Ask Me Anything About Self-Publishing My Novels

Jonathan Finch
Dec 1, 2017

Ask me anything about self-publishing my novels can touch upon any aspect of my self-publishing route and can pay particular attention to "Great Tits I've Known (And Other Species)", "After Dawn", "Darkest Kiss" & even "Thought-Provokers". Poetry and prose and a mix of them are keen passions. If anyone wants to touch on short-story writing and my attempt to create authenticity while not concentrating on "plot", that's fine, too. Questions about files for Amazon and Createspace are welcome as well.


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When starting with a new book, what comes first? Inspiration or motivation?

Dec 2, 9:19PM EST0

Well, you can feel as inspired as you like but you have to have the discipline and motivation to "put pen to paper". I use an old expression here because "fingers to computer keyboard" is not so good! I suppose both motivation and inspiration get first prize. It's a draw, isn't it, with no photo-finish necessary?!

Dec 2, 9:35PM EST0

Which is your favourite novel?

Dec 1, 12:29PM EST0

I have a lot of favourite novels but one that I have read three times is Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". "Great Expectations" is another favourite. "Emma" is also great. "Middlemarch" exceptional. "Portrait of a Lady" also takes some beating. There are just so many very good novels out there!

Dec 1, 12:34PM EST0


      Jonathan Finch here. Anyone with a question is welcome to ask it. I hope the answers I've written are satisfactory.

Dec 1, 12:07PM EST0

What are your top favorite books that influenced your writing style?

Dec 1, 10:52AM EST0

I mentioned Shakespeare and he remains the writer who has influenced me the most. I find his prose and verse daunting. Many years ago when I wrote "After Dawn" I wished the prose to be poetic like Laurie Lee's prose in "Cider With Rosie". Over the years I have read so much that I suppose I just absorbed the varied prose styles I found. No particular writer comes to mind as a top person. I also imagine that all the contemporary poets I looked into to get inspiration for my own work are still there in my prose in that it is often attempting to sing like poetry. Sorry to be vague but I really can't find the right answer because there probably isn't one.

Dec 1, 10:59AM EST0

Where do you get inspirations for your collection of poems?

Dec 1, 1:56AM EST0


Inspiration can and is all around poets, and was around me when I was writing poetry, but central to wanting to write is emotion and if it is strong, then the drive will be potent. In the past, love and suffering produced poems, anger, too, and with regard to the collection of poems I’ll be publishing very soon called ““Love” Poems For Kathy : Green. Laced. Leaves.” the feelings of love and loss and jealousy and fierce sexual attraction were overwhelmingly present in my mind and drove me to write almost every day a poem to the woman I often call “my dark-haired darling” in the verses she made me write. Regarding other collections (on Amazon there are two main ones – “Poems People Liked (1)” & “Poems People Liked (2)”), the poems stand alone but are collected because editors liked and published them in anthologies and literary magazines. That’s how those poems come to be in groups. The second collection of poems are also together because they relate to suicide and then life in the aftermath. It’s always possible to group poems and to see interrelationship in creative work. Well, most of the time. All?

Dec 1, 2:30AM EST0

How easy is it to grope for words when you feel like penning down poetry?

Dec 1, 1:17AM EST0


I mentioned that the poetic muse isn’t there for me anymore….departed my soul and body, so to speak, but, recently, a friend commissioned me to write some verses for his music and those verses appeared quickly. In the past when I wrote every day, I would scan a literary magazine (they came regularly – I subscribed) or I would read a contemporary poet like Patten or Charles Tomlinson, even old guys like Auden, Eliot or Yeats, I would get sort of word-drunk, and start to write from pain, incident, experiment, experience, imitatively sometimes but without any copying, and in general the poem came as quickly and as regularly as cuckoo-clocks cuckooing. I have hundreds of unpublished poems, some OK, others probably NOT, that got written fast, like an automatic poem-machine splurging.

Dec 1, 2:36AM EST0

Do you look up to someone for your literary artistry? Who and why?

Dec 1, 1:02AM EST0


Well, it’s to William Shakespeare – great prose, greater poetry, drama, music, supernatural, the lot. He’s the guy I meet in my novel about Thailand (“Great Tits I’ve Known (And Other Species)”) and he won’t pass the time of day with me. Shakespeare has lots of common speech rhythms then he goes off aberrating, deviating language, and he’s always been my most exciting literary friend and enemy. I used to learn lots of his characters’ speeches by heart and they never failed to move me to extreme emotion.

Dec 1, 2:36AM EST0

What was the most memorable moment you made a poem about?

Dec 1, 12:49AM EST0


So many of the poems were made in forgettable moments but just a few are stuck in my memory like horror. I mention in the novel “Darkest Kiss” that I wrote “The Nothing-Lyre” in Kathy’s flat. I remember how the poem appeared as if from nowhere, effortlessly made itself present like a strange and pathetic life. It was a runner-up in the All London Silver Jubilee Poetry Competition in 1977. The guy in the poem Leopold Muckslick is certainly mine but he is also Kathy’s uncle who appears in the short story “Katharine’s Uncle”. That was the memorable moment to return to your question but the events in the poem were mental, and external, too. Football violence enters the poem because the 1970’s had a lot of problems in the football stadiums, and outside them, too. Of course.

