Tag Archives: eBooks

A-R International: Susan M. Toy

This promotion post is dedicated to the memory of my sister, Betty Bridgman, an avid reader all her life, an enthusiastic supporter of my writing and publishing career, and one of my biggest fans.

Susan M. Toy
Authors-Readers International

Photo credit: Monique de St-Croix

I have been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and a promoter of fellow authors and their books through my company, Alberta Books Canada. I am also an author and publisher, under my imprints, IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts. Through Alberta Books Canada, I represented authors directly, helping them find promotion for themselves and their books, seeking out new readers, and assisting them in making wise career decisions.

I championed Alberta authors in particular, singing their praises throughout the province and online to the rest of the world, and displayed books for authors and publishers at Alberta library conferences. I continue to promote authors and good books in general, throughout the world and online, with my blog, Reading Recommendations. I created the writing contest, Coffee Shop Author, have sat on the Board of Directors of the Fernie Writers’ Conference, served as a member of the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program steering committee, and was a member of the board of directors for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. I now concentrate on my own writing and publishing, dividing my time between Canada and my home in the Caribbean.

~

For as long as I know myself … as they say on Bequia, I have been a reader and wanted to be a writer. I was fortunate to have been born in Toronto, in The Beach neighbourhood, where the Toronto Public Library branch was a short walk along Queen Street from our house and only a block away from my grandparents’ house. My mother was an immigrant, along with my grandparents, and spoke and read and wrote in three languages – English, French and Flemish. She wasn’t highly educated, having to leave Grade 9 (at Jarvis Collegiate) due to her health, but she had one more grade of education than Dad, who had to leave school during the depression to work and make money for his family. By the time I came along in 1953, my parents were doing much better financially and, with the help of Grandma, were able to buy a house in The Beach and a cottage north of Toronto on South Lake near Minden. I remember my mother reading books, when she wasn’t knitting, and I have a distinct memory of her standing next to the running washing machine reading a very thumbed-through paperback while she waited for the wash cycle to end. It wasn’t until much later, when I could read myself, that I realized the book was the 1957 novel Mandingo – quite racy at the time! Dad read the newspaper. Every day. And summers spent up at the cottage were filled with long and lazy days of reading books. My younger sister and I were allowed to buy a new comic book every Saturday when we went into town for groceries. I always bought Classics Illustrated, and I still have some of those in my own library! Another book I’ve kept with me since winning it in 1967 upon graduation from Glen Ames Senior Public, is a thesaurus. I’m thinking now that my teachers at the time must have known something more about me than I knew of myself …
In high school, a few of my teachers were extremely influential in my decision to study English Literature at Queen’s University at Kingston. I tried my hand at creative writing both in high school and university, but didn’t get far with that then.

Photo credit: Betsy Greenlees

And I also became just slightly distracted by this guy … who has always built bookshelves for me in every place we’ve lived. In a final seminar class my last year at Queen’s, I was the only student who turned up, so the professor and I had a lengthy private chat. He asked what I planned to do with my degree in English. “Oh, probably work in a bookstore,” I told him. And, within days of moving out to Calgary with Dennis in 1978, I managed to land a job – the only one I applied to! – and began working in … a bookstore! And I never looked back. My entire working career has been concentrated on selling books in stores (and my own mail order business, End of the Road Books!), representing publishers to booksellers and libraries, promoting authors, hanging out with authors, organizing and attending “book things” as Dennis always called the many events that were held, giving talks about authors and their books, speaking about promoting books and authors, and then writing and publishing my own books and also publishing books by other authors. Oh, and READING BOOKS! It’s been a totally satisfying life for this particular book-lover, let me tell you!

So this current promotion of authors who I’ve met and/or worked with along the way during my career is a continuation of my belief that we are all in this game together, and we need to be cognoscente of the fact that, if we expose our own readers to the work of other authors, we will broaden the entire reader-base for books in general. The difference in this current Authors-Readers International promotion is the “International” bit. I’ve set my sights on worldwide domination of the book world! (Just kidding! But it does sound like a pretty cool aspiration, doesn’t it?)

