Author Feature

Q&A with Betsy Sleath, Author of “Pelican Island Pharmacy”

This blog is by Archway authors for fellow authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Betsy Sleath, author of “Pelican Island Pharmacy”.  For more info, visit her blog.  Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

What inspired you to write Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I always wanted to write a book set in a pharmacy with a soda fountain that had characters that drew you into the story.  My mom worked in an independent pharmacy with a soda fountain when I was growing up in the small New England town of Durham, Connecticut.  I have always loved the feeling of community and belonging in small town pharmacies.

I go to Carolina Beach, North Carolina to relax and write.  I regularly walk down to the docks where the fishing charters come into with the pelicans following not far behind.  One day I had the idea to create a novel inspired by the town of Carolina Beach with one small change-I added a pharmacy on the canal where the fishing boats pull in.

I decided to make this a positive yet suspenseful story of a single mom leaving a domestic violence situation who finds friendship and support in a small beach town as she rebuilds her life.  Having been a victim of domestic violence and knowing many women who also have been, I wanted to create a compelling yet fun story focusing on an issue that is often difficult to talk about publically.

What research did you do before writing Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I have experience working as a pharmacist which helped when writing the book.  Since many of the scenes in the book occur at a soda fountain, I visited pharmacies that still have soda fountains when traveling.  I also went to the North Carolina Museum of History and the Museum of East Tennessee History to do research. Both have excellent displays of old-fashioned pharmacies with soda fountains.  I spent time in the exhibits imagining Norma behind the soda fountain being sassy to her customers. Hanging out in these places helped the story and characters come alive in my head.

When it came to creating a military romance, it helped that I live in North Carolina where there are several bases and that my partner was active military when I met him.  I have interacted with many of his colleagues and friends across the world.  I have visited several military bases and have even been to two military balls.  These experiences helped me create the character of Tom and the realistic intersection of soldiers visiting North Carolina beaches.  I learned about deep sea fishing by regularly watching the fishermen on the docks and by reading all of the pamphlets they had out at the docks.  Someday I want to go deep sea fishing myself!

What do you hope readers will get from reading Pelican Island Pharmacy?

I want people to enjoy reading the book.  I strove to create a good story about resilience and hope.  I have always been told, “Write a book like the ones you like to read.” So that is what I did.  There are many men and women functioning as single parents who are attempting to rebuild their lives after difficult divorces like Jessie.  As the novel unfolds, readers watch Jessie struggle with learning to love and trust again.  I love the saying “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger.”  I tried to create characters that exhibited strength that resulted from challenging life situations.

Why did you choose to self-publish and why with Archway?

9781480821590_COVER.inddBefore I decided to self-publish, I did send out two query letters to agents.  One agent responded that Pelican Island Pharmacy was not a genre they were focusing on and the other nicely told me that the beginning of the book did not draw her in fast enough.  So I rewrote the beginning of the book to grab the reader’s attention immediately.  I have a very busy job as a professor and division chair at UNC-Chapel Hill so I decided to self-publish because I did not have a lot of time to write query letters.  When I do have free time, I like to focus it on writing.

I chose Archway because they had everything that I needed in the bookseller’s package–cover design, editing, Goodreads giveaways, and worldwide distribution through IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, and all the major book retailers.

What has been the most satisfying thing about publishing Pelican Island Pharmacy?

To be honest, I published under the pen name Betsy Hess Sleath because I thought I better separate my life as a professor from my life as a fiction writer. I was not sure how my university colleagues would react. However, I am amazed at how much those in my university life have enjoyed the book and have encouraged me to write more.  They can’t wait for the sequel. That has been the most satisfying part of writing and publishing Pelican Island Pharmacy. The UNC-Chapel Hill student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, even featured an article about the book.

What tips would you give to aspiring writers?

First, I would join your state or local writing organization.  The North Carolina Writer’s Network has been a huge support in my writing experience.  Second, take as many writing classes as you can.  I took fiction writing classes at UNC-Chapel Hill and learned tons.  In the advanced fiction writing class with Rich Krawiec, I wrote the first eighty pages of Pelican Island Pharmacy.  Rich is an amazing teacher and his encouragement kept me going even after the class was over.  Finally, figure out your writing pace. I strove to write five pages a week because that is all I had time to do each week.  The strategy worked because I finished the book in a year!

Betsy Hess Sleath (Betsy Sleath, Ph.D.) is a distinguished professor and chair of the division of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She lives in Chapel Hill and spends as much time as she can on Carolina Beach, North Carolina.  She has published over 127 scientific articles and this is her first work of fiction.  Her second book, Love at the Soda Fountain, which is set in Connecticut in the 1960s, will be completed by December 2016.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Q&A with Moustafa El-Guindy, Author of “Beyond Love”

This blog is by Archway authors for fellow authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Dr Moustafa El-Guindy , author of “Beyond Love“. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

  1. What inspired you to write your book?

Many facts and many people inspired the story and it wasn’t all at the same time and they weren’t all linked with each other. Things happen or you meet people and the writer stores it in his memory, then the creativity join the facts, creates others, recovers the characters, crafts others and builds the story that will take you to new places, some of them are happy, others are devastatingly sad, but all of them stretch their bounds in our dreams and fantasies. That was the story with Beyond Love.

