Interview SWAP with Markie Madden

It's always fun to interview other authors and see what journey they have been on while creating their masterpieces.

Allow me to introduce Markie Madden author of: 
Once Upon a Western Way
Keeping a Backyard Horse
My Butterfly Cancer

1.    What has your experience been with Amazon KDP?
Amazon overall has been a great experience! There was some confusion between KDP and CreateSpace when I first published, and I assumed that since my files were bouncing directly from one to the other that KDP would be correctly formatting the manuscript. But they don’t, and I’ve now properly fixed all 3 books so they work in the Kindle reader. But I wish someone had told me that in the first place!

2.    Why do you want people to read your books? Why should they?
My Butterfly Cancer is intended to help encourage and inspire others suffering with cancer or other life-threatening illness, that this isn’t the end of the line for them, to keep hope and keep going. Keeping a Backyard Horse is intended to be read by the average horse person (perhaps the one whose young girl says, I want a horse!), to help educate them on the needs of the average horse and help prevent accidental neglect of horses. And Once Upon a Western Way is simply meant to entertain. It stems from an elaborate game a childhood friend and I used to play.

3.    Also, what is your long-term goal for your career?
I will continue to write, and publish. I have two more books I’m currently working on. Triple Heist is a crime novel and Fang and Claw will be book One of The Undead Unit Series, is a crime/paranormal novel. If I only sell a few books here and there, I’m happy. I don’t expect to be a best-seller, but hey, if it happens, it happens!

4.    Your history with writing? How did you become a writer and why?
In grade school, maybe 4th grade, the teacher gave us each a notebook, and she would come and draw a squiggle on the page. Our assignment was to finish the squiggle into a drawing and write a short story about it. I guess that got me hooked. Once Upon a Western Way was actually written when I was in high school, though as my writing matured it continued to evolve as well.

5.    Who are you? A hipster? Religious? Mom? Single lady? Conservative? Wine lover? What are your interests?
I’ve been married for 20 years, and we have two teenage daughters. I also have three rescue dogs (please, spay and neuter your pets!) and my horse Athena. She’s featured on the cover of Keeping a Backyard Horse. I love to ride her when the weather is nice. I also crochet when my hands allow, and do a bit of scrapbooking. My recent battle with cancer took me out of the traditional workforce, so I’ve been trying to adjust to not having a set schedule and going to work everyday! And 20% of my sales from My Butterfly Cancer are pledged to cancer charities. I also plan to donate some of the books to the hospital floor where I was cared for.

6.    What is a typical writing day like for you, or any day for that matter?
I usually get up and watch re-runs of Supernatural and Bones on TNT. I used to love coffee but cancer or chemo took that away from me. So now my caffeine is Mt. Dew! Right now, I’m spending a lot of time on marketing and social media. I really need to get down to serious writing. Hunting season is closing in, so the house will be nice and quiet for a while!

7.    I see you have three published books. Did each publishment get “easier” and by easier, how? Or what did you learn along the way and with each project? Is there a reason you write shorter than most novels? What do you label them as? Explain which is non-fiction and which are not.
Once Upon a Western Way is close to the average author’s full-length novel at over 75,000 words. It was first published digitally-only through Smashwords, and it was difficult to get it formatted correctly for e-readers. Now, it’s much easier since I know what I’m doing. And Keeping a Backyard Horse was intended to be short; there are a lot of horse care books out there, but often they’re bogged down with information the “average” horse person needs to know. If they just want to keep a horse for their child, they don’t need to know how to breed or train a horse. They just need information on how much to feed them, how taking care of their feet and teeth are important, and how to deworm and vaccinate them. So I was hoping that a shorter guide would reach more readers. My Butterfly Cancer is shorter because it really only covers a year of my life, and it’s been left slightly muddled on purpose too, to demonstrate how I really was when I was ill. I touch briefly on publishing and how I went about the process. But my books, though published, aren’t FINISHED. It’s an ongoing process. I’ve just released a second edition of Once Upon a Western Way, a few cosmetic changes, a sample chapter for Triple Heist in the back, and so on. They’re still evolving, and as I learn more about my new Microsoft Office software and the publishing process, it gets easier with time.

