My name is Robert Michael, and I am terrible at about me’s.
How long have you been publishing?
I’m fresh to the field, having published my first novel in December of 2014
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Tell us about your latest book.
The novel is unconventional. Many of my reviewers have claimed that while they thoroughly enjoyed the book, the work is unlike anything they’ve ever read. This is likely because of the writing style. There is poetry and pacing to the book that allows it to flow from one paragraph to the other. I’m proud to say that the book is amorous, decadent and original.
Who are your major influences?
It varies from book to book. I feel I have two separate styles. One leans more on entertainment, the other is literary. That said, on the entertainment side, I’d say Quentin Tarantino and the Cohen Brothers are big influences with regard to their storytelling and character development. On the literary side, I’d say it is a culmination of different works. Khalil Gibran, the Bible, Shakespeare. The influences will vary depending on what I’m trying to write. Music is also a big influence. I try to listen to Original Soundtracks or Scores as they help me set the tone for my work. The Dalia and the Dilemma leans heavy on Clint Mansell’s soundtrack for The Fountain, whereas my published novel The Retirement of Coconut Jim features popular music from the Vietnam era.
Is writing your full time career?
Writing is a passion.
Do you see writing as a hobby or career?
I see writing as a creative outlet, and I mean that in the literal sense. Writing/reading is a way for people to disconnect from where they are and plug into somewhere else. Instantly. I prefer to think of it as a hobby, because hobbies are fun.
What made you decide to become a self published author?
I wanted the control over my work. I feel my work is good enough to stand on its own merits. It’s not to say that I wouldn't consider offers to have someone else publish me, it’s just that I believe in what I've written. Given a chance, I feel people would be fascinated by my work.
Do you feel that your material is different than traditionally published authors?
Absolutely. And I've been told that.
Do you deal with issues that traditional publishers don't normally touch?
I love to deal with non-traditional issues. No issue is taboo for me. When you take a step back and look at the bigger picture of everything, you realize that everyone has their own thing. Some people like lakes. Others like oceans. Some people like Condos, others prefer mansions. It’s not to say that any of these things are better than the other. Rather, they are unique to each person. So why would novels be any different? The challenge is that people enjoy mainstream because mainstream is comfortable. To use another water example, it’s like going down a main river versus trying a rapids. One is very comfortable and safe, the other gets your heart pounding. I like my work to make your pulse thump. So if that means creating characters or scenarios that are uncomfortable, it’s ok. Because what may turn one person off, makes another’s day. Or, better still, what once was taboo, now is interesting and becomes mainstream. I won’t do a plug for the book but thanks to a certain author, handcuffs and spanking has never been more popular. What was once taboo…
Who edits your work?
I use a lot of Beta readers for finding things like plot holes, inconsistencies and general feedback. I use Goodreads recommendations for finding editors that will fix up grammar, sentence structure and all that “fun” stuff.
Who does the covers to your books?
I found one person via Fiverr for The Retirement of Coconut Jim. The Dalia and the Dilemma cover is my own.
What are you willing to spend money on, as a writer? What aren't you?
I’m willing to spend money on editing and cover design. Marketing is something that I feel isn’t worth the investment, at least at the moment.
What is your favorite part of being self published?
I control the flow of my material.
What is your least favorite?
The unstable income.
Do you do your own promotion, or hire someone?
I do my own.
What has been the most productive tool for promoting your book?
Facebook is great to let family and friends know what you’re up to. Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram are good to get new readers. Youtube (book trailers) tends to lend credibility to your work.
Do you have Facebook/Twitter? How effective are they as promotional tools?
Yes. They certainly help attract followers and bring attention to the novels. However, they aren’t the best at closing the sale.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give someone just starting out in self publishing?
Yes, you can do it. No, it’s not going to make you a millionaire overnight. No, you will probably not be the exception. None of that matters though. You wrote a book because you love to write, not make money.
If a publisher came knocking, would you make the switch? Why or why not?
They would have to have some very appealing terms. If a publisher wants to work with you, you’re doing something right and they know that in time, their investment in you will pay off. Why make the switch? Well, everything from an advance to negotiating future books, they promote you, credibility, there are lots of reasons to switch. So long as you’re switching for the right reasons, I’d consider it.
What other creative outlets do you have? Music, film, etc?
Film. I have my own film company and have produced various media.
What does your family think of your writing career?
They are very supportive. But I’d still do it, even if the weren't.
How important are reviews to making sales?
Reviews are imperative. Think about a restaurant you've wanted to try, but you can’t find any reviews on it. How comfortable do you feel spending money there? The same goes with a book.
How do you deal with bad reviews?
