This guy's probably one of the more humble writers around--anyone else hitting #2 on the Kindle bestseller list behind Janet Evanovich would be screaming about how great they were. But I've known Simon Wood since before the Kindle era, and he's just a hard-working and talented writer who takes nothing for granted. A former PI and race-car driver, he's won a slew of mystery awards for his short fiction and now he's getting a wider audience with his novels after publishing in paperback with Leisure books and other presses.
His fiction features lots of twists, duplicitous characters, con men, liars, conniving females, backstabbers, and well-crafted writing.
1. First, congratulations on your success. Since we've been sharing ideas for a while, along with Debbi Mack, it's good to see we've all had some luck. And for you, it must seem like a slow grind to the top of the Kindle bestseller list, while from a distance it may seem you're an overnight success. What do you think created the tipping point to break through?
Yes, It’s been a slow haul from my point of view.
I think the success surrounding ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN came from having a game plan for the book. I have eleven books in eBook form, but I made the decision to focus on one title at a time instead of all of them at once, because it’s too much noise for the readers if have too many titles for people to choose from. I got ACCIDENTS out to bloggers and review sites with strong followings and provided them with copies of the book. Their endorsements got some sales traction. People saw that and they in turn discovered the book and recommended it and momentum took over.
In the end, there seemed to be some website mentioning the book every day and that helped push the book in top 100 at the beginning of the month. Then Amazon endorsed the book by sending out an email blast and it pushed the book over the top. While there was no predicting what Amazon did, I think the tipping started three months ago when I made sure there was a grass roots following for the book. Once people latched onto it, I helped give it a nudge. The trick is to now repeat the success with my other titles.
2. What's the difference between being a midlist paperback writer and a successful indie author?
I’m more in touch with how well a title is performing than with my paperback books. I won’t really know for weeks/months how well a paperback has done because the chain of custody is so long from bookstore to author, because of the delay from the bookstore, to distributor, to publisher and finally to me. In that situation, it’s hard to react to make the book a better seller. With eBooks, I get to see how well my e-titles perform in real time and I can react accordingly.
3. Any general tips for the aspiring writers out there?
Take your writing seriously. You may be new, but any time you put anything out for public consumption, you have a responsibility to the reader. Make sure it’s the best work you can physically produce. Make sure your book is edited and copy edited as good as any book put out by New York. And remember, just because you’ve published a book, don’t think your work is done. It won’t sell simply because it’s available. Get it into the hands of reviewers and bloggers who will recommend it.
4. You have a diverse background. How does that spill over into your writing?
Probably the biggest way it shows up in my writing is by way of conflict. I’ve seen firsthand and secondhand how people react to pressure situations. Sometimes people triumph and sometimes they fail. And failure leads to people making some spectacular errors in judgment. This is great fuel for crime fiction. Human fragility is always interesting. Some people tell me they wouldn’t do what my characters do in my books, but you’d be surprised how people will react when their backs are against the wall.
5. What can readers expect next?
Print-wise, I have a new mystery series set in the world of motorsport. The first book is called DID NOT FINISH and it’s loosely based on something that happened when I used to race. There’ll be a paperback version of my eBook THE FALL GUY which will be out in November. Ebook-wise, I hope to be releasing the first in the Terry Sheffield mysteries, which features an English guy who becomes a county sheriff in California. The first book is called, NO SHOW and will be out before the end of the year.
Thanks, Simon, and best of luck--and all the other stuff besides luck!