Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Michael J. Brooks, Science Fiction

My name is Michael J. Brooks. I am a science fiction author. My most recent work is Republic Falling: Advent of a New Dawn (book #1 of the Wars of the New Humanity series). Currently in progress is Republic Under Siege: Threat from Within (book # 2 of the Wars of the New Humanity series).

From Planning to Published

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:  I am an independent author. Being independent, I don’t have a publishing company influencing my work, and I don’t have to send submission after submission and get rejection after rejection before publishing, or seek out an agent to get my work into publishers’ hands. I can cut out the middle man and release my work when its ready.

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:  My work is published on Amazon (ebook and paperback) and Barnes & Noble. Ingram Spark is my wholesale distributor and allows my books to be available online through multiple retailers, and possibly get picked up by book stores.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author: Reedsy is a great marketplace to find editors, but the professionals on Reedsy can be expensive. Fiverr is a good place as well to find editors, and you can find some there who are less expensive than Reedsy but are still great. You can also find beta readers on Fiverr.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author: I have a website and social media platforms that I use to promote my books and communicate with potential readers and my fans.

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author: In the past, I got reviews from groups on Goodreads or Facebook, sending people free books for a free, honest review. Now, I have discovered Book Sirens and NetGalley, which allows readers and reviewers to read advanced reader copies (ARCs) of authors’ books, and then those readers and reviewers post their reviews to sites like Amazon when an author’s book is released. A lot of big publishing companies use NetGalley. There is a cost associated with both websites, Book Sirens and NetGalley, but I intend to include them in my marketing budget. I am excited about using these sites in the future to see what results they bring.

Also, I enter writing competitions, like the BookLife Prize and Readers’ Favorite’s competition, which, even if you don’t place in any of their categories, you get a critic’s report/critique that you can use for marketing.

How do you promote your content?

Author: I promote my content through social media and the use of Amazon ads.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author: I think the most critical component is getting reviews and praise pre-release and getting reviews after the release of your book. Reviews are social proof of the quality of your work.

About Your Work

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author: I mainly write science fiction but intend to write some urban fantasy and fantasy in the future.

How many works have you published?

Author: I have published three works: Exodus Conflict, Exodus Conflict: New Genesis, and Republic Falling: Advent of a New Dawn. My latest work, still in progress, is Republic Under Siege: Threat from Within.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:  Republic Falling: Advent of a New Dawn is book one of the Wars of the New Humanity series, a page-turning sci-fi thriller that explores socioeconomic hierarchies, class warfare, ascribed status, group identity, war politics, and more, in a world where humanity wages battle in mechanized combatwear called Shells, humans Link in mental communion, and life throughout the universe is vast.

In the book, Randal Scott, Guardian of the Commonwealth Defense Force (CDF), wants nothing more than to deliver retribution to the man who killed his mother and mentally scarred him forever. That man is his father, former CDF captain, Arson Scott. After establishing a wonderful life for his family and nurturing Randy into manhood, Arson mysteriously joined the insurgency threatening to collapse humanity’s intergalactic republic and partook in his wife’s murder. Randy’s lover, Guardian Stacie Spencer, also enlists into the CDF for personal reasons, to forge a life free of her aristocratic parents’ control. She will shape her destiny, no one else.

Now Randy and Stacie, who are Linked (joined in mental communion), enter a bloody war that has Randy questioning both of the combat forces in opposition, the CDF and the insurgency known as the Coalition of Rebel Factions.

What do you want your readers to get out of your works?

Author: I hope that the themes within my work will resonate with readers. For example, Republic Falling explores the theme of seeing things from the perspective of others to sympathize with their misfortune.

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author: The part I am working on the most is marketing. Marketing is how authors get books in the hands of readers. So I am constantly studying how to market my books, and I am always looking for new ways to market my books.

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author:  WC Bauers, William C Dietz, Linda Nagata, David Weber, Nicholas Sansbury, Richard Baker, and others. I found them by browsing books on Amazon and Scribd.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author: Yes, I have always read in my genre. It makes it easier to create new stories because those books provide influence and inspiration and lead me to new ideas. Therefore, I am always reading science fiction, to continue to learn more about writing the genre.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:  I am what you would call a pantster or gardener. I’m not like an architect who can develop and outline of a story from beginning to end and then write it. I start with an idea for a story, and then that idea grows as I write. The same is true with my characters. I’ll have an idea for a character, then as I write that character, they grow and change and I discover who they are.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author: One of the hardest things to overcome would be watching my book not get any sales at times. Sometimes you start to question yourself and your skills. But I believe that selling books has a lot to do with not only writing skills but marketing as well. Another hard thing to overcome is the stigma that comes with being an independent author. I feel independent authors’ books get stigmatized as being “low quality.” And yes, a lot may be low quality in terms of editing and story development, but not all of them. I believe it is up to us independent authors to put out good quality to fight that stigma.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:  I combat writers block by stepping away from the computer and doing something I like, such as working out or going on a run. What also helps me is reading science fiction books as I write my book, which is something I do constantly to get influence and ideas, and discover new verbs and adjectives that I might use.

