Michelle Anderson Picarella is the C.E.O. & Founder of 7DS Books and Twisted Core Press, L.L.C. She and her partners run 7DS Books as an invitation-only anthology collaboration helping dedicated authors build their platforms with new and unique themed titles as well as bridging authors together for successful cross-promotion. Michelle is also a published author, former director of publicity, author advocate and proud indie supporter.
Time to chat with Shelly!
What is 7DS Books?
7DS Books is an invitation only short story collaboration publishing imprint of Twisted Core Press. Along with my partners, A.T. Russell and Daniel Picarella, we create unique themes each title and personally invite authors we have met through social media to join. It is instant author networking when placed in a private chat with seven authors. They help each other with pointers and beta reads before it hits our editor. After print, they are connected with every author on every previous 7DS title with means for cross-promoting, blog tours, getting together for literary events, etc. We truly believe the best way to succeed in the world is to work together. We want to do what we can to help authors connect, promote, and build their platform. A new phase of 7DS will be coming into play in 2014. We are very excited about this and will announce the new chapter of 7DS soon. Currently, our popular sellers are Seven Dress Sizes, Seven Deadly Sins II, and Linger.
What are the special challenges in running collaborations?
I think the hardest part has been working in a close group with so many brilliant and talented authors. Overall, it is great and the outcome shows this. But, sometimes when multiple people come up with fantastic ideas that do not flow into each other, it is hard to only pick which route is best if we cannot mesh all the ideas together.
Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?
Yes. Most certainly. I like darker tales. I love the depth and layers behind the most despised characters. It is pointless to ask why a person is good. Everyone wants to know why someone is bad.
Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
As far back as I can remember, I was writing stories. Even when none of my words made sense to anyone else, my jumbled crayon rambles were my life. I remember first getting a reaction from my writing in second grade when I wrote about self-sacrifice in order to save a turkey from the pilgrims. I loved coming up with the story. That was easy. Predicting how readers will react is the fun part.
Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?
I am a firm believer of publishing matches. I wish there were a place for matching authors with publishers like a dating site. It is a business, but it is a relationship. An author is handing their dreams over to a publisher and that publisher is investing hope, faith, time, and finances into this work. I do not think one route is better than the other. I see indies run neck and neck with trads. I think research is the best key for new authors. We assume so much when we are new and then we listen to people that appear to know the gospel but as much as this industry is changing, the only thing that remains gospel is the need to provide a quality product. This can be obtained using either route. Going trad does not mean you will be in a brick and mortar store. Being indie does not mean you are going to have the best selling ebook. Either way, an author has to work. This is a business. The difference between writing a book and being an author is work and growth. The route you choose to become an author is just that… A choice.
What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?
I am an indie book fanatic. Nothing against traditionally published material, but most trad publishers know exactly what they are looking for before it hits the slush. Indie and self-published books tend to carry a flare and flavor not as predestined in many (not all) cases. I love main characters that break the common stereotype of what a main character should be. I love the button pushers. Many people fuss at me for my limited attention span with books. If you don’t grab me within the first few pages and show me something refreshing and bold, you’ve lost me. Minus those indie/self published authors that attempt to mimic the mainstream, odds are good, if you pick up an indie read you are likely going to see something with that boldness. What do I like the least? This is something I see commonly no matter where the book comes from… the main character is a female, likely white, she has a tough life in one way or another but at the core, it is good. She is faced with a challenge that likely holds the fate of many other people around her. Sometimes, it is life and death. Either way, amongst the dire complexity of pressure this female MC must tackle, she also has to choose between two guys. Oy with the love triangles! Kill it with fire!
What have you done to market books and what did you find the most effective? The least effective?
The most surefire way to market is and always will be word of mouth. I could speak of each social media site, ads, publicists, etc.. but the difference in the literary world and a reader: A reader loves hearing someone they know talk about a book. If a reader is inspired by a book or even disgusted by a book, it is the passion in either direction that creates a craving for new readers to seek this book and their desire to derive their own opinion. I’ve seen ads, commercials, book trailers (not in the least saying they are pointless. Keep doing that!) but the books I’ve had to read came from feeling the passion brewing from a reader. The best way to pour gasoline on that fire is to cross-promote. This is a core reason we run 7DS Books; instant pool of cross-promoters, if utilized properly. You can scream the word of your book on every single social media outlet and maybe sell a book or two, because of course you think it is a great read. A publicist can do it for you and gain you some new readers, but that burns out quickly when they are also claiming one hundred other books are also the best book of the year. Now take an author, published, well read and already reached their connections and family with their word of their book and suddenly, they are reviewing your book and telling Aunt Sally and Bob from the office about this great new author they’ve discovered. Well, wow. Aunt Sally just told everyone in her book club, and they told their friends, and those friends mentioned it over dinner and Bob is at the table next to them and that title sounds familiar so he brings it up to his wife and she has PTA after dinner and….see what I am saying? Just like air is always going to be the best thing to breathe, word of mouth is always going to be the “it” thing in marketing.
