INDIE TAKEOVER 02 - AUGUST 2022
Self published author
Amazon: Click here
A Bit About Me
I started writing in earnest on 4th November 2013. Unfortunately, this isn’t a ‘magic date’; it’s just the date I created the Scrivener file I’ve used ever since. It took another six and a half years before my first book hit the shelves. Nevertheless, I’m proud of my debut novel, although I suspect it’s pretty niche.
I’ve been an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction since I was fifteen, when I spent hours in my local independent bookstore agonising over which book to buy. I still have most of those books, which are over thirty years old and probably read just as many times. As my reading tastes developed, I moved away from fantasy, although Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series remains a firm favourite.
I started writing because I couldn’t find the book I wanted to read: a combination of
environmental disaster, future over-population and a wide cast of characters. Other authors who have influenced me include Kim Stanley Robinson, Julian May and Allen Steele.
The most important thing I learned is writing is easy, re-working is complex, and marketing is challenging. I wanted to self-publish because I enjoy the process of making a book, not just writing the words, but I’m also very grateful I have a superb editor at hand. I strongly feel that independent authors need as much support as possible and have been working hard to help others on a similar journey.
I live on the South Coast of the UK with my partner and two cats, and I’m lucky enough to do most of my writing in the garden (as the weather is mostly good). I like to get up early, go for a run on the seafront and then settle down to work, although, like every other writer I know, dealing with the everyday distractions is hard. I’m a firm believer in planning the writing and writing the plan. I suggest ‘writer’s block’ is just a fancy phrase for not knuckling down and doing the work. In a past life, I was a software engineer, and even on the days I didn’t want to write code, that was my job, and I would have to focus and do what was required.
I’ve taken a break from my main series (book four is in its first draft) to write something a little easier to read, set about forty years in the future, close to home. I’m enjoying learning more about the area where I live and how the political decisions being made now might influence things as I reach the final years of my life (not wanting to sound morbid). I would love to have the opportunity to see centuries into the future, but alas, this only happens in science fiction. I hope to have this book ready by spring 2023.
Watch my interview
with JC Gemmill is coming soon
Writing Career, tips, and advice.
Everyone has their own experience, their own method. It’s important to know why you
want to write. The most important thing I’ve learned is if I want to make money, I should
write the books people want to read, not the books I want to read. This doesn’t interest
me—I’m not expecting everyone to like what I’ve written, but feedback from those who like
my work is precious.
My worst review reads: ‘Bland, too unbelievable. I don’t understand all the 4 and 5 stars.
MC is focused way too much on how great she is. Loses family, oh well. Meh... a waste of
my time if nothing else.’ This was hard to read at first, but now it makes me smile. It will
always be there, preserved by the internet, and I have to grow from the feedback. I’ve
realised that this reader didn’t understand the genre, didn’t care for the style, and wasn’t
open to a dystopian future. But as I continue to write, I think about this review and do my
best to incorporate the advice in my writing.
This particular book is free to download. It’s roughly thirty thousand words (a short novel)
and takes a few hours to read. It’s the third book I published, and I wrote it in the three
months between Christmas and Easter. I intended it to be an introduction to my main
series, which now stands at three books totalling around four hundred thousand words. I
don’t want anyone who didn’t enjoy the free book to attempt its longer cousins, not for fear
of another bad review, but because I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time.
A free book is a great way to build a reader base. It’s been downloaded 3,400 times across
six platforms. But, of course, that doesn’t mean it’s been read that many times, having only
received 100 ratings on Amazon. So this is my second lesson: people use ratings to guide
their purchasing decisions, but it’s tough to encourage readers to leave a rating, let alone a
review. So it’s essential to connect with your readers and encourage them to let others
know what they think.
Having worked as a software engineer, it’s been relatively easy to build a website—although
I had to learn many new skills. What’s hard is deciding what content to put on the site.
Initially, it was basically a platform from which to promote my books, but over time it has
evolved as I’ve realised lots of indie sci-fi, cyberpunk and dystopian authors need help
promoting their work. I get a lot of pleasure from supporting other authors and have found
this is the most visited part of my site. But what I’ve learned is having a website doesn’t
drive sales. Instead, people are more likely to visit your site after they’ve read your books.
My final piece of wisdom is I’ve learned to write because I enjoy what I’ve created. I don’t
need fame or fortune but want to leave a legacy. So when someone contacts me to say how
they enjoyed one of my books or how it affected them, it’s worth a lot more than when I
have a lot of sales. It’s also hugely important to support other independent authors and to
leave ratings for them!
Let's Get Reading!
The Visionary: A Dystopian Sci-Fi (Tion) Dystopian Sci-Fi
Click the title to buy.
At the beginning of February 2060, Mount Erebus erupted, the first of a chain of Antarctic volcanoes that forever changed Earth’s future. Within days, sea levels began to rise, until sixty metres of water claimed coastlines worldwide.
Twelve-year-old Xin-yi and her mother fled their home, surviving amongst a community of rice farmers. A year later, a chance conversation with international census officials prepared her for a new life.
Now fourteen, Xin-yi commences her training as a visionary. It is her task to imagine a new Earth, rising above the drowning waters. Thousands of young people strive to design a world in which the displaced millions can live, and engineer a solution that will take a millennium to populate.
But Xin-yi’s challenges are more personal: coming to terms with the loss of her brother and unexpected feelings toward a friend. She has to choose between working to benefit humanity and her internal conflict with love.
Set over three decades after the 2060 flood, The Visionary combines dystopian, future and science fiction, and introduces J.C. Gemmell’s Tion series.
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