Mary Ellen Hughes interview with David Alan Binder

Post date: Mar 15, 2017 3:04:59 AM

Mary Ellen Hughes interview with David Alan Binder

Bio: Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries, the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. A Fatal Collection will be her debut with Midnight Ink, to be released November, 2017. A Wisconsin native, she has lived most of her adult life in Maryland, where she’s set many of her stories.

1. Where are you currently?

I live in a semi-rural area of Maryland.

2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

Possibly to relax. In the beginning I think I worried too much over every word or plot point. I finally learned to let things flow, then go back and edit as needed.

3. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

All my books came out originally through a publisher, who did all the editing, distribution, and most of the promotion. When I received the rights back for my Craft Corner Mysteries I reissued them as eBooks, created new covers, and promoted as best I could. I enjoyed the new challenge, but it took a lot of time away from actually writing. The upside was a much better royalty percentage. But I still prefer to be traditionally published first.

a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?

Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin Random House, New York City) published my Craft Corner Mysteries and the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries. Midnight Ink (Woodbury, MN) will do my new Keepsake Cove Mysteries, which will debut in November, 2017.

4. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Things have changed so rapidly since I first was published. At that time, to self-publish was unthinkable unless it was non-fiction and strictly for a small, private audience. Now many good books are being self-published. The challenge, though, is how to spread the word about them without a publisher and their team.

When eBooks first came out, few wanted to read them. Now we all download them to our tablets or phones and travel with hundreds in our pockets. Print books are still more popular, but many readers enjoy both for their own reasons. The writing is what’s important, of course, and how you choose to read it is up to you.

5. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

There are no real secrets, since advice can be found all over the place. But the best way to get an agent or publisher interested is to write a book that they think will sell. It’s a business, after all. So, get a feel for what is selling, match that with what you enjoy writing and that you think you can do well as well as bring a new twist to. In other words, something new, but not so new that nobody will be willing to take a chance on it– at least not with your first book.

6. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I sent out lots of queries to agents who I checked out first as reputable. My first two books (the Maggie Olenski Mysteries) were published by a small publisher who didn’t require submission by agents. Being published, even by a small press, made me suddenly more interesting to agents, who then looked at my queries more carefully.

So I guess I’d recommend building a resume of sorts, whether it’s having short stories bought and published, or a novel. That an editor thought enough of your writing to pay for it is the important part.

7. How many books have you written?

Eight books have been published, and one is in the process.

8. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

I think it’s voice. There are probably lots of books with similar plots, but the way the story is told makes all the difference.

9. What are some ways in which you promote your work?

I’ve done book signings, given talks at libraries, and appeared at mystery conventions and festivals. I send out newsletters, have been a guest on many book-related blogs, and chat with readers and friends on Facebook. I pop in and out of Goodreads and Twitter on occasion.

10. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

I’d start much earlier. The more you write the better you get.

11. What saying or mantra do you live by?

Keep at it.