Become a Writer Today

Finding and Working with Beta Readers to Improve Your Book with Michelle Cox

July 01, 2021 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
Finding and Working with Beta Readers to Improve Your Book with Michelle Cox
Chapters
Become a Writer Today
Finding and Working with Beta Readers to Improve Your Book with Michelle Cox
Jul 01, 2021 Season 2
Bryan Collins

Michelle Cox is the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series author, a mystery romance set in 1930s Chicago. 

Described as Downtown Abbey meets Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, the books have won multiple awards, and publications like PopSugar, Elle, BuzzFeed, Redbook, and Bustle have praised it as a top read. 

In this episode, Michelle describes her writing process for mysteries and explains where the idea came for a mystery romance set in 1930s Chicago. 

Michelle also describes how beta readers help her improve her mystery books, where she finds them, what she asks them, and how she decides who to listen to and who to ignore.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Where Michelle got the idea from for her series
  • Michelle's writing process
  • Doing character research
  • How to find her beta readers
  • What to do with the feedback from beta readers
  • Marketing strategies

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Show Notes Transcript

Michelle Cox is the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series author, a mystery romance set in 1930s Chicago. 

Described as Downtown Abbey meets Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, the books have won multiple awards, and publications like PopSugar, Elle, BuzzFeed, Redbook, and Bustle have praised it as a top read. 

In this episode, Michelle describes her writing process for mysteries and explains where the idea came for a mystery romance set in 1930s Chicago. 

Michelle also describes how beta readers help her improve her mystery books, where she finds them, what she asks them, and how she decides who to listen to and who to ignore.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Where Michelle got the idea from for her series
  • Michelle's writing process
  • Doing character research
  • How to find her beta readers
  • What to do with the feedback from beta readers
  • Marketing strategies

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Michelle: Because I feel like with mystery, you have to be pretty tight with your writing. There’s not a lot of room to sort of go off on a tangent. I mean, every chapter has to have a purpose and has to reveal something and move the plot along so I do have a pretty detailed outline before I even start writing.

Introduction: Welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan: Can beta readers help you improve your book? How can you work with them and where can you find them? Hi, there. My name is Bryan Collins, and welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast. At the time of recording this episode, I finished edits on my latest book which is a kind of a memoir about parenting but it’s also all the things that I wish I knew about parenting back when our son was born in 2006. 

So, I’ve got feedback from the editor and I’m working through the book. Now, the next stage is finding beta readers who will read the book and provide me with feedback. This is something I’ve done in the past and I’ve used tools like BookFunnel to send drafts of the book to interested readers and then I’ve used tools like Google Forms and also just getting on a Zoom call to talk to readers about what worked in the book, what didn’t work in the book, what they’d like to see included, and what they’d like to see taken out. Now, the challenge is, if you have lots of beta readers, you get lots of feedback and then one reader will tell you to take something out and another reader will tell you to put something in, so how do you decide what to do? 

Well, normally my rule of thumb is if three people say it should be taken out, then you should take it out and the other way around. If three people say it should be put in, then you should keep it in or put it in. 

So, if you want to find beta readers, you could contact people on your e-mail list, you can also reach out to people on Facebook groups, and you can also ask friends and family. BookFunnel is a fantastic tool that I recommend using because you can upload your Kindle file or your PDF or your Word document or whatever format you’re using to BookFunnel and just send the link to somebody and it’ll take care of all of the headache of getting it onto their phone, their tablet, their laptop, their computer, or their Kindle and they could just read the book and that’s the tool I use to work with beta readers. 

I recommend you check it out. I’d also encourage you to consider using a tool like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey to ask readers questions about what they thought about your book. But, at the end of the day, your book and you should make the decision about what the book is going to look like because you’re the expert and it’s also your creative project. So, I suppose part of becoming an author is, you know, learning when to listen to people and when to go with your creative vision for a piece.

