Promotion — from the klutz’s perspective

Thanks to Betty Jane Hegerat for this lovely promotion of my writing!

Betty Jane Hegerat

I had just finished reading from my third book, Delivery, when a woman came over to introduce herself as my sales representative, the person who had  traveled about selling the new books from that season’s catalogues of several publishers as well as my own, Oolichan Books. Susan Toy worked for the Kate Walker Agency at that point and had won awards as “top sales rep of the year.”  As I got to know Susan it became clear that her love of books, authors, audiences, and her enthusiasm and personality made her a worthy recipient of that distinction and many other accolades as well.

Susan asked if I would meet with her over coffee and surprised me by bringing along Randal McNair, my “new publisher.” As well as having less than a clue about what went into selling a book once it was out in the world, I had also been…

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Announcing a New Publication from IslandCatEditions!

IslandCatEditions is very pleased to announce the forthcoming eBook …

My Camino Walk: A Way to Healing
by Timothy L. Phillips

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Timothy Phillips celebrated his sixtieth birthday by hiking Spain’s Camino de Santiago. The almost eight hundred kilometer trek became a month-long test of physical stamina, with weather extremes, a range of fellow pilgrims, and hours of introspection that caused him to question his childhood, his life, and many long-held ideas and beliefs. These challenges shook loose the very foundations of his being. Timothy brings a photographer’s eye to detailed descriptions of the trek that appeal to all the senses and invites the reader to join him on his healing journey.

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Advance praise for My Camino Walk
“The record of a journey through a mythic landscape is a staple of world literature. In My Camino Walk Timothy L. Phillips describes his personal journey across the rugged terrain between France and Spain. Along the trail, he meets an international cast of characters, each drawn with the same precision as his exquisite landscape writing. My Camino Walk is a journey his readers will share and treasure forever.”
~ J. Michael Fay, author of Passion, The Healer and Tenderness

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About the Author
Timothy L. Phillips, went from hospitality to healing, managing luxury hotels and restaurants in London, Paris, Vancouver and Toronto before entering the healing profession in 1994 as a shiatsu and massage therapist. Through walking the Camino twice, he has gained precious insight about his own inner journey as well as bearing witness to the journeys of others.
He lives in Toronto with Patricia, his life partner.

Available soon online at Amazon, KOBO, iTunes and Overdrive.

#Read about Guest #Author Bob Van Laerhoven

It’s always great to hear again from one of my favourite authors, Bob van Laerhoven (who helps me with the spelling of Flemish swear words in my own short stories!) and interesting to learn more about Bob in this blog post from Chris the Story Reading Ape. Bob writes excellent books and is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects. I’ve promoted him previously on Reading Recommendations.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

From rags to…eh…more rags….

Bob Van LaerhovenI won’t go so far to tell you that I’m one of those examples of the classical “The American Dream” – from rags to riches – but it’s still a fact that nothing in my youth prepared me for being an author. A Belgian author. A Flemish author. A Belgian/Flemish author published in Holland, Belgium, France, Canada, the US and next year in Italy.

I never dreamed it would come this far. Being the second son in a Flemish workers’ family, my destiny was to become a civil servant, my parents’ dream. A civil servant was synonymous with climbing the social ladder.

There was a problem. A lot of problems, really. I was a dreamer. I was a reader. I wanted to become an author. There were no books in the house. Reading was considered to be laziness, although I must say that my parents didn’t…

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A Tail (ahem!) Tale of 5 Self-Published Books …

Recently I read 5 self-published eBooks—all good books in their own way—but 4 of these suffered from “problems” that in my estimation could have been easily rectified. As it was, these problems were enough to diminish my satisfaction in reading what should have been very good books. Without mentioning the authors’ names or their book titles (except for the perfect book!), let me explain what I mean. (I did finish reading every book I list here, but with varying degrees of satisfaction.)

