I’m so happy about the new E! Show Royals, not only because Elizabeth Hurley is awesome, but mostly since the show was inspired by Michelle Ray’s incredible book, FALLING FOR HAMLET. (Congratulations, Michelle!)
I’m also doubly happy to learn that Michelle has published another Shakespearian twist this March, a young adult novel titled MAC/BETH:
Author of Falling for Hamlet, inspiration for The Royals on E!, Michelle Ray has re-imagined Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and set it in Hollywood. Mac/Beth follows Beth DeAngelo and her boyfriend Garrett Mackenzie (“ship” named MacBeth), as they navigate their rise to fame and their own guilt.
Duncan King’s death was an accident. It was. I know everyone wants to blame me for it. Make me out to be some evil schemer, but that’s not how it was. I’m just like any other teenage girl. Except that I’m on TV. And my boyfriend is a movie star. Sure, we’re ambitious. Sure, we like to get our way. But that doesn’t mean we’re murderers. Well, not me anyway. I never meant for all those people to die. Especially not Duncan.
Michelle’s decision to self-publish this book also intrigues me, since it’s something I plan on pursuing for my adult books in the future. So I’m triply happy (yes, I know, triply is not a word but let’s just go with it,) that Michelle has written a quest post regarding this decision:
To Self-Publish or Not Self-Publish. That was the Question.
by Michelle Ray
This is going to sound dumb, but getting published is hard! Maybe that sounds offensively obvious, but with Falling for Hamlet, things went pretty smoothly. It was the first manuscript I tried to get published, and though finding an agent was full of “no’s”, once I found Ammi-Joan Paquette, she sold it within six weeks and I thought, “Oh, this is great. It will always be easy.” Sadly, getting my next work traditionally published has been a challenge.
I don’t want to say too much that might offend anyone, so to tread lightly here, what I wrote for my publisher turned out not to be what they wanted. What I’d worked on was a follow-up re-telling/re-imagining of Macbeth. Discussions (insert more behind-the-scenes drama) happened, and I decided to finish what I had started. My agent dutifully put it out on sub and it didn’t sell. I was heartbroken. After much moping and self-doubt, I started and finished two more manuscripts. These are currently out on sub. But it’s been five years since my Ophelia story was purchased. Wait – five and a half. That’s super depressing, actually. I had to look it up. Fall of 2009. God! But Joan still believes in me, and she hasn’t given up on me yet, so I don’t want to give up on myself or on the idea of traditionally publishing, either.
The idea of self-publishing has been kicking around in my head for years. My husband and friends have been encouraging me to do it for ages. At the same time, I’ve had people tell me self-publishing would be a horrible mistake and I absolutely should not under any circumstances do it! That gave me pause. But then an exceptionally talented friend of mine, Kim Ablon Whitney, who was the first person I knew to have written a real book and who had three books traditionally published, recently started self-publishing. We talked about why, and our reasons are similar. I thought, “Well, if she can do it, maybe I should consider it.”
I look at self-publishing like internet dating. If you’re old enough to recall, it used to have a stigma. People would apologize or blush at admitting they’d done it. Now people kind of expect it.
The biggest change in my head was when I read this in a Publisher’s Weekly post (I wish I could find the link and give credit here): “An important thing to remember, though, is that the old system wasn’t built to filter for consumers. It was built to sell books. We didn’t do a very good job filtering to consumers. Why else did Whitman self-publish? Why did Melville almost vanish?”
I’m not saying I’m Whitman or Melville, but I’m not total crap, either. So I had finished my Mac/Beth and I was sick of it sitting on my laptop. I revised and polished some more, then I checked in with Joan and she said go for it. It doesn’t mean I’m not still working with her on new stuff, and it doesn’t mean I can’t keep trying to get a book deal with an actual publisher. It also doesn’t mean I’m totally happy with this, but what have I got to lose? Maybe some people will buy Mac/Beth. Maybe some people will like what I wrote and be happier for having lived in my imagined world for a while.
The bottom line is that I love storytelling, so I keep going. Since I want my stories out there, I’m lucky to live at a time when there are more options.
Thanks for contributing, Michelle, and best of luck with Mac/Beth!