This is Part Four in my debut novelist series.
I love writing, publishing, and winning competitions with all my short stories… Still I’d love my novels to be read by, you know, readers – and not just sat on my computer!
But will the reality of becoming a debut novelist actually live up to my expectations?
To find out I asked five authors – all with debut novels releasing either this year or early next year – and I’ve been featuring their answers here. In my first three posts, I interviewed Nina D’Aleo, Susanna Freymark and Kylie Scott about their experiences with Momentum Books and Pan Macmillan. Read their answers here, here and here.
Now it’s time to ask self-published debut author, Monique McDonell, about her experience…
Part Four: Monique McDonell
Monique’s novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels was released this May. Yay – congratulations Monique!
Novel: Mr Right and Other Mongrels
Release date: May 2012
Published through: Self-published under Redfish Publishing
One-sentence description: Where dog phobias, hippies and make-over TV meet; “Mr Right and other Mongrels” is a quirky romantic comedy set on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Hi Monique, and thanks for taking part in this series… Now let’s get stuck in!
1. Most of the debut authors I know always look tired. What’s been the hardest part of getting your novel ready for its release?
I think the hardest part of being an indie author is overcoming your own nerves and trusting in yourself to put the book out there. Of course the layout, the edit and cover design are also stressful.
2. When I hear debut authors talking about their publishing experience, they often sound relieved. Maybe you could share your timeline with us?
a. When did you first conceive the concept for your novel?
b. How long did it take you to learn the craft of novel writing?
I’m still learning…
c. How long from final polish to publication?
Gosh, the very final polish happened this year and it was published in May.
3. How many other publishing options did you explore before embarking on this particular one?
I explored a lot of options. I entered competitions. I participated in the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development program. I did agent pitches at conferences. I sent my book to agents and publishers everywhere. I explored most avenues for traditional publishing.
4. What’s been the easiest part of the process for you?
Once I decided to take the indie publishing route it’s all been pretty easy. What I like about this path is that I have control over everything I do – the cover, the layout, the promotion and all the planning. I don’t have to compromise, I suppose, and I like that.
5. Apart from editing your manuscript until your eyes bleed, what else have you needed to do towards publishing your novel? Read and sign legal contracts? Write and approve marketing materials?
There’s a lot of research required before you publish a novel. In my case I had to set up a blog, a facebook author page, commission a cover design, get someone to help me with the layout for the paperback and of course I’ve prepared all my own marketing materials. It’s very time consuming but I think it’s paying off.
6. What promotional activities do you have planned to help launch your novel?
I did a virtual book launch for Mr Right and Other Mongrels on facebook, that was fun. I had postcards printed which have been handed out all over Sydney. I’ve set up my own mini blog tour visiting the blogs of other author’s I know. I also did a subsequent paid virtual blog tour.
7. What aspects have you found most difficult this time around, which you don’t anticipate will be so tricky next time you publish a novel?
Next time around I won’t wait till the book is out to start the publicity and I’ll pre-book some opportunities. Also I realise now how long each step takes so I can allocate my time and manage my expectations better.
8. Which leads me to ask what’s next? What will be your next writing project and how long will it be before its ready for the world?
My next book, Heart’s Afire, is ready to launch in the next month or so. I gave myself an August deadline but pushed it to September. I’ll have a third book out in December. And I also have another manuscript with a traditional publishing house.
9. Finally, if you had just one piece of advice for those of us still out here waiting to have our brilliant debut novels published, what would it be?
My advice is to write what you’re passionate about, what excites you. Literary trends cycle through, but a well told, well written story will always find an audience.
Thank you, Monique!
Next time, I’ll be asking Bruce Lyman, a soon-to-be-published debut novelist with Harper Collins, about his experiences. My last interviewee, will his answers be similar or different to the others? Subscribe using the ‘More Please’ widget above if you don’t want to miss out, or just keep your eye on Facebook or Twitter
In the meantime, are you a self-published author who remembers their first publication well? If so, how did your experience compare with Monique’s?
Or maybe you’re planning to self-publish. If so, what will be your major concerns?