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The Business of (Indie) Writing – Day 4 – On being a professional Indie author, with Maggie Christensen

What does it take to live the life of a professional Indie author? Maggie Christensen is about to publish her sixth novel, Champagne for Breakfast, and her answer is simple: learning. ‘It’s just learning as I go,’ Maggie assures me. ‘I’m learning all the time.’ And that’s the secret. There’s so much to do and so much to learn it takes time and dedication to become a successful Indie author. Not only does Maggie dress and speak beautifully, everything about what she does as an author screams professionalism. From her website, to her book covers and her marketing, it’s clear this woman knows what she’s about. And today, she’s sharing what she knows with us. We chat about marketing, book promotions, price points, beta readers and reviews, among other things. She even tried making a business plan once. And what Maggie loves most about being an Indie author? Being in control of every part of the process with the support and guidance of a network of peers and the Alliance of Independent Authors (once she finds the time to join). You can find out more about Maggie and her novels here.

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Melinda: It's welcome to another episode of Writer on the Road. Today I've got with me the beautiful Maggie Christensen. She's sitting here waiting expectantly wondering what I'm going to ask her. So at the moment we're just coming off our five days of the Business of Writing series that I've been running so I'm all fired up to keep prodding and poking at those indie publishers and how they get to the stage where they are, very, very successful with all the work they do on top of their full time writing job. Maggie, welcome to Writer on the Road.
Maggie Christensen: Thanks so much for inviting me, Melinda.
Melinda: Not a problem at all. If you'd like to share with our listeners a little of your story to date?
Maggie Christensen: My writing story or my life story?
Melinda: Well what would we like to hear listeners? I think we'd like to start with your life story because I know you were at some stage down in my home area of Sydney but I know you're from Glasgow and other than that I don't know a lot. So I'm curious tell us about you.
Maggie Christensen: I'm was teaching primary school in Scotland and I had the wanderlust so I, in my mid-twenties I answered a call to come and teach in the sun. The ad had this semi-naked surfer wearing budgie smugglers and a gown saying, come and teach in the sun and I tell people I'm still looking for that guy. But the interesting thing is the last author talk I gave one man at the back put his hand and said it was me, it was me. But anyway, I immigrated to Sydney to teach in schools.
Then I, after teaching for a number of years in state and private schools I moved into teacher education. That took me, first of all to Goulburn, countryside of Goulburn to a college called the Goulburn CAE which then closed and then I moved with the college and some of the staff to Wagga so it's another country town and it was there that much to my surprise at the ripe old age of 37, I'd given up hope of finding my soulmate and there he was, this gentle giant of an American guy who was teaching in the same classes as me. So I did meet my soulmate but it wasn't the guy who was advertising to come to Australia. We've been married now for over thirty years.
Melinda: That's a beautiful story. I've got a funny feeling I've spoke to you a little bit about this before Maggie. Now I did meet Maggie down at a book signing at Mitchelton, same place I met Rachel Amphlett to be honest and it's not a place I hang around a lot but I've managed to meet two beautiful ladies there. But my hometown is Goulburn and I believe we may have had that conversation because I actually started my, we did didn't we.
Maggie Christensen: We figured that you might have been a student of mine but neither of us remember each other.
Melinda: It was what, back in the late 70's, early 80's I think, way back when there was a teachers college in Goulburn, it then turned into a police academy or something. But it's amazing how our stories intertwine and that happens more often than you would think. One of the first questions that I want to talk to you about your writing today Maggie is I notice you have beautiful, beautiful beach covers and as that's my favorite topic in the whole world tell us about your obsession with the beach.
Maggie Christensen: I've always wanted to live near the beach and now I'm on the Sunshine Coast I do. My husband and I walk along the beach most mornings, we're near Peregian beach which is a beautiful long stretch of beach. So in writing my books I always have something beachy in them, excuse me. In my Sydney books Band of Gold and Broken Threads the beach features quite markedly, in fact my character in Band of Gold actually comes up to Peregian beach and goes to some of my favorite places including my favorite bookshop.
