This week I am pleased to welcome Peter Jones, author of fabulous self-help books. When I first *met* Peter in a closed Facebook writing group he was self-published. We were all mega-excited for him when he was offered a deal by Harper Collins and I heard a wild rumour that ‘How to do everything…’ was on The One Show briefly last week! Well done Peter!
Q. So firstly, can you tell us about your writing?
A. At the moment I write self-help. I’ve authored two and a half books on the subjects of happiness, dieting and online dating (if you’re over-weight, lonely, or unhappy, I’m your guy). Each book is between 50,000 and 80,000 words.
How To Do Everything and Be Happy is published by Harper Collins (in paperback and as an ebook), and by audible.co.uk (in audio).
The next two books in the series (How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim and The Survival Guide To Online Dating) will be definitely be published by audible.co.uk (so far as the audio is concerned), but the publisher for the print and ebook editions is yet to be confirmed.
I am represented by Becky Bagnell of the Lindsay Literary Agency.
Q. Excellent, can you tell us about your most memorable writing successes?
A. Being voted #10 in Amazon’s Customer Favourites of 2011 was a fantastic moment, which was then dwarfed by landing the three book deal with audible.co.uk. We’re big fans of audio books in my family – my mother still refers to them as ‘talking books’. Somehow having the book available in audio makes being published all the more real.
Being asked to read the book was also a fantastic experience. I actually had to audition to get the part!
Passing 10,000 UK ebook sales was something of a major milestone, which led to me being ‘found’ by my agent and signing the deal with Harper Collins.
Q. Ahh, that is so sweet! And what a brilliant story of successful self-publishing. Care to share your most memorable rejection?
A. My first real literary ‘rejection’ came at the hands of an agent who we’ll call Kate Slash. On the day that Ms Slash received my manuscript she’d clearly discovered that her husband was indeed the cheating scumbag she’d always suspected he was. Moments later she burnt both slices of toast, the cat threw up all over her white carpet, and she broke a heel on her favourite shoes. I don’t know this for sure of course, but I’m guessing it must be the case because when the first three chapters of my (as yet unpublished) novel The Good Guys Guide to Getting The Girl arrived on her desk she wasted no time in telling me how much she hated it. And my god, how she hated it.
Q. LOL! Well, everyone can have a bad day I suppose; I love that you’ve created one for ‘Kate Slash.’ And I love the title of the unpublished novel. Can you describe your writing journey to date in summary?
A. I’ve always had an interest in writing from a very young age. In my early twenties I wrote a lot of Science Fiction short stories and funny poems. I’m not sure why I stopped. Then one day my wife discovered them and encouraged me to write some more. I started what became my (as yet unpublished) novel. Meanwhile, personal circumstances conspired to give me a huge kick up the backside, and to look at my then unhappy life. I made some fairly radical changes, which I started to write down. What I ended up with was the book How To Do Everything and Be Happy.
Q. Well, we’re glad you started again. What are your top three tips for writers?
1. You have to write about a million words (most of which will be utter rubbish) before you start to produce anything worth reading. The sooner you’ve written those million words, the sooner you’ll be better.
2. Read. Read, read, read, read, read. And read some more.
3. Writers sell emotion. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, your stock and trade is actually ‘emotion’ – words are merely the delivery mechanism. Whenever I’m stuck on a scene or a point I’m trying to make I ask myself ‘what’s the emotion I’m trying to convey’.
Q. Ooh, I love those – especially the third. I’ll use that one! Can you tell us about your work? Are you lucky enough to write full-time or do you have a day job? What’s a typical day?
A. I’m a full time author. Generally I’m up sometime between four thirty and five thirty AM, and I’m at my desk shortly after that. I answer a few emails, post something on Facebook, tweet something on twitter, then I get to work – writing, editing – until midday, when I stop for lunch. In the afternoons I generally do something a little less taxing – perhaps some blogging – and by four PM I’m usually spent. I have a break, make some dinner, pour a glass of wine, watch a little telly, and then around seven return to my desk to do two hours of post and/or emails.
Q. Wow, that’s a full on working day! What do you love and/or hate about being a full-time author?
A. Aside from the actual writing (which I love), it’s just feels so good to be creating something that people enjoy and get a lot out of. Interacting with my readers on Facebook, twitter, or at author talks etc. is the most rewarding, and humbling, of activities.
Hate? My friends would tell you I moan constantly about my paperwork and email evenings. But then if that’s the price I must pay for having time to write, so be it.
Q. Tell us what your favourite wine is.
You really can’t beat a bottle of Sancerre. Mind you, I only ever have that on very special occasions. Most of the time I’ll buy whatever white wine is on special offer and has been reduced to just under a fiver, and then I’ll water it down with soda water. What? Is that wrong?
Noooo…. (scream of anguish) Erm, no, of course not. Whatever you’re happy with….
You can buy them ‘How to Be Happy..’ as follows… Second edition paperback will be available in all good bricks & mortar bookstores from the 17th January 2013 (ISBN: 978-0007501939). Alternatively you can pre-order it now from the following online retailers: Amazon (.co.uk | .com), Waterstones (.com) WHSmith (.co.uk) The e-book is available from Amazon for the Kindle (.co.uk|.com) iTunes for the Apple iBooks App (apple.com) Kobo (whsmith.co.uk|kobo.com) Any kind of computer, smart phone or tablet – download the FREE kindle app from amazon (.co.uk | .com) or the audio book from audible (.co.uk | .com).
Have you got a self-publishing success story you’d like to share? Or a self-help tip that you want to pass on? If so, please leave a comment.
Excitingly, I guested on the Romaniacs blog yesterday – where I talked about the RNA New Writers Scheme and one of my works in progress. If you’re interested please pop over and check it out here http://theromaniacgroup.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/tuesday-chit-chat-with-nikki-goodman/
I’ll see you next Wednesday when another guest will be sharing their views on Writing, Work and Wine.
For now, Happy Writing, Nikki x