Resources and tips for the self-published author.

5 Questions with Suzette Brown: The First Steps to Self-Publishing as a New Author

by Samantha Knoerzer •  August 12, 2015  •   Follow SamanthaKnoerze

Published in Interviews  •  One comment



Below we have an interview with Suzette Brown, author of Alzheimer’s Through My Mother’s Eyes,

In her exclusive interview, Suzette highlights the crucial first steps that one should take when they want to be a writer, and have no idea where to start. Read below in her exclusive interview to learn about common mistakes as a new author, and how to avoid them:




1) How did you go about deciding to self-publish?

Having no knowledge of the publishing world or its workings, I checked online for “publishers.”  I filled out forms in anticipation of having my book published by a publisher.


Being my first book, I was inexperienced and didn’t know a PC may or may to accept my work.


A local author that I was referred to advised me to NOT use a publisher, as he informed me that they we not concerned with my work – they merely wanted the money.  He had gone through a Publisher in Texas and the company ending up closing – so he took a huge deficit and lost a great deal of money and work.


Then, I really had NO idea what to do.  I was stuck, non-informed, and turned to the Internet.  Looking up publishing, self-publishing, etc. I found many blogs, discussions, links, info, and took it from there.


One discussion group referred me to ASJA.  I sent them a HELP email.  I needed someone I could trust right up front.  I was so scared I was going to get ripped off.  The ONLY group they recommended was:




Funny name for a company I thought.  The rest is history.  Miral called me, set me up, and was so very knowledgeable and professional – a great weight had been lifted.


Best day of my publishing life was my book/project being accepted by Author Options!!



2) What were some of the options you explored?

I seriously, at first, considered using Archway or AuthorHouse Self Publishing.  I asked Archway to send me the name and email (if possible) of an author that had used their services.  Only of course, if it was OK for the author. I didn’t want any of the author’s information given to me – the need for privacy was tantamount.


A very nice young lady did respond – and sent me the name of her book, which I looked up on Internet.  She explained her experience with Archway – and the amount of money she spent was far beyond any expense I could afford.  I read the first few chapters of her book, and the EDITING was HORRENDOUS.  The first couple of paragraphs caused me much concern.  The third or fourth paragraph began with, “I had went to the same school since….” OMG, this was an actual published book.  It only got worse as I continued to read.


I contacted the author again and asked her if her book had even been EDITED?  The grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. was positively atrocious.  This young lady had actually paid a great deal of money to this publishing company.  I asked her how a professional company could print this sloppy edition of her book?  How did they get away with it – keeping in mind the money she invested?


Meanwhile, Archway had faxed me their contract.  It was 9 or 10 pages long (I still have the blank one).   I immediately called them back and cancelled.  Archway continued to call me on a regular basis.


The young lady that I had been in contact with was young and uninformed.  She had faith in this company for her very important book.  She did let me know that the final copy was up to her to edit before it was turned in.  I could not excuse the errors in her book as easily as she seemed to be able to.


Archway Publishing would in no way, shape, or form publish my valued book.


I realized that self-publishing was the way for me to go.



3) Tell us about your book?

My book, Alzheimer’s Through My Mother’s Eyes, is my journey being my Mother’s caregiver.  It is documented journal notes of the five years I took care of and loved my Mother – to the best of my ability.


The disease Alzheimer’s took it’s grip and accelerated after the passing my Dad in 1999.  Mom was then alone without her spouse of 44 years.  Her confusion and memory loss declined at an alarming rate – meaning Mom needed help in all aspects of her life.  Social, emotional, financial, physical and spiritual interference was deemed necessary.


During these years – the role of “mother” and “daughter” were switched.  I became the “parent” and much needed reprieve for my mother.  My documented journals – medical information and records – etc., then became my “handbook” of caregiving.  My experience of day-to-day struggles and frustrations are honest, real and forthright.  Trying to exude empathy while stressed beyond human limits is outlined in my words.  The emotional rollercoaster for both my mother and myself is evident to readers and relatable to many in the same position.


