About Phil Steer:
Phil Steer is the author of “As a Child: God’s Call to Littleness” – parts of which have been serialised in “Quiet Spaces”, the prayer and spirituality journal published by BRF. He is married with three children, works in the City of London, and lives in Romford, on the London/Essex border.
What inspires you to write?
To misquote Thomas Edison, “writing is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”. But the inspiration is the spark that fires the journey, gives it purpose, and supplies the encouragement to keep going. The main inspiration is, of course, the initial idea for the book (however that comes). But to write – and to keep writing until completion – requires the inspiration that comes from all the “little” ideas along the way. For me, these tended to come when I was just mulling things over, musing – daydreaming even. Suddenly a thought would drop into my head, and I’d be inspired and enthused to explore it in writing.
Tell us about your writing process.
The basis of my book was a talk that I’d given at my home church some years before, and I began by considering how I could both widen and deepen my exploration of the subject. Since this was to be a Christian book, this involved searching the Bible for potentially relevant passages, and from these I drew out a list of topics to cover.
Having both a full-time job and a family, I had to find time to write whenever and wherever I could – on my daily commute, during my lunch breaks, in spare moments in the evenings and at weekends, whilst relaxing on vacation… I carried with me a couple of Moleskine pocket cahier journals, which I’d divided into sections of a few pages per chapter (from my initial list of topics). Having set out this basic structure, I then worked on each chapter in an ad-hoc fashion: as ideas came, as-and-when the mood took me or as seemed most appropriate or beneficial.
Once I had a reasonable basis for a chapter I would transcribe the text from the journal into a Word document, where I could more easily work it up into its final form. This process could also include moving whole passages from one chapter to another if they seemed to fit better elsewhere and improve the overall flow of the book.
What advice would you give other writers?
Be true to yourself. Don’t try to be someone else, or write like someone else. The world of books already has that “someone”, but it doesn’t have you. Learn from other writers, of course, but let it be your passion, your story, your voice.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My plan always was to self-publish. I had no aspiration to be a “published author” – indeed, I had not even considered writing a book until prompted by a friend to do so. For me, the benefits of a conventional publisher were outweighed by the downsides (not least, finding one in the first place). I simply wanted to get my book published as quickly and as easily as possible, and have it made available as widely as possible. So, I used Lulu for the print edition, Amazon KDP for the Kindle edition and Smashwords for other eBook editions. (If I remember correctly, Lulu was the only realistic option for the UK at the time.)
For me, and for what I wanted out of the process, this was certainly the right decision. However, my advice for new authors would be to consider carefully what it is that you want, and to spend as much time as necessary exploring the various options before you decide. If you chose to self-publish, you should at least consider using professional services to help with part(s) of the process (although, of course, you’ll have to weigh the benefit to you against the cost). For example, I created the original cover myself, but later used a designer to give it a more professional look – and there is no doubt that some comparatively small changes made a huge difference, and gave me a cover to be proud of.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
There seems little doubt that both self-publishing and eBooks will continue to play an increasingly significant role – but I’m also sure there is future for conventional publishing and print books. Indeed, rather than the current self-publishing / conventional publishing divide, I think we will see companies offering “best of breed” solutions that offer the benefits of both approaches, tailored to individual authors’ requirements. And whilst eBooks are undoubtedly convenient, they can surely never truly replicate the tangible enjoyment of a physical book – arrayed on the shelf, held in the hand, marked with use, a reminder of times past.
What do you use?: Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Christian Non-Fiction, Spiritual Growth, Faith and Religion
What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print