Today, Author Mike Wells joins us to discuss his success story. He shares some valuable social media and writing wisdom, that would benefit anyone trying to grow and market a brand online, whether its a blog, book, or side hustle.
Mike Wells: Bestselling Author Discusses Social Media, Success, And A Peek Into his Writing Process
He is also known for his young adult books, such as The Mysterious Disappearance of Kurt Kramer, The Wrong Side of the Tracks, and Wild Child, which are used by English teachers in high schools and colleges worldwide. At one time a screenwriter, Wells has a fast-paced, cinematic writing style.
His work is often compared to that of the late Sidney Sheldon, with strong and inspiring female heroes, tightly-written scenes, engaging action/dialogue, and numerous plot twists. He currently lives in Europe and has taught in the Creative Writing program at the University of Oxford.
Mike now lives on the island of Cyprus with his wife and 1.5 year old daughter, with another on the way in October.
My questions are in bold, and Mike’s responses follow
How did you become an author?
I started writing stories as a teenager, wrote my first full-length novel in my thirties and kept writing them all the way up to my fifties, trying to get a major publisher to take them. I burned through four literary agents doing this but could never work out a satisfactory deal with a publisher, never liked how they wanted to change or market the book. During this time, I also wrote some screenplays and did reasonably well with a couple of them.
With the advent of ebooks I decided to take the plunge and self-publish my novels. I designed book covers, wrote blurbs, etc. and uploaded most of the books I had written (all the best ones!) I also started writing new ones. One of those was Lust, Money & Murder which has exploded into a 12-book series, with no end in sight—readers can’t seem to get enough of it.
Is writing side hustle or your main gig?
Writing has been my main gig since 2011, as I said, when ebooks began to boom. I had a full-time job at that time.
After publishing all my books as eBooks on Amazon, iBook’s, Nook, etc. I went to half-time for a couple of years so that I could devote more time to writing and promoting my books. When the income rose to the point where I thought it was safe to quit my job completely, I did, and I haven’t looked back.
It’s great to be able to focus on it full-time, but knowing that I am 100% dependent on my imagination and skill to make a living can be stressful.
What is one thing you have learned being a successful author?
Well, one surprising and interesting thing was how difficult it is to purge 100% of the small errors and typos from a book. I never realized this until I started publishing. I have to use a whole team to do it, and finding the right people took a while.
They’re fantastic at what they do I could not publish successfully without them.
What’s one mistake you made that you wish you could change?
I don’t really believe there is such a thing as a mistake. If you decide to do something and it doesn’t work out the way you planned, it’s a learning opportunity. You couldn’t avoid making that decision with the knowledge you had at the time.
If I had to do it all again, I can’t think of anything I could have done differently.
I like where I am now, and it took all of the successes and failures combined to get here. -Mike Wells, Bestselling Author. Click To Tweet
What advice would you give someone starting out?
If you’re just writing as a hobby, and you don’t really care about making money at it, enjoy yourself!
If you’re writing with the hopes of earning a living at it, be prepared: you are about to enter one of the most competitive fields in the world. I think it’s even more competitive than, say, becoming a Hollywood movie star. To do that, at least you have to pick up and move to Hollywood.
Today, anyone can upload fiction from any point on the planet, as long as there’s an internet connection, just like you can. They can also use social media to promote their work, just like you can.
So, we are talking about thousands competitors in every fiction genre, no matter how small it might be, with new ones popping up every single day. And some of the people are so driven and ruthless they would almost sell their mothers into sex slavery to see their book hit Number 1 on some bestseller list.
In all likelihood, when you publish your wonderful book you will see zero sales unless you roll up your sleeves and start working very, very hard.
- The first step is to discover that maybe your wonderful book isn’t so wonderful and needs significant editing and improving to satisfy readers, who are very demanding about quality these days.
- The second step is to realize that, unless people know about your book, they won’t buy it, no matter how great it may be. I’ve been through all this already. It is a long, hard climb.
What are you most proud of?
Surviving the trauma of what I just described.
Seriously. That and being able to live on the beach in a nice climate and write full time. I am beach bum at heart—I’m most comfortable and relaxed in a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals.
Many authors and bloggers have trouble finding time to write – do you have any tips?
Well, I wrote the entire first trilogy of Lust, Money & Murder while working full-time. Every word was written during 1.5 hour train commutes, in a hot, cramped stuffy seat with people babbling on mobile phones all around me.
I believe that if you really want to write, you can squeeze the time in somewhere, even if you have to get up an hour earlier in the morning or whatever it takes to make it happen.
I believe that if you really want to write, you can squeeze the time in somewhere, even if you have to get up an hour earlier in the morning - Mike Wells, Author Click To Tweet
What suggestion do you have for people that are looking for ideas or inspiration for stories?
For me, I read the news online and also do online research about various topics (crime, usually) that I’m interested in possibly writing about. A lot of my book ideas were sparked by this.
For example when I was researching currency counterfeiting, I ran across an article about “supernotes,” fake American $100 bills that looked so real that even experienced Secret Service agents couldn’t tell the difference. This inspired the idea for Lust, Money & Murder and the Elaine Brogan character.
Also, scandalous tabloid newspaper stories, in particular, provide lots of plot ideas.
What advice do you have for authors looking to get published?
Well, you have to first decide whether you want to control everything yourself (self publish) or let a publisher do everything for you and be happy with the results, even if they’re not great (publish traditionally). I have a blog post about this question—it can be a complicated one for a writer to answer.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to the day when one of my book becomes a movie or TV series. This has not happened yet but I have a feeling that if I keep cranking out good material, it will eventually.
How has social media impacted your brand?
Social media has created my brand. Or rather, I’ve used social media to create it. Without social media, I would have had a very hard time building my reader base.
What does your social media strategy look like?
My social media strategy is very simple – I use it to give away free books so that readers can become familiar with my writing before they spend any money, which minimizes risk on their part.
Where can people find you online?
Mike is offering for a limited time, Book 1 of his bestselling international thriller, Lust, Money & Murder, as a free download to introduce new readers to the series. Click Here
Running a brand, promoting, and marketing can be a challenge. How do you manage it all? Any apps, books or tips that you use?
Well, I have a background in business and marketing, so it’s hard for me to put myself in the shoes of someone who has no experience in that area. Still, I would say the best thing to do is pick out the authors you like and respect and study what they do on social media, and imitate them. Even with my experience, that’s mostly what I did, and it worked for me.
How important is fitness?
For me, fitness is crucial. Sitting still for many hours behind a computer, being completely in your head, needs to be balanced with some hard physical exercise. Six days a week I either swim, ride my bicycle, or go for a 40 minute run. This “clears the cobwebs” in the brain, gets the physical energy flowing and keeps the body in shape.
Also, some of my best ideas and plot breakthroughs come during these times, not when I’m sitting at the keyboard. In fact I would say that half my writing
You are known for your crime and suspense books; what is a geeky fact that your readers may not know?
Sure, I’m a Star Trek (original series) and Twilight Zone (original series, too) fan. I have all the episodes of both those series and know them by heart, practically.
What is the one thing you wish everyone knew?
All the money in the world won’t buy you happiness. Happiness is in the here and now, appreciating what you have, all the good things in your life.
Thank You. Mike, for sharing your success story! I hope everyone takes Mike up on his offer for a free copy of his book.
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