Interview with E. A. Barker

An Interview with E. A. Barker, author of Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

 

E. A. Barker believes he is an average guy in mid-life who has led a mostly average life. His readers may not agree with his assessment. The single biggest difference between him and most other people is his pursuit of knowledge. Throughout his life he never stopped asking the simplest question: Why? E. A. describes himself as a collector of ideas and a purveyor of dot connections. He attempts to present his findings in an entertaining fashion in an effort to encourage people to read—especially men who are reading far too little these days. E. A is an advocate of education for its ability to affect social reform and actively promotes the idea that a global conscience is possible.

COZY DRAGON INTERVIEW

 Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external hard-drive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

(E. A. laughs.) It’s crap! I write narrative non-fiction partially because my ability to write quality dialog is so lacking in my opinion. I am reasonably certain I am at least decent at what I do. Ms. Creant ‘s mission was to challenge the beliefs of the reader so that we might change and grow as humans. This is a niche which I believe best suits my abilities.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to produce a quality book? 

I admire prolific writers who can produce quality works time and time again. For me, it does not come so easily. I suppose my percolation happens during the extensive research phase, which in the case of this book, represented a one year period.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Wow. Your first sentence supports my working theory that we writers are merely scribes channeling the thoughts of some other entity. This is probably not the place to get all weirdly metaphysical so I will move on to the question at hand. I can write wherever I can make my body comfortable and where there is little distraction or noise. Paper notes always litter my workspace, if not the entire room, until such time as they are compiled by section into my trusty old HP laptop.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have never been clear on how the literary world uses some terminology. My scientific background tells me to speak of alpha readers first. To me, the process is as follows: 1) I produce a very rough draft which is then read by alpha readers whose sole job it is to blow sunshine up my butt so that I can find the courage to continue. In my case, it was my hairdresser. 2) I then read, revised, re-read, revised . . .  until I realized I was stuck in an endless loop and had to seek professional help. 3) Enter my editor—who I picture in my head as Ilsa of the SS—she is what I believe to be my beta-reader. Laura had no trouble telling me how I had gone off course (content editing); nor did she lose any sleep over pointing out my embarrassing grammatical errors; and I believe she rejoiced in highlighting the literally thousands of typos and punctuation errors. This is what makes her good. Her ability to completely devastate any ego the writer in you had developed, will either force you to be better, or quit. Badly shaken, I chose the former. I made massive revisions which fleshed out ideas, supplied answers, and ultimately resulted in three additional chapters. The most observant of readers might see where I ended the book on three separate occasions. She was recruited by writing a cheque. 4) The gamma reader was my proof-reader who line edited (a.k.a. copy edited) the manuscript prior to publication. She only found another five hundred or so mistakes in punctuation as well as missing words I just could not see when I read those sentences. She was recruited through a negotiated exchange of services and the promise of a signed hardcover.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I LOVE PAPER BOOKS! It is easy to understand people who like digital books though; they can buy books for far less money and could carry their entire library with them at all times. There is a danger that we should be discussing in the digital revolution we are in the midst of. I USE LIBRARIES to source most information. Libraries have always been the keepers and conservators of knowledge. Budget cutbacks combined with limited shelf space are leading many libraries into e-book information technology systems where the librarian will no longer be the curator. Whosoever controls “the cloud” will then control all knowledge. We must continue to encourage a balance between paper and digital books or we risk quickening our fall into a dystopian nightmare.

Oh my! Asking an author if they have a favorite bookstore is leading them to potential career suicide. ANY bookstore that carries or recommends Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers! is a favorite of mine. I do however frequent a local used bookshop in the Beaches area of Toronto near my home.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:

  1. childhood? Jules Verne
  2. adolescence? Frank Herbert
  3. young adult? Robert Heinlein
  4. adult? Hemingway? I am now trying to read the greats across previously unexplored genres including poetry—something I would never have done when I was younger.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do? 

Social media is a massive time suck that keeps us from writing. I would like a PA to take it over but I have yet to have a quality unpaid one offer to do so.

This is my approach:

  • Facebook is number one in terms of users. If you are willing to track people down and stay engaged with them, it can be powerful. Therein lies the time suck factor—engagement. Facebook goes out of their way to minimize your reach. Only 3 to 7% of your friends and followers will see some of your posts regularly.
  • Twitter is second in terms of users; limited in terms of post length, but UNLIMITED in terms of reach—all your followers and all selected hash-tags receive your posts, you can tweet @ anyone on twitter and they do not put you in jail for over engagement.
  • I tweet daily and send the tweet to both my facebook profile and my author page. In theory you could do this in 30 minutes per day but you would not have the all important needed engagement with other people.
  • Not long ago, I found statistics which clearly showed you really only need to be engaging on Fridays and Saturdays. This opens the door to time suck savings by posting (a.k.a. updating status) each day, but engaging just on those two days.

Understanding the value of any marketing effort is often difficult to measure in immediate sales—social media is epitome of this. After two years of working social media an average of three hours per day, seven days a week, 360ish days per year, I will tell you its value cannot be measured monetarily. When I attempt to do this, the numbers make me feel foolish.

  • $0.03 is what I have been paid per hour.
  • 30 minutes is invested in each follower.
  • Followers rarely buy your book but about 1% will.
  • You will get 0.1% response from a twitter campaign.

My RATIONALIZATION for continuing at all is I committed to this for two years–one year leading up to this release (the building phase), and one year of promoting the book after release. I assure you there will be a massive scaling down of social media work once the book has its first birthday.

So what are the positives?

  • You gain a handful of digital pen pals from around the world—priceless.
  • A good percentage of initial sales and reviews will come from people you meet on facebook.
  • It is the digital equivalent of flyer distribution and it is free, if you do not count your time.
  • About 50% of blogger interest came through social media channels.

The best alternative to social media marketing is REAL WORLD marketing but you must be an extroverted salesperson to do this, and many writers are not. Some will have costs which can quickly add up.

  • E-mail campaigns have netted the greatest amount of interest thus far with about a 10% response rate. This is literally 100 times better than social media and introverts can do it.
  • Direct mail promotion to independent bookshops and libraries seems to generate interest.
  • Attend book fairs and sell signed copies.
  • Public speaking is always an opportunity to sell books.
  • Pitch indie bookstores and other merchants on buying or displaying consignment copies of your book.
  • Send out review copies to literary critics. Most will not give you the time of day, but just one published positive review from these people can make a career.

Links to: Twitter Facebook

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next? 

Your questions were thought provoking and multifaceted so I could not cheat. We are faced with some stock questions which cause us to reiterate answers. I have yet to copy and paste an answer, but who knows what the future may bring.

😀

Ms. Creant: The Wrong Doers!

This book was created for everyone from young adults to seniors. It was written from a male’s point of view, speaking to men who are endlessly struggling to understand the opposite sex. For women, this is a fascinating journey inside the male psyche. The book gives a young reader a glimpse of the future, with a recommended time-line for key life events. Mature readers, who have already experienced much of what is discussed in the book, should come away with a new found understanding and perhaps even closure. Ms. Creant is a controversial, entertaining, yet informative look at everything which influences human behaviour including: relationships, life, health, biology, philosophy, sociology, theology, politics, genetics—even physics. E. A. Barker shares twenty-four “inappropriate” stories of life with women. The author based these stories of women behaving badly on his real life experiences, spanning four decades of his search for an ideal partner. The lessons taken away from the book will serve to help readers make better choices, become more aware, grow and change—at any stage of life.

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