Please welcome, Susan Toy, who has many titles – multi-talented author, blogger, and publisher to my Guest Blog Segment. Thank you, Susan, for coming today.
Can you please tell my readers and me a little about yourself and how you started in the publishing business?
I first worked as a bookseller, fresh out of university. I became a publishers’ sales rep about twelve years later. My partner and I moved out of Canada in 1996 and I was essentially “retired” until I decided to write a novel. Realizing then that, while I knew a great deal about how books were sold, I knew very little about how they were written, I enrolled in an online writing program. After that I moved on to an online publishing program and took editing classes as part of it. I loved learning online, especially as I was able to work from the distance of my Caribbean home with schools based in Canada.
When I was asked to return to Canada to take up my former job as sales rep, I jumped at the chance, because it meant being back with all my old bookie friends who I had missed desperately. The publishing business had changed though, and I quickly realized the authors were not receiving the kind of promotion they deserved. Plus, I was having no luck at all shopping around my first novel, even with all my publishing connections. I quit the rep job and set up a promotion business, displaying authors’ books at library and writing conferences throughout Alberta. Meanwhile, I had been really thinking through the direction in which publishing was heading and figured I was better off self-publishing Island in the Clouds as an eBook first, mainly to test my own theories as to the best methods by which books should now be promoted and marketed (mainly online).
Did you publish other authors’ books before first publishing your own?
No, I began by publishing my own novel. But I did spend a long career in the bookselling and publishing business, so I learned about publishing first-hand.
Please share the titles of your books and a synopsis of each.
Island in the Clouds, a Bequia Perspectives novel is the first in a series of murder mysteries set on the Caribbean island where I live.
The dead body in the pool is putting a serious dent in Geoff’s morning. An ex-pat property manager on the Caribbean island of Bequia, Geoff doesn’t want a spotlight shone on the secret past he left behind in Canada, but now he’s the suspect in a brutal murder. With no help from the inept local police force, he’s drawn into investigating the murder himself, to clear his name. As Geoff finds out more about the circumstances surrounding the killing, and he and his loved ones find themselves in danger, he begins to see a very dark underbelly of the place some people call paradise…
Part travelogue, part mystery, Island in the Clouds takes a long, hard look at the reality of living in a place that seems perfect — from the outside, anyway.
That Last Summer is a novella I wrote for the 3-Day Novel Contest. It is the first of my books to be published under the IslandShorts imprint and is only available as an eBook.
Susan M. Toy captures the magic of the summer of ’65 in this tale of love and loss of innocence. The lake is alive with boys and girls, skiing and romancing. Rachel constantly spars with her younger sister, neither girl realizing the extent of life-changing problems that float below the surface for both a friend’s family and their own. Toy writes with confidence and elegance in That Last Summer and, as Juliet says in a famous scene performed around an August bonfire, “Parting is such sweet sorrow … ”
You have a wonderful blog. Please share what you write about and what you want to achieve through your blog.
Thank you! I’ve been writing my main blog, Books: Publishing, Reading Writing http://islandeditions.wordpress.com/ for a number of years, and that was mainly set up to inform and entertain. The blog title pretty much says it all, although the subtitle is, “And, for good measure, a bit of Cooking and Eating” which allows me to write about my other passion, food, and the place where I live and include lots of photos of the cats.
The other blog, Reading Recommendations http://readingrecommendations.wordpress.com/ is a much more recent addition and is a means of giving promotion to many other fellow authors, including you, Janice Spina! This is really my way of giving back to the writing community, and a means of helping all of us achieve wider recognition internationally.
You travel between your home in the Caribbean and Canada. Where is your favorite place to be?
I’m going to sit on the fence on this one and say that, when I’m in the Caribbean I’m dreaming about being back in Canada, and when I’m in Canada I’m dreaming of the Caribbean. Sorry to be so ambivalent on this, but that’s truly the way I feel. It all comes down to “where I belong.” I wrote a blog post about this a couple of years ago and the sentiments then still hold true today. http://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/home-and-a-sense-of-belonging/
When you write do you require a quiet room or do you like to listen to music or TV?
