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September 10th, 2010
Reflections on Three Weeks as a Published Author by Susanna Fraser

My special guest today is Carina Press author, Susanna Fraser. Her recent release The Sergeant’s Lady is garnering excellent reviews, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great book – go and buy it now. :smile: Over to Susanna…

The Sergeant's LadyIn the last month or two before The Sergeant’s Lady came out, each Monday I’d count the weeks remaining till my Aug. 23 release date and think, “OK. Five more weeks. As long as Carina stays in business and I don’t die, I’ll be an author in five more weeks.” You see, I’m a bit superstitious about counting chickens before they’re hatched and running around the barnyard on their little chicken legs, clucking merrily away. So I decided I wasn’t REALLY an author until my book was actually out there to buy and read. Merely having a contract and the book’s being available for preorder weren’t enough.

Needless to say, Carina is still here, and I made it to Aug. 23 and beyond without succumbing to a car crash, an earthquake, a tsunami (could’ve happened! we vacationed on the Oregon coast and there were tsunami warning signs everywhere!), a rogue tornado, or a premature encounter with the heart attack or stroke family history suggests has my name on it in another four decades or so.

What have I learned, in my three weeks as Really, Truly An Author?

1) You don’t know how your book is going to be received till it’s out there. To prepare myself for the possibility of negative reviews, I made a mental list of all the issues I could imagine a reviewer having with The Sergeant’s Lady. And I’m not going to tell you what those issues were…because not a single one of them has come up yet. Others have, but not the ones I anticipated.

2) You can’t control the process. My book got a mini-flurry of publicity in the week before it released because the humorous last-minute website my husband designed for me went viral (full story here) and because an author in a different genre who’d released a Sergeant’s Lady of his own in 2003 started a discussion thread at Amazon complaining about my book’s title. I didn’t plan either of those things, and it was a bit overwhelming at the time to have so much discussion AROUND my book rather than ABOUT it. Looking back, I’m glad to have gotten the free publicity–and a reminder to stop being such a control freak.

3) You won’t know what your Amazon sales ranking means. This will not stop you from checking it regularly.

4) As thrilling as good reviews and emails from readers who loved your book are, the greatest joy comes from the book you’re writing now and the one you’re planning next. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to finally have an audience beyond my critique partners. But I don’t want to rest on my laurels. Do you love The Sergeant’s Lady? Thanks! So do I–and wait till you see what story I have to tell you next!

Your turn: Writers, what have been the most surprising lessons you’ve learned at each stage of the process? Readers, have you ever been taken by surprise by the reality of a long-dreamed-for goal? One commenter wins a $10 gift card to your choice of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Books on Board.

Visit Susanna’s website or blog.
Purchase The Sergeant’s Lady

18 comments to “Reflections on Three Weeks as a Published Author by Susanna Fraser”

  1. Oh yeah. I write articles for associatedcontent.com and when my first article was accepted and then published I thought…oh cool! I get paid to write now, this is going to be incredible! Then I got my first negative comment on my article…omg, I was so crest fallen I thought I would never write again. But I got past it and wrote more and more and got to see that some people have nothing better than to say something negative about everything they read. So I don’t take it so personally anymore. I get more nice comments than negative ones anyway.


  2. Congratulations on your release! LOL – I didn’t see your site when it went viral, but of course I just had to go look at it now so it’s still working for you :)

    What have I learned? Both to have thicker skin and also to seriously consider every bit of feedback I get. You can’t please everyone all the time, but it doesn’t mean their opinion might not have some value.


  3. :grin: Yes, Congrats on your release! And happy 3rd week anniversary!

    I feel I’m constantly learning, but I think the most important thing I’ve learned – for me – is you can’t expect perfection on the first try. creativity and rules rarely go hand in hand. I have to get that first rough draft out, full of creativity and flaws otherwise the writing is very stilted and boring.


  4. Congratulations on the release of your book!

    What have I learned…the release of each book is just as nerve-wracking as the first. It doesn’t get any easier, but it sure as heck is fun. :)


  5. Congratulations on your release- I have read some great reviews for it. I’ve been realizing that I don’t really set long term goals anymore…do more short term goals for like 2-3 years in advance at most and I guess the one that I’ve completed most recently was when I finished obtaining my MBA


  6. My biggest thing… don’t sweat the small stuff. There’s so much you want perfect but hey… you’re now published.

    Enjoy the moment and stop worrying about the rest. You’ve got time for that later.

    :>

    Congratulations. I’m also newly published and its a great feeling!

    April


  7. LOL, and you always expect the morning your book releases to be…momentous in some way. The world should look different. Then you look around and see the dishes piling up in the sink and the laundry that still needs to be done. :wink: Ah, the life of a writer.

