Friday, 30 December 2022

My year in review

The year is about to end and it’s time for a summary of what I’ve managed to do. I didn’t make any lists at the beginning of the year that I could handily compare my achievements toor the lack thereofbut I managed to keep myself mostly moving forward anyway.

I celebrated my ten-year writing anniversary this year. It’s been an interesting journey, and I’m happy to say things are looking goodor they were before the economic slump suddenly hit. I hope people keep reading books though, because I’ve planned to be here for a long time.

I published four books this year. I started with Magic for the Highland Wolf in January. Third Spell’s the Charm came out in March, and Tracy Hayes, P.I. for the Win came out in May. My new series starter The Perfect Scam was published at the end of July. And then it stopped.

My goal was to publish five, maybe even six books this year. Technically, that was achievable, but life intervened. Some kind of writer’s block stalled the next Two-Natured London book. By the time I gave up and switched to House of Magic 4, I’d already wasted two months with it. And then my editor’s schedules jammed up and I had to postpone all my publishing to next year.

I’d like to say I spent the extra writing time well, but House of Magic 4 took me two months longer than scheduled to finish. All in all, my autumn was very unproductive, writing-wise. To compensate, I published a bundle edition of my thrillers Personal and The Assassin that I’ve meant to do for a while.

I didn’t write any blog posts either. I published three posts here (this one is fourth) which is a far cry from returning to a regular blogging schedule that I hoped to achieve. I won’t make any promises for the next year either.

My book review blog faired better. I read 85 books this year, about half of them from NetGalley, and reviewed most of them on my blog, 62 posts. Still, it’s fewer than the previous year when I read a record hundred books. I went through a reading slump the same time my writing stalledprobably relatedand couldn’t manage the same this year.

During my slump, I did learn a new skill: video editing. I’ve long wanted to learn to make book videos, but there’s never been time for it. And it was a time-consuming skill to learn. Took me two weeks to create two short videos. I haven’t had time to return to it since, but I hope to make more videos next year.


At the end of the year, I joined a new social media, Mastodon. Twitter, my favourite media by far, has been in trouble, and I wanted a backup place in case it stops operating completely. Mastodon is much calmer space. If you’re there and would like to find me, I’m @SusannaShore@wandering.shop there.

Despite my reading slump, I read many great books this year. Several stood out even among them. The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller, Saint Death’s Daughter by C.S.E. Cooney, Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald and my absolute favourite cosy read, Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree. It’s a fantasy heavy top four, but I did read other genres too.


My favourite movie by far this year was Everything Everywhere All At Once, although Top Gun Maverick managed to hit the nostalgia spot in me it was meant to hit. And I discovered Chinese fantasy dramas. I’m late to the game, but very enthusiastic new convert. What got me hooked was Love Between Fairy and Devil on Netflix, and I’m currently watching The Untamed.

I’ve made great plans for the next year, but thanks to my procrastination, my publishing schedule for the spring is already lagging behind. Magic by the Book will come out in February 12. After that, everything is open. But I hope you’ll stay with me to find what next year will bring with it.

Sunday, 2 October 2022

My publishing schedule for 2023

I’ve had a good year in publishing this year, or at least the first half of it. I’ve published four books, the last of which, The Perfect Scam, came out in July. It was the last day of July, so it’s been out for two months now.

I had planned to publish one more book this year, two if I wrote really fast, but things didn’t go as I planned. First, I spent most of the summer writing fun projects that didn’t go anywhereyet, anywayand designing covers for them. It may seem like a time-waste, but it was necessary for my mental health and recharging my creative batteries.

When I finally got back on my publishing track and began to write the next Two-Natured London book, it completely stalled after five chapters. I didn’t immediately give up on it, but nothing helped. So I’ve put it on hold for now to let my subconscious figure out where it went wrong.

I’m currently writing the fourth book in House of Magic series instead. I had hoped to have it published before Christmas, but outside forces intervened. Namely, my editor who turned out to be fully booked until January. It’s good for himany freelancer would be happy to have work for months aheadbut less good for me and, by extension, my readers.

I had to scrap my plans of publishing one more book this year, and quickly come up with a plan for the spring, before all the editing slots were gone again. It’s a provisional schedule, and I’ll let you know if it changes. But for now, it looks like this:

12.2. House of Magic 4
12.3. Reed Files 2
30.4. P.I. Tracy Hayes 11
23.7. Reed Files 3

As you can see, I’ve dropped the Two-Natured London 8 from the spring schedule, so it’ll be a full year late from the intended date. My apologies for all of you who have been waiting for Marcus’s story. It’ll be a good one, I promise.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of books for you to read. I hope you’ll find new favourites among them.

