Today’s adventurer in e-publishing is Seumas Gallacher, author and self-publisher of The Violin Man’s Legacy ebook. Seumas has achieved staggering success with his novel, reaching no.3 in the Amazon UK bestseller thriller chart.
RM: So, Seumas, could you start by telling us how many sales and/or free downloads of The Violin Man’s Legacy there have been so far—if you don’t mind sharing that information?
SG: I’m delighted to share the numbers with you. Paid downloads are 16,000+, and the Kindle free promo just completed drew another 8,000+, for a total so far of 24,000+, which just blows my mind as an unknown unpublished new author.
Enviable figures indeed. What do you put your success down to?
The flippant answer would be ‘sheer luck’, and from what I now understand about the writing industry that I’ve learned in the last four years, that’s not so far off the mark. I’ve been putting in a lot of the leg work since finishing the book, and have caught on to the phrase and concept ‘building a platform’. Rachel Abbott, the darling of the indies at the moment, has done tons of research and generously shares in her blogs the ‘how to get it to the market’ after the writing’s done. The business approach calls for budgeted time, split among writing; reading other writers; blogs; reviews; social networking, particularly with peers on the like of Twitter. As a businessman I appreciate that model and I’m trying to emulate that now.
I know that you were rejected by a number of publishers. Some people might just give up when that happens—or write a different book and try again. You decided to self-publish instead. Why?
My life long hero is Winston Churchill, and I bore people silly with repeating what he said, ‘NEVER EVER GIVE UP’. I came to understand that most of the agents and publishers I’d approached are avalanched with their respective slush piles. So long as I believed in the book itself, it was matter of finding the right way to get noticed. There’s no bigger computer Jurassic than I on this planet, but when someone explained to me (very slowly) what Kindle was, it clicked for me.
Then it was a case of bugging email pals to get email pals to get email pals, and so on, and it took off.
Following on from that, what do you think are the qualities required for a successful author/publisher?
First, ability to write decent material. Second, perseverance with building the platform. Third, develop an attitude to support and encourage other authors, established and newbies alike. Fellow-suffering scribes KNOW what it’s like to give birth to one of these babies. I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit shown to me along the way. Fourth, have fun, enjoy this.
To get back to the book, who is the Violin Man, and what’s his legacy? If that’s giving too much away, then perhaps you could just give us a brief idea of what the book’s about, as well as its genre. Why should people read it?
The Violin Man has a profound effect on one of the main characters. Part of the reading pleasure is in watching that develop in the book. The main story is of three ex-SAS commando officers who form a specialized security company protecting high value shipments. Bad guy killers appear and the story takes the reader across three continents hunting them down and delivering their own style of black ops justice. It’s not the usual SAS style of story, as these guys are no longer in the service, but acting a tad more liberally.
I think the cover of The Violin Man’s Legacy is excellent – very clean and stylish. I see a lot of self-published books that really fall down on the cover. How important is the cover to you, and how did you go about creating this one?
SG: When I buy books, the cover’s the first hook for me. Potential sales are made or lost in the first few moments most of the time. I had a creative artist friend in Manila do several covers for it, and I picked the one that I felt captured the story. The subsequent novel has, I think, an even more compelling cover. Watch this space!
Do you have any tips to pass on to anyone who might be considering dipping a toe into the waters of e-publishing?
If this old Jurassic can do it, anybody can! So long as you’re prepared to do the spade-work in ‘getting it out there’ with networking and blogs, reviews, etc, there is nothing that I see on the downside. By the way, royalties come in as a matter of process only 60 days after the month in which the sales take place. You can also track your sales daily.
Your background is in finance, I believe. Has this helped you with the business side of publishing? How about with the writing?
No doubt, I’m extremely comfortable with the business side, monetarily, and as stated above, organizationally I believe it’s helping me enormously. As for the writing, again I think I have a logical kind of structured approach to the mechanics of it, and experiences in the financial industry have also crept into the narrative.
What’s been the greatest challenge of the process for you? And the most rewarding aspect of it?
Three major challenges at the outset (and I’m sure I could think of more if you gave me enough time!). First, using a computer properly. I bought my first ever laptop just to write the novel, one finger from each hand at a time. I’m like the guy who plugs something in and the whole city’s lights go off. Next is trying to control my impatience to get things done, I’m a NOW person, but have learned to tone it down somewhat. Thirdly was learning to ignore the gratuitous negative comments /reviews. Every author will tell you how much that hurts the first time it happens. Now I know better, and try to treat all reviews, good or bad, with a large dose of salt. It’s sales and drawdowns that go on the scoreboard not review stars. The most rewarding aspect is at last starting to feel like an accepted member of this unbelievably big-hearted worldwide family of writers.
If one of those publishers who rejected you got in touch to put out a print edition of The Violin Man’s Legacy, what would you say? Is a print edition something you’d like to see?
Of course, I’d welcome a proper agent/publisher. I see no reason why eBooks and printed books cannot continue to blossom and boost each other. If an author has access to multiple outlet channels for his/her work, he/she should be pleased to embrace that.
What are you working on now and what are your plans and hopes for it?
The follow up work in progress, Vengeance Wears Black, features the same basic characters, and I already have plans/concepts developed for a further three after that in the same idiom. It’s gonna be a busy time. My hopes are that I continue to enjoy this fabulous trip I’m on and enjoy the heck out of it in the process. Thanks for letting me share with you.