About Suzan St Maur – best-selling author, author coach, publishing and marketing consultant

Do you have a great idea for a book, but don’t know how to go about writing and producing it?
Does writing a book seem a lovely idea, but as such a large project is a bit scary – especially if it’s your first one?

Or … do you want to start a bit smaller with one or more booklets – and/or eBooks – to establish yourself and your credibility with a lesser commitment (and reduced cost?)

Get your book written and published - without the scams

That wonderful feeling when your new book is actually published and out there…me with my latest. (And over-bleached hair – apologies.) Photo by Kate Everall https://www.kateeverallphotography.com/

The help you need to write your book and get it out there

The bad news, is that writing a book today just adds to the millions of books out there all fighting for attention on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, other online outlets, plus the few large bricks-and-mortar outlets that still manage to keep their heads above water.

The good news, is that there are now several more ways to publish a book and none of them carry the old-fashioned stigma of “vanity publishing.”

Fine and dandy for nonfiction. What about fiction?

At long last, getting fiction published has climbed up over the barbed-wire barriers of snotty-nosed literary agents who only had their percentages and reputations with major publishers at heart. Very few literary agents are willing to take a flying chance on a book that doesn’t fit into the mainstream because, well, they have mortgages and bills to pay. They seldom are risk-takers.

Yet often it’s the risky fiction books that get somewhere. One of life’s little ironies.

Anyway now you can publish fiction yourself and with the right promotion techniques (not expensive) a self-published novel can sell well within its genre, and if so may well be picked up by a major traditional publisher to take forward. Remember, “50 Shades Of Grey” originally was self- published. And look where that led its author.

What are the catches?

Basically there are two main ways to get your book published:

1. By yourself, either totally by yourself (you need to learn how to use Amazon!) or with help from an “independent” publishing services company. You will need to pay for setting the book up and for whatever other services you commission. You will have total control over timing, design of cover and interior, and everything else. You get to keep a large chunk of the royalties (net sales) even after Amazon has taken its bite. You will be solely responsible for the distribution and marketing of your book. Depending on your print arrangements you will be able to buy copies of your book to distribute/sell yourself at print cost which can be as much as 75 percent off retail (cover) price.

2. By a conventional “trade” publisher, to whom you have to submit the idea for your book which they will either accept or turn down. If they accept your book you will not have to pay for anything, but you will not have much control over timing, design, even editing; they decide they key points of all that. They will distribute your books to a variety of both online (including Amazon) and bricks-and-mortar book stores including the main chains. Your royalties will probably be 7.5 – 10 percent of sales. You will be able to buy copies of your book to distribute/sell yourself at “author’s discount” which is likely to be around 30 percent off retail (cover) price.

Within the independent publishing services industry there are many scammers who take you for plenty of money and deliver a shoddy product: little or no editing, no proper design, poor quality everything. Not much better than the old-fashioned “vanity” publishers.

Many of the smaller independent trade publishers also do a reasonable job of producing and distributing your book, but don’t have the resources to do anything other than the basics. Large publishing houses do have the resources but tend only to put big marketing budgets behind books they know will sell on the strength, usually, of your name (so you need to be famous.)

So which one to choose?

There are many determining factors here, not least of which is the fact that currently (in the UK 2020) a self-published book is unlikely to be stocked by Waterstones or anything other than small independent bookstores. A self-published book will mainly be available online, but considering how book sales are going more and more online anyway that’s not a bad thing.

Basically if you have the opportunity to sell and/or distribute your book yourself – maybe as a marketing tool for your business, or as merchandise for your performances if you’re in the entertainment industry, self-publishing is the better choice.

If you don’t have such opportunities to sell your book, going with a trade publisher who can get it into the big stores like Waterstones and the rapidly decreasing number of independent book stores may be a better option.

Either way, the hard truth is it will be you who does most of the marketing of your book.

OK. Why do your book with Suzan’s guidance?

With Suzan working with you as a totally independent author coach, editor and advisor, this is what you gain:

…A finished proposal for your book to submit to appropriate publishing houses, with any further help you need with contract negotiation, etc. should your proposal be accepted
…An independently published printed book, eBook and/or audio book available on Amazon, at a lower cost than if you work with a publishing services company.

This she does by putting together a bespoke group of specialists – including her as senior editor, strategist, marketer and project manager – to deliver whichever book publishing option is right for you, delivered by a virtual team of excellent professionals streamlined and managed centrally.

Punchline: very high quality help, at lower prices in the case of self-publishing because no-one is charging you for their company car or interest on their bank loan.
You just pay for what you need. Simples.

So why is Suzan qualified to offer these services? She takes the story on…

As many of you know I’m a prolific author with 36 (and counting) published books out there, some of which have been organic** #1 best sellers on Amazon.
**FYI, that means those books got to their #1 slots on their own merits – not via the hype scams so many disreputable publishers use today.

Most of my earlier titles have been business/self-help (plus several joke books!) but I’m now launching into fiction, and humorous poetry with my first volume, “Mischieverse,” out now. I’m also nudging into writing short horror stories and hope soon to have published my first novel, an adult humorous fiction title. Many of my books have been published by well-known large “trade” publishers, with a good few done by smaller “trade” publishers and more recently a few I’ve done myself through my own brands.

You might like these categories here on HTWB:
Writing Books (57 articles)
Writing Fiction Without The Fuss (45 articles)
Music and Poetry (157 articles)

Having worked across many types of book writing and publishing I’m able to offer experienced advice on options to new and comparatively new authors.

What’s more, given my background of around 30 years as a marketing copywriter and content strategist, the help I offer new authors includes a high level of marketing expertise – such a critical part of a book’s success today.

