Today’s guest is Alistair McGuiness, author of the adventure travel book, Round the Bend. Alistair grew up in the UK in a town called Luton, which lies 30 miles north of London. Family holidays were spent in County Donegal, Ireland, staying with his Grandmother in their large family home where she had once raised fifteen children. It was these annual trips that made Alistair realise his Great Uncles were Seanachaís (Irish story tellers). After a few pints of Guinness in the family bar, brothers Barney and Francis would entertain the evening crowds with their recitations of life in rural Ireland. As their rustic voices carried across the crowded room, Alistair would watch and listen as the animated tales mesmorised the overseas visitors. 44 countries and four decades later, Alistair now calls Australia home and in the tradition of Great Uncles Barney and Francis, loves to recite stories. He lives between the beach and the forest with his wife, two young boys and a fun puppy called Peppi. After decades of adventurous escapades Alistair is calming down and has decided to write more and bungee jump less!
He works as a Business Improvement Specialist and has just spent three years as a fly in fly out employee at a remote iron ore mine site in Western Australia. As a trainer and facilitator, he has worked in Europe and Australia and is passionate about helping people and organisations to become successful.
Thank you for this interview, Alistair. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I’m from England, but now live in the south west of Australia with my wife, two children and a dog called Peppi. We live between the ocean and the forest, in a small coastal town called Busselton and some days have kangaroos bouncing past our front door!
My ambition is to travel to one new country each year and with 46 countries so far, I’m 3 behind target! With regards to writing, this is my first published book and has taken 3 years to complete (an hour per day).
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
It is an adventure travel book. It explores the turbulence of losing your job, the emotions of leaving home and the exhilaration of travel through South America and Africa.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
Storytelling runs in my family. My Great Uncles were Seanachaís (Irish storytellers) and as a child, I always enjoyed listening to their animated tales about rural life in Donegal. I love travelling and decided to write a story instead of telling one!
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
The realisation that I needed lots of professional help, with regards to editing, cover design, proof-reading and illustrations. I’m so glad that I took this path, as it has given the story an edge, with plenty of dialogue and maps to entertain the reader.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
I chose self-published.
Was it the right choice for you?
In today’s crowded market, I decided to self-publish instead of waiting in line for the approval of an agent. With regards to eBook sales, it has been amazing to learn about the opportunities available to promote electronic copies and I recently became a top 5 Amazon best seller. Self-published print books seem to suffer from a lack of visibility and mine is no exception.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
I have had excellent success with eBook promotions, using The Fussy Librarian and similar marketing companies. But these are often short lived and the goal is to have a sustained approach. This means having a professional blog and interacting with likeminded people as much as possible. The Goodreads Giveways have been awesome, with great reviews helping to build awareness. It all takes time and the challenge is to not burn out. I recently had a professional book trailer created, which was a lot of fun. I also write travel articles for a prominent West Australian Newspaper and these have helped get my name out there. I would recommend Guest Posts on similar blog themes, as these have helped drive traffic to my own web page and increased my connections with similar “tribe members.”
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
The Fussy Librarian helped give a spike in eBook sales. But you need to have a certain amount of 4 or 5 star reviews on Amazon or Goodreads before you are accepted. That is why you need to write the best book that you can, and then get it honestly reviewed on Amazon by independent people. With regards to paperback sales, I have approached local book stores and they sell a few, but this is an area that needs a lot more work if I am too succeed.
Do you have another job besides writing?
I work full time as Business Improvement Specialist. Recently, this meant working in a remote iron ore mine site in North West Australia. I often facilitate large groups of workers and leaders and help them to find solutions to their problems
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Step 1 Write the best book you can (using professionals).
Step 2 Hire a professional to design an amazing book cover.
Step 3 Get as many independent people to read it as you can and ask
them to post an honest review on the week that it is launched.
Step 4 Ensure your book is available on eBook as well as paperback.
Step 5 Enroll in a Goodreads Giveway.
Step 6 When you have enough reviews, use the services of the Fussy
Librarian, Book Gorilla or Bookbub (if you can afford them).
What’s next for you?
I am writing the follow up to Round the Bend, which is about travelling in Australia and will be out in early 2015. Since launching Round the Bend I have been on a steep learning curve with regards to marketing and am keen to learn from my mistakes!
Thank you for this interview, Alistair. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Thanks so much for letting me “talk.”
You can find me at www.thecreativenomad.co where I blog about all things travel and life in Australia.