My day-to-day family life as a mother, wife and full-time school employee  – are described in detail as I also provided my mother the help she so badly needed.  There were days when I wondered if I could go on.  The emotional toll on me as well as my family is described.  The needs of my mother were tantamount to my husband and son quite often as well.  The personality and physical change of a loved one with Alzheimer’s is drastic as I noted throughout my book.


The vile disease of Alzheimer’s can destroy a family or make it stronger.  My personal experiences are relatable to those who are in a caregiving position.  There are many roads that divide during this disease. Alzheimer’s disease affects many aspects of the loved ones lives, including driving and operating a vehicle, safely living alone, personal hygiene, financial issues, assisted living facilities, having to deal with attorney’s, medical appointments, persistent phone calls, family friend’s opinions, immediate family criticism and comments, and a loved ones health and well being – just to mention a few.  My book provides information on organizations, Internet sites, phone numbers and groups to contact for the entire process of becoming a caregiver.  It is crucial that caregivers be aware of the assistance that is available to them.


I know I made mistakes.  This was new territory to me – I knew nothing about being a caregiver.  I had no idea where to start or whom to contact.


Looking back, I wish I had taken more time for myself.  I realize now through communicating with good people, that caregivers must first take care of themselves.  That was a huge mistake on my part. 


Mom called an average of 15-16 times per night…sometimes more.  She couldn’t help it; she couldn’t remember our conversations.  I felt that I had to answer the phone each time she called.   The phone calls got me worked up and thus created rage on my part.  Perhaps limiting the number of times I answered the phone would have helped.  We had no choice but to install caller ID.


I felt that I was bound to drive to the assisted living facility each time Mom told me to come.  Mom would call within minutes of me getting home (from visiting her) and had already forgotten that I had been there.  Quite a few times, I drove back to bring her more money (She was obsessed with her money).  Eventually after I was worn out from working full-time each day and taking care of my own family – I had to limit my visits.  I knew she was in good hands and well taken care of.


As for mistakes before she was put into the assisted living, Adult Social Services was contacted and alerted by Mom’s physician.  He was extremely upset at how quickly Mom’s mental and physical status had deteriorated.   I made a huge mistake not contacting them myself – and (done so) many months earlier.  Mom’s physical deterioration and plight of her home and yard were alarming to family and friends.  I was too concerned over the “opinions” of other’s.  How could I call APS on my own mother?  I know now, for her safety and well being, that was an anonymous call I should have made.   I was so grateful to Mom’s physician and so relieved to learn that Adult Protective Services had taken over and determined that Mom could not longer live by herself due to “(self) elder abuse”.


Taking away Mom’s car and driving privileges were also something I did not want to deal with.  Moms friends hounded me – “How can you take away your Mother’s car?”  That is the last “piece of independence” that she has.  By now, Mom had been moved into an assisted living facility as per Adult Social Services deeming Mom unable to “live alone” any longer.  I had taken away her home, her finances were in my hands as her DPOA, her possessions had been put in storage – so her car and driving were all she had left.  The Director of the ALF was aghast that Mom was still driving with medically diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease.  Mom was getting lost, getting in accidents, her insurance agent was frantic knowing Mom was still “on the road driving”  – it was time to take her last piece of independence – her car.  I should have removed it long before I did.   My husband and I drove to the Assisted Living facility – and I drove her car to our home.  It was sold shortly after and the funds went into Mom’s account.  Big relief – knowing she was finally OFF THE ROAD.   Within hours, Mom had completely forgotten that she even had a car.


There were so many lessons to be learned.  The range of emotions begins with love and ends with frustration, sadness and an ache for the loved one of earlier years.


***My TOP TIP and LESSON for loved ones and caregivers are:  EMPLOY a reputable ELDER ATTORNEY – for your LOVED ONE.  These attorney’s speak for the loved one, NOT the family members or friends.


These attorneys specialize in elder law.  The resources they possess are invaluable to caregivers and family members.   We had Mom’s Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Medical wishes, Living Will and applicable paperwork completed at the office of Mom’s elder attorney before her illness took control.   All was taken care of:  Mom’s bank accounts, checking accounts, bills, statements, yearly taxes, vehicles, her home, etc. through me as her DPOA.


