Interview by Haresh.
"I'm telling mom!" As a child, that exclamation became my mantra as I cried all the way to her feet while trying to recount why those tears flowed. Each time, I found that unless the situation could be remedied by me that I'd weep- again. I wrote diaries galore about being the 'middlest' child in the middle of dysfunction; therefore, my first nom de plume could have been Cry Baby; mom jokingly nicknamed me Cinder Ella. Was she insinuating that my siblings might not be fully related to me or that... Read more at Amazon's Cynthia Meyers-Hanson Page
1. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
In 1991, my mother lost to terminal cancer taking my dad with her because he gave up living too; he committed suicide just after her death. That seems like a sad story but it is chocked full of miracles and prophecy, which made my life tolerable. People heard my saga, which included my mother’s Christian Near Death Experience, asking me to retell my tale. Crowds gathered; people in town retold what they learned from me. People spoke at their churches as if they knew me; local Hospice nurses on the case spread the news until some staff that never met me pretended they had.
When I went to Hospice for free, grief counseling- my reputation preceded me but there was misinformation out there due to embellishing and other things humans do while recounting incidents. My counselor asked me to journal my version of what happened after reading it he demanded I find a publisher. I found a small, book company that bungled the job but Mom’s on the Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down was in print with a thousand copies. For years, people told me they reread that book anytime they faced death or major illness in their family; it gave them peace. There were prophecies unanswered at the time of publication or 1994.
By the new millennium, that book began to prove itself as being true testimony from God. In the meantime, in twenty years, other things had molded my writing and thoughts. Soon, I faced possible amputation of my left arm as God restored my faith; the arm healed showing no signs of infection. As I went home from the ER with two arms, God told my soul it was time to write the sequel to my very first book; I wrote My ArmOr (My life). It covers the revelations as well as my personal saga that builds my faith.
I write Christian based inspirational books as well as children’s books under my name; I use a pen name (Sydney S. Song) for my fictions based on true stories (you know gossip).
2. Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers, or did you jump right into self-publication?
I did it all. I queried publishers and agents. I used a small publisher willing to risk a thousand copies on my first printing. I had a marketing agent but got my own interviews and book signings for my first book. After that story died, I lived my life about fifteen more years writing an occasional essay or freelance news article but settled into other jobs such as real estate and computer programming.
Around 2000, people from all over the country tracked me down wanting more copies of my book Mom’s on the Roof... to give to friends. I had no extra books, I only had my personal copy; most of the thousands produced were long gone. I helped some find resellers with my title but the demand still grew out of control. Thus, I reentered the text into the latest technology (fifteen years later) - in other words a new word processor one chapter at a time; I’d e-mail copies to friends and their friends. I had no desire to pay a POD so I found lulu.com and used them to produce my hard copies, again. Eventually, I found CreateSpace POD, Kindle, Smashwords, and other avenues as well; some do my e-books others do my traditional publishing. If you go to any of those dot coms and put in their search engine book and then mchanson714, you’ll find all my books available for sale through the web site.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
I wanted e-books available merging over to Kindle for that processing. Then, I went to createSpace to keep my books closer linked using mchanson714 as the linking search keywords.
4. Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing? And if not, what method did you use for proofing?
When people feel e-books are poorly edited, I believe that depends; all humans make mistakes. Even with professional editing of Mom’s on the Roof..., my original book had my name spelled one way on the cover and a different way on the title page, which the small publisher sold messed up that way! Plus, in their professionally edited version, I can find errors in my copy things such as “he not her” or” I we went” instead of “we went!”
That having been said, I allowed several people (about fifty) to read my next books with highlighter and red pens in hand. Some were professional writers and English teacher; others were not. I took all their comments under advisement. Later, I used other avid readers to comment on the content. Finally, I secured a full time editor that takes my books and proof reads them. Even so, using Word tools and those people, I can still find nit-picky errors and some obvious ones years later in the text but they are ones easy to overlook such as missing commas.
