Among many of my ever so talented friends, i have one who has managed to achieve 3 times what all of us aspiring author’s strive everyday to do once. Did i mention that has now done it 3 times?!
He has now self published, through Createspace, 3 novels out of around 7 that he has already written and all while travelling the world . I will add the links below for you to find them as i would recommend all of them.
Well without further adue, i would like to introduce to you, a very special friend of mine, Author Lewis J F Clarke.
Hi Lewis, What inspired you to write your first novel?
I never get tired of telling this story! About two years ago I was living in Thailand and decided to go back to England around November time. For some reason my boss back in Thailand sacked me and then re-hired me when I came back. However when I returned I hardly had any classes (I was teaching English out there) so one night I had a few drinks and when I got home I drunkenly said to myself “Sod it, I’m gonna write a book!” (as you do…) assuming that after two or three days I’d get bored of the idea. Three weeks in I realized that I was half way through and decided that I might as well finish it, and the rest is history…
How long did it take you from the first word to publishing?
I finished the first draft in six weeks. I then spent a couple of weeks not knowing what to do with it because admittedly I was too scared to let anyone read it in case it was terrible. I finally tentatively gave it to a friend of mine to read and she took a fair while to read it. In the meantime I actually wrote a second book! After she finished reading it and encouraged me to publish it I finally managed to get it on Amazon eight months after that day where I was off my face insisting that ‘anyone could write a book’…
Have you self-published or have you taken the traditional route?
I self-published. I got told by a blogger quite bluntly that ‘if you don’t have an English degree, you will never get published’. Me being the naïve and insecure person that I am I accepted this as fact and believed I would never be picked up by a publisher due to the fact I never went to university, and went down the self-publishing route. Of course, now I know he wasn’t a very good writer, and was trying to hold me back to stop surpassing what he had achieved, but in the end it had an adverse effect and spurred me on to prove him wrong.
Do you work with an editor or do you prefer to work alone?
I have various editors. I feel it’s very important to use editors as they are at the very least another pair of eyes to look at the book from another point of view and say, “Hold on, I think you need to change this because…” Also if you edit something yourself, you can edit it a hundred times and still miss out basic mistakes, because you are reading it in your head how it should be and could miss stupid mistakes. However when you use an editor it’s important to know that you don’t have to use their changes. There have been times where I have changed over 90% of the changes in a chapter because I didn’t feel like it was coming from me.
How did you find the process of self-publishing? (Was it daunting, was there enough information, is it an easy enough process?)
Daunting is definitely the right word to use; I was petrified of all the legal jargon that Amazon threw at me, but luckily a friend of mine (a very gifted writer by the name of Alec Hawkes) helped me through the process. Telling me to take my time and understand what was being asked of me. Now it’s easy. It’s like anything, once you’ve done it a few times you can do it in your sleep. But trust me, any first time authors, I feel your pain!
How would you describe your writing style? Are you a pantser or are you a planner?
I had to go online and find out what ‘pantser’ means. Although I took an educated guess and assumed it meant going with the flow. Yes, I’m definitely a pantser. I usually (but not always) have a spine for a story and I let my mind wander and branch off to come up with sub plots and plot twists. If I plan a book it tends to not come out naturally. I think of it like being a comedian; if you say the same joke over and over it’s not funny because you can tell it’s well-rehearsed. Whereas if it sounds natural and unplanned it’s much funnier. I do vaguely plan some complex scenes, but more often than not I let my fingers type and see where they take me…
What genre would you class your writing?
If I had to choose, I’d say they are psychological fiction. But my books range from horror to comedy to romance. I didn’t want to be the kind of writer who writes the same stuff over and over again but slightly changes the plot and the characters, so I took myself out of my comfort zone to see what I could come up with, and I must say I surprised myself.
Do you prefer to stick to one genre or are you happy to go wherever the ideas take you?
