Monday, January 17, 2011

Catching up with Author Jan Sydnam

Author Jan Sydnam was the very first guest on Page Readers.  Listen to that first interview here. 

I met Jan on a writers forum.  As I browsed through the members, her profile picture caught my eye.  She was riding a horse.

Being an equestrian lover myself, I sent her a connection request.  She told me about her book and her quest for publicity and to make a long story short, Jan was a big part of the idea that became Page Readers.

First, a little more about Jan:

Jan Sydnam moved to Texas in 2003 to escape the ongoing constant wet drizzle of the Pacific NW. Although she loved the greenness of her surroundings there, the rain was depressing to her as an outdoor type person. Her current home sits amidst a herd of horses that she breeds, trains and shows. Jan made a name for herself in the horse show arena starting in 1970 and has many National wins to her credit. She has either ridden or trained the horse that was declared the winner. Since moving to Texas she started taking her talent in the area of writing, a bit more serious and wrote her first novel in 2007. That novel “Oh, For God’s Sake” was released in November 2008 and has been followed by four additional true crime event books with more in the works. Jan divides her days between writing and riding and does both with the passion she is well known for.

Visit Jan online at her website.

Now, a little about her book, "Oh For God's Sake."

Kathleen Heckertt was born into a life of abuse & neglect. With a manipulative monster for a father and a mother with no backbone, Kate faces deception at every turn.

A secret held by her mother only complicates living with a father who plays physical, emotional & mental games with this child. Like all children, Kate seeks only parental love.

Regardless of her destructive environment, she must make a decision. Her choice will determine the path her life takes as she fights to gain control of her feelings toward God and society.

With twists & turns that seem too painful to face, Oh, For God's Sake will keep you on the edge of your seat. The author aptly portrays experiences from her own life, leaving readers begging the question..."How can Kate ever survive?"

How long ago did you write OFGS?
It took me about six months and that was between the sweaty palms and fits of crying. In my Acknowledgments, I thanked my husband for standing by me as well as standing clear as I went through the painful task of reliving some painful moments of my childhood. Now days I can write the same amount of words in almost half the time.

What was your publishing experience like with OFGS?
I sent out two...yes only two query letters because I was so sure that it was a winner! Well, I waited and waited...publishers take their time! But after three months of nail biting I received an email and a package within moments of each other from a publisher that was interested in publishing my book. The founder of that company included a letter with the contract that in part stated..."You do not sound at all like a first time writer." Then he went on to explain that they receive well over 100k MS a year and they only make offers to 6-9% of the authors. They accepted my MS because...they viewed it as being "Marketable."

Most writers fail to recognize that publishers are not there to make them famous or make them money. The publisher wants to make the bucks!

What did you do to promote your work? (What worked, what didn’t)
I found that making hundreds of calls to the smaller bookstores myself worked. It took time but it paid off especially when I represented the local area as an author. I also contacted groups and schools that might find my book to be of benefit.

Where can we find the book?
Oh, For God's Sake can be found online at many of the booksellers that sell at a discount...or at local bookstores. The last time I checked, Borders and Barnes & Noble were both out of stock...which is good!

Was this your first experience publishing your work?

Oh, For God's Sake was my first published book. Since then I have three other books available.

Lost in Plain Sight that will be re-published in 2011

The Beaten Path - for Marilyn Bloodworth released in 2010

Doors Locked Backwards – for Jamillah Roberts being released in 2011
When I’m not writing a novel I’ve been keeping busy by writing e-books and other short projects

What made you decide to go into ghost writing?
To be honest, it was for the income…at first but once I realized that I had a writing style that was unique, I stopped ghostwriting in the true sense of the word and started asking that my name appear on the cover along with the storyteller. I no longer wanted to be the GHOST that no one ever recognized. Not everyone can make that jump but it’s always worth the attempt!

What has that experience been like?
Well, once I got that “lucky break” I’d been waiting for…of being recognized for my style…I acquired a Publicist and from there the road has been sooooooo much smoother.

Any advice to give to writers thinking of going into the ghost writing business?
My advice to all writers is JUST DO IT! Meaning…just keep writing everyday! Get at least 2000 words down every day! With time, you’ll start picking up gigs that will get your name and talent out there. Don’t plan on staying ghostwriters…go for the moon! Hey, in this business, there’s a lot of space to climb when you’re good!

What is your “routine” for writing?
That’s my other strong advice to writers! Discipline yourself!!! The more you write, the faster you’ll advance and get better jobs. I treat writing as a FULL TIME JOB! You can’t cheat because the only person you wind up cheating is yourself!

What other advice would you like to pass along?
I’ve been helping others with their MS and their story ideas and the one thing I keep running into is the desire to write when there’s really no talent. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but everyone has a story but not everyone can write. Writing is much like singing or dancing. You can learn only so much and the rest is up to you to develop.

In the end, some people will never make it into the final five on American Idol. The same goes for the way the brain works when people write. Some can and some will just be able to do it for their own pleasure and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The rub comes when they start complaining that publishers have no taste or don’t know a good MS when they see it.

No publisher is going to spend even a second longer when they spot typos and grammatical and syntax errors in a MS.

Writers need to take a course in writing. Writers Conventions are great for this info. Too many writers get their information from movies and TV…bad idea and it’s not realistic! Publishers never call you or offer you a hefty check when you’re an unknown writer! It just doesn’t happen that way.

Publishers do this as a living so we must give credit where credit’s due. Be realistic when it comes to your talent! If the rejections keep coming…take a class or find help but don’t blame the publisher! They need to read only the first paragraph or your MS to decide whether it’s a keeper or not. Remember, they get thousands of MSS in the mail every day. So, if your story starts out boring…it’s HELLO TRASH CAN!

There are a lot of talented writers out there and my five suggestions to them are:



3. GET QUALIFIED HELP IF NEEDED (not your neighbor or sibling who’s never written anything but their name)

4. FIND A PUBLICIST (Yes, they’re expensive but their worth their weight in gold)


Thank you Jan for stopping back in.  Congratulations and continued success in your writing career! 

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