This article is the third in a series that catches up with the finalists from last year’s BookLife Prize.

Ian Andrew won the 2017 BookLife Prize for his thriller Face Value, which received praise from BookLife Prize judge and author Mark Dawson, who said, “With taut writing, bone-crushing action, and a pace that never relents, this was a difficult read to put down and a worthy winner.”

The novel, the first installment in the Wright Tran series, follows the adventures two former military intelligence officers turned private investigators. Andrew, a former intelligence officer himself, also runs The Book Reality Experience, a company dedicated to helping independent authors publish their books.

We caught up with Andrew to talk about his next project, the importance of professionalism, and the advice he has for aspiring indie authors.

What has happened as a result of you winning the 2017 BL Prize?

Although I was approached by a couple of L.A.-based agencies regarding the acquisition of tv and film rights for Face Value, nothing concrete has resulted yet.

This last year has been mostly focused on expanding my publishing service for independent authors and whilst the growth of that has been great, it has certainly encroached on my own writing time.

I have also squeezed in a number of appearances at writing festivals in the U.K. and Australia. Although those appearances were already in the pipeline prior to the award, when I was on the festival stages next to some very established traditionally published authors, like Louise Penny, I felt validated in a way that I hadn’t before. To have an award backed by Booklife and Publishers Weekly somehow gives independent authors a very public endorsement that says, yes, our work is as good as traditionally published work. We have stories to tell and they are just as valid as anything released by the big companies.

What are you working on now?

I have a contract to ghostwrite a series of techno-thrillers. I am also preparing the first draft of the fourth in the Wright Tran series.

What’s one tip that you have for other indie authors?

Be as professional as you can be. Treat yourself and your writing seriously. Mostly, the difference between “indie” and “traditional” authors is luck. Given a semblance of writing proficiency, the traditional author has simply been lucky enough to have been spotted. So, if you are an indie, hold your head up high and say it. Readers don’t care (and usually don’t know) who published the book they are reading. All they care is that it is a good story. Indies can and do tell good stories.