Episode 88B – Michael Potts – Small vs Big Press

Overview

Michael has had experience with several different presses and talks about his experiences in this second part of episode 88.

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Transcript

Michael let’s talk some author stuff.

Now, some writing publishing before we get onto our discussion topic, what are some things you’ve learned through writing several books over a decade and getting them out and published that you’re doing different now [00:01:00] than when you did at the beginning?

[00:01:02] Michael: At the beginning, I really didn’t have a process whereby I could, I didn’t use an outline.

Really I did. Eventually I’ve learned that you really have to outline a novel, at least for me, some people don’t, some people just write what comes to mind, but I have to have some idea of the direction of the plot. And I would say over time, my outlines had become a little bit more detailed. One thing I have done in writing that I didn’t do before is I would write out scenes like.

On cards. All right. And you can write a screenplay that way, but you can also write a novel that way. In fact, obedience started as a screenplay and then I turned it into a novel. So that’s one thing you can do it. It was a hard pass to turn it into a novel because you got to add in all [00:02:00] your details. And some people think it’s easier to turn a novel into a screenplay, but I’ve found it easier to go the other direction.

And it’s going to vary from writer to writer, but you have to find what works for you. I focus a lot on the, on a lot more on looking at the plot and characterization in general, rather than just doing the line edits that I used to focus on so much as this working, is this not working and I do listen to people’s advice.

But one thing I would say to people in workshops, listen to the people’s advice you think is best and ignore the others people. Oftentimes, oh God, I got to do this. Then I gotta do this. Oh, this person says this. And this person says that they’re going to say contradictory thing. All right. Ultimately it is your novel, your, it is your work or your story.

And the, you have to decide for yourself, what’s going to work and what’s not [00:03:00] going to work. Listen. Yes, take it seriously. If several people say the same thing, make use of it. But I’m not, uh, you know, I don’t pay as much attention to it, so it worries me all the time. I agree. And I

[00:03:15] Stephen: think people need to understand that the guy that writes nonfiction about military hardware is going to have different path and different advice than someone that writes cop thrillers.

And that’s going to be different than the lady who writes a romance. And so you need to think any. And I had this at a writers group where the there’s a couple of guys that write suspense thriller, and there’s one guy who’s reading the opening couple of chapters of his book, and it was a horn story. And it wasn’t till like clear into the third chapter or something that you realize.

The main focus. Character is a ghost and you don’t realize that at first something’s wrong and something strange and it’s a buildup and they were like telling them, oh no, you [00:04:00] can’t do that. You need to put it like first chapter, we need this conflict. We need to know. And I’m like, no, not for her book. A horror book has to bill.

I, if it’s a suspense, okay. Here’s the dead body. Let’s go. But for a horror, it has to have that build to it, to get that feel. It’s a totally different thing. So yeah, you got to sometimes think of the advice and how it applies to you and you’re writing

[00:04:24] Michael: and that’s true. And I recently received some good advice on revising a screenplay.

They told me you need to let it build more. You introduced too many things too early for a horror screenplays. So I’m going to have to work on that. So that’s always good advice.

[00:04:41] Stephen: Yeah, definitely. So when you’re writing a, what software and services do you use?

[00:04:48] Michael: I use, I use Microsoft word, just basic word.

I’ve tried some of the other stuff in Scribner and I find it easier just to work with word you have only worked perfect. We’re still around. That was best. [00:05:00] I like to get the, all the details out when I want to delete something that I did wrongly, you can see all the codes that would them. It’s a lot harder with.

But I don’t really see that you need anything more than that. I have some fancy or writing software. I’ve hardly looked at it. I’m just old fashioned. I’m older. I like writing things on cards and then writing them down, translating that to screen. It’s quite, should I put something online? I’ll a card when I can have it right in front of me and flip them a lot of just going down, up and down and wonder where the heck I.

This is why I prefer reading a hard copy of a book rather than reading on candle though. I have a lot of Kindle books. Oh, it’s just a, I’m a bit old fashioned. Got

[00:05:52] Stephen: it. Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about small press versus big press. Is the topic you thought would be of [00:06:00] interest. Why did you choose that topic and how has it affected

[00:06:02] Michael: you?

