I had never heard of this genre before I started communicating with Meg Stratton a few months ago. We met in a Facebook group for independent writers, and we decided to check out each other’s work. Meg has given be some great information about self-publishing and has been instrumental in helping me get to the point of being able to publish my book. So I decided to ask Meg for an interview, to learn more about her writing process and her genre. The following are the questions that I sent Meg, and she was kind enough to send back to me, all answered!
Tell me a little about yourself.
So I am a mom, coffee lover, native Washingtonian. I have lived in Washington my whole life and even though it gets more crowded every year, I still enjoy my drive to work where I get amazing views of Mt. Rainier when it’s out, or Lake Washington or even downtown Seattle. This is home for me. One thing I don’t enjoy is my two hour commute back and forth to work every day. I could get so much more writing accomplished with that time!! But I have 4 kids to take care of and a wonderful husband who actively encourages me to write and publish. So I do 12 hour days and then come home to write in the night and on my weekends. Other activities I enjoy is baking, gardening, and reading. Oh my reading that is where this all started for me. The reading.
I had never heard of your genre before. Can you tell me a bit about it?
So I started my Covid lock down reading romance novels at a very rapid rate. Somewhere in that manic reading frenzy I found the reverse harem section. Just an FYI, many people want this genre to change to ‘why choose’ romance. I agree for the many reasons people say the word harem means in other cultures. So you may see more ‘why choose’ usage in the future but today reverse harem is the most common name for my genre. Regardless, I read a book by Stacy Jones that was something new to me. Sci-fi, why choose, romance with aliens!! Oh my goodness I was hooked. I read everything she wrote for that series, book 5 just came out last month, read it in 2 days, on working days! So good.
So ‘why choose’, is when multiple mates partner with one female. MMFM is an abbreviation that is used on Amazon. My book has MMFMMM, so there are a lot of guys with one lady. Sometimes the men are intimate with each other but many times the focus is all on the lady. My books are that way. Each guy in my story brings a quality that my main character needs to move on in her role as the Oracle. The Sci-Fi part in book one of my series is that aliens attack, the world is challenged, and my main female character is part of the action with her guys.
When did you start writing? Is it something you always did, or did you just start recently?
So I haven’t always written. I wrote a blog thing while on a trip I took about 5 years ago, but I never posted it anywhere. It’s was just for me. I didn’t even have my husband read it and he went on a trip with me. So this is new to me. I will say that I didn’t intent to write a book or publish anything. I just started writing.
I read your book, Oracle: Mia, and I loved it. Tell me about what gave you the idea for your book.
Well, I was reading all those romance books and had finished a few of Stacy’s books and my overactive mind sent me a dream. Honestly the dream was only a tiny snapshot of my overall story, but it got me started on my book. I am a pantser, for those that don’t know it means there is very little planning for my books, I just sit down and write. So, I started with that kernel of a dream idea, by the time my husband suggested I self-publish, I had 300,000 words down. Don’t get me wrong, not all of it was good and I had too many words for one book. But I wrote and had a good start.
How did you get started with writing your book?
Well, it started with me just writing down the dream I had. I wrote first in OneNote, I like this as I can add pictures of my characters to help me describe them and give them life. I can add multiple chapters as pages and graphs, charters to keep track of my characters. As a pantser that is important because I forget who I have where without this structure. when I had too many words to be one book, I split up my main characters into books.
How did you organize your book? Did you have an outline, etc.?
Ugh, structure, outlines, charts. I wish I could give you some magic sauce here, but I’ll just be honest and say I am a hot mess with that all. My suggestion: try everything! My first way of building a book in OneNote, adding a new page for each chapter didn’t work out so don’t do that, but OneNote is still a great way of getting a visual on your characters in the same place that you rough draft. Then I copy and paste it into Word where I do edits, cut the fluff and add more as needed. I know I am getting better and more efficient with each edit and book that I write. Just remember that there is no perfect way to do this. Every one of our minds works differently. Just sit and write into Word if that is something you are comfortable with. Some authors have said that they write into a note on their iPhone, whatever gets the words out of you and into the black and white for later reviewing.
How long did it take you to write your book? Was it straight through, or stop and go?
Holy smokes, the first year was amazing for writing. June 2021 to the end of April 2022 was when I wrote 300,000 words. That was when I decided to self-publish. Then it all slowed way down. I was no longer writing. I was editing, revising, learning the self-publishing rules, trying to find new people to mentor me, setting up my business (because when I do something I go all in), made websites, found artists for my covers, and a million other small things. It took me from April 2022 to November 2022 to get my book published. So for the first part of actually writing in a rough draft format took almost a year. To get it to a place where I could launch was 7 months later.
That being said, I still write. Almost every single day. But I have to sit down now and think about it. It has not been as easy as that first year was.
How did it feel the first time you held your book in your hands?
