Michael Evan: Renaissance man
Publicist, Publisher, and author, Michael Evan double majored in Psychology/English Literature at York University in Toronto. He ran a live event marketing and promotions company for 15 years. In 2018, he started the Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus blog, and Facebook Community as well as the Books and Authors Fantasy Podcast alongside bestselling author Jamie Davis
Having noticed how little emphasis is placed on publicity and community engagement by publishers of all sizes, he wanted to bring that element to the table to offer authors a multi-media spotlight and genuine interactive events.
Michael specializes in providing authors with multi-media press opportunities, as well as growing and nurturing reader communities through review seeking, reader group growth and engagement, and direct audience interaction opportunities.
On a more fun fact, he has read Joyce’s Ulysses twice and champions Finnegan’s Wake as a worthy successor (but still has no idea what James was on about).
Hello, Michael! How has your day been?
My day has been insanely busy. Although I worked about 14 hours yesterday so I’m thinking I’m going to crash soon and my wife and I will probably order sushi. Whew! Long day! Is a 14 hour day typical business hours? These days it’s up and down. Between running Fallbrandt, a publicity company, occasional editing, and trying to organize my own writing projects- not to mention trying to make time to have quality time with my family-it’s often spread out over regular workday mixed with late-night work.
Now that you have mentioned Fallbrandt Press, let's delve into that world for a moment. What sparked the idea of beginning your own publishing company? Basically, I was shocked by the fact that most publishers, even the traditional ones left all the PR to the author, and how so many indie publishers didn’t advertise their products. I mentioned this to my now partner Jeff, and he mentioned that he had been thinking the same thing at the same time. One thing led to another and Fallbrandt came to be. Our emphasis is formerly self-published products with quality writing and aesthetics but floundering or non-existent sales or presence. We put a lot of effort into getting our author's exposure and we focus heavily on advertising. If you don’t believe your authors are worthy of investing in, you shouldn’t be publishing.
You have 15 years of marketing and promotions, was that something you have always been interested in doing?
I started out in the live music business. I ran and marketed corporate sponsored events for years and basically, I was just tired of the late nights. I brought a lot of my experience in marketing and event hyping to my book PR company, which basically grew from my involvement with some higher profile fantasy blogs as an interviewer and article writer. Fallbrandt Press has an amazing competition going on for the participating authors. Round 2 is in full bloom. Do you think it has gone better than expected?
It’s hard to say. I’m enjoying watching it happen. There are some amazing competitors and I’m shocked we were able to get 100 submissions in less than one full day. It’s always a bit disheartening when you can’t move everyone to the next round. Many books I read and loved didn’t make it, but then it is subjective and there has been little to no backlash so far. I've enjoyed watching it unfold, it's been exciting, to say the least. Do you have plans for more in the future?
I’d love it to be an annual thing. I have to see how this year pans out but obviously, everything I do is conceived with the intention of ramping up and going bigger! I know you have many clients, and not to put you on the spot, but- which book of theirs have you read that you couldn't put down? Just off the top of your head.
There have been a few. I’d say probably the book that blew my mind the most was JMD Reid’s Above The Storm, which is probably my all-time favorite fantasy novel. James started out as a client but he’s since been signed to Fallbrandt.
I also really loved Kelly Blanchard’s Chronicles of Lorrek books. Kelly’s now on Fallbrandt too! She was our first signing.
One of your majors is in psychology as an author yourself, would you say that helped with character-building?
Hmmm. I never really thought of it. I suppose, especially with Max & The Captain, I wanted to explore some of the darker elements of the human psyche. There are discussions of self-harm and trauma, as well as PTSD, and I try to deal with them sensitively. There may also be some psychological thing going on within me that loves swearing drunk walruses, but I’ve yet to delve deeper into it. Max and The Captain is your newest work to soon release. Will it be a trilogy like The Alehouse Wars? So it is a trilogy. The first book is out for ARC reviews. The series is being narrated by Zachary Johnson for an audio bundle and I don’t suspect it will be released until early fall as a joint eBook and audio set. Cider & Ale is going to be released first as a digital box set along with the fifth companion book Wine And Where To Find It, which basically stands alone but ties that series together nicely for anyone that has read it all. That's amazing! It's out of the norm for the fantasy I have read, and fascinating as well. Where did the inspiration for Max and the Captain originate from?
Max & The Captain is basically the novelization of a serialized story I told my kids before bed for about 6 months. My 6-year-old son Jamie has a stuffed panda named Max and the two of them became the MCs. Now I aged Jamie to 24 and made the panda talk, but as for the novelization, it’s very faithful to the original story with only slight modifications. The sequel books are completely original and they evolved because I felt there was a bigger story to tell with these characters. Your work is animal-based for the most part. As a father will you write any children's books?
I’m actually involved in a mindfulness-based children’s book project and one day I’d love to attempt a fictional one. Max was originally going to be more of a kid's story. I kept the series clean language-wise which as you know is a challenge for me, but its themes grew into something at least PG-13. For the curious authors, is Fallbrandt Press seeking new clients, and what are you all looking for if so?
We are actually booked for signings until at least winter 2022. What advice can you give authors that you feel is the most important to know? I don’t know if I am equipped to answer this. I am far more of an outliner and joke writer than a full-on author. James Reid and I have collaborated on 8 projects together, but without him, I’d be crying writer’s block on Alehouse Wars still. That said I think a word count helps. For Max, I gave myself a 2500 word minimum which I hit daily until life and editing got in the way.
What would you say is not common knowledge in the publishing world that authors should look for? Indie or traditional.
Anyone that wants to charge you to publish your books...stay away! Agreed! Thank you, Michael, for talking with me today! It has been a fantastic experience!
Thanks so much for talking to me. Have a wonderful day! Michael is looking for ARC readers right now for Max and The Captian. If you are interested please contact him here.
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