Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
The Artist’s Model is my own life – with a twist of poetic licence. As an artist I have painted life (nude) models and posed myself (fully clothed!) and know all the vagaries, passions and quirks of the artist’s temperament. This is what I set out to capture in my book, wrapped up in a love story. In the story we see Tom realise that his true happiness is to be found in giving up a successful legal career for the uncertainties of an artist’s life. Elizabeth also struggles between the choice of a conventional lifestyle for the sake of her young son and the rewarding but risky life of an artist. Their dilemmas reflect something of my own life choices; despite studying law at post-graduate level and considering a career as a barrister, I gave in to my love of art and literature and followed my heart.
Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
I presented The Artist’s Model to one publisher and received a warm response telling me how much they liked my writing style – before going on to tell me all the ways in which they wanted me to change my book to suit their publishing criteria. Having made a decision to explore the freedom of painting and writing I was simply not prepared to compromise my own style just for the sake of being acceptable to someone else’s notion of what was marketable.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
As I said above, the desire for freedom to express what I wanted in the way I wanted. Having discovered the world of Indie publishing and seen the quality of work as well as the generous, supportive community spirit of Indie writers, I feel privileged to be a part of this pioneering and hard working group of authors.
Would you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
When I sat down to write my second novella, Purple Lake, I knew that I was going to self-publish and was able to write with complete, joyous freedom. If I tried to approach a publisher, I think I would lose that sense of joy in my work because I would have half an eye on what was going to conform to their notions of what was publishable. I’m not prepared to make that compromise.
Did you design you cover art? If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
It would be reasonable to assume that, as an artist, designing a cover would pose no problem. This was not the case. With The Artist’s Model, it was inevitable that I should use a picture of a life-model. Unfortunately everything in my portfolio was simply too rich in detail to be appropriate for a book cover. The drawing I chose was selected for being the most modest I have – and even then I was draping a chiffon scarf over it to save my model’s blushes, Also, actually producing a book cover is more about design that expressive art, and as a impressionist in style this was quite alien to me. I was happier with the cover for Purple Lake, which did not raise any issues of what was appropriate for a book cover, and I simply used a section of a watercolour I had painted of an August sunrise in Brittany.
How did you feel when you got your first sale? Are you pleased with sales so far?
I really didn’t know what to expect when I first published. The optimist in me thought that people would enjoy my book but, as an unknown author, I wasn’t sure how they would find the book in the first place. I think the first sale was significant because I realised that if one person was moved to buy my book, others would follow. What has pleased me most is that I’ve been able to see that people who read one book have gone on to buy the other. They must like it!
What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for you book(s).
Well, this is where I have struggled. I don’t twitter, have facebook or a webpage and find all the self-publicity quite difficult. It is only by visiting forums where other writers had generously offered advice and support that I have started to make any progress in this direction. I find writing a pleasure, but books are made to be read and my challenge is to learn how to introduce my books to those who would enjoy reading it.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Not yet. I have been impressed with how well Kindle books sell, but at some point I shall have to branch out. For a shy, individualistic, slightly reclusive artist this is my Everest to conquer.
What’s next for you?
Well, I’m submitting some paintings for an exhibition in November, so some of my goals are artistic. In terms of writing I am happy with what I have produced for now and shall concentrate on the marketing aspect of Indie publishing. I will write more, but am looking into next year before I produce another novella.