How did you get into writing?
I started writing for websites like musicOMH and some obscure ones before I began contributing to Fireworks, a fantastic magazine run by serious rock enthusiasts which I wrote for until 2013 when I decided to concentrate my full attention on books. I also began contributing to Powerplay around that time and later penned some bits for Big Cheese, Record Collector, Rock Sound and several rock websites. In full, my reviews, articles and interviews on rock music and pop culture have been published in The Guardian, Classic Rock Presents AOR, Classic Rock Presents Let It Rock, Rock Sound, Record Collector, Big Cheese, Powerplay, Fireworks, MediaMagazine, Rocktopia.co.uk, GetReadyToRock.com, Lucemfero.com, musicOMH.com, Ghostcultmag.com, DrownedInSound.com, BBCNewsOnline.co.uk, Carling.com, Unbarred.co.uk and Planet Sound on Channel4's Teletext service.
How did you get your first book published?
When I started writing for Fireworks and Powerplay I had built up a list of contacts, mostly consisting of writers and PR agents. I knew I wanted to write a rock book and was a big fan of Judas Priest. At the time I actually decided to write a book, Priest had just reformed. I asked revered metal author Joel McIver for some advice on how to go about pitching my proposal for a biography of Judas Priest to publishers. He was extremely helpful and friendly and even gave me the email address for the Commissioning Editor at Omnibus Press, Chris Charlesworth. After several months of waiting, Omnibus Press commissioned the proposal and I began researching and writing my first book, The Story Of Judas Priest – Defenders Of The Faith. That set the ball rolling. I have since written books on Pantera, AC/DC, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi, Journey, Linkin Park, You Me At Six and UFO. As well as those commercial biogs I have had published a number of Createspace collections featuring hundreds of my interviews, reviews and articles.
Do you have an Agent?
No, though I have worked with an agent. Prior to 2010 I had never worked with an agent. I got all my book deals through sheer hard work and good fortune and timing. Most book deals happen through good luck, perfect timing and persistence. In 2010, I came in contact with Matthew Hamilton at Aitken Alexander Associates (again, courtesy of the always affable Joel McIver) and discussed my idea for a biography of Journey as well as other projects. It just so happened that Matthew is a huge Journey fan and AOR enthusiast. Don't Stop Believin' – The Untold Story Of Journey was the first (and so far the only) book of mine that I had worked on with a Literary Agent.
Do you make a living from writing?
The short answer to that is: No. I don't make a great deal of money from writing; not enough to live off, anyway. I have made only a few quid from writing for magazines here and there. When I first started writing for publications that paid their contributors I was shocked at how poor the contributors' fees were/are. The money I make from books supplements the income from my day job. I don't think I'd like writing about music for a living, I think I'd get bored. I like the security of a job; the benefits, paid holidays, a monthly wage, etc. I used to entertain the fantasy that one day I'd be a full-time writer, but that idea is now out of my head. Book advances have stalled and even shrank; it's harder to get book deals, and magazine work is shrinking and fees are very low. It's a tough time and it will get tougher. Don't be a writer for the money because there is none. Be a writer because you want to writer. The market for these types of books is shrinking.
Do you still write for any magazines?
Not anymore. All my free time is spent working on books; both commercial releases and self-published/print on demand titles. Having said that I'd like to write for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazines; it's a bit of an ambition of mine to be honest. My aim is to continue to write commercial biographies of rock/metal bands and fill in the gaps with more Createspace collections before writing Createspace books on bands that "real" publishers are not interested in.
How do you promote your books?
I spend an awful lot of time doing email interviews and chasing up reviews. I also have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr accounts and obviously this Blog. This is the hardest part of the "job" in many ways. Although reviews – good or bad – don't necessarily mean high sales. I have also paid for ads to be published in magazines and have had flash banners advertised on rock websites. It's very time-consuming but worthwhile. Over the years I have acquired an extensive list of contacts which has come in handy for promoting my POD books.
What is POD publishing?
