Monday, November 20, 2023

This Professional Life

Q: Okay – time to confess…those “New Year Resolutions” you made way back in January…how well have you done?

-from Susan

Since I don’t make New Year resolutions per se, I’m a wee bit off the hook. But not entirely because in the first couple of months of 2023, I took a look at my professional activities, standing, and options and made some private promises to myself. I will never have a break out book, I’ve come to realize, so what can I do to keep my standing as a mid-list author? My newest book, released later in the year has been coasting along, selling, yes, but not so well that my publisher is panting with delight. (I’m not sure my publisher pants at all, ever, or what would send them into fits of delight, but so far it’s not my sales.)

I spent a lot of time looking harder at social media – notice I didn’t say understanding it better – and at the disjointed representation of my six books in the marketplace.  Readers can see multiple editions of my books, and an inconsistent showing of the audio versions, and that’s got to be confusing and off-putting. I made a few decisions. First, republish my Dani O’Rourke 3-book series, which got great reviews, wonderful blurbs from authors who actually read the book they blurbed, and pretty good sales before they were allowed by traditional publishers to sag into obscurity. Because I still get readers asking where they can find them and get lovely fan reactions from people who’ve read one or more and are waiting for a new one, I decided to get them back into print with custom illustrated covers that illustrate the character and her specific environments. In 2024, the next step is marketing, and I’m on it. Then, perhaps writing a new one, or at least a short story.

Second, to turn in what I hope is an intriguing second ch√Ęteau mystery to my traditional publisher, one that allowed me to riff on the heroic history of the French in Burgundy, caught between the Nazis and the Vichy government of France in the early 1940s. Done, accepted happily by said publisher, due out March 2024. A nice cover, too, that I'll share when they let me.

Third, to do my very best not to let the treasured friendships with fellow authors lose momentum. I attended Left Coast Crime and the California Crime Writers Conference but had to miss Bouchercon and Malice. A dear friend and outstanding author, Deborah Crombie, is being feted everywhere in 2023, and I caught up with her for CCWC, so that was special. I joined the faculty for an annual mystery writers conference, which hooked me up with a whole handful of authors I admire greatly and see there every year. 

All in all, I think I made solid progress on my professional goals for the year. I didn’t make any promises to keep my desk clear, which is well beyond my talents, or to return to the alpha order on my crime fiction bookshelves, which was permanently screwed up when trade paper, hard cover and mass paperbacks (from an earlier era) created so many exceptions to the A-Z rule. Who’s got the time?

I have a handful of projects around my work already in place for 2024, well before the New Year’s Resolution challenge. I’m holding them close because I don’t want to fall on my face publicly, I guess! But who knows -  2024 is definitely going to be interesting!








James W. Ziskin said...

Excellent job, Susan! Lots to be proud of here.


Susan C Shea said...

Thanks, Jim!