My favorite question during book interviews is: How did you get started? The short answer is that my mother died. Some people dream of being authors; my writing began as what could be described as a nightmare! However- as she died, mom’s experiences ran the gamut from going through all the grieving steps a terminal soul follows to having what would be called a Christian NDE- if she had lived. I was in the room most of the times that she visited with God, Jesus, or multitudes of angels and souls. Believing everything she said even during what others called babbling, I became her translator. When most of her messages from God panned out, people in Orlando buzzed with the story of my parent’s death or Cindy’s tale. My grief counselor listened to my version of the events requiring I write my first book: Mom’s on the Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down. That covers 1991-1994 or until interest in my saga died.
Years later, to my surprise- people from all over the USA suddenly called asking for copies. I had no paperbacks of my first book left even though 1,000 had been in print. Meanwhile, computers changed so drastically that my backup disk was useless. So, I input one chapter at a time freely e-mailing my new fans the story that way. The demand became too great, and my e-mail provider balked or locked me out. Soon, I found a POD and distributed through them. At about the same time or starting in 2000, mom or God’s prophecies found in my first book began to materialize. My story-copyrighted in 1994- was proving itself as the truth! It felt miraculous- even for me!
Much later, I produced more books including chronicling my niece’s merge into my family Stacey’s Song. Another short paperback The Evans Terrace Girls was about small miracles as my neighborhood grieved seven parents’ deaths within about two years. Right after that hard time, I met Wavie Green. After a car accident, while pregnant, she outlived a 14-day coma. The lady claims that she talked with God during while unconscious state; according to her story, she still communicates with HIM even while wide-awake. After reading my three works, Wavie asked me to write her sage Through the Storms He Performs. That was my first book outside of my personal realm; I have written and rejected other books since then. Most of my first seven books were about faith, God, hope, faith healings, angels and miraculous interventions.
Changes were coming! Due to a genealogy study, after meeting with some cousins at a local grave yard, I wrote my first novel. Talk about relatives coming out of the woodwork when they think you are famous. I am jesting- of course! My relatives handed me some incredible family secrets asking me to compile a book. I acquiesced but only if it could be a novel. Their notes became my very first attempt at writing fiction; I came up with a pen name of Sydney S. Song to differentiate between my true stories and my novels based on truths or half-truths Surreal- The Hell in the Family. Soon, some of my other readers with secrets wanted stories told anonymously and autonomously. Thus, I released three more books based on true lives of normal people!
Then, the really fun writing started. While working for free at my daughter and her husband’s Christmas tree lot, I blogged my experiences. This effort became It’s a Celebration, a limited edition non-fiction book that you can only get from me- as a gift. My experiences that holiday, also, led to my first children’s books Frasier the Fir is Forever Green. After completing that story including the illustrations, I only gave copies to my children and grandchildren; for obvious reasons, I kept my real name on these three books. The youngsters asked for more books. Quickly, I wrote an Easter tale and a book about accepting your ‘Lot in Life.’ Three is a charm!
When my books were written, what did I do to market them? How do I do my PR? In my self-promotion work, I’ve run the gamut of suggestions from other authors and people. I’ve done it all. I queried publishers and agents. I used a small publisher willing to risk a thousand copies on my first printing of mom’s miracle story. I had a marketing agent but got my own interviews and book fairs for my first book. I even handed out copies of my books to strangers and celebrities. I ask for reviews and ratings from those reading my books. I giveaway free books hoping for a following as well as ratings, rankings, and FB likings- which doesn’t always pan out- but I’m a believer!
Currently, my goal is selling more books to people outside my circle of colleagues, neighbors, friends, and family! I started at the local book fair circuit where I found myself in the darkest corner tables in the less trafficked areas so I decided to branch out online. I dove into Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to establish relationships for promotion. I needed more PR and awareness of my writing. Years later, instead of me asking them, people have begun asking me to write essays for inclusion in their ‘Chicken Soup’ type books- to write short stories for their anthologies- to become the subject of their blogs- to compile articles- to ghostwrite- to co-author, and the like. In fact, some people have blogged my works or done nice reviews of some of my books without me even asking them to do it. Plus, as my book count grew from one to more than fourteen, I have learned other avenues of publishing and PR from fellow authors in social networks. Some fellow writers have introduced me to Kindle, Smashwords, and e-formatting so that I could convert my work into eBooks. I, also, left my stories as traditional paperbacks, which broadens my audience. Other authors have made me a part of their blog hops and fests. In other words, being online has opened new branding opportunities as well as sales and writing avenues for me.
It’s a numbers game- for sure! After working a short time at a celebrity branding company, I’ve been trying to brand myself so people know what they are getting. For example, my forte is being honest; this sincerity helps me with my image or branding because - half of my books are non-fictions. I try to be and remain authentic for my readers. Therefore, I write fiction under a pen name so that my reader knows the difference between my inspirational, miraculous, true books- and my fictions full of embellishments with poetic license but based on half-truths. Furthering my PR efforts, I do interviews whenever possible. Plus, I write a book based blog http://mchanson714.blogspot.com. Using my computer skills, I built a web presence; my author page is http://mchanson714.weebly.com; it’s where people can get a feel for my books by category and find all my sales links. I speak at churches and other gatherings when possible; I continue to go to local book stores and fairs for signings. Also, I am trying GoodReads and similar sites, now! Better late than never?
Now for my last truthful comments for this piece! PR- including good marketing and branding- are very time consuming. If there was a better way to promote my books that was truly affordable- I’d do it! Plus, let’s face it; there is an explosion of writers especially in the e-book arena. Let’s be honest! The place is so flooded that even free books can lag in sales. That is why branding and PR has been my focus for over a year, and I have not written any new non-fiction or novels for that long. I’ll let you in on a final secret; people like free stuff! If you give too much, they begin to assume freebies! Sometimes, I have pulled back on contests and free books to make people aware that I have them for sale.
My author page points to my other online locations; it contains a blog as well:http://mchanson714.weebly.com/
You can find all my paperbacks as well as Kindle versions through Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=mchanson714
some I-books are via LULUhttp://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mchanson714
and most e-versions of my books are available through Smashwordshttp://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=mchanson714
My first and longest running blog site is http://mchanson714.blogspot.com/