It’s not every day that someone decides to take a cross-country journey, blog about it, then turn that blog into a book. But British author Lance Leuven has done just, and as a new writer he shares what he’s already learned.
1. Tell me briefly about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
Well it all started with a rash decision after the pub, really. I was at home pondering my upcoming 30th birthday when I concluded that there wasn’t really anything stopping me from doing something I’d been thinking about for a while. So the next day I walked into work, quit my job, and then handed in notice on my flat. My plan was to spend the summer traveling the length and breadth of the UK. I compiled a list of things to see and do and lastly decided to write a blog of my experiences for my friends to follow. With my long list of tasks to complete my trip became quite a rip-roaring gallivant across the nation encompassing a vast amount of what the UK has to offer. This, combined with the inevitable bad luck, misadventures and disasters, led me to think that maybe others might enjoy sharing my story, so I decided to publish the blog.
2. How have your sales been?
Well I only published a couple of weeks ago so fairly slow so far. Due to the nature of the book my first task is to reach the right audience. Being not simply a genre-specific novel or travel guide or anything straightforward means that reaching the people who’d be interested in its “niche” nature is my first and biggest challenge!
3. You’re relatively new to self-publishing. How do you like it so far?
I love the egalitarian nature of it all. I love the way that it gives opportunity for anyone to get their story out there. To me it seems very similar to the current revolution going on in the music industry. People no longer need to pander to the whims of giant record companies to get their music out; they can do it themselves and have complete creative control over it. To me the self-publishing movement seems the equivalent situation in publishing. And ultimately I think that bringing in fresh blood, style and creativity can do nothing but strengthen the industry.
4. What sort of marketing techniques have you used to sell your book, and which ones have been most successful?
Well, I’m all very new to this so it’s early days really. So far I’ve published on Amazon but I’m in the process of submitting my book to Smashwords as well. I’ve also been looking into publishing articles on websites for free. This seems a good way to get your writing out to a wider audience. You can then add a note referring people to your published work, giving them the opportunity to read more if they care to.
5. Are there any marketing techniques you have intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
Well, as I say, it’s early days so not yet. Personally I think it’s probably good to not be too precious over your work and your marketing angle. You never know what might work until you try it.
6. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
I think the first thing anyone needs to realise is that clicking the ‘publish’ button is the start of the process, not the end of it. Without the support of traditional publishers the marketing is purely down to you. Which is both a positive and a negative aspect. It means more work but also more control.
One of the nicest things I’ve learned is that there’s a whole community of people out there on forums willing to help each other and offer advice. If there’s ever anything you’re unsure of there’s always someone out there willing to point you in the right direction. You just need to join the forums and get asking.
7. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your book, what would it be?
Again it’s probably a bit too early for me to answer a question like that. But I don’t tend to value regrets anyway. If you try something and it doesn’t work out, at worst all you’ve done is learn something new.
8. Independent authors face the obvious challenge of marketing their books without the resources of traditional publishers. What advice do you have for an indie author just starting out?
Firstly, realise that you can’t just sit back and expect the sales to just roll in. It’s purely down to you to drive the marketing side of things. So get out there, read the forums, take the advice, try lots of different approaches, and of course don’t be put off when things don’t work the first time!
9. What projects are you currently working on?
Well I see my e-book as more of a one-off really. It was a fun journey and perhaps one day I’ll do something like that again but at the moment I don’t have any immediate plans to. The act of publishing was simply an exercise in sharing my story with others who might appreciate it.
10. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
A healthy mix of interesting and informative with light-hearted and humorous, often with a sarcastic edge.
11. How can readers learn more about your books?
Well of course they can download the free sample from Amazon to have a look. But as alluded to above, I’ve recently had a free article published on Ezine Articles which can be found here. It’s in a completely different style to the e-book but shares the story of a day in the Dartmoor National Park, England. I’ve also just set a blog on WordPress to support the book. There I’ll be detailing any news relating to its progress.