CM: At my liberal arts college, I was told I should do everything – be a Renaissance woman!
So I majored in math, got a PhD in physics, and thought – it's time to be a novelist.
LH: So, what was your first success?
CM: It was a "back page" piece in Ms. Magazine, on both partners keeping their names when they marry. (The piece is on my website, http://www.minichino.com)
LH: What kind of books or articles do you most enjoy writing?
CM: I love it all. I've written 13 mysteries, countless first person essays, blogs, a self-help book, short stories …
LH: Do you have an agent? Tell us about your experiences with/without agents.
CM: My first two novels were published by a small press, Avalon. After that, I found it easier to get an agent. I’ve been with my agent now for 11 books.
LH: What are the advantages and disadvantages to working with a small press?CM: The advantage is a lot of personal attention from your editors. The disadvantage is you don’t get a wide distribution: your press is a little fish in a big pond and you feel like that too.
LH: What are your thoughts about marketing? Do you have any great tips on how to do it well?
CM: Who knows? I do all the things the publishers suggest: website, blogging, visiting bookstores and libraries, courting a niche market, and social networking. So far, no one I know has been able to make a correlation between any of these and sales.
LH: How did you get the ideas for your two series of books?
CM: I'm a retired physicist, so the periodic table was a natural! And I've always loved and worked on dollhouses, so the second series was a natural too.
LH: If you could go back in time and start over, tell us one thing you have learned that would help you to succeed better/faster/with less struggle.
CM: Other than be born to rich, educated parents who were in the publishing business … again, who knows?
LH: Any other thoughts to share?
CM: For me the payoff is meeting with readers, hearing from people who've gotten something from my work, whether it's a bit of information, a chuckle, or a connection of some kind. Publishing one's writing is not for the weak. You have to be very persistent, bounce back after rejections, and – often – keep a day job. Fortunately I love my day jobs (teaching and scientific editing), so I'm not stressed out (well, not too much) when things don't gel quickly enough.
My three words of advice would be: KEEP AT IT.