Now, I recently caught up with Michelle Cox. She is the author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series. It’s a mystery romance series set in the 1930s in Chicago, and it’s been described as Downtown Abbey meets Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The book has won multiple awards and it’s been praised as a top read by publications like PopSugar, Elle, BuzzFeed, Redbook, Bustle, and many others. In this week’s interview, Michelle describes her writing process for mysteries and she explains where she came up with the idea for a mystery romance set in the 1930s in Chicago. 

She talks about writing a series and whether she plans these in advance or free writes her way through it. And, later on in the interview, we get into beta readers and I’d encourage you to check that part out, the second part of the podcast, because Michelle describes how beta readers help her improve her mystery books and where she finds them, what she asks them, and how she decides who to listen to and who to ignore.

If you enjoy this week’s episode, please leave a short review on iTunes, Stitcher, or Overcast because more reviews and more ratings will help more people find the show and, also, if you really enjoy the show, you can support it for just a couple of dollars a month on Patreon, patreon.com/becomeawritertoday, or just hit the link in the show notes. For a couple of dollars, I’ll give you discounts on my writing books, writing courses, and on writing software.

Now, with that said, let’s go over to this week’s interview with Michelle Cox.

Interview:

Bryan: Michelle, how are you?

Michelle: Hi, I’m great. Thanks for having me.

Bryan: So, we were just talking beforehand. I was saying Chicago is a city I’ve always wanted to visit and that’s actually where your books are set.

Michelle: Correct, yes. Set in Chicago in the 1930s.

Bryan: So, did you always want to set a mystery romance series in Chicago, or was it you wanted to — something you knew the most and said let’s just pick Chicago because I live there?

Michelle: Well, no. I mean, I picked Chicago because, actually, the main character, Henrietta, is based on a woman that I met in a nursing home when I worked there in the early ’90s so, you know, of course, when I met her, she was probably in her eighties but she had once been this, apparently, this bombshell who worked sort of during the ’30s and ’40s in Chicago and she had this amazing life story. I mean, she used to follow me around and say that, once upon a time, she had had a man-stopping body and a personality to go with it and I just —

Bryan: That’s a good line.

Michelle: I know, it is. It’s like even then when I wasn’t writing, I’m like, God, that could be in a novel. So —

Bryan: Yeah.

Michelle: — when I was kind of searching around for, you know, sort of a jumping-off point for the book, for the first book of this series, I kind of went through all of these stories that had collected over the years of working in this place and I decided that her story, you know, really resonated with me and I chose hers to base the main character on and so a lot of what happens in the first book of the series, which is A Girl Like You, actually really did happen and so, of course, I had to make up the mystery, the murder, the inspector, and all that kind of stuff but that’s why I set it in Chicago because I really wanted to bring in some of those real-life events and elements that had, you know, shaped her life. 

Bryan: So, just so I understand the timeline, you were a care worker in a nursing home in the 1990s so she would have been in Chicago in the 1930s. Is that right?

Michelle: Yes.

Bryan: Yeah, okay.

Michelle: Right, yes.

Bryan: Okay, so, yeah, that makes sense. And did you set out to write a series or did the book take off?

Michelle: No, it took off. I mean, I had written a separate book before so that was sort of my, you know, my starter book and everybody kind of has a practice book and no writer likes to hear that their first book is their practice book but, you know, it kind of turned out that way for me. You know, I wrote this other book and I tried to sell it for like a year and that wasn’t happening and so, you know, just to make a really long story short, I decided to start over and I thought at the time that — I was looking for an agent and I thought a mystery would appeal to an agent. 

Obviously, I didn’t know what I was talking about but, you know, I decided to go for it so I wrote this book thinking that it would be a quick one-off, you know? I wanted something that was shorter than the first book I had written and more fast-paced, sexier, more attractive, and once I was writing it, I started to really fall in love with the characters and I really didn’t want this book to end and I could see a lot of potential and so I decided kind of midstream to turn this into a series.

Bryan: Oh, very good. And did it take you long to write this book? Because I’m sure your practice book took a while.

Michelle: It did, yeah. The practice book took about a year and this book took more like I would say four or five months and then I took a few months after that to edit, which I know, you know, is actually, you know, so your perspective, right? 

