Welcome to Writers in the Sky Blog, June Austin. It is a pleasure to have her share with us today.
YVONNE: Let’s begin with the questions most writers like to know about one another. How did you get started writing? By that, I mean what inspired you to author a book?
JUNE: I did set out to write a book at all, believe it or not. It started at the end of 1999 when my mother died, and I decided to take a year out from work to figure out where I was heading. One of the first things I did was enroll for a crystal therapy course. Halfway through the course, the students were asked to write a thesis on a crystal related subject to be presented to the rest of the group. I chose to do mine on crystal skulls, since I was and still am the guardian of many of these fascinating objects.
The more I began to write, the more links I began to find with other areas of interest, until I realised it was becoming a book. Most of the skull material has since been taken out, as the book headed in other directions, but that was the original inspiration. I never did end up practicing as a crystal therapist, and I believe now that the only reason I did that course was so that I would write the book.
YVONNE: What is the title of your book? Give us the basic story line so we’ll know what it’s about.
JUNE: The book is called Genesis of Man, and subtitled the answer to life, the universe and everything in between. I chose the subtitle for 2 reasons – firstly because the book does include such a vast array of different subjects, on life, the universe and everything in between, but also as a play on the themes of light and dark; the everything in between can also then be seen as a metaphor for the neutral space between the light and dark that brings the ultimate balance. It is best described though as a book of spiritual history. By this I mean the history of our planet, written from a spiritual or esoteric perspective.
The information is divided into four different sections, each of which comprises a number of different chapters. Part one covers the period from 35 million to 1 million years ago, roughly the time of Lemuria. It mentions among other things, the Nephilim, the origins of Mesopotamian civilization, Ascended Masters, the concept of reincarnation, and the game of polarity integration. This is the age old battle between the light and dark forces and how we can use these to help us grow and evolve.
Part two is about the lost continent of Lemuria and her various colonies, including
Part three is about various arms of the Great White Brotherhood - the earthly branch of Ascended Masters. These various branches included the Knights Templar, Cathars and Essenes as well as the so called heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten's mystery school.
This brings me neatly to part four - my own personal favourite, where I talk about the origins of Christianity and its Gnostic roots, and the similarities between Gnosticism and modern spirituality, which are essentially the same thing. I also talk in depth about the life and times of Jesus - was Mary really a virgin, where did the birth take place, the meaning behind the 3 wise men and their gifts, the Disciples and their role, was he married to Mary Magdalene, did they have children, did he die on the cross or in India?
This book then contains an awful lot of information, collated from various sources and placed into chronological sequence in a kind of time frame. The aim was to bring about a fusion of religious, spiritual and scientific thought, in order to demonstrate that the three can and indeed do, compliment each other.
YVONNE: Is this the first book you have written?
JUNE: Yes, it is the first I have written, but hopefully not the last. I have plans to start writing a second book about my experiences of self publishing, but at the moment this is lonely in the early planning stages.
YVONNE: How long did it take to write this book?
JUNE: It took a total of around five years from start to finish. For the first two years I wrote more or less full time, until I developed a bad case of writers block, and returned to work. My partner also became seriously ill with an acute case of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and so for over a year I did not have much time to write at all, since he was unable to work. I left my job at the end of August 2005, when it became obvious that if I didn’t the book would not get finished. I did a complete rewrite in less than 5 months and finally completed it just before Christmas 2005.
In May 2007, in response to feedback from both readers and reviewers, I launched a second updated edition with brand new cover and added text. This is where POD really came into its own, since it is so easy and inexpensive to do this, with the minimum of fuss and bother.
YVONNE: How did you publish your book?
JUNE: Initially, I tried the usual routes of agents and publishers, but to no avail. Many of them liked my work, but it was ‘not quite right for their lists’. I then decided to self publish. After exploring my options, and debating on short print run versus print on demand, I chose a small print on demand publisher in Bedfordshire (southern
YVONNE: Did you work with an agent? If so, how did you find the agent?
JUNE: No, I do not have an agent, but should one come knocking on my door, I would be more than willing to talk ….
YVONNE: Where is your book(s) available? Do you have a Web site or blog where we can learn more about you or your book?
JUNE: The book is available in both Europe and North America via the usual wholesalers and distributors (Bertrams and Gardners in the UK, Ingrams and Baker and Taylor in the US) and available to order from any good store via the ISBN, which is 978-07552-02362. The book is also available from amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.com or direct from the publisher at www.authorsonline.co.uk I also sell signed copies via my own website at www.juneaustin.co.uk
YVONNE: As far as marketing, do you do more online publicity or print/radio/TV promotion?
JUNE: I try to do a mixture of all three. One of the difficulties though of POD is that it cannot accommodate the practice of sending out advance review copies, which is usually done 6-8 months ahead of publication. This means that with POD books it takes this long in order to generate much publicity at all, other than online.
I have been very lucky though in that the book has received some excellent reviews (which were brilliantly timed to coincide with the launch of the updated edition in May 2007). One in particular, in The Self Publishing Magazine, compared it as the opposite to Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion. They went on to say that the book would be ideal as companion to students of philosophy and social sciences.
My publisher in fact had such faith in my work that in August 2007, they asked
YVONNE: Have you hired a publicist to help promote this book? Have you worked with a publicist on any of your books?
JUNE: I do not have a publicist as such, but one of Richard’s (owner and editor of Authors OnLine Ltd) other authors, who was particularly successful with his book, does have many useful contacts, and offers help to some authors, myself included, on an informal basis.
YVONNE: Any other comments or things you would like for us to know?
JUNE: Self publishing is definitely not the faint hearted, or the shy and retiring. You also have to have your wits about to read between the lines and see through the hype that some of the less scrupulous operators will try and tempt you with. There is also the vanity stigma to contend with, not to mention problems with the supply chain. Things though are slowly changing, more quickly I feel in the UK than the US, where POD is becoming more mainstream and even the larger publishers are now embracing this technology to bring slow selling classics back into print.
As well as my website, I also keep two blogs. My personal one, Podding Along Nicely details my experiences, trials and tribulations with self publishing. My other one, Conversations with POD aims to help other POD authors publicize their works through a series of interviews (a bit like this one) or Conversations with POD. Authors are asked to answer a series of questions and send me a jpeg of their book cover (no larger than 100 MB) together with basic information – book and authors names, publisher details, price (in £ sterling), genre and price, together with ISBN. All books are eligible to be included, as long as they are issued via print on demand and available to buy in the