  1. You have published books in multiple languages and in a variety of genres, tell what prompted you to write this book.

9781480822832_COVER.inddMy passion always had been writing, romances, short stories, poems, my real passion is writing, but I can’t deny that I love to write long and very emotional stories of love. The romance that gains its strength from its bounds with the reality, then grows with the imagination navigating in a new world build by our creativity and inventiveness, just like a tree its roots go deep in the soil and its branches go everywhere in the sky.

  1. What do you hope readers will get from reading the book?

I wish the reader learns that the great meaning of life is loving. Loving is the bird flying, the music playing and the little child smiling. Love is the river cutting its way through the rocks, the drop of the water touching the sky and coming back to the earth. Love is the dream of living, the pleasure of giving, and the happiness to be able to do that. Love is the hands extending, the smile shining, and the deep desire to have the lover in the heart forever.

  1. Why did you chose to self-publish and why with Archway?

I searched many companies, I was looking for quality. The effort and hard work employed in the production of the manuscript deserve a qualified publisher to produce the book, of course with an affordable price. That is why Archway Publishing.

  1. What has been the most satisfying thing about publishing a book?

Two moments are very special for me. First, when I received the first copy in  my hand. It was like listening to the first scream of  a newborn. The second moment was when someone approached and asked me something about the book. The moment when I felt that somebody shared the same feeling and my passion.

  1. What tips would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing, be persistent, go forward, don’t be intimidated by rebuffs or rejections. Keep writing, and publish, don’t keep your writing for yourself. Writing is only alive when you share with others, so the great tips are keep writing and publish.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Marketing

How to Best Choose Your Book’s Marketing Plan: Part 2

This blog is by Archway authors for fellow authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Sharoq AlMalki, author of “A Tale of Two Beehives”. For more info about her, check out her website, Twitter and Instagram. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Read part 1 of How to Best Choose Your Book’s Marketing Plan here.

  1. Segmentation

Decide who your target audience is. We all want the world to read what we’ve written, but the truth is that there will be sections of society who are much more likely to buy your book. Your marketing activity should all be directed at that narrow section.

  1. Get yourself a website

SKU-001061073No matter how much you may not want to go down that route, you need to have a website. And it needs to be your website about you. Some people build it around the name of the book, but that is never going to work as well, be as powerful or engaging, or have the flexibility or longevity of a site about the author. Don’t worry if you have barely learned to use Word. Getting your own site is cheap – or free, and is a straightforward process. Off the shelf ones are good and slick, and if you do need help, there are many companies offering cheap packages to get you online.

There is no need for the site to be too flashy. It is just a door that you want people to go through to learn more about you and your book. Have an “about me” section, anything else that you think is relevant, such as short stories you have written, but don’t fill it up with stuff that is not relevant to your main aim – selling you and your book.  The other thing you need to have on your site is a

  1. Blog

Writing a blog is a great way of engaging with your potential readers. You have done something that many people have done themselves, just as many are struggling to do, and many, many more will never do in their life. As mentioned in number 2, this is a good thing to do while you are still writing your book. If you do it well, and are lucky, you will have a number of customers waiting with bated breath for your book to hit the shelves. One thing you need to be aware of when writing the blog, is that you are showcasing your talents as a writer, so write well.

  1. Email

It may come as a surprise, but email is probably the most powerful marketing tool available to you. Building up your email list is essential. Do this by offering newsletters, free stories, offers on your book etcetc, anything that means people sign up. Then use it wisely. Like your blog, whenever you send anything to someone, you need to make sure you are giving them something of value. It needs to contain something that will entertain them, offer useful insight, or just plainly be of monetary value to them.

  1. ReviewsSharoq-27MAR2016-017

These are essential if you are to get people outside your immediate sphere of influence to buy your book. They are especially important at the beginning of your books life. Aim for between 8 and 12 to ensure your book is easily discoverable on Amazon. There is nothing wrong with getting family and friends to leave a review, and ask those on your email list, or anyone who has received a free book from any competitions you have run to kindly leave a review. The other way, and probably the most beneficial is to go directly to one of Amazon’s reviewers. Find ones that review books in your genre, and email them (their details are provided in their bio), being polite and attaching a copy of your book.

  1. Pricing

This is the trickiest one. How much do you charge people for your book? Here opinions differ wildly, and it is very much down to your own preference. Me, I feel that when buying a book, it is as much an investment of my time, as it is of my finances. If I find a book I like the look of, whether it’s 99p, or 2.99 isn’t going to make much difference to my decision to buy it. It is very easy to think that simply by reducing the price it will increase your sales. In reality that probably isn’t going to be the case, and if you have done everything else well, the price should and does, almost become an irrelevance.

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at theArchway Publishing Facebook page.

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