“Strangely, Incredibly Good” has a lot going for it from the off. Great characters, humour, adult conversations, and a sidekick in Gram that lights the book up even more whenever she’s around. While funny and biting, though, the book also has some standout emotional moments (chapter eight, for example, leaves you breathless with its prose and punch to the heart).
It’s this kind of emotional swing that makes the book so enjoyable. We know that life is never perfect; we know we make mistakes; we know we chase often-impossible dreams. The fact Heather Grace Stewart captures all these emotions so well in her tight debut novel shows a writer who knows her craft and audience.
An excellent first book, and hopefully the first of many in the adventures of Cat.
5 Authors make a salary.
That’s just funny. Some of us, if we have a large publisher, get something called an advance on royalties. I got a nice big one ($2,000 per book divided into three installments) when I worked with Jackfruit Press, writing a couple books on Canada’s Prime Ministers. It’s a wonderful recognition of your hard work to get these installments after you’ve signed your contract, sent in a draft, and delivered your final manuscript, but I don’t know many independent publishers who offer this. It’s too much of a risk for a publisher to do this. So, authors might work for 1-2 or even more years on a book, and not see any payment until their first royalty cheque. This is just the way it is.
4 Once you’re a published author, you’ll have your own agent & assistant!
Nope. Authors with big publishing firms, and ‘names,’ have these. I have tried to find an agent for years. It would help me and my books get more visibility. It’s a Catch 22 because you can’t find an agent unless you grab their attention. I sent 50 queries to agents *accepting* queries when I finished Strangely, Incredibly Good, hoping one would represent me. Many agents and publishers don’t accept unsolicited requests – they want someone to refer you. ONE of those accepting queries responded in the 3 month time span they’d said they’d take to reply to me. ONE. No one else ever even sent me a “Decline” type note. I heard nothing. The one who did write back, thankfully, wrote to me that my manuscript wasn’t what they were looking to publish but they didn’t doubt that another agency would ‘jump on it’ (none did).
That one response gave me some motivation to keep on searching for an agent or small publisher, and I soon heard from the small Canadian publisher, Morning Rain Publishing.
3 You must be wealthy if you’re on/have appeared on an Amazon & Kobo Bestseller List!
Hardly. You need to realize these best seller lists are meant to help authors sell more books, but they don’t necessarily mean an author who made that list is rolling in it. Remember, Amazon and Kobo take a percentage of your royalties. If you have a publisher, that’s one more middle-man. So, we’re talking about a royalty between .40 cents and $3.99 per book, depending on what you’ve set your book at – but with many books going for .99 to $2.99 these days, an author’s royalty is probably on the lower end of that scale. Royalties for print books also vary, but I’ve never earned more than $4 per book, and though I’ve worked hard at selling these books, I haven’t yet sold more than 300 print copies (that is my sell-count for Where the Butterflies Go, my oldest poetry collection, so it’s had more time to sell. Carry On Dancing is at about the 250 mark, and my latest novel, now out one month, is at about 40 digital copies and 50 print copies sold. The silver lining here is that the publisher didn’t even intend to print the book until six months after the ebook release, but decided to print it early. It’s now available through special order or at events.
Don’t forget I had expenses to promote these books – book cover art, promotional ads, travel – so the $1,000 I may have earned for sales of WTBG was not my net profit. My first royalty cheque for Carry On Dancing amounted to a nice dinner with wine with my husband. After that, three months later, I got one that was around $30, and then because it was no longer new, sales petered out. Now my four poetry collections provide what I call “coffee money” every few months.
I was really pleased with that first royalty cheque from COD and I’ll never be ungrateful for the money I have managed to make as a published author, but you need to understand that royalties on books do not make authors rich, unless they have a viral best-seller, which is rare. Speaking engagements can provide some good income, but unless you’re John Grisham, you’ll be earning $100-$300 per speech, not the $50,000-$100,000 he earns for speaking.
