Also known as the Edgy Inspirational Author, Michelle Sutton reads a LOT of books and writes reviews for a variety of blogs and websites as a media reviewer. Along with reviewing fantastic Christian fiction, Michelle has written 9 novels in a variety of genres (YA, Women’s fiction and romance for starters.) She sold her first book, It’s Not About Me, to Sheaf House, a new CBA/ABA publisher taking fresh voices in fiction. Michelle is the mother of two teenagers and has a husband of 18 years. She also serves on the ACFW Operating Board, is the Marketing Director for Sheaf House, is Editor in Chief of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, and is a social worker by trade, hence the edgy content in the fiction she writes.

For more info go to her website at http://www.michellesutton.net
or her Blogger blog @ http://edgyinspirationalauthor.blogspot.com
or her MyCCM.org profile @ http://www.myccm.org/michelle
and check out the new Christian Fiction Online Magazine here…
www.christianfictiononlinemagazine.com

Michelle was one of the first people I met when I got into the writing business. She let me read the first couple of chapters of her latest manuscript about a year ago. On September 1 that same manuscript entitled It’s Not About Me hits the streets as Michelle’s debut novel. There were a lot of people pulling for Michelle to break through. She has aided a multitude of writers in her role as a reviewer. It was her time to be in the spotlight instead of holding it. However, I’m pretty sure Michelle will grab that spotlight away and shine it on Jesus, because after all, it’s not about her. Here’s an interview I did with Michelle today:

DJP: Michelle, when I first met you I tabbed you as the most famous unpublished writer in the world of Christian fiction. How did you get into the position of being a reviewer for all the big names in the industry?

Michelle: LOL! My agent says the same thing. Before I sold a book she said she’d never met a more well-known unpubbed writer. I just love to read and when I really like a book people buy it because they read my review. My readers know I won’t lie about a book either. So the floodgates opened and the next thing I knew there were truckloads of books coming for me to read from authors, publicists, publishing houses, etc. and some of them I never even knew about. Yet people STILL sent me their books to read hoping I’d like them. Oy! I’ve learned to say NO a lot. But for every five books I turn down I take another two because I REALLY want to read it. My hubby says I REALLY want to read everything. Um…yeah, I do!

DJP: I hope you realize that once your book is on the streets, you’ll have to work harder than you did writing it to promote it. Do you have any special plans you can share with us how you hope to penetrate the marketplace?

Michelle: No problem. I’m a marketing maven. It comes second nature to me. How do you think I ended up with so many books to review? I’m using word of mouth, blog interviews and tours, church contacts, business cards, postcards, bookmarks, contests, sending my book to strategic review sites and reviewers, book clubs, all of my social networks like Shoutlife and ECFL to name a few, mailing lists, lined up several book signings in a variety of cities and, um, the magazine, which is HUGE. 🙂 I started my marketing strategy back in December and I have my book and/or me featured on over 60 sites BEFORE I even do my blog tour. I’m selling a lot of pre-orders as a result.

DJP Your available time for reviewing is going to be cut drastically. Are you going to shed tears at passing the crown of premier reviewer to someone else so you can chase the dream of being a top echelon author?

Michelle: Um, so far I’ve kept my usual pace of 6-8 books a month and I’ve been doing to mag, promo and edits, plus more proposals and marketing, and building websites, and I haven’t had to cut back on my reading yet. I just get three times the amount of emails that I did even a month ago. So as a compromise I’ve learned to type faster. Yeah, technically I am getting more behind every month on my TBR pile, but I’m doing the best I can.

DJP: How will you select the books that you do take time to review?

Michelle: Close my eyes and spin around? Actually, my husband tends to read the scarier and more suspenseful books that come to the house. So I have him tell me what he loved about the story and I write it up and call it hubby’s review. That way I can still post a review even if it takes me another year to actually read it myself. He just finished Melanie Wells’s three book series and totally loved it. we’ll be writing up a three book review (of the whole series) this weekend.

DJP: Compare birthing a novel as opposed to giving birth to a baby.

Michelle: The developing of the story was fun, just like my pregnancies were both great. I loved being pregnant and felt beautiful and like a million bucks. The labor process was not so fun. Then when you hold your baby the first time….well, there is nothing like that feeling. So in comparison to writing, the story development was a blast, final polishing not too bad, final edits a bit painful and more of a drag–also took longer than I’d like. But the final product was a beautiful book that gave me an exhilerating feeling just like holding my child the first time.

DJP: You have to be the most active person I have ever met. You review, you write, you blog, you are on every social network in the world, you are involved with Christian Fiction Online Magazine. And on top of that you even answer e-mails! How do you find the time to do all of this? Do you have any time left over for family, friends, and funstuff?

Michelle: I always make time for family, friends and church. Tonight I’m doing a chick night with my girlfriend at her house. Tomorrow night I’m going to a concert. I never put my social life on hold for my “tasks” and rarely do I miss something because of a deadline. I go to parties, rodeos, movies, etc. with my family and friends whenever the opportunity arises. I even try to fit some exercise in there.

DJP: You shared a story on the ACFW loop about your mother, her struggle with MS, and the impact on your family. Perhaps you can share that here as well. I found it inspirational.

You mean the one on the bookclub loop where I said I doubt any of my siblings and I would know the Lord had my mother been healthy and not stricken with MS? I believe God knows what we all need to come to accept His grace and forgiveness, and to receive Him as our savior. Since my mother was bedridden for 20 years, all she could do was pray, but that was HUGE and most likely the reason we are all believers today. Not many parents pray for their children several hours per day every day. Though my mom couldn’t do anything physically, it was something she could do to store up treasures in heaven and she took full advantage of that by praying, “Whatever it takes, Lord.” Many of the stories I write have surrender themes and healing themes. Gee, I wonder why… LOL!

DJP: I know you have been attempting to get published for a while. Do you have any clue how many rejections you suffered through?

Michelle: Probably about sixty to seventy. I stopped counting after my third or fourth. I’ve written nine novels, so you can do the math. We didn’t submit everything to every publisher, but still… there were a lot. Very positive rejections, but still “no.”

DJP: Do you think that after that much longing to attain your goal of publication that it might be a little bit of a bummer to not have that carrot in front of you anymore to keep you giving your all?

Michelle: No way. I still have 8 more novels to sell. 🙂 That will always be a carrot for me as long as I have a book to sell and someone who I can reach by getting it published.

DJP: After having so many books and so many rejections, how seriously tempted were you to self publish?

Michelle: Not really. If I had felt God telling me to I would’ve pursued it, but if He hadn’t that would’ve been taking things into my own hands. God wanted me with Sheaf House. It’s that simple.

DJP: Would you go that route in the future if you can’t find a publisher for some of your books?

Michelle: If I felt God leading me to do that, yes.

DJP: Can you share just a word of wisdom that you’ve gleaned in your journey to publication for those aspiring to follow in your footsteps with their debut novels.

Listen to the Lord and don’t get discouraged. His timing is perfect and He is always good. He’ll know when you are ready. In the meanwhile, be prepared to wait a LONG time. But honestly, the longer I waited the more contacts I made, and the more my name became known, the more books I will be able to sell. So that benefits not only me, but also the publisher, and my readership.

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