Author Interview: Malcolm Campbell

James’s Note: I got a chance to talk to Malcolm Campbell, Author of the fantastic true crime memoire, Callsign: Charlie One. This is his first self published novel and I wanted to ask him about the experience of self publishing. Later, I’ll be writing a review, which I am very excited to bring to you.

Your book is self-published. Did you ever consider trying to get traditionally published and what made you decide to go with self-publishing?

Thanks James: I was taken on by a traditional publisher many years ago, which ended up closing and becoming hybrid for a book called “Culinary Magic.” 

On this occasion, I did not even attempt to contact an agent or a traditional publisher as my overwhelming feeling was to get this story into the world. 

I believe that my story is so unique, it stands strong on itself. It is now live on Amazon kindle and paperback breathing life into the true crime memoir genre, so my work is done.

Did you consider any other self publishing options first, or were you pretty sure you wanted to go with Amazon and KDP from the beginning? 

No, I did not consider any other platform but Amazon, it seems to be the number one place to get your book published and the process appeared straightforward and easy.

What was the main reason you went with Amazon?

It’s free and offers help formatting for paperback and kindle.

What did your editing process look like? Did you hire a professional editor? Did you use beta readers? What order was all of this in?

After my first draft, I sent three chapters to an editor who sent me back a highly polished great looking partial manuscript, which I was very pleased about. Then she sent me a contract for £1500.00. This was higher than i expected however i was prepared to pay to send out a great product. Once I had saved that amount, as a single father, I looked at my children, never having a holiday and decided to buy them a 24 day holiday with me in Thailand instead. 

Putting the book on hold, having doubts whether i would publish it due to unsettling truths i had revealed within the book and i was questioning myself “why” the need to tell this story was so great within me.

After three months of contemplation and motivation from my friends keen to read it, I decided to complete the 7th draft of self editing and premium editing software. Aware that this was perhaps not the best route, but felt the story was so strong and true it would act as a firm foundation for the book once grammar, punctuation, flow, style, voice and plot had been invested along with character development.

I sent it to three beta readers for feedback and this was appreciated.

However, even after this, i had a friend who still picked up a few corrections that were needed.

About how long did it take, from when you began your first draft, to book launch?

Well i had 19 years of thinking about doing it, then 15 months of writing, editing and proofreading until i was happy to launch. 

However, Amazon’s downloading template caused me a lot of layout issues as their automated system would space save and move around your approved upload after you had viewed it and pressed publish. Resulting in a book arriving in poor layout and formatting order. 

This was a nightmare and after phone calls to the US and still being unsatisfied, I employed a professional layout designer, who quickly made it look amazing and it is now available as I would like it.

Who designed your book cover? Talk about the process of having it designed, was there a back-and-forth process picking out the design, or did you design it yourself?

Amanda Jade designed it. She is an award winning designer who uses bold images and colours. We talked back and forth and she was excellent in every way. It was easy and professional with a two week turn around.

If you don’t mind talking about it, what were all the monetary costs leading up to your self publishing? How much did you spend on editing, cover design, and anything else that cost you out of pocket?

Sure so, editing £100.00, then editing software a further £60.00

Cover was around £150.00 but if i wanted the whole pack £235.00.

Beta readers free

Book trailer: £150.00 and i was so happy i gave him a £30.00 tip

Layout and formatting £53.00

Promotion and advertisement:

Book advertisement on book websites around 30 of them cost £30.00

Roku TV advert with my book trailer £35.00 for two years running

What went wrong along the way? What surprises did you run into?

Self doubt: Fighting this was my hardest barrier. Who would want to read it? Why? Why from me? Will it just sit in the Amazon graveyard of 30,000,000 books?

The truth: So hard to write a book that you will publish that is partly filled with regretful actions on behalf of the author. It took a lot of courage and deep soul searching to come to the conclusion that the reader deserved to hear the truth, no matter what.

Amazon’s template for paperback: Nightmare! Will I ever use it again? No!

What would you do differently in your next book?

My next book will be just as powerful, true and controversial where I am hoping my readers will respect my books for the undiluted truth about the topics I write about.

I might look at going traditional published for my next two books as I hold the belief that they are strong enough to secure an offer in the nonfiction field. But we shall see.

Any advice for someone looking to self publish?

If you have a book in you with a passion to complete the project then do it.

However, prepare yourself for an arduous journey, I have found writing the first draft only 10% the other 90% is what follows.

Self doubt is a tough one

Continuing to write when you don’t feel like it

Self discipline/removing and working through self doubt

Working self editing was enjoyable for myself, but tedious and eye opening

Plot, structure, character development, flow, voice, POV, beats and tempo of the story. Luckily my story was all true so it was clear to get it down into the first draft.

If you can afford an editor go for it, but you learn more by doing it yourself, albeit risky.

Hire a formatter and layout designer

Try to have an author friend who can support you along the journey. I was very lucky to find a dear friend and author who supported my doubts and encouraged me to push forward and I feel privileged to call her my friend: Joann Bailey.

Finally, it’s a learning curve, you’re going to make mistakes, it’s your first book, of course you will. Take it on the chin and use positive energy to move forward finding a way to overcome your barriers.

It’s a great feeling publishing a book. Last night I was interviewed for a one hour slot by a six times number one best selling true crime author who having read my book, introduced me as a “great writer” and said “it’s a great book.”

Never in my wildest dreams did I think someone as successful as he is, would ever say that about any book I ever write, let alone my first.

I am excited to see my book selling well and my personal messages congratulating me from readers that have read my book is heartwarming, so leave something behind before you die and a little part of you will remain eternal x

My Recommendations for learning to write:

Stephen King: On Writing

James Scott Bell: Plot and Structure

Brandylin Collins: Getting into Character

Annie Dillard: The Writing Life

William Zinsser: On Writing Well

Rick Bragg: All over but the shouting

Kelly Notaras: The Book you were born to write

Dr Wayne Dyre: The Power of Intention

Writers and Artist Yearbook 2020

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