If I have a good idea for a book, then I’ll run with it and see if I can make it an interesting read. I have another six ideas for books at the moment. Some may be terrible, and others may be future bestsellers, but I’ll never know unless I attempt it…
Where does the inspiration for your novels come from?
I’m a classic over thinker. So I let my mind run away with itself and see what happens. I haven’t had a good idea for a book in over 5 months, however in a 2 month period last year I came up with 7 book ideas. It’s not really something you can sit down and say ‘OK, I’m going to come up with a book idea before lunchtime’, normally I randomly get an idea that I think to myself that psychologically I’d like to explore, and if it feels right when I’m about to start a book then that’s what I write about. In fact on more than one occasion I have changed my mind at the last minute what book I’m going to write because it simply ‘felt right’.
Are you inspired by any particular Author?
I’m not really a big reader to be honest. I know that sounds bizarre but the only books I tend to read are autobiographies, which I suppose is why the majority of my books are written in the first person.
Do you have an all time favorite book?
I read a book called ‘A Simple Plan’ by Scott Smith, and it was one of those books that once I finished a chapter I went to put it down before saying “go on then, one more chapter!” But like I said I’m not an avid reader. If you were to ask me about a film I would say ‘Fight Club’. Because it is one of those films that is so well written and has so much depth to it that you can watch it five times and still see something new and enjoy it just as much as you did the first time. That’s how I try to write my books. Whether I do or not is not for me to judge.
Do you have any advice for first time writers?
Just write. Fuck what everyone thinks and just write. Most successful writers nowadays appeal to the general public because they don’t write in a pretentious way, they write in a style that is easy for the average person to follow. I’m fortunate enough to have had many people come up to me and say that I’ve inspired them to write, and I’m happy, because the next generation needs something to read. I know one way I will be a successful writer so I have no need to hold people down like the guy I mentioned before who said I will never be published by a recognized publisher. I want to see talented writers shine through, but so many people are scared to take the first step out of fear of being ridiculed. I say those people are the people who should drive you to write that best seller even more.
Do you have any advice for first time self-publishers?
Like I said before, read all the legal jargon carefully. I know it’s overwhelming because most of us didn’t go to university to study law. So don’t be put off if you don’t understand any of it, you are not supposed to! Take your time and sometimes you may even have to leave it and attack it another day. It took me over a month before I felt confident enough to press the publish button, and even then I was convinced I’d missed something out!
How do you go about getting a cover designed?
I’m incredibly lucky, because my sister happens to be a world class artist. I know everyone is supposed to say how great their friends and family are at certain things but my sister is actually that good! So I contact her and tell her a vague idea of what I want, we talk about it for a while in-between chatting about what siblings usually talk about, then she goes off and creates three or four different covers and I tell her which one I like best, or if she could slightly change one of them. Normally though she is bang on.
What other platforms, apart from Facebook, do you use to stay in contact with your fans?
I have a blog (sirlewisofclarke.wordpress.com) that is predominantly about my books but also about my life on the road. I was in Thailand teaching English for a while but now I’m travelling back to England by land (and a couple of boats) so that attracts an audience I wouldn’t normally reach. Other than that I’m not very good at marketing, and most likely need to employ a marketing manager if I ever want my books to become common knowledge.
Finally, If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing that you know now, to your first time writer self, what would it be?
“Believe in yourself. You have a natural talent for this and you need to embrace it.”
I’m my own biggest critic which is good for writing because it helps me maintain a high standard, and when I write something that is simply not good enough I delete the whole thing. However this stops me from enjoying the writing process. I’m normally convinced the book I’m writing is terrible, and that ‘my last book was so much better’. Then when I start the next book I say the same thing. I would also say ignore the doubters and look for a publisher. I heard that J.K. Rowling got rejected sixteen times before someone took a punt on an obscure book known as ‘Harry Potter’ so don’t feel bad if one person closes the door on you.
So there you have it, some very wise words from someone who has been there and done it.
If you would like to purchase any of his books, they are available on amazon and the link to each one can be found within the book cover image.