9 February 2011

Please welcome my guest Richard Denning

Today Richard Denning, who has self published Tomorrow’s Guardian via his own Mercia Books, is a guest.

Richard Denning
 He has organised his own Virtual Book tour or Blog Tour and I wanted to find out more.
Richard: Hello Helen and thanks for having me on your blog.

Helen: Richard, could you tell my Blog visitors a little about you & your books?
Richard:  Sure. I am 43 and work as a GP in North Birmingham. I am married with two children. I have always had an interest in Science Fiction, Fantasy and also History. I love the books of Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), Terry Pratchett (The Disc World novels), Bernard Cornwell (Sharpe, The Saxon and Longbow series) and George MacDonald Frazer (Flashman). Those and TV such as Star Trek, Farscape, Angel, Stargate, along which historical mysteries like Cadfael and Poirot have had  a strong influence on my writing.

I have been writing since the age of about 32 and I have three series which I am writing. The Amber Treasure is about 6th and 7th century Northumbria and the early years of Saxon England. The Last Seal is historical fantasy set in the 17th century and the book I have just released in paperback, Tomorrow’s Guardian is a teen time-travel adventure. The sequel will be out later in the spring.

Helen: Why did you decide to go self publish with your books?
Richard: Traditionally the only real route to publication was to get an agent and publisher. That is of course a valid route and an option I am also exploring. But with the economy still fragile it is an extremely hard time to get a publisher. My books had been read and enjoyed by a number of readers and I decided to try self publishing as a way of getting the books into more hands.
The world is changing and with the rapid rise of e-books sales and the ability to sell on Amazon and the internet this is a good time for small press and self published authors to get their work out there.
In the end what counts is the quality of the books. If readers enjoy the books and want to read more it really does not matter HOW the book got to them.

Helen: You are in the middle of a Blog Tour I believe? What is a Blog or Virtual Book Tour?
Richard: If you go back a few years the only way for an author to promote books was to visit book shops all over the country. This method is still used of course and meeting readers is a great aim. However, the internet has changed everything.
Rather than an author getting 40 or 50 people (if they are lucky) at a book tour visit to a book shop they can access hundreds and even thousands via visits to Book Blog sites.
These are blogs [HH. the word blog is a shortened version of Web Log] where the writer reviews books, interviews the author and discusses themes and ideas that might come up in the books.
These posts stay online and show up in search engines. They can be linked to from other blogs and websites and so readers can see it months or years after the original posting.

Helen: What gave you the idea to do a blog tour? How did you set it up and run it?
Richard: I saw your tour Helen, for The Forever Queen and thought it sounded something worth trying. I had also read about the idea on various sites that discussed book promotion.
To set the tour up I spent a few hours Googling terms like “Young Adult Fiction Blog”, “Book Blogs UK”, “Sci fi Book Blogs” etc. I visited the sites and looked over the types of books they covered to see if they appeared to match the genre of Tomorrow’s Guardian. I read the policy page on the blog. Most sites have these and they tell you if they will review your book, whether they want e-books or hard copy, whether they will deal with self published authors etc.
I also followed links from the blog rolls these sites had . Those are lists of other blogs they follow.
I drew up a list of appropriate sites and emailed the owner. Some did not reply, some said “no thanks” but many were friendly and happy to be part of the blog tour.
It is important to be polite and that usually pays off.
I then organised a schedule for the tour and offered people dates. I also offered to do guest posts and interviews (like this one). Blog owners want content and if you can provide this they will often say “yes”. When the tour goes live you need to let people know about it via Twitter, Facebook and Newsletters.

Helen: On the whole do you think it's been useful or not?
Richard: Well it is still in the middle of the tour but I have to say yes. It is not all wine and roses of course. Some reviewers might not like the book. 
You may not manage to get all the sites to go through with the post. People get busy and other plans get in the way. It takes time to organise and you must be willing to take rejection from some site owners. But it is a great way of rapidly accumulating reviews.
Be sure, by the way, to ask the reviewer to also add reviews on Good Reads and Amazon. Having reviews to quote from is one bonus.
You have also got the word out to hundreds of readers  you never contacted before. I also found that doing the guest posts and interviews made me think more about my writing, what I write and why and that helps in being able to market the books in the future.

Helen: As you are a self published author, did you find most of the blogs you approached friendly and helpful or were they a bit snooty about "vanity published"?
Richard: I did not approach sites that openly said they did not take Self published books. Some were even quite rude about it in their policy statements. You just ignore those sites of course.
A few sites without any explicit policy did decline to be part of the tour on the grounds my books were self published, so yes there is still a lot of snobbery out there and a lot of people who reject any self published authors.
It is not just SP. Some sites look at small press authors or turn down Print On Demand authors.
I did find one site who I came across asking about Mercia Books (my publishing house) and whether they were mainstream or vanity publishers. From my website and the books they could not tell. 

I have to ask: if an author can present a professionally produced and edited book,  on a professionally imaged publuisheing site and a professionally presented blog site resulting in readers unable to  tell if they are SP or not.... then should these people who belittle self publishing not be taking a long look at their attitude?

I think the world of publishing is going to be shaken by the e-book revolution.

Helen:  You have several books - what one of your characters is your favourite?
Richard: I would have to say probably Septimus Mason from Tomorrow’s Guardian. He is a bit of a rogue – a mercenary adventurer who makes money travelling back in time, stealing historical objects and selling them in the present day. He is a little but like Han Solo and a little bit like Captain Jack Sparrow.


cover designed by
http://www.avalongraphics.org/
 Helen: Finally, can you tell us a little about Tomorrow’s Guardian
Richard: Tomorrow’s Guardian is a teen time travel adventure. Experiencing disturbing episodes of déjà-vu, eleven year old Tom believes he is going mad. Then, he meets the adventurer Septimus Mason, who shows him that he is a “Walker” – someone who can transport himself to other times and places. Septimus explains that these abilities could be removed leaving him, once more, an ordinary schoolboy. Given the hurt these talents have caused, the choice would seem easy enough,but it is not so simple.

In dreams, Tom has experienced life as other “Walkers” in times of mortal danger: Edward Dyson killed at the Battle of Isandlwana, 1879; Mary Brown who perished in the Great Fire of London, 1666; and finally Charlie Hawker, a sailor who was drowned on a U-boat in 1943. Reluctantly agreeing to travel back in time and rescue them, Tom has three dangerous adventures before returning to the present day.

Tom’s troubles have only just started, however, for he has now drawn the attention of powerful individuals who seek to use him to change history and to bend it to their will. This leads to a struggle wherein Tom’s family are obliterated and Tom must make a choice between saving them and saving his entire world.

Richard's website

Tomorrow's Guardian Buy it from Amazon.co.uk 
RRP £9.99
Published:  January 2011
ISBN: 9780956483560 
 Published by Mercia Books.
Sequel is coming Spring 2011

Mercia Books

Helen: you have been asked to organise a dinner party - which ten people would you invite and why?
You can have anyone, alive, dead or fictional.
Richard: All four of my favourite authors – Tolkien, Pratchett, Frazer and Cornwell. I would love to be able to chat about their books and their writing. Bilbo Baggins because he knows how to have a good time and likes his food and drink. Hercule Poirot for when someone gets murdered (come on its inevitable - it is a dinner party). The Duke of Wellington and Alexander the Great so we can discuss the great battles of history. Sir Ian Botham (I am a cricket fan so he and I can talk about the game). Oh and why not Steven Moffat the Dr Who director and writer. Love to talk about his stories and find out what is going to happen in the next series.


Next Guest: James L. Nelson
Master Maritime Author
(24th February 2011)

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