Becoming A ‘Successful’ Author (What Are My Chances?)

You’re going to write a book one day, you say? Just one?

Manuscript on typewriter machine

Few people marry their high school sweethearts, and few authors publish their first novels. I suppose that’s changing now that self-publishing makes it easy to bypass those pesky gatekeepers (agents, editors, publishers) that keep amateur first-time works off the shelves. But it shouldn’t. No matter how easy it is to publish, or how tempting, first novels should seldom be published ones.  At least until they have been re-written and revised so many times they really qualify as first, second and third novels!

I learned to write by writing–then discarding–my first four novels. If not for that experience, I would not be publishing BLOOD TOY this June. If not for scrapping them and starting over, not once, not twice, but three times…. If not for all the half-finished ghost stories, random chapters of epic fantasy, and even one non-fiction novel I wrote in between…. If not for all that writing, I would not be ready now for even some of it to see the light of day.  Writing a lot of crap I will never publish got me here, on the cusp of launching BLOOD TOY and three more in the series over the next three years. Writing for no one but myself.

Kristen Lamb says in this blog, “Writers can work years without any hint of outside approval. Most people can’t sustain this and they give up.”  So what does it take to be successful? Well, innate talent will only get you so far. It takes perseverance.  Which doesn’t just mean to keep trying to sell that first book until you do.  It means writing another. And another.  And three more after that.  You must to be willing to work your *ss off learning the rules of your craft, then keep working your *ss off until the world takes notice.

Will I be successful? Probably. Right out of gate when I publish BLOOD TOY? Not likely.  I figure people will start buying the damned thing just about the time the series is done and I am on to the next. But in ten or fifteen years, about the time I plan to quit my day job and do this full time? Hell, yes.

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