Today our Indie Author week is all about Mr Simon Jenner – author of the brilliantly entertaining Ethan Justice series of books (reviews later) and yet another all round nice guy. As with Mr Croxall yesterday I asked Simon the same series of questions. Here is what he has to tell us.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I always enjoyed writing stories at school but mostly I think I just wanted to shock my English teachers by pushing the boundaries. I started to write my first novel when I was eighteen and so have definitely always been attracted to creative writing. Unfortunately I have never been good at seeing tasks to their conclusion and the minute boredom set in I dropped the project and moved on to my next ‘big thing’. This pattern was repeated over and over again during which time I began at least fifteen novels that were never completed. At the ripe old age of 48, my 10 year old son asked me to write him a story about some mystical animals he had drawn pictures of, and this fun exercise seemed to rejuvenate my creative juices. I actually had it printed as a book for him using the wonders of Print-On Demand and seeing the finished object was so satisfying that I’ve not been able to stop writing since. Better late than never.
How difficult is it to get your books out there?
In a word ‘Hell’. Self-publishing has leveled the playing field somewhat but it is a double-edged sword. It is easy enough to hit ‘Publish’, but it’s also easy for every other writer out there which makes the playing field immense. When I self-published my first book, I thought having written it and then having it edited and formatted meant the work was done. Amazon’s huge marketing machine would do the rest, surely? Unfortunately not. The realisation that marketing is harder and more time consuming than the creative process is a hard pill to swallow and the work required to get the word out is not to be underestimated. There are so many avenues to investigate, to try, to tweak, to move on from. Where are the readers who might like my books? Who do they listen to for their book recommendations? How can I reach them? It’s a needle in a haystack and I’ve barely scratched the surface despite a lot of time trying! Still I’ve met some great people along the way so that’s the upside and it makes the world of trying to write for a living a less lonely place.
How important are book bloggers and reviewers when it comes to attracting readers?
They couldn’t be more important. For an indie author (without a budget) to make an impression he/she needs the assistance of anyone willing to spread the word. The fact that book bloggers and reviewers are willing to invest their precious time in reading and sharing their opinions still amazes me and I couldn’t be more grateful. With so many books for readers to choose from, discoverability is a huge problem for indie authors so this is where book bloggers really help out. By getting the word out to their followers who trust their opinions, there is hope for the author that their book will not just sit collecting dust on the virtual book shelves. Reviews are also a key factor in a reader’s decision making process, especially for indie authors, so bloggers and customers leaving reviews can make all the difference as to whether a reader takes a chance on a book or not. To anyone reading this, please make an indie author’s day and leave a review after reading their book!
A short “me” paragraph telling me about you – perhaps hobbies or interests outside of writing.
Childhood: at 8 years old, I was shipped off to boarding school – was I that bad as a child? You’d have to ask my parents, although I did burn down the house (accidentally) and fracture my skull by jumping on a car as a teenager. I hope my son is not as wayward.
Work: I trained as a Civil Engineer, then got made redundant. I qualified as an accountant, then got bored so set up my own accountancy firm – why? Who knows. I started writing seriously – ie, I now finish books – and love it, so please check out my books, shameless I know.
Spare time: who has any? When I’m looking for inspiration to work harder, I’m an avid tennis fan. When I’m looking for creative inspiration, I’m a huge movie fan. I did take up karate aged 40, but it turns out that was too old, so now I just coach my son. Other than that, I enjoy time with my family, the odd bit of DIY and putting the world to rights over a glass of wine.
Learn more about Simon here : http://simonjenner.com/
Follow him on Twitter here : https://twitter.com/simonrjenner
One of my blogposts talked about Genre Reading and getting out of your comfort zone, and occasionally trying something a bit different. Well thats what I did with “Ethan Justice” a novel that perhaps I would not have picked up in the ordinary course of things but now I have I’m glad I did. It was one of those enjoyable books that kind of flows over you, pulling you along with it and when you are finally done you realise you’ve had a great time! John Smith, pretty much living off his parents and basically drifting from day to day, suddenly finds himself having to reassess his life. Then a night of drunken debauchery with a high class prostitute sends him tumbling into a whole new world – one of shadowy goverment agencies, pyschotic killers and well, just general mayhem.
The writer has a great style – it took me a few pages but then it kicked into high gear and we were off. The only time you hear a “first person” side is from the most evil of the characters…so evil you will LOVE him and that is a clever tactic that works really well within the context of the rest of the novel. Savannah the stereotypical “hooker with a heart of gold” turns out to be perhaps less stereotypical than you would expect and John Smith – yes you heard me, and yes that humour is worked well into the book – is interesting and engaging. I’m not sure what genre you could put it in safely – a lot goes on in this book and its all highly entertaining – spy thriller might be the closest I could come but really its just terrific fun and if you’ve got a rather boring Sunday ahead, this would be the perfect solution.
Relentless, the next in the Ethan Justice series of books started off great and then just got better and better. If anything I liked it better than the first one (always a good sign for things to come!) and once more we have a terrific adventure, peppered with humour, drama and of course a dark side…
This instalment finds Ethan and Savannah investigating a missing person and an underage sex ring and finding themselves in all kinds of trouble as usual. Once again Ethan finds himself facing a psychopath of epic proportions and in a deadly battle it is unclear which of them will emerge victorious…
I really enjoyed this yet again – although I’m going to have to have words with Mr Jenner if he persists in writing stuff that keeps me up all night – it was worth the rather accident prone day that followed whilst I wandered around sleepy eyed. Some dark yet current topics were covered in this novel, I would say in a realistic way. I love both Ethan and Savannah – a dynamic duo if ever there was one. Fast paced and unpredictable with a few twists in the tale its perfect summer reading. The bad guy is terrifically bad, the good guy is rather inept at times which makes for some highly hilarious moments and I look forward greatly to many more adventures.
If you would like to purchase Ethan Justice clickety click here. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ethan-Justice-Origins-ebook/dp/B0087S6AA6/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374654032&sr=1-2
If you have been clever enough to read that one already then clickety click here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ethan-Justice-Relentless-ebook/dp/B00DSDLYOM/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374654032&sr=1-3
Thank you kindly to Mr Jenner for taking part. Tomorrow you can hear from Terry Tyler – Coffee Cup Queen, lovely lady and amazing writer.
Happy Reading folks!
Thanks so much for the ‘feature’ Liz. And for the great review of Relentless! I’m so glad you liked it.
It was funny to read Jack yesterday saying a similar thing to me about hoping that when your book was on Amazon, the work was done. I wonder if that theme will continue over the rest of the week’s interviews. I’ll definitely be checking in to see!