There's a story with that because there's another lady who writes about Peregian beach, a local author here Pat Node and in one of her book launches at Annie's bookshop in Peregian which is a wonderful bookshop Annie said but you have never have my bookshop in your books. So I decided okay Annie, you're going to be in one of my books. So Annie's bookshop appears in Band of Gold in my Oregon coast series well Florence in Oregon is right on the coast, the whole town is built on sand. So hence the beaches on all of my covers.
Melinda: Maggie is now talking about the Queensland coast for our international listeners, all our international listeners a lot of them are from Germany nowadays since we had Sherrie Macarthy on which is interesting I think I've quite a following over there now. But yeah, Queensland Coast, New South Wales Coast, all beautiful, beautiful parts of the world. I'm particularly interested in those at the moment because I'm about to start school holidays. It's raining buckets out there at the moment but I'm sure the sun will come out tomorrow. Now Maggie--
Maggie Christensen: Sun is shining up here.
Melinda: The latest book that I've got is called Madeline House and I picked that up, as I said recently and it looks like from what I can gather it looks like it's book six from you?
Maggie Christensen: No, it's my fifth book but it's book three in my Oregon Coast series.
Melinda: Oregon Coast --
Maggie Christensen: Although it's a series they're all standalone stories.
Melinda: There's a story with that, I wanted to bring you around to. It's dedicated to wonderful lady from what I can gather, in memory Maxine who inspired Maggie.
Maggie Christensen: Maxine was my mother-in-law and she has an interesting story in that she lived in California and in her eighties she moved to Oregon where her brother and sister-in-law were living and she moved to the little town of Florence, Oregon which is my connection with that town. My husband and I visit her on many occasions and that's what made me decide to set a series of books there.
Melinda: I remember having the conversation with Maggie about what book I should buy because they've all got beautiful covers like I said I might put them up on my blog post when we put this episode up and everyone can see what I'm talking about. But I couldn't decide which book to buy and being from Goulburn and Sydney and those kinds of places I was very tempted to buy one of those books. But this Maggie's most recent book and apparently you've been getting the best reviews from that, all your books have been doing very well but people seem to be particularly enamored with this one, is that correct?
Maggie Christensen: I think so, I get good reviews for all them, but I think this one has struck a cord with some people. A number of people have picked up on the sort of domestic violence part of it, although it's not a huge part of the book but that's the reason my character leaves Sydney and goes to Florence is that she has a very controlling husband.
Melinda: I don't think we've mentioned Maggie's heroines are mature heroines and I've spoken to someone else, oh I know it was Jenn McLeod, her heroine, or Jenn J McLeod, her heroines are mature as well. So I'm pretty sure they're not as mature as us but they might be. But it'd be very interesting to go and hear their stories because I know they've got a new selection of romances now called New-Age fiction, what are they called the new hip, everyone's that's 21 years, 20 years old.
Maggie Christensen: New-Adult fiction.
Melinda: New-Adult fiction that's correct and I thought if they're going to have New-Adult they should have middle aged as well, I think that's only fair. We all want a handsome hero, well some of us do. Actually cancel that, maybe we don't.
Maggie Christensen: I call mine my mature women's fiction and I say that I celebrate mature women and the heroes worthy of them.
Melinda: You have to be a damn worthy hero nowadays I can tell you. I'm not sure we can write romance novels with no heroes at all, but it worth a challenge I suppose. At least in books we can make them do what we want. Okay now your books are Dreamcatcher, Sand Dollar, Break Threads, Band of Gold, and now Madeline House. Now you have a very interesting story about your cover designer. Now I did try to get in touch with her but I haven't heard back yet so I might have to get you to introduce me. But apparently she's very, very good and she looks very, very good.
Maggie Christensen: She is brilliant, she really is. I came across her, I was looking, I was looking at books that I liked and I found a Welsh author actually Jan Ruth and she was using Jane and then through Jan I founded my editor and he recommended Jane and I looked at her portfolio and I just loved her covers and she's so easy to work with, she's brilliant.
