It was only a matter of time before Carl Sinclair came onto the show. Host of the Self-Publishing Roundtable, Carl is the author of the upcoming books Pandora’s Gate and Sixth Cycle, the latter of which is a collaborative project with Darren Wearmouth. We talk about his podcast, and the opportunities it has brought him, as well as how he overcomes perfectionism.
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Some of Carl’s inspiration.
Masters of Doom – Great book about some of the history of video games.
Darren Wearmouth – Co-author of one of Carl’s book. Intereviewed on RSP back in episode seven.
The Geek Academy – Carl’s website for readers
MacFreedom – If you are using Mac this can cut your internet off for a while.
Carl wrote a 75,000 book in a few days about two years ago, intending for it to be serialised fiction. The feedback from people reading the first draft was very positive (to Carl’s surprise), but he wasn’t able to bring himself to edit such a vast work. He also felt it needed rewriting as a novel series, rather than as serials (to keep current with market demands).
Carl says that some of this is due to perfectionism. He is afraid that the world is not going to like his work, so he wants to get it as perfect as possible before putting it out. This has resulted in several unpublished works, and a serial going to a novel, going to a complete rewrite. This is something that he has taken flak for as it is public knowledge thanks to his presence hosting the SPRT podcast.
Carls first interest in writing came from playing video games. He enjoyed the stories behind these and eventually ended up creating his own. This lead to higher education in the subject, but when he finally went to work for a video game company, it wasn’t anything like he expected, it was no longer “you and a mate in the basement.” Now the mega corporations were ruling things, and Carl just ended up checking endless lines of code.
Giving up on that dream Carl then spent far too many years working on database software, and playing World of Warcraft. It wasn’t until the Kindle hit Australia that he really started thinking about writing again.
Setting Ambitious Goals
In 2014 Carl intended to write one million words. This was an ambitious project that he took on with several other authors. Unfortunately that only lasted three months before he got far behind and was in a hole he wouldn’t be able to get out of. This is something that I thought would be disheartening for many authors, but Carl saw it that he still had a great number of words to work with. He also often sets very ambitious goals, so is used to not always completing them, but still have a good result.
Blogging for Readers or Writers
Carl started out as many writers tend to writing a blog for other writers, talking about his opinions on writing. Carl had previous experience blogging and so had some idea about how to build an audience using social media and keywords. He saw some success with this but eventually realised that he wanted to be blogging for his readers, first because those are the people who will buy his books, but also because it would be more enjoyable!
He started his blog The Geek Academy (link above) to do that. This also began to grow, and this was because he was blogging about things that his readers would enjoy and might be searching Google for at the time – for example writing about Game of Thrones when that is popular. Those viewers are his target market for his books.
Self Publishing Roundtable
Not wanting to not provide anything for writers, Carl started the SPRT podcast. This started with Carl and a few friends just chatting for a laugh, reviewing other people’s podcasts on self publishing (RSP wasn’t around at the time, perhaps fortunately!). They eventually switched over to doing more of a news based show which went down better with their listeners. This turned out to be a lot of work (check out Sell More Books Show for a show that still does that). SPRT eventually switched over to interviews, focusing on people who had made it “post gold rush.”
I asked Carl about whether this was something that was worthwhile doing, to which he said that it was. But also pointed out that he has tried a lot of stuff that turned out to be a waste of time. Experimentation is part of being an indie author, and Carl knows that most stuff won’t work, but when something does, it can make all the failed attempts worthwhile. He also doesn’t sleep much, which gives him more time to try things!
Co-Authoring with Darren Wearmouth
Carl read Darren’s book, First Activation, which was a huge hit last year. I was curious how Carl ended up writing a book with an author who was already so established. Essentially it came down to a simple progress. Carl heard Darren on RSP, Carl invited Darren to come on SPRT, they became friends, they brainstormed together and came up with a book. People like working with their friends.
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