What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?

Author:  When I first started independently publishing back in 2012 I wasn’t aware of these terms: advanced reader copy (ARC), blurb, query letter, sell sheet,  developmental edit, line edit, copy edit, beta reader. These terms are definitely important for me as an author. They are important to competence of the profession.

Fun Stuff

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author: I write in my home office or coffee shops. I love coffee shops!

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author: I am currently reading Blood and Steel by Josh Hayes and Devon C. Ford and 36 Streets by T.R. Napper.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author: I have learned that I am an exceptional world-builder, as told to me by critiques and editors.

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author: Coffee or an energy drink like Zoa, Monster, or XS.

How can readers follow you and learn more about your books?

Author: They can go to www.authormbrooks.com and they can follow me on Twitter at @AuthorMBrooks.

Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Erin Simpson, YA Science Fiction Fantasy

  Erin is currently on submission with The Blood Farm and working on a new book called The Blinder.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      Like many writers, I’ve been interested in stories since childhood, but I started “seriously” writing about eight years ago

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      My first completed manuscript, a Tower of Babel retelling, took several years (I’ve lost count of how many) but I never queried it. My second novel, The Blood Farm, took three years from conception to when I signed with my agent.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      Traditional, all the way. I’m not gifted in the areas of graphic design or marketing; I would so much rather leave those projects to people better equipped to handle them and focus on the areas I am gifted in: writing.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I write the kind of books I like to read and, for me, that means YA. Because I spend so much time in that age category, I think my writing naturally takes on the characteristics of that group.

What is your publishing process?

Author:      Because I have my eye trained on trad pub, I’m pretty much forced to follow the basic model: querying, submission, acquisitions, print.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I’ve been very fortunate to have found several wonderful critique partners by putting out calls on social media. Twitter, in particular, has a very vibrant #Writing Community filled with thousands of writers looking to connect. Sometimes it takes a while to find people who truly connect with you and your work, but when you find them, it’s magic.

After I’ve completed a manuscript and put it through rough edits, I send it out in batches of 2-3 readers at a time. I would strongly recommend multiple readers to anyone relying on beta feedback as it helps identify areas that are “issues” as opposed to what might be personal preference. As a rule, if more than one reader comments on something, I take an extra look at it.

With edits, each batch takes about a month. After two or three editing rounds, I send it on to my agent, who responds with her own list of edit suggestions.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      As an unpublished writer, I’m still working to develop my platform. Currently, I maintain a twitter account (@Ekaylasimpson) and an author website (eksimpson.com)

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      I think it’s very difficult to be objective about your own writing. You develop such an emotional attachment to what you’re writing that sometimes you’d blind to the problems within it or, vice-versa, overly harsh. This is why having beta readers is so important.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      The first time I submitted a story for critique I was emotionally unprepared for the feedback. Whether it’s a critique group, a literary agent, or an editor, you really have to develop a thick skin.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I would have written more when I was younger. Plenty of writers put out books while juggling day jobs and families, but I regret all the free time I had in my early twenties that could have been used to hone the craft.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      Accountability partners. Having someone check in just to ask how things are going makes a huge difference.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      Sometimes it’s about being patient. So often writers want to “push through” by sheer force of will and, while that can work, other times you need to give yourself time to consider the story from different angles.

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:      So many non-writers don’t realize how difficult it is to actually write a book. It’s one of those things that look straightforward on the surface, but only because you don’t see all the layers that are built up underneath; it’s those layers that make an engaging story.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      It depends on the story. The playlist for my current WIP is a mixture of Norwegian folk songs and Imagine Dragons.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      Sitting in bed is my favorite place (we live in the country and there are windows on three walls so the views are fantastic) but we have three kids so more often than not I’m writing at the kitchen table or in the car while I wait for someone to finish piano lessons.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      Sawkill Girls and The Ghost Bride

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      I love a good enemies-to-lovers plotline but I haven’t had the opportunity to use it myself.

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:      I read a lot of book blurbs and I’ve found there are a surprising number that have basically the same plot (oppressed magical people fight to overthrow non-magical ruling class etc). I’ve found that focusing in on day-to-day activities not only opens up unique stories (maybe the main character doesn’t care about overthrowing the government, she just wants to open a magical bakery), but makes character struggles more relatable. Not everyone wants to upend the monarchy, after all.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:      I’m a terrible procrastinator

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      Coffee

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:    Usually at least one child, asking for a snack