Melinda: If I can track her down everybody I'd love to have a cover designer on our show. I tried to talk my cover into coming on but he was to shy.
Maggie Christensen: I'm sure that Jane would be delighted. She's just recently actually put out a book, oh gosh I can't remember the actual name but it's about cover design and formatting where she gives a lot of hints and tips without selling herself but it's a brilliant book really on that and you can get, you can download that Amazon. J.D. Smith.
Melinda: I'll certainly do that because I think it's a topic that as Indies we're all very, very interested in. I notice Annie Seaton is actually showing off her beautiful Daintree cover on Facebook at the moment. She had a beautiful--
Maggie Christensen: It's gorgeous.
Melinda: She had a beautiful cover on Kakadu Sunrise and now or Kakadu Sunset and now she's got Daintree Sunrise. But the covers are gorgeous, I know she designs some of her covers as well for other clients. So it's just such a huge feature I think of getting our books out there professionally designed and looking very good against all the other books that are out there competing, I guess for our readers attentions.
Let's talk a little bit about your Indie publishing journey because when I met you you've obviously got it down pat, you're very, very professional with the, how your store was set up, your bookmarks, your huge banner sign with you books on it, your professional demeanor. Maggie is Scottish, of Scottish descent and she just dresses beautifully and speaks beautifully and that's what attracted me, I went wow this woman really knows her stuff. Have you had to work hard to get to the point that you're at?
Maggie Christensen: It's been a huge learning curve because I started knowing nothing. I started thinking I'd go down the traditional route, I actually started writing a couple of Mills & Boone type books and submitted them but by the time I heard back from the publisher eighteen months later asking me to redo and resubmit I'd started writing mature women's fiction which is what I like to read. What I found was that the traditional publishers and agencies, I just didn't quite meet their, fit their list. So I decided I'd self-publish.
So what I did was look at other people who've self-published and what I've found and you've probably found too Melinda, the writing community in Australia is such a supportive group of people. So I learned a lot from others, I joined Romance Writers of Australia, Queensland Writers Center, The Alliance of Independent Authors which is brilliant for all Indie authors and I just learned as I went along and I've learnt from what other people do, my banner's I say Alison Stewart on Facebook with a banner like that and I found out where she got it and I decided I'll go down that track.
It's learning as I go and I learn more all the time. I'm still learning about advertising and about Twitter and I don't know anything about Audiobooks but I've set up with Rachel Amphlett, next time I met her we're going to talk audiobooks because she's just put one out. So it's just a continual learning process.
Melinda: I was listening to Rachel's, I put her up today on my podcast and she was talking about the edits of her, oh gosh white something, White Gold and it was seven hours of audio that she had to go through. I've just made contact with a lady and she's coming on the podcast next week and she's our audiobook expert so I'm very keen because this holiday's I'm going to finish recording The Minor's Wife so I might put that one up sooner rather than later because I think a few of us are interested in that whole process of audio books.
Maggie Christensen: It depends on your audio but I know with my audience there are a lot of older women who really like audiobooks. I, one of the things I do, I volunteer with our local library and I select and deliver books to people who are homebound, housebound or are living in nursing homes and quite a few them prefer audiobooks because they're getting to the stage where they can't read much anymore.
Melinda: I had an elderly auntie and she was exactly that, she used to read the large print and in the end she couldn't read at all so she could sit there and listen to her stories. I thought was a beautiful, beautiful thing to happen. I noticed on Facebook, I don't even know who put it up, someone put it up yesterday, it might have been within one of my podcast, it was within my podcasting group they've just got back from a conference, Amazon is starting to incorporate and I thought well that's very interesting as well outside Audible, I'm not quite sure what it was all about, I just looked at it and thought I'll have to come back and look at it later but apparently it's pretty exciting stuff.
Maggie Christensen: I must look into that too.
Melinda: I'm sure we'll all find out eventually, I'm sure they won't keep it a secret or it'll be spread all over the place, however works. Yeah, look I don't even know how Audible works to be honest, all I know is here in Australia we can't use it so it's irrelevant to us.