When I was in writer’s law to MDSU right. They kept emphasizing getting an agent and Odyssey as well. They have size getting an age of in trying. Yeah, books published by him by a major press. And that was fine until I learned that the average number of books sold through major presses are like under 300 per book.

It’s not that many. And that the major presses are putting the onus of publicity onto the writer now that they don’t really do as much as the prestige of having the precedent appear. Again, more bookstores. Uh, that is an advantage, right? If you have your book in Barnes and noble, but they don’t even accept all the books that come from the major publishers, it’s a selection.

And the, and the end, I decided when I saw a writer’s last session and they had some representatives of small press. I talked to Mike Parker of a word, brash press [00:07:00] and Tullahoma, Tennessee. And I say, well, I’ve got this novel Linda Summers or Southern fiction. Sweet Southern fiction, novel. And it’s about a boy loses his grandfather.

He said, we’ll send it. And he liked it. And that’s how I got started with them. And they’d publish, I’ve wrote a good deal of my stuff. Three novels and one nonfiction book called aerobics for the mind. I forgot to mention that it’s actually my best-selling book aerobics for the mind practical exercises and philosophy that anybody can do.

So he’s been very good to work with. He’s very busy right now. He has so many titles now, hundreds and hundreds of titles. It’s really expanded. So it takes, there’s a longer waiting time and sometimes he just says, we want to get this out. You can watch it, just publish it yourself. And I didn’t want it to go through Amazon.

I’ve gone through Amazon before. And the problem with Amazon, they got that deal where you, they say, oh, we’ll be the only ones that [00:08:00] offer it. And we’ll do all these things. It’s not that much. So I went with graft digital because you can get it as an ebook on Amazon. Through them, as well as all these other services, worldwide 20, maybe 20, 25 services that can get, can sell the book.

Yeah. You’re going to sell most on Amazon, but I like their deal and it’s a really great place to publish an ebook. They do have a baby. Print book program, but it’s, there’s a waiting list. Yeah.

[00:08:34] Stephen: I think that’s opening up more now. I was just at a conference like Kevin Tumlinson was there talking about the print and I think they’re opening it up to more people now use it’s still in beta, but I think more people can get to it now.

[00:08:49] Michael: Good. Hopefully they’ll get to me soon because I’d like, I like having a print book out.

[00:08:54] Stephen: Maybe shoot them an email touch base.

[00:08:58] Michael: Okay, sure. [00:09:00] Yeah, that would be good idea. I’d like to I’d like that to happen as soon as possible. There’s a lot of people would rather buy that. Some people prefer candle, but there’s still enough folks like me that prefer having a hard copy.

I don’t like to hold a hard copy of my books too. Nice. And sometimes just read them over. There are probably advantages and disadvantages to either small press or self publishing, small press. You do get the person doing the cover design for you with most small presses. So my kids, so it has an artist that did the cover designs.

He did do the editing. Now you have to realize when somebody else is doing the editing, they might have a style. That they use that may not be yours. I like MLA or Caribbean, something like that. He uses associated press, which is a bit different, particularly when it comes to the Oxford comma, which I’m not a big fan of, [00:10:00] but okay, fine.

It’s one of those prices you pay and I know, and he has a nice website.

[00:10:08] Stephen: Sorry. I was going to jump back real quick. You mentioned Barnes and noble and getting into it. I haven’t checked into this, but I heard that they’ve company-wide have a new vision and they allow local managers to work different than corporate meaning the managers locally, if there’s a.

Group of scifi, military readers, that they can order more scifi military books. Whereas the other Barnes and noble over here might not order as many. So the managers can do that different. Plus they have the option of taking in books from local people more. So that’s a new thing I’ve heard with Barnes and noble.

It’s something I haven’t checked out, but it could be a way for local authors to get into a couple of Barnes and Nobles close to them. Definitely something that.

[00:10:58] Michael: Definitely because I [00:11:00] did notice that Barnes and noble now has a horror section and they never had a separate horror section before. So they might be open to that.

Yeah. Thank you. I’ll check that out. Definitely.

