Thanks for agreeing to
talk to me. It's great to have you here!
First off, tell us a
little about yourself.
You know Rae, this is
usually the hardest question of all, so where to begin. I’m a 40
year old mother of a beautiful 12 year old daughter, and married to a
good man. We are animal lovers and belong to 2 Chihuahua’s, 3 Cats,
and 3 Ferrets. We often find ourselves rehabilitating wildlife when
we can and are currently looking to buy our first home. I recently
graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Marketing in
August of 2012 and now run a very successful publishing business
known as GMTA Publishing. This year we have just started our imprints
and intend to unveil the sites for those very soon!
You run publishing
house Great Minds Think Aloud. How did come to get up GMTA, and what
was the inspiration behind it? Were there any frustrations along the
way, if so how did you overcome them? What's the best thing about
running a publishing house?
Well Great Minds Think
Aloud actually began two years ago as a book club/review hub. I began
to make a lot of friends both publisher and author as well as many
others and found out just how much talent was out there waiting for
someone to come along and publish their books. For a year I learned
as much as I could about the business and began gathering thoughts
and ideas and all the information I could find. Early January of 2012
I decided I may as well jump in with both feet. I began to publish
and the start was very bumpy. Starting any business involves a lot of
trial and error, staying up all hours of the night (which I still do)
and working HARD.
This year it seems I
have learned a lot, gone through many changes and cultivated GMTA
into a serious publishing business. We are very picky about the
manuscripts we accept, more-so than we were in the beginning. We have
a strict policy in place for submissions and we have obtained the
services of some excellent editors that we recommend to authors that
do not have their own. GMTA has become a business that is more about
quality than quantity and we intend to remain that way. After an
overwhelming response that started at the beginning of the year we
have actually now closed submissions until July or at least we plan
to open them back up in July given that we catch up with what we
All in all GMTA is
doing really well and we have a feeling that 2013 will be our year to
shine! The best thing about running a publishing house is meeting
some amazingly talented writers. I also enjoy the fact that I get to
meet them personally. We don’t operate like many publishing houses
that make their authors submit through an agent, instead we allow
authors to submit directly to us and I think that makes a huge
What are your hopes
and dreams for GMTA?What kinds of books do you publish?
My hopes and dreams for GMTA is that we will grow to be supremely
successful. I want to make ‘the big six’ into ‘the big seven’
I would love to either become an imprint of one of the larger
corporate conglomerates of to become a corporate conglomerate
ourselves! As for books we publish almost every genre save memoirs
You do a heck of a
lot of work! I'm always seeing you online and am constantly inspired
by how much you do. How do you keep yourself going? What inspires
you? A lot of people use this opportunity to throw in a long
speech about their love of coffee and though I do love it, that isn’t
what keeps me going. What keeps me going is the genuine love I have
for literature and the undying need to produce a book that people
will enjoy. I intend to work hard for all my authors and that is why
you see me on all hours of the night plugging away with promoting our
books and trying to make sure that every single person on all social
networks see what we’re doing. I want our authors to succeed and be
happy in their experience with us and I want them to know that I will
always work hard for each and every one of them no matter if it means
me staying up until all hours of the night and morning and some of
the next night as well! Lol
What would your
advice be to anyone who wants to start their own business? Do it!
First and foremost you have to bit the bullet, jump in with both feet
and no matter how high the water gets doggy paddle like hell! In fact
it’s a good idea to have some water-wings as well just in case.
It’s not easy, I will definitely never say that but it takes tons
of dedication, a true love for what you do, and it takes discipline,
and above all patience. You have to work hard to create anything
worth-while, but if you try hard enough you can succeed. No dream is
unattainable and no goal too high!
As we know, there
are millions of authors out there, some of who will be reading this.
What advice would you give to authors who are looking to submit their
work to a publisher? What advice would you give them once they've
been published? Let these readers know you are here and you’re
not going away until they read your book and give that feedback good
or bad! One thing you should always, always remember as well, Rome
wasn’t built in a day, and even when it was done there were people
that didn’t like it. You’ll always find your critics, and they
will, at times, be harsh but even Tolkien had his critics, so did
C.S. Lewis, George R.R. Martin, some of the greatest and most amazing
authors in the world had their critics for as far back as we can
remember so don’t let that get you upset. There are worse things in
life than someone telling you that your book is no good. Trust me,
you’ll have just as many or more telling you that it is GREAT and…
remember too, opinions are like… well you know the saying.