The Elder Attorney also makes the caregiver ACCOUNTABLE for their actions.  The family members, neighbors or friends cannot simply give away or sell the possessions of the loved one.  They cannot give away a loved one’s furniture, vehicles, jewelry – or any other piece of the loved one’s property.   The home of the loved one cannot be offered “free” to a family member or friend – to live in while the loved one is in a convalescent center or assisted living facility.  Checks cannot be used for “cash” for family members or anyone else to partake in.  All the property, investments, cash, and resources belong to the LOVED ONE. It is not a “free for all” once the loved one is sent to a facility for future care and needs.


The Elder Attorney speaks for the LOVED ONE – they ensure their needs are taken care of – legally and morally.


In Virginia, at the time we filled out paperwork in the Elder Attorney’s office, all Mom’s property, money, resources and investments had to be out of MOM’S name for a period of 36 months.  It was all transferred to her accounts, which fell under me as her DPOA.   Had we not been referred to Mom’s Elder Attorney immediately after my Dad passed – her home and property would have been sold by the State and used to take care of Mom’s living arrangements.  We made an appointment with an Elder Attorney that came highly recommended.  ALL financial aspects and paperwork were begun immediately – thus ensuring Mom’s future.


I have given this advice to so many individuals that question me on how to start or what to doFirst and foremost I tell them, find and hire a reputable Elder Attorney for your loved one.   Most balk at the idea of going to an attorney’s office.  So be it I let them know.


I was held accountable weekly as Mom’s DPOA.  I copied all my journal entries and notes as well as financial dealings – and mailed them to Mom’s Elder Attorney.


I will go to my grave knowing I loved, protected and treated my Mother with dignity and respect.   I never took one cent that did not belong to me – and I kept fastidious notes and records pertaining to every aspect of Mom’s care.



4) What were some mistakes you made you wish someone had told you about.

Bibliocrunch and Ms. Sattar filled in all the gaps as my indie book came to life.  Once I realized that there were companies with integrity and professionalism, I then realized that I had made a huge mistake in almost using a self-publishing company such as Archway or Author House to have my book published and/or circulated.


Any genre indie book and author is welcomed to sign up for Bibliocrunch’s service.  I truly wish I had been referred to Bibliocrunch earlier.   Since I had already used a “BETA” reader and proofreaders, my book was fairly well prepared.  I had chosen the cover – one of the photos I took of my Mother on our last trip to St. John’s in Newfoundland, Canada.  I learned that this picture could be used as my book cover.


Fortunately – I was not sucked into the hype advertised by the self-publishing companies.   Even though I was now absorbing confusing information, outrageous pricing, phone calls asking about when I was going to sign the contract, overly zealous (SP) customer service reps with meaningless promises—-just to mention a few—–I had grown frantic in my search to have my book self-published at an affordable rate WITH a professional organization.


I did not want to make the mistake of using a self-publishing company for literally thousands of dollars only to have a sloppy – unprofessional – end product.  In looking up some of these companies published authors (books) I literally cringed when perusing the final published copy.  The editing of these self-published books was atrocious – spelling, punctuation, sentence structures, grammar, etc., yet these authors had worked diligently to see their work in print.


I was one of the lucky ones.  Being referred to Bibliocrunch by ASJA was the best possible outcome!



5) What was the number one thing you learned?

Great question.


There are good people for us indie authors—that can be trusted.


This individual and her company exuded professionalism, understanding and assistance for a new author who has no idea what they are doing.  When I started the publishing process I decided to self-publish therefore banishing the “self-publishing” companies.   I was also limited to a certain budget – which made getting rid of “self-publishing” companies easy, as I could not afford them.


Then, through much research and blog chats, I found the company that I knew (and felt) would help me. This company was referred to me by ASJA (American Society for Journalists and Authors).  The owner of this company then called me and helped me set up my account online.  I had no idea what she was doing, but I trusted her.  She fully explained the process.  She explained to me how to put a chapter sample on my account, for those who would be interested in my story.  There was no outrageous contract to sign, no obligatory statements to sign—and I felt more and more at ease.  In addition, my words would not be changed or rewritten by some editor at a SP company.  My photo would be able to be my book cover.  I just needed to find the best match for my story.