POD and self-publishing are not the same concepts. With self-publishing you basically do everything yourself from having the cover designed, to getting the text correctly formatted/typeset and buying the ISBN and finding a printing company, etc. How many copies do you wanted printed and where will you store them? How many do you think you will sell? What about pre-orders? If it's a massive 600 page tome, postage will be high so will it sell to readers living abroad? Think about all those trips to the post office! Of course, you have to pay for all this yourself. There is a lot of legwork involved. But with POD you just need to locate a publisher for your book such as Lulu in the States or AuthorsOnline here in the UK, which is the company I went for; publishing is free. You do have to pay for their services, however. It all depends on what you want in your package and there are several to choose from: I went for the cheapest option, which included an ISBN, a copy sent to the British library, website presence on Amazon, Book Depository, etc., because I knew a designer who could design the cover and format the text; if you want the POD company to do all that then the price of their services goes up. It can run into several hundred pounds. Hopefully all this make sense to you? If not, send me an email! Do your research and you will be fine! I don't regret it at all. In fact, I am aiming to publish more books via POD. It's the way the industry is going. In 2013 I shifted my four AuthorsOnline books over to Createspace and now publish all my POD books via the high-profile Amazon POD company. It's totally free. My All Pens Blazing books were reprinted and published as Rock 'N' Roll Sinners and Rock 'N' Roll Mercenaries Volumes I & II were reprinted and published in the tome, Hard Rock Rebels – Taking With Rock Stars.
Why did you publish some of your books via POD?
I work really hard trying to get book deals and one reason why I went into POD was because I had ideas publishers that didn't care for. I like the idea of publishing smaller books through POD and working on bigger ideas with commercial publishers. The biggest selling POD titles as far as I'm aware are all non-fiction. You are dealing with a specific market and aiming your book at a target audience – probably a niche audience – which helps enormously with promotion. With a novel, you really need to get it into the book stores – Waterstone's and/or WH Smiths here in the UK, for example – and novels are notoriously difficult to sell to booktraders. I've heard stories of authors, self-published ones, making thousands from self-publishing their own novels but you have to wonder how much time they spent on promoting their titles and how much time they could have spent writing their next book. Indeed, how much time had they given up and how much work had they neglected? Personally, I think you can only do so much promotion before you should really start working on your next book. Building up a back catalogue is important, certainly with non-fiction. Your share of the royalties is significantly higher than the share you'd get with a commercial publisher which is usually less than 10 percent. POD can be as high as 60 percent; perhaps more or slightly less, depending on the company. Dave Thompson is the man to watch – he writes so much and his books come out in all sorts of ways. The same can be said of Martin Popoff. They're creating a legacy and adding something to history however small it might be.
Are your books published as eBooks?
Not all of them, but some... All my print on demand books are available to buy either in paperback format or as eBooks. Click on the individual titles in the 'BibliographY' section for further info or visit the publishers' website. Or simply click on 'eBooks' and/or 'Createspace Books' on this website. Both the All Pens Blazing and Rock 'N' Roll Mercenaries series' are published by AuthorsOnline but are now out of print. My All Pens Blazing books were reprinted and published as Rock 'N' Roll Sinners and Rock 'N' Roll Mercenaries Volumes I & II were reprinted and published in the hefty 400+ page tome, Hard Rock Rebels – Taking With Rock Stars. All my POD books are published by Createspace and are available to buy on Amazon. Some of my commercial music titles are also available as eBooks. See the eBooks page for further information.
Who are your writing influences?
Lots and lots. In no particular order, some of them include: Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Alan Moore, Harlan Ellison, Clive James, Martin Popoff, Mick Wall, Dave Thompson, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, J. Michael Straczynski, Neil Strauss, Stephen Davis, Neil Gaiman, Dennis Lehane, John Connolly and Kim Newman, and so many more.
What is the difference between an unofficial book and an official one?
I think official books tend to be subjective and sanitized version of events; almost like extended press releases, unless of course you're Mötley Crüe in which case you don't care about telling all. Most bands don't like that level of honesty. Unofficial books are often criticised by fans but in truth they can be/have the potential to be definitive accounts; objective, honest and well-researched. It's an endless debate....
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don't do it for the money because there is none. Do it because you want to do it. It's hard and very time-consuming but also extremely rewarding and a lot of fun. Start by contributing to websites or even create your own and build up a list of contacts; from there you will start to get noticed. Be able to take criticism. Be friendly. It can be tough getting knocked back but try to be friendly at all times. If you work hard you will be rewarded in the long run but it will take time and energy. Lots of time and energy.
Where can I find you on social media?
Here are the links for my writing: Blog - http://neildanielsbooks.wordpress.com / Twitter - http://twitter.com/NeilDanielsBks / LinkedIn - https://uk.linkedin.com/in/neil-daniels-books-9b7a5b42 / Tumblr - https://twitter.com/NeilDanielsBks
For my online reselling: Blog - https://otherrealmscollectibles.wordpress.com / eBay - http://stores.ebay.co.uk/otherrealmscollectibles / Amazon - https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aag/main/ref=olp_merch_name_4?ie=UTF8&asin=B013GMNN8Y&isAmazonFulfilled=1&seller=A20WM3YMHHYSZO
How can I contact you?