    Congratulations on your release, Susanna.


  8. OMG! It took me half an hour to finish this blog post. Because you KNOW I had to scoot over to your blog to find out the hoopla about the website which then took me to your website (which was very funny … good for and hubster to get it to go viral even if it wasn’t on purpose) and then of course floated over to facebook. Whew. But I’m back.

    When I first sat down to write I was all alone. Just me and my book. 5 years later a whole new world has opened up to me and some days I’m having so much fun hanging around the internet that I have to force myself away from it all just to get some writing done. (Yeah, like now. *g*)


  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by katiereus and Carina Press, Shelley Munro. Shelley Munro said: New Blog Post Reflections on Three Weeks as a Published Author by Susanna Fraser http://ow.ly/18WPax […]


  10. Mary, Carina accepted my second book a couple of weeks before my launch date, so “never write again!” wasn’t even an option–which helped settle my newbie nerves quite a bit. :-)

    Jenyfer, definitely. Overall Sergeant is getting great reviews, but I’m definitely going to consider what didn’t work for people next time I’m constructing a plot.

    Jacee, I often mutter “I can fix anything but a blank page” or “sh*tty first draft” to myself at that stage.

    Good to know, N.J.! I’ll be there again in April.

    That’s interesting, Maria. I’ve been trying to set more long-term goals rather than less, but to revise them a lot and be flexible. Have a target to aim for, but don’t beat myself up if circumstances beyond my control block my shots.

    Congrats to you too, April! It’s fun, isn’t it?

    Leah, that is SO true. I work for a researcher who travels a lot, so the office is quiet and relaxing when he’s gone, but when he shows up it’s like having a friendly tornado upend all your schedules and plans. My release week was the first time he’d been around since July, and it was CRAZY. All the while I’m thinking, “Hey, I sold a book! I know this job still pays the bills, but shouldn’t I have, I dunno, a fawning cabana boy or something?”

    Nina, glad you enjoyed the website!


  11. Congrats on your release! It sounds great.

    I don’t really set long term goals because I’m 18 and things are constantly changing too fast. About the only long term goal I have is to finish my college accounting degree within the allotted 2 year time slot. lol Boring goal I know, but with how the long and boring the classes I need that goal as my motivation. lol


  12. Congratulations on your first published book :)

    I’m on about 14 or 15 now and I’m always surprised by the things people take exception to in my books that never ever occurred to me :grin:

    It’s also important to celebrate each success, remember how far you’ve come and develop a really thick skin and a sense of humor :wink:


  13. Morning, Susanna – like Leah, I’m always a bit taken aback when the day proceeds with all the normal humdrum things occurring such as washing and all the other housework.

    And like Kate, I have quite a few books under my belt. I’m sometimes surprized by the way readers interpret my words.

    Plunging into the next book always helps me relax and stop stressing. I usually worry a little with most books, but the truth is once the final copy edits are done there’s nothing you can do!


  14. Congratulations, Susanna! How lovely to have realized such a goal! One long-term goal (or maybe hope? wish?) that was surprising when realized was becoming a parent–being a mom was something I’d wanted since I was much younger, but even so, I wasn’t quite ready for the reality ;) Thankfully the children have survived thus far :D

    Best wishes for your continued writing and personal success!


  15. Becky, that sounds like a great goal. I must confess accounting was the class I most often skipped in college, but it wasn’t my major, just something everyone in the b-school had to endure for two semesters. :grin:

    Kate, I think I’ve got the sense of humor down, but am still working on skin-thickening.

    Shelley, I just read the official, published Sergeant’s Lady for the first time on my Kindle as part of a continuity check for my April book, which is a prequel. And I found several things I wished I could change, mostly repeated words I couldn’t believe neither I, my editor, nor the copy editor caught on our multiple passes through the manuscript!

    Fedora, being a mother surprised me, too. I had a lot of definite ideas and plans for parenthood that didn’t last a month once I had an actual baby. And I think I expected myself to transform into some kind of generic Mommy-figure, while instead I feel like I’m a pretty good mother to my daughter, but I’m still not all that maternal or good with kids in general.


  16. Congrats on your debut release, Susanna. I do hope to own a house someday and I’m still working towards that goal. I don’t want to make any decisions until we’re financially stable.


  17. I think the best realization for me is knowing not everyone will love your book and that that is OK. I see negative reviews of books I adore and great reviews of books I couldn’t finish. It is just a reminder of the wide variety of tastes in the world and that is a good thing.

    Great post!


  18. And the winner of the gift certificate is Jenyfer Matthews! Please email me at susannamfraser AT gmail DOT com to let me know whether you prefer Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Books on Board.