I first came across Melissa Storm several years ago and was delighted to discover she was local to me. At that time, she was writing under a different pen name and running an author services company called Novel Publicity. Everything about her impressed me and I figured I'd keep an eye on her to see how her career progressed.
Since then, I've gotten to know her better and have been at several local events with her. I even got to meet a few of her adorable dogs. (Sky Princess is a precious little Chihuahua I totally adore. Unfortunately, when I told Sky Princess that I would take her home with me, I quickly discovered that the feeling was not mutual. Too bad. I still adore her.)
Indeed, Melissa is a rising star and a huge inspiration to me. She is now a USA Today Bestselling author, and Amazon bestseller, the owner of Sweet Promise Press, and will soon be in a book alongside Fern Michaels. (Heard of her, anyone?) She also writes wildly successful cozy mysteries as Molly Fitz.
Authors, Melissa has a lot of great information and services to help you too. If you want to put in the work to be successful like her, you can take her courses to learn. She offers the Author Engine where you can learn how to write cozy mysteries, what it takes to become a USA Today bestseller, master Facebook ads, and more. She even offers a Quick Tips course for free.
As if that wasn't enough, she also offers amazing marketing services through LitRing.
SJ: I’ve known you for several years and I’ve watched you grow, change, rebrand, and achieve success. You’ve written YA, children’s, contemporary women’s fiction, before landing on sweet romance and now, cozy mystery. You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are. Many authors are struggling at the very beginning of their journey wondering if they’ll ever find success. What did you learn through your rebranding process that made the difference for you?
MS: Before I rebranded, I was trying to do everything. That’s just my way I guess, but it wasn’t the best for me or for any potential readers. By rebranding, I was able to laser focus what I wanted to do and stop wasting time on projects I couldn’t give my all to.
SJ: What has been your biggest struggle as a writer?
MS: Finding myself. Like you said, I’ve done all sorts of genres. But the challenging part was trying to find where I belonged and where I felt happiest. I think I’ve done that now.
SJ: You seem to have the golden touch when it comes to marketing. What are your top tips for authors who are struggling, stressed, and depressed by their marketing performance?
MS: There are two ways to go about marketing. One of them is the DIY. In that case you need to research trends, experiment with copy, graphics, targeting, and everything else. It’s a job in itself to do that. The other way is to hire someone to do it for you.
SJ: You’re an amazingly prolific writer. How long does it take you to write a book, and what is your process for getting so much writing done?
MS: I generally let the stress of a looming deadline motivate me to write books in a week or less. Thankfully, I have a proofer and editor that are willing to work in chunks as I pound away at my keyboard. I mean, I’m always working, but the bulk of my actual writing happens in the final few days
SJ: What is your proudest achievement as a writer?
MS: Oh, that’s a tough one since achievements come in many different forms. I’d say the two things that have made me happiest is when I receive fan mail telling me that my books made an actual difference in a reader’s life. Also when I started earning a full-time living from my royalties, I felt pretty danged proud!
SJ: In addition to being a bestselling author, you own your own author services company, Novel Publicity, and your own publishing company, Sweet Promise Press! What’s the key to successfully managing everything?
MS: Angi. Angi is my key to everything. She’s a great assistant and without her I’d still have so much on my plate that I probably wouldn’t be able to write as much as I do right now. It all comes down to finding balance.
SJ: I may have some readers out there who would be interested in submitting to Sweet Promise Press. Do you have any tips to help them maximize their chance of being accepted?
MS: Check out the submission criteria and follow it to the letter. Also make sure to submit a writing sample that is in the same genre as the series you’re hoping to write for us. Both of these help in a huge way!
SJ: The #1 lament I see from new authors is nonexistent funds for cover designers, editors, proofreaders, and marketing. What advice would you give them?
MS: It might seem expensive or frivolous, but these expenses are vital to success as a new author. I don’t suggest foregoing any of them, but I would recommend doing skill bartering for what you can or just saving.
SJ: Your cozy mysteries, written as Molly Fitz, are a fun and quirky departure from your sweet romances. How did the idea for Kitty Confidential come to you and how did you make the decision to try this new genre?
MS: Honestly I saw a premade cover from Lou Harper that I just loved, then I made a story to go with it. I had so much fun that I’m now working on Octo-Cat’s 10th story and plan for at least 50 of them. Honestly!
SJ: What’s next for Melissa Storm/Molly Fitz?
MS: For my Melissa Storm brand, things are about to get… traditional? I’m in a collection with Fern Michaels soon, followed by the release of a new series with Kensington, The Sunday Potluck Club. I have no idea what’s going to happen with that, but I’m nervously and excitedly waiting for the first release. As for Molly Fitz, I have several new plots and series brewing in my head so there will be many more cozy mysteries and obviously a lot more Octo-Cat.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions. You're awesome!