|Author Michael Prescott|
Michael Prescott knows what he’s doing. He’s a popular thriller author who terrorizes us with nightmares about the serial killer next door. He has published over twenty suspense thrillers and sold over 1.5 million eBooks. According to USA today, his books have cracked the top 150 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books several times and his thrillers have logged over 42 weeks on USA TODAY's best-seller list. For an author who thought his career was dead in 2009, when twenty-five traditional publishers passed on his nineteenth thriller, Riptide, things have turned out rather well. The secret? A long backlist, a crisp, clear vision of modern story-telling, a daring move to self-publishing and perfect timing.
Welcome to MB4, Michael. It’s a pleasure to have you here. Let’s go straight to the heart of the matter. You are one of the bestselling eBook writers in the United States. How did you do it? And are there some specific elements that you can pinpoint as keys to your success? Why do you think you were able to thrive in the self-publishing industry?
It was largely a matter of luck. I started putting out my books just at the moment when eBook reading devices were taking off. I have a large backlist, and all the rights had reverted to me, so I was able to self-publish a lot of books very quickly. I priced them at 99 cents, so they sold fast.
These days the eBook market is much more competitive, and the 99-cent price point doesn't work so well anymore. If I were entering the eBook marketplace now, I wouldn't do nearly as well. I was in the fortunate circumstance of being in the right place at the right time.
Looking back, how has your work changed since you began to write in the 1980’s?
My horror novels depended largely on shock value - blood and gore. I don’t go in for that so much these days, although my most recent book, Blood in the Water, does have its unpleasant moments, mainly involving a toothsome rat named Virgil.
Some of my early books were overwritten; they got bogged down in long descriptive passages. I made significant cuts before reissuing them; in the most extreme case, I trimmed 25,000 words from Shadow Dance. Streamlining description is a general trend in fiction writing these days. Books are getting to be more like screenplays. People are more sophisticated about storytelling and don’t require so much hand-holding from the author.
With twenty-some novels under your belt, what is your favorite part of the publishing process? What is your least favorite part? What do you think is the most daunting challenge to writers pursuing publication in today's environment?
My least favorite part of the writing process is coming up with the idea and developing it into a capsule storyline. That can be frustrating, and it takes me longer than I’d like. My favorite part is editing a scene, putting it through various revisions until it works for me.
With regard to publishing, as opposed to writing, I always hated having to wait for the book to come out after I'd finished it. Sometimes it would take a year or more, and the book would be a lot less fresh by the time it hit the stores. Of course, self-publishing eliminates this problem.
The most daunting challenge for writers today is to stand out from the crowd. The upside of self-publishing is that you're not dependent on the tender mercies of agents and editors. The downside is that the marketplace is flooded with books, and it's difficult for a newcomer to attract attention. It can be done, but often it requires a certain degree of savvy about social media and self-promotion. People who use Twitter, Facebook, blogs, promotional giveaways, bulk email messages, and other tricks of the trade will have more success. The book Let's Get Visible by David Gaughran offers a lot of ideas about raising your book's profile.
Thanks for the recommendation. What have been the most significant moments of your career so far? What are the main challenges you’ve faced in your writer’s life? What are some of the sweetest rewards?
Probably the most significant moment was when I heard that my first book, Manstopper, had been accepted for publication. For the first time I felt like a real writer. Prior to that, I’d sold a few magazine articles and had done some work as a screenwriter for low-budget producers, but selling my first novel made me feel like I had a real career ahead of me.
The biggest challenge has been to persist in the face of professional ups and downs. I've had to change my identity more than once in order to re-launch myself. It can get discouraging when you're on the verge of breaking out and then the sales figures fizzle and you have to start all over again. You feel like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain, only to have it roll back down. But the reward, besides the obvious one of producing a body of work that you can be proud of, is the ability to work at home, set your own hours, and make a living by doing something that you would probably do as a hobby.
Is there a new novel in the wings? What’s next for Michael Prescott?
Back in 2013 I started a new series featuring a female private eye named Bonnie Parker, who moonlights as an assassin in cases where conventional methods don't go far enough. Bonnie, by the way, is named after the distaff half of Bonnie & Clyde. I’ve put out two books in the series so far, Cold Around the Heart and Blood in the Water. A third book is in the works now. I expect to publish it later this year. I'm not a very fast writer, and this book has endured a lot of delays, but it's coming together pretty well. I like the character and the series, and I hope to continue with it for a while longer.
Thank you so much for sharing your writer's journey with us! And to our MB4 readers, there's more of Michael Prescott next week, when he will discuss his bestselling take on crisp, fast-paced, modern storytelling.
About Michael Prescott
After twenty years in traditional publishing, Michael Prescott found himself out of work in 2007, his career apparently over. On a whim, he began releasing his older titles and some new novels in eBook form. Much to his amazement, sales took off, and he became one of the bestselling eBook writers in the United States.
Amazon link: http://goo.gl/o0vug2
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.
When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for Murder By Four, an award winning blog for readers and writers and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.
To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at www.doramachado.com , email her at Dora@doramachado.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.
The Curse Giver's Amazon's Link: http://amzn.to/1szECCn