The first book is one I had known about for some time and had even beta-read material in advance to help the author organize and substantively edit in preparation for publication. I read a free Kindle edition. While I thoroughly enjoyed what was written—both the subject matter and the stories told (this was non-fiction about a particular time and place in the author’s life)—I realized that the author had not taken to heart anything of what I’d previously mentioned in my beta-read comments, in particular, getting a professional edit (and presumably the author did not pay attention to what others may have mentioned). The copy editing was poor to non-existent in places. The material was poorly organized and there was a great deal of repetition. I was disappointed in what could have been a very good book. The saving grace was the subject matter, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The second book was the first foray into self-publishing for a long-time non-fiction author with a great many books traditionally, and successfully, published. I borrowed this eBook from the library, so it was an ePub version supplied through Overdrive. The book itself was perfect. Not one single editing problem that I could discern—not surprising, given the author’s background in having been an editor himself. The actual “problem” with this book was the poor formatting job done by whichever company prepared the eFiles for this author. (Their name was listed on the copyright page, but I have completely forgotten it now.) This may be difficult to explain if you have never read an eBook borrowed from a library. Usually, eBooks are divided into sections (generally chapters) and the number of pages in each section is shown (1 of 27) on the bottom right-hand corner, with the overall percentage of the book read tallied (1%) on the bottom left-hand corner. In the case of this eBook, every section had been formatted as though it were a separate book, so when I reached the end of a chapter the Overdrive reader told me I had finished reading the entire book and I was unable to “turn” the page to the next section. I had to keep going back to the Table of Contents each time I finished reading a section and click on the next chapter to open it. The Overdrive reader also didn’t automatically “bookmark” which section I had previously finished when I returned to reading again after shutting off the computer. So this caused a great deal of frustration to me, the reader, who was otherwise enjoying a perfectly fine book. And I felt sorry for the author who I know must have paid a pretty penny to have this book ePublished. I will tell the author of this problem, because I know him personally. I have no idea as to whether the same problem exists for the Kindle version.

The third book was a mystery/thriller I downloaded from Amazon for free. I had never heard of the author, but was attracted by the setting and story line, both of which were original to me. The author has since published three other novels in this series. This particular book I read was the first and originally published in 2011, presumably in eBook format only—the information is not given as to whether there is a print edition. The book began well-enough, but I quickly realized that a professional editor had never checked the MS before it was published. A few incorrect words had been used, but especially homonyms were used erroneously in many places (the word sounded as though it was correct when you read a sentence aloud). And these problems continued throughout, even increasing in the second half of the book. It was obvious to me that no one besides the author had read the manuscript before it was published. The sad part of all this is that the eBook was, as I mentioned, published in 2011—the author has had 5 years to correct all those mistakes!! As much as I wanted to read more stories about these particular characters set in this location, I’ll be steering clear of any more books by the author who obviously does not care about the quality of the work that’s put out there for readers to read.

(Really, it’s important to remember your readers, folks! Make your writing the very best it can be by producing quality work that doesn’t make your readers cringe. If you don’t care enough about us, why should you expect us to care about what you write?)

The fourth book I read was another free download from Amazon by an author I didn’t know previously. (There were horses on the cover. I was attracted to the book by those horses and that the book was a mystery in a western US setting.) It was a good book! I was pleasantly surprised, because it was actually listed as a religious book—a genre I likely would not have read, had it not been for those horses on the cover! And therein lies the problem with this book and why I’ve included it in this list: the genre selected actually limited the possible audience for the book. Yes, the characters were churchgoers and there was a tiny bit of praying, but the overall story itself, and the characters, were like a typical western written by Zane Grey or an episode of the old TV series, Bonanza. In fact, it was about as religious as either of those. No blaspheming but also no preaching or morals presented. Lot of horses, though! So I was more disappointed for the book than in it.

And the fifth of the self-published eBooks I read is an example of how good these books can be when the author does take care and produces a great book. While the book was originally written by this author a long time before eBooks ever became a Thing, he very wisely set aside the manuscript for more than a decade while he honed his craft and published a number of other novels first. When he hauled out this book again, he was able to work through and completely rewrite the story. Also, a number of friends, me included, offered to beta read, and … he listened to us! At least, I know he listened to some of my suggestions. Plus, he also paid for a professional edit of the manuscript. The result was near perfection! I read the finished eBook (Kindle version) and was delighted to see that the story now read very well, and I could count on one hand the number of copy editing mistakes and/or typos that remained in the text. The book? It’s Full Circle by Tim Baker! (I have already told him privately of my reading experience and congratulated him on creating a novel that was a pleasure to read. Great cover design, too, although no horses …)

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So, after having read 5 very different eBooks by self-published authors, that’s my assessment. Some of you may think I’m being overly nit-picky in my reading, but I don’t believe I’m being any more critical than most average readers. The main difference is that I write to a blog so I can tell you whatever I think about various aspects of writing and publishing. And I’m an author myself. I think it’s up to every author to care about what they offer readers, and present them with the very best quality possible. As I mentioned above, if you care then your readers will care.

