“Gophers! You great git! Not golfers! The little brown furry rodents!” ~ Sandy MacReedy, Caddyshack
Try as I may to make sense of the backstory as to why I have groundhogs living under the floorboards of my house, the logistics of the story still sound like I am writing fiction.
Two years ago, I unwittingly ferried an adult groundhog from my work to my home in a rather astonishing tale. You can read it here. This spring, I witnessed another generation of that furry family emerging from the burrow their mother had created and watched this new generation feasting on the expansive greenery on my front lawn. Towards the end of April, not long after I heard the rodents creating a birthing den under my living room, I live-trapped the two culprits and happily re-homed them.
Fast-forward to yesterday. After wanting to celebrate the first Beta review of my third book, I poured a glass of wine and was enjoying the congratulatory words I had received. As I was lifting the glass of wine to my lips, the movement outside my window made me pause to focus on the scene before me. Another furry rodent had emerged from the same place and was enjoying the salad bar that is my front lawn.
Correct me if I’m wrong, Sandy, but it’s time to dust off the live trap again!
Marketing yourself is a tough business. I thought writing a novel, or three, was going to be the most difficult bit, but blatantly shoving myself into people’s worlds, and down their throats, carries much more of a burden than writing the damn books.
Several times, I attempted to make myself familiar with MailChimp as a way to reach out to a broader audience, and several times I hung my head to admit defeat. I was still wearing my writer pants and the marketing outfit I was struggling to get into was a horrible fit.
Today, I took the chimp by the, uh, horns, and we acclimated. While I currently have a scant list of followers on this new marketing platform, I created and sent out my first newsletter. I even figured out how to add a button on the landing page of my author website that now enables people to go to the site to sign up for that newsletter.
I have made a promise to myself to keep the reports brief and engaging while allowing anyone who has enjoyed The Waking Hours and/or One Eleven to follow the progress of the next four books in The RELATIVE Series. If you want to come on this crazy journey with me, please click the link below and take your seat on the roller coaster that is now my life.
If you have been following me on this blog, you will know I have self-published two books on Amazon that are part of a six-book sequence called The Relative Series. I am new to the writing world, and have been doing my best to maintain a structured writing schedule. Weekly Zoom meetings with my friend and mentor, Neil, have kept me on track (for the most part) and held me accountable to meet a weekly deadline.
The creative aspect of constructing stories that come from the depths of my imagination is a dream come true. Since I was a young child, I have built worlds in my mind, developed characters who lived in those worlds, established conflict, and designed fitting endings for each tale that I had manufactured.
Along the way, there were always signs to tell me that I should forge ahead, to throw caution to the wind and put each and every word onto a page, and last night was no different. I have three white boards in my living room to help me keep the timelines of each book so they flow properly into the next story, and one of those white boards spoke volumes last night.
Writing a series of six books is daunting enough, but making sure the timelines throughout the generations match up is overwhelming. While sitting in my living room as the sun went down, the outline of the tree I planted in my mother’s memory after she passed away magically shadowed the white board holding the family tree of my series. I got the message loud and clear, now back to the story board I go!
I had never heard the term imposter syndrome until recently. Admittedly, I was on a huge high after self-publishing my first novel in January and receiving such great feedback from family and friends. My mood was heightened even more when I started getting fantastic reviews from strangers. My lockdown was spent writing, and many others had the time to catch up on their reading, which was certainly to my benefit.
I self-published book number two at the beginning of May and, while it is getting great reviews as well, the momentum doesn’t have the same feel as the first book did. After Googling trends about book publishing, the general consensus was book sales dip as Spring begins springing and doing outdoor activities seem more appealing after spending the colder months indoors. That compounded with the end of the stay-at-home orders should be enough to make my brain understand it will take a bit more time for my second novel to gain some traction, even though it is selling well locally and people are enjoying it even more than my first book.
But my brain did not buy into my logic. It went into self-deprecation mode, and I found myself feeling like I was merely posing as a writer. Thankfully, I have a solid group of connections who are willing to play Cher to my Nicholas Cage and deliver a well-timed slap to my face, Moonstruck style, circa 1987.
After having added 800 new words last night to the fourth book in my series, I am back on track. The handprint is still visible on my cheek, but I seem to have come to my senses and reminded myself that I have talent as a writer. They should make pills for this.
I have said it before, and I will say it again, marketing your own books as a self-published author is about as enjoyable as sticking needles under your fingernails. While the obsessive desire to create is always at the forefront of our brains, the necessity to get our names into the real world is onerous.
I have been very present on my social media platforms and prepared myself for a few bouts with the primate on MailChimp, but I was keen to find other avenues that would allow me to get my stories out into the world without feeling like I was shoving myself down my friend’s throats.
Navigating markets outside of the Canadian border is daunting but, as I recently discovered, readily attainable. The Fiverr.com website has been a blessing. Not only have I had the great fortune of finding two highly creative book cover designers, but I also happened upon this talented fellow who has created an ad that will be broadcast to the US through iHeart Radio. Gaining any sort of momentum in the States would be amazing, and I love what he has done. Click below to listen to the ad.
Rome was not built in a day and I have no misconceived notions that I will be a household name any time soon, if ever. But, if I keep my eyes on the prize, and put in every effort required to succeed, it may happen for me. I just have to keep the faith, and be willing to do whatever it takes to get my books, and my name, out into the world.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!