Thursday, May 24, 2018

Michelle Morgan wins the 2017 SCBWI Spark Award (Older Readers) for "Flying Through Clouds"

The Award-Winning Book:

The Author:

The Interview:

Lee: Please tell us about Flying Through Clouds.

Michelle: Flying Through Clouds is about a teenage boy's dream of becoming an aviator amid the pressures and hardships of growing up in Australia during the Depression. Themes such as adolescence, survival, loss, family, friendship, truth and gambling resonate with readers. With a compelling mix of drama, adventure and humour, Flying Through Clouds appeals to teens and the young at heart.

Lee: How is this book non-traditionally published, and can you share the decision process behind taking this path?

Michelle: I am the author and publisher of Flying Through Clouds, and managed the entire publishing process myself. After attending a weekend workshop on self-publishing at the NSW Writers’ Centre in 2016, I was so impressed by the speakers and their clear practical advice that I came away determined to publish Flying through Clouds. The day after the workshop I developed a publishing plan and bought ISBNs.

Because my first novel, Racing the Moon, was traditionally published I wanted Flying Through Clouds to be of comparable quality. I engaged a structural editor, copyeditor, and proofreader at different stages of the publishing process and commissioned a cover designer to design the cover and layout of the book. I obtained quotes for printing and negotiated with a distributor to distribute Flying Through Clouds in Australia. I did all the publicity and marketing myself, which involved a book tour, blog tour, social media engagement, seeking reviews, writing articles, doing interviews, sending numerous emails, running writing workshops and participating in other literary events. I published the eBook of Flying Through Clouds simultaneously on Amazon Kindle and three months later made it available in other eBook formats. I also published Flying Through Clouds in paperback on Amazon to facilitate distribution to international readers.

Lee: What was (or is) the biggest challenge of publishing in this non-traditional way?

Michelle: The biggest challenges were the time-consuming tasks of editing and marketing /publicity. Editing a manuscript is challenging whatever route you take to publishing. So I guess my biggest challenge of publishing independently was the enormous task of marketing and publicity. Prior to proofreading and the final printing of Flying Through Clouds, I had one hundred plain cover review copies printed to send to potential reviewers, distributors, and selected bookshops. I also sent copies to other authors who write in a similar genre and whose work and opinions I value. I was fortunate in obtaining two endorsements that I included on the cover and front page of Flying Through Clouds. To launch Flying Through Clouds, I arranged a book tour with events in bookshops, libraries, an art gallery, and a museum. I also prepared the content for a blog tour, which involved articles and interviews posted on a series of kids’ lit and author blogs. More articles, media interviews, and literary events followed, and I also entered Flying Through Clouds in award contests such as the SCBWI Spark Award.

Lee: What’s the greatest benefit?

Michelle: The greatest benefit of independent publishing has been the immense satisfaction and level of control over the publishing process. It was very satisfying to have direct contact with all editors and be able to choose the cover design myself from the four concepts presented by the cover and layout artist. I have learnt a lot about publishing and marketing, much more than I did with my first book, which was traditionally published. To date, I have earned enough from sales of Flying Through Clouds to cover publishing costs. It is gratifying to find so many people and organisations willing to help you publish your book – Writers’ Centres, professional organisations such as SCBWI, self-publishing websites such as the Creative Penn, Createspace, Amazon, Smashwords as well as bloggers and other authors. I’m really glad I had the courage to publish my book as well as write it.

Lee: Anything else you'd like to share about the adventure so far?

Michelle: I’d recommend independent publishing of print books for authors who have the time to devote themselves full-time to the publishing process and who can afford the up-front costs of professional editing, cover art, layout and printing to produce a quality book.

Lee: Thank you, Michelle, and again—Congratulations!

Michelle: Thank you so much for the opportunity.

You can learn more about Michelle and Flying Through Clouds at her website here.

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