PUBLISH BEFORE YOU PERISH or The Little Red Hen

Today, it is pleasure to welcome author Syr Ruus to my blog. As both a traditionally and self-published author, Syr has kindly agreed to share her thoughts on this with us.

37816_135253859838486_2745956_nSyr Ruus was born in Tallinn, Estonia during the Second World War. As a small child, she escaped with her mother to Germany and
subsequently immigrated to the United States. She has an MA in English and MS in Education and taught in the English Department of Illinois State University. She has lived in Crescent Beach, Nova Scotia since 1970, formerly working as an elementary school teacher while raising her three children and currently devoting herself full-time to writing. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies and journals and in 2009 her novel “Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart” was published by Newfoundland’s Breakwater Press.

PUBLISH BEFORE YOU PERISH or The Little Red Hen

I have always loved books. I became a reader at three. More than thirty years later, I became a writer. Why did it take so long, you might ask? Perhaps because English is my second language, or maybe I felt that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say. Once I started, however, I never stopped.

Publishing, of course, is another matter. People say it’s extremely hard to find a publisher these days with things being as they are. I know from personal experience that it has always been hard. It’s even difficult to find places to send a manuscript. Only small publishers accept unsolicited queries. If anyone does offer to take a closer look, it takes many months, even years, before a decision is reached. Often you hear nothing at all.

Not that this is altogether bad. It gives a writer a chance to reflect. After the first flush of enthusiasm, one can make some meaningful revisions. Sometimes, along with a rejection, there is feedback. I have read in a manual for writers that when you finish a novel, it should sit in a drawer for at least two years before you begin working on it again. A bit extreme, maybe. Yet often it sits that long in a slush pile on some junior editor’s desk. There does come a time, however, when a work is definitely ready. Finished. Done. Only a few final perks and tweaks could make it any better. Or perhaps not. Still no one has offered to publish it.

The wonderful news is that it has become more acceptable than ever to do it yourself. Even the Writers’ Union of Canada has recently voted to accept self-published writers.

321214_269317809765423_1682562519_nI was lucky. A smattering of my short stories appeared in Journals and anthologies. After my novel Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart received first prize in the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia annual competition, it was published by Breakwater Press in 2009. This gave me a much needed boost and sufficient confidence to actually begin referring to myself as an author.

But what of the two books I had written earlier? In 1999, Devil’s Hump was being seriously considered by a well-regarded publisher before being rejected. A few years ago, a new editor at the same company found the same novel (revised edition) “transporting, enchanting, strange, unsentimental, vivid,” but not fitting in with “what we’re trying to do with the fiction list at present.”

“I do think you should be able to find a publisher for this,” she added.

So, like The Little Red Hen, I did it myself. Devil’s Hump was published in 2013 by etc. Press, Halifax, N.S.10569081_810453168985215_2058664649597654044_n

The first novel I ever wrote also received an award from WFNS. In 1994, Edgar was the winner in the juvenile novel category. After some years, I decided to incorporate the original story which concerned a pet crow within an adult novel about the family which raised it. As such it was shortlisted for the Ken Klonsky Novella Award, yet despite positive comments from various publishers, no one was prepared to take it on. Just a few months ago, The Little Red Hen did it again. The Story of Gar was published in December, 2014.

Each of our voices is important to our collective humanity. Those that have spoken to me in the books I have read over the years have enriched me beyond measure. Our writing preserves a personal vision of a world which is constantly changing. The characters we have created with such loving care deserve a chance to sit on a bookshelf and perhaps come to life in someone else’s mind also. It’s every writer’s dream to be published, but you can’t wait around forever. Sometimes you have to do it yourself.

It’s exciting to prepare one’s work for print: to choose the paper, to select the font, to format the pages, to decide on a cover, to be in full control from beginning to end.
This includes promotion, of course, which these days is increasingly left up to the author, but which publishers certainly facilitate. Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart is available in bookstores all over the world (as I see when I Google myself). It was also reviewed in 10247462_880235172007014_1772275323027241970_nvarious newspapers and was submitted to contests which I cannot access as a self-published author. Since both of my independently published novels have a regional content (as does In Pleasantry, a collection of connected short stories, which I plan to publish next), shops in the area are willing to take a few copies on consignment. The books are printed in limited editions; the cost goes down as the number goes up. Being a diffident self-promoter, I am mainly depending on word-of-mouth for any future sales, and with luck, I may get back what I spent.

But as writers, we know that we don’t do it for the money—we do it for love.

Thanks so much, Syr, for sharing your thoughts and your wisdom. I hope that In Pleasantries will find the same success as your other novels. I am looking forward to reading your next literary offering.

To learn more about Syr, check out her WFNS page here. And her Facebook page. Her books are available locally at Coles in Bridgewater, The RiverHouse  and Lahave Bakery or by contacting the author directly: syr@eastlink.ca

Guest Blogger–Joylene Nowell Butler

Today, I am excited to have Joylene Nowell Butler as a guest on my blog. I met Joylene through blogger, Carol Garvin. Joylene is a terrific writer.( I’ve been told I’m allowed to pay her as many compliments as I’d like.) The thing is, our reputation in life speaks for itself. If you have read any of Joylene’s work I don’t need to tell you what a great writer she is, you’ve already figured that out for yourself.

