I live in the UK. I’ve been a hypnotherapist for around 15 years, but I moonlight as a photographer now and again. As you would expect I love reading, and photography; gardening is another passion of mine and the one where I first combined photography and writing. That was when I became a regular contributor to Organic Gardening magazine, providing illustrated articles and occasional magazine covers.
What inspires you to write?
My inspiration to write comes from a desire to share what I know with others. Although I love working on a one to one basis with clients there is a limit to how many I can guide through more effective ways of looking at the world and overcoming their challenges. Writing allows me to make those techniques available to anyone who is willing to do the work.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a non-fiction writer with three self-help books available, but I’m currently working on a photography book for a change of ‘scene’.
My planning process is:
What can I share?
Is anyone interested in what I can share (are there other books devoted to this subject)?
What exactly do I want to say?
How best can I structure that into a meaningful step-by-step process so that learning is effortless, and small successful steps encourage progress.
List of chapters.
If I need to do some research then I do that as I’m writing.
When I get in the flow the words just come and writing is easy. When I’m not in the flow, then it is a struggle. But the struggle usually arrives when I’m uncertain, or unclear in my own mind about exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it.
What advice would you give other writers?
I can only really make suggestions about non-fiction writing. But some of this may be useful to fiction authors.
Write about what you know. Write about what you are passionate about. Communicate that passion to your readers. Believe that someone out there in the world will benefit in some small way from reading your words. In my world entertainment is a benefit too and my day would be poorer if I had no enjoyable story to pick up from time to time.
One of the problems we have, as writers, is how others receive our words. None of us want a string of one and two star reviews on Amazon. But one thing I have discovered is that a poor review just means that that person was not your target audience. It says nothing about your ability as a writer. Somewhere out there someone will enjoy what you write. Your job is to ensure that they are the ones who read your work. So be clear in your description about your work so that only your target audience purchases a copy. That way you will automatically pick up better reviews.
Also when you share chapters of your book, or copies of your book with friends – to see if the reception encourages you to publish. Rather than ask what they think – which will tend to encourage harsh criticism or overly enthusiastic praise – ask them to suggest just one change that would make it better for them. That way you don’t have to worry, and you’ll get some really helpful feedback that will assist you in honing your work to perfection and a whole bunch of 5 star reviews.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Many, many years ago I approached a dozen publishers with a manuscript only to have every one of them reject it. I gave up the idea of being a writer at that point. Then one day I discovered, much to my surprise, that I could self publish on Amazon Kindle. I had an e-book that I was giving away on my website (a book about weight loss) so I expanded it to about 4 times its size and put it on Kindle. The process was so easy and straightforward that I then re-formatted my rejected manuscript and published that as well. The royalty payments from Amazon seemed so much more generous, and fair, than with traditional publishers so it just seemed to be the way for me to go.
It’s also very much easier, so I believe, to get a publishing contract if you are a someone. By that I mean with a huge social media following. I’m an unknown. Traditional publishing is also a very slow process and if you are lucky can take a couple of years to see your book in the bookshops. From finished manuscript to book available for sale on Kindle is a day or so. A week or so if you publish as a physical book with Amazon’s on-demand publishing arm Createspace. I liked the idea of speed and also that I could write about whatever I liked in whatever way I liked.
Of course the downside is you have no experienced and helpful editor guiding you through the pitfalls of producing a book that will sell. But since no publisher was interested in me, that was irrelevant. I figure I can learn whatever I need to learn – even down to designing my own book covers (The only part of self-publishing I don’t really enjoy). Mind you I think non-fiction covers are much easier for an amateur to produce than are fiction covers.
So self-publishing really was the only way for me to go. Amazon made it easy by making it zero-cost, and the book will succeed, or fail, on Amazon based on its own merits.
For new authors, self-publishing means your book gets out there and does not require anyone’s approval. The downside means you have to do a lot more work, and maybe learn some new skills. It also means that a lot of stuff gets out that really isn’t worth reading. A publishing contract means a publishing expert thinks it will sell. Self-publishing is more an ‘I hope it will sell’.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The future of book publishing is going to see Amazon calling all the shots. They are responsible for such a huge percentage of worldwide book sales that they can make or break a publisher – if the publisher does not play ball.
Kindle sales are massive and Amazon make sure you can read a Kindle book on almost any electronic device with a screen. People who were initially resistant to electronic books (that’s people like me), are now becoming more and more comfortable with an electronic screen rather than a piece of paper with printed words. The weight of a Kindle and the number of books it can contain means a significant weight saving for holiday reading on the beach.
Paper books will still hang on, and I doubt they will ever disappear. My preference is a paper book. I’m struggling a little with my photography book because of kindle restrictions on individual image size and final book file size, so it is clear that there are some areas where paper still wins out. I mean, your coffee table won’t look quite as cool with a B&W screened, grey plastic Kindle lying on it instead of a big book full of wonderful, brightly coloured, and stunning images.
It’s difficult to be stunned by something about half the size of an A5 sheet of paper.
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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