Smashwords Interview with Stephen Outram

Smashwords, the world's largest distributor of indie ebooks, offered author Stephen Outram 10 questions about writing, design, inspiration, upcoming projects, marketing and more.

Smashwords, founded by Mark Coker in 2008, is the world's largest distributor of indie ebooks and offers a catalog of over 250,000 vetted, well-formatted ebooks from over 70,000 authors and publishers.


What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

Living! I find doing what I enjoy adds a dynamically generative energy to my life and living. I wake up and hit the floor running; curious about what I can create or contribute today. I often ask, 'What else can I add to my life today?' and it's about adding more and more so that I always have a wide choice. I don't have a desire to retire; I'm not looking to take a break from my life, it's more about asking, 'What else can I add that I've not even considered yet?'

What is your writing process?

I like to get up early in the morning and write. In the afternoons I will often go for a coffee and then a walk along the bay, near where I live. I print and take any recently written material to the coffee shop and review, correct and hand write additional copy, which is then ready to be added to the manuscript the next morning. It is this system that allows me to add to the book each day. My idea is to do something for me; for my projects each morning, before I do any other work.

How do you approach cover design?

I ask the book, which image it would like on its cover. Then, I research and find an image or photograph that matches the energy of the book.

Describe your desk

I have two desks; one is a 100 year old solid wood desk with an oak top and the other is a table located under the trees in my local coffee shop.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

One of my targets is to change the perception of fear that many people have around public speaking; it is something I suffered through much of my life. I'm not interested in waiting for someone else to do that job for me; these books need to be available now. Becoming an indie author allows me to publish swiftly and through multiple channels, so my books will be available for those people seeking them.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

Writing is an adventure; a treasure hunt. I find that I will write some words and within those words find more treasure, more ideas and more awareness. It's similar to opening the door to a dark room and throwing the light switch, to find three more doors. Woohoo!

What are you working on next?

I have many projects. I like to be able to move from one to the other as it requires my attention. Some projects sit silent for years and then one day, they call. I'm nearly done with a new book about money, it's called 'Dealers: Buying, Selling & Making Money;' once the foreword is written by fellow author Steven Bowman it will be published.

An addition to the speaking theme is a new book named 'The Wedding Speeches,' which will be out very soon, and another named 'Speaking Out Loud at School' designed for school children, is just beginning.

My Dad wrote his account of our family's 1964 emigration to Australia, the first five years; I will be weaving into his story my recollections as an 8 year old boy. The story is amazing; my Mum and Dad were true pioneers.

The other one that has been started is a look at life here on Earth. The concept is that prior to homo-sapiens showing up on the planet, its systems worked perfectly. Are we a virus that Earth has not be able to integrate or shake off?

What's the story behind your latest book?

My latest book is 'Dealers: Buying, Selling & Making Money.' A couple of years ago I became interested in antiques and went to several fairs. I was intrigued by the huge variety of objects people collected and how stall holders; the dealers functioned. This lead me to explore the various characters I found, who worked in the antique and collectables market place. Six distinct and unique characters showed up and and I saw that only one of them made money. As I researched for the book, I realized that these six characters were not limited just to people interested in antiques, but influenced us all in different ways. The book explores each character and invites the reader to the awareness that they must use the capacities each character embodies, to successfully deal and make money, in any marketplace, and in life too.

How has Smashwords contributed to your success?

I'm new to Smashwords, but I found that very quickly my books were showing up in Internet search results and that is very pleasing. I can say that Smashwords contributes to more people finding my books and I'm looking forward to greater sales. I would like my books to contribute the the lives of people and being more visible will assist with that.

What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?

The most effective technique I have found is talking with people and creating a connection. Several of my books are about public speaking, and the willingness to talk publicly is a powerful tool. But it's more than giving speeches, which tend to be a one-way flow, it is about creating conversations that include the audience and continue on long after the last person has stopped talking.

Published 2014-07-31.

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