SHALLA CHATS with author Michele Scott
“A Publisher wants my Book! Now what?”
First off, who’s Michele?
Michele Scott writes two new mystery series coming soon to your local book stores, the Wine Lover’s and the Quarter Horse Mystery Series. She started writing seriously in 1991 and after 12 years and almost as many manuscripts, finally got the call.
She majored in journalism at USC but always knew from the time she was a little girl that she wanted to write fiction. She lives in San Diego with her husband and three children. She grew up in San Diego where her family raises Quarter Horses and she worked in the wine industry for a period, all the time working on her writing.
Shalla: Michele got the call last year and now her first book, MURDER UNCORKED, comes out May.
Hi Michele, do you mind if we jump straight into the technicalities?
Michele: Not at all.
Shalla: Great. We like to know about agent-house negotiations like… How much time before things worked out and contracts were signed?
Michele: In my situation everything happened very fast. My agent was waiting to see the first book, which I didn’t know she wanted to do as a series, and she wasn’t my agent at that point.
Once she received the manuscript she read it in a day, signed me, and then asked if she could give Berkley a two week exclusive, which of course I said yes.
The day before the two weeks were up they made an offer, but they wanted a series, so I was asked to write up a short synopsis for the next two books, which I did in a couple of hours and by the end of the day we had a deal. With the horse series it was kind of the same situation.
Berkley, my publisher was given a 24 hour exclusive. Then my agent sent the work out to three other houses. Two came back with an offer, but one was with the same parent company as Berkley, so we had to withdraw the proposal because Berkley wanted it, too. I wound up signing again with them for three books in that series as well.
Shalla: Did you have ongoing communications with both agents and editors? Or did you just talk to your agent and let him/her finalize things with the publisher?
Michele: I let my agent do all the talking. That’s her job and she knows what she’s doing. I now have a relationship with my editor whom I speak to often.
Shalla: When you finally got your editor, how did the editing process of your manuscript begin?
Michele: She read through the manuscript, and wrote a page of notes, and then detailed each change. I was lucky because most of the changes were minor. There was only one area where I really had to make a significant change.
There was also something I personally wanted to change and so through e-mail and a few conversations over the phone we were able to get it done. We’re both pleased with the changes and once she read over the revisions she didn’t ask me to do anything else.
Shalla: Did your original title get changed?
Michele: Yes it did. I originally had the title GRAPES OF DEATH. My dad came up with it and I really liked it. I’m not good at titles. The new title is MURDER UNCORKED, which I think is cute and works well.
I don’t think Berkley will change the title on the horse mystery. The title is SADDLED WITH TROUBLE. My agent came up with it and I love it. So, I’m hoping they don’t change it.
Shalla: What was the timeline on revisions?
Michele: I had about six weeks to do them in. I did them in about three weeks.
Shalla: Is the publishing process like what you expected?
Michele: Yes and no. It takes a really long time from the time I signed the contract to the time it hits the stores will be a year and a half. But this is average from what I’ve now learned.
It’s a slow process and that is something I’ve had to accept. You know as writers we want to see our babies out there, but we have to be patient and that can be hard.
Working with my editor is great, and what I hoped for and expected. She’s supportive, fun, and really great at what she does. There’s also a lot that goes into marketing that I kind of figured on, but I would say that I now spend half of my time on the marketing/business side of things.
Shalla: Finally, any tips out there for the writer out there whose dreaming to get to where you are now, (published)?
Michele: Yes. Sit down and write. I don’t care if you only have five minutes a day—write everyday. That’s how you get a book done.
Once that book is finished write another one. Study the craft. Read books on writing, the business, and books in and out of your genre. READ. Don’t expect to write that first book to be published, In fact, you may not want to send it out. I know you’re saying—“What?” But think of it this way—it takes a doctor years to be an MD, a lawyer has to go through years of law school and tons of exams, a musician has to practice everyday, etc. You get the drift.
My first book sits in a box in the garage, and it is so bad. I thought when I wrote it that it was great, but it’s not, and neither was my second book. My third one was better, and it got better from there. It took me eight manuscripts. Learn the business, learn the craft and sit your booty down and write.
If you love writing, you’ll write no matter what and inevitably you will get better. Tenacity pays off in this business. Also, always have another pair of eyes—someone who knows the business, and can be completely honest with you—not your mom or husband.
Shalla: Thanks so much! So, do you have a website in case we like to get more info?
My website will be up in July. However if readers would like to get on my newsletter they can e-mail me with the caption of NEWSLETTER in the title box and I will be certain to notify them when the book is released, and when the website is up.
The website will be a lot of fun and there will be one page available to view in a month. There will be recipes, wine pairings, info about wine and horses, as well as excerpts from the books and recommended articles and links for writers.
Also, if readers want to do this, I will gladly send them out a free recipe and wine pairing. When the website is up, please go to michelescott.com. Also, I will be speaking in April to the San Diego chapter of SISTERS IN CRIME, in September at the OCC RWA chapter and also in September at the KISS OF DEATH conference in San Antonio. I hope to meet some of you. If you will be at any of those venues, please come and say hello. I LOVE to talk with other writers.
Best wishes and cyber fireworks to Michele. We at Shalla Chats send our best. Please come back and talk with us again.