~

That Last Summer

I’m listing here the novella I wrote and published as an eBook only in 2013, because the story is based on a summer during the 60s at a cottage that is quite similar to the one my family owned for more than forty years.

I have also written and published two novels in the Bequia Perspectives series so far: Island in the Clouds and One Woman’s Island. I am currently working on writing two more novels in this series as well as a collection of short stories and novellas.

Elisabeth Pauline Bridgman
May 6, 1941-Dec. 23, 2019

For more information about Susan M. Toy, her writing, books, publishing, other blogs, and promotion of other authors, please see her website. (Actually, it’s THIS website! So you can just click on any of the pages listed at the top of this post.)

Authors-Readers International

Authors-Readers International is the name of a new means of online promotion I have developed to help the many great authors I’ve met, previously promoted, have worked with online, or whose books I’ve published, to reach a wider audience – worldwide, I’m hoping! – and receive more attention for their published books.

I’m going to begin this promotion (which will run as a series of blog posts here on my main blog, reblogged on Reading Recommendations, and shared on social media) with a daily post on individual authors, beginning on
Dec. 1 and ending with Dec. 31. Then any further promotions will be less frequent, maybe one a week. Inclusion of authors promoted here will be by invitation only. I want to present the authors I’ve met in person or who I’ve had a connection with online, but also, and more importantly, authors whose books I have enjoyed reading. I want to share their work with readers around the world and give them as much exposure as I can muster. I’ve already come up with a complete list of authors for the Dec. blog posts and I’ll be contacting these authors all within the next couple of days to explain this new promotion to them and ask if they would like to participate.

But really, this is all about the readers out there, and providing all readers with information on good books and authors who may not have previously been on their radar. The crucial part of this promotion though is in the sharing of blog posts and attracting more readers to pay attention to this information I’m compiling.

Eventually I’d like to include online interviews with the authors, encourage all authors to create their own podcasts and videos about themselves and their writing, and allow them to “give a brief reading” from their books via a podcast or video. Online literary “salons” are also a possibility in the future. (I have a lot of ideas for developing this promotion series, and all ideas have already been approved, I’m happy to say, by Betty Jane Hegerat! I’ve promised her that no dressing up as clowns will be involved.)

I’m up for suggestions from readers, too … What would you like to know/hear about new-to-you authors?

Links will be provided to all published work and author websites. These promotion pieces will be brief, but I’m hoping they will offer enough information to encourage more readers to seek out and read books by authors who I personally recommend.

Print copies of my books … the NEW way!

Both my Bequia Perspectives Novels are now available
worldwide from Amazon in print editions!

All links to purchase both titles in print or in eBook formats
(or to borrow from libraries) can be found here:
Bequia Perspectives Novels

Here’s the background as to how all this came about …

In Feb. 2012 I published the first eBook edition of Island in the Clouds. It had been my idea at the time that we should ePublish first, work out any bugs in the files, create a market for the writing and for a print edition, and then go to print once a demand was established. So I didn’t print Island in the Clouds until June 2012, and at that time I went with a traditional publishing company to do so. This cost me a considerable amount of money up front, leaving me in proud possession of 800 copies of the book – which I then had to store, distribute, and sell myself. Five-and-a-half-years later, I still have about 200 copies left in various locations. I have not been paid at all by several places that took copies on consignment to sell for me, and I have no reliable means of selling those remaining copies. Fortunately, I sold enough of the original 800 to cover my expenses of having the books printed, but I’m nowhere near having made enough money from this enterprise to pay myself back for everything I put into writing, promoting and selling the book by myself.

