Hey Jon, why don’t you start by telling me a bit about yourself?
Hi Louise. I’m a fantasy and science fiction author whose been 25 for 16 years now. I’m from Portsmouth and have had the usual range of jobs that aren’t worth talking about. I’ve always wanted to write but the chance of success has always put me off.
When I found out about the current possibilities of self-publishing, I realised I was several years behind the curve and that it was now realistic to become an author. I published my first book in August 2017 and have gone on from there.
What are your books about?
My first book was called The Mutilated Merchant. It’s a fantasy novel about a young watch officer, Edrin Loft, whose been promoted to Captain and given command of the Old Gate Watch House. The officers there are known as The Thieftakers and their only duty is to hunt the worst scum through the slums, drug dens and gang hideouts of the most dangerous parts of the city.
Loft thinks he’s been promoted as a reward, but actually, he has a tin ear for politics and he arrested someone who wouldn’t normally have been caught. Because he caught a criminal, they can’t just fire him so the commanders of the watch send him to Old Gate instead, where watch careers go to die.
Days after taking over his new command, a brutal murder takes place on their patch, and Loft must use The Thieftakers to test his new investigative methods to solve the crime.
It didn’t sell particularly well but after I’d got my first book up and available for purchase, I was hooked. I’ve since changed the name of the book to Thieftaker because The Mutilated Merchant sounds a bit too humorous and the book isn’t a comedy.
My brother had been writing a massive fantasy series for a while and I wanted to get him to publish something because once you’ve done that, it is a massive confidence boost. I suggested we write something together and we both have similar taste in books. As we were already writing our own fantasy series, we decided to write sci-fi together.
The series we came up with, The Royal Marine Space Commandos, is a military science-fiction series about a group of Royal Marines who have to defend a British colony from an alien invasion. It starts with a novella, Commando and continues in Guerrilla and Ascendant. We’re writing book four, Gunboat at the moment and that still features the Marines but shifts focus to the Royal Navy.
We’ve got nine books planned in the series at the moment but there’s plenty of room for expansion and we’re writing short stories and novellas to explore other parts of the world as well.
Do you enjoy being an author?
It’s amazing. I’ve wanted to do this for so long and now I’m just making enough money from the books that I can afford to go full time. I currently spend a lot of time volunteering for a charity so my time to write and deal with my author business is somewhat limited but it’s fantastic to have a career I care about for the first time.
What is it like publishing your own books?
I’m an indie author, which means I don’t have a traditional publishing house behind my work. I don’t get an advance (a payment made to an author for their work against future royalties). If I want to make money, I have to sell books but the royalty share you get as an indie is as much as 10 times what you’d get as a trad published author.
Put it another way, I don’t have to sell as many books as someone published by one of the Big Five publishing houses does, to earn a living. I can set my own goals, don’t have deadlines that are set by someone else and don’t have anyone who can tell me what I can and can’t publish.
You can absolutely make a living as an indie author. I’d say it’s easier for us than it is for trad published authors, very few of whom make a living wage. There’s a lot more that we have to do though such as find an editor and cover designer. You have to market your own books too.
The indie community is welcoming, open and shares lots of information. There’s never a question I have that I can’t find an answer to. I now know a lot of authors at various stages of their careers and that means I have people who will help me when I need it. In return, I can help them when I can.
For instance, it’s not easy to write a book description because it’s a completely different skill to writing a novel. You’re trying to sell the book but I can go to one of the communities I’m a part of and ask people to critique my book description. Within the day I’ll have a bunch of suggestions for changes and that can help me sell more books.
How did you meet other authors?
It’s the 21st century so you start online. There are lots of Facebook groups, podcasts and YouTube channels about becoming an indie author. I attend a conference in Runnymede (or almost London as the Americans who ran the conference described it) in February, an Amazon event in September and I’m going to Las Vegas in early November for another conference. Networking with other authors is extremely helpful. Being around people who understand what you’re going through is really useful, no matter what career or activity you’re engaged in.
If you want to be a writer, you need to join the indie community. Many of us are introverts but you can join a Facebook group or listen to podcasts and really benefit from that. You don’t have to attend a conference straight off.
Where can I find your books?
My books are available on Amazon on my author page and you can get them for free on Kindle Unlimited if you’re a subscriber. They’re available in paperback as well and we have just signed an audiobook contract. Recording begins in October so hopefully the first 3 books will be available on Audible later this year.
Do you have a website or Facebook page?
We’ve just set up a publishing company, Imaginary Brother, because it’s a good way to manage our combined work and eventually we want to collaborate with more authors. You can find our work at www.imaginarybrother.com and on our Facebook page and you can also visit www.jonevansbooks.com and find me on Facebook at as well as join our mailing lists.
Thanks for that Jon, that was great information!
You’re welcome Louise, happy to talk any time. Have a wonderful October!