Wednesday, February 17, 2016

PUYB Chats with Michelle Bellon: 'Start writing your next book. Write. Write. Write.'

Michelle Bellon lives in the Pacific Northwest with her four children and boyfriend, Seth. She loves coffee and has an addiction to chapstick. 

She works at a surgery center as a registered nurse and in her spare time writes novels. She writes in the genres of romance suspense, young adult, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. She has won four literary awards to include making finalist in the New Age category in the USA Book Awards for her latest release, The Fire Inside.
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About the Book:

Title: The Fire Inside
Author: Michelle Bellon
Publisher: Booktrope
Pages: 206
Genre: New Age Fiction

Aiden, a doting husband and father, had the perfect life - a job he loved, a beautiful son, and a loving wife. In an instant, everything is taken from him and Aiden believes his life is over. Falling into a deep depression Aiden all but gives up on his job, his friends and himself. But when a mysterious force grants him the power to heal those around him, Aiden is forced to pull himself out of his misery in favor of the greater good. When he meets Ryan, a hardened, pessimistic teenager living on the streets, and Norma, a woman whose marriage is crumbling around her, Aiden acknowledges that maybe life still has a purpose and this ability to heal may be more powerful than he ever imagined.

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Thanks for joining us at our virtual book club, Michelle! Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

After I finish a book, I always send it to a professional editor before I begin querying agents. Once it is ready, I begin the grueling process of shopping it to agents that I would love to work with. Because it’s an extremely difficult industry to break into, this can be a long process, and at some point along the way an author has to decide when to keep going on the path of finding an agent and when to break away and choose a different path to publishing. With The Fire Inside, I pursued a few key agents who expressed interest and when that didn’t pan out, I found Booktrope via word of mouth from various other writer friends who have enjoyed working with them.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the ebook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

I’ve only self-published one of my books, Jaded. For that experience, I did pay a fee to have Createspace format the ebook. The entire process of self-publishing was an eye-opening experience and a lot of work. I’m glad to have experience in that side of the publishing industry.

If published by a publisher, what was your deciding factor in going with them?

I chose Booktrope because they have a team approach that I found intriguing. My experience so far in the publishing world has been fairly lonely. What I mean by that is once you have your book out, you’re pretty much on your own to promote and market it. When you sign with Booktrope you join a vast community of other writers, editors, cover designers, promoters, etc. From there, you build your own team composed of a project manager, book manager, cover designer and editor of your choosing. The team splits royalties based on a determined percentage. You now have a team of people who care about and are invested in your book. You don’t feel so alone anymore.

If published by a publisher, are you happy with the price they chose?

I am happy with the price they chose. I think a lot of small presses make the mistake of making their books too expensive and in a competitive market you just can’t do that unless you’re already a best-seller.

How did you choose your cover?

I was able to peruse the large community of cover designers amongst Booktrope by reading their bios, work history, availability, and their portfolio. When I found designer I felt who might be a good fit for what I envisioned for my cover I reached out to them to see if they’d be interested. Fortunately, I found Amalia Chitulescu who did an outstanding job on The Fire Inside. I described what I wanted and she nailed it the first time. Love it!

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

I rewrote and revised this book more than any other I’ve written before. I’ve been working on it diligently for the past five years. I knew it was special and couldn’t let it go until I was certain it was ready. It’s my baby.

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book? 

I don’t have any for this particular book yet. I did just order a large poster for book signings though.

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?

You know, I’d love to have a book trailer made for any of my books but to be brutally honest, it’s just too expensive to have it done and I’m not technologically proficient enough to do it myself. In fact, it baffles me how much money book marketers and publicists charge writers for any of their services. I mean, they know we writers aren’t exactly rolling in the dough, right? If we were selling enough books to afford those services we wouldn’t need them in the first place.

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

I’ve done many, many free promos and I’ve never seen the benefit in doing so other than gaining a bit of visibility for that short timeframe. It hurts me to see so many authors working their butt off only to have to turn around and give their work away for free. It feels like you’re selling your soul to the devil. Most of us just want to sell our books for 2.99 or less. You can’t even get a latte for that these days.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

*Have as many reviews by reputable readers as you can so that your book has credibility on Amazon when readers look it up and want to know more about it.
*Have marketing already set in motion, like blog tours, interviews, podcasts, etc. This will create immediate visibility to readers.
*Prepare yourself for the hard work of marketing your work. It’s a full time job and can be very exhausting. However, it can be fun too, so enjoy it.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

*Celebrate your accomplishment. I’m terrible about doing this because I never feel like I’ve done enough. I’m learning that isn’t good. There are lots of emotional ups and downs as a writer. It’s important to work hard through the tough times when you feel disgruntled and think about giving up. But it’s also important to celebrate the good things along the way too, no matter how big or small. It’s okay to be proud of yourself.
*Network with as many people in the industry as possible. The author community can be very inspiring to one another. Yes, there are a few out there who are competitive and nasty, but that’s not the norm. We all help each other out because we know what we’re up against and how hard it is.
*Start writing your next book. Write, write, write.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out? 

I’ve been building my social media platform for years, via my website, blog, Facebook, twitter, etc. I engage with readers and writers everyday on these platforms. Readers especially like to have a face to relate to when they find an author they enjoy.

Before the book comes out, I send it out to reviewers. I make a press release. I start posting teasers for the book to garnish interest. I set up blog tours, interviews, etc. These are just a few things a writer can do before the book is even out to make the release a success.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

The diversity of the characters is what is so essential to this book. I wanted to illustrate how, while each of us experience very different paths due to personal background, financial situation, culture and ethnicity and so on, we all experience similar challenges when we face serious life-altering change. None of us are so different when we are faced with raw emotion. So when you interweave the lives of three individuals facing simultaneously difficult situations they have no other choice but to lean on one another. 

I was particularly excited to write The Fire Inside because of its overall message. The characters were so raw and vulnerable in their personal crisis. I knew that by throwing them together the way I did, a powerful and emotional story would inevitably evolve. And it did. I’m so proud of it. I hope readers enjoy it.

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