Q&A with Michelle Young

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Q&A With Michelle Young

Today I’m doing a Q&A with author Michelle Young.  As well as being an author, Michelle is an Entrepreneur, mental health advocate and the owner of Rock Forest Publishing. It’s quite an impressive list. 

Q: So Michelle at what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer? 

A: I always loved writing, but I never thought I would ever become an author. It was this far-reaching, seemingly unattainable goal. I took a Writer’s Craft course in high school and that was that. I wrote songs and poems but rarely shared them with anyone. While going through some challenging times a few years ago, writing became my outlet and my way to express the ups and downs of the journey. I started blogging and eventually wrote my first poetry book, Salt & Light. At first, it was meant to be my only book, but once I saw the response and need for these kinds of subject, I wrote my second book, and then I began to write novels. 

Q: What’s your advice to anyone who wants to be a writer?

A: Consistency and persistence are key. I wrote my first book in the busiest season of my life, with no internet, little spare time, and no money. The dream was pushing me forward when everything around me seemed to be an obstacle. There were so many ways to give up on this book, so many times I almost did. I often felt overwhelmed by the vulnerability of what I was sharing, or the magnitude of the work ahead of me. There was a steep learning curve every step of the way, especially as a self-published author, but I kept telling myself that if others could do it, why not me? It wasn’t about becoming a best seller, or making a living off the books, but rather offering encouragement and seeking connection with others. The idea of writing a novel can seem completely overwhelming. I decided to take a practical approach to it and broke down the work by word count. Writing about 1,000 words a day was a challenge at the beginning but within three months, I had a novel! Nowadays, I can write over 5,000 words in a morning, but that took practice. 

Q: What were your favorite novels you read this year so far?

A: I read so many good books this year! And there are so many more to come. My favorites were ‘Girl In Pieces’ (Kathleen Glasgow) was such an important and raw book about self-harm that I believe everyone should read and ‘It Ends With Us’ (Colleen Hoover) was a beautiful and haunting story on how differently abuse can be manifested within relationships. 

Q: What advice do you give anyone who struggles with writers block?

A: This happens and it’s normal. There are seasons where the words flow and other times when we need to experience things firsthand, sit with the thoughts or feelings, and understand them deeply before putting them to paper. I used to worry about seasons when I wasn’t writing, but my mind was working on overdrive, developing stories, plot details, and planning marketing strategies that I would have otherwise not had time to consider had I been writing non-stop. For me, writing comes in waves and when them come, I do all I can to prioritize it. Whenever I get stuck on a part of the story or get frustrated with my writing, I don’t push. Instead, I step away and work on another part of my business, whether it’s cover design, inventory, sales, marketing, etc. Often, I’ll go for a walk to work out problems in the story or clean my house like a mad woman. I find moving and focusing on things I can control help immensely. Eventually, as it always does, the creative edge returns in full-force and I’m back at my computer typing away. 

Q: Out of all the books you wrote, if you had to choose which one was your favorite one to write?

A: This is something I get asked often and I struggle with the answer. Each story marks an important part of my life as I spend so long writing each one. Salt & Light, being my first, will always hold a very special part of my heart as it was what got me started and launched me into this wonderful career. In terms of novels, I’d have to say There She Lies is probably my favorite, although it was by far the longest story I’ve written (so far!), as well as the story that pushed my limits as a writer. It was the first time I tried various writing skills, allowed myself to get fully immersed in the darkest corners of my mind and allowed whatever outcome to happen. It’s the novel that took the longest to publish, with a three-year process from start to finish. There She Lies started off a 2-second vision I had one day and became my longest story.  

Q: What’s it like owning your own publishing company?

A: I absolutely love it! I really enjoy having an active role in everything surrounding the book production and promotion. It has been a major growth opportunity for me to advocate for my work, network, participate in events, and sell on my own, but I’ve loved every part of it. I even make my own covers, which has been so great to get to choose all the various elements that make the product what it is. It’s been great receiving feedback firsthand from bookstores and readers and actually being able to connect with them directly. Learning everything from scratch was definitely a challenge, but I feel as though I know it so well now that I’m in a position where I can help so many others to realize their goals, and for this I am grateful! I have come across some snags and limitations along the way, but the world of self-publishing is ever changing, therefore, I have hope that in the very near future, the same opportunities and considerations as traditionally published authors. The quality of the books and the stories I produce, along with many other self-published authors, should receive the same representation and exposure as any others when it comes to bookstores, awards, media coverage, sales, hype, etc. 

Q: What advice do you give to future entrepreneurs? 

A: Learning the entire process and having a say in every step of the book production isn’t for everyone, but if it’s something that’s important to you, then I would strongly encourage you to pursue it. There may be many obstacles and setbacks along the way, but most business experience this. The amount of information available to aid in your success is astounding. You can find out so much just by speaking to others in the business or doing your own research. Don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way, as someone has asked them before you and it will help you move forward. Be clear about your goals, make small steps forwards, but be consistent with your progress. Stay true to yourself along the way as not every new trend will be the right move for you. Observe and learn from tried-and-true methods, stay curious, and if you need a break, then pause, but don’t stop. There is more than one way to get to where you want to go, so keep your direction open, but never give up on your goal. When I started, I only saw the limits before me and thought it impossible to reach my goals. But I wanted to publish my book badly enough that I found a way around it. Look for what you can control and work with it.