I want to introduce you to Richard Bartlett. He just wrote this amazing astronomy book called: 2015 An Astronomical Year to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20th, and he’s giving them away for free!! A five day promotion starting today! And everyone lurves free, right?
We connected a while ago as bloggers. He has the awesome blog, thelastsongiheard, where he writes a journey for his young son and incorporates a song every time. His blog brought back a lot of memories for me and he’s English too… so we would comment on memories of England that only an ex-pat would sometimes understand which would make me giggle.
Personally, I’ve always loved astronomy, looking back when I was a child I would look up at the stars and think how wonderful it would be to escape or fly into them. I even did a school project on astronomy and won an award for it when I was … ohhh… 11 years old… Other girls had wrote about fashion and girly things, me? Astronomy! You know when your five years old and told to draw what you wanted to be when you grew up? Well, I drew an astronaut! It really didn’t go down well with my teacher “Claire, there will never be an British astronaut let alone a girl! Draw something much better… like a nurse!” I guess Helen Sharman proved her wrong! Whoop whoop! secretly I hope the old crow was still alive when Helen went into space! (giggles).
So you can imagine how delighted I am that Richard has given this interview for us and I really hope you give him all the support you can and please feel free to share this anywhere and every where, Facebook, Twitter… You know the gig. Let’s see if we can blast his book into Amazon space! ;-)
What is the brief synopsis of your book?
Well, it’s a non-fiction book called 2015 An Astronomical Year, so there really isn’t a synopsis. It’s a quick reference guide to all the things you can see in the night sky in 2015 and it’s written for both beginners and more advanced astronomers.
I wanted something where I could quickly and easily look up a date and find something interesting to see in the sky. I couldn’t find anything like it on Amazon, so I decided to write my own.
What is the ‘back story’ to your book cover and title?
The cover I created with Amazons’ book cover designer, otherwise I probably would have come up with something quite dull! I’m very pleased with it.
In terms of the title, I wanted something that would (hopefully) accurately describe the contents, but also show up on most astronomy-related searches in Amazon. The full title is “2015 An Astronomical Year: A Quick Reference Guide to 365 Nights of Astronomy” and I was careful to choose the right keywords too. So if a reader searches for “2015 Night Sky Guide” my book will come up. Likewise, because I have the words “calendar,” “daily,” and “monthly” as keywords, if a reader searches for “2015 astronomy calendar” or “2015 daily astronomy guide” my book will come up too.
What made you want to become a writer? (What was you motivation and inspiration?)
Don’t know, to be honest. I used to love to read when I was a kid and I guess I just wanted to make my own stories. I’ve tried to write fiction (and screenplays) in a lot of different ways and never really succeeded. But I’ve been into astronomy since I was a kid and I used to write for Astronomy magazine, so it seemed like a natural progression to write an ebook.
Put it this way – in the late 90’s I created my own astronomy site, StarLore. At that time, a lot of people were creating websites about their hobbies and interests and a lot of websites got very popular very quickly, simply because there weren’t a lot of websites around and the number of people going online was rapidly growing. It was boomtown. Nowadays it’s much harder to launch a website and get hits. Boomtown, I believe, is now firmly in the ebook market.
Did you employ and editor for the storyline, proofreading or editing?
No, I just let others read it first. I re-wrote it completely 2 or 3 times before I was happy with it. In fact, I was nearly done with it when I completely scrapped it and started again. I’d been working on it for about 2 months by that time. I got this version done in about 3 weeks, but it felt right. It was coming together the way I wanted it to.
Are you self-published or traditional/ Why did you choose to publish this way?
I’m self published. I didn’t try the traditional method, but I’ve just discovered that Amazon allows authors to publish their paperbacks through a service they offer. I’d like to get it physically published before October. I’ve already beat the other 2015 astronomical publications by a couple of months.
Do you have any hints or tips that you have found in marketing?
Ha, I wouldn’t know what to say… to quote Indiana Jones, “I dunno, I’m making this up as I go.” It’s hard to market a book but definitely join some groups on Facebook and post it there. Also Reddit. Otherwise, it’s word of mouth and numbers. You want to make it easy to read and I’d say, in terms of ebooks, the formatting is extremely limited. You can write it in Word and Amazon will easily convert the file. But bear in mind that Kindle users can (and do) change the size of your font and the fonts themselves are quite limited. So, as much as you love your 24 point Papyrus titles, it ain’t gonna work on a Kindle. Keep it simple.
Likewise (and this was a big downer for me) there’s no way to have a conventional table in your book. You can only insert tables as a graphic. On the plus side, Kindle readers can double-tap an image and then zoom in on the graphic – a big plus for me with star maps. (I know these tips aren’t marketing related, but hopefully they’ll benefit someone!)
What was your most amazing moment in writing your book?
Finishing it! Honestly, it’s like a marathon. You just have to keep running or else it won’t get finished. It sounds obvious, but you have to keep going with it. It really did feel like I was headed toward the finish line toward the end though.
I will say this – nothing beats the feeling of seeing your book on Amazon. That’s probably the coolest part. And it appears above other books! And then you get a sale! From someone you don’t know! But it doesn’t just stop there… you see your book rise in the rankings! Then you get reviews! People like it! I wouldn’t say it’s better than sex, but it’s better than most other things I know!
If your novel was to be made into a movie which actor would you like to play the leading role?
LOL Well that’s not going to happen… but if anyone wants to make a regular television or radio show, I’m available :)
Is there a sequel forthcoming or any new book in the works?
I’m about to start on a guide for absolute beginners. My girlfriend Joy had a great idea to make it like one of those “choose your own adventure” books. So, there’d be a couple of questions to determine the date and time and then it would provide you with options of what you can see… then it would tell you how to find those things. People are writing ebooks in the traditional, linear fashion but with embedded links, they can be much more than that.
Do you have an inspirational, motivating or funny anecdote you would like to share?
Not yet. I told my mother about the book but then I almost regretted it because I was afraid she might actually review it. Imagine me, with my author profile proudly boasting “freelance writer for Astronomy magazine” and then having a review from Mummy saying “I’m very proud of my son’s work. He always liked the stars, even when he was a little boy.” And yes, my Mum would definitely do that.
…and of course, his blog:
After the five days promotion his book will revert back to $5.99,
so as they say in the commercials “Hurry While it Lasts!”
So let me ask you… What do you think of astronomy?