Mike Faricy is the award winning author of mystery suspense thrillers woven together with a rich strain of humor and even some romance. He and his wife live in Saint Paul, Minnesota and Dublin, Ireland.
His entertaining tales are populated with the sort of quirky, oddball characters we’d all like to know more about, but wisely prefer to keep at a distance. They serve not so much as examples as they do warnings to the rest of us. None of his characters will be saving the world from terrorism, international banking conspiracies or coups to topple the government. Rather, they’re individuals inhabiting a world just below the surface of polite society. The difficulties they find themselves in are usually due to their own bad decisions, but then, bad decisions make for interesting tales.
All of his books are stand alone, read them in any order you wish. Russian Roulette introduces the bizarrely devilish Devlin Haskell as a PI with a foot on both sides of the law. Dev’s adventures continue in Mr. Softee and the soon to be released Bite Me. Mike is currently working on his latest top secret project. He graduated High School from St. Thomas Academy and earned a BA in history from St. Norbert College.
His latest book is the crime fiction, Bombshell.
First off, thanks for having me, it’s great to be here. I’m multi published, my most recent release Bombshell is my tenth book. All my books are indie published. Bombshell is the fourth in my series featuring Dev Haskell, Private Investigator.
Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?
All my books are self published. I attempted to get the attention of traditional publishers and I think I led the league in rejections from every publishing house in North America. When you submit a book you typically don’t send the manuscript or even the first three chapters. You send a query letter. The query letter is one page consisting of three paragraphs. The first two paragraphs describe your work, some character detail and the plot of your soon to be award winning tale. The third paragraph consists of a sentence or two about your wonderful self. This is mailed with a desperate prayer and a self addressed stamped envelope so the publisher doesn’t have to pay to tell you no.
Typically I would mail out fifty or sixty query letters on a work. In return I would receive a form letter, often just a 4 x 5 index card printed with some sort of polite rejection line and no signature. After submitting three or four books over the course of some years I was drowning in rejections. One day I had one of my query letters returned. I’d mailed it to one of the big six publishers in New York, it was stamped crookedly across the front in purple ink ‘Return to Sender’. On the back of my unopened envelope was a hand written note that read; “This does not fit our needs at this time”. They never even bothered to open the envelope and read my query letter. I suppose I should have been thankful some poor fool took the time to hand write a note.
A dim light suddenly went on in my thick skull; Mike Faricy from St. Paul, Minnesota doesn’t have a snowball’s chance with these guys. The difference is, in today’s world there’s a side gate into the publishing yard, it’s called eBooks and self publishing. I haven’t looked back since and I still have that unopened envelope.
Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?
I didn’t sign a contract, I self publish, but it took a few years to get to the point where I realized self publishing was and is a viable option. Not only is it viable, I think it’s the only way to go. Would I talk to Random House or Penguin if they called? You bet. I’d crawl across a busy street on my hands and knees to get to them. But I would be able to sit down and do a pretty cold comparison. I talked with a publishing house a while back, they told me if they accepted my manuscript that very day it would be twelve to eighteen months before the thing would be an ink on paper book or an eBook, and then all the promotion would be up to me at my expense. They would hold all the rights to the work and I would gross fifteen percent. Really? You have to be kidding, it sounds like slave labor. That’s a business model that simply is not viable today. I have fans all over the world able to download my eBooks. If they don’t have an Ereader they can order a print on demand copy that is shipped to them in twenty-four hours. I don’t have to warehouse anything. I don’t have to pay for a large print run. I can make a change to my format or fix a missed typo in minutes from the comfort of my desk. Twelve to eighteen months on a completed, edited manuscript in today’s market is simply not of benefit to me. It’s truly amazing the possibilities that exist today for authors.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I was really proud of the fact, win, lose or draw, it was out there. We, my wife and I, didn’t tell anybody for a couple of days. I had a website going up at the same time as my first book, Russian Roulette, was released. We had my siblings and my mom over for Strawberry shortcake and some wine on a Friday night. My laptop displaying my new website was centered on the dining room table. I gift wrapped an autographed copy of my book for everyone. About a week later my mom was on line showing my website to a friend and Googled my name. A romance writer out of Colorado, Deb Stover had used my name as the romantic hero in one of her books in about 1997, she didn’t know me. Anyway, my mom lands on an article posted on Google comparing the hero with my name to the likes of Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson. By this time Mel Gibson was having some pretty serious marital problems. So, I get the phone call telling me “It’s all over the internet. You are being compared to Mel Gibson. You have to do something about this.” Yeah right, let me stop everything and I’ll just call Google and tell them to make a correction. I contacted Deb Stover via face book and told her about the phone call. We both had a great laugh. We periodically check in to see how one another are doing. I’m not sure my mom has recovered yet.
Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I’m usually pretty organized, but I wasn’t on my first release. Once it was up on Amazon I probably checked a half dozen times that first day to see how many books had been sold. It dawned on me that you could have a Pulitzer worthy work out there, but if no one knows about it, well? So I began to slowly contact and learn my way around the promotion trail. It’s very easy to become a pest on social media. A lot of people use social media to contact friends, comment, and perhaps support a special cause. They don’t necessarily want to hear from me and a million other writers that we’re offering our third in the series of Cat’s Who Solve Mysteries for half off during the next forty-five minutes and if you just click this link then leave your phone number and home address you might win an autographed copy with a lipstick kiss.
I think what I learned is that the process is basically slow, methodical and has to be built. Occasionally there are exceptions that seem to explode on the scene, maybe Fifty Shades, Hunger Games or the Da Vinci Code, but those are the exception rather than the rule. My experience is slow and steady wins the race. Today we have an opportunity to interact with readers, learn what they like or God forbid, don’t like and then possibly adjust. I had comments from two women on one of my books, the first emailed and said; “I’m just not sure about some of your sexual intonation.” The second said; “One hundred and thirty-five pages and this is all the sex I get?!” That suggested to me I was just about where I needed to be.
Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?
I’ve become much more disciplined, you simply have to be if you’re really serious there simply is not enough time in the day. I write every day and at base writing is a solitary endeavor. You have to sit there and tap keys and while doing that I can’t really interact. My television has virtually been off for a couple of years, not really a complaint. I do not have that additional hour or two to watch whatever I would like. When I’m not writing I read, constantly. I read for enjoyment, but I’m also analyzing style, structure, character development, and plot. I carry a notebook with me at all times and jot down something that strikes me. It might be a story, maybe just one line, perhaps a name or something that grabs my attention. When we go for walks my wife will say something like, “You’re a bit quiet.” Of course I reply with some line about how my guy is tied to an office chair hanging out a fifth story window by a phone cord with a hungry squirrel gnawing on the cord… She usually picks up her pace and leaves me in the dust.
Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?
The industry as a whole is really in a state of turmoil. This seems to be a version of what the music industry went through a few years back when suddenly there were other options besides just having to pay $18 for a CD. I came out of the lithographic trades a million years ago. We had highly trained and skilled people make very expensive changes to a magazine ad or the image of a model in a catalog. Clients paid a lot of money to get just the right shadow definition, match a color or whatever. We employed hundreds of thousands of people in an industry that for all practical purposes does not exist today. The task that not so long ago took us two or three days and one thousand dollars to complete can now be accomplished by a ten year old in twenty minutes using Photoshop.
I’m not sure the traditional publishing industry as a whole has gotten the message yet, they seem to be circling the wagons. They’re telling me 12-18 months before my book is made into ink on paper? They have eternal rights to my work, even after my death and oh by the way, they’ll pay me 15% twice a year and can’t afford to give me a promo budget. That is just not the world we live in. I’m self published and I’m blessed to have great fans. None of that could have happened as recently as five years ago. The fact that someone can download one of my books at two in the morning in about forty-five seconds while they’re in bed or order a print on demand book at a competitive price, with a full color front and back cover and it’s delivered the next day is nothing short of amazing. I’m not sure a traditional publisher would be able to bring that much to the table; still I’d certainly listen to what they had to say.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
I love what I do. It’s a labor of love, that should be capitol ‘L’ on both words, but I’m very lucky. My teachers would probably say I’ve always been a good liar and now it would seem I get to do it for a living. I’m able to meet really nice, wonderful people from all over the world. I hopefully bring some joy and entertainment into their lives with my books, maybe even the occasional laugh out loud moment. What’s not to like?
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Follow that dream. Sit down and start tapping keys. You don’t have to write a thousand pages, maybe do a short story or a novella. But start. I run into a lot of people who say they’re going to write a book or should write a book. But only a handful sit down and actually begin the process, even fewer finish. Most of those folks wouldn’t think about an editing process. Write just one page today. Write a second page tomorrow, but begin and then stay at it. Make it as perfect as possible, that means edit and re-edit so many times you lose count. Gee, I’m sounding dull even to me, but it’s what you have to do. Many thanks for having me, I hope you’ll have me back. Best of luck to everyone. I hope you enjoy Bombshell, please don’t forget to tell two to three hundred of your closest friends.