It’s like some people take 10 years to write a book and that’s fine. So, it did feel pretty medium to me. In comparison, book 2 took me 68 days to write the first draft whereas, you know, by the time I got to book 4 of the series, that took a year, over a year to write the draft, because, by that time, I was pretty deeply involved in marketing and, you know, traveling for the series and that kind of stuff so it really slowed me down.

Bryan: And were you writing the book full time?

Michelle: Yeah. You know, when I started with my unpublished book, it was just sort of kind — more of a hobby and whenever I could sort of fit it in and, you know, take the kids to like swim lessons and I would be, you know, in the bleachers, you know, writing or editing. 

And when I started the series, I started to get more serious about it and I didn’t have a full-time job so, you know, once the kids were at school, I made that my priority and I wrote first thing in the morning, I wrote every day, wrote for a certain amount of time and then, you know, after that first book got published, the first book of the series, then sort of the PR machine starts rolling and so then I would spend, you know, now I spend about an hour, hour and a half writing on whatever manuscript I’m working on and then I spent probably six to eight hours on marketing.

Bryan: Okay, okay. That’s a good balance between the two.

Michelle: I guess, yeah.

Bryan: So, when you were writing the book, did you identify some conventions of the mystery genre that you wanted to use, or is it just something — did you write a lot of, you know, kind of had an idea of where the plot was going to go?

Michelle: That’s a great question. One thing I say to writing groups or people who ask me, you know, what would you do differently and I think that’s one of the things I would have done differently is pay more attention to what the mystery formula was. So, I kind of went into writing this mystery without really knowing what that formula, romance formula, mystery formula is, and in some ways, I’m glad because I think that it made the series very unique. It’s kind of a genre blend and a lot of readers really enjoy the fact that it’s different. 

It’s kind of a unique series because it’s not just about the same stock character solving a different mystery every time, it’s really more about this gigantic saga of these characters who are evolving and all these subplots that are going on. So, having said that, I don’t think I formally followed, you know, the mystery genre techniques but I was a huge mystery fan as a kid and I think that that sort of informed my writing maybe subconsciously. And, also, I just kind of based it off just various mystery films or mystery series that, you know, I’ve seen.

Bryan: And did you outline the book or some of the series in advance? What was your process for outlining?

Michelle: I outlined — I definitely do not, you know, write by the seat of my pants, I definitely do have to outline and I think that with a mystery, although I do know some mystery authors that don’t even know the killer until the end of the book, I could never do that. I need to kind of know where this is going because I feel like, with mystery, you have to be pretty tight with your writing. 

There’s not a lot of room to sort of go off on a tangent. I mean, every chapter has to have a purpose and it has to reveal something and move the plot along so I do have a pretty detailed outline before I even start writing.

Bryan: Is that outline like pages written in a Word document, is it index cards, or some other system?

Michelle: I actually just take old notebooks from my kids and I notebook really and just write — what I tend to do is there’s usually two to three subplots going on within one book and so I just sort of do a vertical column of each plot and then I do another page where I start to weave them, you know, chapter by chapter.

Bryan: Okay. And what about the characters? Do you have like one-page sheets describing who the characters are and what their personalities are like?

Michelle: No, I should. I wish I did because now I have — it’s so hard because I have to — I have so many characters now and sometimes I forget like, you know, what color so and so’s eyes are or what car they drive or, you know, whatever. So I always say I’m going to go back and make this big story bible and I never do.

Bryan: Yeah, okay. Okay. And what about — you mentioned working on the book when I think you said your kids were at school. When you were working the first draft, do you have a set word count for the day or a set amount of time that you’d like to spend writing?

Michelle: Usually I have a time limit. So, it’s usually an hour. Sometimes, if I’m kind of under a more ambitious sort of deadline, I’ll do a two hour. Two years ago, when I was writing book 4 of the series, I challenged myself to write two books that year and so I —

Bryan: That’s a lot.

