Nemo James worked as a professional musician, singer and songwriter for more than 30 years. His autobiography Just A Few Seconds, A Story from the Hidden World of Music and Beyond, was published in February 2011 and is available from Amazon together with three of his albums. He now lives near Dubrovnik in Croatia. To give any more details would spoil the suspense of his story.
Website & Blog: www.nemojames.com
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Nemo. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
A: I have had many publishing contracts of all shapes and sizes for my songs and instrumentals but this is the first time I have published a book.
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
A: Just a Few Seconds.
Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
A: I have not even tried to find a mainstream publisher for Just a Few Seconds. My experience in the past has been that getting a publishing or record deal is like winning first prize in a lottery where the prize is a ticket for another lottery. I knew there was no chance of an unknown musician getting a decent publishing deal for an autobiography so having a lot of experience in I.T. and self promotion I had no hesitation in self publishing.
Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
A: Rejections are like playground bullies. At first they frightened me but after a while I learnt that you just need to give them a good slap and they don’t bother you any more. Self doubt is the only rejection that can do a writer any serious damage. Self doubt is the Mike Tyson of playground bullies and let’s face it, if Mike Tyson is threatening you you have a choice of changing schools or preparing yourself to be used as a punch bag.
Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
A: My first book Just a Few Seconds is entirely self published and I am proud of that fact having done the whole thing myself. I chose me because I am the only person I know that will give it 100% and I won’t complain if I miss a deadline due to the fishing being good.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
A: Relief that after 22 drafts it was finally finished and I could start my next book. I will celebrate when I received a big fat advance from a mainstream publisher or I sell my first 10,000 copies.
Q: What was the first thing you did for promotion when you were published for the first time?
A: I updated my website, created a blog and uploaded some videos to Youtube. I also sent out lots of books for reviews and was delighted with the response.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
A: In my case there was no other viable route to publication. I knew a couple of published authors that got their deals by spending half their lives networking but that is just not me. I am not much of a drinker, don’t play golf and look terrible in a low cut dress.
Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
A: The great thing about being self published is becoming multi published is guaranteed. Just hold a meeting and award yourself whatever terms you want. It’s brilliant and you don’t have to wait a year to get into print. As for growing as an author I seemed to have slipped into the same pattern as my songwriting where I just let the story or music write itself.
Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
A: I don’t believe there was anything I could have done to speed things up although if I had known self publishing was so easy these days I would have done it a lot sooner. All the mistakes I made were in my music career when I believed just having a record available was enough to make it sell. Even the most famous artists don’t sell unless they are promoted.
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
A: Getting a glowing review from one the UK’s top journalists Barrie Tracey. He has been a big fan of my music for many years and brutally honest of any writing I have shown him in the past. He said he only intended to flick through my book to get a general feel for it but ended by staying up until 4 a.m. to finish it. Getting compliments for my guitar playing from the general public was nice but it never meant much to me as I saw so many terrible guitarists getting the same compliments. Getting compliments from other guitarists was what really counted so when Barrie who won a lifetime award to journalism wrote to tell me After a lifetime in musical/showbiz surroundings with many ‘star’ category pals I could never understand why your music didn’t do the trick. Your literary talents are in the same league, I felt for the first time that I really had accomplished something I could be proud of.
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
A: I love a good argument so I always fancied myself as a lawyer like in my favorite program Boston Legal as long as I didn’t have to go to any sleepovers with elderly partners with mad cow’s disease. Also I would have to have been the kind of lawyer that only stands up and argues in court and doesn’t have to study loads of boring case notes. Alternatively I definitely could have been a professional big game fisherman but I don’t think there are many vacancies for that kind of job.
Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
A: At the risk of disappointing all my fans out there if someone offers me a job as a professional big game fisherman you won’t see me for dust.
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
A: In the tiny Mediterranean village where I live nothing ever changes so I expect to be sitting here typing away and dreaming about book awards or platinum music albums and wondering if there is a part for me in the movie adaptation of my latest book. And before you laugh, let me tell you that my rendition of Shylock in the school play was so good none of my mates would borrow money from me again.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
A: Being published is not the goal. Selling your books is the goal. Having a pile of your books in a book store might make you feel good for a couple of days but you won’t feel so good when you go back a week later and wonder if someone has glued them to the shelf. Keep that in mind and one day you might be as famous as me.