When I heard the story of Regina Sirois and her newly released novel (very, very new - as in January 2012) On Little Wings, I knew I had to include it in my monthly discussion on self-publishing. In trying to find a way to contact her for an interview, I stumbled upon her blog, and I must say, I think I've developed a tad of a writer's crush on her. Okay, I admit it, I'm smitten.
I'd love to tell you her story, but I think she'll do a much better job, and with greater eloquence.
Meet Regina Sirois.
"I am really happy to get to tell my side of the story because I think there are many misconceptions floating around about me.
Misconception #1: I have made it big in the publishing world. the truth- I haven't. Not even close. I was contacted by two very talented agents in New York this week and I have decided which one I am going to sign with. That means she will try to sell my book to publishers. That does not mean they will buy. She feels good about our prospects, but there are no guarantees in this business.
Misconception #2: I just lucked out.The truth- this is almost entirely true. If you count working on my manuscript for years, sending it to many test readers, enduring harsh critiques, querying everyone and their mother and finally giving up on myself as lucky. Because that is what happened. I worked as hard and tortured myself just as long as other writers. The difference is I believed the silence from the agents and gave up on myself. I put my manuscript in a drawer and refused to talk about it or look at it for over a year. I stopped writing. And I made peace with that. So then how do I explain you knowing about my book? Well, I got a gift. A teenage girl who test read the book for me almost two years ago asked for a copy. I told her "no, don't worry about it. It's not any good." She told me that she loved it and had been thinking of it for months. She asked if she could please read it again. I brushed her off and went back to life. But it got under my skin. I kept hearing her say she missed it. So one day I timidly pulled it up on the screen. It was like making up with a friend after a big fight. It took some time to get comfortable with it again. And I started working. I worked for weeks. I neglected all my chores and wrote. And then, right before Christmas, I finished. There is a great amount of luck involved in any literary success, but it doesn't take unless there's a thousand times more work than luck.
Misconception #3: I had a marketing strategy. Truth- what is a marketing strategy?I decided to give my book away for free to any friends who wanted to peruse it and print up copies for my family as gifts. On January 4th I put a post on my blog and told my handful of followers that I wrote a book. I announced it on facebook. I worried people would think I was bugging them or bragging, but I did it anyway. I decided if I worked that hard I should at least tell the people who cared about me what I did. I did not think I would make a penny. I didn't really want to. That wasn't the point. I'm not sure what the point was, to be honest. I just wanted to stop being afraid to try. I don't know how 14,000 people found me in five days. I really don't.
Any marketing tips or strategies? I refer you to my last answer. :) I believe that free is a great way to plant your book. If it really touches people and lands in fertile ground it might just grow. Just remember that there will be no word of mouth if it doesn't resonate. No one says, "hey I downloaded a mediocre book for free. You should get it." Let your work speak for itself and see if people pass along the word. And say a mediocre book does make it big online. When an agent reads a copy, then what? They will say, 'what the heck is this?' You have to have a product that stands up to the most critical eyes. Self publishing is not a short cut! It is just another path through the jungle. For me it was an accidental path. But trust me, I had tried to get through the jungle before I self published.
How long have I dreamed of being an author? I fought being a writer for a long time. I always said that writing is a crap shoot. It doesn't matter how good you are because even dogs write books nowadays. Dogs! So how do you compete with that. And if you knew me you would know that if I have a competitive bone in my body it is my pinky bone. Or maybe one of those tiny bones in my eardrum. I fight hard with myself but I hate competing with anyone else. When I finally gave in and decided to do this it was because I was sick of telling my husband, "If I ever write that book..." It sounded so lazy and stupid to me. I told myself, "Just write it if you're going to write it, or shut up about it." (See, I told you I can be hard on myself. But in a good way) Every time I wanted to give up (there were many) I told myself to write it to my daughter. I can do for her what I cannot do for myself.
The most exciting part of this experience? The first time a complete stranger blogged about my book. I found it by googling my title. She said I was a master of the English language. Another woman called me a "wordsmith." I looked at my husband and said, "I'm a wordsmith?" Then I covered my mouth and cried in the kitchen. Cried happy, happy tears. Seeing that people who don't know me and are not trying to be nice to me care about what I wrote is the biggest reward."
Okay, this is Mandi speaking again. I know, I'm sorry, I was completely hypnotized by her writer's voice as well, and almost forgot I was supposed to be writing this post. If you haven't read this book yet, don't miss it! If you don't believe me, go check out the 20/22 five star reviews on Amazon! There is a reason this book has gone from zero to sixty in under ten seconds, but I'm not going to tell you what.
I'll let you read it and find out for yourself...