I have known Stephen for a couple of years now through our day jobs. Yes in the real life, not this odd, virtual or cerebral space I seem to spend so much time in now. As a service provider to the company I work for, he would come in once a year, do his job and then disappear away until next time.
It was last year when he came to visit that we sat across a meeting table with a colleague of his and one of mine to our sides, someone was trying to get laptop to work whilst Steve and I chatted. After being asked what my plans were, I announced that I was busy preparing for first novel to come out at the end of the month. I expected a genuine but short-lived reply, but to my surprise I found out that Stephen was an author of many years. From that point forward we struggled to talk about anything but the process of writing and independent publishing. It was a good job we each had a colleague there to keep us in check.
Since that day we have kept in touch outside of our day jobs and I’m pleased to present the following interview with Stephen.
GJ: Can you describe your journey to publishing your first novel?
SH: This started with me commuting to Leeds for work where I first came up with the idea for Janus in the late 1980’s when a voice on the car radio suggested ‘Everyone had a book in them’. Having written down an idea, this soon became a paragraph and then a chapter etc… I had an agent who said this would make a brilliant film and wanted me to pay to get it published, but my wife stated, ‘If it’s good enough, they should pay you.’
I soon became disillusioned but carried on writing. In 2012, having read Stephen King’s On Writing I decided to edit and publish Janus the Arrival on KDP in September 2013.
GJ: What did you find the most challenging part of the publishing process?
SH: Knowing when to stop. I continuously wanted to make changes with one person saying they loved the way I described things and another saying they hated all the padding. You need to find your own style. Like what you’ve written and stick to your guns.
GJ: Can you describe who is the ideal market for your books?
SH: It’s a bit mixed as I’ve written a Sci-fi trilogy, a horror/fantasy novel and two DCI Liberty Rock thrillers. They all contain quite a lot of sex and violence, so I would tend to say they were aimed more towards an adult market.
GJ: Where do you get your inspiration from?
SH: My life experiences have been awesome so far. I have a whole range of friends who are famous, business experts and even some who claim benefits due to unfortunate circumstances, for example. I listen to their stories, read a lot of books and love watching films and TV.
GJ: What can we expect from you in 2019/2020?
SH: I’m looking at retiring this year. It will give me more time to write and I’ve already set about ensuring all six novels are available as paperbacks rather than just eBooks. There is a sequel to Driven to Revenge in the pipeline and I’m looking at a prequel to DCI Liberty Rock, which will be about how she first joined the police force and became such a talent for the job.
GJ: What motivates you to write?
SH: Being a writer is something I would have laughed at in my youth. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realised we all hold the ability to do pretty much anything if we put our mind to it and have a go. Getting the first novel Janus the Arrival written was a great turning point as this gave me the confidence and made me realise you can pretty much write about anything in a book. There are no boundaries, so just go for it.
GJ: What has been your most effective marketing tactic?
SH: Ah! The hard question. I guess the real answer is that I’m still finding my way. I love the writing so have concentrated on getting the novels out there for now. I have studied so many marketing techniques, some of which contradict others. I’m already mentioned in local papers and have even had people stop me in the street and ask about my books. I have a Facebook page and Twitter account but I’m also looking at having a website and improving a few of my book covers for now. Any tips you or your readers may have will always be gratefully accepted. It’s a hard world out there for authors, and I guess I’m a very small fish in a big pond. I suppose I’ll let my books talk for themselves for now, as I know they’re pretty damned good.
GJ: Thank you Stephen for talking with me today. Hopefully you’ll be visiting my office again at least once more before you retire. Marketing really is the hard part, but my best advice would be to start by getting involved in Facebook groups that try to help out. One I would recommend is https://www.facebook.com/groups/IndieAuthorMindset/. I am a member and it’s a great group of people who share their advice. No question is stupid.
All of Stephen’s books are available from Amazon now and you can follow him on Twitter for updates.
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