All Those Questions You’ve Wanted To Ask
These questions are extracted from the many emails and letters Michael receives from his readers.
Q: When did you start writing? A: My first book was published in 1983, so it would be true to say I started writing professionally in 1981 or 1982.
Q: What was your first published book? A: Irish Folk & Fairy Tales, Volume One was my first adult book. Song of the Children of Lir was my first children’s title.
Q: How many books have you published. A: I’ve published over 100 titles, though you will not find all of them on this site, simply because I do not have copies myself!
Q: What other writing have you done? A: Just about everything – novels, short-stories, movie and tv scripts for both drama and documentary, plays, games, articles … in fact everything except poetry, though I have been included in a book of poetry, Lifelines 3, where I had to choose my favourite poem. I submitted two: Thomas Hardy’s Lyonesse and Percy Shelly’s Ozymandias.
Q: Have you a favourite genre? A: I read a lot of science fiction, fantasy and horror, and I love to write in those genres. However, I tend to write only those books that interest me.
Q: You write for both adults and children: which do you prefer? A: They are two entirely different markets. But if you look at my work, you will see that it is split 50/50. It is certainly true to say that children’s books, and the Young Adult market, is a much more demanding market and certainly tougher to write.
Q: I would like to write. What’s the first step? A: Read. Then read some more, then read a lot more. I am always astonished by the number of people who tell me that they want to write, but that they don’t read! I always recommend that emerging writers plot and plan their books. It is a tremendous help. You can do it on scraps of paper, file cards, or with the Outlining function that comes as part of most word processors. There are even specific writers outlining programs.
Q: I’ve finished my book. What do I do now? A: Have you send a copy to yourself for copyright purposes? If not, then do it now. Print up your manuscript, put it and a disk in a padded envelope and post it to yourself, recorded delivery. Don’t open it.
Q: How do I sell my book? A: Research you market. Find out which publisher is producing books like yours – there is no point in sending your romance novel to a science fiction publisher, or your children’s book to a house which does not publish children’s books. You would be surprised to find that many people still make this basic mistake. Then submit your book.
Q: But I need an agent – don’t I? A: No. I sold my first fifty titles without an agent. It is sometimes as difficult to get an agent that it is to get a publisher. Eventually however, I would recommend that you look for an agent.
Q: I’ve got this great idea for a book. Let me tell you, and you can write it and… A: If you have a great idea, then write it yourself. Most writers have more ideas than they will every use.
Q: Will you read my manuscript? A: Sorry, I’m not allowed to do that. Also, you don’t need me to comment on it. The book should be the best one you can write, you must have absolute confidence in it.