*NEW* Check out my interview with Amazon Direct Publishing’s KDP University discussing Author Central and A+ Content, book marketing, publishing, branding, and writing in multiple genres.GO HERE!!
From KDP University, About the Video:A romantic at heart, Michelle M. Pillow loves stories with a happy ending, imperfect characters, and good mysteries that are challenging to solve. Though she writes in many genres—and has sold a million books across them!—she’s best known for her sci-fi and paranormal romances, mysteries, and paranormal women’s fiction. Join us as Pillow shares how she uses resources like Author Central and A+ content to create a strong book release.
Michelle Pillow Author Advice for Writers
I also have some fascinatingly brilliant articles on my blog that the world should read. Not that I’m biased or anything. I’ll add more advice as I think of it.
Do you offer paid one on one time for aspiring authors?
Sorry, I just don’t have the time to do critiques and teaching sessions. BUT I do love talking to authors in all stages of their careers, so email anytime to chat. I recommend David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should as a decent place to start learning about the industry.
YES! Check out my interview with Amazon Direct Publishing’s KDP University discussing book marketing, publishing, branding, and writing in multiple genres. HERE!!
There are a ton of books and how-to articles out there for you to google and research that answer most industry, writing, and craft questions. The best advice is to do your research.
I’m fortunate to have published traditionally before going hybrid/indie. I was able to take a lot of knowledge into the indie world with me. The main lesson, though, was to be flexible. Things change in the indie world so fast and working authors have to keep on top of those changes. As events happen or opportunities come up, you have to be willing to toss an entire marketing and publishing plan out of the window and start over, again and again.
Can I interview you (or have a guest post) for my blog?
YES!!! (If I have the time, or finally complete my diabolical cloning project….the husband doesn’t seem to want that second option for some reason…something about one of me being enough.) Feel free to contact me with the details. Interviews are generally easier to fit in than guest blogs–but DO ASK. And thank you for thinking of me.
There is no magic pill. You have to do the research and the work. Well, coffee is kind of like magic, and energy helps do the research, so maybe that’s my secret.
Research everything—your book, marketing, promo, your genre—and think about the long-term goals, not just instant career gratification. That’s what separates career authors from hobbyists. Writing as a hobby is fine, if that’s what you want to do. If you want to be a professional, you just have to spend the time and study up. There is no magic formula or secret handshake. I so wish there was. You just have to put in the hours and do the work. Knowledge really is power.
But the Number 1 Thing? Write the book. No book, no reason to go through the trouble of everything else. The book is the fun part!
And, yes, it is very hard to get traditionally published. It’s a very competitive business.
Here are some of the FAQs people email:
Will you co-write a book with me? Will you be in an Antho?
Maybe… Michelle has a full writing schedule. She is very particular about the projects she takes on but that’s not a no. You are welcome to contact her. It never hurts to ask, and she’s super friendly (just busy).
I want to write fan fiction of your characters and worlds. Is that okay?
No. Michelle M. Pillow does not authorize fan fiction of her work. Her worlds and characters are copyrighted and belong to her and her alone. They are not to be included or used in any fan fiction. Check out this blog article explaining one of the main reasons authors say no: https://www.themarysue.com/writers-fanfiction/
I have a story idea, can I send it to you?
Legal Team says No. Any story ideas sent to Michelle will not be read by the author and will be deleted immediately. Want to know why? Check out this blog articles explaining one of the main reasons authors say no: https://www.themarysue.com/writers-fanfiction/
What if I do all the work? Can I put your name on my book as Co-Author?
Will you publish my book?
No. I’m not a small press.
Can you recommend a publisher to me? How should I publish?
You need to do your own research and make the decisions that are right for you. There are pros and cons to both Indie and Traditional publishing. It’s why Michelle chose to do both, because it was right for her.
Can you help with contracts since you’ve signed so many?
Publisher contract are an ever changing beast. She recommends reading Model Trade Book Contract from The Authors Guild as a place to start.
Will you read my unpublished book/manuscript/writing sample?
Due to legal reasons, No. All unpublished material will be promptly destroyed or deleted, unread. Sorry, no exceptions. Michelle is honored that you value her opinion and wish to seek it out, but please don’t ask.
Want to know why? Check out this blog articles explaining one of the main reasons authors say no: https://www.themarysue.com/writers-fanfiction/
Will you read my published/pre-published book? I/My publisher needs a jacket quote. I need a review.
If you’re already friends with her, send her a message. She loves helping friends!
We get requests weekly for these.
Reviews? No. Michelle is not a reviewer, and vendors frown on authors reviewing books in their genre. There have been handslaps. She does often review books she loves on her own at non-vendor places like Bookbub where they encourage author reviews, or just socially.
Quotes? Time is limited. You can ask. It helps if you know authors on another level before making a cold-call request. It gives them a chance to know you. If you do ask, let her know what the project is, where the quote will be used, the timeline. If you’re willing to return the favor. Things like that.
How do I promote my books?
There are several, cheaper ways for promotion on the internet. The best route is to do your research, visit author blogs, websites, publisher sites, review sites. Offer to do interviews, set up newsletters or chat groups, and open a facebook account, twitter, etc.
The number one thing for marketing yourself and your books? Have a website. Make sure the style represents you and your books. Extra content can be key to getting readers there, but remember the number one reason they come to your site is to learn more about you and your books. Make it easy to navigate and try not to have a lot of outside advertising clogging up the pages. Also avoid auto play sound features like music or videos. You want readers to be able to find the information they need in a non-intrusive environment. Everything you want readers (and possible media outlets) to know will be centrally located in one place, and everything you do–inside the books, advertising, chats, blogs, vlogs, social media bio pages, etc–can point to that central location where you control the content.
What are the tools that a self-published author can’t live without?
Vendor partnerships are key. I remember the time before 2008, when indie books were sold off author websites and had limited opportunities for distribution. Vendors like Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Apple Books, Googleplay, etc, have a built-in rabid reader base eager to buy what we’re selling. Competition for readers’ attention might be high, but so are opportunities. They also provide several free tools authors can use, and advice. Be sure to take advantage.
A day planner (electric or paper, I like paper). Indie publishing is fast paced. You have to be organized. It helps to be able to look at your schedule at a glance when promotional opportunities with vendors and other authors pop up. When it comes to my work I like to joke, if it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist.
The book. And then the next book. And then the next. Without books, there is nothing to be an author about. Building a backlist, and a series, gives you something to talk about and new readers a natural place to go if they like something you’ve written. It’s the best advertising tool.
Author friendships. I like the saying “Rising tides lift all boats”. It is a so much better way to live than trying to stand on each other’s heads.