[00:11:12] Stephen: Let me ask you this. Cause when you talk small, what pops into a lot of people’s mind are the scam people out there that say, oh, we’ll publish your book for $10,000. Give us 10,000 and we’ll put it out there. And then they do a horrible cover. They don’t edit, they don’t do any marketing, they don’t push it.

So really it’s just a scam quote, unquote, small press. Uh, how can people tell the difference between a actual small presence going to do something your book and a scam

[00:11:41] Michael: will a scam will always charge you a legitimate, small press. We’ll never charge you. Yeah, there were some small, yeah, I, yeah, there were some that were charged som, but, and they were trying to be legitimate.

They just couldn’t afford it, but I avoided those two. Because I didn’t figure that I was going to pay any money [00:12:00] to get my book published. And, and Mike certainly never, I don’t know, charge. And I said, okay, good. And they have some other services that they do as well, like hover, but never. Hey, have your book published?

[00:12:14] Stephen: Never, especially in today’s world. You said you went through after digital. It’s that easy to get your book published and.

[00:12:24] Michael: It’s very fast too. You can do it in a couple of days just to get your management ready and prepared. It doesn’t take long at all. Once you do your editing

[00:12:35] Stephen: and with places like Reedsy and 99 designs and other places you can find.

Good quality people to give you a cover to give you edits and to, and drafted digital. Then it’s really just a click in your book, goes out to multiple places to get it published, Amazon and everything else.

[00:12:54] Michael: Yeah. I usually design my own covers because I do a lot of horror photography on yesterday. [00:13:00] Yeah.

So my covers on the draft digital books are mild photos on y’all. So when you see the copy, you’ll see the photo I’d put on the collection of short stories. And yeah, I also have dabbled in photography some and have a website of photos I’ve done various kinds, but one I’d like to do among other types of photography, horror photography.

And I think they turned out pretty well. And I don’t have to pay anybody either.

[00:13:32] Stephen: So have you had anybody at all say your book wasn’t from penguin, random house or Simon and Schuster or anything like that? Have they said, I don’t want to read it because it’s not from a major publishing.

[00:13:46] Michael: Nobody said that per se, I did have a guy when I was having a book sale at a bookstore in Tennessee now closed, but he said, what’s funny, you have all these books out.

I’ve never heard of you more [00:14:00] along those lines, but I’ve never had anybody say this is just self published. So I’m not going to really buy at that because of that. I’m sure there are people who feel that. And there is a lot of crap out there that self published, uh, which is something that annoys me because then they compete against me.

And let’s just say, sometimes people will buy crap. Sometimes as we know, I think I’m a decent literary style writer. And I do think, uh, you know, if I didn’t believe I wrote, I wouldn’t put it out there, but there are a lot of people that don’t care. I going to put out near south, I just showed day on

[00:14:40] Stephen: it. So the guy that said that to you, he knows every author in Barnes and noble he’s seen them all read them all.

So

[00:14:49] Michael: this particular story was at, he apparently did. And he was just being a jerk. I actually sold quite a few books. Those books, sales there, I always did [00:15:00] well. Yeah.

[00:15:01] Stephen: As I was going to ask, have any of your students read your books and give them. Or giving you a hard time.

[00:15:09] Michael: Some of my students have, but generally they like the books.

Uh, they have not said anything negative about it. Yeah. I had, when I left one out, because I think I signed it and I put the wrong name or something. So I just pulled that sheet out. I just put it out on the free shelter school. Somebody snatch it up right away. I know some students have read it,

[00:15:34] Stephen: but they.

All right, Michael, this has been great chatting with you this morning before we go. What last minute advice do you have for new authors?

[00:15:44] Michael: Don’t give up, keep on learning, keep on working and keep on writing because you will get better if you keep on and take it seriously. And eventually you will be published one way or the other.

[00:16:00] Just be sure it’s good when you publish it, but don’t give up because it’s better. It’s a survivor’s field. Okay,

[00:16:07] Stephen: great. Michael, it’s been really fun talking to you today. I appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule and getting on here with us. Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity and you do win the award for best dressed on my podcast.

Oh wait.

[00:16:20] Michael: Great. I’ll take my trophy

[00:16:23] Stephen: at the award ceremony next year.

[00:16:25] Michael: That’s right.

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