Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Interview with Steve McHugh


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
Crimes Against Magic is an action-packed, fantasy adventure that mixes the present day with flashbacks to fifteenth century France.

Nathan Garrett is a sorcerer and thief with no memory of his past. But when the barrier holding his past captive begins to crumble, Nathan swears to protect a young girl who is key to his enemy’s plans. But with his enemies closing in, and everyone he cares about becoming a target for their wrath, Nathan is forced to choose between the life he’s built for himself and the one buried deep inside him.
It’s the first in a series of Urban Fantasy books called: Hellequin Chronicles.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I sent out the book to agents and publishers at the beginning of last year, and got lots of form rejections and a few ‘we like, but not for us at the moment responses. At some point in the process, I just decided that I’d try it my way.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I belong to Kelley Armstrong’s online writing group. They’re an incredible group of writers who are all willing to help anyone get better at their craft. Since I joined them in 2006, my writing came along in leaps and bounds. I don’t critique as much as I used to, mostly due to time constraints, but if I need help on something, they’re the people I go to.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
It was a combination of things. Firstly, control over my own book—when it was published, what the cover was and how much the book cost to buy. It was just something that I knew I’d regret not trying out for myself.

The other thing was that, from my time querying and waiting and wondering, I started to hear a lot from the industry about how much of a flux it was going through. They didn’t seem to know where e-books fit, or how to deal with them. It appeared to me like there was the start of something very exciting happening in the publishing world, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
A good friend of mine who also happens to be an incredible editor, Emma Duncan, very kindly went through the book with a big red pen and corrected all of my terrible grammar. She knows more about grammar and than anyone I know. I’ve had a few others check it too. 

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
I’ve learnt so much. But the one thing I’ve learnt more than any other is how fantastic my friends are. They were willing to give me time and effort to either help promote the book or give me advice about this brand new world I’ve found myself in. And having an awesome artist as a friend goes a long way to getting a great cover.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
For the moment, just Amazon. By the end of May, I’m hoping that it’ll be available on B&N, itunes, Smashword and any others that I can’t think of at the moment. As they’re available, I’ll update my blog with the details.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
Well, I’ve got my blog: http://stevejmchugh.wordpress.com/ and I have an author’s page on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hiddenrealmspublishing. I’m also on twitter: http://twitter.com/ and Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13608133-crimes-against-magic
Then there’s Kelley Armstrong’s forum: http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/forum/index.php 

I’m also doing a lot of interviews on various blogs, which I’ll post links to on mine as they come up, and a few guest blog posts here and there. Basically, I’m everywhere and there’s no escape.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
I’d really appreciate a few extra hours a day, that’s for sure. But, for the moment at least, I seem to be managing okay. There’s also the fact that I’m married with two (soon to be three) beautiful young daughters. I’m a father first, writer second and marketing guy last. So, far that seems to work out okay. And if anything changes, I’ll get my eldest daughter to do all my publicity. She’s already 7 going on 18, she’ll be fine.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
As much as the old adage is ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, everyone judges a book by their cover. That’s why publishers spend so much on getting a good cover. So, my advice is to get the best cover you can get for what you can afford to pay. A good cover will help so much. I’ve had so many people message me asking me about the book because they saw the cover and wanted to know more.  It’s marketing before you even released the novel.

What’s next for you?
I was going to say sleep, but with a third daughter on the way in August, that’s not happening anytime soon. I’ve got the sequel to Crimes Against Magic to finish: Born of Hatred, before I write book three: With Silent Screams