I already did some interviews with self published authors, but none so far felt as professional as him. Not only has he great looking and not with stockimages plastered book covers, but also an individual website. You can imagine how much he cares for his work without even reading the first line. Now I have the honor to bring you a month full of posts about him, his thoughts and his works, which will end with a big blast, but more about that at a later time.
Hi Ben, first of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Ben Galley, I’m a young fantasy writer from the UK, author of the bestselling Emaneska Series, a self-publisher, and self-publishing consultant at the advice site SHELF HELP.
What do you think makes the fantasy genre special?
That’s a good question. Fantasy is special for a few reasons. First of all, it’s the fanaticism that is part and parcel of it, a fanaticism that is shared by few other genres. Fantasy fans never go by half measures. They live and breathe their books, their authors, and their genre. These are the people who turn up in droves for conventions. These are the people that dress up in elaborate costumes. These are the people who devour books at a rate of knots. It seems to attract the zealous, voracious type. Secondly, it’s because of the lack of boundaries. Fantasy is truly and exactly that – fantasy. I write in a genre where anything goes, where I can create entire worlds out of thin air and nobody would raise an eyebrow. And lastly, it’s a vast genre. There are so many sub-genres and splinter-styles of fantasy. It’s so very hard to pin any author down these days. That I find exciting and thrilling, the pure notion that we have so many avenues to explore, and so many forward-thinking authors piling into the industry at the moment. It's a very exciting time.
And what makes a good story into a great one?
A human element. As much as fantasy contains its creatures and its mythology, there should still be a human element in there somewhere. Why? Because you need to have something for the reader to engage with, to understand, to get their teeth into. Love, fear, struggle, jealousy, evil. These are things that people can relate to and feed off. It’s how you deploy these elements, and your originality or quirkiness in doing so, that makes a great story.
I know that this is a tricky question, but which books do you prefer? Self published or traditionally published ones?
That is a very hard question. I believe quality and poor quality are shared by both, so the real answer is I prefer a book with a great story, be it an unpublished word document, or a NYT bestseller.
Is it hard for you to handle the writing, the editing, the correcting, the design, the publishing and the marketing all by yourself?
Yes. It’s quite a juggling act. The good thing is that with the right amount of planning, and a well-structured schedule, you don’t have to do it all at the same time. It comes in stages. As each previous section is finished, you move onto the next, and so on, making it more manageable. It’s still tricky and a lot of work, but I love the control it gives me.
What do you think is the most common mistake made by self publisher?
Not aiming high enough. And this goes for every aspect of a book and the elements surrounding it. Your story (which is paramount), your editing, your cover design, your website… all of these need to be the very best they can be. And by best I mean professional. Eye-catching. Enrapturing. Killer. Without these, in this competitive and crowded market, you’ll find it very hard to make a living.
You have many nice looking drawings on your website. Did you draw them by yourself?
If you’re talking about the maps for the books, I did indeed. Strangely enough, I’ve been drawing maps and fantasy-esque drawings since I was a kid. Although I can’t profess to be any sort of artist or graphic designer, I can still scribble a map or two.
I see a lot of book trailers made and don’t think that they help to sell more books. Sometimes they aren’t done well enough, but even then they need a lot of time to make. It also needs extra time to promote the trailer itself, rather than spend on the book itself. Did you also invest time in projects that didn’t pay off enough?
I spent weeks doing exactly that: a DIY book trailer that ended up looking thoroughly shoddy. Personally, I don’t think book trailers are a good form of marketing at all. It takes a lot of money to make visual media – be it computer graphics or film – look passable, and I don’t think authors, especially self-published ones, should be wasting their time spending time and money trying.
What is the best advice you have for other writers?
Tenacity. Keep at it, and always try to better yourself.
Watch out for second part of the interview next week!
The Written (Emaneska Series #1)
His name is Farden. They whisper that he’s dangerous. Dangerous is only the half of it. Something has gone missing from the libraries of Arfell. Something very old, and something very powerful. Five scholars are now dead, a country is once again on the brink of war, and the magick council is running out of time and options. Entangled in a web of lies and politics and dragged halfway across icy Emaneska and back, Farden must unearth a secret even he doesn’t want to know, a secret that will shake the foundations of his world. Dragons, drugs, magick, death, and the deepest of betrayals await. Breathtakingly vast, chillingly dark, brooding and dangerous, The Written will leave you impatiently waiting for the next adventure… Welcome to Emaneska.