Maggie Christensen: That's all I know too. But Rachel seems to have managed that so I'm interested in talking with her.
Melinda: She may have an American address, we did discuss it briefly but I can't remember. So there are too many things. But we will find out about it and when I get on my audio friend next week we'll discuss it I guess a little bit further. You talked about The Alliance of Independent Authors. Do you have that on your website? You don't have their little emblem.
Maggie Christensen: No I don't, I keep meaning to do that, I haven't done that yet. But I just found they're invaluable in terms of advice and tips and answering any questions and it's just such a great community.
Melinda: Yeah I've put out a SOS to Orna Ross who is the business, what is she, she's the one of the directors or something.
Maggie Christensen: I think.
Melinda: I've got an invitation out to her to come on board and tell us all about The Alliance of Independent Authors. Again, because that's the stage I'm at, I'm looking at joining there, I've been saving up my pennies for a while to join The Alliance of Independent Authors because I think it's so fantastic and then Joanna Penn put out her conference here in Australia, so my two hundred dollars went to that to then.
Maggie Christensen: I also love that.
Melinda: How could we not go and see Joanna Penn when she's on our own backdoor with Rachel Amphlett and what's the other lady, I've forgotten her name.
Maggie Christensen: Belinda, gosh I met her last week.
Melinda: Yeah, well we'll get her on board as well if we can --
Maggie Christensen: Belinda Pollard.
Melinda: That's the one. I notice you have another favorite author of mine, or she used to be a favorite author back when I had time to read and it was Liz Byrski, I noticed she was on your Cafe Cala.
Maggie Christensen: Yes, she was, Cafe Cala. Yeah, she's one of the authors who inspired me partly because she writes about older women but also she started writing fiction in her fifties as well although she's been teaching creative writing in Western Australia for a number of years.
Melinda: Tell us a little bit more about Cafe Cala that, you've got some wonderful authors on there.
Maggie Christensen: Yes, I decided to start a blog and I'm not good at making up blog posts so I decided to interview authors. I got the name a number of years ago when we were living in Wagga we were on an acreage outside Wagga and we wanted a name for our property and I wanted a name that was a little bit different and I found the word Cala which is Scottish/Gaelic for a haven or a harbor so that's always been the name of our house. So when I set up my blog I decided to call it Cafe Cala.
What I've been doing is interviewing an author every two weeks, on the second and forth Thursday of the month. It is getting a bit hectic and I'm thinking of maybe twiddling it back to what one a month because I'm finding, not I'm running out of authors but not every author I contact gets back to me. But I've actually been thrilled at some of the big name authors who have responded, people like Sue Grafton and Fiona McIntosh and I have got Rachel Johns coming up next week. So Australian and overseas authors have responded very well to it and I'm thrilled with that.
Melinda: This is where that inclusive community comes in because Rachel Johns is coming on the podcast next week as well.
Maggie Christensen: Oh is she really? Perfect.
Melinda: You think that these women and men are giving up for what is essentially I guess for free and I take a fair bit of people's time, I take up as you know 45 minutes to an hour which is naughty of me. But these people are very kind and very generous of spirit. I think I've got Kate Forsyth coming up as well. I approach them with an open mind and an open heart and I understand fully why people wouldn't have the time. As I said I'm not sure what it's in it for them other than their giving back to their readers who absolutely adore them and hang off their every words. As you so very generously offered to come on and chat with me today you have quite a large readership.
Maggie Christensen: I've just thinking actually of authors, someone who was very generous with her time was Di Morrissey who came onto my interview panel.
Melinda: It's been years since I've read a Di Morrissey novel, it's been a long time. But like jumping around you've got your audience, you've got your reviews up. I notice you've also got beta readers on board.
Maggie Christensen: I have, I've just got a couple and I probably need more but it's, in fact I was just looking today at some blog posts on how to get more beta readers so I've got to look at that because I'd like a few more, although it's time consuming for people to read a whole novel and give you feedback upon it, I can appreciate that.
