Interview with author Rob Sinclair – Part Two
I am delighted that Rob asked me to be part of his blog tour for his new book Hunt for the Enemy. It is published on 11 February and is already getting some great reviews. I will be reviewing it later, but for this part of the blog tour, Rob has agreed to answer some questions about writing and publishing. Yesterday I published part one of the interview, and here is the rest of it.
How do you research the more gruesome parts of your book (assuming you are not a write-what-you-know author!) – the fights, the weapons, the torture?
Haha. Worryingly a lot those things are in my head! But you know what, that comes from reading other similar books, watching TV and movies. Things like torture and fighting are really quite common to us if we immerse ourselves in enough fiction of that type.
That said, I do a lot of simple googling if I’ve got an idea but don’t quite know enough to write about it properly. So yes, my search history shows some rather worrying entries including relating to different ways to kill and torture people. If the government keep watch lists, I’m certain to be on them.
Which part(s) of writing do you love/hate?
I don’t hate any of it. In fact I really love it most of the time, so it’s great that this is now my career. The bit I find most challenging is getting started. Not because I don’t have the ideas, but just because it always feels like a big hurdle. I tend to procrastinate for a quite a few days, finding anything else I can do around the house instead. I worry that I don’t have enough of a story, or that it’s not very good, or that the characters are weak or too similar, etc. etc. etc. But once I actually sit down and type out those first few words, breaking the seal, I tend to quite quickly forget about the worries and just get down to it.
I think editing is more boring than drafting. But then editing is easier too. Drafting is very taxing on the brain I find! My wife notices my mood swings sometimes when I’m drafting as I do immerse myself in the characters’ lives, a bit like method acting!
Which part(s) of publishing do you love/hate?
That’s a difficult question. I find the publication process frustrating because everything seems to take such a long time. I’m a complete control freak and like to be in charge of everything so whenever there’s a task that someone else is doing I’ll sit there impatiently twiddling my thumbs wondering why on earth it hasn’t been done yet. I think I’m slowly coming round to the fact that publishing is just a slow process. But then there are so many things that need to be done and it is important to make sure that everything is done properly.
The other thing that I don’t like is the disparity between self-published and traditionally published authors. I’m proud to be a self-published author, and in many respects it suits me as I get to control a lot of the process. But I do think we get a really raw deal in the industry. We’re definitely not treated as equals compared to traditionally published authors no matter how good our books are or how good our sales are. And it’s in every aspect of the industry that this happens: readers, reviewers, media, agents, publishers, retailers, writers’ associations and even amongst other authors. We get looked down on and miss out on a lot of opportunities simply because we self-published. It’s a shame, and the situation is changing slowly, and it’s down to us self-published authors to continue to make a name for ourselves to change it further.
You said that you had submitted a book to publishers. Is it important to you to get a traditional contract, rather than be an out-and-out indie?
OK, this is where I contradict myself. I’m proud to be self-published and with what I’ve achieved so far. But if a big publisher came along with a big fat cheque? I’d take it. This is my career. My career is for me and my family. So of course if a publisher made me an offer that I thought was too good to refuse then I’d take it.
That’s not to say I’m desperate to be signed-up. I certainly wouldn’t take any offer just so that I could say I’m now traditionally published. It would have to be one that made sense and that would take my writing career to another level. I know what I can do now on my own, and I know where I still need help. If a publisher can add value to my career then I’d listen.
Are your books in bookshops? Would you like them to be? / How did you get them there?
My local Waterstones initially stocked a couple of copies of Dance with the Enemy at my request, but they never replenished them. Cracking the paperback market is the hardest thing for a self-published author to do because the distribution system set up by retailers and big publishers is so well engrained. I’ve more or less given up on expecting any big orders from bookstores and I’ve decided there’s little point in spending time trying to get individual stores to stock 1 or 2 copies. Much better to focus my activity on my ebooks which is where I see the best return for my time.
Do you belong to a writing or indie publishing group?
Do you meet/correspond with other authors?
Yes I do. It’s not something I go out of my way to do – I’m quite an introvert! – but I’d much rather be seen as a collaborative and helpful peer than competition. So I’ve helped authors out when they’ve come to me looking for advice with writing or publishing, I’ve collaborated with authors to cross-market our books and build our respective followings. I’ve approached other authors for advice and some are nice, others aren’t. You remember and stick with the nice ones and hope that they do the same with you.
Who or which sites are your go-to writing/self-publishing advice gurus?
Can’t think of any! I’ve kind of just made it up as I’ve gone along. I have used google constantly on my journey to figure out what to do, when and how, as I was completely in the dark to be honest about writing, publishing and marketing. But I can’t point to any one resource.
You are active on social media and have a good rapport with your readers. How essential do you think social media is for authors? Which platform works best for you?
99% of my sales are ebooks. And many of those are in the US, not the UK. My career is essentially online so it makes absolute sense that I concentrate my promotional efforts online too. That’s both through social media but also paid advertising (whether Facebook ads or price promotion websites and the like).
