JP: Tell me about your book. What is it about? Can you describe it in just a few sentences? To show that a book has focus it is vital that it can be described briefly and succinctly.
JH: From Barcelona Vol. 1 is what I describe as “city-lit,” which is basically fiction centered on a particular city. Rather than devote a full length novel, I thought it would be more entertaining to write ten short stories of different genres from crime to horror to literary and historical fiction, giving readers a more varied view of the place.
JP: Why did you write it?
JH: Mostly to work on my craft and to see if I could be published.
JP: Why do you think your book needed to be written? What will your book do for other people?
JH: There just seemed to be a market for fiction centered on a city. A good example is Shadow of the Wind by Zafrón. You say, Barcelona, and people immediately cite that book. I just wanted to show different sides of the city beyond mysterious book sellers.
JP: Who do you think will read your book? What made you think that there was a market for it? If your book has been out for a while, what proof do you have that you were right?
JH: I think anyone interested in Barcelona or Spain will like it. Each story offers a different view of the city, peeling back the curtain so to speak. This has been reflected in the mostly positive reviews from the critics and readers both on Amazon and in the press.
JP: It does not matter how good a book is, or how good your writing is if no one knows about it. What steps have you taken or do you plan to take to promote your book? Are you a speaker or trainer? Do you have a blog? A website? A newsletter? Do you use Facebook, Twitter or other social media tools? What about press releases and sending out review copies and free articles? Have you had any other ideas? Which methods do you think work best and can you give me any examples?
JH: I have to admit I’m terrible at self-promotion. When the book first came out I did some press, but unfortunately the book’s release coincided with my move from Spain to Holland, so everything kind of got put on hold while my family and I got settled into out new home. Then being the writer I am, I decided to write a novel because I prefer my head to the real world.
That said. I did maintain the blog frombarcelona.com which proved a valuable tool and now started one on life in Alkmaar, hollandfromholland.com. I have a Facebook page but don’t understand Twitter.
JP: How did you publish your book? Did you find an agent, a publisher or did you publish it yourself? Please describe your process and tell us how you found the experience.
JH: I got in touch with a small publisher of guide books, Native Spain, and pitched them the book proposal. They liked the samples I’d sent and we went from there.
JP: Self-belief can be a big problem for writers. How did you manage to stay confident in your ability and remember that you were good enough to write your book? How did you cope with the days when you thought you could not do it and that it was rubbish?
JH: Self-belief is still something I struggle with. I write because it keeps me sane more than for the fame or glory. It’s a craft that I’m still learning. So I always want to do one more revision because I’m never happy. This can be a problem if I’m the last person to see and edit it. But in order to keep doing it, I have to learn to live with an imperfect product and make some money.
JP: It’s easy to procrastinate, to blame writers’ block and to put off finishing your project. How did you keep yourself motivated? And how long did it take you to write it? What was your routine?
JH: Honestly writer’s block has never been a problem for me. If anything I tend to suffer from hypergraphia, which is the overwhelming urge to write. But when it comes to the marketing or that end of it, that’s a different story. Usually I decide to write another book, hoping it’ll lead to bigger and better things.
JP: What was your biggest challenge regarding the writing of your book? How have you overcome that?
JH: I think the biggest challenge is not letting the book I’m writing at the time consume me. I have a vocal wife who reminds me of my responsibilities to her and our daughter.
JP: If you were to give advice to someone else who is thinking about writing a book, what would be your number one tip?
JH: Don’t give up your day job and keep at it.
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