Melinda: I was listening to something today on, oh I ducked out for some reason and school and I was listening to an interview and it was from an interview by quite a big name agent and one of the comments that that person made or that agent made was if indies are, sorry, if writers are selling very well in the shops and a couple of their books don't do as well she suggests that they go off an indie publish for a while and build up their audience and then come back and see her. I found that comment absolutely amazing.
Maggie Christensen: Interesting, yes.
Melinda: It was an American, as I said a big top name agent. I thought if someone toddled off and build a name for themselves why on Earth would they go back to the very person who didn't support them in the first place. So--
Maggie Christensen: One of the fantastic things I find about being an Indie author is the control it gives you, you've got total control of the content you publish, the design of your cover, the title of the book, when you decide to publish. I don't think I'd give up that readily.
Melinda: No, I notice you've got an editor John Hudspith.
Maggie Christensen: Absolutely, yes. He's brilliant as well. When I decided to self-publish I sent my first chapter for sample edits to a few editors and he was the one who gave me most feedback, he wasn't the dearest, he wasn't the cheapest but he was the one I really felt I could work with. I find he's really improved my writing and when I'm writing I can almost feel there's a little Johnny sitting on my shoulder saying no don't write that, that's fluff and so on. He's been great and he's really helped my writing immensely.
Melinda: I was speaking to an editor a couple of days ago and I'll pop that interview up I guess in the next week or so Lynne Spinner I think her name was, isn't that terrible, I interviewed her two days ago. But it was very interesting to get a perspective of an editor and as I said it's great working with indie authors who are professional and take on board all your advice and really work hard to make that manuscript better. But she said she finds that some authors go to her and really all they want is a stamp of approval and to fix a few spelling mistakes, they don't want to do the hard work to pull the story apart and put it back together. Have you had to pull any of your stories apart through the story or structural edits?
Maggie Christensen: No, I haven't. But my very first book I decided I wasn't going to write any sex scenes, it was going to be closed door and Johnny back to me and because it's in England I sort of, I'll sometimes wake up in the early morning and there it is back and it came back and I opened about three in the morning and it said you need a sex scene, your readers are going to want a sex scene. So I got up and I just wrote there and then.
So that's really the only thing that I've had to change markedly in my books and now I put. I mean people say my sex scenes are tasteful, so I don't go down the sort of erotic line but Johnny insisted on that in my first book and I think he was probably right it helped the story and it helped the reader understand the characters better.
Melinda: I went to a writer's festival once and I'm just trying to remember his name, is it something Barrett he writes mystery thrillers, but he always puts in his women characters and he's an ex-army bot and he just could not write, I think it's J.R. Barrett I think, Mum used to read them and because he was a mystery thriller he didn't want to write sex scenes at all but here was this army tough dude who knew everything about guns in Vietnam and all the rest of it and he to write these, he was writing from a female characters point of view and he had to go in and write romantic scenes and he said it just nearly did his head in. He said it's not as easy as you look.
I thought that's one of the things that I haven't touched on here on the podcast yet, but just talking with you now it'd be very, very interesting to get some of our writers back and say well look how do you go about this? I mean you get your, because quite often it's the partner who is the first reader or the husband who is the first reader, how do you keep a straight face and what goes on do they suggest further additions? Just the mind boggles.
Maggie Christensen: I know Jim, my husband, gets a lot of teasing from our friends' husbands to say oh did you help with the research for that?
Melinda:It's a topic that I'm not allowed to raise in this house because my daughters edit and listen to the podcasts and watch me do all the promotion materials and they thought that the word kiss should not be in a book, so I've got nowhere to go. I just can't go there at all. But you lot can and you can tell me about it. So what's next for you Maggie, what are you working on at the moment because this book is only just a recent release isn't it?
Maggie Christensen: It is, I've just finished the first draft of my sixth book which is called Champagne for Breakfast and I love the title of it.
Melinda: So do I!
