This week, as promised, Writer’s Wednesday explores the careers and writing paths of two different Australian authors.
Assaph Mehr, author of Murder in Absentia, lives in Australia with his wife and family, and, of course, his cat Felix. His love of Roman history contributes to this murder mystery based in a fantasy world full of exciting battles and intrigue. We can only hope Mr. Mehr will be writing more stories with Felix the Fox (Hint: Read to the end to find out where you can find more stories with Felix).
AB: Thank you Mr. Mehr for allowing us the chance to highlight your work for this week’s segment of Writer’s Wednesday. Which book has been the most successful? Did you self-publish this book or use a publisher?
AM: Easy – I’ve only published one book. I am working on my second one, though, and will be publishing it later this year. I self-published, but I went through the trouble of creating my own publishing imprint – Purple Toga Publications. I never even tried to submit my work to traditional publishers. I figured I’d rather concentrate on writing my next novel than writing submissions.
AB: You seem very determined and committed to your writing. Do you mind telling us how the hard work and dedication worked out for you?
AM: This has turned out quite well for me. In fact, I had a couple of other authors interested in publishing under the same imprint, so it might turn out into a full-fledged publishing house one day!
AB: That is incredibly impressive. Many people would have given up with just a few rejection letters, yet, not only did you not give up, you started your own publishing label and dedicated yourself to publishing a great product for your readers. New writers should take notice of your tenacity. Great job!
Just like yourself, many new writers have careers, families, and are trying to publish their own stories. For new authors, what are the pros and cons of self-publishing versus using a publisher?
AM: Pros of a publisher: someone to hold your hand through the book production (which can be challenging), through publishing process (which can be daunting), and through the marketing (which is a never-ending effort).
The cons are that it may take you ages to be accepted, you are not guaranteed good service, and you will lose control over your books.
I would recommend each author make their own assessment. Are you confident enough and willing to put in the effort, or do you need the reassurance?
AB: The cover of Murder in Absentia is perfectly aligned with the story. Where did you find your art? Did you use an artist you located yourself or did you purchase cover art available to authors? With so many options available, are there any lessons you wish to share?
AM: My first cover was art commissioned through DeviantArt, and I did the layout. It was OK, but not what it should have been.
I’ve learned my lesson, and contracted a professional cover artist to relaunch the book with a new cover. The difference is striking. If you’re looking for a recommendation, Ellie at Creative Digital Studios is a pleasure to work with, and the results are amazing. An important piece of advice: never skimp on editing and cover. It’s very easy to pick up on poor and mediocre levels of both. If you want to be an author for the long run, invest in professional editing and covers.
AB: Speaking of editing, many of your book reviews comment on the high level of your editing. Did you use an outside editor for your books? If you did use an editor, did you use more than one? Would you like to give your editing service a shout out for their great services?
AM: I’ve used the services of Mary Jaddore Blakney (http://www.maryjeddoreblakney.com/editing.html). I would certainly recommend her services and am planning on using them for my future novels.
AB: Did you use Beta Readers in your quest to publish your book? If so, where did you find trusted, experienced, Beta Readers who would give you honest feedback on your book?
AM: Those were family and friends, all of whom are fantasy fans (if not always historical fiction). I received some very good feedback, which allowed me to tighten up my writing style. The problem with friends is that it can be a bit of hit-and-miss. They may not have the skills to give you the right feedback, or they may be afraid to hurt your feelings. I also had some online acquaintances who are very much into the historical eras I write about, and they were able to give me some very good feedback.
Whatever you do and however you get them, remember that you invited them to give you feedback. If they point something out as not working and that you need to improve, it’s because they care enough about you. Never take it personally, but distance yourself and try to learn.
I will also leave you with Rule 5 of Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing:
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
AB: That’s a very interesting quote. More writers need to read this for guidance.
AB: What is the average length of your most popular books? After publishing, would you have liked to change the format or length in any way?
AM: My novels are just under 100K words. It’s a length I’m happy with. I like to keep the writing tight, and the plot going. There is a lot of background information in the world, but I take an immersive position. Things like character backstories are hinted at rather than revealed in full, and various fantasy or Latin terms are explained by the context they are used. I’ve included notes and a glossary at the end of the book for completeness and for those readers who appreciate them, but I try to always keep the flow natural.
AB: What is your favorite book? While writing this book, what was your favorite go-to drink to stay focused on writing? What is your favorite scene (or most difficult scene) in this book, and why?
AM: My favourite drinks are coffee and scotch. I like my coffee strong and sweet, and I like my scotch single and of legal age.
As for favourite scene, that is no doubt the scene that comes right after the gladiatorial fight. Without going into spoiler details, there is a feast that is put on. That little bit of culinary writing had me cackling in evil glee!
AB: I agree. Many of your scenes are so detailed. I personally enjoyed looking at the world through the eyes of Felix. There were many times I felt as if I were there with him.
In running, many runners face a wall, where they wish to give up and quit. They have to dig deep and push through the wall. Writers sometimes face the same hurdles. While writing your book, were there times when you wanted to scrap the entire thing and start over, or not publish the book at all? For new writers, who may also face this wall, what advice do you have for them to push past these feelings?
AM: Are you kidding me? Writing is one of the most addictive things I know. My only complaint is that I don’t have enough time to write.
Yet there are moments when it’s hard. Times when you just can’t concentrate or don’t know how to proceed with the plot. My advice is take a break and take a walk. A good walk is awesome for creativity, and the break will give you some space to gain fresh perspectives. Then keep on writing!
AB: Everyone has something they wish they knew when they started in a new field. If you could share one lesson you learned to avoid or one experience you wish you could re-do to make your writing experience better, what would it be? Feel free to share the experience leading up to the lesson and what made you choose the path you took.
AM: Take a breath. You’re in this for the long haul, so there is no point in rushing.
Write, and let it sit.
Edit, then wait a while before editing again.
Get feedback, but take it in stride.
Employ professionals, and don’t rush out with a half done job.
AB: It’s time to give yourself a shout out. It’s time to dig deep and show your fans what you have. What would you like your fans to look for on shelves now? Where can they find your work? Anything else you would like your fans to know?
AM: My books are available on Amazon (free through Kindle Unlimited, and a free sample for everyone else). I also write and publish short stories with Felix – small mystery cases, that can act as an introduction to my writing style. They are freely available on my blog.
You can find information about me in a lot of places around the web. I’m always happy to connect and discuss life and writing with readers, so don’t be shy!
Google Plus: http://plus.google.com/+AssaphMehr
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Assaph-Mehr/e/B015U1F3NC
Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/1XbfKN1
Lastly, I’ll leave you with my book cover and some of the great reviews Murder In Absentia has received:
AB: Thank you, Assaph Mehr, for your time and allowing us the opportunity to highlight your work today. We’re looking forward toward more exciting adventures!
To our readers, thank you for your time and support. Please take the time to support the authors who support you. Take time to read their books, follow them on social media, and of course, share their pages.
Until next time…be safe, be kind, and always be happy!