Saturday, January 14, 2012

Indie Insider - Jonathan Gould

How long does it take you to create a book from start to finish on average?

There’s no such thing as average when it comes to writing a book, particularly as I work full time and tend to write in spurts, ie I’ll get really motivated and write a lot in a short time, then go ages without writing anything.

For example – I started writing Doodling (my first release) over 10 years ago, probably took a year to complete a first draft (even though it’s actually really short), and I’ve spent the next ten years refining it – which is a good thing as by the time I came to publish it, it was in really tight shape after some really rough early drafts.

My second release, Flidderbugs, was written over a couple of months and I was able to get it polished fairly quickly. I think that’s less about my writing improving and more about the different natures of the stories.

How many hours a day do you spend writing? Editing? Procrastinating?

Again, hard to answer. It’s really about grabbing time here and there when other things allow it. I tend not to differentiate writing and editing as editing is such a critical part of the process. Once I’ve completed a first draft, I’ll spend a lot more time on refining it than what I spent on that initial draft. And as for procrastinating, again I see that as a critical part of the process. We all do it, don’t we?

How are your book covers designed?

I was lucky to be put in touch with a really terrific designer, Lliam Amor, through contacts at work. For the two I’ve done so far, I’ve sent him written briefs and some roughly drawn ideas and he’s done amazing things with them.

Lliam is multi-talented – he’s also an actor. In fact, my latest cover is delayed because he’s in Sydney doing a TV shoot.

What do you do when you get writers block?

I think there are two strategies to beat writer’s block:

Write – just sit down and force yourself, no matter how crap the stuff is that you’re churning out
Don’t write. Take your mind right away from it and try to do other things that you really enjoy. Hopefully, you can relax and creativity can return

At various times, they’ve both worked for me.

Which narrative form and tense do you use and why?

I’m generally a third-person sort of person, particularly for my longer works (novellas and novels). In my short stories, I’ve also used first-person a bit. It really depends on the nature of the story. First person is great for really getting into the head of a person but for me, third person gives a broader scope to the story-telling.

As for tense, I’m definitely past. I’m kind of conservative and have to say I find present tense a bit pretentious (I’m not quite sure why). Although, again, having said that, I have used it for children’s stories where it does work quite well.

Where do you get your ebooks formatted?

I do it myself. I have an IT background so do not find it too tricky – especially as I now have templates I can re-use.

And I seem to have started a bit of a sideline helping out other people with their formatting.

Do you use a professional editor, critique partners, or beta readers? Briefly describe your process.

All of the above. I was studying when I wrote Doodling so was able to get a lot of feedback from teachers and classmates. Now I work at a university, so am able to find a range of readers who can offer different perspectives. Through social media, I also have met a bunch of people who I am looking to get feedback from as I write more.

While it’s important to get feedback from a range of readers as you’re developing your work, I think you need to be a bit careful not to go overboard. You need to remember it’s your story and be careful not to be distracted by too many competing voices. The trick is to find those readers who really understand what you’re trying to do and can give you the appropriate feedback to help you do it better.

Working at the university has also helped in finding professional editors.

My process is, in summary:

Get the story to a point I’m happy with – which will take at least 3 drafts and often more.
Get feedback from a bunch of different readers who can offer various perspectives
Have at least two professional editors go through to check grammar, typos, etc..

Which is the most important social media platform and why? Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, LinkedIn, or any other one you use.

Probably Facebook – I’m a member of several writer’s groups and find it really useful for meeting people and learning about new opportunities.

I also find Twitter really valuable as a means for getting information out and connecting with people. You seem to have access to a broader range of people and groups but can’t connect in such an intimate way.

I have a presence on Goodreads though I don’t use it a lot. I haven’t ventured into Google+ or LinkedIn as I simply don’t have time to manage so many networks.

What are three unique web sites or blogs that you follow on a regular basis? (related to writing etc.)

Adopt an Indie –
The 99c Network -
The Indie Book Collective -

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Just to wish all the best to all the writers and readers out there. Enjoy.

Contact links for Jonathan Gould:

His blog:
Twitter: @jonno_go

Doodling available from:

Amazon UK:
Barnes and Noble:

Flidderbugs available from:

Amazon UK:
Barnes and Noble:

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