Enjoy the interview.
Q1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your book 'Onwards and Upwards'?
I am a 67-year-old retired industry-marketing director, residing in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. I have been married to my wife Pat for 42 years. We have two children and four grandchildren. I grew up in the Cheshire village of Bosley and following an engineering apprenticeship and a brief spell in the Merchant Navy, I joined the James Walker Group as a technical sales representative, this was the beginning of a forty-year career.
My second book 'Onwards and Upwards' is a sequel to my memoirs 'Funny How Things Work Out', containing more humour from various facets of my life, it also includes other subjects and my opinions about modern day life compared with 60 years ago.
Travel is very important to me, therefore I've included details of my most memorable trips. I have written about some very interesting people, who for various reasons have enriched my life and I have highlighted my experiences of becoming a retiree.
Q2. When you write what emotion do you seek to invoke in your readers?
I enjoy making people laugh by relating true-life stories therefore happiness is number one, closely followed by excitement, enjoyment and surprise.
Q3. Why did you decide to begin writing? What sparked the desire to pen your first book?
Having had a reputation for being there when things go wrong and getting involved in hilarious situations, I was encouraged by a couple of work colleagues to record the details in my memoirs.
Q4. How easy (or difficult) was it to write your first book?
I developed a simple structure and then began fleshing out the bones. I would switch from one incomplete chapter to another, thereby maintaining my enthusiasm and interest.
Q5. What was the first thing you did to promote your book once your publisher had accepted your manuscript?
I compiled a list of every person I knew that might be interested in the book. I notified family, friends, ex-working chums, plus customer contacts from my business activities. I sent out emails wherever possible and letters where appropriate. I made sure that I informed all my overseas contacts including those in USA, China and Australia.
Q6. If you had to pick just one marketing tool that you've used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?
Features and reviews in local newspapers have proven effective in reaching those that are interested in reading my books.
Q7. Do you do more promoting online or offline and which do you prefer?
Online has to be the most cost effective. I have a continually growing database of contacts that I keep informed regarding news and events.
Q8. Do you use social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to promote your books and have you had any success with it?
I have experienced some limited results with Facebook but far more success with the online magazine 'Sixtyplusurfers' who have now reviewed both my books.
Q9. Do you recommend authors getting a publicist to help them promote their books? Do you have one?
At present, I don't have a publicist but it's something I might consider. I shall monitor my current go-it-alone policy, and then evaluate the potential benefits from engaging the services of a publicist.
Q10. If an author prefers to do it alone rather than have a publicist, where should they start?
Start a database of email and postal addresses of contacts. Develop your own website with appropriate 'Search Engine Optimisation' to attract potential readers. Include a blog page on your website and invite readers to contribute.
Seek publicity from organisations such as Nostalgia and residents association websites. Request features and reviews from magazines with large circulations. The list goes on.
Q11. Are you concerned about the effects of e-books on traditional books?
Inevitably, the e-book market is a growing one and it will reduce the number of printed book sales. This will impact on author's royalties as margins are squeezed but the changes will no doubt provide increased opportunities for volume sales.
Q12. Any comments on your publishing experience?
Having searched extensively, I found 'Pneuma Springs Publishing' who gave me a pre-acceptance of publishing when my manuscript was about two thirds completed. This gave my confidence a significant boost and the publishing experience has been an easy ride for me. They have provided considerable support and steered me towards higher levels of professionalism.
Q13. Do you target your books at any particular market?Yes, the more mature reader with a strong sense of humour. Also, those people interested in social history and travel.
Q14. You have written a third book, what is that one about and do you intend to continue writing?
My third book is about our 39 year old son Robert, who suffered a near fatal head injury when he was 18. It details what happened following life saving surgery, through the dark days in coma, and having to fight his way back from total paralysis. I shall continue writing as it provides a challenge and gives me much pleasure.
Q15. Do you have any closing advice for aspiring writers or even fellow authors?
Writing is a form of self-expression that broadens your mind and stretches your skills. Be determined to complete what you start, and don't be put off by those who are not a fan of your work.
Thank you for your time. We wish you every success in your writing career.
*Chris R. Pownall is retired Marketing Director turned writer. He is the author of "Onwards and Upwards", the sequel his hilarious autobiography entitled "Funny How Things Work Out".
His Latest book, "A Long Journey Back" will be released in September 2011.
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