Last time we checked in with you, Micheal, you were working on Verliege plus six other new manuscripts. Six! Which of those books have been published? Have you ventured into any new writing territory since then?
Micheal Rivers: First, let me congratulate you on your new site!
Verliege and Appalachia Mountain Folklore were released. Thanks to the readers, I am proud to say Verliege was voted 2012 Supernatural Book of the Year by Turning the Pages. The other books are still in the works and coming along nicely. I have one that is out of my genre and is based on an actual person. Needless to say names and places have been substituted to protect him and any others involved in his ventures. I think the readers will find it very interesting.
How have your social media habits evolved or changed over the last year? Do you concentrate your efforts on one or two sites?
Micheal Rivers: My social media has been a challenge from day one because there are so many places to meet with readers and try to reach them. Evolution was inevitable in any case. I try to equal the time on as many as possible and still find it difficult to keep up with the changes. With my work schedule I wonder sometimes how I get anything done and have a tendency to miss some questions at times. For that I apologize for not getting to my readers sooner.
Which would you cite as the most significant changes in the publishing industry as a whole over the last year?
Micheal Rivers: Major mergers, manipulations and a substantial shift of the marketing to the traditionally published author in the industry have wreaked havoc on the way authors have been forced to try and meet the demands of the publishers. As a result, the shift in marketing is more time-consuming regardless of being self or traditionally published. Due to that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find the time to write. There are a few authors out there that have been able to read the cards and do well for themselves, but the industry is still trying to lean toward the ways of the big six as they slide through the back door.
So far, what has been the best marketing choice you have made when it comes to connecting with new readers? How do you measure the results?
Micheal Rivers: I really can’t say there has been one particular method that has worked. Twitter is great for free promotions; however, I tend to find Facebook and especially Goodreads more valuable connecting with readers. There are several I use for paid promotions some more pricey than others. I especially favor the sites that send out an email to their readers. You have to stay informed of new sites and go with what those have to offer if they have given a glimpse of a proven track record. As always, a writer should beware of the scams that are out there. Many new authors fall prey to them due to their naivety. There is always something new coming along, kind of like the latest fashions, constantly changing.
The results are usually shown in the sales. I compare statistics after running a promotion to find which marketing tactics and sites are best to use. Reviews are another way to measure results. An example would be my novel Moonlight on the Nantahala. I thought it was more of a ladies read, boy was I surprised! Several reviews were posted by the male gender on Amazon, young and old. In essence, reviews allow you a better glimpse of your audience and who to target.
With regard to your books and e-books on Amazon.com, how important do you think it is for an author to reach a Top Ten list? Which of the follow do you think factors most into Top Ten list success for an author: book cover, number of reader reviews, or book price? Or is it a combination of the three?
Micheal Rivers: It is important to reach the top ten. After the relatives and friends have purchased your books you have the real industry to deal with. If you can achieve the top ten Amazon basically takes over and does the promoting for you. Being on the top ten gets your name and your work to the public for their consumption, that is not to say that you cannot have some modicum of success off of the top ten. This is where the real test begins to find out whether or not your work is worthy of recognition from potential publishers whether they are small houses or one of the big six. It can be a wakeup call for any author.
Your book cover is extremely important. Readers see it before they ever see your name in most cases. It’s your first step forward to introducing you and your writing. Through research it has been shown the quality of the reader demands the price. Usually the book price does not matter when it comes down to the mentality of the reader.
It is a general consensus that the more reviews your book has, the better it will sell. I do want to add that a book an author has written is not for everybody. Therefore a writer will not receive a good review from everyone so don’t be disappointed by a poor review. In a nutshell I believe it takes a combination of all three depending on the reader.
What can we look forward to from you in 2013 and beyond?
Micheal Rivers: I will be releasing at least one of the books I have in the works, possibly two but I have not decided on the one I want to release as of yet. There is a lot more to come and a few that will be quite unexpected from this twisted mind.
Thanks Ashley for having me with you here today and allowing me to provide an update.
Thanks for sharing your updates with us, Micheal!
