When I began writing, I had so many questions about what to do and where to go once I felt I was ready to find a publishing home for my work. Thanks to Judy Penz Sheluk, writers now have a great resource to help them navigate their publishing options. Below is my interview with Judy about her new book for writers:
First off, congratulations on the publication of your latest book, Finding Your Path to Publication: A Step-by-Step Guide. This book is a definite departure from writing your mystery series. Can you share with our readers a bit about what inspired you to write it?
My local library had invited me to talk to their NaNoWriMo group about succeeding or failing at NaNoWriMo in 2019. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it takes place every November. The idea is to write 55,000 (1,666 words/day). As it turned out, no one there really cared or succeeded or failed. All they wanted to know was “What’s next? How do I get published?” That led to a second workshop, which I called Finding Your Path to Publication. There was record attendance, and a couple of months later, the Independent Book Publishers Association was looking for new ideas. I mentioned the presentation and they commissioned an article (in May/June 2022 issue). I realized, then, there was a book that needed writing. So I wrote it.
Tell us more about what the book is about and what you hope readers will take away from it.
The publishing world can be a cruel one, but it is less so when authors help each other. It is my hope that Finding Your Path to Publication serves as a guide to help those mystified, terrified, or any other “ied” to fulfill their dream of getting published, or, in the case of those currently published but not happy with their choice (be it self-, traditionally, or hybrid) an outlet to explore their options. One path doesn’t fit all, and what might have been the right path five years ago, might not be today.
What led you to make the jump from corporate life to becoming a fulltime freelance writer and editor? Was that a scary transition?
I was financially successful in the corporate world (finance, marketing) but honestly, I always felt a bit like a tiger in a cage. I don’t do 9 to 5 well. When my employer downsized my position, I celebrated by running the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon on May 3 with about 30 of my running group from Newmarket, Ontario (Canada). I got back on the Monday and immediately began building my freelance writing career, knowing I had severance to live off. It didn’t take long to develop a solid reputation, first as a freelance journalist and later as a magazine editor for four different publications. In 2018, I decided to concentrate on writing books fulltime. But I loved the freelance life, and the work prepared me for what lay ahead. I don’t think I would ever have started my own imprint without that experience.
What led you to found Superior Shores Press?
Well, I’d been orphaned twice (the industry term for early termination of a publishing contract). The first was a Mystery Writer of America approved publisher who shuttered their doors. The second had been in publishing for 14 years and decided to release their authors and just use the press as a vehicle for the owner’s books. I’d almost been orphaned two more times by publishers that I “almost” came to work with. In 2018, seeing the handwriting on the wall for the MWA approved publisher, I figured there was no time like the present. I’ve never looked back.
What joys and challenges have you found in establishing your own press?
Well, I’m a complete control freak, so I find great joy in managing every step (LOL). Of course, with that comes financial outlay – I do a lot myself, e.g., formatting the interior design – but I hire a cover artist and editors (I’m an editor, so I realize that it’s impossible to edit your own work). For Path, I hired two editors. The first, Emily Nakeff, was my front-line editor. I’d send her a section each week and she’d provide feedback and suggestions. Emily’s input was invaluable. The second editor was Ti Locke, who I hire for all my projects, including my mystery novels. She’s incredible. Anyway, the point is, you never know if all that outlay will be recouped. It’s a leap of faith and because of that, I think it also has to be a labor of love.
For readers not familiar with your two best-selling mystery series, can you share a bit about the Glass Dolphin and Marketville Series?
The Glass Dolphin is a three-book series and includes The Hanged Man’s Noose (which happens to be the name of a local pub), A Hole in One (murder on a golf course), and Where There’s a Will (real estate/will, no murder, but a mystery). The protagonists are Arabella Carpenter, a feisty antiques shop owner, and Emily Garland, a freelance journalist turned sleuth who eventually becomes Arabella’s partner. It’s a cozy mystery series without the cats, crafts or cookie recipes. It was always intended to be three books…though Arabella does have a small role in each Marketville book.
The Marketville mysteries feature Calamity (Callie) Barnstable who moves to Marketville from Toronto to solve the murder of her mother, 30 years before, when Callie was six. That’s Skeletons in the Attic. In book 2, Past & Present, she stays in Marketville and starts her own cold case investigations firm, Past & Present Investigations. In book 3, A Fool’s Journey, she’s on the case of a young man who went missing 20 years before, and in book 4 Before There Were Skeletons, she’s digging into the case of three missing woman from 1995, as well as dealing with some personal issues going back to her mother. I’d call these cold case cozies, mostly because there’s no sex, violence or bad language. But again, they aren’t your white picket fence with a cat type of cozy.
What’s next for you writing-wise?
I’m currently finishing the sequel to Finding Your Path to Publication. It will be a step-by-step guide for authors looking at the possibility of self-publishing. It’s gone through five beta readers from both never published and previously published traditionally authors. I’m now making revisions based on their feedback before sending to my editor. Tentative publication date is November 2, 2023, but that could change.
Thanks so much for visiting today, Judy!
Bio: A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the bestselling author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including the Superior Shores Anthologies, which she also edited. Judy is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she served on the Board of Directors for five years, the final two as Chair. She lives in Northern Ontario. Find her at www.judypenzsheluk.com.
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Judy-Penz-Sheluk/author/B00O74NX04
Book Blurb for Finding Your Path to Publication: A Step-by-Step Guide: The road to publishing is paved with good intentions…and horror stories of authors who had to learn the hard way.
For the emerging author, the publishing world can be overwhelming. You’ve written the book, and you’re ready to share it with the world, but don’t know where to start. Traditional, independent press, hybrid, self-publishing, and online social platforms—all are valid publishing paths. The question is, which one is right for you?
Finding Your Path to Publication is an introduction to an industry that remains a mystery to those on the outside. Learn how each publishing option works, what to expect from the process start to finish, how to identify red flags, and avoid common pitfalls. With statistics, examples, and helpful resources compiled by an industry insider who’s been down a few of these paths, this is your roadmap to decide which path you’d like to explore, and where to begin your author journey.