Live, Love, Create!

Ep 9 INTERVIEW with Author Margaret McNellis

September 23, 2021 Margaret McNellis Episode 9
Live, Love, Create!
Ep 9 INTERVIEW with Author Margaret McNellis
Show Notes Transcript

This week I'm talking with author and book coach Margaret McNellis about her debut novel, THE RED FLETCH, and the business of indie publishing.

You can get your copy of her book here on Kindle and Paperback

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Hey, this is Stephanie Bourbon. And this week I'm interviewing author and book coach Margaret McNellis, about her new book, THE RED FLETCH.
 And I'm super excited that she is here we are going to be talking about her novel. 
This is her debut, she is indie published. And we are also going to talk a little bit about the industry of being a published author.

 I'm Stephanie Bourbon. And this is the live love creative podcast for female writers with a focus on fiction, screenwriting and television writing, come back every week for new episodes.

I am here today with my friend, author, and fellow book coach Margaret Margaret McNellis. And we're talking about her new book, I have a copy, right here. 

So tell us about it. Why don't you just give us a little overview about the book, maybe your pitch what it's about, I don't want to like read the back, but people should just buy it and then they will know what it's about now.

Well, thank you, I feel the same way. But I'm happy to share. So the red flash is the first in a trilogy called heroes of Sherwood. It's a robin hood retelling centered around an original character named Alice. And I think you Alice's main problem is that she just wants everything to stay the way it is. And life doesn't work that way. So she has to choose where her loyalties lie. I love that legendary divide.
I love that because that's relevant to contemporary life, too, right?
Oh, yeah, that's the goal. That's the goal.
But you know, I love Robin Hood. So I think it's super exciting. And female protagonists, super excited. I bought this book, and I have a Kindle. But I haven't had time to read it in all transparency. So but I'm going to dig into it very soon because I cannot wait. And
hope you enjoy it.

I'm sure that I will. Can I ask you like, so your indie publish? 
 What prompted you? Or made you decide? Or why did you decide to go that route instead of traditional publishing? Because I feel like this book definitely has really good marketability, and could be traditional or indie and do really well. So I'm just curious why you chose that path. 

thank you, first of all, and I'm happy to share that, I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to my own process. I can listen to feedback, but I like to make the ultimate decisions on things. And so for me that just you know, that screams and I had done other accelerators navigating your path to publishing course. And it was like, you need to do it. That's it for you. But I also think that you know, for and this is not really spoiling anything, cuz it's in the authors now, but for a main character who's asexual in a medieval story. Right now, it just, I felt like there was more opportunity for it in the indie marketplace. And I wanted to learn more about publishing and become a publisher of my own work. So I actually do have a publishing imprint now. Oh, my God. I'm sorry, to the town clerk's office for a trade name certificate, and we're good.
What's it called? Again? I talked I spoke through, oh, that's
okay. It's called Silver Arrow books.

Oh, my God. That's so exciting. I do think that indie is such a huge growing market, and there's so much opportunity there. As long as people don't just use it as a shortcut.
Yeah, definitely. I agree. And this book had about a little over a two-year work process behind it, and all of my books, the way that I've designed, my writing process will have the same because I believe that, you know, they, they need time to percolate. And, you know, they need outside opinions. And it takes time to gather all those and, you know, make changes based on it. I will be working on many books at once, that I can eventually release them faster. But I definitely believe that it's important that each book has its time, you know, develop properly. Yeah,

I agree. And  it's the same in traditional publishing, it's like you write the book, you revise it and revise it and revise it and workshop and revise it and you think it's perfect. You get an agent and then they revise it with you again, one or two more times. And then it goes on you know, submission and you sell it and then editor you revise it again. And you know, by the time it hits the shelves, it's usually quite a bit different. It's usually stronger, but it's quite a bit different than what you started with. So definitely, it's really exciting to do indie, and I, it's so much different than when I started writing novels in 2003 was my first book. It seems like not that long ago, but then I'm like, like 118 years ago.
Time goes fast when you're writing stories.

Yeah, it really does. So let me ask you because I don't do historical fiction like if I did historical fiction, it would be set in the 90s or the 80s. It's just not something I'm familiar with. So why did you choose that? Like, why did you choose to do something tap back then instead of now? I'm just curious.

I was born in the wrong era. I'm pretty sure I was not meant to be born in the 20th century. Here by mistake, folks, now I, I, I feel very at home in the past. But more than that, I think that there are values that were prized centuries ago that I think can still hold importance today. And they don't get talked about in the same way. today. You have an example of Yeah, yeah. So Alice is very much a homebody. She wants her family around her, she wants to be in her home village. 

And it's so important that I don't mention any other village by name and the entire book because hers is all she cares about. She doesn't care about anything else. She's willing to do a lot for her family.