Whether you want help to submit proposals for your book to a “trade publisher” (and I can help you find the right one) … or you want help to self-publish (I have a a great virtual team of specialists to take your book from finished manuscript to a superb specimen on the online retail channels) … I’ve been there, done it, got the T-shirt and know exactly how to do it for you. And for sensible money.

You know where to find me!
(No? suze@suzanstmaur.com)

And the back story …

Suzan St Maur

“Moi” – nice pic, huh. Great job done by my talented photographer god-daughter,
Kathryn Hardman

Canadian born Suzan St Maur (a.k.a. “Suze”) was transported to the UK when a child and despite resultant cultural challenges managed to leave British secondary school with three decent “A” levels and no talent for anything other than writing, so her career options were fairly clear cut.

After serving a full journalism apprenticeship on a provincial newspaper, she attended and graduated from the then-famous Watford Art School advertising writing course and worked in London ad agencies as a copywriter for a few years, before deciding she was far too bolshie to be an employee and so became a freelancer.

Suzan St Maur

Note the “Canada Rocks” shirt – funny little person on it is an Inukshuk, an Inuit signpost made out of, er, rocks.

While comfortably paying her mortgage and bills her work took off into the areas of business theatre and corporate video, in which disciplines she became the Grandma Moses of corporate script and speechwriting for many years.

Suzan also developed useful skills as a conference and video producer, largely in emergencies caused by the actual practitioners’ bunking off through illness, drunkenness, excessive use of recreational substances, etc. It’s amazing how fast you can learn to do a job if the person who should be doing it is in la-la-land …

These days Suzan enjoys consulting, writing, editing for and coaching clients in addition to running her other business interests, writing her own books, blogs and articles, plus giving blogging workshops, radio interviews, etc., on how to make your writing and book publishing more successful.

“It was this work which inspired me to create
HowToWriteBetter.net, so I could share my experience
and skills – plus those of some talented colleagues – with an even wider audience.”

Suzan St Maur

Suze with her friend Merrylegs
(pony is on the left…)

Suzan’s published books include:

Also see Suzan’s current books pages on Amazon, here.

Photos of Suzan numbers 1 and 2 by Kathryn Hardman Photography, and with pony (“Merrylegs”) and Pony Lover’s Joke Book, by Aaron Wood Photography.

Personal stuff

As mentioned above, Suzan has lived in the UK since she was a child. Her parents settled near Milton Keynes, Bucks and although Suzan lived and worked in London for some years she returned to the Milton Keynes area in 1990.

Suzan’s London days were “work hard, play hard” and Fulham, where she lived, will never be quite the same again. While there, for two years she had her own chat and music show on Charing Cross Hospital Radio and enjoyed that thoroughly. She also got involved in politics and helped with communications for one of the major parties at Westminster, as well as standing as a candidate in a London borough council election.


Suze’s son Tom, making Mom proud as always

Her son Tom was born in 1992 and after a “gap year” working for a major bank, he attended The Leicester Business School/De Montfort University (UK) reading business management, economics and econometrics – from which he graduated in 2014 with First Class Honours. He is now working as a Regional Sales Manager for DHL Express and is really enjoying the experience of being in sales, which is pleasing as it’s such good training for anyone in business.

Until Tom went to Uni he was a drummer in various heavy metal rock bands, most of which would rehearse at the family home … noisy but good fun.

Apart from work, Suzan is a keen horsewoman and helps at horse shows – specifically, dressage competitions – on weekends. Unable to ride for some years due to health problems (see below) she is now planning a horsey comeback – it’s just a matter of finding a horse that’s quiet enough, strong enough and stupid enough to carry her.

In 2003 Suzan developed cancer of the bladder which was treated “conservatively,” i.e. with chemotherapy and immunotherapy and only minor surgery. (Her bladder eventually had to be removed in 2010 and she now sports a “urostomy.”)

Not long after nursing her mother, who had terminal lung cancer, in 2003-2004 at home for several months while still running the business and parenting son Tom on her own, Suzan developed a cancer of the breast – unrelated to the bladder cancer. She had a mastectomy in 2005 and underwent chemotherapy which resulted in a number of funny stories about wigs, prostheses and much more which Suzan wrote about extensively in her eBook, How To Smile Through Cancer from which a percentage of sales goes to Macmillan Cancer Support, her favourite UK cancer charity.

These days Suzan is Chair of the Milton Keynes Cancer Patient Partnership which consists of volunteers like her, as users of cancer services, working with the healthcare professionals and National Health Service (NHS) managers to improve the services delivered locally, regionally and nationally. Suzan also helps her local NHS editing written communications, as well as conducting peer review, environmental audits, training, and other projects. Allied to this Suzan lectures on cancer survivorship to nursing and medical students at Oxford Brookes University and the University of Buckingham.

In addition to this, Suzan’s other interests include participating as a local business leader in Career Work Out sessions for Milton Keynes secondary (high) school students with the amazing Worktree charity … regular guest lecturing for Careers-Action, a job club for managers and executives which has the highest rate of re-employment of any similar job club in England … and mentoring a talented young writer via the charity Transitions UK.

Suzan St Maur

Suze with Ozzy and LaWoof

Apart from her son and her family in Canada and Belgium (her mother was a francophone Belgian, hence she speaks French fluently) Suzan’s great love is animals – particularly horses (see above), dogs and cats. She has had various rescued dogs and cats over the years and as many of her friends know, she’s a soft touch for a “hard luck” story. However she did turn down one recent rehoming request – for a rabbit. With three dogs and two hard-hunting cats, its life expectancy would have been very short…

Thanks for reading!