How the Interview with Victoria Sutherland Came About
I am very thankful for the time that Victoria Sutherland, the Publisher of Foreward Reviews, shared with me. I want to tell the story of how I came to chat with her. She is an outstanding example of the grace and kindness that I have found at every level of the industry.
Old westerns have those endearing greenhorns that are the objects of teasing by good-natured “old hands.” During the movie they grow into their role and often do something heroic near the end that saves the day. I am that greenhorn. I was “wet behind the ears.”
Six months ago when I was brainstorming Book Chats, I was pretty green, a mere alfalfa sprout, tender enough for a salad and ready to wilt, but I knew it. I am an information sponge who knows how to learn, so I set off on this odyssey to remove the mystery from the publishing for the writer who wants to know what to do next. I am always my first audience.
I was feeling pretty good about myself while interviewing the various authors who feature early on in the podcast. I read their books and blogs. I got to know them through their writing, and, as a writer myself, I was familiar with what they did. I could ask intelligent questions. I liked these these interviews, but they weren’t really removing much mystery, at least for me.
I regularly read through various Facebook and Reddit groups to find topics for Book Chats. Early on I read several raging debates about the value of paid reviews. As usual on the Internet, there was no agreement. Many were absolutely opposed and cited their own failed experience. Others sang the praises of these reviews, again, citing their own experiences.
This seemed like a great subject. I am highly skeptical, skinflint who is wary of scams, so I began my research. I wasn’t disappointed. I followed a recommendation from a friend and found a scam artist. She will “publish” your book for some $$$, and for another $$$ she will write a review that author can use in their promotion. These reviews were awful, mere summaries. Honestly, I wondered if she read the books at all. The reviews seemed to be written from the blurb and conversations with the author. Most of the people who worked with her liked her, but I chose not to interview her. She was upset.
Grace and Professionalism
At this point, I had been researching paid reviews for several days and had not run across Foreward Reviews. This space is crowded and information is sparse. To this point I had not found any service that I would have been willing to spend my personal money on. The cost to value seemed disproportionate. I was ready to condemn the whole space of paid reviews and go on to the next topic.
Thankfully, I was chatting with the librarian at our local community college about my reviews and she put a copy of the Foreward Reviews magazine in my hand. It was the first that I had heard of it. As I searched their website I finally had found a service that provided value.
I went to the Foreward Reviews website and clicked on the “Contact Us” link. I ignored the top of the page where the Publisher and Editor in Chief are listed and scrolled down to “General Questions” which listed Victoria Sutherland as the contact. I sent an interview request to talk with someone in their organization, and got a response back the same day.
I’d be happy to help as publisher.Email Correspondence
Shall we talk Monday?
I felt so stupid. I didn’t realize that the staff member who took the questions was also the publisher. Here is my response back to her.
Thanks for the quick response.
For the article, I was hoping for an email conversation with a staff writer. Now I feel silly because I didn’t realize that I had written to the publisher. I scanned over the top of your “Contact Us” and found the “General Questions” contact.
In my weak defense, I never expected to contact a magazine that goes out to thousands of subscribers and get the publisher. She was gracious and patient with me. She agreed to an interview.
For this interview, I was utterly out of my depth. I was in the middle of the “mystery” of the publishing industry, and it didn’t take me long to figure that out. As you listen to interview, you might be able to sense my ignorance and feel my ignorance. I stumble and fumble through the chat. I edited out the worst examples of my ignorance.
Curing that ignorance is the POINT of the podcast. Publishing a book, whether traditionally or as an indie, is a complex process that requires effort to understand. Victoria Sutherland gave me an education and I am glad to share it with you.
In a later article after my chat with Patti Thorne, the Managing Partner of BlueInk Reviews, and Charles Sheldon, the author of From Within the Firebird’s Nest, I will be writing an article that summarizes what I learned about paid reviews and how to use them in marketing your books.
We will also be using Foreward Reviews in our Three Against the Dark experiment, so stayed tuned for the results.