 I think that I don't think that people value their families any less now than they did hundreds of hundreds of years ago, but it doesn't get talked about as much. Yeah, you know, the interpersonal connections that we make, whether it's biological family or found family, we tend to, at least in America be a culture that's driven by Business and Commerce. And those tend to be the things that we talk most about. So yeah, it's nice to kind of like bring storylines and plots back into the past to remind people that it's okay to talk and they should be able to talk about these things that also matter so much to us.

Yeah, no, I love I love that just don't know anything about historical stuff. And I, of course, I read it because you know, I've read all the Jane Austen's like I'm so stereotypically, the classics. A lot of them are historical. So it is something that I'm reading more about. I just I write contemporary, so I tend to read more contemporary, but you're right, like, the storylines are generally different. And I'm writing more romantic comedies again, which is how I started and that is, everything's about the career. And then obviously, there's a romance there has to be if it's a romantic comedy, so they're all set like now and I find that like when I lived in Europe, I lived in Australia family was it was definitely in the forefront. So I love that you said that because it's definitely a different way of thinking.

Yes, it's it's a different set of public priorities. Definitely.

Yeah, that's a great way to say that you're also a book coach. So do you coach just historical or do you coach everything, I coach
a lot of different genres. 
Obviously, I have a leaning toward historical, I love it happy to work with writers in many genres. The key for me is that I like to offer a little bit of witchiness in my coaching, so I combine it with some tarot readings, some astrology stuff like that, that's really where I tend to niche down.

I love that I actually was gonna ask you about that, but I wasn't sure how. Super, super cool. So I'm glad you brought that up. Because it's different to I thought it was really, it's something that's different. You know, you're like, everybody has like, their niche or whatever. I feel like I'm, I'm personally I'm not kidding myself. I'm just very commercial. Like, you know, like, I was trendy in high school. And I, you know, I don't stand out in any way. And I love that you do this, because it's so completely, like different and cool. And can you give me an example of how you do it? Is it like you, like I'm a Pisces, like, you'd find my sign and then you sort of give me a reading based on like, like, because of that the way I work is going to be different than like, Libra or a Virgo. It is true, right? Like my husband. Oh, yeah. Oh, and he's completely different. He's completely different than I am

100% that can affect it, I actually have. So I have a course called weave witchcraft into your writing. And as part of it, I talked about how each person's astrological sign impacts them as a writer and what their strengths might be where they might find challenges, and you know, what they might like to write about stuff like that. And I completely agree that you know, your astrological sign can impact it. My coaching packages tend to be a little bit of a mixture of using the magic to understand the story, and then also to help the writer through the emotional ups and downs of the journey of writing a book.

That's I mean, that's really great for anybody watching Margaret and I got you know, went through the book certification in the same place and like I love how everybody has their different styles the way that they coach and that's why I always tell people who come to me like not every coach is right for you. Like I have only coaching females like I had a lot of male clients before but I've just sort of niche down it's been really great because it's a sort of we become like a camaraderie of females like female writers and you know, supporting, supporting the female writer even though I work in an industry where females do the majority of the writing. kind of ironic maybe I should start one for like spy thriller female writers. I don't know
No, that's awesome. I definitely think that you know, finding your people and the people who are interested in what you're doing is so key and I to have everybody has their own specialty. You know,
any advice that you can give as you are indie publishing now and in 2021, which is different than when I did it in 2003? Is there anything that you could like tell people that might be considering it besides spending a couple of years working on the book, making sure it's great, and potentially working with a coach, which to me is obvious. Or at least an editor? Oh, my God.
Yes, please, please have someone who's trained in story. Look at your book. Yeah. So, my number one piece of advice to people is to make a budget ahead of time because I did not I had a number floating in my head. And I ended up spending about three times as much of that because I wasn't paying careful attention.

 Yeah, I mean, I don't regret what I, you know, what I decided to put money into, I think, you know, having a launch party was a lot of fun. And I'm not going to regret that, especially as this was my debut novel, everything ended up costing me a little bit more than I thought it would I didn't do my research into cost ahead of time. I was a little bit surprised to tally that up at the end. Yeah, not again, not disappointed. It was worth every penny, it can be helpful to know going into it and to decide, you know, where do you want to use time and energy and DIY stuff versus hiring someone.

Yeah, that's true. Because I feel like a lot of people feel like they can just write the novel and upload it to kindle. Right? Because there's my Amazon KDP is free, right? So yeah, upload it, and then boom, you have a book for sale. And there's so much more that goes into it than that, like even marketing, like did you have a marketing plan before you started? Or
I had a very loose one. Before I started it was I'm going to reach out to bloggers. I didn't know what I was doing since then. I've put a more solid plan in place. But it's Yeah, it's definitely been a learning experience. And folks certainly can just write a book and put it up on KDP. But will it be the best work they can produce? Probably not. And I think even if indie publishing, it takes a village I mean, beta readers, editors, book coaches, proofreaders, you know, if you decide to hire a cover designer, whoever you're bringing into this project, going indie doesn't mean doing everything alone. It just means managing it. So it's important to create a budget at the outset and decide where am I going to spend my money? Where will I spend my time and my energy?

