Interview with Gavin Griffiths author of The Accidental Pornographer.
Gavin Griffiths is from Stratford upon Avon.
Online marketer and publisher.
And sometime author.
Most likely to say “have you bought my book yet?”
Why are you taking part in the author blog challenge and what do you hope to achieve?
I was told about it by You! Any insights into the ebook market are interesting to me and I tend to read as much material as I can on the subject and get involved where possible.
How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been writing for about 4 years.
What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?
Disciplining yourself to sit at the desk and not get distracted by crappy jobs that don’t need doing like fixing your flip flops. And once there at the desk focusing on the job in hand. I tend to use a blocking website called ‘Cold Turkey’ which switches off things like twitter and other sites that can be a distraction.
What genre do you generally write?
Humour, haplessness, real life, autobiographical. I am trying my hand at fiction.
Do you have a favourite author and why?
Douglas Adams has a wonderful way of writing. I first read it when I was 10 and at 42 I can still dip into it. I love to read history books too. I very rarely read fiction as I often get angry because I know I could do better.
What is your book called and how did you choose this title?
The Accidental Pornographer. I thought it was funny, although it might have prevented people from reading it on the train!
It’s a true story about a publishing venture I started in the, er, adult arena. We started to full of hope. But we screwed it up. It’s nothing like those Richard Branson sort of “How I Made It” books. It’s a book about failure. But failing in style!
Has your book been published and how did you go about this?
Yes, I got a cracking agent in Curtis Brown. They got me a book deal with Wileys with a nice advance. I retained the digital rights and 4 years later I stuck it up on Amazon as a trial to see how it went. It’s sold about 70 copies and I’ve been able to give away 500 or so for £0.00! Not exactly a huge success. Once I’m out of the KDP two month “exclusion zone” I’ll put it out everywhere.
Approximately how long did it take you to finish your book?
I wrote it in 8 weeks.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Do some full on exercise in the open air, get that air pumping through your lungs, then drink the strongest coffee you can handle before your heart bursts and then sit down and just get stuff on paper. This is the hardest bit. Get the book down. Then polish. Different things work for different people but this works for me.
Do you use social media to promote your book, if yes then which social networks do you like the most?
OK deep breath. No not really because it’s not that effective for most authors.
Furthermore I think 99.9% of people do this really badly. I work in online marketing so I know a little bit about this. Continually pumping out book promos to your social network is so bad. It’s shocking. You see these rookies follow 10,000 in the hope they get half back, then they proceed to spam. The worst are the ones that hook up Facebook and Twitter to save time and then plug it into an auto feed so they can do it every 3 hours (so they get the USA market!) You can spot these a mile off. None of them *ever* get retweeted or get a reply or initiate a conversation. Eventually they give up. The ratio for thought out interesting / personal / funny / informative stuff to each “sales” message should be 1 in 50 TOPS. It’s like there’s this collective madness in the eBook publishing game where a completely erroneous concept is done over and over again. Badly. Imagine going down the pub and just going “buy my book” over and over. This is the same thing. Twitter at the end of the day is still a bunch of humans.
Facebook is not much better, it’s so stuffed full of adverts now that people plugging their own wares is only going to turn people off. Sorry, went off on one there but social isn’t a new concept. We are social creatures and if you go to a dinner party and someone tries to sell you something over and over you would be offended. The fact it’s digital is no different. It requires nuance, 100% belief, charisma, time and lots and lots of patience to build a fan base. Most people aren’t equipped to do this. They should start by getting 20 offline fans first before they step anywhere near twitter. Getting your local book group to put you on their list would be more effective.
Have you enrolled your book onto Amazon’s KDP Select and how have you found it?
Yes. It’s great to be able to give away 500 books. But it doesn’t seem to have any impact on sales when it comes off being free. Also of the 500 people that got my lovely book for free only one of them wrote a review. It was a lovely review, mind! In retrospect giving something away for free that you have created with your soul isn’t a great concept. It devalues you as a writer and it devalues the person who’s getting it for free by turning them a freeloading sponger. In future if you want my art, then pay for it. Something for something, this is the way of things.
If you had to do it all over again what would you do differently?
Nothing. The process of being published by a mainstream publisher was a great honour. I got to sit next to Anne Diamond at the Nibbies! I only wish I could find the time and motivation to do more.
What books do you like to read in your spare time?
Mostly history books. Mostly about great men in one form or another. I would like to have lived in another time when everything hadn’t been discovered. Unlike now where all you can really do is tinker.
What do you feel is the most important stage of writing a book?
A powerful opening. I believe the first page has to grab the reader by the scruff of the neck and drag them in. I hope that’s what I did with my book. I’ve been known to give up on a book half way through the first page.
How did you go about designing the cover for your book?
On the paperback version the publisher did the cover. On the digital version I did it myself. I purchased an image off Istock and messed around with some fonts. I then asked 10 people what they thought. 5 liked it. 3 were indifferent and 2 thought it was rubbish. I published it anyway.
Are you writing or considering writing a follow-up to your book?
I am always on the edge of starting another book but my work gets in the way.
Do you have a day job (if so, what do you do?) or do you write full-time?
I have an online marketing and publishing business. I also have two kids and a wife and dogs and chickens. They all take up my time. They’re like little Time Leeches. Sucking sucking sucking.
Where is your book available to buy?
The eBook is available on Amazon.co.uk