This old dog is trying to learn new tricks

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I have a creative brain. I can make up stories with the best of them, but when I am tasked with complicated steps that will help market my books beyond my being annoying on my social media platforms, the creative part of my brain atrophies, and I am left with a vacant space in my head.

This post, for me, is a bit contradictory. In my early twenties, I was ready to live in the big city, and I was seeking a career in Marketing. Now, thirty-plus years later, I am stymied by the fact that my early career choice is lending no help whatsoever to my desperate need to find new and creative ways to make people aware of my book series, and the first two books that are currently available on Amazon. If there were ever a moment in my life I felt like a dog chasing its tail, this is it.

But this old dog is tenacious, and willing to lose a few precious hours of sleep while learning some new tricks. I’ve mastered sit, and stay, while I continually punch the letters on my keyboard to write the next book in the series but mastering the agility course required to properly market a book will take a few more trial runs before I am happy with my score.

My canine persona is currently attempting to make friends with the primate at Mailchimp, and, although we have acclimated, that monkey is not shy about touting its intelligence and reminding me that mine pales in comparison.

Over the next few weeks, I will beat that monkey into submission and begin sending monthly newsletters that will forward updates about my new book releases, my favorite lines from my books, and snippets of stories to come. Sign up through the contact page on my website www.susanmnairnauthor.ca to follow the journey of The RELATIVE Series, and the dog who is eager to master all its new tricks.

My second baby is home

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It’s one thing to write a book. The sense of accomplishment when two magic words appear on the last page is overwhelming. I enjoy following writing groups on social media and share the euphoria of other writers when they post their photos of their computer screen with the words ‘the end’ typed in capital letters. That photo usually contains their celebratory drink of choice.

But it is something else entirely when you first hold a published copy of your book. I’ve likened writing a book to birthing a child. After many months of creating something amazing, holding that baby in your arms for the first time is extremely emotional.

I had a rough start to my day yesterday, but that feeling of discontent was washed away by the flood of pride I felt when my second book was delivered, and was in my hands for the first time. The joy I felt increased exponentially as my readers began to excitedly post pictures on social media of their copies of my book. The support I have received has been truly amazing. I’m looking forward to experiencing this rush of emotion again when book baby number three is brought into the world in August!

One Eleven

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Hooray, hooray, the 2nd of May, my second book is on Amazon today!

If I am being honest, One Eleven went live on Amazon yesterday, but I wanted to officially announce the publishing date I had in mind that was much more significant. Having my second book come out on the second day of the month is one thing but having One Eleven come out one hundred and eleven days after my first book is special.

Self-publishing through KDP and having a specific launch date is tough. When you are brave enough to press the upload button to deliver your manuscript to Amazon for approval, they advise the process could take up to seventy-two hours. Not wanting to miss the window of my preferred date, I uploaded the over ninety thousand words I had written and was notified twenty-four hours later that my second book was available for purchase.

As much as I love to describe things with a plethora of words and phrases, I can not find one word or phrase that accurately describes what it is like to take a whisper of an idea and craft it into a full novel. I can only hope the writing gods will continue to look favorably upon me as I follow my journey publishing book three later this year and writing books four, five, and six in The RELATIVE Series.

One week to go!!

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I should be finishing the final edit of One Eleven, but I am too excited about the fact it will be available for sale on Amazon one week from today!! This will be my second book in The RELATIVE Series, and after getting such great reviews on The Waking Hours, I am excited to put my second book out into the world.

There were a few snags along the way, however. Writer’s block is always a given, but I certainly did not have ‘Find another artist to design a new cover two weeks before launch’ on my 2021 bingo card. Thankfully, I am not prone to panic, and I found twin brothers who are graphic designers, and they rose to the challenge. Now the only thing standing between uploading the manuscript and pressing the publish button is my arrant unwillingness to put on my editing cap. The afternoon ahead looks ugly, but I will prevail.

I will soon be setting up a contact form on my author website, www.susanmnairnauthor.ca so you can subscribe there for any updates on the following four books in the series. You can also sign up to this blog to keep up on my progress in the series, as well as reading about things outside of the world of my writing. For those following my blog, there will be a draw to win a signed copy of The Waking Hours and One Eleven.

Mark your calendars, and head to Amazon on May 2nd!! Hope to see you there.

You have to see it to believe it

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I have to preface this post by admitting I can tell a tale. Having spent the greater portion of my youth writing short stories and poems, my mind is programmed to create worlds beyond the realm of my consciousness. I have given that predilection a step up by creating a group of six novels in a series called The Relative Series. The first was published in January, the second is due in May, and I just finished writing the third.