Michelle: It is a lot, because these books are pretty thick. I mean, they’re not, you know, your standard —

Bryan: Could you give people an idea of the pages in the book or the word count?

Michelle: The word counts are kind of usually around — like, well, they get longer as the series goes so the last book, which is A Child Lost, which just came out, I think it’s like 135,000 words.

Bryan: Wow —

Michelle: Yeah, so that’s a lot. Yeah. So when I was writing two books and I wrote book 4 of the series and then I wrote a standalone novel separate from the series and because I didn’t want to stop writing the series because I kind of have a big fan base now who are waiting every year for a new Henrietta book to come out but I’m also trying to sort of branch off and to advance my career in a different way and in order to do that, I knew I had to have a separate book to try to sell, so I decided the only way I’m going to be able to do that is write two books in one year and I did that also with book 5. 

And so, in those types of situations, I needed to set a timer and write for two hours a day because I knew that was the only way it was going to get done.

Bryan: So is this other book set in the same world or is it a different genre?

Michelle: It’s the same time period and it’s the same — it’s still Chicago and it’s also based on another person’s story that I had heard in the nursing home but it’s not the characters. It’s a totally different story.

Bryan: Just to go back to your research process, so like that’s interviewing or listening to stories from that lady, like that’s 10, 20 years ago, do you have another research process now to get more authentic details from 1930s Chicago?

Michelle: Well, some of the places in the book I’ve actually been to, like the Green Mill and some of these clubs that she finds herself in but a lot of it has been based, of course, it’s internet-based so different neighborhoods in Chicago have their own historical society sometimes and so you can access those records and there’s a lot of amazing photos and newspapers and firsthand documents from people at that time so that has been extremely helpful. And then there’s another online source called the Encyclopedia of Chicago and that has a lot of interesting facts and, for example, book 5, which just came out in April, that is kind of revolving around a very infamous insane asylum in Chicago and so I was able to dig deep and do a lot of research into the asylum and throw that into the book, yeah.

Bryan: So you’re spending time in the library, visiting places that are still there, and reading up online.

Michelle: Yeah, for sure.

Bryan: And do you put all of your notes and research into like one place on your computer or your notepad or those copybooks that you described?

Michelle: You know, I do kind of a variety. So, if there’s something really significant that I, you know, I’m worried I will lose or, you know, not be able to find that site again or for whatever reason, I will create a Word doc and then just put all of that information in there. Or, I mean, I am kind of old school so sometimes I do just jot things down on, you know, in a notebook as well.

Bryan: Okay. Okay. So, when you’re setting out to write the first draft, you finished the first draft, is the next step for you to rewrite it, or do you show it to somebody?

Michelle: No, I’m kind of a perfectionist so I will work on the first draft and then I will go through it probably three times and edit and refine it, refine it, refine it until I feel like it’s at a pretty readable level and then I have a group of beta readers that I give it to and this is a pretty diverse group of people which I think is important when you send out your manuscript to readers. You know, you can’t just have people that you know are going to love the book because they’re your friends or whatever so that’s really helpful, and then they kind of give me their feedback, then I go through the book another maybe one to two times before I send it out to an editor to look at.

Bryan: Are the beta readers, readers of the previous books or are they somebody new to the world?

Michelle: They have been people — sometimes, I’ll throw a new one into the mix. They’re usually the same group of characters, which is good but bad, in a way, because now I can almost predict based on their personality what they’re going to say about the book and so I think, for my newest one coming out, it’s kind of been my plan to almost get not a completely new group of people but really need to throw some new people in the mix.

Bryan: Yeah, that makes sense. So, when you’re sending out the book to them, are you doing it through a Facebook group or to like BookFunnel, or do you use some other way of getting the draft into their hands? And how do you get feedback from them? Is it over e-mail or talking to them?

Michelle: I actually — some of them will take an electronic version, I’ll just send it to them like a PDF, but then other people are pretty old school and they want an actual printed so I have to go —

Bryan: Oh, they do?

Michelle: Yeah, like I print it out, have it bound, and mail it to them and then —

Bryan: That’s quite a lot of work.