 

Friday, 10 June 2022

It’s my ten-year author anniversary!

This week, June 7th to be precise, marks ten years since I published my first book, The Wolf’s Call. It’s been an interesting decade to say the least. I wasn’t an overnight successduhbut my first book did well enough during its first eight months that I could keep publishing through several leaner years.

How the cover has changed over the years

If you’re wondering why it sold well for only such a short time, Amazon changed its algorithms in 2013 and prevented self-published books from appearing in searches before traditionally published books. It cut the income of many self-published authors to a fraction of what it had been, mine included. I was lucky to have started before the change happened. Otherwise I might have given up ages ago.

But I persevered. Last month, I published my thirtieth book, so I’ve published an average three books a year. The milestone belongs to Tracy Hayes, P.I. for the Win. It’s the tenth in the series and I’m glad that it got the honours. It’s my most popular series by far, and the book ends a longer arc too.

What have I learned, then, during this decade? It’s been an amazing curve from a clueless but hopeful to knowledgeable and realistic.

I’ve learned that shorter books suit my writing style best. Mine are fifty thousand words average, though the newer are a bit longer. I can pace them better and make them more interesting than my longer books. They’re better for me financially too, as I can’t realistically ask more than $3-4 for them, whether they’re forty thousand words or a hundred thousand.

I’ve learned that publishing more books really is the key for financial success. When I started, I thought it meant any book that I managed to publish. But it actually means, at least for me, more books in the same series. It wasn’t until book seven of P.I. Tracy Hayes series that people really took notice. And the same goes for my other series too.

I’ve learned that my readers like light mysteries over contemporary romances. I like writing them better too. I have many ideas for romances, but all of them have been postponed to far future.

I’ve learned not to be embarrassed about marketing my books. Back when I started, social media was the only marketing channel for me, but the mere notion of telling people of my books made me break out in sweat. I’m over that, and although I don’t think social media sells books any better than it did back then, it’s easier for me to do it.

I’ve learned that one pen name is better than two. When I started, I had different pen names for paranormal and contemporary romances. Hannah Kane had to retire, and I republished my contemporary romances as Susanna Shore a few years ago. They still don’t sell, but at least I don’t have to maintain two identities.

I’ve learned to make book covers. I’ve always done all my covers myself. They still can’t compete with the professional work, but the current cover of The Wolf’s Call is miles from the original. Good thing people back then didn’t expect self-published books to look professional.

The first cover of The Wolf's Call

I’ve found that I like making covers and it’s a good way for me to relax between books. I have a great many covers waiting for books that might never be written.

But perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in the past decade is to call myself an author. I felt like a fraud for a long time and didn’t like to talk about it with people I didn’t know. This week was basically the first time that I outright told a random person that I’m an author. It was wonderfully liberating.

I’m still not making a living with my writing. But for the first time, that goal is within sights. I’m in a good place personally and professionally about my career. And there’s a lot to come.

My next book will start a new series, making it the fourth ongoing series I’m publishing at the same time. The Reed Files is a spin-off from P.I. Tracy Hayes books. The first book is called The Perfect Scam and it’s an international mystery set in France. I’m very excited about it and I hope readers will find it. The book will come out on July 31, a perfect way to launch the next decade of my author career.

For my next decade, my goals are to become more entrepreneurial, or at least more efficient about things like advertising. It’s more of a point and shoot tactic now. I’d also like to tackle audio books at some point. Currently, they’re not worth the cost for me. And, of course, I’d like to make a living from my writing. And that means writing more books. Looking forward to it.

Friday, 4 February 2022

Books with magic are for adults too!

I spotted a review of my book today that gave me a pause. I’m not upset with the review. Only a fool would be upset with five stars and a reader actually taking time to write down a few words. What made me do a double-take was the reader’s notion that the book was written for teens.

I’ve never written anything for a younger audience. I didn’t like being a teenager and don’t care to relive the experience, and I don’t understand the current generation of teenagers at all. I’ve read enough cringe-worthy YA where the current day teen protagonist enjoys the things that made the author happy in their youth in the 70s and 80s to know to stay out of that game.

The book in question is Hexing the Ex, which starts my House of Magic paranormal mystery series. The first-person protagonist, Phoebe Thorpe, is twenty-seven, has a university degree, a steady job, active social life, ex-boyfriends, and a current crush on her boss. There are no bedroom scenes, with or without the door closed, but I consider her an adult, and she was written for the adult audience in mind.