It depends on what the reviewer has to say. There’s always room for improvement. Negative reviews/cruel reviews that are bitter just to be bitter I ignore. It’s easy to tear a book apart. I challenge those same people to write a book of their own.
Do you also review other writers?
How do you give a bad review?
I don’t. I focus on what worked for me. If there were things that I didn’t understand, or that confused me, I’ll state that. If there was serious grammar errors, I’ll suggest the author look for a new editor. But to say something is “bad” just because I don’t like it isn’t helpful to the author. You want people to improve on their next work. You want to encourage people. To do that, constructive criticism is best.
What changes would you like to see in the self publishing industry?
I’d like people to value it more. There are gems out there, you just have to find them. Another reason for the importance of reviews.
Do you participate in Amazon's KDP Select program? Why or Why not?
I did. I felt it was useful for the holidays. People have more time to read.
What would you like average readers to know about self publishing?
Just like small businesses, every little bit helps. Often time books are listed for $.99. Spare a dollar, read a good book and write a review and spread the word. It will make an authors day. It really will. And you’ll be helping the economy!
What's the biggest frustration with being a self published writer?
Defining what success means to you, then finding that path.
Do you write to music? If so, what kind?
Yes. That depends on the scene and book I’m writing. As stated earlier, I’ll write to a score or an original soundtrack. Sometimes I like to turn to Spotify or Pandora and explore the music. I like violins and pianos, dark melodies and deep lyrics for literary work. For the entertainment novels, I feel popular music is best. My sister is an expert at determining music trends and has often predicted an artists rise to success. So I skim some tracks off of her playlist.
Could any of your books be made into films?
YES! The Retirement of Coconut Jim was actually a screenplay before I adapted it into a novel. But the Dalia and the Dilemma is going to be the novel that changes the way books are turned into movies. The moment I am in a position to start negotiating movie rights for the Dalia will be the moment that I make history as both a film maker and a novelist. Buy the Dalia, leave a review and help me make it happen!
What actors would play your characters?
Funny you should ask. Because I just so happen to have a cast list for the Retirement of Coconut Jim at - http://theretirementofcoconutjim.tumb...
The actors would never agree to what I’d what them to do for the Dalia and the Dilemma. Just for kicks however….
Sir - Colton Haynes/Theo James
Lovely - Shailene Woodley/Kristen Stewart The Dalia - Willem Dafoe/Gary Oldman
Sanders - Donald Sutherland/Christopher Lee
Do you go to writing conventions? Why or why not?
I’d like to. I haven’t yet.
Do you blog? Why or Why not?
I vlog. Last year I tested out some things with length, editing etc. Starting April when I publish the Dalia, I’ll be doing a vlog every few days. However, my Instagram is utilized daily.
Do you have any certain ideas or ideals that you try to instill in your work?
Philosophy. Love. Luxury. Minimalism. Art. I enjoy exploring the human experience. It’s important for me to have characters. Flawed, terrible, wonderful vivid characters. But the most important thing I instill in all of my work is growth. Every character grows or evolves in their own way.
Why do you write?
Because it costs too much to make movies.
If you had to stop writing tomorrow, what would you do?
I would close my eyes and dream forever.
Does self publishing carry a stigma?
Sometimes. It’s hard to get people to take you seriously. I’d receive a much bigger uptick in sales if I said “Penguin Publishing bought the rights to my book! Check it out.” It’s bizarre. People would be willing to give money to the publishers based on nothing more than a name and the word “publishing” after it, rather than give the money directly to the author.
What would you like readers to know about you from your work?
I want people to know that all growth requires darkness. Everything that is beautiful was once ugly. Challenges are nothing more than tears in sinew, facilitating muscles.
If you could talk shop with any other author, who would it be?
What have you learned from reading other people's work?
A lot of stories are similar.
Do you read more ebooks or physical copies?
Ebooks. Though if I like something, I’ll get physical.
Do you think the traditional publishing format is an endangered species?
Nope. In fact, traditional publishing is about to turn into something totally different once Hollywood sinks it’s claws in.
What would the consequences be of the demise of the traditional bookstore?
Every consequence has a benefit. The real question is, given the demise of the traditional bookstore, would it be helpful to authors, or hurtful.
Links and Social Media
Instagram - https://instagram.com/robert.michael/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/RobertMSolomon
Author Website - http://robertmichaelofficial.tumblr.com/
The Dalia and the Dilemma Excerpts and Trailer - http://thedaliaandthedilemma.tumblr.com/
The Retirement of Coconut Jim on Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R3QZHFW
The Retirement of Coconut Jim Cast and Soundtrack - http://theretirementofcoconutjim.tumb...