Category Archives: Marketing

The Sacred and the Secretarial

Yesterday on Writers and Company (CBC Radio) they brought in two authors to talk about a writer’s changing role when it comes to self-promotion and marketing… specifically in relation to social media. I didn’t hear the entire interview and it hasn’t been posted quite yet, but it struck a tragic chord with me.

You see, I discovered that the two authors were experiencing exactly the same problems that I have.

The best work of any artist is created when we enter this sacred “trance” or “zone” of creativity. When I wasn’t pregnant I generally forgot about the world once I entered in this zone. I forgot to eat, I skipped showers. I didn’t return phone calls… and I could write 4500 a day, easily.

But that was really before I was published, before there was any real need for me to be online for any other reason than reference materials.

As it was pointed out in the interview, writers are famous procrastinators. We used to have to leave the house and go looking for a coffee shop to find distraction, but now, thanks to instant messaging, we don’t even have to leave our desk.

Facebook, twitter, even email provide a type of instant gratification rush that’s similar to pulling the lever on a slot machine. Just hit refresh and who knows what type of distracting email/message/tweet you may have. What’s worse, emptying the email box makes us feel like we’re accomplishing something. It lets us go on to other tasks without feeling too guilty about not actually working on our book.

Being social media savvy is also a quality that agents/ editors/ publishers tend to evaluate. They probably will google your name and take a peek at just how successful you are when it comes to self-promotion. Any why not? The less work that they have to do gets your book that much faster onto the shelf, and it means a cheaper product for them.

The problem is the secretarial realm DOES NOT mix well with the sacred realm of deep creativity. At least not for me. I work from home as well and trying to switch back and forth between writing a fantasy manuscript, blogging about outdoor gear (my day job), and keeping on top of my social media demands… well honestly, it’s often my manuscript that suffers the most.

Because of this, the two writers on CBC suggested that writing is getting worse. Unless writers have hours and hours of lonely space to dig down and commune with their soul, the writing we produce only really scratches the surface of what could be… or so I have heard.

Which I guess is why I like to write in the middle of the night, when I can. Sadly to say it doesn’t happen near enough but I did get up an extra two hours early this morning just to work on my manuscript.

What’s your solution? How do you push back the secretarial realm and make space for the sacred?


TV Interview on Shaw!


What happens when a publishing house goes under?

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I recently read about a friend who published with a smaller house and when they went under her book dropped out of print. I have to confess this is a fear that has crossed my mind. A book is an investment of years, just the thought of loosing your contract sends a chill down my spine.

What ever happens to a book that goes out of print? I’m sure there have been quite a few. Can you ever resell the manuscript? Sometimes I wonder if I’m putting too many eggs in one basket by preparing to write a whole series of books for one publisher. I wonder if I should try to write another book at the same time and sell it somewhere else, but at the same time… I know this is probably more work than I can handle!

Just some random thoughts. On a positive note all of this leads me to conclude that writers/publishers/editors/agents must be among the most resilient/optimistic people on the planet. 🙂 The publishing industry is labour intensive, heart-breaking and offers little return… and yet… and yet… I still know that this is what I’ll do with the rest of my life.

PS Happy news! My husband and I are buying our first home! Yeah! I’m going to get a real office… and an island in the kitchen. 🙂


My book is published! What now?

Last week was huge. At finally long last my book is officially released to the world and free to fly. Some of you might have discovered a few sad kinks in the system… But I know my publisher is working extra hard to get everything straightened out.

so what’s next?

Honestly, I’m a bit worn out from the marketing side of things. I’ve been sadly lax in telling you all just how amazing my book launch went… Mostly because I needed a bit of a break. BUT the wonderful news is that I know the new direction I’m going in: I want to teach kids to write.

The absolutely best part of my week happened when I got to sit down with a kid named Josh (I think he’s 11) and his father. Josh has been writing stories since the tender age of four. He plays amazing pretend games and he’s got all these ideas swirling about inside of his head… He just doesn’t know what to do with them. His father looked a bit desperate when he asked if I could help. 🙂 I CAN’T WAIT to help Josh write a book!

We talked about organizing his ideas into separate folders his computer and giving each of those folders the title of a book. Once we grouped the ideas properly I asked him which book he’d like to write. Once he picked a book to work on I gave him homework. I told him to write a page on the characters in his book, a page on the setting, and a page loosely outlining the plot. I also told him not to be afraid to write out the scenes from his book that are playing out inside his head…

Okay. I know that sounds like a lot for a kid, but Josh is on fire. He’s so excited to write, our meeting could have gone on for hours. Fortunately I remembered I had a hungry husband at home to feed.

Josh has really inspired me to run with an idea I had about talking in high schools about creative writing and story building. Book signings are great and all… But kids. Kids are awesome!

