Suzie Bocock has worked hard to learn the business of publishing. Read about her disappointing experience with a hybrid publisher and how book contests helped her marketing.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to
My book is called A Thousand Miles From Yesterday. It is also my very first published work. It is totally different from anything I have written before because it is suspense/Christian romance. My motivation was the Lord put it on my heart and basically dropped it in.
“Handsome widower Zak Freemont drops out of life when his family is killed in a private plane crash. In desperation, Zak turns to his sister and her husband to take over the reins of his company, while he attempts to pull his shattered life back together. Lindsey is fleeing hired killers. Her brother accidentally stumbles upon a deadly secret, causing Lindsey to flee for her life and that of her unborn child. Mourning the death of her husband, romance is the last thing on her mind when she encounters Zak, who has vowed he will never love again. Yet, there is something about the damsel in distress that he rescued that pulls on his heartstrings and pulls him into the quagmire of her life. The pair makes strange traveling companions as Zak runs from life and Lindsey runs from death.” (From back cover of book.)
The hero is named after a pen pal that died while I was writing the book and the book is also dedicated to him. I was 70 years old when the book was published.
2. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.
I used a hybrid publisher, Covenant Books. It is not a vanity press, you have to submit and then they decide if it fits their guidelines for publishing books. It is a Christian publisher.
I was disappointed. The gal I worked with was awesome. The company itself – not so much. I have not received a dime since September 2019. They owe me money and sit on it. Not happy. They tried to tell me that was the last time a book was sold, but I know better because two people told me they bought copies after that date. Short of asking them to write an affidavit to that effect, it is my word versus theirs.
The first cover was so bad, it was beyond anything a professional would do. They had the main character on a black Harley at a T in a road with houses on the left. The one house had a blue tarp hanging on it and the gal’s head was floating on the bushes. She was supposed to be hiding in the bushes. The second cover was better, except the girl looked like she was peaking over the top and they had removed the tarp from the house.
3. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
Joining groups like the Facebook one that you are a part of helps. I also look for freebies. For instance, Jerry Jenkins offers free tips on publishing. BookBub is another one, geared to the vanity/independent author. Most offer you tips so you will join their classes and spend thousands of dollars. And I do mean thousands. Jerry Jenkins is like 10 grand! Kary Oberbrunner offers one at 5 grand but you walk away with a published book.
4. Talk a little about the sort of marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
I have tried many things. One is entering my book in contests, which is a big one. I have two awards so far. One is the second place silver medallion from Reader’s Favorites I received before the book was totally edited. Then when it was complete I entered it into the Author Academy Award. In the AAA contest I was one of 1,000 semifinalists and went on to become a finalist our of 10 in the mystery genre. (I don’t feel too badly about this because 50% of the winners published with Author Academy Elite publishers/sponsors of the contest.) I can put the gold finalist seal on my book as well.
I actually attended the Award ceremony and did some networking there with my husband’s help. I met a screenplay writer who has my manuscript in his possession and believes it would make an excellent screenplay. We are currently trying to hammer out a contract. I also met a gentleman who does audio books. This will be a future project. He said right now 30% of all book sales are audio. People are exercising, driving, whatever, and it is a growing market.
Also, I have sold my book myself at craft fairs locally and a “meet and greet” at our local library. I’ve also done meet and greets at a church in Sun Prairie, WI and at a women’s group in Ogema, WI where I basically gave my testimony and told about authoring my book. Plus, I’ve used my Facebook author’s page to promote sales of the book and seek speaking engagements.
Finally, I contacted my local paper to do an interview. They did an excellent job.
5. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
So far, only one, and that was an offer to buy the number one position on Amazon. After my book was up for sale, I had someone phone me and ask me if I wanted it to be a number one bestseller on Amazon. They said they would guarantee it! They only wanted $2,000.00 to do that little favor for me! For 2 grand, I could have my friends buy the book and accomplish the same thing.
Otherwise, if I think it will promote my book I do it! I have money invested and I want to recoup what I have spent. I also want my name out there. So, if someone sees it they go, “Oh good, she has another book.”
6. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
It’s a lot of hard work, and if you aren’t diligent you will never make it. It is not like “Field of Dreams” as in “write it and they will buy it.”
7. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
Excellent question, I am not sure. It has been such a learning process. College wouldn’t cost me anymore than this adventure did. In this case, ignorance was probably the right way to approach it or I probably wouldn’t have invested and enjoyed the life adventures I have been on.
8. New authors face the challenge of getting their books into the hands of readers. What advice do you have for an author just starting out?
Read what the experts have to say. Be willing to work. You cannot write the book and sit back and expect it to sell itself. You have to become a recognizable name.
9. What other projects are you currently working on?
I have a sequel to my book in the works. It was written as a standalone; however, everyone who has read it has asked for more. I prayed about it and the Lord literally dropped an idea into my head that will work by pulling up secondary figures to begin with and then by reintroducing the original cast. I also have a couple other books I am working on.
Since becoming a member of the Christian Writer’s group on Facebook am seriously considering doing a publication through Amazon. Even though everyone says not to do it. But, if I can get a secondary book out there with my name on it at no cost I am going to risk it! I realize they would be the sole marketer but I can’t do any worse than what I have done with this book.
10. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
Anything that glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ! That has a salvation message contained within, but not in an in your face way.
11. How can readers learn more about your books?
My author’s Facebook page, my personal Facebook page, and on Covenant Books. They can also check out my book trailer here.
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