But then we do it for the love of it, right? This was never intended to be a money-making enterprise. But it was also never intended to be a money-LOSING enterprise …

When it came time to think about printing One Woman’s Island, I had to consider long and hard whether I wanted to travel down that same road. First of all, I did not have the several thousand dollars I knew a traditional printing was going to cost. Plus, I really didn’t want to have to store copies anywhere, or find a new distributor for this new book.

Fortunately for me, I received a blog post from Calgary author, Brian Brennan (who I have promoted on Reading Recommendations), in which he explained how he went about reprinting books of his that had been declared out of print by the original publisher. He worked with our mutual eBook formatter, Human Powered Design (Gina McCreary), to create the print files, and then went to a self-publishing service to have copies printed POD (print-on-demand). I reblogged Brian’s explanation of all this here: Brian Brennan – 3 reprints now available

So, I decided to look into this myself for my own print books. In the meantime, Gina had heard of a new service being offered by Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing Paperback Beta Program – that we could sign into through our existing eBook accounts (which Gina has always maintained for me) and it seemed as though it was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t need to pay anything upfront to Amazon, Gina was able to create the necessary print files and cover designs from my original eBook files and look after the listings for me, and I will receive payment from Human Powered Design for sales made, along with any sales of eBooks, every month, as I have done all along since first listing my eBooks in Feb. 2012.

Plus … I now have the benefit of WORLDWIDE distribution of my print books!! That, to me, is the biggest benefit of printing books in this way.

Here’s another article I discovered about this new service that ran on The Digital Reader site.

Ads in “Bequia This Week” throughout the winter!

These are the two ads Wilfred created and Nicola will be running for me in their weekly flyer.


And here’s the link to the magazine flip version of
Bequia This Week
Everything you need to know that’s going on in and around the island of Bequia!
New editions available every Friday.

First sighting … One Woman’s Island in a print edition!

Thanks to friend, reader and, dare I say #1 Fan! – Jay Yurkiewicz, for ordering 2 copies of the new print edition of my Bequia Perspectives novel, One Woman’s Island, telling me immediately when he finally received them from Amazon via mail, then taking these photos of the books, along with a print copy of the first one, Island in the Clouds, so I could further promote the books.

So, here they are, in all their glory, at Jay’s Florida home!

Thanks again, Jay, for all your support and encouragement over the years, and for the great reviews you’ve given my books … much appreciated!

If anyone else orders copies of this new print book and sends me a photo of it in its new home, I’ll add that photo to this dedicated blog page, Where/Who in the World is Reading One Woman’s Island??? And it does not need to be print only that you photograph … it could be the eBook on your reader or computer screen. Whichever way you choose to read my books, I’m more than happy to promote that!

Here’s a list of where to purchase or borrow from a library, either in print or as an eBook.

One Woman’s Island – print edition now available!

Hooray!! The print version of my second novel in the Bequia Perspectives Series, One Woman’s Island is now listed with Amazon as being available to order!

Since I went with POD (print-on-demand) with this book, here’s how it works if you prefer to read the novel in a paperback format: you place an order with Amazon; Bingo-Bongo! a copy (or copies) is/are printed specifically for you; you receive your order by mail directly from Amazon. (Yes, you pay Amazon directly, but I will eventually receive my royalties on every copy sold.) I won’t be stocking quantities of this book (or lugging them around with me), so your best bet to get a copy quickly is to order from Amazon. Eventually, there should be a listing for every Amazon sales site and I will update the list as I discover new sites.

Here’s a complete list of where to purchase One Woman’s Island in both the print and eBook formats. Also listed there are libraries where you may be able to borrow the eBook.

Now, let’s have some fun! When you receive your copy of One Woman’s Island from Amazon, please send me a photo either of you holding the book or of the book set in a recognizable place that suggests where you happen to be at the moment … you know, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, the Rocky Mountains. I’ll then post all the photos on this blog as I receive them. Send your photos to me via email: susanmtoy (at) gmail.com

Thanks to all my supportive and very enthusiastic readers! You are the reason I keep writing …

More teasers from One Woman’s Island!