Maggie Christensen: It follows one of the minor characters from the Oregon Coast series, a lady called Rosa who appears in the first book and she's in Noosa so it's actually sent in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and it follows her story and some of my characters from the other Oregon Coast books who move between Noosa and the Oregon Coast appear it in again and it was inspired one Sunday morning my husband and I were walking along the river at Noosa and we saw this woman sitting there with an empty wine bottle and I thought hmm there's a story there somewhere and I decided that later on it was Rosa's story. So that's coming out probably early next year.
Melinda: Do you have, speaking with Rachel today and the blog post I'm going to put out is about production schedules, what do you call it, business and marketing plans. Do you have any of those dastardly words spinning around you?
Maggie Christensen: I do but I'm not nearly as good as Rachel at keeping to it. I actually did a course with the RWA last year on marketing, a business plan and I wrote a marketing plan that I haven't looked at since. But I do have, my aim was to publish two books a year and this year I'm running a bit late with this one so I'm going to take my time and make sure it's right and get it out early next year. But I've also got plans for a couple of novellas that link to this book that I'm writing that I've just finished. So I want to wait until I've got a at least one of them done before I publish it. Then I've got ideas for my next two books one of which will come out later next year. So I know where I'm going but I haven't got my deadlines as tight as I know Rachel has.
Melinda: Do you find that, I don't want to, I don't even know if I'm allowed to ask this stuff, do you find that your Indie publishing pays for itself, I'm not quite sure who publishes your books.
Maggie Christensen: No I publish them and they don't pay for themselves as yet, but they're getting there.
Melinda: I put my first books out through Australian eBook Publishers and it was certainly a couple of thousand dollars a book to get them up and get them out. But I'm now looking at Draft2Digital, I've got the interview coming up with Kevin Tumlinson tomorrow. I’m just looking at doing it myself with the editor, with the professional editor with the cover designer and all that kind of stuff, just to cut out those additional costs I guess of the middle man. Do you have that middle man?
Maggie Christensen: No, I know some people use these production groups and I tend to think they're overpriced for what people get for them. I chose, I have, I used my editor, my team is my editor, my cover designer who's also my formatter and my beta readers and I get it back from Jane and it's just ready to go up on Kindle or Smashwords or Ingram or wherever. So I don't have to, plus I don't have the patience to do it myself. My husband writes non-fiction and he has the patience I don't have, so he does all of his himself. I have Jane format it and then I don't have to worry about it. But I don't see any point really in paying a middle person for something I can do myself.
Melinda: I guess the playing field’s becoming more and more level as there are so many things out there that help us. I know Scrivener does everything for me now, so I've got no excuse not to be uploading books on a regular basis other than the fact that I'm slacking on doing other stuff and plus I talk to you guys instead of doing the work that I should be doing, but that's alright, my turn will come. So you've got your review groups, you've got your professional associations. You mentioned the Romance Writers of Australia, now I know you didn't go to the conference either did you?
Maggie Christensen: No I didn't. I tend to feel they're a bit more romance than my books are so I don't know that my books quite fit but I'm looking at probably going to the conference in Brisbane next year because it's closer to home too.
Melinda: What do you do to promote your books Maggie?
Maggie Christensen: I do book signings as you know, I've done some library author talks, I use Facebook, my blog and I'm actually currently doing a course on Facebook advertising which I'm hoping will help me there too and just talking to people.
Melinda: Yeah, what's the course you're doing?
Maggie Christensen: It's Mark Dawson's course on Facebook advertising and it's brilliant, he's a brilliant, what's the word, mentor I guess. But I'm just partway through the course and I'm going slower than I intended because I wanted to get my novel finished first, so.
Melinda: For those of you are listening there are few courses around. I'm having a bit of a small because we're all on the same, I guess track as indie authors. Some one's making an awful lot of money out of us because we all do Mark Dawson's course, we all do Nick Stephenson's course which is on growing your email list, half of us are doing Joanna Penn's Creative Freedom course.
