This is Heather Grace Stewart! I found this Canadian author on WordPress, and read her poetry book a couple years ago. I even left her my first review that I ever wrote. I had no idea I’d be posting a short interview about her further accomplishments. She is bubbly and vivacious and gets her work out there for others to see and enjoy.
Though she’s trained as a journalist, Heather Grace Stewart has been writing creatively since she was five years old, and says “I don’t see myself stopping any time soon.” She’s had a screenplay, two nonfiction books, a children’s book of poems, and four collections of poetry published. How incredible!
Writing Tip:Move into creativity with 30 minutes of cardio every day. Your writing sessions will last longer as the ideas come faster!
I sometimes (okay, often!) put off exercise for days and days, because I think I can’t afford the time to do that AND reach my daily word count goal. But guess what? On the days that I work out, I notice I always end up getting more words down on the page.
Not only do I work faster, but I feel my writing is better after a work out. My ideas come faster, and I rarely feel stuck. I feel energized.
It’s been proven that cardio boosts blood flow to the brain, which delivers much-needed oxygen (the brain soaks up 20 percent of all the oxygen in your body).
So go for a run, and your ideas will find their rhythm. Cardio-box, and your words will pack a punch! Long walks, bike rides, raking leaves or playing a game of hide-and-seek with your kids are all great ways to open up your creative mind.
If you can’t find 30 minutes to work out before writing every day, here’s a suggestion: simply stand on your head or do a bunch of jumping jacks before you sit down to write. Get the oxygen and blood flowing to the brain, and you’ll note an improvement in your writing.
Not convinced? Give it a try for a week, then come back here and comment. Your gluteous maximus may be sore and you may hate me, but I bet you’ll have a few more wonderful chapters written.
In between writing books, I often turn to photography and reading other authors’ books as a mini-vacation from the work involved in writing a book. I love writing, but I find I’m at my best when I’m rested, and when I’ve taken a break to be inspired by certain aspects of my world. Such as:
A gift of flowers from our nine-year-old, placed in an old Buckley’s jar…
Entertaining for Friends and Family (Move over, Martha Stewart) :)
The breakfast was cooked by hubby. I just do the decorating :) Wait, not true. The dinner (Salad, appetizer, Indian butter chicken) was cooked by me. But seriously, I write and photograph – I rarely cook. I will cook if I think it will look pretty for my photographs :)
Alright, one more. Having the girls over for drinks? Confession: That’s not research. That’s just plain FUN!
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)