After my Cover reveal!! of the forthcoming print version of my novel, One Woman’s Island, I thought I’d tease readers a little more with some of the additional material I’ve added to this new edition – in the “praise for the eBook”, updated “dedication” and “acknowledgements” pages … some of you will recognize a few familiar names here!

Praise for the eBook edition of
One Woman’s Island

One Woman’s Island beautifully captures the spirit of being on the island of Bequia. The author’s ear for local dialogue is faultless. With its complex characters, fast-moving plot, authentic setting and the underlying seriousness of the questions it so skillfully raises, One Woman’s Island, is a book that should garner a wide readership, one far larger than those who are familiar with Bequia. ~ Felicity Harley, author of The Burning Years

Susan Toy’s new novel One Woman’s Island is: lively; startling; creepy; funny; shocking; sad; insightful – and engaging from start to finish. ~ Ann Ireland, prize-winning author of novels, A Certain Mr. Takahashi, The Instructor, Exile and The Blue Guitar

With a sharp eye for description and a well-tuned ear for dialogue (and local dialect!) Toy tells how a recently widowed Canadian woman moves to the tiny Caribbean island of Bequia to find solace, only to discover it’s not quite the paradise she hoped for. A tasty meal of storytelling that comes with complementary recipes! ~ Brian Brennan, Postmedia newspapers best-selling author

Toy brings the strands together artfully toward the close, and I was left with some tantalizing memories of my own of a different island, in a different place, in a different era, but with so many delicious similarities… a most entertaining read… ~ Seumas Gallacher, author of The Jack Calder series of crime thrillers

One Woman’s Island speaks not only to the seclusion of island life, but the woman herself. Mariana is running toward, as well as running away from her past. What awaits her on the island of Bequia is everything and nothing that she expected. ~ Cheryl Schenk, author of The Stibil Forest Adventures

Another thoughtful book from Susan Toy, set in the Caribbean island of Bequia. This is perfect weekend reading when you have the time to just enjoy the read and let your imagination go. ~ Roughseasinthemed, blogger

Whether intentional or not, there seems to be a huge character quietly looming across your book series: Bequia, the island herself. Each book, even though different, reveals more and more about her as a character and a force. Quite cool. ~ Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, blogger

Toy creates complex and flawed characters who keep your attention as they move the story forward. She brings Bequia to life with her descriptive detail and an intimate understanding of the local culture. Reading One Woman’s Island, as well as Toy’s earlier Bequia Perspectives novel, Island in the Clouds, is an immersive experience that leaves you feeling like you’ve visited the island, dined with the locals and strolled the beaches. And what a treat to find recipes for local dishes interspersed among the chapters. ~ J.P. McLean, author of The Gift series

Dedication Page

For Dennis, my personal property manager

And in memory of friends who knew Bequia:
Ken Bergwall, Ian Bowie, Bruce Boyce, Kevin Cameron, Kathy Carpenter,
Frank Dufek, Rodger Durham, Derek Hayes, Jim Johnston,
Mariann Palmborg, Jean Poisson, Bill Sadler

 

Acknowledgements

There are many people who helped me along the way of writing and preparing this novel for publication, but none quite as persistent in their “encouragement” than my editor, Rachel Small, and my author-pal and personal DJ, Tim Baker. It really was never nagging on your part (because when it did become nagging I would tune you out), but I do now appreciate your persistence in reminding me to “just write and get the damn thing finished!” I truly, and likely, would never have managed to get to this point without both of you.

Thanks to Regina McCreary of Human Powered Design for formatting, design work, and sales listings for all IslandCatEditions publications.

Thanks to Pam Ferrell and “Snowy” Elvin Augustus Lewis for always coming up with the most appropriate words of local wisdom.

Thanks to Betty Jane Hegerat for sorting out my good ideas from the bad.

Thanks to fellow-author and Bequia-dweller, Felicity Harley, for deep insight into our shared locale.

