We’re talking to authors from all walks of life about their experiences in publishing their book. Some have smooth paths, some rocky, but they all share a common goal – to see their name on the cover of their creation. It’s interesting to read what path they decided to take to get there and my guest today is here to tell everyone what he did in order to make it all happen so that other writers will learn a little something from the experience.
Today we are talking to Mike Faricy author of the crime fiction book, Bombshell .
Mike writes crime fiction tales set in his native Minnesota. His work is populated by whacky, unforgettable characters. The sorts of oddballs and flakes we’re all curious about, but wisely prefer to keep at a distance. They won’t be saving the world from terrorists, international bank conspiracies or government coups. The situations they find themselves in are due to their own bad decisions, but then bad decisions can make for interesting tales. Mike lives with his wife in St. Paul, Minnesota and Dublin, Ireland.
Thank you for your time in answering our questions, Mike. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to write a book?
I was exposed to books and writing from my earliest days. As a little boy my mom and dad read me Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel and George the Pig. I was one of those kids that always had a book going. Story telling runs in the family as a boy I would listen for hours to my grandfather and my dad. Of course I’ve always been a great liar and maybe been known to provide the occasional embellishment on my version of the truth. That said, I can’t really explain why? I just seem to have this need to write. It’s a labor of love, capitol ‘L’ on both words. I love doing it and I work very hard at the task.
Is this your first book?
No, Bombshell is my tenth novel and the fourth in my Dev Haskell series. Dev is a well meaning, often times wrong guessing private investigator with an eye for the ladies. All my books are set in Minnesota, the Dev Haskell series is set in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul. Most if not all of the places in my books actually do exist, the clubs, intersections, corners, buildings are all real places. A number of the establishments I mention have been kind enough to frame my printed book covers and hang them on a wall.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?
Well the first thing I would do is underline the word journey. It continues and I’m not too sure there is ever an end destination, that’s not bad by the way, but it’s on going. I suspect my story is similar to a lot of people. I wrote maybe five or six books, edited, re-edited, passed them on to people to read re-edited some more. I took the criticisms to heart, adjusted, re-edited. I submitted each book to maybe fifty or sixty different publishers. When you submit your work you don’t send the manuscript, you don’t even send a couple of chapters. What you do send is a query letter. The query letter is one page long. It consists of three paragraphs. The first two paragraphs describe your soon-to-be best seller. The third paragraph is a sentence or two about your good self.
Like I said, I would mail fifty or sixty of these out along with a self addressed stamped envelope so I could receive my rejection letter. ‘Letter’ is a generous term, it’s usually a form sentence, maybe two, printed on a 4 × 5 card with no sign of human interaction. Anyway, I led the league in rejections. I received tons of them. Then one day I had one of my query letters returned. I had sent it to one of the big six New York publishers. My envelope was stamped across the front in purple ink “Return to Sender”. On the back of my unopened envelope was a hand written note that read; “This does not fit our needs at this time.” They never even took the time to open the envelope and read two paragraphs promoting my work of genius.
It suddenly dawned on me that Mike Faricy from St. Paul, Minnesota didn’t have a snowball’s chance with these folks. Fortunately now there is a side gate into the publishing playground. It’s called indie publishing. You all the work, but unless you’re John Sandford or Vince Flynn you’re going to be doing all that work anyway. Now, instead of getting rejection slips or envelopes returned unopened I get emails from people from all over the world who have downloaded or ordered a printed version of my books.
As I said the journey continues, there’s a lot to do and it’s too bad I have to sleep because I could sure use the time, but I love it.
What lessons do you feel you learned about the publishing industry?
The lessons are many and largely positive. I fear for traditional publishing. I come out of two industries in my work life that basically don’t exist anymore because of technology advances. I worked in the graphic arts for years. What we used to charge thousands of dollars to do any twelve year old can do on a program like Photoshop today. We were so close to the industry we didn’t see it disappearing. I’m hearing the same sorts of arguments from a lot of publishers who can’t see or hope they can fend off the sweeping changes that are coming. I think for every printed book I sell I probably sell 100 or more e-books. Someone can buy one of my books while she’s in a hot tub with a glass of wine at eleven at night or in-between helping with homework and kicking a ten year old off X-box. That is a huge change in the way the ‘printed’ word is distributed. The other lesson I learned is that the work can always be improved. You need, or at least I need multiple pairs of eyes combing through looking for typo’s and errors. Even books from traditional publishers and big name authors all seem to have errors. I don’t know, maybe it’s budget cuts or time constraints but I think you really have to continually work at getting the best possible product out there.
If you had the chance to change something regarding how you got published, what would you change?
I would have loved to have received a call from a publisher recognizing my genius, offering up a contract and following that up with a movie deal. After all I do write fiction. I think the more I read about the horrific contracts that have been presented to authors, with rights to a work for fifty years after your death or rights signed away for all future works it all seems so crazy. It’s been a very tough road for me. I always joke that most of my work has been written in the dark, before sunrise or after sunset. That’s six or seven days a week like that, essentially working two jobs fourteen to eighteen hours a day, for years. Gee, maybe I really am crazy. On the other hand things have been starting to click for a while, fans emailing asking when the next work is coming out. I’m pretty lucky and I’m pretty realistic, I think in the end just slow and steady with a lot of hard work wins the race for me.
Did you credit any person or organization with helping you get published?
No one person or group, there have been too many people along the way who have offered and given me help. One thing, I’ve never needed someone patting me on the back and saying “Great, go for it”. I can tell myself that. What I have been thankful for is very good people, often times friends who were uncomfortable but respected me enough to tell the truth. “Hey, you can do better, this list of things are what I found goofed up in your work.” That sort of feedback is priceless and I think it can be hard to give. I listen to input from everyone, there may be a variety of reasons I may not agree, but I do listen. I recently got an email from a fan who said she loved my work but she noticed my Dev Haskell character always was with well endowed very attractive young women and well, she really wasn’t a woman quite like that. It got me thinking and in the current project I’m working on he ends up with a woman a little older, maybe a little heavier and he can’t keep up with her in the romance department. I’ve really enjoyed writing it.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Get writing. Don’t worry about spending all your time on social networks, tweeting and blogging. Those things are fine but you still have to write. Strive to make your manuscript the very best possible work you can do. Then have it torn apart by multiple pairs of eyes and pay attention to what they say. You don’t have to follow what they say but you have to listen, and then assess. Oh and keep your sense of humor. Hey thank you for talking with me, wishing all the very best for the New Year. Hope everyone will take a moment and check out my work on Amazon  and don’t forget to tell 2-300 of your closest friends.