Sue Owens Wright was one of my first clients ever and I’m honored to still be working with her today. I hope you all enjoy what she has to say and know that if you haven’t yet met Beanie and Cruiser, you’ll really be glad you did!
PJ: How long have you been writing?
Sue: I started writing poetry when I was in my teens and was first published then. I didn’t start writing fiction until the 1990s.
PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?
Sue: There have been several points. When I received my first book advance, earned some decent royalty checks, won two Maxwell Awards, and when I began being interviewed and written about.
PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?
Sue: I could never have predicted the many surprises and blessings that have come my way from following my heart and writing what I’m passionate about… dogs and basset hounds, in particular.
PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?
Sue: Not yet, but I’m closer than when I first started out. I think most beginning writers have unrealistic expectations about income, thinking they’ll be instantly rich. Some fortunate writers do hit pay dirt right off, but it finally boils down to whether you love writing or not, and I do.
PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?
Sue: I focus on writing the next book.
PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?
Sue: A couple of years and 18 rejections, which isn’t so bad when you consider all the famous authors who received many more rejections before their first publication.
PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?
Sue: I’d have held out longer for a series contract from one of the big dogs of publishing when I was searching for someone to publish my first mystery. I got too antsy to sign a contract, but hey, at least I got published.
PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?
Sue: I need a few more heads for the hats I wear, and balancing it all can be challenging. It’s easy to get caught up in the promotion part and not spend enough time writing, but I balance my time pretty well. I do a little promotion each day and then get down to the writing and polishing what I’ve already written, though on some days promotion takes up more time than I intend. I probably don’t submit as much new work as I should. When I do, I don’t waste time fretting about what I’ve sent out. It’s done and gone. I let it go and move on to the next writing project. Of course, I’d rather be devoting all my time to writing books, but if no one knows about them they won’t get read, and writers want to be read.
PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?
Sue: Winning two Maxwell Awards and being nominated a total of 10 times for this prestigious award by the Dog Writers Association of America for the best writing on the subject of dogs.
PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?
Sue: Missing a chance at landing a contract with a big NY publisher.
PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?
Sue: When I was invited to be a guest speaker at the Illinois Basset Waddle, where I witnessed the spectacle of 1,000 hounds waddling through the small town of Dwight. I later wrote about the event, which garnered me my first Maxwell Award.
PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?
Sue: I think it’s my passion for basset hounds and my knowledge and understanding of these endearing drool-slingers I’ve lived with for almost 40 years. I never knew there were so many devoted basset lovers worldwide until I wrote these books. People are just crazy about those dogs. My Lake Tahoe setting is also intriguing to readers.
PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?
Sue: Never give up! Learn your craft and constantly improve your skills. Keep writing and then submit only your best work. It’s persistence that eventually separates the published from the unpublished. Be like a basset hound. It requires the dogged determination of a scent hound to keep following that trail to publication, but you’ll be rewarded in the end.
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?
Sue: I’ve found the Internet and Facebook very effective. Whenever I write an article or a pet column or do an interview, it reaches a worldwide audience instantly. I have readers from just about everywhere you can name. I’m so thankful to be a writer living in the Internet Age.
PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?
Sue: TV interviews. I sometimes tend to freeze when in front of the camera. I think I must look like a deer in the headlights, but it always seems worse at the time than when you look back at the footage. It’s hardly a blip on the screen. Now if they could only find a way to make you look younger and skinnier on camera.
PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?
Sue: Face in a Book, which is located in El Dorado Hills, CA.
PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:
Sirius About Murder
Embarking on Murder
Braced for Murder
Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:
Beanie encounters calamity in one way or another when she volunteers to foster a homeless basset hound from Lakeside Animal Shelter. After she discovers a reviled shelter manager was euthanized, Cruiser, and his naughty new sidekick, Calamity, pair up to track the killer and save Beanie from a cruel death at the dog pound.
Where can we buy it?
Five Star/Cengage Publishers, bookstores, and online booksellers. Braced for Murder will also be available on Kindle.
What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?
The first book I ever wrote was a paranormal romance set in England. I was inspired to write it after touring southern England and Cornwall in the early 90s and stayed at a fantastic Tudor estate that was supposedly haunted. I recently revised it and am seeking a publisher for the book.
It always helps to have a good publicist to get the word out and to book events for authors. PJ Nunn and her team at BreakThrough Promotions have been there for me from the beginning, opening doors that I probably could never have opened for myself.