Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
Certainly. The book is called ‘Ramblings in Ireland’. It isn’t a book about rambling in Ireland. It is the story of one particular walking trip and the memories and musings it inspired.
British ex-patriate Kerry Dwyer leads Bertrand, her trusting French husband, astray on a walking holiday in South West Ireland. She can’t read maps and he insists that she leads the way. As they have so much time in each other’s company they reminisce and reflect upon accents and accidents, family and friends, love and what it means to be alive. Bertrand doesn’t mind getting lost - he loves Kerry all the more for going off the beaten track.
This is a book about ramblings in Ireland. Walk with Kerry and Bertrand and follow where your thoughts lead you. This book was inspired by the beauty of Ireland and the wonderful people we met when we were there.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Yes I did. It was very disheartening to receive all those standard rejection letters and emails. Some of them didn’t reply at all. I had all but given up the idea of being published before I was convinced by Joel Canfield of Someday Box that my work should be published and that I should have enough confidence in it to self publish.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
Yes I do. We are a small circle of friends and each write very differently. We use a private blog to post our most recent efforts and the others comment on it. We are all very positive about each others’ work whilst trying to help the others improve their work. It has helped me a great deal. Sometimes it is difficult to stand back and evaluate your own work. With Ramblings In Ireland I eventually took out the whole of the first chapter and re wrote it. The original one just didn’t do the job but it took someone else telling me that to change it.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
A number of things. Firstly Amazon is where I always look for books if I want one. I know a lot of people look there first certainly all my family do. Several of my family and friends have a Kindle and it’s the most popular of e-book reader. So a logical place to increase visibility.
Amazon have a very easy and free system to upload a book for Kindle and it’s partner Createspace have an equally easy one for print books. As they are print on demand that means I didn’t have to come up with any money to do this. You have to format them correctly in order for this to work and for them to look professional. I had help from Someday Box to do that. Having the two selling from the same place makes life easier for me.
The Amazon review system is also easy to use and once you have enough reviews and sales the Amazon system starts to promote your book though the ‘spotlight’ and ‘also bought’ systems. This is very good publicity for any indie author who can’t afford to pay for advertising.
What is your writing process?
I find it very difficult to write without a deadline. For Ramblings In Ireland I had the deadline of a competition. I wrote every evening until it was finished and sent it off for the competition. It wasn’t really ready for the competition and not surprisingly didn’t get a mention. I hadn’t had any beta readers or proof readers do their work on it at that time but it got the bulk of the work finished.
For my second novel I wrote the first 50k words for NaNoWriMo in 2011 and it hasn’t progressed very much since then. I don’t have a deadline for it. I may use this year’s WriMo to edit and finish it but I am very busy promoting my first book.
Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you.
Ramblings of course already had the main story that of our walking holiday. The tangents are what seamed to me logically placed. Some of them were things we actually talked about when we were there and others I just went where the fancy took me.
For my second novel I have a story board and a plan. The back story changes a little every time I come back to it. When I was first writing it the story just poured out for the whole of November. I did the story board afterwards in order to try to put some shape to the story. It was quite a mess.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I used Joel Canfield at Someday Box for that as well. He found several people to read through proofread, edit and suggest. I really liked working with Joel. He allowed me to tell the story I wanted to tell in the way I wanted to tell it. He would make suggestions and point out parts that didn’t really work. I would then rewrite them and get more feedback. It was a long process but I really like the finished book. It is still very much me.
What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
I have learned that it is important to listen to your critics with an open mind. They give criticism for your benefit and it is not personal. I am very lucky that the group I belong to are friends that I can trust. I’ve learned that no matter how long you worked on something and how much you love it, if it doesn’t work it needs to come out. I’ve learned that I am totally incapable of proofreading my own work. I couldn’t believe the number of spelling, punctuation and even grammar errors in my manuscript.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes. My book is for sale in Nook format by Barnes and Noble and for all other e-book readers and PCs at Smashwords.
What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
This blog tour is my first concentrated marketing effort. I can also be found on various sites:
The Independent author index: http://indaindex.com/kerry-dwyer/
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Absolutely. I work full time and have a family so the time I have available to do either marketing or writing is precious and has to be shared. I am hoping that I can get back to writing again more seriously after this tour. As fun as it is it takes a lot of time to organize and to give followers something new to look at with each stop.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
I think getting yourself known is very difficult for indie authors. It requires a lot of work and you can’t just sit back and expect the readers to come and find you. A blog tour like this one is a great opportunity to spotlight you as an author and your work. Be polite to your blog host and put some effort in.
Another essential thing to do is to get your worked reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon and anywhere else you can. There are lists of people who review independent authors and you can just google them. They will not all respond so write to all of them that review your genre and don’t forget to read their review policies. Nothing annoys a reviewer more than their policy being ignored. Remember that they are doing this for you, often for nothing except a free copy of your book and they are all very inundated with requests. If yours doesn’t follow the policy it will not be selected for review.
Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
My biggest passion is my family. I love my husband and my daughter and love spending time with them when we can just be a family. This happens less and less frequently as my daughter is away at Lycee and she likes to spend a lot of time with her friends, which is normal. My parents live quite close and I like to see them as well.
The other thing that I love to do is walk. I walk a lot. I like to walk every day if I can for about an hour, just around where I live. The countryside changes so much and I take a lot of pictures for my blog. At the weekends and on holiday I walk further and explore different areas.
Music particularly live Jazz in the winter and socializing with friends are two other things that I enjoy doing.
What’s next for you?
My second book has the working title ‘The Book Exchange’. It is a work of fiction following the lives of four women connected by monthly visits to a book exchange. The idea for this book came from the book exchange that I visit. I prefer to read English books for leisure and so do a lot of expats. We all get together in the back of a local shop once a month and swap the books that we have read. I am hoping to finish the book this year but that will very much depend on the time I have available. I am not in a hurry to finish it, it’s more important that I enjoy the process and that it is worthy of being read.