About David Bush:
David Bush is a medical doctor specialized in haematology. He was born in Malta but left for the UK when he was in his early twenties. He returned to his first home in 2003 where he still practises hospital medicine. He is the co-founder of a support group for patients with blood cancers. Since he gave up his private practice, he has had more time to spend with the family. He enjoys reading, swimming, travelling and doing any type of DIY job. Most of all, though, he cherishes the time he spends with his young great-nephews Jack and Luke. He has published many papers in international peer reviewed medical journals. He also writes analytical opinion articles for a satirical political blog.
What inspires you to write?
I now am spending plenty of my free time with my two great-nephews. Both are attentive, imaginative and inquisitive. Their innocent enthusiasm rubs off me and I end up looking at ideas that I’ve had all my life in a refreshing and vivid format through the eyes of a child. I‘m apt to give rein to this rejuvenated creativity by narrating stories I make up on the spot in response to their questioning. In that way, together we create short stories that find their way into my novels. It quite a satisfying feeling. Since I’m a medical doctor, I’ve only written one medicine book before, apart from the many scientific papers I’ve had published in peer-reviewed medical journals. Also I contribute essays on political satire to a widely read political blog. So, writing children’s’ novels has been an exciting transition.
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
There are so many. I’d go for AJ. Cronin, Somerset Maugham, Sigrit Undset, Emile Zola, Taylor Caldwell and Howard Spring. I’m a big fan of family sagas with a historical background like the Poldark series.
Tell us about your writing process.
Writing a book is like building a house. It can’t start until you lay the foundations. Then come the walls, then the roof. You add as many floors as you want, and you can go as deep as you feel necessary. Then come the fittings, the plumbing and the electricity. Finally, the plastering and painting over. In one or two long sessions, I lay out the basic plotline that usually is spread 60 pages divided into the basic chapters. Those are the bones of the body of work. Then I develop the main characters and introduce other secondary characters. I then concentrate of the dialogue and character development and progression by refining the dialogue and introducing subplots that tie into the main plot. Then I focus on various literary techniques, like the use of passive voice in areas and active voice in others. I decide when exposition is necessary and I also determine which parts of the story need to be told and which parts need to be shown. I then concentrate on the layers of the story and finally finalize the voice and tone of the book. With that the body is ready. It then needs to be dressed up with endless editing. That on short is the anatomy of my story building.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Both. Most of my characters are based on traits of real life characters I meet in day to day life. I try to balance the good and the bad points of a character so as to make them so three- dimensional that the reader can relate to them. I practice as a doctor and interact with many characters on a daily basis. The strengths and weakness of the various personalities come to the fore when dealing with patients who are tragically carrying the cross of a serious illness with an uncertain future ahead of them. It give me a good understanding of the psychology of the person in order to be able to empathize. It’s probably a reason some highly successful authors with a medical background have written such good books, like AJ Cronin, Somerset Maugham, Warrick Deeping, Michael Crichton and many others.
What advice would you give other writers?
It is very difficult for an indie book to achieve recognition. The vast majority will fail. The statistics is disheartening but an aspiring author should aim to give vent to their creativity rather than aim for bestselling status. Do it for the love of writing rather than for commercial reasons. I would not go for amazon kdp. I found them to be too opaque, intransigent and unpredictable, besides their customer care leaves much to be desired. At times, I felt they unconsciously undermined my attempts to promote the book, even though I was working within their legitimate framework. There are many promotion sites out there. Do your research properly because many sites overpromise and underdeliver. Keep in mind that there are plenty of scams preying on the innocence and enthusiastically desperate newbie authors. Never answer any unsolicited emails related to promotion of your book. You only need two or three professional reviews, not more. They help the credibility of your novel, but again do your research properly, many of them are not cost-effective. Ditto with customer reviews. There are many sites that generate reviews but keep in mind that Amazon will delete many of them even though they would have been attained legitimately. In my case, I have 85 reviews, but Amazon has been ruthless in deleting my five star reviews. They have deleted 12 five star reviews and four four star reviews, most of which were obtained from Pubby.co, a very good legitimate site and a few were actually verified purchase reviews. As a result, I have an overall rating of 4.4, but I feel my book has been devalued from a rating of 4.6, courtesy of amazon’s inconsistent vetting policy. If you think your book is good enough, consider submitting it for a competition, but again do your research. Go through the winners of previous years in that particular category. See how your book holds up against those finalists. If you do win awards, it would boost your books credibility and help towards acceptance for effective Bookbub Promotion. My book has had modest success selling at about 5000 copies in 6 months. It features in the top 30 of certain categories and it must have some merit as it has won a number of awards. It’s promotion chances has been hampered by formatting issues beyond my control, related to bugs in Amazon kdp that they are trying to fix, so far unsuccessfully. But to achieve all this, the promotional costs have been exorbitantly unsustainable and I made many wrong judgement calls. My next book will soon come out soon and I feel that I can achieve similar results at a much, much lower cost. I have become wiser and I intend not to repeat the same mistakes again.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I wanted to write three novels for my great-nephews. There was no way I could find a publisher and I was rejected by the agents I approached. I had two choices- either vanity publishing or self- publishing. Since I am a DIY enthusiast, I chose the latter. Of the self–publishing options, I opted for Amazon kdp since Amazon has the lion’s share of the market. There are plenty of aids on internet and I did a lot of research. I gave myself a crash course on every aspect of writing, publishing and marketing. It was a new, exciting experience for me but the learning curve was long. I made plenty of mistakes and wrong decisions on the way. I invested much time, effort and money into the venture and I am satisfied with what I have achieved, despite the many disappointments. I remain disillusioned with amazon, and in the future I would only publish the traditional way. If I were to go down the self-publishing route, I’d opt for another company like Barnes&Noble. If my intention is just to produce a novel for my family and friends I’d go for a vanity press and forget about marketing.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The future of publishing is in ebooks, definitely. They are more convenient to produce and appeal to the younger tech-savvy reader generations. The book market is too saturated and it is almost impossible for a new author to break through. It is the intensity of promotion rather than the content of the book that determines whether the book is a success. So, obviously a self-published author cannot compete with the traditional publishers not only for financial reasons, but also because of the inherent bias against the unreliable production qualities of indie books. There are many good indie books out there that fail to be noticed and I suspect that with time, the traditional publishers might make a bigger scouting effort to spot and nurture this unrecognized indie talent. Although the production qualities of traditionally published books is exquisite, many of the storylines are anaemic tropes lavishly written, even though they end up being commercially successful.
What genres do you write?: Young adult fiction
What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print
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All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.