Thanks to my extensive writing/blogging/publishing community, both online and in person, for the support and friendship you have provided me with over the years. You are all so much more than just a network–you are family!

Unfortunately, I sadly lost two of you during this past year … Roughseasinthemed and Lockie Young – your support and enthusiasm for my writing was always greatly appreciated and you will both be sorely missed!

And, finally, but most importantly, thank you to all readers! Thank you for taking the time to read what I write, and for telling me you enjoyed what you read! That means more to me than anything else in this process of creating and producing a book. And the fact that so many of you have also become friends is just icing on the cake (or coloured streamers on a bicycle’s handles, as JP McLean would say) and definitely encourages me to keep writing!

Cover reveal!!

But only because I’m so excited to show everyone what we’ve been working on … and I am the publisher as well as the author, after all, so I get to post this in advance.

I discovered that WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY! So I was able to create a jpeg from the PDF file:

You should be able to zoom in on it to read everything written on the back cover.

Thanks to my very clever cover designers – Jenny Ryan for the original front cover (and the full cover spread of the print edition of Island in the Clouds) and to Gina McCreary of Human Powered Design for guiding me through the spine, back cover, and adding that lovely bullet to the front of the new print edition of One Woman’s Island! You both helped my imagination become reality!

Reading Is My Superpower!

Since I’ve been back in Canada, spending the summer months at my trailer, now aptly named, “Another Page” …
I’ve been borrowing print books like mad from the Bruce County Public Library, specifically at the Kincardine and Lucknow Branches, which happen to be almost equidistant in driving time from the trailer park.

And … WOW!! What a summer it’s been, catching up on books that were not available as eBooks or that I otherwise might have had to wait a long time to borrow as eBooks. I’ve also caught up on watching movies too as the system has a terrific selection of DVDs in their collection. It’s been a busy summer, driving back and forth, picking up holds and taking back materials I’ve read/watched. I’ve been into both branches so often and borrowed so much that the librarians all seem to know me by name now (and one told me yesterday that they will miss me after Oct. 1st when I leave the park for the winter). I’m starting to feel like Norm in the TV series, Cheers!

Or an addict surrounded by a group of happy pushers. Hmmm.

But all of this has now made me realize that …

READING IS MY SUPERPOWER!!

(Even though I always secretly wanted to be Wonder Woman)

In fact, I wish I had been able to figure out a way to become a PROFESSIONAL READER – and be paid for all the reading I have done in my life. That would have been cool … (As it was, I was a bookseller and a publishers’ sales rep, and was paid to SELL books, not to read them. I actually didn’t have much time to read those books I was selling. I wish I’d been given time during my days of being paid and was sent off to read those books I was selling. I would have been even more effective than I was at convincing customers, booksellers and librarians to buy those books. I was always very convincing when promoting a book I had enjoyed …)

At the beginning of the summer I made a concerted effort to research, source, and track down as many books as I could that I wanted to read, both new releases and those by favourite authors, and used the library’s handy “My Lists” section on their website to create my own list of book and DVD titles I was hoping to borrow. I also went through a hefty “Want-To-Read” list I had compiled on the Goodreads site over the years I’ve been a member and discovered many of those books were available in print from Bruce County, so on to the lists they went!

The other thing that happened was I promoted a book on my Reading Recommendations blog by Margaret Mackey titled, One Child Reading: My Auto-Bibliography. This reminded me that I, long ago, had the idea to write a series of blog posts, On Reading, in which I compile information on Who reads – and How, What, When, Where and Why they read. So I decided, while I had access to a great print selection of books on the topic of reading, that I would borrow even more books and do the necessary research for this series I’ve been meaning to write.

It was like a Perfect Storm for anyone who loves books and reading as much as I do!