The world is a dark
place right now. If you could address a global audience, what message
would you give to the world? I would tell them that it is time
to pull together. You’re right Rae it is a dark world and there are
some very bad people out there but if the good ones don’t start
doing something about it it’s only going to get worse. Our planet
is in serious trouble in more ways than one. From the bad economy, to
the pollution problems, to the problems with society as a whole, it’s
not getting any better and it can’t until we start fighting back.
Until we learn to stand as a unit regardless of race, creed, or
religion, there’s no hope for anyone. The key to that is to get rid
of the hatred, be kind to your fellow man and try to live life as you
should, treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Finally, where can
we find you online? Everywhere! Literally that’s almost true.
If you Google GMTA you are likely to find something on us somewhere.
But if you really want to find us here are some sites that may
interest you and we’ll have others up soon:
On any given night in America 125,000
veterans are homeless and sleeping on the streets. Lack of family,
social and medical support has driven them there, people often
unwilling to understand what is going on within them. In London,
England, the number of homeless veterans sleeping on the street is
estimated to be about 1100. These are the forgotten, the ones pushed
away because their usefulness has, in the eyes of the people around
them, come to an end.
Battlefield Of The Mind is a new
documentary which delves in to the life of veterans suffering from
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mental health problem which
is linked to their experiences in the theatre of war. With many now
doing several deployments, they find themselves unable to switch off
and return to civilian life. They find that what they have
experienced in battle, the deaths of friends and innocents, and the
injustices of war, life changing. Battle scarred, they return home to
find that the support they so desperately need is lacking, not just
from family and friends, but also from health services and the
government and military they entrusted their lives to. On the side of
friends and family, it is often not a lack of compassion but a lack
of understanding. Tragically, mental health issues are still the
invisible illnesses which many believe should be brushed beneath the
carpet and forgotten about.
The film makes for some unsettling and
worrying viewing, showing mental health issues in a way which they
have never been shown. Everything has been captured for the world to
see; the pain, the agony, the frustration. It's a film I challenge
anyone to watch. If you come away feeling angry, hurt, upset, and
with a fire in your belly to right the wrongs of this world, then
you're on the right track. Cliches are irrelevant when it comes to
this film, but it truly does take you on a roller-coaster of
Thankfully, Battlefield does show us
what is being done. Charities such as Veterans First and the Pathway
Home are stepping in to fill the void, offering support and help to
those who want it. Through their programs, the veterans go on to find
homes, employment which matches the skills they used in the military,
and a life outside of PTSD. We get to hear of several success
stories, including that of Pirate Mike who, while filming was taking
place, went and became a part of the Veterans First family.
PTSD in veterans is a global problem
and Strine gives us a glimpse at the tip of the iceberg. This is a
film which needs to be seen by everyone from politicians, to the
military, to the media, to charities, to health care workers. It's a
film which I believe will not only open eyes, but will become a tool
in helping to combat the agony of PTSD.
The consideration which the crew show
to the veterans they feature is second to none. This is not an
exposé. This is a piece of work
which refuses to rely on fear mongering and gossip. Instead, it takes
our hand and leads us in to a world which needs to be seen.
Fran Strine's Battlefield Of The Mind
is a powerful and compassionate look at a side of war many people
refuse to think about.
One of the people I've had the pleasure of getting to know over the past 12 months is author Susan Harris. Based in Canada, her books are beautiful tomes of information and stories, ones which can be used in every day life. She kindly agreed to an interview so, without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to the wonderful Susan!
RG- Thank you for agreeing to talk to
me. I really appreciate it!
SH - My pleasure,Rae.
RG-You live a really interesting life
and now live in Canada. Tell us a little about yourself and your
SH- I was born in the idyllic island
of Trinidad, and moved to Canada 15 years ago. I'm married and have
one daughter, and with the cats, we live on the prairies of
Saskatchewan. I was a teacher for 12 years and later worked in Human
Resources and project management. Over the last few months I've
become a full time writer and speaker- and it has been rewarding,
hectic and fun.
RG- You have two books out at the
moment, Golden Apples in Silver Settings and Little Copper
Pennies. They're both beautifully written and really inspiring.
What inspired you to write them? Where did the ideas come?
