Laura Howard: Six Questions with Suzan Tisdale


Six Questions with Suzan Tisdale

Is it really Saturday again? Time flies when you're in the trenches of editing!

Today I have a dear friend here to share her story on Six Questions! Welcome Suzan Tisdale

Is there a certain book or author that inspired you to write? 

I've been writing since I was a little girl. But in the past couple of years, I discovered some great authors thanks to my Kindle. ;o) Those women who inspired me to actually write and publish in the historical fiction genre are Carmen Caine and Laurin Wittig. I LOVE their writing style, their voices, and their stories. I probably wouldn't be publishing my books today if it weren't for them.

Do you plan out your novel or just fly by the seat of your pants? 

I'm a pantster! I couldn't use an outline to save my soul. For me, it is too constricting. I do have a general idea where I want each story to go, but generally, I let my characters tell the story. I'm just their stenographer. I do admire those well organized authors tho! I keep little notes on colored note cards. I have a bulletin board above my desk where I have little reminders (such as touch, feel, taste, hear, see, don't use same phrases repeatedly, time, white space...little things to help me stay on track). I have my list of characters and what they look like and what clan they might belong to. But as far as planning it all out before I write it? No, I don't do that.

What is your editing process and have you hired a professional editor? 

With my first novel, Laiden's Daughter, I wrote it one or two chapters at a time and sent it to a friend to look over. I didn't have a professional editor then. Honestly, I wrote it as a gift to my mother. My plan was to write it, upload it to a Kindle and give it to her as a gift. I had no intentions of it ever selling more than ten copies. I never, ever expected it to do as well as it has. And I certainly never expected to sell more than 45,000 copies around the world! This has been a mind blowing experience.

I do have a professional editor now. She has 30+ years experience, is retired, and works only for me. She was a tremendous help with my second book, Findley's Lass and of course, she also worked with me on Wee William's Woman. I won't publish a book without her help ever again. ;o)

Now, I write the entire book first, then send it to my editor. I used to try to edit each chapter as I wrote and it took forever. Now, I just write the book, let the story go where it wants to. When I'm done, I email it to Judy for her input and beautiful editing skills. I'll also send copies to my beta readers for their input. Then it is a few weeks or more of back and forth emails between Judy and myself. I'm still editing up until the last minute! ;o) I wish I had done that with my first book, but again, I didn't know what the heck I was doing then!

Did you query agents or publishers before you first self-published?

Nope. Not a one. I tried to write a query letter after I wrote Laiden's Daughter and saw how well she was doing. But it gave me a headache and caused my lower intestines to seize whenever I tried to make the query letter perfect. Then when I learned what I'd be giving up if I did have a traditional publisher, I decided that it simply wasn't for me. I like being independent. I like being the boss.

How do you feel about exclusivity programs like KDP Select?

I love KDP Select!!! I have tried selling my books at B&N, Apple, & Smashwords, but quite frankly, none of those places treat indie authors as well as KDP does. The numbers don't lie. To prove to my husband that my theory was correct, I did an experiment last summer, with Laiden's Daughter. I removed her from KDP select and uploaded her everywhere I could possibly think of -- B&N, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, everywhere. I did that for two months. With Amazon, I sold around 10,000 copies of Laiden's Daughter in those two months. At the other places? A grand total of NINE copies. That is NINE copies total in two months at all the other places. Needless to say, I removed her from those other places and put her back in KDP Select where she belongs. All my books are KDP Select books. They're also available in paperback.

With KDP Select, I get paid for those books that are borrowed by PRIME members. On average, about 300 copies a month of each of my books are borrowed through KDP. I get $2.17 per loan. You do the math.

At the other places, it was very difficult to get any help with formatting or any questions I may have had. And trying to get a book uploaded to Apple? I refer to it as the Gauntlet of Death. There is nothing easy about it. KDP is just so simple and the other authors at the community boards are a tremendous help too!

I have a KDP liaison who is always there to answer questions, to offer advice, and to help. Chris is just an outstanding young man and I can't thank him enough for reaching out to me.

What lesson have you learned along the way that you hope others could avoid? 

Wow...I've learned so much! When I started, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I would say that you need to take your time, learn to breathe, learn to step away when necessary. Write passionately, from your heart, with fervor and zeal. Your heart will never let you down. And for heaven's sake get an editor! ;o) I made that mistake and won't do it again. 

What about YOU -- Do you plan out your novel or just fly by the seat of your pants?


  1. Thanks so much for having me here Laura. I'm sorry that I couldn't stop by sooner. You're a good woman and I always enjoy your questions! ;o)


  2. I always enjoy learning more about the amazing Suzan Tisdale. Congrats on your success!

  3. Thanks Raine! You're such a sweetie! ;o)


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