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Once you've been blogging a while, you become part of a social group of bloggers within your niche.
You find their articles everywhere, you follow their book recommendations, you download their podcasts, you support their launches. This could be called relationship marketing in some circles but I'd like to think it overflows into friendship!
One of the benefits of moving back to the UK is that I can now meet these blogging friends in person (shock horror!) and so I'm delighted to bring you this interview with the marvellous Ali Luke made on a windy winter day in Oxford. Ali is a great example of someone making her living with writing and blogging online but she's also pursuing her passion of writing fiction and we discuss that in the interview today.
Ali Luke is the author of Lycopolis and a blogger, freelance writer and writing coach at Aliventures.com.[Text below video]
In the video, we discuss:
- How Ali has a distinguished writing background with a degree in English and then a Masters Creative Writing at Goldsmiths in London which she did part-time over a few years. It involved tutorials and workshops which was great for working through the novel as she wrote it. It was also great to network with other writers and get feedback from experienced writers.
- You don't have to write the great literary novel if you do a Masters. Lycopolis is more a supernatural thriller/ contemporary fantasy but it's just an enjoyable book. It's got a lot of stuff in it that Ali loves including online gaming – it's for geeks and also non-geeks! She examines the power of the imagination, what we do online and the power of creation. A lot of Ali is in the book. A lot of first novels are in some ways autobiographical. There's a lot of the writer in them. You do write what you really care about. Ali explores aspects of her own faith in the book. It's a chance to explore and question. [I do a lot of this spiritual exploration in my own books so I am with Ali on this!]
- On publishing. Ali was fixated on the writing dream i.e. agent -> book deal -> millionaire. But the agents and editors she talked to didn't think it had a market. The industry is conservative at the moment and won't take a chance on something new. But Ali has a core online following and decided to self-publish as an ebook. It has been a lot of fun and the complete control has been great in terms of cover art and timetable. It is all down to individual effort.
- Ali's business is blogging and writing online. She makes her money online using the internet as a way to market and get clients. She does writing coaching on Skype/on the phone. She also does freelance writing for blogs, some of which are paid and some guest posts link back to her own products.
- Writing for love vs money. It's hard to balance as the fiction is much harder to write and takes time whereas freelance writing is easier and can pay off more quickly. You have to balance both. It's about making time either specific days or hours in the morning.
- The challenges of marketing fiction vs other online internet marketing. Blogging to promote a blog is natural so guest posting works etc but with fiction, it's hard to sell people the benefits. An emotional connection to the author is good and so there has been some crossover from Ali's business. Ali has also done free short stories and free chapters.
- On the UK vs US markets. We are about 2 years behind here in terms of blogging and digital. We don't have any major blog conferences. We're later with the Kindle and Kindle Fire. Ebooks have VAT (sales tax) and so can be more expensive than print. The market is taking longer to be established.
- What's Ali doing next? She's working on a trilogy for Lycopolis as the story expands and it's easier to market the next book in the series. She is taking a break for the marketing and then will get stuck into the next book early next year. The future is a blend of fiction and online business for Ali [and also for me!]
I'm not a gamer but I was fascinated by the dual worlds of this novel. I enjoyed the fast paced suspense of the ‘real world' segments of the book but was also interested in how the online gaming part of it worked. I like a supernatural side to my novels and the way the nightmares were enmeshed in the game and the character's real lives was skillfully done.
*What keeps you reading?* The book opens with the summoning of the demon but it doesn't seem to have any impact. Certainly there's nothing in the real world that changes. But then, page by page, it manifests in different ways even to the physical attack of wolves. You keep reading to find out what happens to the characters, particularly Kay and Edwin, the most sympathetic players. I read this in two sittings so it certainly held my interest!
How do you balance writing for income vs writing for love?