By Joey Payton
GU Book Crew took a short trip west of D.C. to Grounds Central Station, a coffee shop in Manassas, Va., to chat with local fantasy and science fiction author, Michael Thompson.
Thompson, a Bristow, Va. native and George Mason University alumnus, who recently self-published his book, World of the Orb, was happy to share four important tips for aspiring authors.
Tip#1: Write what you love
“I loved superheroes, I loved comedy, I loved action so I just wrote the type of book that I wanted to read,” explained Thompson.
“If you’re not liking what you’re doing, it’s going to emanate off the page,” he warned.
Thompson experiences a clash of feelings—fear and freedom—when considering the challenge related to what he writes.
“That’s a fear, but at the same time its freeing because I know that this is exactly what I would want to read,” he said.
Just write what you love and someone out there will love it, too.
Tip#2: Get smart on benefits & challenges of self-publishing
Thompson appreciates the control he maintains as a self-published author; however, the freedom self-publishing brings comes with its own challenges.
“As a self-publisher, you wear a lot of hats. You’re a writer. You’re an editor. You’re a marketer. You’re doing it all yourself a lot of the time,” he explained.
He conceded that a traditional publisher can provide structure and resources, but beware that in some cases, publishing contracts may be written where they don’t just own the book, they also own you.
Also, a traditional publisher may drastically change your story, he added.
“No one knows your book better than you do,” Thompson stressed.
Tip#3: Don’t be afraid to fail big
After publishing his first children’s book, Chicken Boy and the Wrath of Dr. Dimwad, Thompson was fortunate to have success selling on the Border’s bookstore circuit.
Unfortunately, when Border’s went bankrupt in 2011, he nearly lost his business because of unpaid checks that he couldn’t collect.
In October 2016 Thompson faced another challenge with the release of WOTO, but he refused to quit.
“I figured, if I’m going to fail, then I’m gonna fail big. So, I went to Barnes and Noble. And low and behold, they told me I came at the right time,” recalled Thomspon.
Black Friday weekend of 2016, he released WOTO.
Tip#4: Double-dip your opportunities
Thompson’s entrepreneurial spirit has allowed him to maximize whatever opportunities he gets.
He said destiny led him to meet a lady at a church bazaar who directed him to ‘Create Space’, which provides on-demand publishing services.
Additionally, he chose college courses and used them to advance his craft.
“I always knew when I graduated I wanted to put (WOTO) out as soon as possible,” explained Thompson. “So, I took classes that would be helpful in whatever career I chose, but also, in those same classes, I learned things that were helpful for this book.”
GU Book Crew’s final thoughts
Thompson continues to work on short stories and he’s also working on the sequel to WOTO.
If you want to read something in the fantasy/sci-fi genre with an alternative universe, magic, and captivating storytelling, then we recommend you get, World of the Orb.
Until next time, for the love of books and hidden gems in D.C., we are the Georgetown’s Book Crew!
Author: Michael Thompson
Hometown: Bristow, VA
Genre: Teen/ Adult Fantasy & Sci-fi (formerly, children’s fiction)
Most recent book: World of the Orb (2016)
Inspirations: Lawrence Schoonover – his great grandfather and historical fiction novelist; Charles Aracich – his 4th grade teacher who encouraged him to publish his first book.
Book store shout-outs: Grounds Central Station – home of the Orbucinno and great place for coffee & books; Prospero’s Books – has a whole section for local authors and does book signings; and Barnes and Noble in Fairfax and Manassas – they give local authors a chance to launch their books to larger audiences.
If this author was a band: Evanescence – Bring me to Life