Indie Support Sunday: Melanie A. Smith
When one of your favourite indie authors is book besties with another indie author, you know you’re going to check out their stories. And then you find yourself falling in love with their writing, characters and ability to tell interesting and captivating stories. On a 10 hour road trip, I devoured her Life Lessons series (also available in a box set) and am now hooked onto any and all stories that Melanie A. Smith has to tell.
A fellow nerd and fan of Tolkien, Melanie is also a great source of advice and information about being an indie author. Her tagline is “smart and seductive romance” and I completely agree with that. Melanie’s characters hook you from the start and she finds ways to really amp up the tension and excitement in her books. And while her books feature delicious abs and sexy manchests, her stories follow strong, independent and badass female characters that bring their heroes to their knees constantly.
If you’re a romantic suspense fan, Melanie also has the Safeguard Heart series available right now. And she’s also got a novella as part of a multi-author series releasing on November 4th. You can pre-order Vegas Baby right now!
What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?
I’ve been a writer as long as I can remember - I wrote little “books” from around five or six years old telling the stories I dreamt up in my head. And obviously having a love for stories, I read a lot as well, and the two feed each other - the more I dream, the more I read; the more I read, the more I dream.
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?
It wasn’t a conscious choice; I sat down in January 2018 with the goal to finally write my first full novel and what poured out was a romance. Which is funny, because I’d read very little pure romance up to that point, but many of my favorite stories have had a strong romance component at the very least.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
In short, I didn’t want writing to be a job, and I wanted to control all aspects of publishing. I’m still not at the point where I want to make this into a full-time career, but as I’ve grown I’ve learned that I’d be okay with letting go of a lot of the non-writing aspects of publishing, so traditional may yet be in my future.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
Marketing, hands down. Romance particularly is a crazy competitive space, and getting new readers requires a lot of resources, be it time or money (or both)!
Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side? And would you want to write full time?
I do not write full time … yet. I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but I have other priorities right now, and I feel like trying to force full time writing in amongst them would be a recipe for disaster on all fronts. I think as a creative, you need balance above all things to feed your art.
Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at?
Finances and number crunching (never met a spreadsheet i didn’t like), cross stitching, cooking and baking.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
Fantasy, particularly high/epic fantasy and almost certainly still heavily romance.
What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?
The Hobbit has been my favorite book for decades. The Harry Potter series is a close second. And after that, A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
Eat the elephant one bite at a time. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Insert other cliches here, but do one thing at a time and keep making steady progress.
Find an author tribe (there are lots of us ready and willing to be there for you!).
Outsource tasks you aren’t qualified for (editing, cover design, formatting, marketing, etc).
Don’t compare yourself to other authors. Comparison is the thief of joy, and everyone has their own pace/approach.
Balance your time between writing, reading (particularly within the genre(s) you write), and learning (craft, marketing, whatever) as all three are crucial for author success.
Can you briefly tell me about your books?
They are steamy contemporary romance with smart heroines and alpha roll heroes. I’ve dabbled in multiple subgenres including straight up contemporary, suspense, and medical. I have a hard time writing to a formula, so each book/series is a little bit different.
Of your books, who is your favourite character?
Frankie from Everybody Lies. She’s a complete badass, take-no-shit boss. Pretty much all the things I’d like to be when I grow up.
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
Each book has a unique set of things that inspired it. Examples … My first series was around a real-estate mogul heroine, at the time my husband and I were into real estate investing. My medical romance series started around some health issues I was experiencing and a hot cardiologist I ended up seeing. That sort of thing.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
Always just enough so that I can relate to the character and write them realistically. But usually not much more than that; first, because I enjoy stretching myself and writing different kinds of characters, second because putting too much of yourself into a character isn’t fiction, it’s therapy. And that can get awkward for readers, especially since for indies a lot of our first readers are friends and family who will pick up on it.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
That depends totally on the book, but usually I want to have some funny moments, some angsty moments, and of course the happy feels when everything works out in the end. And if there are tears, that’s par for course.
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
I’ve had a fantasy romance series brewing in my head for years that I started to write, then stopped, and hope to get back to at some point in the near future. It’s a big departure from what I’ve done so far, though, so I’ve got to work up the courage for it first.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
I’ll be dipping a toe into the Cocky Hero world by writing my own installment for the club!
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
Favorite: I’m big into enemies to lovers these days. There’s just no beating the banter. Least favorite: I often find fake relationships problematic, and I’ve rarely seen it done well.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
Because I love a challenge, I’d like to see if I’m up to pulling off fake relationship believably. I’d also like to do a second chance romance.
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
I’m always happy to see contemporary romance that’s more representative of reality - people of all colors, shapes, sexualties, abilities, etc. Likewise, I admire authors that are brave enough to write romances with deeper, more triggering subjects like discrimination, abuse, etc (though content and trigger warnings are crucial for respecting readers in those cases).
What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?
That even though we all know there will be a happy ending, we just never know how it’s going to be earned. And that is the most exciting part!
THIS OR THAT
Ebooks or audiobooks
Historical romance or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV
Standalones or series
Music or silence while writing
Plotter, pantser or plantser
Tea or coffee cocoa
Cold or warm weather
Morning person or night owl
Illustrated cover or photo cover