How did you come to write your book?
I’ve always been a writer, even as a school kid I was writing stories and screenplays. I used to write scripts and do all the casting. Not sure whether Steve McQueen would have appreciated the roles I was planning for him though.
Later on when I was in my 20s I tried to move away from all the sci-fi and espionage stuff I was writing and write about something more personal to me, something that I had a personal connection with so I started writing about life working on the buses, which is what I was doing at the time.
I wrote about working as a bus conductor and driver and jotted down my observations about the people I met and carried on my bus. Then there were other stories about my personal life, drinking in pubs, chatting up girls in nightclubs, listening to music and so on. Later I realised I could bring all this stuff together even though it was just a series of essays then, and even make it into a book, which I eventually did.
How did you go about publishing the finished book?
I had the book turned down by three publishers, not really a great amount. I wrote a blog post a while ago about books rejected by publishers and I found out that Day of the Jackal was rejected 4 times, Gone with the Wind 38 times and The Time Traveller’s Wife 25 times. Publishers are only human of course but these days writers don’t need them, we can just publish online, just like I did at Amazon using their website createspace which is now kdp.amazon.com
Tell me about the problems of marketing and getting your book noticed by the public.
Well, that was the hard part, writing it was easy in comparison!
Building up a presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube was a gradual process and the same is also true for my blog on WordPress which I started really just to promote the book. I started off with essays about how I wrote the book and videos of me talking about the book and so on.
I read somewhere that over 5000 books are published every day on Amazon, an incredible figure so how can anyone compete with that? Well, just by getting out onto social media and plugging away with tweets, new blog posts, videos on YouTube and so on.
Tell me about your website and your blog
Well, it was originally created just to promote my book and get my message out there to potential readers but it’s also a challenge, a writing challenge. My big problem is that I’m lazy and I need a big push to get me writing so having a deadline, 10:00am on a Saturday morning, is something that gets me motivated as a writer. I know that I have to write something by then.
I even feel like a sort of writing professional because I have my deadline, my one deadline, and I’m always working towards that, trying to get something ready to post for my followers.
What sort of posts will we find on your blog?
Generally I try to write stuff that is similar to my book, little bits of fluff, anecdotes with a funny twist, things like that. The idea is that if people like the blogs, they should like my book, Floating in Space which is written in a similar style. A typical blog post, and one of my favourites, is the one about hoodies (Hoodies and a Shaggy Dog Story) and an incident where an old lady’s handbag was snatched. Another favourite was called the Cat Wars and was about a crazy situation that built up when I was looking after my neighbour’s cat.
The only problem now is that I’m running out of anecdotes but I still manage to write about two other favourite themes, second-hand books and classic films.
What about video, do you use video in your blogs and marketing?
Any internet post on social media performs better with images, a 37% percent increase in engagement and even more so with video.
Here are a few stats:
100 million hours of video are watched each day on Facebook.
500 million people watch Facebook videos every day.
Facebook videos receive 135% more organic reach on average than a photo.
2 thirds of content on Instagram is now video as opposed to pictures but video has to be snappy. If viewers are not hooked in the first few seconds, they just click away from your video to something more interesting.
I use video on my website to try and engage readers and all my adverts, because I do use advertising every now and then, are all video based.
A lot of years ago, in the 1990’s I really wanted to get into TV and video and I went on a video production course at the WFA media centre in Manchester. Subsequently, I made a few attempts to make some things for TV, all of which ended in failure but as a result I do have a bit of technical knowledge with video editing and production which has helped me a lot.
Luckily, today’s technology today makes it pretty easy to create simple videos and I use them a lot in my blog posts.
What are your plans for the future regarding writing and blogging?
Well, more of the same really. I’m actually very slow at producing video content so I need to maybe speed up a little with my video production.
I really need to work more on my follow up book.
I’ve written some screenplays that were rejected so I plan on turning those into a book. The big problem is just me, being motivated and just getting myself geared up to work and write!
Floating in Space is a novel set in Manchester, 1977. Click the links at the top of the page to buy or for more information.