Monday, August 19, 2013

Hard Work & Luck

I’ve seen various articles recently about the rise and fall of the e-book, and the return to the top of the pyramid of traditionally published books. Each article presents a reasonable and credible discussion on the merits of each process, and for indie authors of a nervous disposition it means the end is nigh! Apart from the famous and the infamous, to be a successful writer you need a massive slice of luck, and there’s nothing truer than that old saying: luck is when opportunity and preparation come together. How often have you heard someone say that it’s taken them twenty or so years to become an overnight success? And one famous golfer said that the more he practices, the luckier he gets. Napoleon once said ‘I don’t want good generals, I want lucky generals’. But if the luck comes your way, you need to sustain it with a quality product, and for a writer that means talent. I can honestly say that I have never been taught to write: all that happened was that I studied English language from junior school up through senior school, which helped me with my spelling, my grammar and also, if ever I needed it, how to summarise. But probably the one thing that has been a constant guide and a hard learning curve has been rejection. That more than anything helps a writer to produce a story that might be acceptable to a publisher, but it doesn’t teach a writer to write. When my first book was published in 1980 (NORTH SLOPE), it sold 2000 copies in its first year. It didn’t go into paperback, and the following year my publisher dropped me. This was another rejection of course. I published that title last year on Amazon and sold something like 6000 copies in less than six months. But I was riding on the Amazon Kindle revolution which has dropped off dramatically now, and so have my sales. The luck was with me then and I hope it continues, but I have to admit that I’m still working on it, still writing and still trying to promote and market my work. So as the e-book market drops away and it is, believe me, I am back in a parallel, literary world to the one I have inhabited for most of the last thirty years, fighting for recognition. But the big guns are fighting back and restoring the publishing pyramid: big boys on top, bottom feeders at bottom. The difference now of course is that success is down to me and will come depending on how hard I work and how lucky I become. Wish me luck!

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