There just seems to be and some, Rachel mentioned one yesterday that I, or today that I was listening to and it was about doing the blurbs on the back of your book as well. I thought well that would make life really easy, we can just sort of, we can do all the writing and we can get everyone else to do all this sort of stuff for us, we just got pay through the nose to do it.
Making money, I notice that when you're with a traditional publisher that even with the eBooks when they go up on Amazon and stuff they are quite expensive. Do you think indies have that advantage when it comes to popping their books up, selling them for a few dollars or do you think that readers are happy to pay those higher eBook prices?
Maggie Christensen: I don't know. I think we've got an advantage but I really don't know. I guess you'd have to do some research on that.
Melinda: Oh I don't, oh sorry.
Maggie Christensen: I think 3.99/4.99 is a reasonable price of an eBook and I guess as a reader I find it easy to buy books at that price.
Melinda: Yeah I notice that at some of the traditional publishers are setting their prices at that 8/9/10 dollars which is huge and I have seen eBooks at 14.99 and as soon as I see those prices now I know that they're traditionally published set or publisher set and I thought I wonder if that's going to cause problems I guess down the track. But because we move in this wonderful romance writers world, I do look at the romance writers with the traditional publishers and I think they have got life so well organized because it does make life easy doesn't it?
Maggie Christensen: Sorry you mean it makes life easier if they've got a traditional publisher?
Melinda: You can just handle it all over to them and say you do the lot.
Maggie Christensen: I don't know that it does. I've gotten to know a few traditionally, a few people traditionally published who didn't get the tittle they wanted, they didn't get the cover they wanted, they were asked to change their book so it was a completely different book from the one they'd first written. So I'm sure that they do have it all covered.
Melinda: Are you looking at foreign rights? It's just as we was talking there it's something that I haven't discussed with you. Are you, where is your main audience, is it here or England?
Maggie Christensen: It's here at the moment. I'd like to see more in the States for my Oregon Coast books and that's one of the reasons I'm looking at Facebook ads and to try and get them over there because they are set in the States and I used American spelling for the American books. I sell a few in the U.K. as well because I guess I've got some contacts there but it's mainly Australian.
Melinda: That's interesting when you said when you sell in America you've got to have the American spelling. How do you put up two editions of the book, one with Australian spelling and one with American.
Maggie Christensen: I don't. If I write a book set in America all editions are American spelling. Australians and Brits don't mind American spelling but Americans really object to Australian spelling.
Melinda: Well there you go.
Maggie Christensen: I've got fortunate enough to have a husband who can go through it and make an Americanized the terms and the spelling for me.
Melinda: You said he was writing non-fiction. What's it like having two writers in the house?
Maggie Christensen: It works very well we actually have the same office and our desks face each other so we can ask each other questions, I probably ask more questions than he does. But it works really well.
Melinda: It's nice I guess, you're describing I guess an idyllic lifestyle, long ways on deserted beaches, writing together, going on lovely trips to America. I notice you've got something about back to Glasgow is that correct?
Maggie Christensen: I've got a book that's going to be set back in Glasgow, I'm not sure about a trip but whether I will actually go back or whether I'll do my research online. Interesting I've just got a critic partner who's writing a book set in the historical book that my book will be so she's offered to share her research resources, but where she did her research. So that might help me and prevent, and mean I don't have to actually go back. Also, I Skyped with one of my cousins this morning who's living over there now, so I might manage to get the information without going back.
Melinda: Actually isn't it exciting even talking about that, that historical research aspect of it, I've got one set up on the Atherton Tablelands and to have to dig around and find everything is an absolute nightmare. Skype and things like that make life so much easier with our online searches and things. Is a historical novel a bit of a change for you?
Maggie Christensen: Well it's a bit of dual narrative actually. One of my characters from Broken Threads, when I set that up I set her up with Scottish background and she goes back to Scotland to visit her elderly aunt who is dying and who's putting together her story. It's actually based on a story of an aunt of mine which I'll fictionalize. So it's actually both their stories. So it's the contemporary story and the aunt's story looking back on her life.
