Building a Platform on Authory

It’s been one year since Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through 50 Historic Treasures launched, and I have another book on the way. (More to come about The Glen Eyrie Story). With three books and several magazine articles under my belt, it’s time to solidify my author platform.

I recently came across an online portfolio for journalists called Authory. This service will automatically back up articles published online, your work will always be available to readers. That feature alone persuaded me to sign up for a free trial. I used to write for a local magazine called The Colorado Collective and had several pieces in their online and print editions. On the Writing page of this website, I carefully linked to each of my articles on their site. Unfortunately, Colorado Collective folded last year and their website is no longer operational. My readers no longer had a way to access my work. As a freelance journalist, it’s important that I can quickly direct interested parties to my stories, and when their site went down I lost an important part of my online portfolio. Authory will prevent this from happening to me again. As long as I keep using Authory, they will automatically import all of my articles from any publication that I write for and back them up on their own website. If another publication goes under, I’ll have a place where my readers can access my work.

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Signing up for Authory was easy and quick. I entered my name, the bylines that I write under, and the websites that carry my stories. Two days later, they had built my portfolio site. They found my articles for Springs Magazine quickly and arranged them on my personal Authory page. I can also manually add my articles that were in the print edition of Colorado Collective. 

If you want an online portfolio and have zero experience with web design, Authory is an excellent option. They do all of the back end work to build your website and you don’t have to lift a finger, except to do add your own profile picture and choose your background image.  I have a love/hate relationship with both Wix and WordPress (the platforms that I use for Susan Fletcher Creative and Adventures in History respectively) and loath doing my own web design.  I can do web design work… but I kind of hate it. Having Authory build a portfolio for me saved me hours of frustrating work with both Wix and WordPress.   Once Authory had my site ready, I uploaded a profile picture, wrote a short bio, and added my contact information. The process was quick and painless.

I’ve been using Authory for two weeks and so far I like it very much. Eric Hauch, the founder and CEO of Authory, has been extremely helpful and responsive to the questions that I had about the site, and he’s been checking up on me to make sure that everything is working correctly.  Having a human connection to a platform that I’m using is a rare gem in the faceless world of the internet. 

Lastly, the site allows me to create an Email list, and I plan on writing a newsletter soon to announce the release of The Glen Eyrie Story. Check out my site here. If you’d like to sign up for a free trial of Authory for ONE MONTH, you can use the invite code authory.com/SusanFletcher/invite?key=rGKGv.

One Year Book Birthday (Or, Launching a Book During a Pandemic)

This weekend marks one year since the release of my book Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through 50 Historic Treasures on May 15, 2020. Earlier this week, I was thrilled to learn that my book is a finalist for a Colorado Authors League Award of Excellence. In honor of my book birthday and my first time being a finalist for a writing award, I baked a chocolate cake and homemade buttercream frosting. 

Releasing a book in the middle of a global pandemic was not how I had envisioned things going when I was writing the book from 2018-2019, but I tried my best to make the most of my opportunities this year. When I was sequestered in my home office doing the tedious work of indexing over Christmas break 2019, I imagined a grand book launch party. The party would be at the Modbo and SPQR Art Galleries in Colorado Springs. All of my artist and writer friends would be there, we’d have a live band, and the happy crowd would overflow into the Arts Alley.

Here’s what happened instead. Last spring, my publishing team at Rowman and Littlefield was furloughed due to the COVID restrictions in New York, so I wasn’t sure if my book was still on schedule to be released in May as planned. Their team wasn’t allowed to check Email or phone messages during the furlough, so I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I prayed things through and made peace with the fact that the launch might be delayed indefinitely. On May 1, a delivery driver dropped off a mysterious brown box on my front porch. I looked at the shipping label, and my heart started pounding. It was from Rowman and Littlefield! Inside were six beautiful copies of Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through 50 Historic Treasures

Two weeks later, on May 15, my book was officially released. I woke up early that day and grabbed my phone off the nightstand to check my Amazon listing. I was stunned to see an orange label underneath the title that read “#1 New Release in Museum Industry.” I took screenshots of the Amazon Hot New Releases page that featured my book in the top spot in its category and texted the pictures to my mom and best friends. It was exciting enough to have my first solo book in print at last, but premiering at number one…that was an honor that I had never dreamt of attaining.

Because my editorial team was on furlough when my book launched, I didn’t know that my work had received delightfully unexpected attention from the publishing world until months later, in the fall of 2020. When their team went back to work in September, the R&L marketing department let me know that Exploring Childhood and Play was picked for Booklist’sTop Ten Sports Books of 2019-2020. I also discovered that my book had earned a cherished starred review on Booklist and that they had featured me in their Best New Books section in early May. I’m still pinching myself.