ORIGINAL INTERVIEW WITH MICHEAL RIVERS FROM DECEMBER 18, 2011
The interview series with authors in my Twitter community continues with Micheal Rivers. Enjoy!
Q: What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
MR: My genre is mystery/thriller in actuality. Some of the publications do not have that particular slot and list my work under Sci/Fi because of the paranormal aspects of it. Others classify my work as Horror or just paranormal. It is all in who you speak with it would seem. I really can’t say it was a matter of choice rather than walking into what you already live on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s like shaking hands with the dead and having them take a seat to copy their memoirs.
Q: How many books have you published? Legacy published, self-published, or a combination?
MR: I am a hybrid, I have a brick and mortar publisher; Schiffer Publishing Ltd; as well as being an Indie. I publish some of my work as e books through Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble and others. I have tried to cover every format I could so nobody gets left out if they want to read one of my books. My books Ghosts of the North Carolina Shores and soon to be released in spring Appalachian Mountain Folklore are through Schiffer. I have five for now with more to come.
Q: Tell us more about investigating and collecting stories of the paranormal! How has your work in this field influenced your novels?
MR: I began collecting stories from an early age due to events that were happening around me. My life has always been anything but mundane. You might say all of it became a second nature. The more I traveled the more stories I collected because people wanted to share the events with me. As a young man and through the years I tried to unravel the mysteries and see what was causing the hauntings. There are different types and various degrees of haunting. The equipment has gotten a lot better and a lot more reliable. I am lead investigator for a team called the Smokey Mountain Ghost Trackers. We investigate areas where hauntings are reputedly happening and we try to debunk or find proof of an actual haunt. My wife was a great skeptic until she married me. With my books; even though the story line may be fictional; adding bits and pieces of actual hauntings; or paranormal activity give a story a life of its own.
Q: Do you sell copies of your novel, or other works, directly from your website?
MR: In my website there are URL’s that will take you to Amazon and others to buy my books. Sometimes I have those who would like an autographed copy. When this is desirable all they have to do is visit my site and leave me a message.
Q: How much time do you spend on Twitter each week? Do you have a Facebook Fan Page?
MR: Time on Twitter; Lord, yes there is a lot of time spent
there I really couldn’t count the hours. I do have a fan page on Facebook and welcome everybody who would like to stop by and say hello or just stay awhile see what happens.
Q: Do you blog? How often? Strictly professional or a blend of all things?
MR: Blogging is something I do but I don’t get to do on a regular basis. I try to blog as often as possible and I have Author interviews as well as a few tips here and there on my site. I also write some articles for a magazine called Supporting writers one book at a time by Eri Nelson. There are some guest blogs also that I do for others. It is a blend and you will find some very good Authors there.
Q: Do you have a motto or favorite quote you turn to on tough writing days?
MR: Yes, I do “Where are the words I have gifted thee, have you seen them and know them not?” Who wrote that? I did in a fit of panic just after midnight while writing a novel called “Scratch” in 1996.( This novel has not been released) The words came to me and I wrote them on the wall of my office with the closet pen available. Just my luck it was a sharpie.
Q: Have you outsourced editing, cover design, formatting, web design, marketing, etc?
MR: Yes, I think everyone has to outsource parts of their work. I collaborate as much as possible so I am able to assure the quality I am looking for. Items like my website etc. I feel should be dealt with by professionals in their field.
Q: Do you work with a writing group?
MR: No, I do not work with a writer’s group personally.
Q: When you did you first decide to self-publish? How much time did it take to get from an idea to an ebook on Amazon?
MR: I spoke with a writer in the late 90’s at a writer’s conference in Colorado and he suggested I look into self publishing because the industry was heading that way. Ideas hit me like a streak of light and then the journey begins. The time from conception to an eBook or printed version can take as much as a year or more depending on the work.
Q: Have you published any of your work for free? Why or why not?
MR: I don’t feel quality work from any Author should be given away freely. A great amount of time and a slice of self is lain before the public to consume. I have only introduced my stories or books for free on promotions or to book reviewers.
Q: What tips or advice would you offer to writers who are about to join the self-published community?
