The Reality of Life as an Author
By Dr Stephen Simpson MB ChB MFOM MBA
In this exclusive series of book blog posts, our client Dr Stephen Simpson, the international bestselling author and TEDx speaker, shares his personal experiences of the publishing industry and the highs and lows of his own, remarkably successful writing journey.
In this first blog, he reveals his Top Five writing tips and explains why writing a book can be good for the soul – but not necessarily the bank balance.
1. Initial thoughts and suggestions from the coal face
I have published nine books, and 16 audiobooks in the last 12 years. All the books are self published on Amazon, and the audiobooks were published on iTunes.
My royalties were higher with the audiobooks, and the book sales have been modest. From my experience in the present market it is very difficult to make enough money as an author as a sole source of income. However there are other benefits of being a published author which certainly can be more lucrative.
Despite this slightly gloomy perspective my advice is to expect the best and live in hope, because sometimes the market can surprise everybody including the experts!
As an inspirational speaker Dr. Simpson, pictured above at a TEDx event, has entertained audiences of many thousands across Europe, The Americas, Africa, and Asia. His book, The Pyschoic Revolution, below left, earned widespread acclaim and media coverage.
2. Live in hope.
When I published my audiobooks they were reviewed for suitability by Audible. The title they had the most doubts about was Zen Hypnosis Confidence. It appeared they were quite right, because the first review was terrible and complained of the poor sound quality of the recording.
This was a total mystery to me because the recording had been laid down in a professional studio and was as good as it could be when it was sent for publication. However at some point the file became corrupted and this very obvious error was not picked up by iTunes, which I found somewhat surprising.
However this story had a happy ending because once the file was corrected the sales and the five-star reviews started to roll in. To cut a long story short Zen Hypnosis Confidence was the best selling audiobook on iTunes in Europe in any category for several years. My main competitor at that time was Dan Brown, although I doubt he lost much sleep from having me as a competitor for his sales!
My message to aspiring authors is to live in hope and do not exclude the possibility of a miracle.
Dr. Simpson has appeared BBC, ITV, Sky, Voice of America, BRMB, LBC, RNIB Connect, and other top international TV and radio programmes, as well as in the pages of The Sun, Sunday People, Glamour, Golfing World, The Best You Magazine, WPT Poker, Business Matters, Small Business, and more, sharing his simple, innovative methods for building luck, and igniting peak performance.
3. What the gods give they take away
However this story has a further twist in the tail because several years ago iTunes somehow lost all the reviews from my audiobooks and sales plummeted and never really improved. I decided to take them all off and kept them for publishing on my own website. It was probably a crazy decision, and prompted partly by my thought that they needed refreshing, and also that were no longer good enough for publication.
4. Plead not guilty
With the benefit of hindsight I would not encourage any author to follow my line of thought. My experience since then is that the author is the least qualified person to judge his or her work. Leave it to the general public and you can guarantee that someone will love your stuff, and others will hate it. Just think how many blockbuster books, music, and works of art have never been published because the creator thought they were the judge.
This is the world we live in where opinion is increasingly polarised on any subject, and authors can’t expect to be treated differently.
“My message to aspiring authors is to live in hope and do not exclude the possibility of a miracle.”
5. Boldly go…
I hope I have not put you off writing your first book. Writing can be surprisingly enjoyable, and is the doing part of thinking. As a result of this introspection you will probably never be quite the same person again. However there are other legs of the journey that I have not found so pleasant.
These are my general comments and I will expand upon them in more specific areas in further blogs in the series. I will humbly offer a few tips that I have found useful in navigating these tricky waters.
I have wasted a lot of time and money buying maps that were either out of date, or printed upside down. I hope you might learn from the mistakes I and many others have made.
My final words will be very familiar to members of the acting profession, and that is to “Never ever give up!”