NeoLeaf: First of all, tell us about all the different things you do on top of your writing
Ben: Oh my! Beyond writing, I have a large variety of interests. I read of course, fiction mostly and generally science fiction, fantasy or horror themed. I design t-shirts, one of which Neil Gaiman has. I am also an art photographer, photo manipulator, and occasionally a digital illustrator. I usually do the makeup for my models, with it ranging from basic foundations to makeups that are more extreme. I run a networking website called Immortal Modeling that is for nontraditional models, photographers and makeup artists. Once in a while I do special effects makeup. For example, I once created a mold of my wife’s arm and painted the positive from the mold before mailing it off to Neil Gaiman, where it currently resides in his yard. Hmmm. Is that everything? I travel to Savannah, Georgia two to three times a year to spend time with friends and take in the energy of the place. Oh, and I also go an hour south of Savannah to a small town called Darien, where I canoe six miles upriver into the swamps with naught but a rifle, some fishing gear, a few gallons of clean water and my cell phone. I stay there for anywhere between a couple of days up to and beyond a week. I fish and I hunt in Iowa, and I go on fishing trips with friends to northern Ontario every few years. Is that all? Lol. Possibly, but regardless, it is already extensive.
NeoLeaf: Really cool! Out of everything you do, which is your favorite?
Ben: Other than being in Savannah, Georgia, probably the photo manipulation. I love modifying my photographs to create strange, twisted and unique images.
NeoLeaf: So, what got you started on writing?
Ben: Both of my parents like to write and so I guess it's in my blood? I've been writing for as long as I can remember. And I enjoy trying to create that magic in others that I feel when I read a story.
NeoLeaf: What process did you go through to get out your book?
Ben: I am terrible about rushing to get a project out, and this was no different. Properly putting a book out takes patience. After editing by Cassandra DenHartog, I went over it quickly a few more times, while also creating the cover. Then it was all about formatting for createspace.com, loading the cover and the formatted manuscript there with an ISBN and all the proper options chosen. I ordered a printed proof and had to wait for it! It was agony with my impatience. To help keep my mind off my rush for actual publication, I started going onto my social media pages to get the word out that the book was going to be coming out. I received the proof and went through it as carefully as my impatience would allow. I kept posting with updates on the anticipated release date and the cover image. Then I told createspace.com to push it on out to Amazon and once it was there I posted on all social media again with the Amazon link! The most difficult part, which took me months to figure out, was how to get images associated with the stories to stay centered when merging for Kindle. As a note, I use Open Office when not using Google Docs. It turned out that I needed to do some special formatting of the image associated with the paragraph. No text was involved as the image was a paragraph in and of itself. I centered that paragraph, and I finally had it out on Kindle and immediately posted to social media about the Kindle release with the link. It’s never over though as I still want to market it regularly through social media, by attending author signing events, doing interviews and trying to get positive reviews.
NeoLeaf: What's been your best tool for marketing your book? Do you think it's the networking or the reviews that have helped you the most?
Ben: I’m actually still working on this and learning. Currently I do most of my marketing through social media posts, networking connection posts and events. I have very few reviews so far, though I would like to have more and see how they affect interest in my work.
NeoLeaf: What would be your best advice to authors out there?
Ben: Never give up. It’s not an easy path, but with time and effort it is worth it. Always learn and evolve. Read books. Study their structure. Study a thesaurus. I am big on thesauruses. Not only does it expand a vocabulary and understanding of words, but it can help find alternate words in your writing that flow better than the word you were thinking. I use online dictionaries and thesauruses for easy access, but I also have copies of Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus and Roget’s International Thesaurus 7th Edition.
It’s amazing to see all the different talents that authors have and use. It can be certain that it takes an artistic brain to create a work of fiction. Just for fun, here’s pictures on the arm he created.
To learn more check out Ben Clayton's Art, Writing and Musings and LnC Art Studios