MR: The list is long and many writers will have more to add than just these few. However the ones I will give you here are not to be taken lightly for your future. Your cover is just as important as what is written on your pages. The cover will have a great influence on a lot of buyer’s choice, it tells who you are. Edit, Edit, Edit, and then edit until its’ perfect. Nothing will turn away a reader faster than a boat load of mistakes. Many good stories are totally destroyed by poor editing. Believe me the word will get to others much faster about a bad book than a really good one.
Q: Is there another writer (or two) in the Twitterverse that you would recommend newbies follow?
MR: Yes there are a handful of new writers I am following, but the top of the list is Mr. Glenn Starkey. I like his style and I believe he will go far.
Q: What is coming up for you in the next few months?
MR: Very exciting!!!! I have my latest by Schiffer Publishing Ltd in the spring coming to my readers. I am half way to releasing Verliege another paranormal thriller and I have six more manuscripts in the works including (due to readers demand) the sequel to the Black Witch.
Q: Do you have (or are planning) any audio books?
MR: I was approached about making some of my stories in the audio platform, but I have made no decision concerning it at this time.
Q: Have you done a blog tour? Any advice or cautions?
MR: Prepare to dedicate a lot of time for a blog tour, its’ not for the faint of heart. This is a great opportunity to connect with fans as well as new readers.
Q: Do you create an outline before beginning a new book?
MR: My outlines are not the usual outlines you will find anywhere. They make no sense to anyone except me. I rely on my story board as much or more than I do an actual outline. Sudden outbreaks of insanity send the story in another direction at times and have to be followed.
Q: Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
MR: Currently I am working on six. I run aground on one and turn to the others until what I need comes to me and then I return to the original manuscript I was working on. Makes for many sleepless nights; Tahitian music helps.
Q: Do you use specialty software?
MR: Shhhhh my secret. Yes I do; two types actually. Final draft is one of them. I also have three different types of software I use for book trailers.
Q: Tell us about some of the hurdles you've cleared on the path to becoming an author. Did you have any idea at the start what the process really entailed?
MR: Unless you are already in the business you are in for a treat. I didn’t have the slightest idea I would have to become high tech and agreeable. LOL Hurdles come by the dozen when you are trying to learn the wonderful world of writing. The publishers all want something different from you and I had to learn how to get them what they want in a timely manner while juggling life. You learn something new every day because the industry changes like a soldier with wet socks. I have learned more about marketing than I ever wanted to know. It is mandatory or you’ll be struggling without a life jacket; so I learned and still have the changes headed my way to contradict what I already had to practice. Thank goodness my wife is a very patient woman.
Q: What is the best comment/compliment you have received about your work?
MR: I love all the comments I have received from my readers. The kindest words that let me know I have succeeded in entertaining them are the words; “I couldn’t put it down.”
Q: Let's flip things around for a moment. As a reader, which of the following do you take into consideration when deciding whether or not to purchase a book?
MR: Reader reviews: Knowing the industry you have to gather more
information on the author than just the reviews.
Number of books already sold: I totally disregard.
Book cover: If the cover is bad I won’t even bother to pick the book up.
Word-of-mouth: This will make me take a second look and possibly
buy the book.
Book summary: This has a lot of impact it tells me this writers style and
whether his story is something I would read.
Author's blog: I will read the blogs for the sake of seeing what he writes
when he is not in a formal setting.
Author's Facebook, Twitter, and other social media: This is always a way
to learn more about the Author and his books. He may have another book I
prefer over the one that is being advertised.
Book price: If I like the book the price is not a factor.
Q: Thank you, Micheal, for sharing your publishing experiences with us. We wish you continued success, and hope you'll come back and share updates with us in the spring!
MR: Thank you for having me here. I would love to come back and visit with you and your readers. “Be the host to your ghost”
Purchase Links for Micheal Rivers' Novels:
The Black Witch in Paperback on Amazon
The Black Witch in E-book on Amazon
Moonlight on the Nantahala in Paperback on Amazon
Moonlight on the Nantahala in E-book on Amazon