Welcome to What’s Good to Read, and welcome to our author interviews!
Today we are talking to Ben Jackson and Sam Lawrence, a husband and wife team, who are authors who write books for children and middle grade readers. They write their books together and have written the Hockey Wars series, Softball Strikeout series, My Little Fart series and their newest titles are Ghosts Can’t Play Hockey and Trevor Takes Flight.
FAVOURITE BOOK: Any Lee Child/Jack Reacher Book
FAVOURITE AUTHOR: Lee Child, Wilbur Smith, Vince Flynn
FAVOURITE FOOD/MEAL: Sunday Roast Dinner
FAVOURITE ANIMAL: Squirrel
FAVOURITE MOVIE: Gone In 60 Seconds
CELEBRITY CRUSH: Ryan Reynolds
If you could start by introducing yourself to everyone, let them know where you’re from and some of your interests and hobbies.
Hi, my name is Ben Jackson, and together with my wife Sam Lawrence we self-publish children’s books. We also own and operate two self-publishing companies, Author Services Australia, and Indie Publishing Group.
We enjoy traveling and spend time in both Canada and Australia each year.
What inspired you to start writing?
We sort of fell into it. At the time, my wife was working as a project manager for a self-publishing company. We started to understand the process a little more, so decided to self-publish our own books. Our first successful children’s book was The Day My Fart Followed Me Home.
What is your preferred genre to write in?
100% children’s books and children’s chapter books. However, we have been investigating transitioning into some YA books. That’s possibly coming in the future once we clear some of the half-finished titles we have stacked up.
What is your writing process?
We both plan the general idea, and then Sam sits down and writes more of a detailed chapter outline. I then take the outline and write the book. As I write, she gives me feedback on anything she loves, likes, or hates.
What was the hardest part of getting published?
Getting over the fact that if we wanted to put out the best product possible, we would need to invest some money back into our books. While it’s great to try and do everything yourself, we’re not professional editors or graphic designers and illustrators, so paying professionals to do some aspects is a great investment.
If you had to start over, would you still follow a writing career?
Of course, although I would avoid some of the mistakes we made at the beginning.
When did you first get published and what was it?
One of the first books that we published was How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. Zombie shows were popular at the time, so we thought we’d do a semi-serious zombie survival book. It was our first semi-successful book and helped to fund some of our other ideas.
How long does is generally take you to write a book?
Lol, if I sat down and wrote all day, and only worked on one chapter book, I could probably get a 20k-word 1st draft completed in 2 weeks. In reality, I normally get a book finished every 2-3 months. Depends how much Sam cracks the whip!
Which book is your favourite and why?
The Day My Fart Followed Me Home. We just winged it so hard with every aspect of this book and the success it achieved really allowed us to understand how seriously we could take self-publishing.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Lee Child, Wilbur Smith, Vince Flynn, and James A Michener.
How do you handle a bad review?
Badly, lol but it depends on the review.
Some reviews are just nonsense. The fact that some people either failed to understand what they were buying or the genre, and still took the time to leave a negative review is annoying, but it doesn’t bother me.
If there’s something constructive to take from a bad review, then I can live with that.
What’s next for you as an author?
Write some more books and expand into different genres. A lot of our children’s books are focussed on ice hockey, so it would be nice to look at different sports.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Doing the same thing we’re doing now but hopefully selling some more books, making more money, and doing less work.
Do you always write with your partner?
I do the bulk of the writing, but she’s there from the start to finish. Sam also takes over once I finish writing and handles the illustrations, cover design, and formatting. Once the book is published, I do a lot of marketing stuff like looking for reviewers and author features and she makes a lot of the social media posts.
Do you prefer writing books for children rather than teens or adults?
Right now, yes, but we’re looking at expanding into YA books in the future.
Sports feature a lot in your books, are you a sporty person?
I’m not at all. I played field hockey growing up in Australia and cricket. Sam is the sporty one, she played every sport possible and was very good at ice hockey.
My favourite one of your titles is Don’t Fart in the Pool (I clearly have a juvenile sense of humour), why did you write a series of books about farts?
They started out as a joke and the rest is history. Don’t Fart In the Pool is one of my favourite books too! You have a good sense of humour and excellent taste in books LOL!
Is there anything extra that you would like to add?
No, but thank you for the opportunity to do an author interview!
I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Ben Jackson and Sam Lawrence for doing this interview and for writing great children’s books.
You can find all of Ben and Sam’s books on Amazon. If you want to find out more or keep up to date with Ben and Sam, visit their website www.benandsamauthors.com and find them on your favourite social media sites: Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.