I have an admission to make: my name is Dougie Brimson and I am a professional author. That isn’t as an introduction to some kind of warped writers anonymous group it’s a statement of fact.
I mention it because the other day someone asked me what motivates me to write and having thought about it at length, the one thought that keeps entering my head is ‘what a stupid fucking question!’ Let’s get this clear once and for all; I write for two reasons: 1. I’m a lazy bastard who likes sitting down all day and 2. I need to make money to facilitate item 1.
That seems fair enough to me but for some strange reason it doesn’t seem to sit well with the literati. For them, the very idea of a writer admitting to being motivated by income rather than some holier-than-thou desire to ‘create’ is almost akin to admitting a being a Tory and having a fondness for Margret Thatcher. Mind you, both of those are true of me too.
I have never really understood this thinking. After all, writing isn’t just bloody hard work it takes an awful lot of time and effort so if you’re going to do it, surely the aim must be to get published? But you will only get published if there is potential to sell copies and if you sell copies, you make money. That’s why it’s called the publishing business.
Yet for some reason, if you approach the process by looking at the market and giving it what it actually wants as opposed to what some publisher thinks it should have you are regarded almost as some kind of traitor to the art form. Believe me, I’ve met people who work in publishing who genuinely seem to consider being popular as something to be ashamed of.
Well sod that. I might never win the Booker prize or receive invites to the Hay festival but I know my market, I know what it wants and I’m happy to provide it with as much as I can and as often as I can. If the literary world doesn’t get that simple commercial reality then fuck them.
The reason why this is so relevant is because as some people are already aware, my 14th book will be released in a couple of weeks. The subject matter will remain a secret for reasons which will become obvious in the fullness of time but what I will say is that this book will see a couple of firsts one of which is extremely significant. For this will be the first book I have written solely as an eBook.
There are numerous reasons why I have gone this route ranging from being able to choose the subject matter through to being directly involved with the PR but one of the main ones has to do with money. You see what a lot of people don’t understand is that when a book sells in WH Smiths, it can be anywhere up to 18 months before the author receives his meagre percentage of the cover price. For an eBook, it’s in the bank within 3 months and more importantly, even though eBooks are significantly cheaper than paperbacks, that royalty is higher. As a professional writer, that’s significant because at the end of the day, whilst I’ve sold plenty of books I’m not JK Rowling or Jeffrey Archer and I don’t get offered 6 figure advances. My income is generated solely by sales and I have to eat.
Don’t get me wrong, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I appreciate every single email, tweet, letter or comment I receive about my writing and when it comes to motivation, nothing works as much as praise. But I also appreciate the income that my work generates if for no other reason than it buys me time, and food. So anything I can do to increase that income has to be a good thing.
The irony is that for someone like me who continues to sell books, by stepping away from the traditional publishing route I’m actually taking work away from the very people who have for years been in control of my career.
I get no pleasure from that but at the end of the day, going the eBook route might not win me any friends in publishing but no editor would work for nothing and I’ll be buggered if I’m going to either.
Note: I first wrote this blog over a year ago when my epublishing career was only just beginning but since that point my novel The Crew has comfortably held the #1 slot on its chart on both Amazon and iTunes and was the most downloaded football book of 2012. Additionally, on most weeks at least 7 of the top 50 football books on iTunes are my titles and I’ve also released two further books including my 15th and latest, Wings of a Sparrow which is also selling well. In short… indie publishing works for me.
Yet this is in spite of the fact that publicity remains an elusive beast. Indeed, I have found it incredibly difficult to obtain any mainstream coverage for my work which is both irritating and frustrating in equal measures. Yes, there is obviously the ‘hooligan’ tag to overcome which is clearly and understandably an issue with some people but the fact remains, there is a market for the type of books I write and thankfully, that market seems to like what I’m providing for them.
So rest assured, as long as people keep buying them, I’ll keep writing them because to me, the reader is and always will be the most important person in the whole process. Which is kind of the point of the original article.