Since I first conceived of the idea for this blog post, I’ve also read a traditionally published print book written by an author who has a long career of successful books. You might think that a book like this, written by a name-author and published by one of the Big 5 publishing companies … and in a print format (so not quite that easy to correct), would have received a thorough editing/proofing session before publication. After all, editing and proofing are part of the publisher’s responsibilities (and expenses) and not up to the author to worry over, as is the case of self-published authors. Unfortunately, there were quite a number of errors in this book—missing words, missing punctuation, misspelling … I lost track. I know that the publisher is to blame for this shoddiness, but it still all reflects back on the author, doesn’t it? I know I wouldn’t be happy if a publisher thought so little of me that they didn’t do that last final check of the manuscript before printing. So it’s not just self-published authors who experience these problems incurred by publishing before their book is ready.

As carpenters like to say, Measure twice, cut once. It’s definitely worth taking that extra time of having another (professional) set of eyes go over your manuscript, or to consult with you on the structure, formatting, design or listing. Well worth it! Your readers will thank you by wanting to read more of what you write!

(And if you try to use the excuse that you can’t afford to pay what a professional edit will cost, well I say to you that you can’t afford to publish without one. If that’s the case, and the money is difficult (and I totally understand that it can be tough—it has been for me, too), then in that case you should wait to publish. Sorry to say, but this is the reality of the business. It’s just not worth it to put a half-baked loaf of bread out there and hope no one notices the still-doughy centre.)

Besides, you’ve got to love an editor—MY editor, as it happens!—who has an attitude like this!

Ed Quote for Susan 02 Framed

…Authors, the longest days…waiting for your editor’s feedback… Susan Toy tells it…

And here’s the reason I’m looking so glum … Thanks to Seumas Gallacher for once again hosting me on his blog with this Guest Post!

Seumas Gallacher

…an Idiot Author’s Guide to waiting for Editorialcomment… from my terrific pal, Authoress, Susan Toy

10 Ways I pass the time while waiting for my editor to finish editing my novel …

by Susan M. Toy

 It took about 12 years to complete a final draft of my second novel, a draft I felt was finally ready to send to my most trusted first reader—my editor.

 You’d think after all the time the file has sat in four computers and various memory sticks during all those years, sometimes never seeing the light of day, I’d have embraced patience and would now be willing to allow for whatever further time was necessary to complete the editing process. After all, I know that it does take a great deal of time and concentration to complete the stellar and most thorough job my editor is currently doing.

 But…

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Heart Failure Research Unit – a listening recommendation

Thanks to Reading Recommendations-promoted author Sharon Clark for telling me about this group of musicians who also just happen to be Research Doctors at the University of Calgary.

From Sharon:
It has been a great privilege for me to work with a group of very bright medical doctors and researchers, some being both. I was always impressed with their medical and scientific expertise, but I was amazed to find out that these individuals also are very talented musicians.

Dustin Anderson wrote and sang the songs in this CD. He obtained a PhD in Neuroscience and is currently a medical resident in Internal Medicine.

Vadim Iablokov obtained his PhD in Gastroenterology and now he too is in medical school. He plays the drums.

Lorrie Matheson – a professional musician and producer – had a variety of roles. He not only played keyboard, bass and guitar, but was also the producer of this CD. He plays in multiple bands, both folk and rock. His latest album “The Night is for Sleepers” was available in 2013.

Dan Muruve, is a doctor and researcher that I am fortunate to work for. He is a nephrologist who also has two research labs – one in basic research studying chronic kidney disease and the other investigating markers in various patient kidney diseases. He plays guitar here.

I also had the good fortune to work with Simon Hirota during his Post-Doctoral studies. Currently he also has his own lab focusing on acute and chronic inflammatory diseases in the gastrointestinal tract. He plays bass on earlier records.