On a happy side note, Josh represents my fastest growing “fan base”… Kids between 9 and 12 are the ones who are really loving my book. I was a little surprised at this but I can’t tell you how great it is. I’ve been told that these are the kids who generally don’t read so I’ve got something good going. The knowledge that preteens are the ones reading my stuff has also begun to shape the way I write my next book…

But more on that later. 🙂


Blog scoop! My interview with upcoming author Shannon Mayer.

A good friend of mine and fellow writer, Shannon Mayer, recently signed with a major Canadian agent. I’ve been fascinated by her journey as she moves towards publication.

You can read a summary of her book at the end of this interview, I’ve had a chance to read bits of it and I love it. Shannon is well on her way to being picked up by a large publishing house. I couldn’t resist getting her to share some of her experiences so far.

Shannon, in my mind I would describe your work as gritty urban fantasy. In a market clogged with manuscripts, can you tell us what makes your book unique?

My main character, Toni, is a morbidly obese woman who does phone sex for a living, something she’s quite good at. That alone is a stand out quality of the book. There are stories about chubby girls and fat guys, but you would be hard pressed to find a main character who is truly obese.

Of course, there is a romantic element to the book and that also makes for an interesting twist with Toni being as large as she is and dealing with the issues of embodying [the vice of] Gluttony, as well as trying to keep her demon master in the dark about her love interest.

I would say that Toni’s story is a cross between Indiana Jones, The Biggest Loser with a dash of the Lightning Thief thrown in for good measure, which means it’s fast paced and a lot of fun despite the dark aspects of it.

Who do you think your story will appeal to?

I think that the book will appeal to a large range of people and ages, even those who perhaps have avoided the Urban Fantasy genre in the past. It’s dark enough for an adult book without being so bad that an older teen couldn’t enjoy it and while there is definitely a fantasy element, it isn’t vampires and werewolves.

The struggles Toni goes through and the things she wants for her life are things that we can all identify with. I think that this touch of realism will bring the book onto a lot of different shelves and to a variety of readers.

Why did you choose to write about a non-conventional heroine?

It wasn’t so much of a choice as Toni started to “tell” me about her life and I had to write it. It was as fascinating for me to write about Toni as I think it will be for people to read.

Do you have a message for your audience?

Ultimately, no matter how bad you think your life is, how far you’ve strayed away from the path that you wanted to be on, you can always make the change to bring yourself back. Whether it’s weight loss, finding the love of your life, changing habits or fighting off addictions, it doesn’t matter. We all have the strength to change, no matter what our circumstances. That’s what Toni’s story is teaching us, what it’s all about.

You recently signed with a major agent, but are still waiting for a publishing house to pick you up.  Tell us about your experience so far.

It has been highs and lows to the extreme. The journey to this point has been overwhelming and so surreal and now to have finally signed with an agent, particularly as one as good as Carolyn Swayze still makes me shake my head.

You have to develop some serious patience. Even with an agent submitting your work, you can wait for months to hear back from interested publishing houses. It’s still faster than submitting as an un-agented author, but there is definitely the possibility of waiting on the big houses for four months or more… And that’s when they are keen to get to your manuscript!

How long have you been writing your book?

It took me about three months to write the rough draft. It took another year of learning about the craft, making revisions, and hiring a freelance editor (that I worked with on two rounds of revisions) before it was to the point where I met Carolyn and I signed my contract with her. And still now every time I look at it I see things I tweak and change. As you know, writing a book is a never-ending process.

How did you connect with your agent?

I was very lucky to meet Carolyn in person at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference in Seattle this past July. She was one of the agents I had on my list to have a one on one with and we hit it off right from the start. I met her on Saturday and by Tuesday of that week we were discussing contracts. The whole thing happened very fast.

Why did you decide to work with her?

She has a great reputation as one of the best agents in Canada, and as I mentioned, we really hit it off. Although hitting it off with your agent isn’t necessarily a must, it is a very nice bonus when you are working with someone over a long period of time and on several projects.

What are some of the difficulties you’ve experienced?

Learning patience has been a biggy for me, and I thought I was a pretty patient person to begin with. Balancing the stress of deadlines with a full time job, husband and life has also been a rather interesting experience. It’s very easy to get wound tighter than a two dollar clock, so finding that balance is tremendously important, however you choose to do it.

What are the benefits?

The benefits I see in having an agent is there is someone else who believes in your work enough to put their name and reputation behind it. You have someone to bounce ideas off of, and also the most obvious benefit is they are pitching and selling your ms to the publishing houses that we as authors would have a difficult time getting our foot even in the door. This way I can focus more on the writing aspect of the business and let her do the leg work.

