Every author has their own path. However, not many have one as interesting and rewarding as the one Michelle Madow has taken. After self-publishing the well-received Transcend Time trilogy, Madow is now trying the traditional route: a contract with HarlequinTeen for The Secret Diamond Sisters, coming out on February 25.
“Self-publishing was a great way for me to get my name out there and build a fan base, but I turned to traditional publishing because publishing houses have a lot to offer,” said Madow. “The editors at publishing houses are the best at what they do, and they have an amazing talent at seeing a story and knowing what needs to be done to make it the best it can be.”
The support of editor Natashya Wilson, which was a definite plus for Madow in terms of choosing traditional publishing, played a huge part in shaping The Secret Diamond Sisters into something Madow saw as better than she ever imagined possible.
Madow knows that a publishing company often offers more support than an author working on their own and covers bases the author might not even be aware of. “The publicity team has ins with people and companies I never could have reached on my own. Plus, a publishing house gets a book shelved at bookstores and libraries, which gets it in front of so many more potential readers.”
One difference between traditional and self-publishing that Madow has had to acclimate to is timing.
“I’ve been amazed by how far in advance everything is done in traditional publishing! For example, by the time the first book in The Secret Diamond Sisters trilogy comes out, I’ll be more than halfway done drafting book three!”
Though Madow has been a writer for as long as she remembers – from journaling to fan fiction – she did not have a professional interest in it until her junior year of college.
“I was taking an Intro to Creative Writing class and when I turned in my first assignment, which became the first chapter of Remembrance, my classmates and teacher loved it and wanted to read more. I’d never thought I could complete a novel, but I realized I would never know if I didn’t try. So I tried, and completed the first draft by the end of the school year.”
Madow also noted that Stephanie Meyer, author of the world-renowned Twilight Saga, was a major encouragement for her to pursue writing as a career. “I read Twilight back in 2005 when it was first published, and back then, Stephanie talked with her fans all the time. At that point, I hadn’t written fiction in years, but Twilight inspired me to start writing fan fiction. Fan fiction helped my writing improve, and eventually gave me the confidence to work on original fiction!”
Madow’s latest project, The Secret Diamond Sisters, came as a sudden spark from Madow’s own visits to Las Vegas for a family event.
“I was walking through my favorite hotel — The Wynn — when I thought, ‘What would it be like to live here?’” said Madow. “From there, the idea for The Secret Diamond Sisters formed! I got the idea in November 2009, but at the time I was working on something else, so I jotted down the idea to save for later.”
In the fall of 2010, Madow was ready to start on her next project – and The Secret Diamond Sisters came to her attention again. “At that time it felt like everything new being published was an intense and dark paranormal or dystopian, so I thought it would be fun to be different and write a glitzy contemporary.”
Of the Diamond sisters, Madow relates most to Courtney. “She’s the most down to Earth and goal-driven sister. I do also have aspects of the other girls in me, though, like Savannah’s optimism and Madison’s confidence.”
Working on The Secret Diamond Sisters led Madow to her own interesting adventures. “My mom does family tree research, and a few months ago she discovered that we have long lost cousins who live in Vegas — and that three of them are sisters who are close to my age! Last time I was in Vegas I was able to meet them, which was really fun.”Author Michelle Madow. Photo courtesy of Lisa Wray.
Though Madow loves watching her words form a novel, her favorite part of the writing process is editing. “I love polishing a draft so it goes from being the basic story I wanted to tell, to something ready to share with the world!”
Publishing can often be a slow and frustrating business. However, Madow focuses on her enthusiasm for what she does, and inspires herself to keep going.
“Being an author is the only career I see for myself that’s something I’m good at, enjoy doing, and would make me happy. I love books more than anything in the world, I’ve always had a knack for creating and writing stories, and I love having power over my own schedule. Giving up is simply not an option.”