My name is Susan Wingate. I’ve been bouncing in and out of the mystery genre for years and have now settled into several mashups of genres—literary fiction, suspenseful women’s fiction, and coming-of-age mixed with touches of magical realism.
I had three novels released in 2022. They are: Gag Me (4/2022, Roberts Press), When You Leave Me (6/2022, Down & Out Books), and upcoming Hotter than Helen (Book 2 of the Bobby’s Diner mystery series, 11/16/2022, The Wild Rose Press)
From Planning to Published
If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?
Author: My first book took eight years to write, two years to edit, and then after, to be published. It is possibly the worst book ever written. The title is Of the Law and I recommend against getting a copy! LOL.
Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?
Author: It depends on what kind of publishing program you’re speaking of. If I self-publish, the process goes fairly fast. After the book is written, I go through a couple of months of an extensive editing process, then I hire an interior designer and cover artist.
If we’re talking traditionally published books, well, those books go through the same extensive editing but are submitted to publishing companies which have their own timeframe for new books submitted to them for accepting or rejecting a book. For accepted work, some publishers are very quick to go from contract to release date while others are not.
Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?
Author: I’m a hybrid author. Roberts Press is the publisher I self-publish under. But I amtraditionally published as well through Down & Out Books and The Wild Rose Press.
How did you determine your target audience?
Author: Mostly genre dictate who the target audience is. After that, the story’s main character. If the story’s main character is a man or woman, and then if the main character is adult or younger. But I look at genre first. There are many women who enjoy male protagonists and men who enjoy female protagonists. But we have to land somewhere so these are the ways I determine target readership.
What is your publishing process?
Author: Write, edit, edit, edit, submit, then publish. If I haven’t gotten a traditional contract within a matter of six months, I usually self-publish.
What platforms do you use to publish your works?
Author: For digital and print books: KDP for Amazon, (Nook) Press for Barnes & Noble. For audio books ACX for Audible.
What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?
Author: Interaction with readers. I think, by far, this is the most critical function of having a successful career. It didn’t before but it does now in this social atmosphere. In the 1900’s, authors were like demigods. Now, we mustn’t ever strive to be above the so-called fray we must interact one-on-one with readers, give them books, let them chat us up if they like our work; and post and be viable and accessible on social media. But mostly we must write a good story that is free from errors.
What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?
Author: My author brand is: Small Town, Big Trouble. I typically write stories about the place where I live.
How many works have you published?
Author: I have sixteen published works. Mostly fiction with one memoir about my mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease, and one chapbook of poetry. I guess that makes fourteen novels.
Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?
Author: Hotter than Helen is the second book in the Bobby’s Diner mystery series. I consider this second story more suspenseful women’s fiction bordering on thriller. This is the blurb: When Georgette’s old friend, Helen comes back to Sunnydale, the town begins to sizzle. Is Helen attracted to Hawthorne Biggs, Georgette’s new beau or Georgette’s imagining things? However, when Helen goes missing, all seems lost. Will they find Helen dead? Does Hawthorne truly have Georgette’s best interests at heart? HOTTER THAN HELEN is a psychological women’s suspense that reads like the sharp edge of a dagger.
What do you want your readers to get out of your works?
Author: For readers, I hope they get a sense that truth and justice will prevail. That good will win out and that the bad guys, in the end, will get their just desserts.
Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?
Author: As a graduate of Lindenwood’s Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, I definitely recommend them. For shorter classes, Coursera.org has some amazing writing programs through pretty prestigious other colleges. They offer an inexpensive avenue for certificated courses as well as audited courses—whatever suits your time constraints. I also took Jerry Jenkins writing program. It’s expensive but very good. I’m a big proponent of continuing education.