Monday, 12 August 2013

An interview with Paul Kater

In early July I was contracted by a new publishing platform to write some blog articles. Unfortunately the deal fell through when the client didn't pay for the test article as promised and failed to produce any kind of contract. Therefore as I own all the rights to the material I have decided to publish it here first. On Wednesday I will publish the second article, an interview with none other than Valerie Douglas.

There aren’t many writers out there who can say that they published their book because a fan demanded it. But in 2010 that is exactly what Paul Kater did after he wrote the first of his Adult Fantasy series “Hilda – the Wicked Witch” during a friendly writing competition.
Three years on and his first book still continues to do well on popular book retailers notching up a total of 78,000 downloads. And there is little doubt that the character is a firm favourite with readers as Hilda has her own e-mail address that regularly receives fan mail. This kind of desire from readers for more has prompted the writing of a twelfth book. And it is the writing of a series that Paul feels is part of his success.

“I think a good series is a great way to build a platform where people know you.”

The author considers Hilda, as well as many of his characters, an extension of himself. Being able to see and talk to them has created an environment in which storylines easily flow forcing Paul to type fast to keep up with their conversations.
But Paul hasn’t always had it easy during his writing career. One of the lowest points for an author is when you receive your first one star reviews.

“I think the lows are mostly the first few negative reviews on books. Those are the sour apples you need to get through.”

Despite these negatives Paul has certainly strived to achieve better with each book and his latest, Hilda - Magic on the Rocks, has only received glowing five star reviews.
This bounce back attitude helped him most during his early writing days when he approached Traditional publishers about buying his book. He was turned down at every corner when the publishing houses didn’t think there would be a market for such a character or genre.
Since he joined the world of self publishing Paul has noticed there has been a large influx of new writers. While some of writers are skilled in their craft, some of them lack the basic skills needed for industry such as spellchecking and proofreading. To him part of his success (and any author) is having top quality books. There should be no taking shortcuts when it comes to storyline, grammar, spelling or formatting. Any errors and readers will pick up and scold you for them.
Paul also has his readers in mind at every point of his creative process; giving updates regularly through his webpage and Facebook. He added that every author needs to keep their readers up to date with what they are doing. This reminds readers “...that 'the author' is actually a real person that talks back, responds.
It is certainly a policy that is serving Paul well as demand for new books continue.

You can find out more about Paul Kater at his website

Monday, 5 August 2013

Service is king

So at the weekend I went out for a day with my wife. It is a rare treat for us to have some time on our own and without the children, and although we love them to pieces, it is good to spend some time to ourselves. The day was a success, but I had found very good business lessons whether you are an author or a business owner should be part of your mindset.

Bowling Alley

So the first event was a couple of games of bowling. Although there were none of those horrible plastic chairs and each lane had its own table, the setting needed some work. The music was very loud; so loud that I could barely hear my wife speak into my ear. Even so, there was a worse issue to contend with: poor service. To begin with the staff insisted to on placing our names on the system, but then failed to spell ‘David’ right three times. How you can do that is beyond me.

Secondly we were asked whether or not we would like food at the lane. Having missed lunch because of various reasons, and feeling a little peckish, we ordered a sharing platter and a couple of drinks. What happened next is up for some debate but the bottom line was clear: our food and drinks didn’t arrive.

After our first game we became concerned. So we inquired as to what happened. After some rushed fumbling by the staff it transpired that the kitchen never received our order. However I had seen the staff member who took the order immediately run into the area. It took another 20 minutes before our food arrived, at about round seven of our second game. We ate some and played some, but inevitably we still had some food at the end of the game. So we sat there on the lane to finish it off as looking around 6 out of the 10 lanes were not in use.

Within five minutes the staff had come by, picked up the two bowling balls we had been using and returned them to the stands. Then two minutes later a group arrived to use our lane. This was a little annoying, more than half the lanes were empty and yet it was ours that they had assigned to them. A little disgruntled we picked up everything, including our bags, shoes, plates and drinks to relocate. After we finished we went to pay and left.


The end of the day was capped off with a meal. This restaurant has great ratings online and the food sounded lovely. It was fairly pricey in some parts of the menu, but it was a treat. It was lovely food. The starters cost just £2 ($3) each but the mains were about £20 ($30). But quality was not dropped on either.

When it came to paying my wife and I were having a discussion about how much to give as a tip when the manager came over to take our payment. I was still talking of a story in America so carried on. When I finished the manager turned round and said – “We stopped years ago insisting on tips – it just isn’t worth it.” I smiled a little and replied, “I think the key for a business is to make that one visit become another and then another,” the manager smiled and agreed enthusiastically.

In the end, we did pay a 10% service fee, which was reasonable. The food, service, attentiveness to detail was beyond doubt some of the finest I have had. But from these two experiences there is an important lesson: customer experience.

In the first instance such a negative opinion of the establishment was formed. And worse still they facilitated that image to be impressed upon another customer by moving us before we had finished. I know from a fact, because they spoke to us later, that they didn’t order food because of our experience and they felt guilty about having to move us. In an environment where there are two competing bowling alleys within three hundred meters and another one closer to our house, it makes me ponder whether to return there or not.

However the restaurant has another example. The service was excellent and the food was without a doubt some of the best food out I’ve ever had. The pricing was interesting too, despite only being £2 my order of sausages with a sweet chilli dip was massive. There must have been two big sausages and a good sized portion of dips, yet it was relatively inexpensive. The Tiger prawns and garlic mushrooms I had on the other hand was a small amount for the price – but the taste was immensely good – so very much worth it. The fact that this restaurant sees the value of return custom - instead of trying to drain as much money out of you in one go, is a good philosophy.

The mindsets are perfectly transferable into being an author. If you give a poor quality service then people won’t come back no matter how good your product is. Readers want to have a personal connection to their books. If you shove them out of the way once they’ve bought the book, then they are unlikely to form a positive image about you and your brand and will not return for another book. Yet if you are polite and take the time with the small details, customers will return and continue to buy your works no matter the cost (within reason).

In September I will be running at least three competitions, including chances to:

  • Win a copy of "Ghost Haunts", my paranormal short story collection
  • Win a copy of "Entrapment" - my new release and first in the PIT series
  • A chance to have a character named after you in the second book of the PIT series
To make sure that you have a chance, like my Facebook page or follow me on twitter.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Internal thoughts of mine

This week has been a pretty hectic week. I’ve had orders come flying in from my clients for social media plans, blog posts, white papers, content writing and on top of all of that I’ve had to manage the upcoming publication of my new book.

I always knew having to manage this workload was going to be tough but I never actually thought that to do it would require quite so many hours. But as I sit here and think what has gone well in my first couple of weeks of taking on freelancing work, I remind myself of something a solid fact. It can take up to six months to get established in a job.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t produce quality content, but it does mean that to get my schedules working and my efficiency will take time.

It is like that with any new author. When you first writing your first book can take months to write it, if not longer, when some authors can produce a book in under two months. This shouldn’t be seen as a failure on your account. If you are starting out perhaps your should cut yourself some slack. You are learning a trade which is hard to grasp a hold of. If it were easy everyone would be a bestselling author.

Cope with your learning curve and if you stick with writing you should find yourself writing books at a speed of knots in time.