2 Traditional publishers have tons of pull & power to help you sell your book.
It depends on their size. There are five publishers, ‘The Big 5’, that have some pull in the world. They compete with Amazon. Then there are the independent publishers, like mine. Mine is a small independent Canadian publisher that’s less than a year old. They do their best to give their authors a fighting chance, but my publisher can’t compete with the big publishers with big budgets (at least, not yet).
Chapters will allow independent authors (including those published by independent publishers like mine) to sell books on consignment. The author sets the “list” price, and the store takes up to 45% of that price as payment for shelf space. Yes you read that right: they take up to 45 percent. Sometimes, I’ve lost money just to appear at Chapters. It’s a decision I stand by today, since I ended up gaining lots of new readers because of those appearances. However, those were not money-making appearances. They were great for publicity.
1 You’re always smiling and excited about your latest achievement. Your books must be selling like crazy!
Yea, I don’t want to be a mopey bitch of an author now, do I? (actually maybe that would get headlines and sell more books! I’m kidding. )
I am so grateful that I get to do what I love – write books – that they’ve actually been published, and that I have a lot of support from family, friends and a few loyal fans. However, when you work two years or more on a book that is your heart and soul, and it only sells 75 print copies, while How To Properly Pull Nosehairs has sold 750,000, that can be quite discouraging. I keep on smiling and keep on writing* though, because the alternative isn’t my style.
*(After I’ve obsessively checked my Amazon rankings and screamed out loud a few dozen times)
It took me several years of playing around on social media to realize that my first love on the Net – blogging – is still my passion. I love blogging!
I miss posting photos and blogging regularly. Writing a novel took me away from that, as I needed time offline to get the novel finished, but time on Twitter and Facebook has also cut into my blogging time.
I’d also noticed a drop in commenting in the last few years, and that was discouraging. The LIKE button came along, and many of us – yes me included – now find it easier to simply LIKE a blog post, rather than take the time to log in and comment.
While I can’t promise another novel won’t take me away from regular blogging (that would be a good thing, right?) for now, I’d like to try posting at least once a week again; to have some fun with taking and posting photographs again, and to try commenting on more blogs each week. I know how great it feels to read someone’s comment on my blog. I hope to give that back.
Meanwhile, it’s Saturday and it’s summertime, so I’ve just been chillin': reading, gardening and picking bouquets of lilies, floating in the pool, and taking lots photographs ….my daughter and I loved these tangerine drinks, and I loved how they made those lilies pop!
I finally had the opportunity to meet some of my Morning Rain Publishing colleagues last night!
Editor Jennifer Bogart kindly invited me, Nancy Beattie, and JM Lavallée and our families to her home for a BBQ. JM and her family were traveling from their home in Alberta to Quebec’s Lower North Shore, where JM is going to be doing several book signings (be sure to visit her Facebook Page to learn more). We met up just outside of Montreal.
It was fun getting to know each other, and doing a silly photo shoot with our books. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get together again soon, because we all really hit it off – and our kids had a blast together, too.
Thanks to my husband, talented engineer/ photographer :) Bill Stewart, for all the great photos.
Thanks to UK reader Angela Thomas for this latest review of SIG!
Cosmochicklitan interviewed me! Find out when I write, how Twitter helped me write my first novel, and what Superpower I’d choose to have.
Originally posted on cosmochicklitan:
I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Grace Stewart as part of the blog tour for Strangely, Incredibly Good. Thank you so much for visiting Heather!
Your debut novel is called Strangely, Incredibly Good. Could you please tell us a bit more about this book?
Sure, and thanks so much for having me here. My novel is about Cat Glamour, a 38-year-old woman who has just been through a rotten divorce and now she’s struggling with finances, self-esteem and balancing her personal life. She lives with her two teen daughters and her 91-year-old grandmother who…let’s just call her a unique trip. On the day that Cat decides to start an exercise routine, the last thing she expects is a modern-day Genie to pop out of her Wii machine. Unfortunately for Cat, her genie is somewhat unreliable in his wish-granting capabilities. In a series of hilarious misadventures, he sends Cat…
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Here’s an interview at the Fictionella blog as part of the Strangely, Incredibly
Good blog tour!Thanks for reading!