My first guest in this second round of The Author Hot Seat is an old (in blogging terms) friend, Seumas Gallacher.
We all know you as the Scottish crime writer who wears a kilt even when he’s trolling about among the dunes of Abu Dhabi. What we might like to know is what he did before he became a camel driver that inspired him to write international crime novels. So, to satisfy the morbid curiosity of the red top readers among us, I’ve shoved said Scot into the hot seat, manacled him and got the irons nice and hot just in case he wants to hold something back.
J : Do your early years in Glasgow influence your writing?
SG : Undoubtedly. They say you can take the boy out of Glasgow, but you can’t take Glasgow out of the boy. Much of the grit and values that I’ve instilled in the main character in my crime thriller series, Jack Calder, reflect much of what tens of thousand of Dockland Govan residents were like sixty years ago. Survival there, as in many similar inner city post-war environments, demanded resilience, adherence to decent human values, a strong work ethic, and not least, a communal sense of humour.
In fairness, however, having left Govan in my mid teens, time spent in other locations, such as the Scottish Hebridean island of Mull, and a decade in London, also shaped the memories from which I believe most authors write.
A further 25 years in Asia, and the last 10 years in the Middle East, contribute immensely to differing experiences and character descriptions.
J : Where does the inspiration for these very high-powered heists come from?
SG : I’d like to say they come from personally having perpetrated one, but they’d come and lock me up and throw away the key if I owned up to that. My credo in writing my type of crime thrillers is to have ‘high impact’ passages where relevant. This also translates into an almost minimalist descriptive style. I aim to provide enough to let the reader colour in as they imagine, which I think we all do anyway when reading fiction. That ‘punchiness’ also lends the writing more pace.
J : Is it easy being a Scot writer in Abu Dhabi?
SG : Abu Dhabi, where I live, is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It’s somewhat more laid back than Dubai, which tends to attract the more ‘lifestyle’ headlines and interest from the international press and magazines. It’s an Arabic, Islamic society, but is liberally accommodating of other faiths. Living expense is relatively high compared with the UK or most of the USA. I find it easy to write here. Having been an expatriate for the best part of 45 years (if I consider London a ‘foreign’ posting), I tend to adapt readily to wherever I land.
J : Did you try to get publishers/agents interested in your books or did you go straight for the self-pub route?
SG : When I drifted off the pink cloud of having written ‘The End’ on the first novel, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, I spent a considerable amount of time researching the best way to acquire that elusive endangered species… an Agent… or that even more under-threat-of-extinction creature, a Publisher… in the end, I sent 40 Query Letters to addresses in London… 40 rejection slips/non- answers later, I was persuaded to consider the new-fangled Amazon Kindle route… the rest is history, and the stuff of legend for me… 75,000+ downloads later, I’d still welcome a top-class Agent or Publisher if one knocked my door, but I thoroughly enjoy the freedom and the hard work that goes with it, in being an independent self-publisher.
J : On the face of it, your writing looks as though it fits quite easily into the crime category. Is that too simplistic an analysis?
SG : It’s probably the principal tag that describes the novels, but as with most authors, there’s usually divergence and some overlaps into other part descriptions in the writing, such as with mine for example, I could add ‘action’, ‘thriller’, ‘police detection/procedure’, ‘black ops’ and so on.
J : How do you deal with promotion?
SG : I fully believe that the writing is the comparatively simple part of what I call the ‘business’ of writing. Promotion and marketing is where the ‘slog’ comes in. And it’s so necessary. I saw a quote the other day that says ‘you don’t make money from writing—you make money from selling your writing’. I determined from the outset to get aboard properly on the correct usage of the so-called ‘social networks’… ‘social’ it isn’t… hard work it is… I’ve developed a presence on my chosen channels of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Stumbleupon, Google+, etc… but the most vital part of all is my blog, on which I try to post daily… every post is automatically linked to all of my social networks. The potential marketing/promotional ‘reach’ is staggering. For example, when I launched on Kindle my third title, SAVAGE PAYBACK, I asked a few hundred select followers to Re-Tweet the message. I tracked the potential ‘hits’ through the algorithmic ‘delta’ extent of their ReTweets, and after three days I stopped counting at 2,750,000. The strength of the Web is powerful.
I’ve published on Kindle how I deal with this stuff, with SELF-PUBLISHING STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL SALES.
J : Self-pubbed writers are often criticised for clogging up the machinery with poor quality, poorly edited writing. How hard have you found it to be taken seriously as an indie writer?
SG : There’s no doubt that tons of, at best, ‘average’ offerings have come on stream. The eBooks phenomenon allows the dream to become real for many new wannabe Rowlings, Pattersons and Childs. The tenets of good ‘production’ includes excellent proof-reading, editing, cover art, and so on. The more successful writers will adhere to that, if not immediately, but eventually as they progress through the maze of self-publishing, improvement should develop. For my own work, I strive to sculpt my writing to the best of my ability, but only to the point where I am pleased with it myself, not overly concerned about how other people regard it. If we try to please all of the people all of the time, we know where that leads us. My sales figures tell me I’m on the right track.
Well, Amazon has one satisfied customer at least! Those are pretty impressive figures. Thanks so much for sitting in the Hot Seat today, Seumas, and presenting such an up-beat take on self-publishing.
All aficionados of thrillers can find Seumas’s books at the links below
I thoroughly recommend The Violin Man’s Legacy to readers like me who have problems following the plots of standard thrillers. This one is much more character-driven and appeals to the softy just as much as the hard-boiled. You can read my review here.
SEUMAS GALLACHER escaped from the world of finance five years ago, after a career spanning three continents and five decades.
As the self-professed ‘oldest computer Jurassic on the planet’ his headlong immersion into the dizzy world of eBook publishing opened his eyes, mind, and pleasure to the joys of self-publishing. As a former businessman, he rapidly understood the concept of a writer’s need to ‘build the platform’, and from a standing start began to develop a social networking outreach, which now tops 15,000 direct contacts.
His first two crime-thrillers, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY and VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK blew his mind with more than 75,000 e-link downloads to date. The third in what has become the ‘Jack Calder’ series, SAVAGE PAYBACK, was launched late 2013.
He started a humorous, informative, self-publishers blog less than two years ago, never having heard of a ‘blog’ prior to that, was voted ‘Blogger of the Year 2013’ and now has a loyal blog following on his networks. He says the novels contain his ‘Author’s Voice’, while the blog carries his ‘Author’s Brand’. And
Blog : seumasgallacher.com
Twitter : @seumasgallacher
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/seumasgallacher
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org