Laura Howard: Six Questions with Melissa Pearl


Six Questions with Melissa Pearl

It's refreshing when you're a soon-to-be-published author and you see someone who shares their journey with complete transparency. Melissa Pearl has now self-published five books and shares her experience openly. She hasn't been an overnight success, but works hard each day to make her dreams come true. Welcome to Six Question Saturday Melissa!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Vividly. I always had an over-active imagination as a kid and was constantly making up stories. I wrote a few down, but never seriously considered that it'd be something I could actually do. Becoming an author didn't cross my mind until my first year of teaching when my best friend asked me to write one of the stories I was telling her about (I'd never told anyone my stories, but she seemed interested, so I spilled). She liked the idea and wanted to read it, so I set about writing it for her. I loved every moment of writing that book and was completely hooked after that. My goodness - that was eleven years ago now. I've come such a long way. It's been awesome!!!

Which authors have influenced your writing the most?

From a studying viewpoint - Robert McKee, Christopher Vogler, Thomas B. Sawyer and Renni Browne. They have written some great books on how to write well and I have learned so much from them.

From an inspiration viewpoint - Francine Rivers, Dee Henderson and Simone Elkeles would probably be my top three. These woman know how to write relationships that are real and fully addictive. Putting their books down is so impossibly hard to do :)

Each author has such a unique story- what has your road to publication been like?

After writing my first novel, I went about trying to get it published in New Zealand (my homeland). I had no luck.

At the time, I was also working on a manuscript for the Time Spirit Trilogy. I felt like these books really had something to offer and I even tested them out on some school kids to see what they thought. They all loved it and I decided that getting that much praise from my target audience, probably meant I could take this manuscript somewhere. So I started submitting to agents.

On my second hit, I got a nibble. I was over the moon. These guys were keen and basically promised me a publishing deal on the spot. THANKFULLY before I signed anything with them, my husband did a little searching and we soon discovered these "agents" were not so great. I can't remember the name of them now, but as a warning, if they ask you for money - don't go there!

After a couple of years of submissions and rejections, my brother suggested I look into self-publishing and told me about Amanda Hocking's story. At first I thought that self-publishing was just for people who couldn't make it, but as I began to investigate, I changed my mind.

Self-publishing my work has opened so many doors and my books are being read and enjoyed by so many people now. It has been just over a year since I published my first book - Golden Blood. Since then I've published another four, have met so many outstanding people, learned so many amazing lessons, improved as a writer and become a small business owner (I guess you could say).

What is your editing process and have you hired a professional editor?

After my first draft, I sent it to my critique readers. I have four and they are all brilliant. I then sent my second draft to a professional editor.

After that, I sent the draft to some doctors who were helping me with the medical stuff. They got back to me so fast and I was able to make the appropriate changes.

At draft four, I was ready to have it proofed. I didn't pay for a professional proof reader (I had run out of budget by then), but have decided that for my next book, I definitely will. My proof readers were great (I had 3 of them), but I would love to see what a professional line editor comes back with.

What would you have done differently since you first became a published author?

Allocating a budget for an editor is definitely worth it. I want to be known as an author that produces quality work. I consider myself a professional now and I want to act like one.

Getting a graphic designer to do book covers is also key. I ended up re-doing all my book covers for the Time Spirit Trilogy. It was worth it, but it was a real pain trying to get it done. Having a clear idea of what the cover needs to say and a graphic designer who understands, is so vital.

I also think allocating a little money & time towards marketing is a good idea. No one knew who I was when I first started out and it took things like blog tours and school visits before I saw any real movement in my books. I'd much rather spend all day writing, but unfortunately time must be allocated to spreading the word. As my fan base grows it gets a little easier. 

How do you stay in touch with your readers?

Through my Facebook page (Melissa Pearl - Author) and my blog. I have also started up a Book Updates Newsletter. It's so easy for people to miss things on your FB page or miss an important blog post, so I've started writing a monthly newsletter to let people know what my books are doing and if I have any specials or giveaways going.

I am also planning a website for next year (so excited!!!), which I'll hopefully be launching in February, so that will be another way for me to connect with people.


Now it's your turn to answer a question! What step are you on in your publishing journey?


  1. I have seen her books around. Adding :) I also loved Francine Rivers and Simone Elkeles. Good luck, Melissa, with everything!

  2. Great advice. The road to publication is often incredibly rocky and it's wonderful of you to share with others so they can avoid some of the pitfalls. Great interview with a great lady!

    1. Thanks, Heather :) It's a touch humiliating to admit where I went wrong, but if it helps others, then it's worth it :)

  3. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Laura. It's so great to be here :)

  4. Enjoyed the interview. Thanks for introducing us to Melissa!


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