Joylene Nowell Butler wrote her first book after her father died 1983. Though the book wasn’t worthy of publishing, Joylene was hooked on the process. Today she lives with her husband and their cats on Cluculz Lake in central B.C and is working on her sixth book. She is the author of suspense thrillers Dead Witness and Broken but not Dead. 

YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST NOVEL

By Joylene Nowell Butler

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words doesn’t fit with this photo taken in June 2011. Words are needed to explain who these women are and why they’re standing together in a grocery store with stacks of novels in front of them.

So why share the photo?

I’m the one in the middle with gratitude seeping from every pour. Lorna, on my right runs the Save-On bookstore in Kelowna, B.C.. Nancy, standing behind Dead Witness owns Sandhill Book Marketing, a company specializing in the distribution of independently published novels acrossCanada.

In 2008, after I self-published my first novel Dead Witness, these two women were instrumental in jump-kicking my career. Because of their initiative, Canada’s oldest Aboriginal publisher, Theytus Books published my second novel Broken but not Dead a few days before this photo was taken.

Thank goodness attitudes about self-publishing have changed. However, it doesn’t alter the fact that self-publishing is hard work. Though the community is learning to look at all published authors on the merits of their work, a lot of sweat and tears is still needed to make your dream come true.

I spent money I didn’t have publishing Dead Witness. I paid for the book to be printed, distributed and promoted. I made myself known online, started a blog, made contacts in every bookstore near me. I approached libraries, newspapers, radio stations, and anyone else willing to listen. I spent 18 hours a day marketing when all I really wanted to do was write.

After I signed with Theytus for Broken but not Dead, they took on the financial expensive of publishing my novel. I still had to pay for my travel expenses during my book tour, for bookmarks, long-distance calls where I arranged for book signings and readings. But Theytus paid for the line-editor, the copy-editor and the book cover illustrator. They created the oversize posters. They also placed my book in their brochure and distributed a copy to every bookstore in Canada. I can’t imagine how much that would have cost.

In the way Lorna and Nancy were my support system after the release of Dead Witness, Theytus believed in my work and did everything possible to bring Broken but not Dead to the reading public. How can you beat that?

So, yes, in my case, to become a published author, I had to first self-publish.

Every writer, at one time or another, decides whether to go the traditionally route or to self-publish. But it’s a decision you don’t have to make alone. Do your research. Read every self-published author bio you can find. Know what’s expected and what shortcuts you’re best not to take. More importantly, write the finest novel you can write. And that means hook up with experienced critique partners and a great editor. Because in the end, it’s all about numbers. Or as I like to sum it up: You’re only as good as your last novel.

Joylene wanted me to mention that she will give away a free e-book version of her novel, Dead Witness, to anyone who leaves a comment below with their email address included.

The Three Hundred Club

“May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow. May the soft winds freshen your spirit. May the sunshine brighten your heart. May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you, and may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.” ~~Irish Blessings

Don’t you just love that Irish Blessing?

WordPress tells me this is post number 300.  Set off the fireworks! Am I remarkable or what? (That’s a bit of sarcasm in case you missed it.)

Well, technically the post before was number 300, but you’ll have to excuse me, I was off dreaming you see. But all you dreamers out there understand. Sometimes our dreams get in the way of reality, but we do eventually come back down to earth.

On Monday, author Joylene Nowell Butler, will be guest blogging here at Laura Best, Author. Having self published her first novel,  Dead Witness, Joylene’s latest novel, Broken but not Dead, is with a traditional publisher this time around. Read what advice Joylene gives to aspiring authors who are seeking publication. Hope to see you back on Monday.

Happy Friday, and enjoy your weekend to the fullest!

The question of self publishing

Earlier this week I met a gentleman and his wife at a luncheon in New Minas. He was both charming and articulate. The conversation eventually turned to writing. He’d published a book! Having retired from farming a few years back, he told me he needed something to do and it turns out that something was novel writing. Like me, he also had a great show of support from the community when he had his book launch. I guess that goes to show that rural Nova Scotia is VERY supportive of its own.

Over the course of our conversation he mentioned that his wife always carries three copies of the book with her wherever they go. And since I’m a push over for local authors I ended up buying one. I don’t expect I’ll get around to reading it until this winter as I have a lot of books on my TBR list. Before the luncheon was over I believe all three copies were sold. I laughed and told his wife she’d have to get a larger purse.

So the author’s name is Glenn Ells, from Sheffield Mills, a self-proclaimed “old coot.” Yes folks, that’s what it actually says on the back of his book!! Since March I believe, he told me he’s sold 1200 copies of the book—a  feat he is more than proud of. This is with no advertising, just word of mouth. I do believe he had someone from the local paper write a review of it, however. He told me his wife has sold 800 copies out of her purse alone.

The name of the book is “Starting Over.” It’s set in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley in 1760 and is based on the Planter years between the expulsion of the Acadians and the influx of Loyalists following the American Revolution. That’s about all I know except someone at the luncheon mentioned that it was a love story….What do you know? I guess even “old coots” can write about romance.

After meeting Glenn I started to wonder how many people out there are self publishing. My guess is it’s a fairly substantial number. It’s not something I’ve ever considered for myself for a number of reasons but I’m sure for someone like Glenn this has been a very rewarding experience. I’m wondering how many people out there have given thought to self publishing and just what your ideas on the subject is.

One thing that can’t be denied is the fact that Glenn is having one heck of a great time promoting his own book and meeting new and interesting people. I wish him all the best.

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