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Author With New Book Gives Tips About Self Publishing on Amazon Kindle

Published on: 12 May, 2013
Updated on: 12 May, 2013

Guildford-based author John Silke talks about his new book Diggers and about self-publishing on Amazon Kindle

Diggers by John Silke is available on Kindle through Amazon.

Diggers by John Silke is available on Kindle through Amazon.

Guildford Dragon: Recently you finished your third book Diggers. What’s it about?

John Silke: Well after my last book on record collecting, which was factual, I fancied a go at science-fiction. Well, more comedy than straight sci-fi, but it does take place on other planets, in space and on a space ship!

GD: Why did you decide to try a sci-fi comedy?

Author John Silke.

Author John Silke.

JS: I grew up with Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the book, radio play and television series, and Red Dwarf and loved those, so I’ve amassed a lot of love for comical sci-fi over the years. It also has a Tom Sharpe (Wilt) influence. Hopefully, the book shows my own style though.

The story is mainly influenced by my 20 odd years of rummaging for junk at car boot sales. The characters in the book are kind of intergalactic car booters. Well, they say write about what you know and I know about buying vintage stuff.

GD: How long did it take to write?

JS: About a year. I spent an hour a day working on the book, mainly in cafes in Soho and Guildford and a few chapters in New York.

I only seem to write in cafes! I’m not a full-time writer, just a keen amateur. I worked at Waterstones in Guildford High Street a few years ago and started dabbling in writing, a bit more seriously than I ever had before. Through some of the other staff members I was introduced to a local writing group which I’m still attending.

As for Diggers, I enjoyed writing the book. Some days it was tough to keep going, but what spurred me on to finish this book was the fact that I knew it would have a home. The same home as my previous two books.

GD: That home being Kindle?

JS: Yes KDP. Kindle Direct Publishing is Amazon’s home for authors who wish to publish their books on Kindle. Anyone can publish a book and while many of the books being published through KDP are by first time and amateur writers such as myself, it seems that some established authors are also turning to the service to publish their work.

GD: Do you have any advice for readers who may wish to take this route?

JS: Yes. Well first and foremost, write the best book you can, don’t be tempted to rush it and put it up on Kindle too soon. So, when you have your finished book I would offer the following advice.

Make sure the cover is professional looking. I commissioned an artist friend to do the Diggers cover. Nothing puts off a potential buyer like a dodgy cover that looks like it was made in two minutes. There are plenty of these on Amazon and they are quite good for a laugh if you are looking to waste some time.

Make sure the book is proof read. Reading a book that is full of grammatical errors is a sure fire way to snap the reader out of the reading experience and earn some bad reviews.

Make sure it is formatted for Kindle correctly. If it is not formatted correctly for Kindle, the lines of text can merge and be unreadable. Again, a good way to annoy and / or lose any readers.

GD: what about publicity?

JS: Promote with advertisements and social media and word of mouth. If you are going to self publish, you must also be a self publicist. Believe me, I’d much rather have a great book deal with Penguin, and have publicists promoting my book. But until that happens (if ever) I will just have to be keep self promoting. You can try advertising your book in appropriate places and you can use all social media to spread the word.

GD: So, as with the audience on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, I’m sure many of our readers are keen to get to the money part. Can you earn money through KDP?

JS: Well, I can only tell you about my own experiences. My first book George and the Magic Radio, has been sat on Kindle for a couple of years now and has only earned me enough bread to fill the tank on my small Japanese car. The second, Record Collecting in the Digital Age has been active for around 15 months and has sold pretty well, around one copy a day. Of this I receive (depending on certain factors) around £1 a time.

My third book has been on the site for a couple of weeks and has sold fewer than 10 copies. I would say that from my experiences, fiction can easily get lost in a sea of other fiction works, but a more factual book like collecting vinyl or similar, can find its audience more easily.

I would say overall, that if you are looking to make money, then there are easier ways of doing that (though in the current climate I can’t actually think of many ways!).

I do like receiving royalty payments (and you will find yourself checking your online sales about 10 times a day,) even if they aren’t huge. But for me, writing is as much about being a creative outlet. Knowing that people are reading your work in places as far flung as Minnesota, is satisfying. When you get a bad review it can sting, but getting a good review or fair criticism from a total stranger is exciting.

GD: Does self publishing on Kindle will mean that no traditional publisher will consider your book as it will already have been ‘published’?

JS: Last year I asked someone from one of the world’s biggest publishers if this was the case and he told me that it would not affect your chances of a book being published. If anything it could help if the book did well on Amazon to begin with. That is not to say all publishers will feel the same, but in this digital age, there are no set rules! Everybody is still finding their way.

For Amazon’s listing of John Silke’s books, click here.

John Silke has previously written two articles for The Guildford Dragon News, to read them, click here and here

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