Dec 1, 2:36AM EST0

How many books have you published and how many were not published?

Dec 1, 12:38AM EST0


About half a dozen self-published books…To be honest, none of my novels was ever published by a conventional publishing house. All the books you see on Amazon were there brooding and unpublished. In some drawers I do have two other novels, hundreds of poems, and some more short stories. I may self-publish them if I can find time and energy. When I got to 30 I had tried some publishing houses and certainly had sent off a selection of my better known poems. I got lots of positive feedback but not one publisher could publish. Some had waiting lists of five years. I continued to submit poems to small literary magazines and kept getting the poems accepted, so much so that it irritated me that the mags accepted and the publishers didn’t. I gave up, and then when in Roem, massive problems surfaced and I had to work like billy-ho.

Dec 1, 2:36AM EST0
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Why is it satisfying for you to express your creative thoughts through words?

Dec 1, 12:37AM EST0


Wow! That’s a difficult question but on reflection I haven’t got any other way! I’m hopeless at art, sculpture, music…but since boyhood I’ve used words better than paint, stone, notes, numbers. Why I do it is because it’s therapeutic, and there’s the joy of getting something you like out of mess or things you don’t like. Regarding my writing about Thailand, and Pattaya in particular, it’s of great interest to me to get ideas clarified here.

Dec 1, 2:35AM EST0

How long have you been writing and self-publishing your work?

Nov 30, 11:08PM EST0


I first started using Kindle Direct Publishing in 2016. I also use Createspace for paperbacks. Before then I tried to get publishing houses interested in my novels. Poetry was slightly different because I used to submit to small magazines and to anthologies. Small magazines published me and some of their editors published a story or two. The self-publishing route was suggested by an editor I know here in Thailand. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager and a lot of my poetry was published in the UK when I was in my twenties and thirties.

Dec 1, 2:47AM EST0

Who did you inherit your creativity from? Anyone else creative in the family?

Nov 30, 8:48PM EST0


Thank you for your interesting question. Is creativity in the family, DNA, genes?! Well, to an extent it must be. Both my parents were interested in ideas and literature. Mum was a great reader and Dad a passionate politician. The Irish side of the family, that’s my uncle I’m thinking of, was interested in poetry and I can recall my Irish uncle quoting Yeats. (He also seemed to be in touch with James Joyce!) Though my relationship with my sister is very strained, I do remember her claiming that academic work is creative and that academics spend endless time like artists getting ideas well expressed. That storehouse of knowledge that the academic world uses to effect is, for her, creative. She’s an academic. Having said that, I do feel that in her case Proust is really creative whereas she who has written on the French novelist is not at his level.

Dec 1, 2:47AM EST0

What is the next project about and when are you planning to publish it?

Nov 30, 8:47PM EST0


Thank you for your question, and thank goodness it’s easy to answer. Tomorrow I’m going to a guy in Pattaya Nua to finalise the cover, spine and back cover of ““Love” Poems For Kathy : Green. Laced. Leaves.” which I should be publishing next week, using Kindle and Createspace. It’s a collection of poems which I’ve got together now but all the poems were written in the last century. That’s my next project. Self-publishing has helped me to see a way of presenting some books that I felt needed putting out but before the revolution publishing-houses - despite an interest - knew (& still know) that poetry is not usually commercially viable.

Dec 1, 2:47AM EST0

Is it always poet for you or can you also write novels and other kinds literary works?

Nov 30, 8:47PM EST0


Yes, thanks, and I write short stories and novels, too. I am publishing a collection of poems shortly about Katharine but many years ago when I was writing those poems to her I was also writing “Darkest Kiss” which I have already self-published and that novel is directly about her. Though its opening is comic, its conclusion is hopeless. I think it’s best if I also say that the poetic muse has largely departed though a friend, a classical composer, has pushed me into poetry again – but only on occasions. I feel I am not writing in that sheer way that is needed for poetry.

Dec 1, 2:47AM EST0

What is the most important literary work you have done?

Nov 30, 7:36PM EST0


Hello, Geekeeme! What a name! I’d hate to know your surname! I think the most important work for me is “Collected Selected Words” now out of print. Though published recently its title has changed twice and you can get it as “Great Tits I’ve Known (And Other Species)”. A longer, slightly more sensational version goes under the title “Sexy Thai Bar Girls And Me : Sex Adventures In Asia”. Of course, while writing, almost everything takes on an importance that maybe it doesn’t or shouldn’t have…but I can answer relatively unequivocally because “Collected Selected Words” is pivotal. It got me back to writing full time, it was therapeutic, and most importantly it showed that Pattaya in Thailand is a creative maelstrom for me. The City of Pattaya, seething with social ills, lets me blog till I’m blue in the face. It is a magnificent catalyst and it can still be a bit of fun for me if I forget matters temporarily. The first title (though useless for search engines and useless for most) is fundamental for me. The book explores how we collect and select and how professionals and academics do it all the time to the detriment of those they wish to belittle! The novel and its title sing happiness for me because in collecting and selecting and selecting and collecting I can manage to get beyond my state of paltriness and tatters. Here I’m thinking of W. B. Yeats “An aged man is but a paltry thing / A tattered coat upon a stick, unless…”

Dec 1, 2:46AM EST0

Does it feel like poetry can just be everywhere for you?

Nov 30, 5:10PM EST0


With a name like that, you must be related to Geekeeme! Poetry is not everywhere but if you mean can poets be inspired by anything and everything, yes, that is unfortunately true. Poets can be. As mentioned, the poetic muse has left me but I do try in prose to make the best of a bad job. That is, I find myself writing poetically about very questionable things – like the agogos here in Pattaya, Thailand. I think the idea that poets create anywhere and everywhere is hackneyed or overdone and has given rise to some very mediocre poets and works, but yes, poetry is everywhere. It’s just that you can’t break up prose and suppose you’ve written a poem.

                            Prose break up

                            Written poem


Dec 1, 2:46AM EST0

Are you also interested in expanding your creativity into other forms of art such as painting or sculpting?

Nov 30, 3:38PM EST0


A great question that needs tons of attention. Out there, there are those magnificent minds that can do two, three, four things. Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a poet and painter. I hate to think what was in Shakespeare’s mind (though he “just” wrote plays and poems, we believe). The answer is I can’t paint and I can’t model. I write because it’s a passion for me and I like to do it. To return to my favourite obsession, “Collected Selected Words”…while I was writing THAT I got so much joy I was beyond myself. It was a drug that has never let me down. When I draw or pick up some clay, I am worse than a child – completely incompetent. I often think my brain is not well proportioned. I am also not good at maths, and as for physics and chemistry!!! (The nearest I came to doing two things was music and literature but I make too many mistakes with the piano and I couldn’t grasp composition at all!)

Dec 1, 2:46AM EST0

How willing are you to share your talent by training interested people or aspiring poets?

Nov 30, 10:13AM EST0


Thank goodness! A normal name at last! Well, I’ve been a teacher all my life and so I suppose I could help with these writing matters I feel so deeply for but at my time of life, I don’t know how good and patient I’d be. Having said that, two years ago I edited (for free and for conviction) the great novel by the Russian Igor Eliseev “One-Two”. His two, little girls, Faith and Hope, were heart-rending, joined together and absolutely without privilege. At the time my son told me I was mad because he saw me spending hours and hours correcting and rewriting Igor’s text. English is a second language for Igor. If you look at “One-Two” you will see that it’s on the real up. Would I, could I, edit again? I don’t know but to be honest I have turned down half a dozen similar tasks, more to do with writing books for others, because I just don’t feel my energy levels are the same as before, and then selfishly I just want to write what I love to write. That’s what may be of excellence.

      As for training poets, that’s a difficult job! I’d say writers’ groups, good, literary friends are as important, but in the end it’s also study of great stuff, writing, studying, rewriting, studying, reading, big immersion, memorising the poets…you name it, you just have to do it!

Dec 1, 2:46AM EST0

How long have you been publishing novels.

Nov 30, 8:14AM EST0


Thanks for the question. I’ve been writing novels since I was 19. When young, I submitted to established publishing houses but none accepted any novel. I was simultaneously getting poetry and a couple of short stories conventionally published by editors and poets who also anthologised some of my verse, so the answer is that for over 40 years I’ve been writing prose and poetry. There have been long breaks in the process. When I lived and worked in Italy, financial burdens and personal burdens took priority but throughout those bleak and uncreative years I read and I read and I read. My university teaching also meant I had to brush up on what I sort of knew and I also got to know intimately what I had neglected to know (for example, “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning). If I think of those Italian years, only one or two poems and stories squeezed through the darkness of living a divorce and coming to terms with my problems and my problematic Italy.

Dec 1, 2:46AM EST0

Did you have some training or seminars when you were still trying to organize your written work?

Nov 27, 4:32AM EST1


Well, I seem to have answered your enquiry during my other answers but it’s apparent to me that I was training at the university where I worked and during those endless hours when I spent days hitting a portable typewriter and correcting my novels. I think my studying for a degree for English was also training and I did meet poets and attend readings. I dipped into lots of contemporary small magazines and found them inspirational. The more I think about it the more I feel that immersed in studying, reading, teaching literature, practising creative writing, though not formal or seminars, well, it was all going in the direction of making me want to collect and select words.

Dec 1, 2:46AM EST0

Sorry, I should have written "manual" typewriter - the sort back in the sixties with ribbons and keys. It was portable, too...

Dec 1, 3:02AM EST0
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