About John Kean:
I am a professional diver and writer which is quite convenient as I only require water and paper; thankfully both are in plentiful supply. I aim to be accurate, informative and as helpful as possible. I also have a loathing of boring instruction manuals and dull publications purporting to represent the wonderful world of scuba diving. As a result, my own publications (even the so called ‘serious’ ones) are bursting at the seams with comedy. Even if a book is of educational value it is still a book and in my view it must entertain. I hope my efforts to entertain, educate, enlighten and inspire will encourage readers to see my subjects in a more appealing way than they might have been presented elsewhere. If you enjoy reading my books as much as I have enjoyed writing them then I couldn’t ask for much more.
What inspires you to write?
Sometimes I witness events or periods of time that are simply too great or significant not to be written down and shared with others. As a writer it’s almost like a civil responsibility to record such events perhaps in the same way that a videographer wouldn’t want to miss a great scene. Mine is more of a delayed reaction however. It’s usually later upon reflection that I feel like putting pen to paper. I’m not really a writer who goes out looking for subject matter or has a regular writing job or blog where I’d have to produce something on cue. The way I live my life usually results in material unfolding around my feet and I live in a part of the world and have an occupation that provides no end of page-turning material – whether I like it or not!
Tell us about your writing process.
Because I mostly write about what I have experienced I don’t outline and plan in the same way as a fiction novel writer. In a fiction novel, none of the material or storyline has actually occured in real life and I would imagine a great deal of work is devoted to outlining and planning. I often suffer from having too much material so I normally decide in what order it should appear and how best to make it entertaining. It varies from book to book. My shipwreck book required extensive archival research and interviews. The diving comedy travel books were real life stories that required very little of that. My recent scuba diving instructional book was simply the result of 17 years of teaching people to dive. I could have chosen many different angles to deliver that information ranging from the dull, factual, step by step approach to the friendly expert imparting some tips. I chose something else that no one has ever done before in this industry. It was so off the wall that it raised a few eyebrows with some of the dive magazine editors in the UK.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I am working on a fictional novel now and yes I do relate to the characters. I wouldn’t say I listen to them, more like I hear what they’re saying even though I give them the words to say it. What I do find is that once you have given them an identity and a character they certainly can take on a life of their own. I sometimes find myself in the unique position of not knowing what they’re going to do next even though it is me, the writer, which will produce the outcome!
What advice would you give other writers?
Study your profession like you would any other profession. Say to yourself, ‘I am a professional writer’ and not, ‘I dabble in writing from time to time but just for fun.’ Can you imagine Donald Trump ‘dabbling’ in property or Arnold Schwarzenegger fannying around for half an hour in the gym once a week on their way to the top? Anything you want to achieve must be DELIBERATE and not just a wish. Here’s three tips: 1) Learn to or improve your writing skills and ability. You won’t ‘dress up’ bad work and get away with it. You can find and download numerous books on the subject or take a good course. 2) Nobody will care that you might have written your book in a run down apartment on a five-year old laptop. It is the outward appearance of your work that must be high quality and professional. So develop a quality mindset. 3) The evidence of a successful writer is that people like your books and buy them regularly … to put it simply! Learn how to market and sell your books. The most direct way is via Amazon Kindle and there are dozens and dozens of very good ‘how to’ books on this subject.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I used to send my manuscripts to UK based agents and publishers but with little success. It’s not that they didn’t like them, most just didn’t have time to read them. Word was getting around then that bestsellers could be produced simply by sitting in an Edingburgh coffee shop with a laptop and a pram; they were overloaded with slush and it hasn’t changed since. Here in Egypt I was introduced to a great man named Farid Atiya who ran a printing press in Cairo. He produced a high quality hard back edition of my WW2 shipwreck book. That was in 2003 and it still sells well today. I later produced a paperback new title and sold both via book stores and Amazon books. Of course the great Kindle era couldn’t have come at a better time as it allowed these books to become ebooks and for me to publish more material quickly. I think it’s important to have physical books and Kindle books. There is still a demand for both. While Kindle is cheap and direct (you can publish almost anything at the press of an ENTER button) you should never compromise quality. Readers are still paying clients and why should they settle for less just because you haven’t done your work properly.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I used to be a paying member of a writers association run by big named publishers and agents. They produced a newsletter and held useful seminars. A few years ago I attended their AGM where the subject of the growing emergence of ebooks was debated. Six years on I can say with great confidence that nobody then had a clue and probably still have no clue about the next six years. Predictions can only be made based on today’s known variables. Things will happen in the next few years involving technology, trends and perhaps legislation that do not exist today. Here’s an example: The Times newspaper in 1894 predicted that, ”In 50 years, every street in London will be buried under nine feet of manure”. The prevailing serious health consequences of horse drawn carriages and carts was debated at an emergency Urban Planning meeting held in New York but no solution was reached. Would this foreboding 20th century prophecy come true and render every single copy of London’s A to Z map completely useless? The solution was much less than 50 years away; ten in fact and not a single nose clip or large shovel in sight. It was the motor car. Kindle and the accompanying technology changed the way that books can be read. That technology is still finding its way along with the consumers who use it. You could say the capacity or means to read and publish books has multiplied dramatically. This is what happened when four television channels became 100 channels almost overnight. It does take a few years for big changes to formulate and mature. Its great news if you’re a reader or writer but for all those agents and publishers out there … grab a fresh copy of an A to Z before it’s too late 🙂
What do you use?: Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: Travel, Comedy, Scuba Diving,
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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.