Morning all! And have we got a treat for you!
Today’s guest post is courtesy of the lovely MT McGuire (and the Ely Marrow). Author of humorous fantasy Few Are Chosen (which I’ve read and did enjoy) she has come on the blog to show off her shiny new cover – look further down the page and admire the Dangermouse-ness thereof!
Writer, mother of a 2-yr-old, driver of a shiny Lotus and inventor of the flying snurd, she has shared with us the following wisdoms for your delectation…
= = = = = = = = =
Name: M T McGuire
One-sentence biog: M T McGuire is 43 years old but still checks inside unfamiliar wardrobes for a gateway to Narnia.
Author of: Few Are Chosen, K’Barthan Trilogy 1
Genre/s: Humorous fantasy, if you have to pin me down but don’t ask me to tell you an age group or I may have to kill you. It’s aimed at a type of person and a mind set.
OK, I can’t do the book but I can do the trilogy, which goes like this: A cowards falls in love and thinking with his trousers sets out to win the girl, if he wants her he’ll have to save the world… but can he?
When you write, do you have a routine or habit?
No, I have an addiction. Writing, for me, is like a bad crack habit. If I don’t manage to write a certain amount each week I go a teeny bit mental. More than a teeny bit as McOther and McMini will probably attest.
What kicks off the book – a character, a situation, a plot-point?
Usually music. I will be listening to a song when I’ll see something in my head and think, ‘ooo that looks interesting’ and take it from there.
How much do you know in advance?
The beginning, a couple of emotional flashpoints or moments of extreme violence, a bit of conversation and the end.
Do you write character notes or background information?
Nah it’s bad enough having it all banging around in my head without trying to write it all down. If I had time to do more than the bare minimum pukkha writing I might.
Do you do research and how?
I try to establish parameters and rules which the plot, the science and the world I’ve created must stick to.
Do your characters do as you intend or do they tend to run away with the plot?
Oh they run away. Completely. The Pan of Hamgee, the male lead in the K’Barthan Trilogy was a bit character originally. Someone for another character to have an amusing conversation with in gaol. The minute I typed his name, he took over. I don’t think I’m the only writer this happens to.
Do you have clear visuals of places or characters?
Very but it’s not always easy to describe. The pictures on my website of my characters are exactly how they are in my head (only badly drawn).
When you have writer’s block, what do you do?
Draw the characters, market my previous book, or write something else, even if it’s just long tracts about how I can’t write.
Are you indie or trad-pubbed?
What made you go that route and why?
To be trad pubbed it needs to be immediately obvious how my work could be marketed and what box it fits into. It’s clearly commercial but it doesn’t obviously fit in a box. Also I need to find an agent. I did try for a year after finishing Few Are Chosen during which time I managed to get polite ‘no’s’ from 5 of them. I do appreciate they’re busy and I can imagine the pressure they are under but I’m 43 now and I decided that I would quite like to see my work in print before I die. So I published it myself.
How long since you published your first book?
A year and a bit. K’Barthan 2 is due out next spring. Thank you everyone for waiting patiently. Writing and looking after a toddler does not make for a quick sequel.
Is there anything you wish you had known before you started?
The above. Oh and make your first book stand alone. Only start with a series if you are a complete nutter.
If you were starting from scratch today, is there anything you would do differently?
Pretty much everything although I’m happy enough with the way it’s turned out.
What is the most important thing for you about having your book published?
That when I have bludgeoned people into it – usually at gunpoint – nearly everyone who has read it likes it. I find this slightly amazing and I am waiting until the moment when the bubble bursts and I get covered in soap!
What are your views on self-publishing?
I think it’s brilliant.
From where I sit, it looks as if the publishing industry has trouble investing in new talent. Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I worked in an industry which comprised many small companies, much the way publishing used to be. However, the many small companies were gradually bought up by five or six big ones, much the way publishing has been. Having experienced working in that model, I can imagine what goes on. In my field a product which was considered a money spinner for a small company suddenly became a loss maker when we were part of a group. As a big group, we had higher overheads and costs so our products had to make a consistent 30% of operating profit to break even. Some of our products made 5% or 10% and they were binned or the rights sold off. I can’t help wondering if this has happened in publishing. I’m guessing that if it is, it might explain why nothing seems to be countenanced in publishing unless it’s a sure fire monster bank.
On the upside. I guess that means something has to come out of the woodwork which can and will make those lower margin, niche-but-profitable books pay. Enter indie and self publishing. No-one in the industry is ever going to take a punt on my book but maybe, if I can build up a readership and a following, they will. And, if, after that, I am not the next J K Rowling, at least my books will be out there. Money is lovely (mwah ha ha haargh) but this is, essentially, about reaching people who will enjoy my books. If they do I don’t mind if there aren’t that many of them.