But this blog post has nothing to do with any world I have spun into reality by merely writing it into existence. This post does have everything to do with a generation of furry rodents who have created their own series that involve a free ride to my house, and two further generations who are bent on carrying on family tradition.

In June of 2019, I wrote this bizarre post about a groundhog who crawled into the back part of the undercarriage of my car and essentially hitched a ride from my work to my house without my permission. In the hours that followed my return home, the groundhog emerged from my car to fully enjoy the buffet of greenery on my front lawn.

In the early spring of 2020, the first year of Covid, Groundhog 2.0 revealed itself and we quickly acclimated. There was no imminent threat to my Honda Civic, furry rodent number two seemed content to move on to other pastures, and the tedium that was 2020 continued.

Fast forward to the spring of Covid 2.0, and The Return of The Rodent 3.0. Old habits apparently die hard, or are passed onto future generations. Groundhog 3.0 has the same affection for my Honda Civic as its grandparent had, and was more than willing to play hide and seek with me while crawling in and out of the engine block of the same car. He managed to systematically dismantle six of the major sensors in my electronics. (car is going to the doctor tomorrow) Groundhog 1 – Me 0.

Sometime during the one on one battle, Groundhog 3.0, who I named Chunk, upped the ante and arrived one morning with his new girlfriend, Chicklet. I enjoyed watching them together. There was something very sweet about the way he interacted with her, until I realized it was mating season. That realization turned into a call to action when I heard them mating – under my living room floor!!

The next day, I procured a live trap from my work and was surprised to catch Chunk after only twenty minutes. My lovely neighbour helped me relocate Chunk, and I reset the trap hoping Chicklet would not be far behind. Within a span of three hours, I had trapped both furry creatures, and relocated them in the same spot so they could find each other again.

I wish them nothing but the best, and thankfully I have a forwarding address to send them the bill for my engine repairs!

I can’t remember which hat to put on…

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Multi-tasking is an artform. We all do it, to some extent, and we have all inevitably experienced the moment when we are unsure of what particular task should be given our full attention.

In my work life, juggling several duties at once has always come naturally. I assumed when I entered Hotel and Restaurant Management in college, there were subliminal messages in all my classes that programmed my brain to be able to solve many problems at the same time.

Being a writer, and becoming an author, presented a new set of challenges that I was ill-prepared to comprehend. Without an agent or a publishing company to look after all the facets of putting a book out into the world, my brain had suddenly become congested with the many roles I would have to play in the debut performance of me claiming my status as an author.

My thinking cap has always been a great fit. My writing chapeau took a few adjustments to make it fit properly. But my editing sombrero, and my marketing helmet both needed several adjustments before I could put one foot in front of the other without losing my headgear completely.

While the learning curves on this writing roller coaster have been enjoyable, there are still days I am unsure which hat I should be wearing, but I am thankful for the intervals that allow me a quick costume change. And, scene.

Did someone say free books?

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Although it’s been said many times, many ways, marketing is hard work. I am blessed to live in a small town and have received overwhelming support from my community. In keeping with the holiday theme of the first line of this paragraph, I must admit my heart has grown three sizes thinking about the encouragement I have received. But when it comes to attracting the attention of readers in a much wider market, that has its challenges.

I have watched several webinars, and I follow many writing communities on the internet, reaping the rewards of their knowledge. Learning from their successes and failures, I have had some of my own success branching out into the world and trying to create a buzz about The Waking Hours.

By far, the best way (albeit not a profitable way) for a new author to do that is to do a giveaway. Goodreads is an excellent way to engage with people who love to read, and a fantastic platform to offer something they love – free books. My first giveaway offered a chance to win one of ten signed copies of my first novel, and 1,734 people entered to win!

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So, I decided to double the fun. From 12:00 am to 11:59 pm on March 31st, the Kindle version of The Waking Hours will be available on Amazon for FREE. Immediately following that from 12:00 am April 1st to 11:59 am April 25th, I am doing another giveaway on Goodreads for a chance to win one of ten signed copies of my second novel in The RELATIVE Series, One Eleven, due to be published on May 2nd.

If you are reading this post on your social media, please share on your Facebook pages and retweet the crap out of it. Word of mouth promotion goes a long way for a little fish in a very big pond. And don’t forget to pick up your free Kindle copy of The Waking Hours tomorrow, and then head over to Goodreads on Thursday and enter for a chance to win a copy of One Eleven!

