I love Tuesdays. My Debut Author Q&As are one of my favorite things about writing this blog – meeting new writers and hearing their stories, their roads to publication. Today, Ian Barker shares his tale.
Name: Ian Barker
Name of book: Fallen Star
Book genre: Contemporary fiction
Date Published: November 2010
Publisher: Rebel ePublishers
What is your day job? I’m the editor of PC Utilities magazine.
What is your book about? It’s about discovering that there are more important things in life than fame and celebrity.
What would you say is the most challenging part of the writing process? For me, it’s finding the time to sit down and actually do it. This is particularly true when your day job involves writing too, as often the last thing you want to do is come home and start putting down words on your own account.
What motivates you to write? Several things: the need to tell a story and also a desire to leave something behind. Plus, reading certain published books and knowing that I can do better.
Did you experience writer’s block? Not in the sense of sitting and staring at a blank screen, no. There were long periods when I didn’t add to the manuscript, but that wasn’t writer’s block so much as inertia. I tend to write in short bursts and then neglect things for several weeks.
How long did it take you to write this book? I let the initial idea fester for a while because I was writing another book at the time. Once I started, it took around three years to complete.
How long did it take you to find a publisher? About two years to get signed up, plus almost another year of editing from acceptance to release. If you’re seeking overnight success, don’t become a writer!
Do you have an agent? No, but I’ve been rejected by a lot. I approached Rebel direct having exhausted a number of other routes. They rejected the book at first, but were generous enough to make suggestions for improvement and accepted it on the second attempt.
What is the biggest misconception about writing a book? That you just do it and publishers are then falling over themselves to give you money. It doesn’t work like that. You need to work hard at perfecting your craft as a writer. Another myth is that you can do it in isolation. You can’t. However good you are, feedback from others is important to help you spot flaws.
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? Not for this book in particular, but with any fiction I love coming back to it for the first edit and finding passages that make you go, “Wow, did I write that?”
What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? These days, writers are expected to play an ever larger part in promoting their own work. But you also need to strike a balance. If you’re not careful, you can become a full-time promoter and not have time to write. Social media are important – you pretty much have to have a Facebook page – though I like to have the book page separate from my personal one. I’ve also found that Twitter is useful because it gives you opportunities for instant two-way engagement (without Twitter I wouldn’t be doing this interview). Blogs, I reckon, have had their day. I’ve tried, but I can seldom think of anything interesting to write and – if I’m brutally honest – I hardly ever read other people’s blogs any more, so I don’t expect anyone to be interested in mine. Instead I use Tumblr to post interesting writing-related snippets, short and to the point, and it’s easy to link feeds to Goodreads, Amazon author pages, etc.
Oprah has famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? I think to a large extent you make your own luck. The way you do that is to work at polishing your craft and making your writing the best it can possibly be. You also need to be open to opportunities to promote and sell your work.