Friday, September 25, 2015

My 3 Biggest Book Deal Lessons


I'm still shopping for cover designers for my next book. This is another Fiverr version. I wanted to share it, just to clock the evolution of what it's like trying to do this for yourself! We see so many gorgeous covers on indie books, but it doesn't always happen the first try!

Anyway, last time I talked about how the book cover on my first novel wasn't 'free' just because I didn't pay for it out of pocket.

But I've been thinking about it and, man, that was a really ungrateful thing to say. Because I got a really generous advance from Simon & Schuster for that book. Plus they sent me on two book tours. Paid for my meals, my flights, my hotels, a publicist to escort me from coast-to-coast here in Canada and author escorts to drive me around the U.S. Midwest. They really believed in me, so they sunk a bundle into that book.

At the time, I thought, this is it! I'm going to be a bestseller any day now!

Little did I know that twelve years down the road, I'd have no agent, no publisher and no book deal in sight.

The whole experience was really painful because I was raised on the glamorous success stories we all hear.

Whether it's how many times James Patterson got rejected (or J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer or
** insert famous author here **). These are the things that fuel us as writers because we think eventually it's going to happen to us, too.

Yet most published authors have to live with regret, failure and challenges. Including me! So I think the biggest lessons I learned from my book deals were these:

1) I should've been more realistic.

2) I should've been less emotional.

3) I especially should've been more grateful!

Because constantly comparing my own experience to those fantasies I'd read about made it very difficult to feel satisfied. I don't think I was effective - or happy - because of it.

So wherever you are on your path as a writer, remember to be grateful every step of the way. It's a journey almost everyone wants to take, but not everyone gets to make.

If you're having problems being grateful - about anything! - I love this sign I saw on a high school classroom wall once:



More Great Rejection Stories to keep you stoked!

I also want to talk about why you're in the best spot of your career - if you're NOT published! But more on that later!

Hit me up! I'll follow you back! @SLMcInnis

Friday, September 18, 2015

Cover Me!


I'm in the middle of trying to find a cover designer for THE HUNTER'S MOON. Some e-books say: "Hey, just go to Fiverr! They'll design you a great cover for five bucks!" So I thought I'd see see if the Universe had a cheap designer soul mate kicking around out there for me. You be the judge:

This was actually the third cover the designer sent. It's a little heavy on the pleather cape & business suits for me. I wanted something more atmospheric, less literal. It's missing "The" in the title. Plus my character's more in a love hexagon, not a love triangle, so ...

Still, the designer of this cover was a real sweetheart and was willing to do unlimited fixes for me. But this person was from a nation far, far away. I had this horrific vision of child labor graphic designers slaving in a sweatshop somewhere - flies buzzing around them, gamma rays of refurbished 80s PCs eating their brains (I mean, how else can you get someone to work so hard for five bucks? Well - ten, because I thought I'd be generous and tip)and I just thought, no.

No, we're not on the same page. I can't put this person through the impossible task of pleasing me.

In traditional publishing, I remember feeling so miffed that nobody asked for my input on my covers. But now I'm like: could somebody just design a great cover for me -- please!! I can't do this!

I can't choose from the billions of talented artists out there someone who's going to read my mind, create a cover that I love and that everybody loves and that fits the book perfectly and looks great as a thumbnail and even better on a bed stand, and ... and ... and ... do it all for FREE! Because I don't remember giving anyone my PayPal account at Simon & Schuster or St. Martin's Press.

But then I thought, You know what? Just because I didn't pay out of pocket for my other book covers, that doesn't mean they were 'free.' Publishers take the risks and make these decisions for you as a writer - but they also keep about 90% of every cent a book makes for the lifetime of that book. That's not free.

At least I can keep going, whether it costs me five bucks or five hundred, to find the right cover. That's a relief. Because I know what it's like to get saddled with a cover you hate and not be able to do anything about it.

(Not that I hated ALL of my covers! But more about that next time!)

Follow me on the Twitter train: I'll follow ya back!! @SLMcInnis

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Book, A Blog & A Big White Dog

I recently wrote a guest post for Gordon Wilson's blog about why I'm going indie on my third novel. I got such great feedback, I feel lucky to have entered Gordon's blogosphere.

