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

7 Ways to Sell Your Book in the Real World

While all writers live in a world of make-believe, a warm safe place where we go to plot our stories, there comes a time when all writers need to step out of world we’ve created and become a part of the real world of actually selling that book you put your blood, sweat and tears into.

Once that book is published a writer needs to get down to the business of promoting that same book that kept them hidden away in their fantasy world all those months. The truth is, many writers would like nothing better than to leave the promotion of their books to someone else. I mean, wouldn’t that be wonderful if we only had to spend our time writing and not have to bother our heads about book sales at all? Wouldn’t that be a writer’s dream? Realistically speaking, that’s not very realistic. Not in the real world. Whether you’re a self- published or traditionally published author you need to pitch in and do your share.

As a published author, you need to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to sell your books. You might not be able, or willing, to do everything I’m about to suggest, but don’t you owe it to yourself to give it a shot? As one author put it, “I’ll do anything for my book.” If we’re going to go though all the work to have our book published shouldn’t we do just that?

Here are a few ideas for opportunities to watch out for right in your own “real world” community.

  1. Craft Fairs: This year I made a commitment to take part in some craft fairs in the area where I live. It all started in May Fall 2014 117when I saw a billboard by a  local legion selling tables for their upcoming craft fair and it got me thinking. Books are crafts, right? And a little something different than what you’re likely to see at most craft fairs. Tables ranged from $10 -$ 20 depending upon the venue. Some can be even pricier depending upon how popular the event is so check before hand. Books don’t take up a lot of space and set-up time doesn’t take long. A few times an author friend of mine, Jan Coates, came along and we shared a table.  Not only did we get to chit-chat to the people who stopped by our table but we kept each other company during the slow times. The day flew by!
  2. Festivals: Keep your eyes open for any festivals that are planned for your area. Some of these festivals are very well attended. For instance, the local museum puts on a  Heritage Blueberry Festival every year. As part of the festival they have an area  designated for vendors to set up. That particular event attracts over 500 people. I  had a wonderful time at this festival. A friend of mine came to keep me company that day and was absolutely astounding when it came to “talking up my book.”
  3.  Farmers Markets: I know a few authors who regularly take their books to the local farmers market. While I’ve never personally         gone to a farmers market I’ve  heard some wonderful stories from other authors who have. Some of them go every week.
  4. Ask small business owners in the area to carry your books. If you’re lucky they’ll  say yes, and accept them on consignment for an agreed upon percentage. Chances are yours will be the only book they carry, so you’ll be unique. And sometimes unique is also eye-catching. My books are  available at the convenience store right in the community where I live, (how cool is that?) as well as the local museum in a nearby community, and several craft shops. You’d be surprised how many copies they’ve sold.
  5. Readings: What better way to interest people in your book than taking part in a public reading? Some of these events will also have copies of your book on hand. I  know, reading in public can be a scary thing. I can remember a time when the thought of reading my work in public was terrifying. But with lots of practise I no longer feel my knees go weak or my heart hammering out a strange tune.      I’ve now read at Word on the Street several times, as well as several library readings and a literary night held in a neighbouring community where I was also invited to sell copies of my book.
  6. Carry copies of your book with you wherever you go. I’ve been doing this since I  met a gentleman who told me his wife had sold 800 copies of his book from her purse. Wherever they went his wife took along three copies. I can’t begin to tell you how many people, once they find out you’re an author, will ask  you right on the spot if you have any copies on you. So be prepared!
  7. Fight the fear and be ready to say yes.  While saying yes can sometimes be a scary thing it’s always important to be willing to take part in as many opportunities as we can, when and if they arise. Reading in public, being interviewed by the local paper, radio, or TV station can be as scary as it gets. My advice is to say yes when opportunities arise unless you have valid reasons for declining. And no,“I’m too scared” is not a valid reason. My experience has been that the thought of things are always more frightening than actually doing it. Many of us are self-conscious and don’t really like being in the limelight. We’re writers and many of us are introverts. But sometimes even introverts need to come out of their shells and make themselves visible.

So I’ll leave you with seven opportunities to watch out for selling books in the “real world.” I’m sure if you keep looking you can come up with plenty of other opportunities for selling your book in the real world. You’re welcome to share any of your ideas in the comment section.

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!

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