The tone of the book is light, and the mystery isn’t terribly gruesome. The next book is slightly darker and the upcoming third book darker still, but the overall reading experience should be joyful. The reviewer here definitely found it such, which delights me.

I have another mystery series too, where the protagonist, Tracy Hayes, is twenty-seven. She has no college degree, but she has an ex-husband and a string of minimum wage jobs until she lands a job as the apprentice to a private investigator.

The mysteries of P.I. Tracy Hayes series are a bit darker, there are murders, and themes that have made readers issue trigger warnings, but the overall tone aims to joyful too, with family shenanigans and romance. There are some references to bedroom scenes, but nothing overt.

Both books have cheery, colourful illustrations on their covers. Maybe younger people like them more, but the idea was to capture readers who like light-hearted books. I think it has worked perfectly. Before this, no one has ever suggested that either series is meant for teenagers.

Its impossible to know what makes a reader view a book one way or another. I’ve reviewed books myself that others have perceived completely opposite to how I saw them. I can only make a guess at the elements that some readers find more suitable for children, and that is magic and paranormal creatures.

My assumption, fair or not, is what triggered me to write this post.

Book twitter is full of rants by writers of adult fantasy who rage against their books being classified as YA. The tendency of bookstores and libraries to shelve fantasy with YA seems to indicate that only younger audiences are allowed to enjoy imaginative worldbuilding and fantastic creatures. Theyre stating that adults should steer away from fantasy, no matter how dark, gruesome, or erotic the books are otherwise. And more often than not, it’s fantasy written by women that gets this treatment.

Maybe that applies to my little paranormal mystery with its urban fantasy setting too. That isn’t to say it’s not suitable for younger audience; teenagers might enjoy it even. But adults need not to be ashamed of enjoying fantasy elements in their reading either. You’re not alone in finding them a pleasure. I definitely do.

If you’d like to check out either or both series, you can find more about them on my webpage, the series starting with Hexing the Ex and Tracy Hayes, Apprentice P.I. If you’re waiting for the next House of Magic book, it’ll come out on March 20th. The name and cover will be revealed soon.

 

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Summing up my year

It’s time for the end of year post—the rather dismal seventh post of the year. When the year began, I pledged to write more blog posts, yet here I am, with no more posts than the previous three years, a far cry of 2013 when I wrote forty-four posts.


My year has been good, despite the ongoing plague situation. I’ve stayed healthy, as has my husband, and we’ve managed to work from home for two years without getting on each other’s nerves. Covid hasn’t touched any of my family or friends, and there hasn’t been other upsetting events either. The only thing that has suffered is our fitness, as we’ve stayed indoors too much for our general well-being. I’d pledge to work out more next year, but I know I won’t keep that promise, so it’s best not to make it.

I’ve had a productive year—apart form this blog. I’ve published five books, which is a personal record. Two of those were written the previous year, but then again, I’ve also written one complete and two partial books that’ll come out next year.


The year began with Wolf Moon, book 7 in Two-Natured London series. Then there were two P.I. Tracy Hayes books, P.I. on the Scent and Unstoppable P.I., books 8 and 9 in my contemporary mystery series. And finally, I launched a brand-new series, House of Magic, paranormal mysteries set in alternative London. The first two books, Hexing the Ex and Saved by the Spell are now out.

All this publishing activity helped to make 2021 the best year of my career so far. For the first time, I was able to pay for myself for writing. It’s not even close to a living wage, more a token, but it’s a huge milestone that I hope won’t be a one-time miracle. Becoming a career author is still my long-term plan and dream, and being able to live on my writing is an important part of it.


I also—finally—published all remaining P.I. Tracy Hayes books and House of Magic books on paperback through Amazon and IngramSpark. I’ve avoided the latter for its fees, but I joined Independent Book Publishers Association, which offers promotional codes to IngramSpark for its members. I like the quality of IS books better, especially the paper that is more book-like than the printer paper Amazon uses, and now the paperbacks are available on other vendors than Amazon as well.

Through IBPA’s special member program, I was able to offer early copies of my books on NetGalley too. Both House of Magic books were available there for three months, and I was happy with the results. The books were well received by the reviewers and the early reviews helped to give the series a great launch. I’ll definitely use that option next year too.

I changed my newsletter provider to MailerLite in November. I joined BookFunnel at the same time too to be able to distribute copies of my books more easily and grow my subscriber list with the help of BookFunnel’s promotions. If you want to join my mailing list, you’ll get Starters, a bundle of four of my books as a thank you. It’s a low-level commitment. You’ll basically get a newsletter when I publish a new book.