People who contend traditional publishers do NOT allow errors are so wrong. However, they serve a purpose; I look at those publishers as the easier route since they try to help more with marketing, branding, and PR- which any indie can tell you can be more time consuming than writing their book.
5. What have you've learned during your self-publishing journey? Any advice you can give to burgeoning writers?
Let strangers read your manuscript- by that I mean not relatives or best friends- you want the truth. Let them read it with red pens and highlighters! You don’t have to accept all their comments but it helps you grow and understand your audience.
Pay as you feel you have to but make sure you go cautiously especially with the thousands of PR groups doing nothing more than listing your books along with their millions of other artists. I wasted thousands on marketing that way.
Make sure you brand yourself so people know what they are getting. I write fiction under a pen name so that my reader knows the difference between my inspirational, true books- and my fictions full of embellishments and poetic license but based on true stories.
6. Where have you put your work on sale? Is it available in only digital formats, or is there a physical edition available?
I am on Amazon with paperbacks and Kindle formats. I have books at Smashwords with most of the e-book formats. My hard covered books as well as a handful of others are at Lulu.
7. What kinds of marketing are you involved with for promoting your book? Any promotional recommendations to new writers?
I do interviews whenever possible. I write a book based blog at blogspot. I am in LinkedIn, Facebook with an author page, and twitter. I try to do interviews for other blogs and book sites. I try for reviews and ratings from those reading my books. I giveaway free books hoping for a following as well as ratings, rankings, and likings! I speak at churches when possible. I go to local book fairs and signings.
I am trying Goodreads and similar sites on my own, now! Better late than never? After being naive about spending on true PR- I refuse to pay for PR or anything in that arena- for now! Honestly- that last ting may be hindering my sales but I am not rich!
I don’t need to find another author or writer to brainstorm with or trade “likes” or “tags” and other social media perks; I thank you for your advice! At this point in time, I need to find avid readers willing to promote my books because they HONESTLY enjoy my writing!
8. Do you find it difficult to manage your time, shifting focus between marketing your current book and writing your next book, as well as any day-to-day responsibilities?
If there was a better way to market that was truly affordable- I’d do it! Marketing and branding are VERY time consuming- if done right- or even my way. Yes, I still have a sense of humor, which may be why I survived as an indie so long! Let’s face it; there is an explosion of writers especially in the e-book arena. Let’s be honest, the place is so flooded that even free books can lag in sales. I have more book ideas (both non-fiction and novels) but until I see any of my work goes viral; My ArmOr may be the last book I offer for public consumption.
9. What's next for you? Any new books in the works?
Honestly- I have a completed book awaiting my editor’s comments. It’s a Celebration, which is a collection of holiday and holy day stories, is awaiting her final approval. That fun, funny, and inspirational anthology will ONLY be released to my family, friends, and longtime book fans! For their Christmas gift this year, those individuals will get a secret location and code to ship their free copies of that book! In other words, It’s a Celebration will be a limited edition!
My spirit is contemplating a book about John; those familiar with Mom’s on the Roof... or My ArmOr know who why that soul is important to me. Since that story has not completely unfolded, that is my current work in progress.
I have some novel ideas but will not release them to the general public until my branding and PR is complete or working well. In other words, my goal this year has been to create the buzz rather than continue to release my assortment of other books. HONESTLY, without good branding or PR- short of a miracle, which I believe is possible- competing for readers with the onslaught of new authors and books can be overwhelming while stealing precious book writing time!
Editorial ReviewsMom's on the Roof and I Can't Get Her Down:
Cynthia Hanson rebounds form the tragic loss of her mother to cancer and her father to suicide all which took place within four weeks. Through the process, she gained her parent's 10 year old child, fortified her faith, and brought her life back into control. In this inspirational book, the author takes you on her journey from grief through acceptance of God's will proving that faith and healing continue beyond the grave.