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Introducing Michelle Raynor - I mean Michelle McLean...

HAPPY THURSDAY everyone! I hope you are all enjoying a fab summer with lots of fab books! I know I am. Actually, today is more about waiting in line to see Harry Potter (going to the midnight show...), but I will be reading as I wait!

Enough about me, in keeping with my self-pub series this week, I am doing a little interview with Michelle Raynor who just released her first e-picture book into the world. Who is Michelle Raynor? Well most of you know her better as Michelle McLean, author of Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers.

So what makes a published author with an agent make the decision to branch into picture books through self-publishing? I decided to ask her and find out more about her decisions:

About the PB:

CF: Why self pub a PB - tell me the story of your motivation behind it?
MR: With self-pubbing becoming easier and easier, especially the rise of the e-book, I just had a “why not?” moment. I’ve been writing picture books for years and have a file full of manuscripts. But few agents rep them and breaking out of the slush pile is even harder than with a novel. Finding an illustrator was also an obstacle, but once I convinced my very talented friend, Toni Wilson, to give it a shot, we ended up with a very cute book J Previously, the other huge obstacle in self-pubbing was the cost to print a full color picture book. But with ereaders gaining more popularity, that is no longer an issue. There is a print version of my book, but with digital publication, something that once would have been impossible, or impractical, for me has become a dream come true.

CF: A blurb for it in 140 characters or less
MR: Alex and his sister Izzy are stuck inside during one rainy week, but with a few wishes they still manage to have the most magical adventures

CF: Tell me about the pub process
MR: It was incredibly easy, though there was a huge learning curve J For a novel, it wouldn’t be as complicated, but with all the images in my book, the formatting was a bit tricky. Now that I know what to do, the next one should go much more smoothly. I went through Smashwords, who really does all the work for you. We followed their formatting guide, submitted it to their review team, they converted it to digital files compatible with all the different ereaders out there, and distributed it to all the retailers. For the print version, we went through Lulu, who also has a distribution service (it should be available at your favorite online retailers by the end of the summer and is available through Lulu now). I’ve also heard great things about Create Space, so for book 2 I’ll use them, just to compare.

CF: Tell me about your marketing and distribution plans
MR: I’ll market it like I’ve been doing for my traditionally published book, though I’m focusing more on promoting the eversion than the print version. I’ve already made two school appearances, and am doing all the normal, fun swag. I’m making the rounds on the blogosphere (thanks for hosting me today!), have an Amazon and Facebook page for my pen name, Michelle Raynor, and will be hosting giveaways and contests. The distribution is handled for me through Smashwords and Lulu – the ebook is currently available for all ereaders on Smashwords, for the Nook on Barnes and Noble, for all Apple products through iBooks, and will be up in the next week or so on Amazon, Borders, Sony, Diesel, and Scrollmotion. The print version is available on Lulu now and will be up on all the online retailers by the end of the summer.
CF: What are your future goals with your PB
MR: To get it out there as best as I can. And to get more books out J This is one of the fun things with self-pubbing. The process is much faster. The books still go through an intense round of edits, but with a couple of awesome illustrators on my side (Toni Wilson and Lisa Amowitz), who do not only the interior illustrations but also my covers, I’m able to have my books for sale within months instead of years.

About you:
CF: Why a pseudonym?
MR: Because I write such vastly different genres, I felt it would be easier for my audiences to keep my books separate if I wrote each genre under a different name. I wouldn’t want a student looking for essay help to search and find only picture books, or a mom looking for picture books to search and find a historical romantic suspense novel J A different name for each genre prevents that from happening. So, I’m Michelle Raynor for kids’ books, Michelle McLean for NF, and MacKenna Marquis for novels.

CF: Future writing goals?
MR: I have two new picture books with my illustrators right now – I hope to have at least one of them out by the end of the summer. I’m currently working on revisions with my agent on a historical romantic suspense novel. And I have two NF books making the submission rounds with editors right now. Next up is another novel…just haven’t narrowed down the project yet J

CF: Tell me some obscure factoid we DON'T know
MR: Hmmm…when I turned 30 my hair went curly. It used to be straight, with a slight wave if it got long. Now when I get it wet, it looks like I’ve just gotten a perm :D

CF: What is your fav part of writing path
MR: I really love the very beginning and the very end. That rush of intense passion for a new idea – and the supreme satisfaction of holding the finished product…and watching people enjoy it J

Wow – thanks for the great interview Michelle! To check out your own digit copy of her book, leave a comment. One random person will win a copy! Contest ends today. WOO HOO!!!

Want more great reads to check out - look at this fab list:

Elana Johnson revels in Ruby Red
Lisa and Laura Roecker is nuts for I'm Not Her
Shelli Johannes-Wells features Guestanisto author Matt Blackstone
Shannon Messenger swoons for Supernaturally - with a giveaway
Carolina Valdez Miller is bedazzled by Between - with a giveaway
Beth Revis reveals her reading recommendataions
Jessi Kirby discovers Where Things Come Back
Shana Silver wonders at The Near Witch
Stasia Ward Kehoe celebrates Selling Hope

For more about the Bookanistas, our own upcoming books, and our reviews, check out our website - The Bookanistas. You can also find us on Facebook, and find our crazy celebration vlogs on YouTube.

Yea, we're crazy like that!

What are you reading these days?


  1. First, love love love Michelle's name for novels.

    Wow, where I have been? I didn't realize Michelle was writing picture books, too.

  2. I have to agree about the pen name. It's awesome. This is a nice interview too. Thanks for giving us so much information about the self-publishing world. That may come in handy someday ;)

  3. Thanks for hosting me today, Christine! And thanks about the name Stina and Eric :D MacKenna is actually my niece's name, and Marquis is my maiden name :D I kinda like it too :D

  4. I love that you're following your dream and getting your books out there. It's a prime example of where different projects may need a different approach. And it's absolutely fantastic that today we have a host of options available.

  5. How very interesting! Thanks for this, you guys!


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