Michelle: It is a lot of work. And it’s expensive.

Bryan: Yeah, especially if it’s 120,000 words.

Michelle: Yes, right. So, my first book, I had this huge group of beta readers, and then, really, because of time and cost, I really trimmed them down. I’m like, you know, I can’t print 20 of these things. And, usually, the feedback is a phone call. Actually, it’s a series of phone calls. 

Bryan: Oh, phone call? That’s interesting, yeah, because a lot of writers these days, you know, have a survey or a Google Form or something that they use. So, I’ve worked with beta readers before as well and the issue I found is I get conflicting feedback, you know? Somebody will say take this out, somebody else will say put this in. How do you decide what to do?

Michelle: Usually — That’s great, a great question. Usually, what I do is, if more than one person has the same criticism, then I start to listen. If there’s three people that are saying, “I feel like this part is an issue,” then I know I need to change it and I have done that in the past. A good example is in book 4, too many of the beta readers instantly knew who the killer was too early —

Bryan: For a mystery, that’s a big one, yeah.

Michelle: Yes, that was a problem so I had to, obviously, I have to fix that but if somebody says one thing and — what I’ll do is if person A has a criticism about something in the book then I will wait to hear what everybody else’s feedback is and then I’ll take that piece of criticism and I will go to each person and say, “Did you find that this was an issue?” Because maybe they just didn’t bring it up. They say, “No, I think it was fine,” then I kind of put that to the side. So, I kind of have a little bit of a process of how I go through it.

Bryan: How would you recommend somebody find beta readers if they were starting out? 

Michelle: That’s a great question. I pretty much just used people that I knew but I know that there are like beta reader services so that you can actually sign up for. Also, I would — there’s a lot of Facebook groups that offer beta services. 

A very famous author, his name is J.D. Barker, I heard him at a conference and he had a great — I thought this was very brave but a really smart way to do it. He put out for his first book and he took all of the people on Amazon that gave him a one star and read their review and if he felt like they had a point, that may be part of what their criticism was correct, he reached out to those people and said, “Will you be my beta reader for my second book?” And he said — yeah.

Bryan: Pretty gutsy.

Michelle: It is, yeah, but he said it was the best decision he ever made because it really made him a better writer.

Bryan: Okay, yeah. Sometimes when I read the one-star reviews, it’s not helpful. They do say things like terrible.

Michelle: I know, exactly.

Bryan: So, when you’ve gotten the feedback from the beta readers, then you send it to your editor, does the backwards and forwards between you and your editor take long?

Michelle: Not too long. So, with the series of — I’m with a hybrid press called She Writes Press and the first three books, editing was included in, you know, their process. I was unhappy with that by book 4 and so I hired my own editor, you know, outside of them. And that was a — she was connected with the press and so she was doing this as a freelance situation. For the two other books that I am hoping to pitch and query to a bigger publisher, I hired a completely different editor who was kind of a bigger name and —

Bryan: How did you find that person?

Michelle: That’s a good question too. I actually went to the Historical Novel Society Conference. So, one year, it’s in the US, and then the following year, it’s somewhere in the UK, so it keeps flipping, so the year that it was in DC, I went to it and you can live pitch to agents and I ended up kind of having a nice rapport with one of these agents and I submitted one of my standalone books to her and she ultimately rejected it but she said, “You know, if you work on this and you edit it, I would happily read it again and, you know, give it another chance,” and so I thought it was a little bit cheeky but I said, “You know, okay, but then you give me the editor,” so she gave me two names of editors because I wanted editors that frequently work with the big five, not, you know, because every author has an editor they swear by and that’s great but I wanted somebody who’s going to help me get to that next level so she gave me two names of editors and I’ve actually worked with both and it was, surprisingly, the turnaround time is not long but these, you know, they’re pretty booked so you kind of have to book them like six months in advance which is really hard because you don’t know exactly when you’re going to be finished but, you know, you have to work it out.