What is some advice you can give writers currently searching for an agent?

Well, I met Carolyn and she wasn’t at the time looking for adult Urban Fantasy and hadn’t taken any on up to that point in time. My advice would be when at conferences, pitch to as many agents and editors that you can. One of them may surprise you and be ready to step into your genre even if they haven’t in the past.

What is some advice you can offer for working with an agent? what are sensitive issues and what can be done to smooth these over?

Good, clean communication is the most important aspect of your relationship with your agent. Look at it like you would a new romantic relationship. Lay out the ground rules early on, what you expect from your agent and what they expect from you. If you aren’t sure, ask. The worst thing in the world is to be unsure of where you stand with your agent. As to treating sensitive topics I have found it is best to be honest and straight to the point. Although this is a relationship, the basis of it is a business. Treat it as such and your agent will respect you for your professional attitude.

Anything else?

For those who are writers, keep at it. It’s taken me nearly seven years now to get to this point and there have been some real low valleys. But the peaks are worth it, don’t ever give up, you never know when that next step will take you to the top of the mountain.


And of course if you want to learn more about me and Toni, you can connect with me at wwww.shannonmayer.com or my blog at http://shannonmayer.blogspot.com


The Chronicles of Sin : Gluttony

Toni is a morbidly obese woman whose major talents are eating copious amounts of food and giving phenomenal phone sex, the latter being a fact she’s damn proud of. The weight is another matter altogether and it’s out of her control. She’s Gluttony, one of the Seven Deadly Sins, dedicated to filling the world with the compulsion to indulge. Trapped in a vicious circle, she can neither free herself on her own, nor love the life she leads as Gluttony.

Far from alone, Toni and the other six of the Seven Deadly Sins are bringing the world to its knees, overseen by Dantalion, a Grand Duke of Hell. The status quo is blown to hell when Toni falls in love with Rathburn, a.k.a Wrath, thanks in part to a flying nymph and his crossbow. Between a forbidden love and a little divine intervention from an archangel, Toni finds the strength to fight for the changes she wants in her life– Freedom from Gluttony and Rathburn in her arms.


Kids that Read are Awesome!

I attended something called ReadUp TweetUp last night. In celebration of family literacy day, the local twitter community (shout out) and a bunch of amazing authors came together to host a literary networking event. What does that mean? Lots of books, people that love to read, and those who love to write (and read). But the highlight of the evening? It would definitely be meeting young Aiden and his sister Abigail.

Aiden and his sister devour books. Apparently Aiden read my book in a couple of days and he loved it. What makes this great is the fact that while my book may be a fast-paced read, I didn’t pull any punches when it comes to vocabulary and sentence structure. The age group I wrote for would be 12 to 16 year-olds and Aiden’s 10. Way to go!

My mom also showed me a picture of a girl from her Special Ed class reading my book. The girl had her nose between the pages and you can tell she really loves it. My mom is getting the librarian to put my book into the high school where she works, and apparently there’s already a lineup to borrow it.

I can’t even begin to say how much this means to me. I’ve been a little bogged down lately by adult reviews of my book that focus on things like flow, sentence structure, character development. I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I didn’t think there were things that I can improve on but it meant the world to me to meet a kid that just loved the story.

Name Tag


Entering the Public Eye: Public Speaking for Writers

The first thing my publicist Kim Plumley had me do was join toastmasters. It’s been a couple months of meetings and all I can say, is that she was SO right. Even though I’m still a beginner, the simple practice of public speaking has really helped me in all sort of social situations.

Just over a year ago I attended an outdoor church event where I was elected to talk with a lot of different people. There was so much going on and so many strangers to meet that I was totally overwhelmed. I actually had a bit of a breakdown and cried a bit. My husband saved me that day. Seeing that I was in trouble, he took me for a walk to get some tea and visit my favorite used bookshop.

Today, I’m doing a lot better. I’m becoming steadily more comfortable being in the public eye… I didn’t even freak out too much shooting a feature on my book for shaw TV. I can’t really remember just what it was that I said in the interview, but I’m left with this warm fuzzy impression that it wasn’t TOO bad. 🙂

So yeah, the reason that I even bring this all up, is that if you are a writer like me, chances are you’re more the solitary bookworm type… And you could probably use some help with public speaking. I highly recommend toastmasters, it will help you with more than speeches. To sell your book, you’re most likely going to have to give a fast confident verbal pitch to an agent and/or and editor eventually.

Something else that has helped me in this area is belonging to a critique group. My fellow WIP members have always been helpful and supportive. A writing group is the perfect way to practice your verbal pitches without too much heart-pounding pressure. :p

Hope that this helps/inspires you!

PS The Shaw interview will air sometime at the end of this month… And I’ll post a link on this blog.