A while ago I asked for a few questions from my patient public regarding my eBooks, the idea being that I can put the Q & A on my Smashwords site and also here. I did actually get a few questions but not as many as I’d have liked, so I made a couple up!
If anyone has any others that they forgot to send, I’ll answer them and update this blog post before I put them on the publisher’s site. Meanwhile, here is a reminder that there are two new eBooks out now. One is free, and I can see your short arms and deep pockets twitch as I type, the other costs dollars but not so many.
Now, on with the interview.
Why do you write?
I’ve written bird related stuff for many years, all in newsletters and annual reports or the odd article for magazines and I’ve enjoyed doing it. Writing it in a more formal format seemed the obvious thing to do once I had the time. The only problem is, once you go down that path, suddenly there is a lot more writing to do than you expected!
Do you only write about birds and wildlife?
At the moment yes, well sort of. My latest cash flea, ‘Park Life’, continues in the vein of the first book, ‘Going for Broke’, in that it contains short stories, true ones too, stories that are meant to entertain. I like comedy and can usually make people laugh once I get to know them, and so writing things from a humorous slant was always going to be part of the whole writing thing for me.
Any more books planned soon?
I had intended to take a break from the wildlife type books, but then and I went and started a short Cuba guide. I only write these free things to put them out there, mostly to help other birders, especially the ones who go it alone on vacations or locally. The birding travel industry is huge but also expensive and you really can have a good, self-guided trip, if you have the information.
eBooks then, why not printed?
Publishing eBooks is easy, printed takes a bit more effort and some financial investment and I, like all new writers, don’t have a publisher to do it for me and to bear the expense pending a return. There is also the ethical, ‘save the tree’ standpoint, most books are read once then get pulped, a waste of a tree. eBooks can also be cheap and I aim to offer a good read at a reasonable price.
Will you write a ‘serious’ bird or wildlife book?
I’m working on a book about Odonata, a simplified one, that limits the amount of anatomy you need to be able to name. Odes are an interest that is gaining momentum and my guide will focus on the person who has seen them but has no idea what they are. I’ll cover the common species in northeast North America and see where it goes. As an eBook, it is portable and will be of use in the field. I don’t think I have the gravitas to write a true bird ID book, there are plenty of great authors out there already although, come to think of it, there are some rubbish ones too!
What about other types of writing?
By that I assume you mean away from the whole wildlife scene? I’m writing my first novel, ‘War and Peas’. My editor, Sandra, has read the first 10,000 words, just to see whether I was going in the right direction, and now wants to know how it ends, so that will be my first novel. It will be followed as a novel, most likely, by ‘Drug Money’. I don’t want to say anything about that yet, but you can bet that some former colleagues from my time in the pharmaceutical industry will have influenced my thinking.
I may write an unauthorised ‘Birds of Nottinghamshire’, one free of the baggage handed on by previous generations. I may also do an annotated Quebec birds in English, it depends on time and where we move to, I may have other things to occupy me by then but winter is a great giver of indoor time!
Has the response to your eBooks surprised or disappointed you?
Both really. I never expected to make a living off writing and I never will. Writers who can live of their books are few and far between, you need a big one to get you established and visiting the sand pits might not cut it! I genuinely thought that there were more actual readers out there and that most would realise that the eReader and eBook is where we are going. I think the eBook sellers of big titles are ripping us all off as usual as they sell the electronic versions at as high a price as a hard-back sometimes.
My intention is to create a personal inventory and wait. As long as my eBooks remain fairly timeless and the publisher, Smashwords, solvent, then there will always be new eReader users in some format or other. As a writer, you have to be confident that your output will gain a following, and that the following will continue to want to read your stuff.
Fortunately the prices on my eBooks are very low, and so my very English ‘good value’ moral is never challenged.
Corny I know, but do you have a message for the readers?
Just a big thanks to you all for supporting me. If I write and you read it and like it, then I’m fulfilling an ambition. If I go in a wrong direction, or any new eBooks are rubbish, I hope someone would tell me.
So there we are, can you spot the made-up questions?
It’s snowing outside, again, so today might see the Cuba thing done, keep checking if you are interested.