Author Interview – Ben Edwards

Within the Indie Author Hub, you can learn about other authors, their thoughts and opinions, what makes them tick and how their writing process works for them.

This week I interviewed Ben Edwards. Have a look at his profile and books here.

benedwardsWhat inspired you to become an author? A friend of mine, Jeff Rose of GoodFinancialCents.com was running a campaign to help consumers pay off debt called the Debt Movement and I worked with him to co-author a book to help support the movement.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would you be? I’m actually a software developer, so I’m a part-time author.  I’m also a blogger – so I enjoy writing books, blog posts, and software.  I write software at my day job and write my blog and book in the evenings – not enough time in the day 🙂

How do you fit writing into your routine? I write in the evenings.  I have a family of three little kids, so after they’re all in bed I write in my basement office. I don’t have daily word targets.  The Debt Movement had specific begin date and end dates so I had a very specific  deadline to hit.  My daily word target was as many words I could write before falling asleep in the evening. I do belong to a writing group of sorts, Pat Flynn’s Facebook group of current/aspiring self published authors.  The topics of conversation aren’t as much about writing as they are about all the other aspects of self-publishing.

Before writing, do you plan your books to the last detail? I created an outline of what the book would look like, but it wasn’t down to the level of detail.  The book evolved as I wrote it.  It started off as a concept and then I expanded on the concept, got some feedback. I realized it was missing some things so I went in and I added a lot more structure to it. So in terms of planning, it was pretty high level. In terms of getting over of the fear of a blank page, one of the things that I have done is dictate parts of the book during my commute.  I didn’t use those word for word but they served as kind of the starting point for some of the content of the book.

Do you have a special writing place? No, I don’t.  I write a little bit in the laptop in the main family area, mostly down in my basement office.  When I’m at work, I have notepad open and sometimes an idea will come to me and I’ll write it down – that’s not hardcore writing, that’s just kind of capturing ideas.

How do you target your audience effectively? I run MoneySmartLife.com, a personal finance blog and I’ve written a little about the book there.  My most successful online promotion has been writing guest articles on other blog websites. I also have a Twitter handle and a Facebook page, but really most of the promotion I’ve done with those has been to promote the articles that I’ve written on other sites. So as opposed to promoting my book directly from social media, I’ve promoted the articles I’ve written in other places. I also have an email newsletter.  They’ve subscribed to emails about personal finance topics and I’ve emailed them about the book.  All of the sites I wrote guest articles for were personal finance sites.  So I targeted existing audiences. I don’t do any offline promotions.

DebtHeroCoverPublishHow were you published? I published through Amazon.  I published independently mostly because I had this project deadline that I needed to hit.  Since I needed to get the book done quickly so there was no time to put together a proposal and then shop around for different publishers.  Basically, it was deadline driven.

Do you think that self published authors are looked down by their traditionally published counterparts? Typically traditionally published books bring a certain level of quality.  Publishers know what readers expect in a book and they help authors provide that. I think that traditionally published authors have to work hard to create a quality book. So when they see a self published book, they don’t know for sure whether that author went through all the steps to make a quality book. So I could see why a traditionally published author might be more confident in traditionally published books because they have gone through that vetting and editing process compared to a self published book. That’s not to say self-published books can’t be high quality, just that I understand why that perception exists.

What do you think the future of publishing will be? I hope the future of publishing is that books are more interactive.  I’m big into the how-to kind kind of books and I would like to see books that not just inform people, but help people take action to move forward. Seems to me there’s a lot of opportunity for a lot more interaction and media in digital books and I think that would be a better experience for both the readers and authors.

Do you think there’s a place for traditional publishers? Traditional publishers have a lot of contacts in big media. Some of the personal finance authors I know that were bloggers and published a book got a lot of radio and TV interviews through the publisher. In terms of whether having an agent would be helpful for authors, I don’t know, I didn’t look into it.

How do you deal with rejection or a less favorable review? I took the first negative review pretty personally. What I’m trying to do is to read negative reviews and look for patterns. I’m attempting to listen to their complaints and am going back to try to release an edition of the book that addresses some of their criticisms.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? One tip is to build an online platform to launch your book from before you launch your book.  I think the hardest part of the publishing, at least with my one experience, has been just promoting the book – getting the word out about it. I was fortunate that I already had some kind of a platform to promote Debt Heroes. If I hadn’t I think it would have been pretty frustrating.  I was pretty happy with the initial results of my initial promotion but if I didn’t have a platform, I think I would have been pretty discouraged with self publishing – getting it out on Amazon and not getting any purchases or reviews. As you build your audience it can help you shape the direction of your book.

Thank you for being part of this interview.

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