to realize that things weren’t quite right. More specifically, I wasn’t being paid any royalties. It was also around that time that I received email warnings from several other authors who had fired this publisher for very same reasons. Leaving this publisher wasn’t easy and unfortunately turned into a year of fighting for the rights to my book back, which I won, and I am now happily self-published. I like the freedom that being self-published affords me and I don’t have to worry about the integrity of a publisher or sending out those nerve racking query letters.
Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?
Susan: My family loves the idea that I am an author and have been very supportive. As a bedbound paraplegic, I have oodles of time to pursue whatever I want as long as it’s in the confines of my bed. My family knows writing is one of the times in my day where I truly feel free. As I go on each journey with my characters, I find myself living vicariously through them and no longer confined to the trappings of my physical state.
What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?
Susan: As I mentioned earlier, the fight with the publisher was pretty crazy. And even though I contemplate now and then sending a manuscript to a traditional publisher, ( my dream one is Harlequin), I think I’ll continue to stay with the self-published route for the time being.
How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
Susan: I am very active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter if I can fit it in. And my nephew has been trying to convince me to do a TikTok video to which the whole process confuses the bejeebers out of me! But I have little doubt that he will win in the end as he is my favorite nephew and I can hardly refuse him anything.
Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?
Susan: Well, aren’t we the nosy Nancy. Asking an author about book sales is akin to asking a woman her weight or age. And every author I know, myself included, desires more sales and wishes that her book was so well received that the sales effortlessly come pouring in. But unless you're someone like Nora Roberts, that probably isn't going to be the case. I find it takes a lot of work to make sales happen including paid and non-paid avenues. And there are days that you ask yourself if it’s all worth it.
What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
Susan: If rooftop screaming was possible, my message from there would be to all the aspiring writers who get rejection letters. I would tell them to not let it sabotage their creativity and aspirations. If you’ve written a book that’s been professionally edited, and is a story you’re passionate about, those rejection letters should not dissuade you from continuing on. Not every publisher is going to love your manuscript. And to equal the playing field, it’s important to only send your manuscript out to those in the genre that you write. Not to mention every reader has individual tastes and so do the publishers.
Okay, too much sugar for you today! Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in. Now...can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?
Susan: How did you know I like Chamomile tea and rolling waves? And I do love the fact that I’m a published author. There's not too many times in your life where you feel the amount of joy like the first time you hold your published book in your hand. All those days of hard work, stressful nights, and inevitable self-doubt wash away as you run your hand over the cover then thumb through the beautifully typewritten words. I’ve finally made it…I’m an author! And even though you know there is little time to celebrate your accomplishment as it’s onto the next project you go, you truly wouldn’t have it any other way!
Thank you again for the opportunity to “tell it like it is”. And my summer wish is for each of you to have a great one filled with family, friends, lots of memories, and my book at your bedside.
Promise of the Heart
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