Yeah, that's really good. And did you have sort of like a social media plan to or was it sort of like, I'll just do the blogs and post whenever on social media because I find that some writers are like, really good at promoting on like #authortok, like I love TikTok, I follow a ton of authors, and a lot of them are constantly promoting and stuff. And I think it's really good. And Instagram is good. And obviously, Twitter is good. Facebook ads have changed constantly. So I'm not a huge fan of Facebook ads. I'm sorry, Facebook, I love you. But I love you for socializing. Maybe it's because I can't do them. But so did you think about social media at all? When you started it?

I did. And originally, I was going to try and connect with a younger adult audience on Instagram and an adult audience on Facebook. And then about a few weeks before my launch, both my Facebook and Instagram accounts got hacked and deleted. That's right. So all that work was gone. And I had put up so much behind-the-scenes stuff on my Instagram. And it was it just went up in a puff of smoke. And you probably remember I was like, I'm never doing social media again. Yeah. And a couple of weeks ago, I was like, well, I kind of have to that. Because I mean, I could do other things. You know, nothing beats the expediency of reaching readers like that I am now using TikTok, I'm trying to be really active on Goodreads, and Pinterest. Those are the ones for now I'm not really quite ready to dip my toe back into Instagram and Facebook, it's still too soon.

That's like one hacking and you're done. And that's why I think it's important to like you know, also have a website and if you have email followers and have an email list, whether you're any publisher traditional published or you know, wherever you're doing it because then people can find you even when stuff like that happens. And Pinterest is great. Like I was thinking when you were saying that like you could do so you can have so many Pinterest boards, you can even like because it's based on Robin Hood, like you could have all this stuff about Robin Hood and then just link everything back to your site because fans of that will like this especially you know, with the lead you know with the lead that you've chosen, I think any kind of retelling that's different and gives a different perspective like this people will follow but they will find you just because they like that and Pinterest is amazing. Like I love that too I but I'm very visual so that's why but that's when I started on Instagram it was all visuals and then it turned into this thing or Now I use it for my coaching and it's like a different animal you know, like a silly one just for fun. The hacking is scary. It's definitely something to consider is it in any of your local bookstores, I know you're in Connecticut like do is there small bookstores that might you know that you might be able to put it in when my book first came out back then my first book, I did go around to the local shops, and I brought them copies. I think sometimes you can do it both ways where the order, um, but then usually, if they don't make the money, that's kind of bad if they don't sell it.

Yeah. So if they don't make the money, they get to return them. And then you have to pay for the return and shipping and handling. And also to get them to order them, you have to offer a 55% wholesale discount as an indie author, if you don't do that. It's like you better know somebody and be good friends with them because it's not gonna happen. I do have online events I want to plan and get out there. 

I have, I have one that I developed a game based on that medieval Mythbusters funny and they have funny pictures of you know, it's a Kahoot game so people can just like participate on their phones. Oh, that's amazing. Yeah, it's a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun. I ran it at my launch party. It's a lot of fun. I'm going to be presenting at a local library. And you know, I'm going to try to turn it on, turn it into like a fun online experience as well.

Is there anything else that you want to include and I of course, in the notes on the podcast, and YouTube will add, and you know, I'll probably turn this into a blog too. 

So I will add your websites and stuff. So don't worry about it. You don't need you can say them too, but they will be in the notes. So people will definitely be able to find them and also the link to purchase the book. But is there anything else that you want to say as sort of your last parting either pearls of wisdom on writing or anything about your book specifically, or Robin Hood? Or tell us about your next book?

Yeah, sure. I'm a little bit more than halfway through drafting book to the trilogy. And I'm planning Book Three. And I'm already starting to think about my next series, which all say for now is that it takes place in Elizabeth in theatre.

I love that people like you do that. So I don't have to do all the research. Because I will go down the research tunnel and never come out. That's all yeah, it's temporary. Will it be like once a year.
So the next book should come out in March 2023. If all things go according to plan, and then from that point on, I should be able to be releasing two to three books a year.
No, I mean, that's the goal. But it's hard because life gets in the way.
It is as it was on book coaching and teaching kind of funding that journey.

Yeah, exactly. I mean, that's, yeah. That's why a lot of I I coach writers too, on like how to make a living as a writer, and a lot of it's like, well, you could coach other writers perfectly well, everybody can't do it. It's like pretty much everyone could do it. There are so many writers out there and people that want to be writers and you could definitely other people can be coaches too. But that's for another day. Thank you so much been really, really amazing having you. I guess that's it for this particular session.

Thank you so much. It's always a joy to talk to you.
Oh, you're so sweet. It's true.