Onwards and upwards

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For those of you who have been following this blog, you will not be shocked by the fact that I am going to talk about writing, again. My first book, The Waking Hours, although self-published, has been doing well compared to the abysmal report I read on Google about anticipated sales. If their collected data is correct, and self-published books only average 250 book sales in the first year, I will be doing backflips after posting this latest entry. I am just shy of 500 book sales in ten weeks and that makes my heart happy.

The road to get to that number has come with its own set of challenges. Writing, editing, and marketing are all individual career paths for a reason – it is extremely difficult to perform all three tasks at the same time, and I have been feeling the stress of successfully acting out those three functions simultaneously, but I am still keeping my head above water, for now.

I have certainly obtained a great deal of knowledge and some new skills along the way, and in the grand scheme of things, I have discovered that I do not mind doing interviews. Initially, this was an enormous shock to my system, but the more I thought about how passionate I am about writing, and sharing the stories I have created, the more it made sense that I would want to share my journey with others and have those people ask questions about my process.

Last night, I did a Zoom call with my local library along with a handful of guests and, for the first time in my life, I was not nervous about public speaking. Sure, the participants were not directly in front of me, but I was answering questions about something that has become an extension of me. Although I had done a few trial runs through the questions and voiced my responses to the squirrels on my front lawn, my responses during the Q&A session sounded nothing like what I had rehearsed, but were, in fact, more linear to the truth in my head.

I can only hope I am afforded more opportunities to talk about my writing in a public forum. I am finally comfortable in my writer’s skin, and I have faith that my journey will continue onwards and upwards.

Holy marketing, Batman!

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When you enter the world of self-publishing, the most difficult part is the marketing and self-promotion. There are days I feel like I am shoving my book into people’s faces while I am internally berating myself for being so annoying. But this is a mandatory requirement in the process of getting myself out there.

While the sales numbers are doing quite well, I have been researching marketing tips and listening to people who have been there, and done that. The biggest hurdle for an unknown author, like myself, is figuring out how to get my name into the bigger markets. Being a small fish in a big pond is tough, but Dory said it best, “just keep swimming.”

I just began a promotion on Goodreads. The Waking Hours is currently available as a Giveaway. If you enter, at no cost to you, your name goes into a draw to win 1 of 10 signed copies that will be mailed to your address within two weeks of contest ending. It opens today and ends on March 28th, and is only available to CDN and US citizens. The more entries I receive, the higher the book goes on the list and the more visibility it gets on their site. Thanks in advance for your support!!

Click here to enter the draw.

Your rejection is my motivation

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When I was thinking about writing this post, a well-known song by Elton John came into my head, but the words morphed into something my writer brain could comprehend – “Rejection Seems to be the Hardest Word”. If you replace the word sad in Elton’s song with the word rejection, this could be the anthem for anyone who has written a novel and sent their words out into the world, only to receive an email response with the fateful line, ‘it’s not what I’m looking for”, or, “I just couldn’t connect with the story, but best of luck’.

Writing is hard. Ernest Hemingway described it best when he said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Over the last four years, I have completed almost three novels and self-published one of those stories, and I can tell you, no truer words have ever been spoken. A forensics team could analyze my laptop and find copious amounts of blood spatter and chronologically date those samples to match the past four years of my writing.

The idea of writing a novel is romantic. Composing a story that has characters with depth, a storyline that is exciting and has enough twist and turns to keep the reader engaged is terrifying. Every plot twist is subject to days of overthinking the idea. Characters constantly interrupt your train of thought to ask you to tell the story their way. And every great idea you have for your book on Tuesday night, sounds like absolute rubbish on Wednesday morning. Welcome to writing.

When I first began to query agents, I went into the process like every new writer does, fresh faced and full of hope that I had just written the next best seller. But the melting pot of reality takes you piece by piece until you vaguely resemble the hopeful person you were when you spent days putting together the perfect pitch. Some make it over the hurdles to the finish line, but most do not.

This is not where my story ends, but where it begins. Those rejections were my motivation to keep going and find other ways to share my words. One, two, even fifty agents opinions do not have the power to tell me my book is not good enough. The words I read in their email responses, if I even got one, were that my story was not a good fit for them. It did not mean my story would not connect with readers, and through self-publishing, that connection has been established and well-received.

I can only dream as I move further into what I hope will be my writing career to keep the faith I have in my writing, and always believe my writing voice will have ears that are eager to listen to the stories I have to tell.