The Subconscious Interview with S.M. Beiko

Just what, exact­ly, is The Sub­con­scious Inter­view? Con­sid­er it an interviewee’s fan­ta­sy, the oppor­tu­ni­ty for the sub­ject to both ask and answer ques­tions nev­er posed to him or her before. These can be on any top­ic what­so­ev­er. Or, if you like, con­sid­er me lazy and/or unsmart enough to come up with ques­tions on my own.

Today’s Sub­con­scious Inter­vie­wee (the first!) is S.M. Beiko, edi­tor for ChiZine Pub­li­ca­tions and author of the YA fan­ta­sy The Lake and the Library.

You may find part one of this inter­view (the “con­scious” part) here.

Per­haps not coin­ci­den­tal­ly con­sid­er­ing her back­ground as an edi­tor and nov­el­ist, Beiko has decid­ed on a book-relat­ed approach to The Sub­con­scious Inter­view.

What was the pub­lish­ing process like?

Your typ­i­cal Tues­day slush­pile.

Long. My book was pulled out of the slush-pile—the noto­ri­ous ‘unso­licit­ed man­u­script’ heap that is thou­sands of sub­mis­sions tall, and where maybe only 1% of pub­lished books come out of. I fin­ished the book in 2006, and didn’t get inter­est from a pub­lish­er (ECW) until 2009. The con­tract was drawn up and signed at the end of 2010, and the book came out in Spring 2013. So that’s … 7 years (4 if we’re only going from con­tract to pub­li­ca­tion)? Remem­ber, though, this was my first book—it’s take a while to ‘break in’, as it were, espe­cial­ly when you’re com­pet­ing with thou­sands of oth­er authors and their sub­mis­sions, or authors who are already estab­lished and are more of a ‘sure thing’ than the new­bies. As well as fight­ing for the time of edi­tors who are so inun­dat­ed with subs that they for­get about yours. Ah well! I’ve got my first book done, that’s my foot in the door. Here’s hop­ing the sec­ond doesn’t take as long. But you nev­er know. Since I’ve also got the ‘pub­lish­er per­spec­tive’, I know what it looks like on the oth­er end of pro­duc­tion, and believe me, everyone’s doing their best!

How much promotion/what kind of pro­mo­tion did you per­son­al­ly do for your book (out­side of what the pub­lish­er pro­vid­ed)?

I did a fair bit of pro­mo­tion because I knew that it would be up to me to go out into the world, show off my book, talk about how awe­some it was, and ingra­ti­ate myself in the book world under my own steam. A lot of authors think you get a pub­lish­ing con­tract and bam, it’s a gold­en tick­et. News­flash: you got­ta pound the pave­ment if you want results, and be will­ing to do what­ev­er it takes. Luck­i­ly, work­ing in pub­lish­ing in Toron­to, as well as get­ting into the com­mu­ni­ty in Win­nipeg, pro­vid­ed a strong foun­da­tion for me, and all the con­nec­tions I made came through when my nar­row prom-win­dow opened.

I did a lot of speak­ing events—mainly lit­er­ary and spec­u­la­tive fic­tion con­ven­tions, launch­es, pan­els, work­shops, and book clubs. What­ev­er I could. I did sev­er­al speak­ing events in Win­nipeg, Toron­to, Keno­ra, and Cal­gary. I took part in book blogs and inter­views (yay!) and any time I had an event, I made sure my web­site was updat­ed. Some extreme­ly amaz­ing friends of mine made a gor­geous book trail­er for me. I Face­booked and Tweet­ed and put posters up around Winnipeg—in cof­fee shops and shop­ping districts—featuring info on my book. I went to oth­er people’s launch­es and hung out with the lit­er­ary com­mu­ni­ty. I con­tact­ed the local news­pa­per and they fea­tured me three times, because they’re amaz­ing. (I had ran­dom strangers com­ing up to me say­ing “Wow, I saw you in the paper!” which was pret­ty awe­some.) I talked about myself (I know, it’s hard) and hand­ed out my busi­ness cards. I was, and still am, always look­ing for oppor­tu­ni­ties. I also bought stock of my book to have on hand so I could sell it wher­ev­er I went. Moral of the sto­ry: always be will­ing to do any­thing, and always be pre­pared. That pro­mo win­dow is small. I’d say usu­al­ly about 6 months long before you lose your rel­e­vance (until the next book, that is). Do your best to be effec­tive while also resist­ing the urge to pep­per-spray peo­ple with your book.

What advice do you have for first time authors?

Always have an open mind.

As I said above, always have an open mind, and be pre­pared to do a lot of work after the book is done. I con­sid­er the book writ­ing the easy part. If you want peo­ple to know about you, you don’t just thrust the book into the world and expect it to have legs. YOU ARE THE LEGS. Pound the pave­ment with ‘em!

Also, don’t ever feel bad about men­tion­ing your accom­plish­ments, but try and stay hum­ble and approach­able; no one likes to have things shoved down their throats. AND HAVE A WEBSITE. Whether it’s a Word­Press blog or just a sim­ple “Bio, Books, Con­tact” thing online, the first thing peo­ple are going to do after they hear about you is Google you. You don’t have to spend a zil­lion dol­lars on this, but it’s a neces­si­ty now. The Inter­net is every­thing. That leads me to Face­book and Twit­ter: I don’t have a per­son­al Face­book page for myself as an author, but as your read­er­ship grows, you might want to con­sid­er it. I’m most active on my Twit­ter when it comes to author­ly things, and pub­lish­ers always look at your Twit­ter or num­ber of Face­book likes when they’re think­ing about sign­ing you on; do you come with a fol­low­ing, or will you have to build one? How good are you with inter­act­ing with readers/writers or fans? And be cre­ative with pro­mo. Make a geo­cache about your book in the city it takes place in. Do a give­away at your launch­es or read­ings. If it piques people’s inter­ests, they’ll remem­ber you.

Thanks, Saman­tha. Look­ing for­ward to the next one!

Pur­chase The Lake and the Library here.