SH-I actually have three books:
First, Golden Apples in Silver
Settings: Having been a Christian speaker for some time now, I
wanted to celebrate a legacy of 20 years. I’ve also always wanted
to write a book, so I merged the two together. I had kept some notes
on the talks I did, so it was easy to compile them into a book. God’s
word never changes, and I thought that words that blessed people
years ago will bless them today. The title was inspired from Proverbs
25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of
silver (KJV). The silver settings are interpreted as the geographic
locations where I spoke.
Second, Little Copper Pennies:
Celebrating the life of the Canadian one-cent piece (1858-2013).
As a (former) teacher, I was in the
habit of making up stories to bring across abstract concepts to
students. As a mom, I entertained my daughter with tales and
imagination. So when I heard the news that the penny was going to be
eliminated, I immediately thought: “If this penny could speak, what
would it say of the 155 years it has been in existence?” And the
stories began. I interviewed people and got the once-upon-a-time
worth of the purchasing power of the penny, used my own experiences,
and added history and factual information for an educational
Third, Little Copper Pennies for
Kids. When I shared my manuscript for Little Copper Pennies to a
teacher -librarian friend she commented: "Let me put a bug in
your ear. Have you considered a picture book for children?" I
thought about it, ran with the idead, and that book was published on
December 7 last year.
RG- I really love Little Copper
Pennies and am saddened by the loss of the Canadian penny (even
though I'm from the UK!). It feels as though a piece of history is
being wiped out. What provoked you to write the book? Do you think
it's right to phase out the penny? Do you feel a sense of loss at its
SH- The main reason for eliminating
the penny is that it is a liability on the balance sheet. It cost
1.06 cents to make a penny which is worth 1.00 cents. So the sheer
economics of the penny, coupled with the fact that billions of
pennies are hoarded by citizens are good reasons. Others include the
environmental impact through recycling the coins and the time and
cost by institutions to process pennies. I feel a sense of sadness at
the removal of the penny. It was created in 1858 to introduce the
decimal system, so it is truly historic. I am fond of it but I
recognize that an ending to all fine things must be (and it gave me
RG- You held a retirement party for the
penny. How did that go?! What did you all get up to?
SH- The penny retirement party was
fun filled and nostalgic. Though the stormy weather and the flu bug
deterred a few, we had a scrumptious buffet dinner, followed by a
game of penny toss. It was neat to see adults have so much fun as
each tried to get their five pennies to the dish. The prize was penny
candy (now worth 25 cents each). There was a "guess the number
of pennies" and the prize was a coin folder that holds small
cents (the size of the penny was reduced in 1920. I showed a
PowerPoint presentation with some highlights from my appearances to
schools, and images of significant pennies from 1858-2012. There were
two speeches including greetings from the member of Parliament for my
locale. I finished by reading the Eulogy found in Chapter 16 of
Little Copper Pennies. Many described the evening as historic.
RG- What inspired you to become a
SH- I read avidly as a child and
youth, and my English teacher at high school would often read my
compositions to the class. I guess the seeds were germinated in those
years. People enjoyed hearing me speak, and it boosted my confidence
that they might likely enjoy my writing too.
RG- You work really hard on the
promotional side, something many people struggle with. Where do you
get your ideas from? What drives you in your work? What advice would
you give to other authors?
SH- I am driven and self-motivated.
I use my experience in project management to scale my timeline and
work within deadlines. It is imperative to have deadlines, milestones
and measurable objectives in any project, and I am cognizant of these
in my work. I've outlined in practical terms how to do this in
Chapter 2 of my book "Golden Apples in Silver Settings".
The chapter is called "Turning dreams into Reality". I'd
advise authors to create a detailed plan and have someone hold them
accountable to it. Treat your writing seriously. Write first and edit
later. Don't let the editorial aspect block your creativity. Keep a
notebook and pencil handy to jot down thoughts when inspiration hits.
Look for freshness in mundane topics around you. Join a group to get
encouragement from other author. (I'm accepting friends on Facebook
and followers on Twitter.)
RG- What advice would you give to new
authors, particularly those who are looking for publishers or agents?
SH- E-readers offer a fresh,
untapped world to authors who are rejected by publishing houses and
agents. I'd say try your hand at an ebook and get known. Call your
local television station and newspapers. These media likes to
showcase local talent and you can get publicity there. Then try again
with the agents.
RG- You really are a beacon of hope,
light and inspiration, something which this world desperately needs
right now. What message would you give to the world?