These people have worked hard to become experts in their fields. They balance their demanding careers through their musical creativity, which they hold to the same high standards.

Heart Failure Research Unit

What is your latest release and what type of music is it?
Temporary Dreams is the latest CD. It is alternative rock/folk

Quick description of the music you perform:
We have recorded 3 albums with this current lineup. Our musical influences are diverse and include Hayden, Pavement, Neil Young, The Figgs, The Replacements, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, Frank Black, Ryan Adams.

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Your band bio:
We are all medical doctors or research scientists. Heart Failure Research Unit is the brainchild of Calgary’s Dustin Anderson – a prolific songwriter who combines his love of weirdo psych-roots and classic troubadours to make an incredibly engaging indie-folk hybrid. Drawing on his vast life experience, his lyrics are wise and weary, heavy and hopeful, his voice warm and inviting, like your favorite sofa at Grandpa’s cabin.

Links for people to buy your music:
Website

Your promo links:
Website

What are you working on now?
We are planning to make another record in 2016 and have a CD release party this fall.

Please recommend the name of a musician or band whose work you’ve enjoyed hearing lately.
Courtney Barnett

Richard Emerson Toy – b. May 7, 1916, d. Dec. 30, 1994

Today is the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth! Happy Birthday, D.O.D (Dear Old Dad as he signed himself in letters to me). I know you’re likely enjoying yourself at that big cottage in the sky! Raising a glass in your memory, Daddio … although, in this first photo you’re probably saying, “Oh, buzz off, Baby!”

Dad

Dad in uniform

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Mystery Mondays: Susan Toy on Dancing the Sophomore Slump Two-Step

Thanks to Kristina Stanley for hosting me on her Mystery Mondays blog feature! And, in the funny way things have of working out, writing this piece seemed to dislodge something in me that had been blocking my writing, so that the very next day I was able to begin again and finish the MS – in only THREE DAYS!!! So, even more thanks go to Kristina for providing the opportunity to get my butt in gear and complete this second novel!

KRISTINA STANLEY

I “met” Susan Toy  when she agreed to host me on ReadingRecommendations. I was nervous approaching her and requesting a guest spot. But she generously welcomed me and showed me the ropes for guest blogging. Today, I finally get to return the favour by having Susan on Mystery Mondays.

Dancing the Sophomore Slump Two-Step

by Susan M. Toy

… or I’m Writing as Fast as I Can!!It’s been four years since I published my first novel in the Bequia Perspectives series. Four long years. I began writing Island in the Clouds in 2001 with the intention of eventually writing and publishing a quartet of novels all set on the Caribbean island of Bequia and involving murder and mystery of some sort or another. So I gave the first novel that sub-title, suggesting the books that followed would be written from various perspectives of people living on the island…

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A small request of all my readers …

iitcYes, I know this news is going to be hard to believe, but after 4 years in publication (both as an eBook and in print) Island in the Clouds will finally have a sister-novel to share your shelf or space on your eReader! I finished writing an umpteenth draft of One Woman’s Island a week-and-a-half ago and now it’s in the hands of my editor, Rachel Small. I think at this point in time, after writing and rewriting the story of Mariana on Bequia these past 12 years, I’m more relieved than excited. Now comes the ultra hard work of preparing the final edited manuscript for ePublication, sometime later this year.onewomanisland-cover-draft-3

That publication date has been moved back further, however, because yesterday I discovered this link to a competition for which the new novel qualifies. But the novel needs to be unpublished. Might as well give that a shot first, I thought. What is there to lose? Other than more time before I can actually publish it.

