An Interview With Author Forrest Steele

This week I’d like to introduce you to self-published author Forrest Steele. Retired from investment banking, Forrest is now doing what he loves–writing.

Let’s learn more about him.

What are your ambitions for your writing career? I started creative writing late in life. I’d love to know I learned enough to create stories that people enjoy, and–dare I say it–stories that sell.

Which writers inspire you? Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, Robert B. Parker, Barry Hannah, Walter Mosley, many others.

IMG_0648-1So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, either via internet or consulting with people, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) A few dozen short stories, and a regular column newspaper column on advice for small businesses. The novel I just finished, Never Again, Seriously, started as a short story and grew.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? He’s slick in dealing with people and so observant and intuitive you could say he’s psychic.

What are you currently working on and what is it about? A murder mystery set in orange grove and cattle country in south central Florida.

 What drew you to write in this genre? It’s the type of thing I read.

How much research do you do? I try not to roam too from what I know. There are several spots where I need research, either thru the internet or consulting with people who know more.

Have you written works in collaboration with other writers, and if so: why did you decide to collaborate and did it affect your sales? No collaboration.

When did you decide to become a writer? Began testing my abilities eight years ago.

Do you write full-time or part-time? 20-30 hrs/week. You tell me!

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? Every day, in the hours before and after dinner.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? No.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? I dictate when Dragon is working and revise by typing on the computer.

Where do the your ideas come from? Daily observation of people and situations.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I start the ball rolling with no outline, and then make an outline, which is constantly revised and updated.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Getting stymied or blocked when I can’t see how to move the story forward. Going back to outlib=ne process always helps.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? It was so awful I had to rewrite the whole thing.

What is the easiest thing about writing? Descriptions.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? I’ve only finished one. My guess is about a year.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? See hardest thing above.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. See above. Right now it’s James Lee Burke, Randy Wayne White, and Tim Dorsey.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? Traditional printed.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I paid for a line edit even though I had combed it carefully. Wow! I’ll always do that now.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? I’m constantly editing as I go.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? It’s the most important thing after networking.

How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both) Indie for the first, will seek traditional for the next.

519gRqvmUL_002What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? That’s too big a question for me to deal with here. 

Would you or do you use a PR agency? Haven’t yet. Not sure what they do I can’t other than their contacts, which they oversell. My mind is open a crack, though.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Read up on the wealth of info out there, and be prepared to publicize as hard as you wrote!

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Just starting. If it’s not half, I’ll be surprised.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? It’s all data, so in that sense none is bad. Anything that gets out there and affects sales, not good!

What’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you? My testing tells me that Facebook targeted ads are cheap and powerful.
Not interested in other social media. Personal selling and publicity, including email seems best to me.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? No press release yet. I can’t imagine it would drive sales.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse? Definitely a gift for me.  Anyone who finds it a curse probably should quit.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content? Don’t know how to answer.

Did you come across any specific challenges in writing?  What would you do differently the next time? The plot was a mess, but I had to live through the process of fixing it to learn.

What do your fans mean to you? When I get one, I’ll let you know. I think they must be lifeblood.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day? Can’t sleep any more and my back hurts.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you? Wizard of Oz. That started a lifelong reading journey.

What motivated you to become an indie author? Challenge of creating.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Yes.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? Both. 

Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas. I get a basic idea, but can’t develop it without starting to write it.

Where is your favorite place to write? My computer, at home.

What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors? Just to repeat myself, your best marketing resource is yourself. Don’t spend money on crutches; just get up and walk! See it as networking.

Forrest currently resides in Lake Placid, Florida. Hope Hurricane Michael stayed away! Stay tuned for another author interview next time.

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