What are your views on e-books?
I think they’re excellent. They have no shelf life and they allow people like me, who have written a slightly weird book, to reach people who might enjoy reading it directly. And those people are there, just not in big enough quantities to appeal to a publisher.
Also let me just say how much I love e-ink. Please god let them make it in colour, so it’s like a computer screen only not. It’s saving me a fortune in paper and electricity charging stupid batteries because unlike reading on screen, it gives me that sense of removal required for editing.
E ink. Colour. Soon. With touch screen. Go on lovely techies. Kissy kissy. Please…
Do you have/are you considering getting an e-reader? which?
Yes I do. I have a Kindle, because I’m a sheep.
No-no, I’m not a sheep, honest. Actually, I didn’t think I would possibly find a use for a kindle but McOther wanted to buy me something for my birthday and he offered.. Round about that time, it occurred to me that if I write e-books it might be smart if I had a vague idea how they looked on an e-reader.
Now I have it I am delighted with it. Not only do I read more but I have access to lots of books I have absolutely loved which I’d never have been able to read without it. Indeed, I read one book in 2010 (I’m a stay at home parent with a toddler so time and head space can be thin on the ground). I bought an e-book reader in June 2011 and I’ve read about 15 books since. Not much, I agree but a hell of a lot more than I was reading before.
Did you have your cover made/work edited/proofed by someone else?
Yes, yes and yes.
Seriously, get your work proof read by a professional and don’t get it done on paper because if you do you’ll put a whole new raft of mistakes in when you do the alts. Get it done by someone who will correct the document. Blindingly obvious that but publishing gold and yes, despite a 12 year career producing print, it’s a nugget I missed entirely.
If you know a decent designer, get them to do the cover and think hard about what you want first. It took me about a year to realise what I wanted. Once I did, I discussed it with the designer and get something that was close but would also work commercially. They did a fantastic job. A Trouble Halved in Stratford-upon-Avon if you are interested.
What do you do to market your book?
Not nearly enough! Mwah ha ha haargh. Actually, I think it’s a good idea to have something out there free, more than a sample, a story. In my case I have some very bad shorts which I don’t know what to do with and a prequel to the K’Barthan Trilogy called Unlucky Dip. Don’t be daunted by conversion rates though. I reckon freebies work like a mailshot so about one in every hundred will buy something. That said, there are lots and lots of freebie sites so, in theory, you can get that hundred readers several times over.
Are you on any social media? Which do you prefer?
I’m on Facebook and Twitter ( @mtmcguireauthor ). I also visit forums; kindleboards, mobilereads, amazon.co.uk, goodreads and the like.
What has proved your most successful marketing method so far?
Interviews, reviews and posts like this.
Have you read and enjoyed any other indie authors?
Who? JA Clement, naturally, (JAC: clearly a woman of taste!) Danny Gillan, Lexi Revellian, Ali Cooper, Melanie Dark, Joyce De Bacco and I have a whole truck load in my to be read folder which I haven’t yet done.
Have you any tips for other authors?
If you’re self publishing, think about the basic stuff. Trust me, in my real world job I produced reams of print in a year and I assumed I would not be at home to Mr Cock-up. Unfortunately, when I produced my book, Mr Cock-up, his family and most of his relations took over my guest room for some weeks. There is a lot of really, really obvious stuff that I missed. Here’s a purler; when Few Are Chosen came out I didn’t actually say anywhere on the cover that it was part one of a trilogy. How stupid was that? Naturally, a few people complained about the end being a bit abrupt.
(JAC: Yes, well easy mistake to make, sure lots of people have done that. Er…well at least one person in the vicinity has done that!)
Are there any resources you have found really useful?
Yeh, Simon Royle’s indieview site.
= = = = = = = = =
So there you have it, peeps!
MTM’s book is worth the reading, and you should all go have a look at it – and of course there is the short story Unlucky Dip if you just want to start with a small snippet.
So, in the run-up to Christmas what else can we expect? Next week we have a guest blog from Lexi Revellian, author of Remix, Replica and a new fantasy series starting with Torbrek and the Dragon Variation.
In Christmas week I’ll be writing my own Christmas post – and if you have any requests for that, leave a comment or message me on Goodreads!
And in January I will be bringing you assorted posts from other authors along with (I hope) a new release or so of my own.
If you haven’t yet subscribed to the mailing list (if you’re looking at this on https://jaclement.wordpress.com you’ll see the nice shiny “Get the gossip” button over to the right) then please do so, as apart from anything else I’ll be mailing out a discount code for Book 2 to anyone on the mailing list – and there may be advance review copies going, you never know….
In the interim though, have a good weekend, and if you have any questions for MTM or myself, please comment below!
See you next week: