My Self-Publishing Journey: GUEST POST by J R Bolaky (WARRIORS OF WINTER)
In the heart of a snow-blanketed London, as the festive season dawns, Detective Inspector Arthur Stowe is entangled in a case of missing children, a baffling mystery that has stymied him for over a year.
When a possible lead ties a potential murder victim to the heart of the Yuletide legend, St. Nicholas, the case spirals into the realm of the unbelievable. Enter Chris Demer, an ordinary man ensnared in a destiny beyond imagination. He meets Winter, St. Nicholas’s enigmatic, battle-axe wielding daughter, who is on a mission to resurrect her fallen father.
With the malevolent Krampus casting a shadow over the festivities and a government clouding the spirit of the season, the stakes have never been higher. As Chris discovers his latent powers, and with Stowe’s detective acumen, a dramatic race against time ensues. Guided by a sleigh, whimsical sausage dogs, and the shimmering London skyline, can this unlikely trio salvage the essence of Christmas from impending doom?
Fantasy Author discusses self-publishing journey following debut launch of festive-themed ‘Warriors of Winter’
Recent statistics reveal that there are more than 750,000 self-published books in the UK and a 68% growth in self-published e-books across the last five years, but what is behind this trend?
In today’s post, we catch up with new self-publishing author Jay R Bolaky, following the launch of his dark festive fantasy book ‘Warriors of Winter’ last month.
Firstly, what inspired you to become an author?
As an avid reader from a young age, I’ve always had a vivid imagination, inspired by the tales of Terry Pratchett & Tolkien, among others, but I never necessarily thought about writing myself.
Fast forward 30 years. From sailing the high seas with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary to navigating the tumultuous waters of the Balkans conflict, my life story somewhat reads like an action-packed thriller. Following this, I became a professional Undertaker, and am now an NHS employee.
While the above certainly built a rich tapestry of topics to write about, my inspiration to write ‘Warriors of Winter’ came after my wife sadly passed from Cancer back in 2019. I found writing a form of escapism but more than that, an opportunity to express myself, using happy memories spent together at Christmas to create something that was bound by the message of hope.
So it took you almost four years to publish Warriors of Winter?
‘Warriors of Winter’ took me roughly one year to write, starting with a notepad and pen. At first, I wasn’t quite sure whether I was writing for me, or for an audience. Like all good authors, I am quite self-critical, especially with a first novel – it is important to get right and share it with friends, family etc for feedback.
After sitting on the story and tweaking it over the space of a couple of years, I became more open to the idea of publishing the book in 2022, which was a whole new world to learn. The process of proofing, cover design and distribution has taken about a year from there.
And what was it about the Self-publishing route that attracted you?
The first benefit for me was a sense of control of the story. My inspirations came from personal experiences, so I was a little concerned about the piece being ‘rewritten’ and only a fragment of my ideas.
However, being new to the scene, I also needed guidance and sought support from Spiffing Books to support the proofing, book design and distribution through Amazon, Waterstones and wider outlets. This was important and influenced certain ways of thinking to reach the wider Young Adult and fantasy audiences.
I think all self-publishing authors will agree the route is often linked with higher profit retention from the sale of books. However, I should add that this is counteracted by an increased emphasis on marketing efforts, especially without a big publishing powerhouse behind you.
Lastly, being an Indie / Independent author has a nice ring to it!
What has been your biggest challenge in self-publishing?
I think the biggest challenge for me in debuting as an independent author is certainly the promotional and marketing aspects of getting your book seen and out there.
Now it has debuted, I am all hands on the pedal. From building a brand as an author on social media, getting known in the local media and considering launch events, engaging influencers and reviewers, joining channels like GoodReads, and highly targeted Amazon A+ advertising – it can be a minefield.
I’d say the visual elements of a fantasy book must also not be overlooked, as the genre is often associated with highly imaginative covers.
Therefore, my advice would be to upcoming Indie Authors to always think about how you are going to promote your book and what budgets you have set aside, no matter how early you are in your journey.
Any final words on what The Fantasy Hive readers can expect from ‘Warriors Of Winter’?
A fun ride. Set over a short period over the Christmas holidays, it really is a fast-paced fantasy adventure which is set in the heart of London. The balance of surreal and folklore characters is subset by a realistic crime and hints of political satire.
I like to think I’ve created a story that can appeal to a variety of young adults and fantasy readers alike, well that’s what the early reviews are telling me!
So if you love fantasy and Christmas – this one is for you.
Post by Joe Tye