Recently, I reviewed Six Added Minutes and was able to interview the author Johnnie Lowery, who is currently studying economics at Warwick. His book shares his experience of following his favourite football club, Sutton United, ever since he was young. Publishing a novel as a student is certainly an achievement, so we discuss the process of publishing and any difficulties he faced along the way.
1- What made you want to write a book? Recounts of the match could have easily gone up in blog form – so why a book?
“There was just so much to recount! I started to write it after exams at the end of my first year at university, so I had a lot of time on my hands and fancied a project I could commit to and work on throughout the summer. A lot of people I’ve drunkenly told the stories to over the last few years have said I should look to write them all down, and the friends I’ve got from Sutton have said it would be a good idea too – so I thought I might as well give it a go.”
2- It’s impressive that you’ve managed to publish a book at quite a young age, how did you go about it?
“When I started writing it, I actually had no particular intention of looking to get it published – it was really just something to do. After actually finishing it though, looking for a publisher became a natural next step, I suppose. I found a publisher for it within a couple of weeks of starting to look, which was obviously ideal, and then it was just sorting out the final details from there. I’d always been very organised with it and everything went perfectly, but it was still weird actually seeing the book in printed form for the first time.”
3- Did you experience any difficulties with publishing?
“The process was surprisingly smooth once I’d found a publisher – Goldenford was excellent with everything. The hardest part was probably trying to get everything ready in time for a perfect book launch. We were aiming for the weekend of an FA Cup match, but couldn’t hit the deadline for the first round, and by the time the next round came about Sutton had been knocked out! We still managed to set up a launch on a match day in the league though, which was pretty successful, so I can’t have any complaints in the end.”
4- Can you share any tips you have for budding student writers?
“Set some time aside regularly to write, and stick with what you are writing. If you’re working on something you enjoy it will come naturally, and whether you’re successful in having it published or not, it still will have been well worth your time.”
5- Has lockdown and coronavirus etc affected you in terms of getting your book noticed?
“It’s certainly not ideal, as our marketing budget is minimal and most of the exposure the book gets is through events such as book fairs and book signings. I was even meant to be doing a few shifts as a speaker at business events, which would have been fantastic, but obviously none of that is possible now. There’s only so much you can do on social media, so even though I’ve been trying hard we’re a little bit stuck as far as marketing goes at the minute. The book is available online though, so make sure you have a look!”