Now the worst: BAD Facebook event parties. You can do this well but most people do not. People love free things… “Swag”…but how are you going to have a Facebook release party for your book and give away something to the first person that knows the drink a character they’ve not heard of is sipping at the bar in chapter thirteen of the new release? What is that about, authors? If you want to thank your beta readers, just send them the swag, don’t invite us to the event to see it. Nobody wants to buy your book after that. Also, keep it family oriented if you want participants. Even if it is a gritty down and dirty erotica, nobody is going to like an X-rated photo or comment with the best caption with their family and friends online to see it in the newsfeed. Common sense goes a long way in Facebook events.
Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?
Trains. Always a train. The kid in me comes out when I get the chance to travel by train. Somehow, I always end up in the most random of conversations with these fantastic strangers. I even have train buddies on my social media to keep up with them and we message each other to see if the other is traveling near dates of upcoming trips. LOL. The chill when traveling overnight, the personalities you come in contact with, and seeing the world fly by outside your window are my favorite parts. Now I want a train trip. Where are we going?
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People scratching heads. I am a total lice phobic. I can handle spiders, bees, mice.. anything (maybe not snakes and alligators so much) but the thought of lice makes me cry. I hate the thought of itching. I will count how often someone scratches and after that third one, I will offer to check your head. This tends to be a bit more awkward with strangers.
What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?
Three: Walk away from agenda: Embrace the differences in people. We tell our kids not to bully every single day just to turn around and bash anyone that does not see things our way.
Two: Reboot and Recharge: Never allow timidness with new ideas, feelings, beginnings, or dreams. I mean this in every aspect of daily life. We can take this from the business and marketing aspect and approach sales or job performance with a blank page. Your friends and family- we all grow and change; take time for a dinner and get to know the people you’ve all grown to become since meeting. Take it to the polls and stop voting for the lesser of two evils- collaborate a majority write-in candidate that could really make some changes.. Maybe it is you! Take some you time. As much as it helps to get to know the people your loved ones have become, when is the last time you escaped and bonded with the you that you’ve become throughout the years?
One: Love: This one is the most simplistic human operation and we allow ourselves to complicate it. Love has a million degrees. Love strangers. Open doors. Nod to a passerby. Make a silly face at a kid. Tip an extra dollar. Love acquaintances. Congratulate. Compliment. Offer condolences when needed. Friendships are love. Listen. Talk. Laugh. Take time to openly speak the words of appreciation for them just existing as a part of your life. Love the one that holds your heart the dearest. This is not about an obligation or a responsibility. When the love is right, it doesn’t feel like such a chore. Love is never a debt. Love flourishes freely where love grows. Maybe there is not just “the one” maybe you have a series of “the ones” until you find the final one. Each love helps you grow and you do the same for them. Appreciate the love even after it forms into a different type of love; you never un-love someone. Your heart just rearranges. Know when it is time to admit a love has altered into something different but never pretend a love is an apple tree when it has grown into a weeping willow. Both are beautiful, but one has the fruit of life and one has the shade of the past. Embrace them both, differently. Family: Family is a bond we never ask for. Our parents won’t be around forever and as you age, you will become them. When they are no longer around, you will see them every time you look in a mirror and every missed lunch or shrug with lack of interest will haunt you. Sometimes, just telling them you love them will end up being a favorite memory. Your kids– the best way to love your kids is to show them how to live. Kids learn everything by example. They learn and live just as we show, not as we say. So chase those dreams, so they will. Take care of yourself, so they will do the same. Educate yourself, educate them. Cuddle them. Laugh with them. Be completely silly in public. Talk to them, not at them.. and your grandchildren will be in great hands. Above all ways to love your kids and the most important way to love you must start with one thing. Love yourself. If you don’t learn to love yourself for everything you are in darkness and light, you’ll never truly show love to anyone else. The end.
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