From Rimbaud to Kill Rock Stars.
As one of the last stops on the Audiobook tour, I had the pleasure of participating in an interview with Lynn over at Two Girls and a Book blog about putting together the audiobook for Slanted and Disenchanted, as well as my inspirations from literary luminaries to indie record labels. See highlights below or head over to 2 Girls and A Book the site to read the full interview!
Why did you decide to publish it yourself instead of going the traditional route?
I knew it was a little out there from all the rock and pop culture references but it was the first time I had written a manuscript without the tastes of an agent or publisher consuming me, which liberated me to write from the heart. Like the Sufjan Stevens lyric, “Are you writing from the heart?” After I wrote it and worked with my editor and beta readers and got the proper feedback to strengthen the story (about two years), it was finally ready to go. I queried it for exactly one week to agents before I said, “what are you doing?” My favorite pieces of art from indie rock albums from homegrown labels like Touch and Go, K Records, Kill Rock Stars… to Rimbaud’s “A Season in Hell” and Anais Nin’s first works were self-released that I figured if my heroes believed in their work enough, so can I and I wasn’t going to wait for a magical e-mail from a stranger to say I was good enough. It was then that I stopped querying and learned how to start a small publishing company with my husband. A year later, we founded Barre Chord Press out of our attic office in France and we specialize in rock fiction. Our first release, of course, was Slanted and Disenchanted and hopefully, after we finish this series we will release work from other authors. It’s a steep learning curve so we’re making all the mistakes with my books so that by the time we acquire authors who don’t have the last name Michaud, we’ll be somewhat pros in the business.
What are the perks of publishing your own books? Quite a few, I’d say. First, I was able to select my cover artist and cover. I was super lucky to get the talented Hayley O’Connor who really brought my characters to life with the amazing cover she designed. The next is keeping my Amazon page clean and current. Because there isn’t enough manpower for publishers to keep up on every Amazon page of every book they release, I’ve seen some Amazon pages look like a graveyard from neglect, and sadly the author has no control over it. I can keep going from choosing the perfect actor to read the audiobook to getting the lion’s share of the royalties…But saying that, it's definitely not for everyone and there were some setbacks like not knowing what I was doing. A lot of this has been a guessing game to see what works and what doesn’t, so it requires patience and faith. There is also the fact that some people refuse (seriously, refuse) to take you seriously as an author because you DIY’d it (Like, I’ve had people flat out not congratulate me because I wasn’t backed by a publisher). But that’s their own stuff and my job is to keep my head down and write my stories that fuel my imagination. This is the Arthur Rimbaud side of me coming out because he believed that writing and publishing had nothing to do with each other. He didn’t fall for the literary pretensions of Paris, where invitations to gossipy dinner parties were the first step in getting published. He believed in the work first, called bullsh*t before it was cool to do so, and published “A Season in Hell” himself. I walked into this project with this in mind and feel guided by the risk-takers before me to keep going.
Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? Not at all! It was once I started getting feedback from my beta readers and influencers providing blurbs who said that the book read like a movie and that it had a cinematic quality, that I started taking the idea seriously.
How do you manage to avoid burnout? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
I’ve been writing since I was seven, so I don’t really know how to function any other way, but one tip I have is to sort of a take from “dance like no one’s watching”. I write as if the work will never be published so I don’t suffer from perfectionism paralysis. This novel has 50k words of “scraps” which could be an entire novella of bad writing!