In early 2011, I had been unemployed for over a year after being laid off from General Motors where I had worked for thirteen years in the Security and Fire department, ten of those years in supervisory and management roles. I couldn’t get another job in my field because I was unable to do the running portion of the fitness tests thanks to three surgeries on my lower back and an L3 – S1 spinal fusion. I had been doing a lot of reading during that period and it inspired me to try my hand at writing. I began working on my first novel, Saving Grace. A year and a half later, I was still unemployed and had been living on an income of $328 per month. If not for my family, I literally would have been homeless.
One of my three sisters was working at a substance abuse treatment centre in central Ontario and she got me an interview for a night security position. I got the job, thankfully, and moved from Oshawa up to Gravenhurst and then to Bala.
Lake Muskoka, Bala, ON
Lake Muskoka Sunrise, Bala, ON
You can see from the pictures what a beautiful place Bala is and what a lovely place to write. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as watching the sun rise over Lake Muskoka or watching the leaves change colour in the fall.
My second novel, Unfinished Business, was nearly complete when I moved north. I began sending out query letters to literary agents and found it quite frustrating. If they responded at all, it was usually to say that you weren’t a ‘fit’ with their agency. I began looking into self-publishing and was surprised to find that you could self-publish eBooks to Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) free of charge. Royalties depended on pricing, but I would earn 70% royalty fees on the sale of my eBook. I began to ask myself why anyone would bother with the hassle of finding a publisher or literary agent when self-publishing was not only easy, it was free … and you made a much higher percentage on royalties by cutting out the middle man! I also found the same easy self-publishing site for Kobo (Chapters-Indigo’s eReader) called Kobo Writing Life and they offered the same 70% royalty fees.
You may think that it was as easy as uploading my eBook, but if you’ve ever published a book you know that it is scary as all get out to put your work out there for others to critique. It came down to listening to everyone who had read the book already. I was getting great feedback from people, saying that they couldn’t put the book down. I bit the bullet and published Saving Grace to Kobobooks in November of 2013 and then to Amazon. Then I discovered Createspace, an Amazon subsidiary that allows you to publish print on demand books to Amazon … and it’s free.
The next hurdle was the all important marketing and publicity. It is free to publish, but you really need to spend money on marketing to get your book noticed. My problem … I didn’t have the kind of money you need for a good marketing campaign.
Social media marketing works to an extent, but it only reaches so far until you build up a following. I submitted Saving Grace to the Online Book Club for review and received 3 out of 4 stars. Not a bad start considering it was my first novel and I did everything myself, including the cover, with the exception of my sister, Abbie, helping me out with the editing (Bless her). I also signed up as a Goodreads Author and have done some promotions to elicit reviews on Amazon.
Before I published Unfinished Business in June of this year, I discovered that I could publish to Smashwords and they would take care of listing the book on various online book stores such as Kobobooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony, and Apple iBooks. I have received great feedback from everyone who has read it so far. The only bad review I have received was from an Online Book Club reviewer who hadn’t read the first book in the series. I have re-submitted Unfinished Business to the Online Book Club for review, but this time I included the first book and I’ve learned from my mistake. I am anxiously awaiting their review and will post it on my website when it comes out.
Then along comes the INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair (TIBF) scheduled for November 14 – 16, 2014 at the Toronto Convention Centre. This is Toronto’s first annual book fair and it “…will showcase the best in emerging and established writing from across Canada and beyond our national borders.” Margaret Atwood, Sylvia Day, and Kathy Reichs are among the hundreds of authors that will be attending. It proves to be an epic event and I am excited to not only be in attendance as a published author, but to be speaking on the Hub Soapbox Stage. This could be the turning point for the Taylor Sinclair Series (my saving grace).
In the meantime, I’m up here in Bala and have transitioned from night security to clinical associate after obtaining my diploma for Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist. The leaves are changing quickly and I’m busy working on book 3. Life is good!