Self publishing is everywhere these days; it seems everyone has something to say, musicians have been doing it for ages, artists the same and now over the last few years largely thanks to digital readers like the Kindle and Kobo, writers are now leading the indie revolution and what was once considered an expensive ego boost to publish your own book is now very much the norm, and it is unearthing some great writers.
As you may or may not know, we here at Razberry Juice like nothing more than a good read so over the next few months we are going to be spending some time chatting with these digital ink pushers as we get a peek inside the lives of self publishing authors.
First up is the very lovely and talented Estelle Ryan
Estelle was born in South Africa and spent her childhood being surrounded by African beauty, nature and diversity of cultures. Her first trip to Europe at the tender age of 16 transformed her world into a much larger place, endless in its possibilities and places to explore. For most of her adulthood she’s travelled all over the world, lived on a few continents, explored numerous cultures and is insatiable in the quest to still the hunger for more life experiences.
She’s written for numerous international magazines, was the editor of a European lifestyle magazine and has seven out-of-print romance novels published under a pseudonym. With her interest in international politics, arts, crime, behavioural psychology, criminal psychology and music, she decided to combine all these elements in her writing. And so Genevieve and the team came into being.
Estelle, can you give us a little background, as to when you first became interested in writing and your career to date?
My first interest? That would be when I was around nine years old and convinced my class I had spent the previous evening playing with aliens in my backyard! Throughout school my creative writing (emphasis on ‘creative’) was a much discussed topic under the teachers, but nothing serious ever came from it. Not until ten years ago when I started writing travel articles for an international magazine. Fast forward many more articles, being the managing editor of a life style magazine, and seven traditionally published books later, I decided it was time for a change. I sat down and wrote the first book in the Genevieve Lenard series, The Gauguin Connection, which was published a year ago. The third in the series will be published in September 2013.
You created The Connections series following the adventures of Dr Genevieve Lenard, where did your inspirations come for these and how hard was it to write, considering it covers a lot of detailed subjects Autism Spectrum Disorder, Body language and Art Crimes?
This series combines all my interests and passions in one. I’m a news junkie, interested in world politics and how every event influences another. That leads me straight to my interest in psychology, more specifically music therapy. Add to that my other interests in art, criminal psychology and a good, entertaining crime story, and it is the perfect storm for me.
When I started planning The Gauguin Connection, I didn’t want to have a copy-paste version of so many other protagonists. I wanted someone who was superior in her/his skills, but not a superhero like many protagonists seem to be. I wanted someone unique and real. ASD is a very real issue in modern life – one out of every fifty children in the US is reported to have ASD. I thought a high functioning autistic character would be interesting and might also shed a bit of light on the topic.
Is it difficult to write about these different topics? Not at all. I love the research – it feeds my need for new information and adds to what I already know.
All authors have their own way of working. Could you give our readers a brief outline of a day in the life of Estelle Ryan, the author, and any methods you may use for writing?
Wake up. Coffee. Read the news. Coffee. Have a shower. Coffee. Can you see a pattern emerging? 🙂 Depending on my schedule for the day, I will work in whichever cafe is closest between two meetings. My best writing time is before 3pm, so I try to organise my day accordingly. Coffee shops get me out of my home and into a ‘work’ mode. I also choose places with no or spotty internet access – it is a terrible temptation and time-suck. Once I’m settled with a cup of coffee and no internet, I forget about everything around me and am totally focussed on writing.
Following on from the question above, what are your tools of the trade? Some authors prefer to use the likes of Sigil and Calibre to format and convert their work. Can you list your preferred software that you work with?
Word. Yes, yes, I know! But I’m a simple girl. I don’t use anything fancy for formatting or writing. It is pen and paper for planning the first outline. Then everything else happens on Word. When formatting, I strip the document of all crazy formatting, put it back into Word, do what needs to be done and voila! I use Draft to Digital to publish on other platforms and their epub converter is perfect. No need for anything else.
I play around with xmind.net for planning – great mind mapping tools. Gingersoftware.com is only one of a few tools I use to catch typos (although it often suggests mistakes, so I use it very carefully). Despite all the amazing software out there, once I have the first draft on file, I print it out and grab my red pen. A simple girl.
Estelle, once you have finished the writing part, how much involvement do you have in your book’s creation – such as editing, cover design or publicity?
I have a fabulous editor, who puts up with me (I’m a perfectionist!). Her editing and other suggestions are usually spot on, but I have the final say. The same goes for the cover. Publicity is something that I’m not too focussed on at the moment. September will see the third book in my series and only then it would make sense to start doing more marketing/advertising/publicity.
What are some of your favourite writers and books?
In my genre it is Daniel Silva. Complex stories, well-developed characters and wonderfully written. Always a joy to read. Other writers I enjoy are the earlier works of Nelson DeMille, Barry Eisler, Ian Rankin and Tess Gerritson. But my all time favourite is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A masterpiece.
Like all things, we as humans are our own worst judges. How do you judge success as a writer? And do you set any goals for yourself?
For me success is a dynamic goal in the sense that it always changes. Ultimately success is when readers are entertained by my books, and hopefully learn something new. But sales and money also dictate a level of success. Selling one book is a huge success. Selling a thousand is breathtaking. Every time I pass another thousand sales I’m humbled by that milestone, that success. And every time the measuring stick used for success changes after such a feat.
I’m a planner, so it is natural for me to set goals. I try to be realistic with my goals, and constantly have to adjust them as I learn more about the self-publishing industry.
Authors like any artist are always trying to produce that masterpiece. What books or projects are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished the third book, The Braque Connection, and am at the final stages of editing and formatting. The next ‘masterpiece’ I’ll work on will be the fourth in the Genevieve Lenard series.
One question we hope to ask all authors is what advice would you give to anyone starting out on the self publishing route?
Observe, assess, analyse, adjust, act. Don’t do it the other way around. I believe that if you want to become a millionaire, you should listen to the advice of someone who is a millionaire, not a poor economics professor. If you want to become a (successful) writer, spend time in places where other successful writers are. There are numerous forums to observe the lessons these people have learned. You can assess and analyse those lessons, and see how it applies to you, to your work. Take those lessons/comments/advice and adjust it to benefit you best. Then you act.
It might feel like there is this crazy rush to publish now before the current miners have found all the gold. Take your time, develop your story, have it professionally edited, so that the work you put out there will be your absolute best, something you would be proud of.
Well Estelle it’s been a pleasure getting to chat with you and just before you go, can you tell our readers where they can go to buy your books or find out more about you?
Thank you so much for having me here!