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Let's dive right into our interview with Lee Hall!
Lee Hall is an indie author from the UK. He has spent many years reading, writing, blogging and performing. The fruits of such are multiple indie published books crossing several genres and of course a loyal social media following. You can catch him most days on Twitter or whatever they decide to call it this week.
DCU or MCU?
Both when they are really awesome and neither when they are really bad… I quite like anything Doctor Strange or Spiderman related on the Marvel side and the same goes for Batman for DC – they are still finding new places and stories to tell which are best enjoyed on the big screen.
Coffee, tea, or cacao?
All three on some days! But most of the time I need tea followed by coffee and more coffee to function at the moment. Caffeine tends to turn productivity into words for me.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Throughout my childhood reading was (and still is) a huge influence on my inspiration to find immersion and escapism. Eventually while chasing that immersive feeling, I felt compelled to put my own words onto paper in pursuit of those feelings reading gave me. Even back then I knew it would be like having homework for the rest of my life, but I’m cool with that because I have always wanted to tell stories.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon when I first faced a Windows 98 computer and began writing stories about robots in the future, I was twelve years old and at that awkward age where those action figures were still talking to me, so I put them down and their stories went into the writing. I’ve never looked back and that first draft was finished a few years later at 40,000 words – not bad for a first try.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’m always doing something and that’s been my philosophy for many years. Life is for doing things and I rarely sit still for long. Outside of writing you’ll find me reading and probably spending too long on social media but they are two things I enjoy along with theatre – right now I’m directing my second full length play for a local community drama group.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Publishing them was pretty much the beginning of the journey. I’m incredibly proud of reaching the end of a writing project and anyone who does should be also, but the journey into marketing after publication is something I kind of underestimated. It can be so hard for anyone who is trying to find readers out there or someone to consume content you’ve created but if you have the fortitude to create and finish something, then like me you can certainly figure out a way to market or sell it.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Currently I have 8 titles available that range in genre with some in series and stand alone. My favorite tends to change on daily basis depending on what is selling or being reviewed the most. I’ll always have a soft spot for my debut Open Evening which is just as much a fast paced horror as it is semi-autobiographical. My second Darke Blood was the hardest to write so therefore one I am probably proudest of and a writer’s favorite seems to be my short powerful paranormal romance The Ghost Beside Me. There is also an author/blogger guide book on my shelf so I’ll just settle with saying probably all of them…
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Writing to me is a craft and only you can teach yourself to create a process for that. It will take hours, days, weeks, months, seasons and years to find your own way to tell stories or put down words in an orderly fashion and that’s all this is, one step or one word at a time and that time you spend is your best friend. Plus, reading lots of books helps, it certainly helped me. Read beyond your genres and even taste because books can carry a lot of surprises and some might even help you get better.
What do you think makes a good story?
For me I think all good fiction is grounded by some level of truth or reality. Even in far away universes or fantastical worlds, if a story can contain something a reader can relate to from their own world even in the simplest of ways, they’ll be hooked. Plus robots and or dragons, they are good also.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of making comparisons to other writers in the beginning. We see those who are established having success and class them as competition but the big revelation for me is the fact other writers are not my competition, we are on the same team and a win for one writer is a win for all while also being proof that others can succeed with their writing. I need fellow writers in my life and those who are finding success currently have probably spent many years carving their own path to it. From my own experience, good things take time for those who do not give up.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
It really does depend on how a writer presents themselves because there’s a fine line between ego and confidence. It takes both sometimes to survive and then have the guts to publish something in this world. Most of us know our books are at least enjoyable to us, that’s probably why we write them to an extent. Image really is everything when it comes to being a social media present author and as long as you can back up whatever you’re saying while being decent about it, someone else will like it.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
There are too many to list here – there really are that many who I see every day across social media doing their best. The writing community is a special thing to me, a force even where so many come together. I shall proudly admit if it wasn’t for the inspiration and companionship fellow authors provided me with, I would have walked away from writing years ago. I’m a better writer because they continually urge me to keep going.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I consider my books as the best investment I have ever made but within in that process it would be the money I spent on the covers. My cover artists Design for Writers have probably sold me more books than anything else.
The second best thing I have spent money on are BookBub featured deals. I’d compel any writer who is serious about finding success to check out BookBub.
Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?
I consider myself indie published which is a type of self publishing and I’m incredibly proud of it. My overall aim is to be published in both ways although it seems in recent times self publishing is making strides but the overall advantage of being traditionally published is the better budget or at least access to it for marketing, production and pretty much everything else. That doesn’t take anything away from self publishing in my opinion – I’ve found wonderful books on both sides.
What does literary success look like to you?
To me literary success is carving out results that slowly improve over time that one can be happy with. Being content with the work I’ve done over time is something that means probably the most to me. We can all boast about huge sales or review counts or even being best sellers or social media follower counts but ultimately being happy with what you’ve achieved as a writer is the measure of success to me. Books are an investment over time and it is never too late to find success as an author.
What’s the best way to market your books?
There are a huge amount of inputs to book marketing but ultimately it comes down to what you feel comfortable doing and then just learning how to do it well. Marketing is a skill that can be found through trial, error and quantity – doing things over and over again while slightly adjusting the parameters until things improve will eventually drive an author towards some kind of marketing success.
For me, I sell books regularly on social media but not because I am constantly sharing stuff about my works, I tend to be social first and then share my media second – it’s in the name social media and they are named in that order for a reason. If you can attract enough people to your conversations online and if your works are easily findable, eventually they will sell. You are the theme park and those books of yours are the rides, so first of all you need to get those park visitors through the gates.
The most important thing any writer can do, is to keep going. Those who do figure out a process to write and complete a book can also figure out their own process to market them also and the journey is part of the fun for me.
What do you have coming next?
Hopefully some good news after recently entering the querying trenches. That first book I wrote on a Windows 98 computer now sits at 120,000 words and has been the sole reason why I got into writing. I’m hoping to find an agent and then a traditional publisher for it. And yes, those action figures still talk to me.
Also I have just launched a YouTube Channel. I shall leave some links below.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer some awesome questions.