Bryan: Okay. So when you are working or when you’ve given the book to the editor, does it, you know, there’s a gap where you have nothing to do, are you working on another book or do you just take time off?

Michelle: Oh, my God, you ask the best questions.

Bryan: And I ask that one because I sent a book to an editor recently so I’m wondering what to do.

Michelle: Yeah, right? I know. I’ve done both, like I’ve — I’m the type of person where I just like to continuously be writing. I think that it — I don’t like to sort of get into a slump. So, I’ve done it both ways. I’ve immediately started a new project and that’s great because it kind of keeps your mind going and I also think that once you start a new book, it kind of provides a natural detachment from this other book so that when these edits come back, and they’re always, you know, going to be critical, so I think that you’ve already created a little bit of a distance, you know, because now you’re on to something else and you’re like, “Oh, yeah, this thing. All right.”

Bryan: Oh, got to go fix this.

Michelle: Yeah, right. But, on the other hand, I’ve done it other ways too because I just didn’t want to be in the middle of another project and then have all these edits come back, have to stop this project so that I can put my brain back on this, so I usually start a new project but there’s been times where I’ve just kind of —

Bryan: Yeah, that sounds like there’s pros and cons to both approaches. So when you’ve got the feedback from your editor, do you have multiple rounds with them or do you try and do it once or twice and then get ready for publishing?

Michelle: When it’s with my publisher, there’s multiple rounds, but when — now that I’m sort of doing these independent projects, it’s kind of a one-off because you’re paying them quite a bit of money for a once-through so if you want to go through another round with them then you have to pay them another fee so I’m actually in the second round with one particular editor because I just really want it to be perfect before I, you know, try to pitch again.

Bryan: Okay, okay, that makes sense. So one of the things I was impressed by was the amount of awards that you have and how your books have been featured everywhere from PopSugar to BuzzFeed to Bustle. So, could you describe your — like your marketing process for books or how you promote it?

Michelle: So the press that I’m working with, they don’t provide marketing but they highly encourage you to hire a PR firm on your own so I did that for books 1 through 4 and they were fantastic in getting me up to speed. I mean, because when I started I literally did not even have a smartphone. I had no online presence, nothing, so I was really starting from ground zero so they were able to help me, like I said, get a website and a newsletter and, you know, a blog and all this kind of stuff and also introduced me to, you know, book awards and podcasts and got me on different interviews or different profiles, like in Publishers Weekly or like PopSugar that I’d never, of course, as a new author would have ever been able to get on my own. 

So, I worked with them, it was really expensive, I’m not sure if it was worth it at this point because it’s hard to make that money back but, hopefully, it gave me a really good foundation and also taught me a lot so that by book 5, I was able to kind of do my own publicity. I’m hoping that the next level, I will be with a publisher that just offer that but a lot of publishers these days only offer you a certain amount and you — even if you’re a traditionally published author, you are responsible for sort of, you know, like filling the gap. 

Bryan: Yeah, that’s what a lot of writers say. So, apart from podcast interviews, are there any other marketing strategies that you’re using at the moment?

Michelle: Well, of course, I do ads. I tend to do a lot of BookBub ads, I do some Facebook ads. I’m part of BookFunnel, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that.

Bryan: Yeah, it’s a great service.

Michelle: Yeah. So you give a book, your first book away for free and then in exchange for their e-mail address and so then you kind of — it helps you to build your newsletter subscription. 

Bryan: And how are you getting people to that list in the first place? That’s always the tricky bit.

Michelle: Well, one way is through BookFunnel, which is — so it’s like you kind of sign up to be part of different promotions. I mean —

Bryan: Oh, they’re running a promotion for you?

Michelle: They’re running promotions, yeah.

Bryan: Oh, that’s it, yeah. 

Michelle: All the time, yeah.

Bryan: Yeah, I just use them for — as more of a service rather than for promotion so I must look at that.

