Q1. Mike, it’s wonderful to have you with us for this Q&A. Please tell us about your humble beginnings as an author.
Thanks so much for this opportunity, Nisar. I’ve been writing fiction ever since secondary school and started trying to get short stories published in high school, without success. I built another career in business but kept on writing. When I was 37 I finally finished my first full-length novel, then wrote about ten more, burned through four NYC/London literary agents, and so on. I had enough rejection letters to paper my living room walls several times over. But eventually I was able to get some offers from large publishers. By that time I was starting to realize that the terms they were offering authors were extremely unfavorable for any author who understands business and marketing. At about the same time, the Kindle came out and so I decided to polish up my best books and publish them there, and on iBooks, Nook, Google Play, etc. I become an “indie author”, which of course is just a fancy name for a self-published author. I love it! And the rest is history.
Q2. What’s your writing routine like? Do you keep a schedule for writing or are you more of a spontaneous author?
I don’t think anyone who’s serious about making money, or a living, from his/her writing can be a “spontaneous” author. For us, it’s a job. Inspiring and great fun—most of the time. You don’t get up and go to work only when you’re inspired—you would be cut loose by your employers pretty fast! And with writing and publishing, you would probably never get a whole novel written, let alone onto the market with readers buying it.
Q3. I’ve read online that you have co-authored a lot of novels recently. How was the experience of working with another writer on a book?
For me, coauthoring is a joy when it works and a pain when it doesn’t. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with three fantastic authors and, overall, it was a very positive and rewarding experience. This is particularly true with Devika Fernando, who is a fantastic romance writer and very prolific. We have expanded our Forbidden Romantic Suspense Series into six books now. Coauthoring allows you to expand out into other genres and sub-genres that you might not do that well in by yourself. I think the biggest challenge is finding other authors that you can comfortably work with. That’s the key and isn’t easy.
Q4. I’ve noticed that you write in several different genres (International Crime, Science Fiction, Young Adult, and even one Romance), but you don’t use pen names—you write them all under the name Mike Wells. Why is that?
Good question. I think that this tendency was started ages ago by the large publishers, afraid that readers “pigeonhole” authors, meaning that they think any given author can only write well in one genre. I give readers more credit than that. If they know me through my Lust, Money & Murder Series, for example, and then see that I’ve written some science fiction, most will take the chance and give those books a try, even if they aren’t generally science fiction readers. This theory has turned out to be true—readers who love a certain author often love the style of storytelling most, and genre is secondary. Also, to be honest, I’m a bit lazy. Creating a bunch of different pen names gets very complicated—my time is better spent writing more books for readers to enjoy!
Q5. What mistakes do you think most first-time novelists make who can’t seem to sell their books?
There’s definitely a pattern to this, a learning curve that every author goes through before the writing reaches a level that is both engaging and commercial enough to entice readers to part with their money. Three issues come to mind. The first is believing that great writing is all about beautiful words and sentences. Yes, this is important, but more important is drama. Readers want to be pulled into a story world where there are interesting characters who come into conflict with each other—they don’t want to read so much about babbling brooks and breathtaking sunsets. Second, most new writers include far too much character backstory and information they’ve dug up doing research (for example research on the habits of serial killers or space travel). This information is good to include but it must be scattered throughout the book and delivered in bite-sized chunks so that the forward-motion of the story does not grind to a halt. Maintaining a sense of forward-motion is critical. Third, a lack of understanding of story-structure. Great stories have a certain roundness to them, a clear beginning, middle, and end, and do not require readers to take notes to try to remember who the characters are or figure out the plot. A good story usually has one hero and one villain, for example, not three heroes and seven villains. A good story also does not contain scenes or sections that do not advance the plot. Many debut novels are like a garden that’s grown out of control and are in desperate need of pruning. This is why having a good editor who can work at the story-structure level is crucial (my wife is my story editor and she does an amazing job).
Q6. List your favorite pastimes.
Of course I enjoy reading. I also relish watching movies and TV series. Spending time with my family is my favorite pastime. Also, since writing and online marketing is such a sedentary activity, I try to do some hard exercise every day—that’s one reason I enjoy living near the beach. To stay in shape and clear the cobwebs in my brain I swim, cycle, and run.
Q7. Any advice for aspiring authors?
I actually have a lot of advice on my blog—click on this link: http://mikewellsblog.blogspot.com/p/advice-for-writers.html
Q8. Tell us about your upcoming projects.
My newest release will be Baby Talk #3 – Daddy’s Back, which will come out on Halloween 2018. This is, as you might guess, a horror story, but I would call it “sophisticated horror” that crosses over into the crime genre. It’s about a father who believes his eleven month-old baby is possessed by the devil. After that book will be Lust, Money & Murder, Book 13 – Face-Off.
Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me, Nisar!
Readers who want to be kept up to date with my new releases should join my VIP Reader List (free to join): http://mikewellsblog.blogspot.com/p/join-mike-wells-vip-reader-list-free.html