8.    What’s next for you?
At the moment, besides the two books I’m working on, I have My Butterfly Cancer and Keeping a Backyard Horse in production as audiobooks. My Butterfly Cancer should be available next month. For my memoir, I wanted it in audio specifically because I know how chemotherapy messes up the eyes of the patient and how hard it was to actually read while I was in treatment. And I’m still taking auditions to get Once Upon a Western Way in audio as well.

9.    How often do you use a dictionary or thesaurus while writing? If so, online or physical old school?
Before cancer, I rarely used a dictionary or thesaurus. But here lately, I have trouble pulling a word out of my brain. So I grab my trusty smart-phone app because if I can spell part of it, the app offers me suggestions. And while I don’t totally rely on the dictionary/thesaurus/grammar checker on my Office software, I do sometimes use it to help me replace a word with a synonym.

10. How do feel about social media and how it plays such a huge part in establishing indie authors?
I believe social media is a huge help to indie authors. I’ll tell you a story. Once Upon a Western Way was first published digitally through Smashwords in 2012. I assumed that if it was out there, it would sell. Of course, I told all my friends and family, posted it on Facebook a couple times, but that was about it. I sold 5 copies in two years. Since I’ve been concentrating on marketing, I sold well over 50 books (counting all three) in a little over a month’s time. And this is just the beginning!

11. Do you work everyday at your online presence? Any advice for other indie authors in reference to it?
I try to post in my blog every day, and I’ve been doing author interview exchanges, which gives both me and the other author the advantage of more potential readers. I’m working to get my logo and brand established around the internet. I’ve learned that the more times you post a link (like for your book), and in as many places as you can think of, it increases your discoverability through search engines like Google. My advice to other authors: DON’T GIVE UP! Don’t lose hope and pull your books from publication. Make some changes, if need be, offer them free for a short time to increase readership, but don’t give up on them. Whereas if we were traditionally-published, our books would have been pulled from shelves if they didn’t sell like hotcakes in the first few weeks. Indies don’t have to worry about that; we can just leave our books and let them simmer. Have patience and don’t let the roller coaster of sales/no sales get you down!

12. What do you want folks to gain from reading your blog or going onto your website? 
Readers of my blog will be treated to my writing as a process, tips and tricks I’ve learned about marketing and what works well and what doesn’t, and they might even find a “new favorite author” by reading my interviews. And my website is designed for someone to find all the links to my books in all their formats and locations, kept together in one place. I also introduce contests, post news of signings or appearances, and keep people updated as to what’s coming soon. Eventually, I’d like to find other aspiring writers in my area and help them to become published authors (my daughters are both writers and may become my first clients!).

13. Idols? Writing or not…
I don’t really have an idol, not in the way I think you mean. My favorite authors are Kay Hooper, J. D. Robb, Nora Roberts, and Patricia Cornwall. Maybe a high school teacher, Mr. Harshfield would be my “writing” idol. He was self-published about 30 years ago (he actually paid out of pocket to print his books), and I always remembered that when I was trying to publish my work. It kept reminding me to never give up! 

14. Best piece of advice you’ve received?
Again, never give up. If you can’t publish right now, there may be a way to do so in the future. If you’re not selling well now, be patient and persevere!

15. Advice for me, and other writers? 

Same as above, I guess. Plus, join a writer’s group, either online or in person locally. I’m a member at  HYPERLINK "" and it’s a wonderful community of writers. You read and critique others’ writing, and by doing so you earn “karma” points. A couple of critiques will earn you enough karma to post a sample of your own work for critique. You’ll get a lot of positive advice and encouragement.

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