Melinda: You can bring in all those beautiful, soon as I saw the name Madeline I thought it's a beautiful, beautiful old fashioned name. So the thing I like about historical novels is we can play around with those beautiful names that I love so much. One last question for you and look as I said to Maggie before I started I'm trying to cut these conversations to a reasonable forty minutes, which is good driving time for me going to work and I think that's about how long they should be, but we're going to put out a vote aren't we Maggie. What is the highlight of your writing career to date?
Maggie Christensen: Having people come up to me and telling me how much my books have meant to them. It's quite amazing, people have come and said, with my first book which starts with the husband putting the wedding ring on the kitchen table on Christmas morning and saying I don't want to be married anymore and so many people have come up and said I know someone that happened to.
But also people have come up to me and said they find my books inspire them. A former colleague, a male actually, with Dreamcatcher he said it was the love story that everyone would want to have. I was at Noosa long weekend author event the other week and actually they, one of the feature authors referred to me from the stage and when she finished speaking the woman in front turned around and said oh I read two of your books when I was in hospital and they really cheered me up. So things like that make me feel really good. What I find amusing too is that some people will come to me and ask advice on their love lives, women in their sixties come up and ask me for advice on their love life and I find that is quite hilarious.
Melinda: I was going to ask you Maggie, I'm 54 what have you got for me.
Maggie Christensen: I've got better things in store. Read the Dreamcatcher and Ellen will give you advice.
Melinda: It's, hey there's got a spin off money making machine in that somewhere. I think it's lovely to have happy endings and I know your characters work very hard for their happy endings, life is not meant to be easy but sometimes all these bad endings that we hear about get really, really tiring and to be honest a lot of us do have good endings and we do have lovely relationships and it's okay to give those kinds of endings because I think they're uplifting. Look thank you Maggie. Now, is the Brisbane Writer's Festival over?
Maggie Christensen: It is, yes.
Melinda: Do you have anything to do with that?
Maggie Christensen: I was part of books of our backyard where the Queensland writers send, put together all the books from Queensland authors from the previous year and they actually run a social event on a Friday evening and they did, they had a lovely BBQ last Saturday, last Friday night sorry at the state library when the launch of the festival was going on and it was wonderful to catch up with author friends who I hadn't seen for a while and to meet new ones who I knew from Facebook.
Melinda: I think like for everybody listening, I know we're chatting and meandering around the place here, but as an indie author I think Maggie has mentioned some very, very important things. We have the freedom to choose how our stories end, we have our freedom to choose what our novels look like, we have a freedom to choose and set the price, and some of those things I guess down the track will be very, very important to more and more authors as they learn that there are alternatives to traditional publishing, not to say that there isn't room for traditional publishing on it's own. Look thank you Maggie you've been a beautiful, beautiful guest, you've been very patient. I know you were a bit worried about what I was going to ask you or how I was going to ask it but you've survived beautifully. I believe you just had a radio interview is that correct?
Maggie Christensen: No, I'm just about to have one next week. I didn't have a date for it and I finally got the date today so it's actually next Thursday.
Melinda: Who's that with?
Maggie Christensen: That's with our local community radio and it's a community radio and that's about Madeline House.
Melinda: Madeline?
Maggie Christensen: Madeline House they're talking about with me.
Melinda: Oh okay, well we'll put Madeline House up on our blog and if you send me a link we'll pop up your interview I guess details so that people can tune in and listen to that. So we are the warm-up act for Maggie to be on professional radio. We are not even radio at all, we're just a podcast and that's okay. So thank you Maggie I look forward to walking along the beach with you and meeting up with you at Noosa for a coffee sometime.
Maggie Christensen: Sounds lovely Melinda I look forward to it.

About the author, Melinda

I'm an authorpreneur, English teacher and podcaster who dreams of a life on the road full of adventures and handsome heroes, whilst making squizillions of dollars in book sales to pay for my chocolate fix. In the real world, I write novels and non-fiction, and offer my expert advice via online courses (as soon as I make them) and writing retreats (as soon as I organise them).

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