Monday, August 22, 2011

Interview with British Author Tim Ellis

I first met Tim online at a Facebook site called Kindle Writers. We kind of hit it off and Tim helped answer some of the glaring questions than Newbies can have, and made me laugh doing it! After we'd talked for a few weeks, I purchased his first Parish and Richards thriller/mystery called A Life for a Life and greatly enjoyed my first real British Indie novel. Since then, Tim has been on a bit of a roll, including his third Parish and Richards novel, The Flesh is Weak. He has graciously agreed to be my first guest blogger. Welcome the talented and funny Tim Ellis.

You are an academic with considerable education. Why write novels?

First of all, let’s dispel the myth of me being an academic. I left school at 15 without any qualifications, and after a couple of dead-end jobs, joined the Army where I stayed for 22 years reaching the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major). I completed my Masters degrees and Doctorate between the ages of 40 and 50 merely to prove I could. I wanted to write novels for as long as I could remember, but like most people, life got in the way. You have a family, bills and a mortgage to pay, who can afford to pack it all in on a whim? So, I didn’t really get the chance until I retired in 2009, and 18 months before that I’d already begun learning how to write, so by the time I was a man of leisure, I’d written three books.

You write in several different genres, including young adult, historical, crime, and science fiction. Which genre is your favorite and why? Which of these genres is most popular among readers in the UK?

People generally write what they read. I read everything, and that’s why I write in so many different genres I suppose. My favorite, if I have a favorite, is historical, but that’s not what people want to read, and not what sells. The most popular among readers in the UK (and in the US the last couple of months) is crime, especially my Parish and Richards series.

Are you doing anything special to market your books? Do you have any suggestions for US writers who might want to reach a wider audience in the UK?

No, I don’t do anything special to market my books. I use Twitter, Bookbuzzr, I have a website in which I write the occasional blog and have a Featured Author page. Sometimes I do interviews, but not too often. I suppose I’m a great believer in my writing doing the talking. If people like your books, then word will spread. As for suggestions for US readers trying to shoehorn into the UK market – I don’t think there’s an issue with American writers being read by UK readers, we devour everything you throw at us from TV, music, and literature. And if that’s true, then the US writer only has to get noticed. Networking sites seem to be the main medium for promotion, but apparently writers are still permitted to self-promote on the Amazon discussion forums in the UK!

I’ve recently read of UK authors earning healthy contracts after self-publishing. As a rule, how do readers and writers in Britain feel about such efforts? Had there been a stigma about those who self-publish as "not being good enough?"

In my humble opinion, the stigma of self-publishing remains and that’s part of the reason writers accept a traditional publishing contract. Another reason is because of the difficulty in marketing and promotion and the way it eats into your writing time. It’s been discussed on many websites, blogs and so forth, but one of the issues about putting your book out there is getting people to notice it. I don’t think anyone has ready-made answers to that conundrum, but one thing I’ve noticed looking at my sales figures is that the figures have increased month on month. This suggests that if you’ve got a good book the word will spread.

Would you take a contract from a traditional publisher?

Is this the million-dollar question? I’ve had an offer already and declined. I’m not saying I’d decline the next one, if one came along, but it has to be right for me. I’m gradually creating a fan base, and from the emails and reviews I receive people like reading what I write. One assumes that this fan base will continue to increase as long as I continue to write good books. The question then, is why do I need a publisher?