18598024So, while I wait for the edit to be completed and the MS to be prepared for submission to this contest, I figured it was as good a time as any to promote my writing in general, and build more awareness of the Bequia Perspectives Novels as well as my IslandShorts novella, That Last Summer. And this brings me around to my “request” in the blog post title …

If you have read either Island in the Clouds or That Last Summer (or both!) and enjoyed reading them – but you haven’t yet posted a review online about either, I would appreciate you doing so now, on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, your library’s website, or your own blog. I’m hoping to build up awareness for my writing in general so when I begin promoting the publication of One Woman’s Island I have a solid fan base in place who will do the heavy-lifting of informing and, hopefully, exciting different readers about the new book. If you have already posted something to do with me or my writing on your own blog I have likely added that link to this page or this one. If your interview or review are not listed there, please let me know so I can include you.IS

Now, I know some readers are shy and don’t want their thoughts and opinions posted in public, and especially not online. I appreciate and understand that feeling! If you have read my books though and enjoyed them enough to want to tell me about that enjoyment, then please send me an email (susanmtoy (at) gmail.com). Your review can be as brief as you’d like to make it. And I promise never to divulge your name if you want to remain anonymous, but do let me know if I may post and quote your comments on my blog – without your name attached! – so potential readers have a chance to see what “someone” thinks of my books and my writing. Whatever you decide, please do write and tell me whatever it is that you think. The best way for any author to improve is to listen to comments made by their readers. After all, it’s you we’re writing for in the first place!

What I hope to achieve by all this, of course, is a build-up of word-of-mouth promotion. You who are already satisfied readers will become, I hope, the foot soldiers in my campaign to promote the new book. If you DO want me to quote you in future publicity then let me know I may use your name. A review with a real name has so much more credibility, and I’ll be using the best of those as bullets (not real gun bullets, of course!) and endorsements when I finally do release the next book in my Bequia series.

The other way for you to become involved in this promotion campaign of mine is by telling your friends about my books, and encouraging them to read what I’ve already published. Then, if they like what they read, they will anticipate the future publication of my books. A readership is something we authors build one reader at a time … and by writing books readers enjoy reading.

So thanks to everyone for reading through my post, and for any help you may be able to offer.

And remember … I am but one author out here who is writing and publishing. There are many, many others who can also use a hand in the promotion of their books. Never discount the effect your personal recommendation has on any book you read and enjoy. Please don’t keep that enjoyment to yourself – tell others about it! An author’s success may just depend on your initial recommendation! (I feel so strongly about this concept that I created the Reading Recommendations blog.) And for those of you who would like to take this a step or two further, here are 99 Ways to Spread the Word About a Book You Love.

Thanks for reading – and commenting and reviewing! I could never have come this far without all of you loyal readers, and I appreciate every single one of you!

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Guest Post: Rick Bergh on How Our Children’s Books Ended Up in Haiti

Rick Bergh has been featured previously on Reading Recommendations, first in March 2016 and again in April. He’s back now to tell us how it is that his children’s books are now being read by Haitian children!

Rick and Erica Bergh

Rick and Erica Bergh

How Our Children’s Books Ended Up in Haiti

I love how life surprises us when we least expect it.

My wife, Erica, and I had completed two of our children’s books and brought them to our annual Boxing Day gathering – a wonderful family tradition on my mother’s side, which I have not missed in 56 years.

My cousin, Mark, purchased a few copies of these books (after all, you expect your family to buy your books, right?).

Little did I know those children’s books would find their way to an orphanage in Haiti! All the way from Calgary, Alberta!

Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s no big deal …” But it was for me. Let me explain.

Over ten years ago, my daughter, Keeara, went to volunteer at the very same orphanage – she was an 18-year-old girl trying to figure out her next step in life. Her time in Haiti coincided with her mom’s struggle with cancer. So the whole family was in transition and wondering what the future would hold.

Pam, her mom, said “Keeara, go and volunteer at this orphanage.” She did and it changed her life forever. She became an elementary school teacher as a result.

Fast forward 11 years and my cousin’s daughter, Emily, is now volunteering at the same orphanage. We did not make the connection until I asked Emily what orphanage she was going to and it was the exact same one where Keeara had worked.

IMG_6067WOW! So, now Emily is reading these stories to the children – the same stories that I made up and told to my children, including Keeara. Our next book due to be published soon is actually about Keeara (Stretchy Cheese Pizza) and her son, Connor.

And now Emily was reading these same stories I told our children when they lay in bed asking me to tell them a story. Fascinating that it was not long ago when an 18-year-old-Keeara was reading books to these special children in Haiti. And now, they will soon be reading stories about her and her son, Connor.

We are sending copies over for the children in Haiti to read as soon as the new book is published in June. The stories come full circle!

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