His blog,, has attracted a lot of attention for his honest thoughts about writing, inspiration and life - including guest posts from authors like Julie Anne Hacker - who wrote a great piece about the inspirational nature of horror - and Michele Barrow-Belisle who basically broke the internet with her real-life Cinderella story about selling the movie rights to her book.

But Gordon isn't just a blogger. He's an author too. He doesn't talk about it very much because he's not 100% comfortable with self-promotion. But his first novel, Firetok, was self-published a couple years ago. 

I ordered it shortly after I met Gordon on Twitter. Not just because he's smart and generous and has been my personal IT department for the last few weeks. But because of the book's ratings! 

86% of his reviews are five stars! Wow! And all the rest are four stars! Having stewed over my own mixed reviews, I'm truly blown away by some of these comments:

"Firetok is a quick read and full of fleshed out characters I cared about immediately ..."

"Well written thriller by unknown author. I hope he has more to come ..."

"The vividness of the story really allowed me to create the scenes in my head which is what I crave as a reader - well done!"

Someone even bought the paperback and e-version, so he could take it everywhere.

Readers have obviously responded not just to someone who's managed to publish a book - which is hard enough. But to a novelist who's written a story people really care about - with characters they actually love. It's the hardest part of being a writer - and he's already got that part down.

By the way, I just finished the book yesterday. It's mysterious, mystical and full of suspense. About one man's journey to find his destiny with the help of an enigmatic character called 'the old man.' On his way he meets crooked cops, a tough damsel in distress - and a big white dog named Firetok.

Gordon's style is part Stephen King, part Jack Kerouac - lyrical without being saccharine. The characters are unique and memorable - and the climax is killer. It's the kind of book that has a vision behind it. You're never sure where you're going, only that you want to be there. From mystical hallucinations in a cave to a team of secret crime-fighters who can get anything done, it's a thriller with a touch of magic. 

I know how humble Gordon is - so I'll leave it there for now. But if you want to check it out, here's Firetok on

By the way, Gordon and I have gone back and forth about this. He originally wrote a guest post for me about his journey as a writer. But when I read it, I thought his readers would enjoy the full story behind the birth of both the blog and the book. It's a story that, like everything else about Gordon, will inspire you to believe in yourself - and others, too.

I'll have to hound him for another guest post later. ;) 

Check it out on

Friday, September 4, 2015

"Dreams Really Do Come True"

Think Cinderella is just a fairy tale? Wrong!

I'm still in the middle of getting all the manuscripts of THE HUNTER'S MOON together for my beta readers. Everyone has requested a hard copy so I actually did a huge print job. That way readers can just make notes on the pages themselves - which will be helpful. (Recycled paper btw, plus my printer TPH has a great tree-planting program so I don't feel quite as guilty.) I'm excited for feedback. And nervous and terrified and kind of going insane actually ... 

However - the big story this week is something else altogether! I want to link to another one of Gordon A. Wilson's guest blog posts on

Author Michele Barrow-Belisle has shared her real-life Cinderella story with him and it's incredible. From being told her first novel would never work, to not only becoming a bestseller, but getting the film rights to her book sold - using Twitter - it's unbelievable! Not only that, the producers have her working on the script too. Usually these people just want you to disappear. 

I first read about Michele's story in an article that showed up in my Twitter feed. It was in the London Community News, all about a local author scoring big in Hollywood. I thought she must be from London, England (that would be my Canadian inferiority complex), but she's actually from London, Ontario - about two hours away! Amazing.

I think we're going to be hearing a lot about Michele in the future. Her story is blowing up on Twitter. She's so natural and down-to-earth it makes the whole thing even better! Read all about it in her own words on Gordon's blog -

btw Gordon's incredible journey as an author is still to come - in his guest post for me which I'll put up soon. (I'm in the middle of his book Firetok btw - so mystical, suspenseful, lyrical ... a real treat!) 

Hit me up on Twitter @SLMcInnis! I'll follow ya back! 

And lookie here!! :) Gordon has 'talked me down' Karen Black Airport-style - and I now have follow widgets on this blog! Yay! Thanks Gordon!!