SH- My inspiration and hope comes
from God, and the faith I have that He will open doors for me that no
one can shut. I'd advise anyone to include God in their plans,
knowing that those plans are for good and not for evil, to give a
future and a hope. Keep the company of optimistic people, and always
be an encourager to the not-so-happy ones.
Or "What I've Learned After 10 Years Of Working In and Around Promotions".
Please don't take this as "Law". It's bits and pieces I've picked up over the years, and I'm always learning new things. That's half the fun! Anyway, I hope this helps you.
1. Get a website! You can't imagine how crucial this is. I've lost count of the number of authors I've come across who don't have a website. You have an average of 9 seconds to catch a person's attention and if they have to go scoring the internet for the information then you've lost them. Keeping it all in one place is easy. You can set up a website using simple services like Blogger and Wordpress. Buying domain names is simple and cheap. Mine cost £3 per year and come from Fasthosts. Nearly all domain companies will allow you to direct it to another address allowing you to hide the original address of the site.
4. Link your Twitter, Facebook and websites together so that they all update one another. This is easy to within Facebook and Twitter. I linked mine using Twitterfeed. Alternatively, you can use something like Tweetdeck to update your personal and professional Facebook and Twitter feeds at the same time. Tweetdeck also allows you to schedule posts for both Facebook and Twitter, which is great if you're going to be away.
5. Get a Rebelmouse account. Rebelmouse pulls the most popular posts from your website, Facebook and Twitter to give you your own, newspaper-like feed. It's still in beta testing but looks like it's going to be a great one stop shop for people who are looking for updates from you.
6. Make stuff. Seriously, make stuff! This is good if you don't have a physical product to sell (i.e. yours is an ebook only product). Take advantage of printers offers and have postcards, bookmarks and whatever else you fancy making up. I use Vistaprint and Print24. Get friends to create artwork for you. Make sure to send them a bit of money, or promise them a link on the back of any material you make with it. Alternatively, go and look on Flickr for Creative Commons licensed photos. Just remember to send the photographer a message asking to use their photo. If they don't reply, move on to the next photo you like. Please, please, please don't just steal it. Photographers are artists too!
7. Get involved in giveaways, especially if you have ebooks (no postage = GREAT!). Bookblogs have several groups dedicated to people offering books up for review. You'll also be able to find websites there as well.
8. If you have a physical product, give one away on Goodreads.
9. Get yourself a Goodreads account and get involved! Get reviewing books and chatting on groups.
10. Offer up your book for review. Take a look on Bookblogs for people who are offering to review books. Take a look at the lists of reviewers on Twitter and Goodreads and offer the book to anyone who reads your genre. Don't just send it to everyone and anyone. Pick carefully and stick to those who like your genre, or like a similar genre. Read their review policy carefully.
11. Social media's great. But don't sign up to a bunch of groups and pages just to plug your book. There are a number of groups and pages which are just for that, but don't sign up to people's personal pages just to leave your link there. The E-Reader House and The Independent Paperback Gift Shop are a couple of great guys who help indie authors.
12. If you want to promote your book on social media and not be seen as a spammer, get chatting to people. It's the best thing you can do, and you never know, you might make a few new friends along the way. It's one of the best things I've done and I've made some wonderful new friends through it. I know they're reading this, so hi, guys!
13. If you can, go to events, even if it's just one a year. If you can, rent a trade table. It's a great way to meet the people who'll read your books and to give away goodies. I did my first one last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I just regret I can't currently do all the ones I'm invited to. One day hopefully!
14. Blog about everything you find interesting. Offer free fiction on your website or blog. It doesn't have to be a lot. It could be scenes from your book. Or it could be complete stand alone short stories. It gives people an idea of your writing style and whether they'll enjoy it or not. Write about the funny, the silly, and the serious. You can find pretty much everything like that right here!
15. Enter your work in to competitions. You might not win anything. Or you might just sweep the top prize! I didn't think I'd get anything yet managed to win two Rainbow Awards. Never sell yourself too short!
16. Contact the local media. Bigger news sites often feed stories from local news media, especially if the story is interesting.
17. HAVE FUN!!! Promoting a book doesn't have to be a drag. You can have a whole bunch of fun and meet some awesome people along the way!
If you have any other suggestions, feel free to use the comments box and we'll put together a post of fresh, new ideas. Thank you for reading and keep smiling!