He took time out of his busy schedule of working on his next project to talk to me.
Hey Jon, thanks for taking the time out to speak to me. So what are you working on right now?
Hi Steven, thanks for having me on your blog! Right now I'm working on novel number five. It's a romantic comedy set in London. That's all I can say at the moment. It's really my first romantic comedy novel and I'm very excited about it. People sort of pop me in the Rom Com genre, but I don't think I've actually written a straight up Rom Com before. All of my other books were about relationships that were already existing or family while for this book I wanted to write a 'classic' romantic comedy. It's actually been a lot of fun!
A Notting Hill Christmas is your most recent published work. How has the book been doing and what can readers thinking about picking up a copy expect?
You have made that elusive transition from self-published author to author with an agent and a book deal. Is the grass greener on the other side or are you a bit like Del-boy from Only Fools & Horses who misses the chase after he made his millions?
I've actually been there and back again. My first two novels got picked up by Hodder and Stoughton and on the back of that I got an agent. However, Sunday Dinners didn't find a publisher and I self-published that on my own. I really think we're in a world now when you can do both and it can work. Sunday Dinners has done really well and that is all down to me and I have to say, it's a great feeling. However, saying that I will be looking for a publisher for my new novel and so going forward I'll probably end up doing a bit of both.
This Thirtysomething Life was the book that put you on the map when it became a Kindle best seller. Has anything else come quite as close (professionally speaking) to the feeling you got watching that book climb the charts?
Probably not. The first one is always the best. I think because I really didn't expect This Thirtysomething Life to do so well, the whole thing felt a bit dream like. This is going to be a horrible thing to say and will annoy lots of other indie authors, but I didn't really do very much for This Thirtysomething Life. I didn't market it very well, do lots of interviews and work with bloggers to get reviews. It just took off and I have no idea why. So as I watched it climb the charts and eventually reach number 7 on the Kindle chart, I was just in complete and utter amazement. It was definitely one of the highlights of my writing career. That and signing my book deal, getting the first paperback from Hodder HQ in London, and also the success of Sunday Dinners.
What do you think it was that caught people's attention with that book and what sort of advice would you give to an indie author trying to climb that ladder today?
Like I said, I really have no idea why it did so well. There's so many things that have to happen for a book to do well in the charts. You need to write a decent book, but after that it's all about timing, luck, and getting momentum. I think the last one is key. Momentum. The way the Amazon charts work is that you need to get visible. Visibility is everything. You need to get your book attached to as many bestselling, popular authors as possible and then you get momentum. When This Thirtysomething Life and to a slightly lesser extent Sunday Dinners were doing well, I wasn't doing anything because they had momentum. Once a book gets high enough in the charts it starts to sell itself. Plus once books start doing well Amazon will promote you for free. I suppose it's a giant Catch-22. You need to do well to do better and the better you do the more promotion and visibility you will get. It's super hard for first time authors because no-one knows who you are. It's why you need to have a huge online presence, get to know book bloggers, get your work read and reviewed as much as possible. I think the best advice I can give to first time authors is don't expect to make any money. Charge 99p because you want as many reviews as possible. Offer your book to as many bloggers and reviewers for free as possible and use the first book as a way to get your name out there. And don't be afraid to ask other authors for help. I've met so many lovely people and most authors will help you out if they can. It's about getting your work read and if it's good enough you will get the rewards.
One question I love to ask authors is out of all the books you have now written, who is your favourite character and why?
Probably Harry Spencer from This Thirtysomething Life and the sequel This Family Life. When I wrote those books the character of Harry was based very loosely on me. He's far more gullible, stupid and gets in far more trouble than me, but what I love about Harry is that he always tries to do the right thing. He's a fighter. He just wants an easy life, but the harder he tries the more he seems to cock everything up.
You are part of a growing number of successful UK male authors writing romantic comedy from the male perspective. Will lad lit become as big as chick lit one day?
I don't think so simply because the majority of readers are women. One of my biggest and luckiest breaks was working with an amazing and lovely editor at Hodder. We became good friends and still are. One of the first things she told me was that most of my readers were women. It made me realise that I wasn't writing books for blokes like me, but women, who were not like me at all. You have to take this into account when writing. I don't think lad-lit really exists because not enough men read it. This is why it's so hard for men to tackle the world of romantic comedies. We're at a disadvantage going in. There's also a lot more women writing in this genre than men. But that doesn't mean a handful of men can't be successful.
Ever thought about trying your hand at a different genre and if so, what would it be?
I have and I might write something in a slightly different genre. I don't think I'd ever tackle thrillers because that's just not my thing. Despite the fact they sell infinitely more copies than romantic comedies, I just wouldn't be very good at it. I've thought about writing a children's book and that might happen one day. I have an idea I'm working on at the moment that's a bit different, so I'll see how that goes.
Come on Steven that's not even a question. Le Tissier of course. The most talented player of his generation. It's unfortunate he isn't playing now because England could use some of that magic!
And finally, and I have saved the best question til last - you state in your 'About Me' section on your website that Three Lions is the best football song ever made, when quite clearly World in Motion is the number one footy anthem. Please explain yourself?
They're both great songs. I love World in Motion and the John Barnes rap is a thing of beauty. I also love New Order so it should be my favourite. "Some of the crowd are on the pitch" - brilliant. But the reason I chose Three Lions is that EURO 96 in England holds a special place in my heart. It was in the 90's the time of Oasis, Blur, Gazza, TFI Friday, and then we had EURO 96. I was 21, the pubs were packed for every game and that song was sung around England. It became like a National Anthem. So it's more about what that means to me than the quality of the song. Although it is a cracking song! "Thirty years of hurt, never stopped me dreaming! England! England! England!" Come on, Steven, you know it makes sense. At least I didn't go for Fat Les and Vindaloo!
Find out more about Jon Rance at his website and but his books at Amazon and all good book retailers.