The platform I’ve had the most personal enjoyment from is Twitter. It suits me as there’s something more impersonal about it and, like I said, I’m an introvert really so feel more comfortable in that arena. I organically built up a strong twitter following over a sustained period and try to be as personable as I can on there – it’s not just about blasting out tweets about my books all day every day. The approach seems to have worked for me.
I’m slowly getting more into Facebook. My initial problem with Facebook was that I just had such a small audience that I didn’t see the worth, and it’s much harder to build a big following there than it is on twitter where it’s much easier to follow others. But recently I’ve become more involved in Facebook groups having been invited by other authors and bloggers who I met on Twitter. Slowly I’m starting to see how the viral nature of Facebook can make a big difference, even if you have a modest following yourself. Again, though, it’s about being personable and building relationships (including with readers, bloggers and other authors). I think that’s the key to any marketing strategy really.
What would you say are the essentials for indie authors to be successful? (Other than a darn good book, of course.)
Firstly make sure your book is as good as it can be. By that I really mean professional editing. In terms of attaining success I think you have to be bold and brave. Try things, find what works for you. There are so many different ways to promote books from social media to paid promotions to book fairs to festivals to traditional advertising. Find what works for you, and you can only do that by trial and error. One thing is for sure, your book won’t sell on its own. You have to work at it.
Do you need motivation to write, and if so what do you do to make yourself sit at your computer and start typing?
I don’t need much motivation. I think having given myself the internal deadline, I don’t want to fail so I’ll always do enough to get to that deadline, even if I do procrastinate for a few days here and there before getting started! I still enjoy writing and although I do work hard every day, it doesn’t necessarily always feel like work. It’s kind of a hobby that I get paid for. Albeit a hobby that I take very seriously!
Do you listen to music while you write? What?
No. I work in complete silence. Even if I’m doing marketing type activities I don't have music or TV on. Not that it distracts me, just because I’m so focused on what I’m doing I wouldn’t pay attention to the noise anyway. I really zone out when I’m working. I was the same in my old job. Just used to get my head down and get on with things. I think it’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s good because that extreme focus means I get through tasks very efficiently. But it also makes me seem very antisocial as I really just do zone out and ignore anything and anybody around me!
Did you plan on the Carl Logan story being a trilogy? Will he return?
Yes, the trilogy was set in my head while I was writing Dance with the Enemy. I knew where I wanted the story arc to go and that Dance alone wouldn’t get Logan there. Three books was what I had in my head to take him on his journey of recovery and redemption. And now he’s completed that journey so that’s that end of the series.
Is it the end of Logan? Yes and no. Carl Logan, JIA agent is finished. But perhaps there’s another life for him still to come ...
My fourth book is a standalone psychological thriller. It’s about a normal guy who gets himself mixed up in a horrible situation. There are no guns or explosions or secret agents or terrorists but it’s thrilling nonetheless, and also quite dark. I really like it, though it is a change in direction for me.
After that it’s onto a new series that is and isn’t Carl Logan ... And I’ll just leave it at that!
Will you stick to thriller writing, or is there a different kind of story you want to tell?
I think thrillers are me. Whether it be the action-packed type with Carl Logan or the psychological suspense of my next book. I like to shock people. I like to thrill them, I like action, I like twists that send people in the wrong direction, and I like to create characters that people can love and others that they can detest. Thrillers have all that and it’s just natural for me. It’s the type of books I read and the type of TV and movies I watch.
Do you read differently now that you are an author?
My big problem is I find so little time to read! I try to do a few chapters every night but with my writing and two young boys to look after I rarely have chunks of spare time when I can sit down and read properly. I’ve always been like that though to be honest. Life always seems to be so busy! My reading is quite narrow. I love thrillers. Every now and then I try other genres; literary, sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, but rarely stick to it for long. And really ‘thriller’ is such a broad category anyway, from police procedurals through to espionage and army adventure, that there’s always something new and different to try.
What I am doing differently now is reading from a greater variety of authors. Largely because I read the works of other authors I’m meeting, both indies and traditionally published. In some cases I’d not heard of them before, in others I’d just never gotten around to reading their books.
What is on your To Be Read pile?
I’m reading Tom Wood, The Hunter currently. A number of people said my work is similar to his so thought it would be interesting to see! After that I want to read a book each by a couple of authors I’ve met online; Tim Tigner and Ethan Jones. Our books are similar in genre and Amazon seems to keep linking our books so I’m intrigued to find out more!
I love Tom Wood’s books too. My cat is named after his protagonist – Victor the Assassin. I haven’t read Tim Tigner or Ethan Jones, so I will add them to my TBR pile too.
Thank you so much, Rob, for taking the time to answer these questions so fully and helpfully. Very best of luck with Hunt For the Enemy.
Here are the links to the blog tour so far, where there are reviews and interviews.
Today it is the turn of Shots Blog
Hunt For the Enemy is available on Amazon. It is published on Thursday 11 February and can be pre-ordered.
Follow Rob at these places: