Scottish crime writer Wendy Jones was an obvious candidate for our “How I Do It” interview series, because at several meetings with other ALLi members recently, some of her promotional coups have come up in conversation, such as getting a book-signing gig in her local bank (!) – immediately followed by the question “how does Wendy Jones do it?” So I'm delighted to welcome Wendy to the ALLi Author Advice Centre today to tell us all!
What’s the secret of your success?
The basic premise of my success is hard work.
Before my first book was published, I did everything in my power to make sure it was the best it could be. I attended crime writing workshops and did online writing courses. I also started talking about my book the minute I started writing it. This was not a full-on frontal attack talking nothing but writing. It was slow drip, giving updates on my blog etc. By the time the book came out, readers were eager to buy it. I think by that point they had a personal stake in the outcome. I have also worked hard with ongoing promotion, taking every opportunity that presents itself. I have also done a couple of paid promotions which have seen a spike in sales.
What’s the best thing you ever did?
Listen to an editor who told me to do NaNoWriMo.
This was before I had started writing my first book. I went to find out more, not realising I was signing up. Nothing ventured, nothing gained (sorry about the cliché), I decided to go ahead with it. By the time November ended, I had nearly completed the book. This gave me the encouragement to finish it. It also allowed me to see that I write better if I have a deadline.
Did you get lucky? What happened?
I got lucky in that Waterstones allowed me to do a book launch in their Dundee store. This went with a bang, and there were over one hundred people there. They sold so many books I went to number one in Waterstones, Dundee. I also went to number three in the Noir Charts in Amazon, which gave it a lot of exposure. Many of the Waterstones in Scotland have embraced my books, and they sell well. As each book comes out, all the books continue to sell. I also went to a lot of fairs and book fairs. I have done book signings in Costa Coffee and in cafés. As word got out, I was asked to do talks in various places in Scotland and in England. Waterstones have also been phenomenal. They support me and give me a lot of exposure. I consider myself very fortunate.
How do you get/stay in creative mode?
I do a lot of thinking about my books, no matter what I am doing. I take notes as I go along. Then when I have a clear idea I sit down and write. I can write for long periods, and I am an any time, any place, anywhere type of girl. In a literary sense of course. One thing which can very easily distract me is social media. I turn off notifications and leave, iPod, iPhone, iPad and any other I miles away from me.
How do you prioritise?
Writing takes priority most of the time, followed by promotion. I live alone but that does not mean there are not distractions. It’s amazing how important cleaning becomes when a deadline is looming. I do make time for family and friends. If I want to go out for lunch I will do that, but I will catch up with writing later in the day. As I say, I am always thinking about my WIP (work in progress) even when doing other things.
As well as being an independent author, I have also signed a publishing contract with Books to Treasure. This is for a YA mystery series called the Fergus and Flora Mysteries. The first book, The Dagger’s Curse, will be released in September 2016. I am currently writing the fifth, as yet unnamed, DI Shona McKenzie mystery.
What’s your top tip for other indie authors?
- Believe in yourself.
- Believe in what you do.
- Work hard and be the best you can be.
- Be pleasant, polite, and helpful and grab every opportunity that comes your way.
- Live your writing life to the full and enjoy every minute of it.
Sorry, that’s several top tips. I hope you will indulge me!
Wendy H Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series, featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy, she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further seventeen years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing, Wendy also worked for many years in academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer's Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series. You can find out more on her website www.wendyhjones.comInspiration for #authors: words of wisdom from bestselling Scottish novelist Wendy Jones Click To Tweet