This Internet site allowed the author to maintain communication with prospective publishers.  Much discussion back and forth – over minute details, cost, and exactly what I needed to have done to make my book/memoir the best it could be.  After the months of working on my story, I did not want to submit a sloppy book – full or errors – to be published.


After watching for a few days – the owner was correct – I had several individuals contact me interested in my story/book.  I cannot explain how grateful I was.


After many offers, I chose Author Options as my editor and publisher.   She knew exactly what I wanted and what needed to be done.  My book needed a good going over by a professional – to make the words flow smoothly and avoid repeat sections.   It was incredible watching and reading updates as my book neared publication date.  When I first saw my book cover, the picture I had taken in Newfoundland, the tears fell freely.  WOW.


I could not have asked for a better company or person than Author Options.  Her work was incredible.  I was open to all suggestions for changes, which is a MUST for new authors.   If a new author refuses to listen to advice from a professional, they can expect a less than great product.  I wanted a great product and that is exactly what I received.


I am currently working on book #2.  Got waylaid for a couple of months, training a new German shepherd puppy.  He is now 5 months old and almost fully trained.  My second book is allocated to Author Options for editing and publishing.


Could it be this easy?  Does this actually work?  Yes – on both accounts.


The company I have been speaking of is BIBLIOCRUNCH.  Miral Sattar, the owner, is also acknowledged in my book – for her perseverance and patience working with me.  I don’t know what I would have done had I not been recommended to BIBLIOCRUNCH.  I learned that there are trusting individuals that have one goal in mind – that is helping a new indie author.


Thank you to Bibliocrunch and Author Options !!!


Highly recommended.



6) Bonus question, what is your favorite book?

I have two favorite books – cannot choose one over the other.

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

Helter Skelter – Vincent Bugliosi (who recently passed)



About Suzette Brown: 

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I am originally from Canada, born in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  Still known as a “Newfie”.  My parent’s were both immigrants and I came into this country at the tender age of 6 years old.  I became an American citizen at 17 years of age.  I have lived in Virginia my entire life, and it is a beautiful state to call home.  My husband and I live in the Hampton/Newport News area. We enjoy taking long walks with our dogs, watching movies together, going out to visit friends and generally spending time together.


My life is calm and what some would call even boring, but my husband and I love it.  We have been married for 32 years this year, in August.  Our son lives in Charlotte, North Carolina – and our families had the pleasure of joining together as my son and his fiancé married in April.  What a joyous celebration we all enjoyed – as we came together as one family.


I am the proud owner of a Therapy Dog International, named Flower.  We visit hospitals, convalescent centers, assisted living facilities, adult day care centers and retirement homes.  We have reached the 250-documented visit point as a team – which means a lot of love and joy to sick and infirmed patients/residents.  When my mother got ill – and was placed in an assisted living facility and later a convalescent center, I remember seeing Therapy Dogs and the joy they brought patients.  Big smiles and happiness.  Now I am able to give back with Flower – as a volunteer.   It makes a differenced in someone’s day as his or her face lights up petting a stroking Flower.


We also visit Alzheimer’s patients in the convalescent centers, and the reaction to Flower is incredible to watch.  The transformation is truly heartwarming.


We also just purchased a German shepherd puppy, that we named Jax.  Possible therapy dog?  We will have to wait and see.


I thank my parent’s for my upbringing, the love, morals, work ethic and the culture that we received as children.  We travelled a lot as a family and travelling will always be in my blood.


Currently working on book #2 – and let’s just say it is the complete opposite of my Alzheimer’s story !


About Samantha Knoerzer

I am the Social Media Coordinator and Author Relations Manager for BiblioCrunch. And I love to read, OF COURSE! From the classics to YA and children's, you can find me reading it all. I have a masters in publishing from NYU's Print and Digital Media Studies masters program, and have undergraduate degrees in music, marketing, and english. I have a passion for reading, music, and travel. My goal is to travel to as many places around the world as possible. If you need to find me, you can catch me traveling all around the world at any chance I get – always with a book in hand!