Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
Dark Steps is a collection of eight short stories, each with a twist in the tale. I try to avoid genre pigeon-holing, and these certainly aren’t horror stories per sé – it’s more that they’re unsettling tales. That’s what I’m aiming for, at least, and hope to leave the reader thinking about these stories long after they’ve put the book down.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Not for Dark Steps, no. Partly because I don’t believe there is much appetite in conventional publishing for a slim collection of dark tales from an unheralded author, and partly because I wanted to retain complete control over the book – everything from the order the stories were in, the cover art, the title.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
Absolutely, and it has been invaluable! It’s a small group, and one that grew out of a creative writing diploma course I took some years ago. The course ended and we just kept on meeting. Having been together for so long, I really feel that I can trust the feedback I get from the other group members. I can almost here their voices in my head when I’m writing now.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
Nothing more complicated than the fact that I own a Kindle! Although in retrospect it was entirely the right decision going with Amazon, seeing them dominate the e-book and e-reader market in the same way that Apple lauds it over the MP3 world.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
No, and some might argue that this was a mistake. I’m pretty good at proof-reading, and my critique group had already helped to rein in my worst excesses! Having said that, any writer will tell you that it can be hard to let go of a line you really love, even when the rest of the world is telling you it’s not so great. I try very hard to avoid that pitfall, but an editor would probably help.
What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
Not to expect too much, too quickly! It’s easy to fall into the tap of checking your sales figures on a daily basis, much harder to recognize that for the unhealthy and unproductive behavior it is. The simple fact is that it’s hard to achieve massive success as any writer, let alone as a self-publishing indie. The lesson here is to be gentle on yourself, try your hardest, take every promotional opportunity you can to push your book but if it doesn’t lead to massive sales remember, you’re not Random House.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Plenty. Lulu, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Smashwords, Sony, iTunes, Diesel, Kobo, W H Smith. Oh, and I’m working on Waterstone’s too.
What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I have a blog dedicated to all my writing endeavors at martinpond.blogspot.com and I tweet, mostly about books and writing, as @MartinWrites. Having said that, my most successful marketing has come about from hassling book review websites and blogs, plying them with review copies of my book, and asking nicely for a mention.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
There’s a definite correlation – the harder I push Dark Steps the less progress I make with the work-in-progress novel. The latter is important though – one of the reasons for publishing the collection was to build a readership, in readiness for the novel’s publication. It’s just one more thing to juggle though: with a full-time (non-writing) job and busy family life, there are a lot of balls in the air.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
It is possible to do it all yourself – the writing, the editing, the proof-reading, the cover design, the publication, the PR and marketing, the media. It really is, and without incurring any expense other than time. But it’s hard work. Take advice where you can. Accept any help offered. And remember not to get sucked into checking those sales figures!
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a full-length story, provisionally entitled Drawn To The Deep End, that I hope to have ready to publish by September of this year. It concerns the downward spiral our hero’s life takes after the death of his fiancée, and the reasons for the relentless guilt he feels.