How Long Can You Tread Water?

1a~ By Susan Barr

“How long can you tread water?”

This is a classic line from Bill Cosby’s funny bit about Noah who refused to do what God commanded him, and there are times when that’s exactly how I feel.

When I contracted my first book, under a pen name, the publishing deadline was a safe year away. Loads of time to learn how to navigate social media and meet other industry professionals.


One month after signing, my publisher put out a submission call for spicy novellas. They were to be around the 5k mark, later revised to 10k, and there was no taboo. I grabbed this opportunity and ran with it. What a great way to get my name out in front of the readers before my book hit the shelves. In four months I’d written three novellas. The second of the three went as high as #2 on ARe’s bestselling list and #63 on Amazon top 100 – erotica.

Given the success of this naughty novella, my publisher decided to push the print book up by eight months. I’d been so busy writing I had no social presence at all. I had two months to create a web site, start a blog and learn to be concise in 140 characters. I started a Facebook page under my pen name with no friends, and everything else that shouts to the world you’ve arrived.

I made the decision to hire a PR company to promote my book because I also work full-time and had no idea where to start. I blogged, tweeted, posted and kicked my feet and swirled my arms in the water so I wouldn’t go under.

“How long can you tread water?”

There are times when I wish I could go back and re-visit that time to correct the multitude of mistakes I made, but then the lessons I learned wouldn’t be with me now.

I’m in the process of writing a five book series about a small town and all the colorful characters that inhabit its streets. Because of my earlier floundering with social media, I’m already promoting them on Facebook and my blog. I’ve created a page for the series and have excerpts on my website. This time, when they hit the shelves – and they will – I’ll be doing a front crawl toward the finish line.

Sue Barr began writing when she reached the mile marker of fifty. Not because she felt she didn’t have much time, but exactly the opposite. Her mother is ninety-six years old and if the good genes carry over, there’s a good probability she has another forty years plus to chase her dreams.

Her husband had always encouraged her to write, but she felt she couldn’t pen stories the way her favorite authors did. And she doesn’t. She sounds like herself – a little loopy, sometimes snarky and always with a romantic hue.

Sue resides in Southwestern Ontario with her husband, her sons and their families. They have two very spoiled cats. You can reach her at:

12 thoughts on “How Long Can You Tread Water?”

  1. Oh Sue– Love Bats Last, the first book in the Heart of the Game series launched yesterday– I know exactly how you feel/felt with the learning curve for getting the word out! Congratulations on your success!!! Best, Pamela Aares

  2. Fun post–and full of good info, too! Sounds like it all worked out in the end. 🙂 Promotion is such a hassle…I wish we could just write and some magical social media genies would take care of the rest.

    1. Arlene, you absolutely do not need a separate FB page for your series. That was my choice. However, I would suggest an author page. It allows you to separate your personal from business.

  3. Great post. Thank you for making me feel like my anxiety is normal. LOL My first book will be out next February and I am overwhelmed with trying to figure out a website and vet my pen name recognized. Now I fee like I am “normal” and can calm down and roll with the punches of publishing and promoting.

    1. I spent a lot of time ‘lurking’, figuring out what other authors did. Ask Margaret – I pestered her a lot. I visited review blogs, to get a feel of what readers were looking for. I dropped in on other websites and poked around to see how they promoted their books, and spent copious amounts of time looking at photos of ‘ahem’ fine young men for inspiration.
      Truly – that worked best for me… 🙂

  4. Margaret Ethridge

    Great post! I feel the same way. Doesn’t feel like I’ve ever gotten the hang of this promo stuff. I just flail away at it, get frustrated, then go back to writing another book. Much easier to write the book. LOL

  5. Hi Susan, WTG on your success! I felt my anxiety rising just reading your experience with those deadlines – whew. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sometimes you need to take a step back and decide what will work for you. We can’t DO everything. All you can do is be yourself, get out there and meet your readers in this big digital world, and let the rest fall naturally.
      You’ll do just fine.

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