Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Interview with Susanne O'Leary

Available at Amazon

Next up in the author interviews is Susanne O'Leary. Susanne has been published traditionally as well as self-publishing to Amazon. Welcome Susanne!

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
My first novel was a chick-lit/romantic comedy type of book (‘Diplomatic Incidents’, published in 2001 by Blackstaff Press in Ireland), based on my experiences as the wife of a diplomat. Initially, I was going to write about the downside of diplomatic life, the homesickness and loneliness of having to pull up roots every four years and then try to settle into a new country. But then someone said that nobody would believe that diplomats are miserable and that I should plug into the myth of glamour, champagne, caviar and designer clothes, etc. So this novel became a very amusing, frothy story with farce-like elements, drawing on many funny incidents that happened to me. It took me about a year to write with many re-writes, as this was my first venture into fiction.
Did you query agents and traditional publishers? How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract?
I queried many agents at first, then, after a zillion rejections, decided to give up on the agent idea and submitted to a smallish publisher who accepted submissions directly from authors. They took about four months to reply and then, after reading the full manuscript, made me an offer. In all, it took about a year and a half from my first submission to the offer. Then another year before the book was out.
What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher? The fact that this publisher accepted submissions directly from authors was a deciding factor, added to their very good reputation in producing good quality books.
Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will publish directly for Kindle?
I have had four novels published by traditional publishers but then the bottom fell out of the market and there seemed to be a slowdown in the amount of books that got published. My latest publisher announced that they were no longer going to publish women’s fiction, so I found myself in a kind of limbo. And, even though I now have an agent, I decided, after a year of waiting to hear about my latest novel ‘Swedish for Beginners’, to publish it on the Kindle myself. The result was so overwhelming and the response from readers so encouraging (with many five star reviews and messages from readers all over the world), that I decided to self-publish it through Matador in the UK in paperback. I also got the rights of my previously published novels back and uploaded them on the Kindle as well.
Did you design your cover art? If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
The cover for ‘Swedish for beginners was designed by the designer at Matador, but I have another old title (Villa Caramel ) that I wanted a new cover for and that one was done by Bradley Wind (bwind3(at)
If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I decided on the picture myself for ‘Swedish for Beginners- a novel’ and found a lovely one on the istock photo site. Then the publisher designed the text. The same thing with ‘Villa Caramel’. I found the picture on Dreamstime and sent it to Bradley and he sent me back a few suggestions on the text and I picked the one a liked best.
How did you feel when you got your first sale?
If you mean the first sale on the Kindle, very excited! It was the first time I had published something myself and this was hugely satisfying. In fact, I might say that selling 5000 copies of my first book was only marginally more exciting. Probably because doing something all by yourself is harder and scarier.
What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I have a page for me and my friends on Facebook and also a fan page for ‘Swedish for Beginners – a novel’. I try to do stuff on Twitter but it’s hard to come up with something interesting there. I have a website ( and also participate in many of the forums and Kindleboards. I should be doing more but I simply don’t have the time!
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
My books are for sale on Smashwords as well, which distribute to all kinds of e-book devices other than the Kindle. And the paperback version of ‘Swedish for beginners’ is for sale on the Troubador site (
What’s next for you?
I am, at the moment, working on a murder-mystery with another writer. It’s very exciting to branch out into a whole new genre. I am also considering writing a sequel to ‘Swedish for Beginners’, as so many of my readers have asked me to.