Mike Maher crafts fiction from his own real life experiences with The Colour Party – A Novel, about a young Irish-American political activist. Mike discusses why the self-publishing route was a much better fit for his book.
1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book. Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.
My first book, The Colour Party – A Novel, is not limited to one genre. It’s an autobiographical novel set mostly in Dublin and New Orleans a few years ago. It has the Northern Irish war as a backdrop. And it shows an average young American who goes there planning to write a book but ends up being drawn into the conflict. Nick Marr, the protagonist, also travels back to America on some risky business. The bulk of the story is taken from real life.
2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?
I always dabbled in writing. One reason I quit college and traveled around getting involved in things I saw was to have something to write about! But the war that I thought would last five years tops dragged on much longer. By that time I lost interest in commercial writing. I just wanted to write a sort of memoir for my family. But Amazon’s CreateSpace seemed too good to pass up. Since self-publishing last August I’ve gotten positive feedback. So I decided to try reaching out to more readers.
3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?
No, I have not been published before. Some parts of my story were too controversial. So I never was ready to go public, and didn’t have the time anyway.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
My experience with self-publishing has been quite positive.
5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?
My original purpose was to record a kind of historical document, an explanation for my kids and future grandchildren of how I lived my life. And why I was never able to pursue a traditional career path. So commercial literary concerns were not really on my radar. Also I was interviewed by an Irish historian about my part in the armed struggle. And he encouraged me to publish and offered to write the introduction.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
All of this back story led me to avoid the normal marketing routes. I would be quite content to have my book used as a reference in future Irish history book, stocked in some Irish libraries and sold online through Amazon and B&N. I’m not seeking fame or fortune at this point in my life.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
I learned that self-publishing is much easier if you can partner with a friend who is computer literate. So my close friends handled most of the publishing details, which left me free to concentrate on the creative rather than business issues.
8. What projects are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m working on a memoir of my life during those twenty years moving back and forth between Ireland and the U.S. It might not be feasible from legal or artistic viewpoints to publish at the moment. But my friend who’s an historian is working on the comprehensive story of Irish troubles. He said at the very least he could use it as a primary source manuscript. This would include mention in the bibliography. Also, my family would have it to read later.
9. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
The inside story: autobiographical fiction about one ordinary man living through extraordinary circumstances.
10. How can readers learn more about your books?
There is a Facebook page for The Colour Party – A Novel, including photos of some of the places and people in the story.