I was very luck to recently catch-up with local South African author Lyn Pickering.
I caught up with Lyn on her beautiful (and very green) property in Hilton, Kwa-Zulu Natal. After pleasantries were exchanged we got down to business. Once the coffee and cookies (a staple in any author's house) were served we caught up concerning her latest online escapes in creating and promoting her latest two trilogies, Opus Dei and Nimrod as eBook format books.
I hope you enjoy her responses as much as I enjoyed my chat with the author herself.
Let us know if there are any questions you think should be added to future interviews.
Q: Can you summarize yourself in one paragraph?
A: I like to play with the word Writer, which is what I do, and Righter, which is what I aspire to be. I am a very ordinary person – wife, mother, housewife etc., with an outsized sense of justice and a hatred of deception. This is what shapes my writing. As a person, I don’t go around holding banners as an activist, or anything of that nature. If I get mad enough, I generally vent on my blog. I love my outsize family, five adult sons, a daughter, five lovely daughters-in-law and five grandchildren (not to mention cats and dogs.) It is my family and my faith in God that define who I am.
Q: What’s the best thing about being an author?
A: The best thing about being an author is holding that first book in your hands. It really is a bit like giving birth.
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
A: My advice to aspiring writers is keep going. If you want your writing to be fresh and spontaneous, write it over and over again until it breathes life. Don’t be so keen to publish that you neglect the editing process. Most Indie books I’ve read are rife with spelling and grammatical errors. I have never employed an editor, so I hope I have picked up all of my own gaffs!
Q: What inspires you to write?
A: My love of words inspires me to write, as well as my love of people. Human beings are amazingly complex and, for me, people-watching from the safety of a pavement cafe is simply not enough.
Q: Where did you get your idea for your most recent book?
A: People kept giving me books and video clips about Islam. I decided I was either being called as a missionary to the Middle East, or there was another book in the offing. My husband said if it was the missionary thing, I would have to go alone. So I wrote the book.
Q: What do you like about eBooks as an author?
A: eBooks widen the horizons for an author. The world really is your stage. If I were to get into South African bookshops, it is likely that that would be my limit. But I love the fact that I can publish ebooks in conjunction with Create Space, which also gives me the option of real books.
Q: What was your experience getting started as an eBook author?
A: Starting out was rough. I have not only had to learn the rudiments of self-publishing, I have had to learn the web. Despite having a wonderful friend and mentor to kick-start the process, I made so many mistakes along the way. If I had been able to employ the experts like David Henderson in the ebook industry from the outset, would have saved a lot of heart-ache and time ill-spent. On the other hand, nothing that I have learned is wasted, and the foundation I have laid has just needed tweaking to begin to bear fruit.
Q: What has been your experience promoting eBooks as an author?
A: Promotion of ebooks has been a bit of a nightmare. For years, I believed the lie that I could promote my books without promoting myself. I did not have the resources to pay the piper and inevitably, advertising is expensive – especially if you are working from rands to dollars. There are these paradoxes: you must sell books in order to pay the advertisers on the internet; but you need to advertise in order to sell books. You want to write books because you are a writer, but you have to feed social media in order for your books to reach their audience, which of course, leaves you little time to write the stuff you really want to write.
Q: What would you like to see change in our eBook environment?
A: I would love to see more writers putting time and effort in putting out quality work rather than just putting out books for the sake of being called authors.
Q: Advice for would-be authors
A: I suppose my advice would be: turn out a well-crafted book, learn the promotional skills to do your share of social media marketing but don’t reinvent the wheel. There are many people out there who already know how to do the things that would otherwise take years for you and I to grasp. Before you publish your book to the web, find out the tricks that will bring it to the public eye. Reviews, I discovered belatedly, are vital for your rankings. Having a list of reviews on the day you publish your book will make a world of difference. I add this to my list of If Only I Had Known...
About the Author - Lyn Pickering
Like most human beings, I have always held a fascination for the hidden things – the gift is always best wrapped! I began by penning poetry but poets are essentially morbid by nature, so when I found a deeper love for life, poetry became redundant. This tendency to delve beneath the surface has led me to examine and expose the things men of power are doing, supposedly for the good of the planet. I am far bolder on paper than I am in person, which is probably why I write.
In my younger days I lived for a while in Lebanon, just before the civil war and the Israeli invasion took place. It was an amazing country and it still occupies a special place in my heart. My novel, Opus Dei, grew out of that rich soil and out of the sadness I experienced as I followed the tragic events there.
I travelled alone as I headed back to London, which made for an eventful journey. A mother in the house where I stayed in Aleppo, Syria, asked me to choose between her son and his cousin in marriage. Escaping that situation, a day later, I took a taxi to the Turkish border and was held up with the two other occupants who just happened to be drug smugglers. I was let off eventually with a warning about the bad state of Turkish jails and, after the customs officials had carefully checked it out, I was allowed to keep the two kilograms of Turkish coffee I had bought in Beirut. That was just the beginning of an eventful trip. I arrived in London with about 50p, my books that had weighed down my rucksack from one end of Europe to the other, and my coffee.
I worked until I had saved enough to return to South Africa, and travelled by Land Rover as chief cook and bottle-washer with four other people. It was a journey in which I touched lightly on the heartbeat of our continent and learned to feel it in my blood. I found a job, and some months later I married. Settling down to married life was a challenge at first, but producing five sons in fairly quick succession did the trick. Now, as a grandmother, I am an armchair adventurer and writing takes me anywhere I want to go without having to pack a suitcase.
My novels are under-laid with a solid skeleton of fact. The dots are joined using circumstantial evidence and Opus Dei projects into the near future based on my love of Biblical prophecy. Bill and I live in Hilton. I have a very special adopted daughter, five wonderful daughters-in-law to complement my sons, and a sixth grandchild on the way.
Visit Lyn's Blog: http://nimrodtwiceborn.com/
Visit Lyn on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Lyn-J-Pickering/e/B009C8X4ZY/
Connect with Lyn on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/forestoflebanon