Because the bookstores around the country were closed due to COVID, I got creative in my marketing approach. I decided to focus on media interviews and virtual book talks. My friend and fellow historian John Fea asked me to be on his podcast The Way of Improvement Leads Home. He and I chatted about the origins of the board game Candyland during the polio epidemic of the 1950s. Keith Simon of classical music KCME (88.7 in Colorado Springs) interviewed me for his Sunday afternoon program, The Culture Zone. In August, the producer of the Constant Wonder show on BYU radio contacted me out of the blue and asked me to be a guest on their program. I enjoyed talking with host Marcus Smith about how childhood became a distinct phase of life in the nineteenth century. Because I was still hard-core self-isolating throughout the summer last year, I loved connecting with these interviewers and having someone to talk to. (Ah, remember the long days of quarantine?)

As a public historian for The Navigator and Glen Eyrie in my day job, I’m used to giving community programs about local history. I leveraged my existing connections in the museum field to create virtual author talks for my book. A few weeks ago, I presented a lunch and learn program about Barbie for the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. I miss doing events in person, but virtual talks can attract a national and global audience. In March, I gave a Zoom program for my friends at the Lippitt House Museum in Rhode Island. One of my literary-agent friends hosted a program for me last summer that brought in viewers from South America, Asia, and Europe.
As I write this post, life in Colorado is transitioning into something that looks akin to life before the pandemic. When our local bookstores can host events again, I would love to have a few in-person book signings. I also hope to fill my calendar with in-person and virtual author talks. If you’d like to host me for an event, or if you’d like to interview me, please go to my website at SusanFletcherCreative.com and fill in the contact form. 

Belated happy Galentine’s/Valentines’s Day

A belated happy Galentine’s day to all of you poetic, noble land mermaids. As Leslie Knope would say, it’s the best day of the year. I’ve been hosting large Galentine’s day celebrations with my girlfriends for the last nine years. Due to the pandemic we changed things up this time. Instead of meeting at a restaurant we had a very small gathering in a private home.  after a year of self- isolation, it felt like a small miracle to be indoors with other humans. We wore masks, sat six feet apart, and enjoyed our first inside hang-out time since last March.

The next day, our pastor at church had a sermon on making beauty and he cut out a heart from a piece of red construction paper. He said it was a silly little illustration  meant to inspire us to love others by making them beautiful things. That afternoon I got out my scissors and made this simple little valentine card.

Dear readers, wherever you are in the world today, I’m wishing you love and beauty.

My book is finally here

IMG_0681Tonight, for the first time in my life, I have copies of my first solo-authored book in my home. I know it sounds silly, but I’ve waited my entire life for this moment. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a little girl scribbling away on stories and drawings. Tonight I rewatched the newest Little Women movie and once again sobbed through the entire last scene where Jo watches her book get published.  Tonight, just like Jo March, I get to hold a copy of my own book. And I am crying happy tears.

You can pre-purchase your copy here: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781538118757/Exploring-the-History-of-Childhood-and-Play-through-50-Historic-Treasures 

Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through Fifty Historic Treasures is now available for pre-sale!

In 1977 Kenner got a wee bit delayed in making the first-ever Star Wars action figures so they created a brilliant plan to sell the toys at Christmas that year, even though the toys wouldn’t be ready until the following February. They sold an empty box with a certificate for the toys. In similar fashion, my book about toys is undergoing the finishing touches in the publication process and won’t be ready until May. HOWEVER, thanks to the internet, you can pre-purchase a copy of my book for yourself or your favorite pals for Christmas this year with the promise of having it shipped straight to your house once it finally comes out next spring. Doesn’t that sound like a good plan? You can order it now on Amazon, through Rowman and Littlefield’s own website, Barnes and Noble, BooksAMillion, or even through the Japanese bookseller Kinokuniya, and the Brazilian bookstore Livaria Cultura! Merry Christmas, everyone!

https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781538118740/Exploring-the-History-of-Childhood-and-Play-through-50-Historic-Treasures

The Book Manuscript is Finished

It took 15 months, and hundreds and hundreds of hours of work but I finally finished the first full submission of my book manuscript. Exploring the History of Childhood and Play Through Fifty Historic Treasures is undergoing the editorial review process. Over the next few months we will be walking through the next stages: editing the manuscript according to the feedback my reviewers give me, then copy editing, indexing, and proofing.  No word yet on a publication date, but as soon as I know more I’ll post it here.

Art-O-Mat Part II

Remember that time in October 2013 when I first saw an Art-O-Mat machine while I was at SHA in Indianapolis? Today, almost five years to the day, we have our own Art-O-Mat Machine here in my town. My editor from Springs Magazine gave me an assignment to visit our Art-O-Mat, buy a piece of art, and write a story about the experience. Story to follow in the magazine next month. In the meantime, here’s a picture of our local version of the art-vending machine and the linocut by Mona Wu that I purchased from it for only $5.

Exploring The History of American Childhood Through 50 Historic Treasures

Hiya blog readers! (All 2 of you!) I have two exciting announcements to make.

1)I am under contract to write a book for a new series through AASLH entitled “Exploring the History of American Childhood Through 50 Historic Treasures!”  I also just received a research grant through The Strong Museum.

2) I have a new website for History Joy Consulting. Check it out at http://www.historyjoyconsulting.com