So, I’ve been thinking about that PROFESSIONAL READER job, and figured that … just as libraries and other organizations designate, and often pay a stipend to, a writer-in-residence, maybe it’s time to consider creating a Reader-in-Residency Programme – in which someone who reads a lot of books (as I do) and can review and recommend those books to other readers is given office space and the opportunity to set up a reading programme for anyone interested in learning about available books. (I actually had this idea when I promoted Shaun Hunter’s blog and her efforts to gather up all the reading material she could that was set in or about the city of Calgary. I think Shaun would be a terrific Reader-in-Residence for the city to hire – especially a city like Calgary where the current mayor, Naheed Nenshi, reads a lot of books himself and publicly promotes reading and the Calgary Public Library.)

So, what do you say, folks? I figure that anyone who encourages others to read, and to read well and a lot, should be designated a SUPER HERO! I am willing to continue reading and recommending books for no payment at all, but … Should anyone ever be in need of a person who possesses the Superpower of Reading, then I’m your Reader, and I’m available!

Just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you?

This post is an introduction to the series, “On Reading”, which you will be able to follow on this blog page.
The series is dedicated to the memory of a great reader and blogger, roughseasinthemed.

How to Help an Author …

Buy/Borrow, Read, Promote to other readers
… those books you enjoy.

Repeat.

Never expect the author to give you a free copy. But, if they offer to do so, you shouldn’t feel you are under any obligation to either read the book or give it a rave review. Unless you truly enjoyed reading that book. (As far as I’m concerned, I’m always thrilled to death with the thought that someone else may be reading my book!)

Buying or borrowing a copy from the library is the best show of support. (And if your local library does not have the book in their collection or the bookstore doesn’t have it in stock then this is a good time to mention the book to them. Did you know that most libraries encourage their patrons to recommend books that may be added to their collections? Both print and eBooks in most cases … )

If you can’t find the book to purchase or borrow then write to the author and ask if you may purchase direct. (I’ve supplied a number of print copies of my novel to readers worldwide, outside of Canada, who wrote to request them.)

Read – If you enjoyed the book, tell everyone you know about it! Word-of-mouth marketing really does work.

If you didn’t enjoy the book, tell the author and list all the reasons why. This is how authors learn to write better books. (I remember seeing a sign in a fast food outlet that read: If you like us, tell your friends. If you don’t like us, tell us!) We know that not every book will appeal to all readers – we get that. But we do definitely appreciate receiving constructive criticism.

Sometimes that lack of enjoyment can result from the author not having been clear in their writing. In the case of my own writing, I would appreciate hearing whether someone has misunderstood any aspect of my stories or just not enjoyed the way I’ve written them. That way, I will be sure to make my writing crystal clear in the future. (And the beauty of eBooks is that authors can easily go back and correct any mistakes discovered after publication, and anyone who has already purchased a copy will receive the updated version as soon as it’s uploaded.)

Promoting can be as simple as telling a friend that you enjoyed a book. Reviews online are always welcome, but not necessary if you don’t feel comfortable posting your opinions online. If you are a member of Goodreads, even just listing the book as “currently reading” or “read” and assigning it a number of stars is enough to make me happy. (Please do go that one step further though and mark the book as “currently reading” or “read” when you have finished reading. At the moment, there are 1027 readers listing my novel Island in the Clouds as “to-read”. Imagine if only half of those actually followed through to read and rate that novel. I’d be a very happy author, indeed! Heck! I’d be happy if only 10 readers did this!)

It all seems very simple, doesn’t it? I wonder whether sometimes Readers don’t realize how important they are to Authors. Speaking for myself, you are the reason I write. It’s never been about stroking my ego, fulfilling a dream, or selling lots of books and making a fortune (Yeah, Ha! Ha! As if … ), but about telling a story as well as I can tell it, having it read, and enjoyed, by as many Readers as possible. As long as I know Readers are reading and enjoying what I write then I will keep writing more stories.

So I ask you to think about the authors whose books you’ve enjoyed reading … Would you be willing to do the above to keep them writing more books?

I hope that your answer is YES!

And, on behalf of all Authors, I thank you for wanting to read what we write …

We would not be Authors without READERS!