Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Launch Q&A: Shelley Schanfield, author of The Mountain Goddess

Shelley Schanfield’s passion for Buddhism and yoga arose sixteen years ago, when she and her son earned black belts in Tae Kwon Do. The links between the martial arts and Buddhist techniques to calm and focus the mind fascinated her. By profession a librarian, Shelley plunged into research about the time, place, and spiritual traditions that 2500 years ago produced Prince Siddhartha, who became the Buddha. Yoga, in some form, has a role in all of these traditions. Its transformational teachings soon prompted Shelley to hang up her black belt and begin a yoga practice that she follows to this day.

Because she loves historical fiction, Shelley looked for a good novel about the Buddha. When she didn’t find one that satisfied her, she decided to write her own novels based on the spiritual struggles of women in the Buddha’s time. She published the first book in the Sadhana Trilogy, The Tigress and the Yogi, in 2016 and will publish the second, The Mountain Goddess in early 2017.


About the Book:

Author: Shelley Schanfield
Publisher: Lake House Books
Pages: 471
Genre: Historical Fantasy

A beautiful warrior princess. A tormented prince. A terrible choice between love, duty, and spiritual freedom.

In ancient India, rebellious Dhara runs away to a sacred mountain to study with the powerful yogi Mala, a mysterious woman with a violent past. Flung by war onto an adventure-filled journey, Dhara meets and captures the heart of Siddhartha, whose skill in the martial arts and extraordinary mental powers equal her own.

Worldly power and pleasure seduce Dhara, creating a chasm between her and her husband, who longs to follow a sage’s solitary path. She takes on the warrior’s role Siddhartha does not want, and when she returns wounded from battle court intrigue drives them further apart. As Siddhartha’s discontent with royal life intensifies, Dhara’s guru Mala, who has returned to her life as a ruthless outlaw, seeks her former pupil for her own evil purposes.

Dhara’s and Siddhartha’s love keeps evil at bay, but their son’s birth brings on a spiritual crisis for the prince.  If he leaves his kingdom to seek enlightenment, he turns his back on love and duty and risks destroying his people. Only Dhara can convince him to stay. 


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

After your book was released, what was the first thing you did when getting ready for your book launch?

The first novel in my trilogy about women in the Buddha’s time, The Tigress and the Yogi, was released January 2016. Then I did what any introverted writer who prefers to be alone with her computer and her cats would do. I retreated to my writing cave and vowed never to come out!

Fortunately, I had a supportive writers’ group and my colleagues urged me to set up readings at local bookstores. I have a friend who teaches drama who coached me on the excerpts I’d selected to read, which helped enormously in making them dramatic and entertaining. I had a terrific time and sold a lot of books at the launch for Tigress, at Bookbound in Ann Arbor, and I’ve continued to sell on consignment through them. It spurred me to plan other activities—both on-line and at other local stores. I will release the sequel to the first book, The Mountain Goddess, at Bookbound on March 3, 2017. 

After that, what was your next step?

With  my first book, I advertised via the very friendly and easy to use author platform on Goodreads. It’s also very easy to organize a giveaway on their site. LibraryThing also offers a giveaway service, but I definitely got more mileage from Goodreads. I’ve been running a targeted ad campaign on their site pretty much continuously for several months for Tigress in preparation for the launch of The Mountain Goddess.

Did you do anything different to spice up your website in lieu of your upcoming book release?

My website (  has two main purposes: as a landing page with links to retailers, and as a link to interesting books and on-line resources on yoga and Buddhism. I use Siteground running Wordpress to host it. I plan to update it after my second book has been out a while, so that I don’t mess with the “Buy the Book” links.

Did you ever consider using a PR agency to help you promote your book or did you prefer the DIY route?

I would love to use a PR agency, but my sales don’t justify the cost as yet. I used Pump Up Your Book for a book blast to advertise the first book in advance of the Virtual Book Tour they are running for the second book beginning March 2017.

For more useful DIY advice:

C.S. Lakin’s

Penny Sansevieri’s recent post on Book Marketing Trends

And a very recent post on a 10-step book launch from Derek Murphy, which looks great!

Were finding reviews a top priority for you and, if yes, how did you approach that?

My local bookstores told me Foreword Reviews was an honest source that they used to get recommendations on indie-published books. So I spent some money on a package that included a review from them and Blue Ink Reviews. Both gave my work high marks, which helped garner publicity. Since then, readers have posted good reviews (averaging between 4-5 stars) on Goodreads and Amazon. I’m pursuing the same strategy for the second book.

What are your views on social media for marketing your book?

Like many writers, I break out in a rash at the mere idea of marketing. But in the year since Tigress was released, I’ve started to work with social media consultant Leslie McGraw, and that has made all the difference. She helped me shift focus from the idea that social media is for marketing to using it as a way to make connections with people who shared my interests in Buddhism and yoga.  I’ve come to enjoy being active on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. When I feel like I’m on full speed with these, I will get more active with my profiles on LinkedIn and Google+.

Did you revamp your author’s page at Amazon in any way to prepare for the launch?

I would highly recommend C.S. Lakin’s, site:, for useful advice on this, especially her 8 Essential Steps to Selling Big on Amazon for great ideas on how to write profile and book descriptions that attract readers.

Any tips for those authors wanting to set up a successful book launch?

Define what would be a successful launch for you then set your goals and budget. It can be simple, for example just a few readings at regional bookstores, or more complex, including purchasing reviews, using social media marketing, or signing up with a book publicity service for a virtual book tour, all things that I’ve done and am glad I did. All of these are really pretty easy steps.

Whatever you decide to do for your current book’s launch, keep writing the next book!

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