While I’ve neglected this blog, my reading blog has flourished. I wrote seventy-one posts, most of them about NetGalley books I’ve received for free in exchange for reviews. I enjoy writing reviews and find it highly educational as an author too. You can read about my reading year on this post.

I’ve made ambitious plans for the new year. I want to publish eight books, which is sort of doable, especially since one of them has already been written. Magic for the Highland Wolf, Two-Natured London 7.5 will come out on January 16. There will be two House of Magic books and two P.I. Tracy Hayes books. I’ll also launch two new series, both spin-offs of the latter. Jonny Moreira and Tracy’s brother Trevor will both have their own series. More about those later next year.

I’d like to thank you, my readers, for staying with me and reading my books. Next year will be the ten-year anniversary of my self-publishing career and I hope you’ll be with me through it too. Happy and hopefully better 2022 for you all!


 

Friday, 5 November 2021

Changes to my newsletter and other news

I’ve changed my newsletter provider. Old one was good enough, but it didn’t allow the same flexibility as the current one. The new provider also links more easily with BookFunnel so that I can distribute books and other gifts to my readers when I need to.

I’ve also changed the thank you gift every subscriber receives. For a long time, it’s been a short story set in my Two-Natured London world. What I’ll do with the story remains to be seen. I’ll probably add it to The Wolf’s Call, or make an edition of short stories and add it to that.

From now on, subscribers will get my four-book bundle, Starters, when they confirm their subscription. Downloads are provided by BookFunnel and they’re safe. Starters consists of The Wolf’s Call, Tracy Hayes, Apprentice P.I., Which Way to Love?, and Personal.

If you’re an old subscriber, please subscribe again. I won’t be transferring the old subscriber list (the old provider doesn’t easily allow lists to be transferred), so you’ll stop receiving my newsletters. And that way you won’t miss out on the book offer.

If you want to subscribe and get the book, fill in your email address here. Thank you for subscribing!

In other news, the ninth P.I. Tracy Hayes book comes out on November 14th. In Tracy Hayes, Unstoppable P.I. Tracy avoids jury duty by agreeing to investigate whether the accused truly is guilty of the crime he’s on trial for. You can read the first two chapters and preorder the book on my webpage.

Tracy Hayes, Unstoppable P.I. by Susanna Shore
 

Justice is blind. Tracy is not.

If I had a bucket list, jury duty wouldn’t be on it. Luckily, I had a way out—but I might regret taking it.

Jury duty isn’t exactly at the top of Tracy’s bucket list—not that she has one. But then she’s offered an unexpected out: her brother Travis asks her to work for the defense instead. He wants her to prove that his client is innocent.

Easier said than done when everyone and their aunt knows the accused is guilty.

But the case that looked straightforward turns out to be anything but. Could it be that the man everyone is convinced killed his wife is innocent after all? Tracy and Jackson need all their ingenuity to uncover the truth.

And that’s not even the most difficult task on Tracy’s list. Her sister’s wedding is approaching, and their mother wants Tracy’s help planning it. To top it all, she’s promised to help Jonny Moreira escape mafia.

A lesser woman might find things overwhelming, but luckily Tracy is unstoppable.

Book comes out on November 14th.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Saved by the Spell has arrived!

A splendid, perfect and addictive book!

House of Magic, my new paranormal cosy mystery series has advanced to its second book. Saved by the Spell came out on Sunday, and it has already some nice reviews.

Phoebe Thorpe, the assistant to an antiques dealer in London, has had a steep learning curve about the world of magic and paranormal creatures around her. And it’s about to become steeper. A spell makes her repulsive to men, and the mages, her boss and landladies, are stymied. Only the Archmage can helponly he’s gone missing. You can read the first two chapters on my webpage.

Hexing the Ex, the first book in the series, is also the first book I’ve ever placed on NetGalley for early reviews. I did it through IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) for three months, and it was available for download for all.

It was an interesting experience. The book was downloaded about three hundred times, of which about seventy readers have reviewed the book so far; sixty or so have also published their review elsewhere. Reviews were much more mixed than usually, everything from one star reviews by readers disappointed with the book to excited five stars.

Early reviews do help with the visibility, and Hexing the Ex has done fairly well among my more popular P.I. Tracy Hayes series. Encouraged by this, I placed Saved by the Spell on NetGalley too. So far about thirty people have read it, mostly those who liked the first book too, so the reviews have generally been more favourable.

The book is available on NetGalley until October 20th, 2021. If you’re a member, you can download it there. And if you do, please leave a review everywhere. They do make a difference.