Today I’m very excited to have Donna Joy Usher joining us on her blog tour. Donna is talking about her debut novel, The Seven Steps to Closure, and answering my questions about marketing and promoting. At the end of the interview you can also read an excerpt from the book. Right, let’s get going …

SSTC button

Hi Donna, and welcome to my blog! I hope you’re enjoying your blog tour, and thanks for visiting us today. Now, The Seven Steps To Closure was released in May this year – how has your journey been so far?

I guess considering it’s my debut novel it’s not going too badly. I had to learn so much just to get it to the publication stage and now I have to learn to market – even though all I really want to do is write. It’s all pretty exciting though and there’s nothing nicer than seeing your novel in its final form.

I totally agree! Is this the first full-length novel you’ve written, or are there more lurking in a drawer somewhere?

This is the first full length novel I wrote, but when I finished the first draft I started on a YA fantasy trilogy that had been rumbling around in my head for a while. I’m about to finish the second book in The War Faery Series, which is really exciting.

Did you try to go the traditional route with this book – agent etc – before choosing to self-publish? (And if yes, what happened along the way?)

Originally I did start trying the traditional publishing route, but then I did a course called pitching to publishers and found out how hard it can be to get a publisher’s attention. If it had of been based purely on the strength of the novel I would have persisted, but it was really disheartening to find out I could be getting rejected, without even a thank you for your submission, for no other reason than the fact that they had filled their budget quota for my genre already. Once I found that out I decided to self-publish and I haven’t regretted that decision.

the seven steps to closure

We’re very glad you did, too! What was the inspiration behind The Seven Steps To Closure? I really like this premise – it sounds exactly like the kind of article you might read in a woman’s magazine!

The book came before the idea for the seven steps did. I had the story but not the name, and then one day I was walking on the beach trying to come up with a good name and The Seven Steps to Closure popped into my head. From there the idea for the magazine article appeared and then the whole structure of the book just fell into place. I really love it when that happens.

Lots of the blogs you’re visiting will be reviewing TSSTC and I’m looking forward to reading these, but I was wondering how much you feel reviews by book bloggers have contributed to the success of the book so far?

I must admit I haven’t really had many reviews done as I’ve only just gotten into the marketing side of things. However I feel that reviews on established blog sites with loyal followers has to be a great way to get the word out about my book. I’m hoping it will be a big contributing factor in my pre-Christmas book sales, and a good word of mouth source.

I think word of mouth is a really important factor, even if it can be a slow burner. Which marketing activity have you discovered so far that you feel had the most significant impact on your sales? Social media, blogging, or something else?

Up to now I’ve really just been using twitter and my blog site to try and generate sales, which has been mildly successful. My problem is that the things I find I want to write about on my blog are not the things that would lead chicklit readers to my site. Motorbikes, paddle boarding and anger management just don’t seem to be cutting it. I guess I have to start being smarter with what I write about.

The Seven Steps to Closure was also a finalist in the Shirley You Jest Book Awards, (It really is funny!), which was great for sales. I’m looking forward to seeing how well the blog tour impacts my figures. I have high hopes for it as The Seven Steps to Closure is a great read and I know if I can generate more exposure for it, it will sell itself.

I agree, Donna. And I hope you’ll come back and tell us how the tour went 🙂 Finally, I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to know when you expect to release your next book!

Well as I mentioned previously I’m currently writing a YA chicklit/fantasy trilogy but I won’t be releasing that till all the books are written. I want to edit them all together.

I do however have another chicklit novel, Cocoa and Chanel, which I am gagging to get started on. I should commence writing that at the beginning of the year and am hoping to release it by September – October 2013.

That sounds really exciting! A busy year for you coming up. Thanks for being with us today, Donna – please stick around to answer any questions or comments from readers.

The Seven Steps to Closure Excerpt

I spent the rest of the day with a hangover and a big grin on my face while I did the housework. I had arranged to go to Lil and Martin’s for dinner and arrived at about 6pm, feeling much better after a long, uninterrupted afternoon nap.

‘You look different,’ Lil said.

I sat at the breakfast bar sipping white wine and watching her and Martin toss salad, cut vegies and make garlic bread.

She stopped chopping and looked at me critically. ‘You look great. What have you done? No don’t tell me. Your hair is the same.’ She stared at me while she tried to work it out. ‘It’s weird you seem different but I can’t put my finger on it. Martin, can you tell what’s different about Tara?’

‘She always looks good to me.’ He flashed me a cheeky grin and I blew him a kiss.

I waited until Lil was sipping her alcohol free wine and then I said, ‘I had sex.’

She snorted the wine, launching into a coughing attack. Martin patted her on the back and handed her a glass of water. ‘Tara,’ he said accusingly, ‘you did that on purpose.’

‘Just aiming for the maximum impact,’ I said with a grin on my face.

Lily finally recovered enough to start asking questions. ‘Who with? Where? When? Ohhh, tell me everything.’ She left the kitchen and perched awkwardly on the stool next to me.

‘I don’t know his name,’ I said.

Lil gasped. I held up a hand to stall her response and said, ‘Let me clarify that statement. I can’t remember his name. He did tell me but the music was really loud at the club and I was having trouble hearing him – and to be totally honest I was a little bit drunk.’

‘Was he yummy?’ she asked.

‘Totally yummy.’

‘How old?’

‘I’m guessing mid-thirties. We didn’t exactly swap life stories.’

‘No, just body fluids,’ said Martin laughing.

‘Oh Tara, tell me you were safe,’ Lil said in concern.

‘Of course I was safe.’

‘Was it fantabulous or really, really horrible?’ she asked.

‘I wouldn’t be telling you if it was horrible. I’d be at home with my head in the oven.’

‘Are you seeing him again?’ she said, her eyes lighting up at the prospect.

‘The point of last night was to help me move closer to closure with Jake, not to shift my emotional baggage from one man to another,’ I said, quoting Elaine. I would have been very happy to see him again, but probably would have stuffed the whole thing up by talking too much, so it was probably better left just as it was – a delicious memory.

And a delicious memory was exactly what it was for me later that night while I drifted closer and closer to sleep.

Author Bio:

donna joy usherBorn in Brisbane, I started my working life as a dentist. After 15 years of drilling and filling I discovered there was more to life, and put pen to paper. Now I drill by day and write by night.

When not doing either of those things I like spending time with my husband and two little dogs, fishing and camping, motorbike riding, traveling, drinking wine on my deck and eating chocolate. Last year I ran my first half marathon and took up paddle boarding.

I have lived in a myriad of places: Melbourne, Perth, England, Rockhampton, Roxby Downs, Sydney, Cairns and am now situated on the New South Wales Central Coast.

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