Oh my goodness! Well that was great but what was amazing for me was when you, Debby, sent me the first picture of someone holding my book in their hands ready to read it!! That was the most special moment for me. I think I told you that I squealed when I got that picture, well I did much to the concern of my husband because I am not known for squealing. But wow all the feels in that moment.
What was it like for you after finally pushing the publish button?
So no one knows that I write books, especially spicy romance except for 3 people in my immediate family. 3 of my kids only know that I write, not what I write about. (too young for all that). So pushing the button was a quiet affair. But I will say that there was a LOT of relief. While writing is fun and meeting new people is fun, pushing your words out there for other people to read is the scariest thing I have ever done. But it was such a relief to say it is done, it is gone, I have published something.
What is your most effective means of marketing your book?
So I would say BookFunnel promotions. If you don’t know what that is, I will give a bare bones break down. It is a site that for a cost will keep your completed work on file for your Beta readers, Arc readers and their group promotions. Honestly you can send a copy of your book to anyone you want to review your work if you wish through BookFunnel. They have a sales portal too, but I haven’t looked into it. The thing with BookFunnel promotions is that you can’t give away your book if your book is in Kindle Unlimited (KU). So then you have to have a free prequel that you upload like you would your book that you enroll into promotions to get people interested in your writing and joining your mailing list. Once you join a few of those promotions, people look at your style and see if it is interesting to them and if they want to go get your other book. My book that is free on BookFunnel is my prequel to Mia’s story. It is called Power of the Moon, is about 12k, and set in the early 1900’s.
You are working on your second book. Are you doing anything differently with this one than you did with the first?
So many things!! I am starting earlier with Beta readers. Beta Readers are the best thing ever!! I had 4 Beta readers for my first book. One 1 is a fabulous first-time author for England who put out her first book 2 weeks before me, we have learned so much from each other in that time and keep in touch regularly still. One turned into my editor. She is a great lady in South Dakota who I have recommended a few people to for her services. She put up with all my new kid questions. And one who gave me the best advice on the genre I am in and how my book could be better aligned with that genre, she was from Australia and is a new writer too. But wasn’t afraid to dish out the real talk.
I am more active on social media than before. I will continue there to build my brand. Including new promotions in BookFunnel and trying some other areas to promote my book as I find them.
What advice would you give new or aspiring authors?
Get some 3rd party people who aren’t connect to you as a person, to read for you. They will be the most honest and then take whatever they give you and grow. Are they maybe saying tough stuff about something you spent a year or five years writing? Yes, they are but they as readers that are further away from the work and can see the flaws that you have decided to overlook. They aren’t out to hurt you; they are telling you need to grow.
MORE social media!! I have been working hard since my first book launched to build up my social presence. There are some awesome people in the Bookstagram world. There are some wonderful authors who will help lift you up as you are growing your audience. Get out there and meet them and ask questions! This will help you when you launch your next book. But it takes time, start it early.
- Are there any items on your bucket list that you can’t wait to get to?
Oh man this is tough. I want to write books for a living. But I don’t make any money doing this. So that is why this is a great hobby with good feels when you get a positive review, it is not a living. So I want to get my books out there when I can and be supportive of other authors as they seek this world with me. I want to lift up others and help with their questions. I want to see all of this series and my next one (yes, I already have a next series in mind) grow and mature like fine wine. Other than that, live one day at a time.
Anything else you would like to tell the readers?
First, I appreciate that you gave me this time to talk about my journey to self-publishing and writing strategy. My greatest advice so far is to find that one person you can talk about your writing. Even if they don’t understand everything you are talking about, that you have a support person is so very important. Then get on FaceBook, Instagram, or TikTok, join a writing group, another author’s page, or Bookstagrammer engagement groups. Look for other people at your level or beyond to ask questions. Promote yourself earlier than you are ready to. I know that it seems as if you don’t have much to contribute but you need to be able to share your story when you are done writing, then again when you are done editing, then again when you need betas, etc. Before that, be an advocate, share others wins when they are happy about something, find your book friends.
I can be found on FaceBook, Goodreads, Instagram, and TikTok. Email me, I will do my best to answer questions!!
1st Book: Oracle: Mia (The Oracle’s Journey Series) Available for free on KU
Thanks so much, Meg, for sharing all of this great information with us! I can’t wait to read your second book (full disclosure, I already BETA read it!)! I wish you all the best going forward with your writing!
On another note, my book, “May I Have Your Attention Please” is now live on Amazon, in both paperback and ebook! I have a great launch party last night, and now I am looking forward to more sales and more writing, with plans to release my second book in September, 2023. Please check it out, and if you do read my book, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It would mean a whole lot!
Here again are the links to my Facebook page, Debby Meltzer Quick Author, and TikTok, @dbmquick. Please follow me on these pages. And please explore my page here at debbymeltzerquickauthor.com.
Have a great weekend!