Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
I work with schools, fostering service providers and other childcare professionals to help them keep the children they care for safe when they use the Internet. I was inspired to write children’s fiction with a strong e-safety theme after hearing true-life stories of some of the issues young people face online and how they handled them.
I live in Wrexham, North Wales with my wife Christine, two wonderful children and Pippin, our gorgeous poodle/bichon frise cross, who actually appears in one of my stories (but only gets a treat a day in advance royalties!)
Tell us about your books.
I have two books about to go live on Amazon (on 20th October 2016). The first is called Lucy’s Web and is a collection of short stories following 12 year old Lucy as she uses the Internet to keep in touch with her friends, to have fun and to pursue her dream of becoming a famous video blogger and earning a trillion pounds a year. Along the way Lucy learns about online strangers, the problems that come with not being careful with her personal information and how to deal with a cyberbully.
In Steve’s Web – Operation: Stay Safe Online we meet Steve, a friend of Lucy’s who has been inspired by her to write his own book. He even nicked the title, but Lucy doesn’t mind as long as her book sells more copies. Steve can’t wait to tell you about the time his online gaming account was hacked, how he convinced his English class (and himself) that Martians landed on Earth in 1947 and how a virtual monster put him in hospital. And, he says, that’s just in the first three stories!
I also have three non-fiction books, on the subject of data security, online safety for families and reputation management. If you’re interested, you can check them out on my Amazon author page.
How did you go about getting published?
I wanted to maintain control of my own work, and to publish the stories without the months or even years of waiting that can come with finding an agent and publishing house that’s prepared to invest in the production and marketing of a new author. That’s why I opted for self-publishing. It’s hard work getting the required publicity on a limited budget, but that’s all part of the adventure!
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
As a busy Dad and Foster-Carer, I spend a lot of time in Dad’s Taxi, waiting around for one or the other of my children to finish Taekwondo, or Girl Guides, or whatever activity they’re doing. I like to use the time to formulate ideas, make notes and write, all in my car or in the local supermarket cafe. A couple of quid for a coffee buys me half an hour of peace and quiet to just get on with it, without the distractions of email or telephone calls.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
My wife and I have been foster carers for 5 years now, which takes up a lot of time and energy but is hugely rewarding. The role has given us an insight into the issues facing vulnerable children, some of which have found their way into my stories. I also work as a trainer in the field of Internet safety, which takes me around the country visiting clients and providing in-house courses.
When I’m not working, writing or sitting in Dad’s Taxi, I enjoy reading (a lot!) and playing music.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
Forget these words “You don’t judge a book by its cover”. YES YOU DO!! Your cover image is THE first impression of your book and it should be tailored to the needs of your reader first and foremost. Don’t use an image because you like it. Use an image that portrays the genre, pace and target audience of your book. Lucy’s Web and Steve’s Web are both written from the point of view of 12 and 14 year olds, with a target audience of 8 to 14. I used strong colours, big fonts and images that suggest that the cover was designed by the lead character, whilst ensuring that they put across a professional image. It’s also really important that your title is legible in a thumbnail version of the cover, which is how your potential buyer is going to see it first.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
There are hundreds of marketing channels available to you at low or no cost. Use them to build up your following and reach out to your readers. Sign up to Goodreads and create a profile, use Facebook pages to promote your books (not just yourself as an author) and make sure that you have an Amazon author page to showcase your whole catalogue. Use author interviews like this one to really connect with your readers and don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet!
What’s your favorite book?
The Chronicles of Narnia has been a firm favourite of mine since I was a child.
What are you reading now?
End of Watch by Stephen King
What’s your next book project?
Without giving too much away, Steve has a computer genius friend called Mickey, who I suspect is getting himself into trouble online right now! Mickey’s story is already breaking out of ‘short story’ format into more of a novel, so it may be a while before his tale is ready to share. I’m also working on another collection of short stories about the online adventures of some of the friends we meet in Lucy’s Web and Steve’s Web.
Author Websites and Profiles
Charles Conway Amazon Profile