I always love to have music playing, no matter what I’m doing. And I love writing in coffee shops and public places, so much so that I created and ran a writing contest for a couple of years called Coffee Shop Author. Writers were encouraged to write in a public space and become part of an online community of like-minded writers. I’m still in regular contact with one of the writers who won, and both he and another winner have been featured on my Reading Recommendations blog.
When I can’t get to a coffee shop, like when I’m on Bequia, I go to this website to satisfy my need for ambient background noise …. https://www.coffitivity.com/
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Still alive, I hope! Seriously. I’ll be in my 70s by then, so I hope to still be writing and promoting other authors, but will be grateful even if I’m just still reading good books by then. Although, one of my friends told me that the best part of growing old was re-reading his favourite books, as though for the first time, because he could no longer remember anything about them.
What advice do you have for first time authors and publishers?
Ahhh, lots of advice. I will simply say here though that what you need to have in order to write and publish successfully are passion, patience, perseverance and professionalism. A bit of humility doesn’t hurt, either. (I’m planning on writing a blog post about this topic and will let you know, Janice, when that is ready so your readers may check it out.)
Most important is that authors (and even publishers) realize that the best way to promote themselves is by promoting their fellow authors and publishers. (Just as you are doing here on your blog, Janice, by offering interviews.) This should never be about competition and definitely should not be “only about you” and your books. We’re all part of a community and that community thrives when we all work together and help each other.
What books do you prefer to read and/or publish?
I prefer reading fiction, mainly literary fiction, but I do try to read widely in various genres and for different age groups. My intention with the IslandShorts imprint is to ePublish short stories, poetry, and creative non-fiction by authors whose writing I enjoy.
Do you have a favorite author and why?
Decades ago, I began naming “My Favourite Living Author” and first bestowed the honour on Graham Greene. When he died, the mantle was passed to Brian Moore. And when he died, I gave the title to Richard Ford, who is thankfully still with us now. Ford is a master of the craft of storytelling. He’s a writer’s writer, and I have enjoyed everything he has written. I hope that, for his sake as well as mine, he is around for a very long time to come.
What projects are you working on now? Can you share them with us?
I’m trying to finish rewriting and editing the next novel in the Bequia Perspectives Series. The title is One Woman’s Island and the story is told from a woman’s point of view. Here’s a synopsis:
When Mariana leaves Canada to escape the memory of a personal tragedy and try to rebuild her life, her first thought is to return to Bequia where she once was happy visiting as a tourist. Not wanting to become just another ex-pat, drinking and gossiping away six months, she decides to put her personal wealth and kind heart to use by living among, and helping out, the seemingly impoverished and less fortunate local people. But no good deed goes unpunished, and Mariana experiences a side of the island she never imagined existed when she was simply a tourist.
Please share where to purchase your books and any other links to connect to your blog and website.
Where in the World Can You Purchase Island in the Clouds??? http://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/where-in-the-world-can-you-purchase-island-in-the-clouds/
Where to Purchase IslandShorts eBooks http://islandeditions.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/where-to-purchase-islandshorts-ebooks2.pdf
Now Available in print and eBook editions
A new blog promoting other authors and their books
Thank you, Susan, for visiting with my readers and me today and for your valuable advice to new authors. It was a pleasure to get to know you better. Please feel free to come by again to share any new projects, ideas, and helpful information.
Thank you, readers, for stopping by and reading about Susan Toy. Please go to her informative and interesting website and blog.
Please stop back again for more Interviews and Guest Blogs and other informative stuff.
REMEMBER: READING GIVES YOU WINGS TO FLY!
Thought for the day: Read more indie authors’ books and leave a kind review. Indie authors are unsung heroes and need your support! I, for one, support them all, for I am one of them!