Michelle: Yeah, definitely do that because it’s been really helpful. And then I also do like these really giant giveaways. So, every couple of months, I’ll put together like a giant prize pack, like an iPad, an autographed set of books, maybe some luggage, a silk scarf, some jewelry, whatever it is, it’s usually seasonal, and then I will put this out on Facebook and Instagram and all the platforms and say that one lucky newsletter subscriber will win and it has gotten me thousands of subscribers over — because they say, you know, you should offer something free for people to sign up, like a webinar or top 10 tips or whatever it is, and I just never have time to write that kind of content. 

Bryan: That’s harder for fiction writers as well.

Michelle: It really is, like people say write up like a prequel or something like that to your series, which is fine, but that’s a lot of work.

Bryan: It is. It is, yeah. 

Michelle: So — or write a whole webinar series on like marketing and like, I don’t know. So I’ve been just relying on the giveaway and it’s worked for me. I’ve gotten, like I said, thousands of people sign up to be part of this and, especially if you become friends with different Facebook moderators who have all these like groups that are huge readers, you can ask them, “Hey, can I post this giveaway in your page?” and they say yes and then, you know, you get all of their readers as well. 

Bryan: And are you engaging with the newsletter subscribers regularly, like sending them content or updates on your writing?

Michelle: I send out a monthly so, yeah, it’s a monthly sort of update about what I’m up to and what I’m going to be doing next and if I’m having a giveaway or a promo or something like that.

Bryan: Okay. Okay. When is the next book out?

Michelle: The next book I’m still writing so, normally, it would have been out, you know, it usually comes out April of every year so book 5 came out April 2020. Obviously, we’re now in April of 2021 but I stopped writing the series because, like I said, I really wanted to focus on these other two books. So, meanwhile, my fans were so insistent that they wanted another Henrietta book that I, you know, said okay so now I, you know, quickly write it but so, when it will be out, who knows?

Bryan: Yeah, okay. So, at the moment, are you just focused on writing or do you have any other projects on the go?

Michelle: Well, I am writing this one, I’m editing these other two books and pitching, and then I’m also trying — and, of course, I’m constantly marketing the series, but I’m also really trying to get the series to be repped by a film agent because I’ve had literally hundreds, hundreds, hundreds of readers who write to me and say, “When will this be on Netflix? I’d love to see this.”

Bryan: That’s fantastic.

Michelle: Yeah, but like it’s not easy, you know?

Bryan: Yeah.

Michelle: So, I’ve been really trying to research that and sort of, you know, it’s all about networking and that’s hard to do when everybody is shut down so I’ve actually joined Clubhouse lately and —

Bryan: Is that working for you?

Michelle: It is. I mean, there’s an amazing number of Hollywood execs on this platform and, you know, you can just jump in and out of these rooms and try to start forming connections. I have a call tomorrow with somebody, a manager, so I’m hoping that, you know, she can at least give me maybe some tips on where to go.

Bryan: I must check it out. I’m not on it but I’ve heard a lot about it these past few months.

Michelle: For sure. I think it’s definitely worth it.

Bryan: Okay. So, Michelle, where can people find more information about you, your newsletter, or buy your books?

Michelle: Well, you can go to my website, which has just been updated, michellecoxwrites.com, and you’ll see links there to all my platforms. You’ll see a newsletter sign-up. Definitely sign up for a chance to win a big prize. And I have audio clips there. All the books are on audio. My blog is there which is — has its own little cool following. It’s all stories from the nursing home, it’s all about people who lived in Chicago, forgotten residents, and their story and, like I said, it has its own little fan base so that’s kind of cool. You can check that out.

Bryan: That’s fantastic. It was great to talk to you today.

Michelle: Yeah, you too. Thanks for having me.

Outro:

Bryan: I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. If you did, please consider leaving a short review on the iTunes Store or sharing the show on Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you’re listening. More reviews, more ratings, and more shares will help more people find the Become a Writer Today Podcast. And did you know, for just a couple of dollars a month, you could become a Patreon for the show? Visit patreon.com/becomeawritertoday or look for the Support button in the show notes. Your support will help me record, produce, and publish more episodes each month. And if you become a Patreon, I’ll give you my writing books and discounts on writing software and on my writing courses.