Hi Jym, thanks for speaking to us today! So, you’ve just self-published your debut book #Life. What’s it about?
It’s my humble attempt at putting together the common themes and wisdom that exist between philosophy and psychology, with the added twist of movie and TV quotes that help convey the message. The book contains hundreds of quotations from the greatest minds in history and the greatest influencers of the modern era, along with research from the top psychologists to show how people can actively try and live a better life.
Awesome! What made you want to write a book?
I’ve had the desire to write a book since my mid-teens. My mother is a voracious reader, so books were always present around the house. I was also fortunate enough to be selected for an advanced English class at school, which accelerated my development and passion for written English.
Books have always been somewhat of a mysterious entity to me and from a young age, I had a fascination with reading things that were perhaps beyond my level of comprehension. It wasn’t until adulthood though that I really began to read the things I’d always wanted to read. The idea for my book came from recognising common themes in what I was digesting and my tendency for creating comical analogies to help people understand complex matters. As a lecturer, I often use out-of-the-box examples or movie references to explain something otherwise rather daunting.
How did you balance writing a book with your job?
I’m a university lecturer by trade. I made the brave / foolish decision two years ago to cut my contract in half so that I could focus on writing and speaking. With that in mind, I just tried to stay diligent during the week and write like it was my day job. I’m quite self-disciplined, so that side was easier to manage. The tough part was adjusting to the financial side of earning less than half of my normal salary.
Well done! As it’s your first book, what was your biggest challenge in the process?
The biggest challenge wasn’t necessarily in writing the first draft, but in everything thereafter. Working with The Book Shelf really did help the process, however I don’t think anything prepares you for the task of reworking the structure or content of your book after editorial assessment! It’s a deceptively long and arduous process that really challenges you. Not just as a writer, but importantly, it challenges you as a thinker.
And what was your biggest challenge in getting the book ready to publish?
That was easily the hardest part of the whole process! Writing is the easy and enjoyable bit that everyone with a passion for what they are doing likely excels at. What you then have to do is become a marketeer, web designer, and publicist (unless you can afford to pay someone to do all those things!). Learning Amazon’s algorithms and making decisions about which way to go with launching really aren’t easy things to navigate.
What was your happiest moment in the process?
Three moments really stand out. One was the moment I committed to the idea and typed the first words onto my laptop. It was a statement of intent that marked a definitive change in my life and career. I don’t think I really knew how powerful that was at the time, but now it seems monumental.
The second was the completion of my first draft. That moment where you can savour having achieved this awesome thing before your eagle-eyed editor tears it to pieces (only joking, Ameesha!).
Lastly, being able to put my own book on my bookshelves at home was a fantastic moment. I’m not for a second going to compare my book to its paperback neighbours, but it feels great to have my book next to some of the author’s books that I really admire.
What skill do you feel is most important as an aspiring author?
Aside from writing ability, I think the most important skill might be a trait. That of humility. You need to be humble enough to know that you don’t know everything and that you won’t produce perfect work. Even towards the back end of the process, you have to be aware that you are going to hear things you don’t like. But this is all part of the process.
Interesting! So, if you could do anything differently, what would it be?
That’s a tough one. I think it’s really hard to pick apart the process of the first book, because you have no idea what you’re doing. The one that seems to be most significant for sales success is developing a mailing list early on. However, most author’s mailing lists are developed off the back of their first book anyway.
With that in mind, will you be writing more books?
I am currently about five chapters through my second book as we speak! Ha. This is what I want to do with my time from now on. The writer’s lifestyle of home office working and hours of research may not be for everyone, but it is for me.
Great, and if you had one piece of advice for aspiring authors, what would it be?
Hmm… I’d say that if you are genuinely passionate about it, then most of the problems and hurdles will be considerably outweighed by the good points. So, in that regard, don’t let them get you down. The other thing I would recommend is to build strong relationships with professionals that you feel you can work with. Having great editors and designers is worth its weight in gold! (Not joking this time, Ameesha). You need people in your corner. Find good people and be good to them.
And just for a bit of fun, we’d love to know about your favourite books and authors. So, what’s your favourite book?
Non-fiction, probably the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Fiction, possibly To Kill a Mocking Bird. That’s one of the books I wanted to read when I was too young to appreciate the value. I read it as an adult and loved it.
Who is your author alter ego?
I identify strongly with Thomas Sowell and Jordan Peterson. They are not afraid to put across the other (and often demonised) side of an argument for the benefit of intellectual growth. This is something I feel strongly about.
What is your author super power?
I’m told it is my ‘thesaurus-like’ brain. However, I think my work colleagues would say grammar or retention of information.
Thanks for sharing, Jym! It’s been great working with you, and we wish you all the success with your book.
You can get your hands on a copy of #Life here.