A write old life.

Dougie Brimson. Author, screenwriter, serial moaner.

I’m a mid-list author and I earn my living by writing books that sell. What’s wrong with that?

eBooks = future

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.


violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, bum,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.

10 comments on “I’m a mid-list author and I earn my living by writing books that sell. What’s wrong with that?

  1. Neil
    December 5, 2011

    Like a lot people i have to work to live, that’s why i am working class and proud of it. I enjoy Your writing, opinions and not least your choice of football club. So if i pay for your work thats my choice, not that of some person with their head stuck up their arse. Paper or via internet. As long as you write i will always enjoy your work. I for one make no appology for it. Long may Chairman Dougie continue.

  2. mottbook
    December 5, 2011

    Tell em’ dude.. Its the paycheck. I am an artist and author. Want something painted, you better have a lot of jack or I will just laugh and walk away..Also just put all my writing on e-Pubs. The printed versions take mostly all the money and the mailing systems get the rest…And don’t forget taxes. Everything we do is in WRITING!!!!

    • Dougie Brimson
      December 5, 2011

      The key word is professional. No one would ever question an actor or stand-up comic being paid to entertain so why should a writer be made to feel almost guilty?

      And to be honest, I spend months writing something only to throw it out to hope. So if I am fortunate enough to sell enough copies to earn a living, it means I’m doing something right!

      I’m certainly not going to apologise for that. Indeed, I’d actually accuse those who fuel this publishing elitism of failing the reader. Take Salman Rushdie as an example. The Satanic Verses is larged up as some great literary work, everyone has heard of it and he’s made millions from it but how many people do you know who have actually read it? Even the majority of those who started it regard it as almost unreadable. But does he attract criticism for anything? Does he bollocks.

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to sell books. If nothing else it keeps bloody publishers in business so maybe they should start to be a bit more supportive of the mid-list and a bit less ready to throw hundreds of thousands at a seemingly endless stream of tedious autobiographies.

  3. leemcgowan
    December 6, 2011

    If it was good enough for Anthony Trollope, its good enough for you, Doug.

    • Dougie Brimson
      December 6, 2011

      Hmmm……… a comparison with Trollope….. never had that before. I’ve had Shakespeare (and even Martina Cole) though! 😀

  4. Sue MacDonald
    April 5, 2012

    Yep …. as someone once said, ‘God doesn’t mail you a check from the sky’ and one has to eat …

  5. K. A. Jordan
    June 17, 2012

    Hi, met you on Goodreads today.

    I understand exactly where you are coming from – we need money to survive so there is nothing wrong to want to get paid for what we do.

    I haven’t got any backlist – both my books started out as e-books. One’s been paperback almost a year, the other’s 2nd proof is in the mail. Yet I’ve done my level best to ensure the quality of my books.

    I think writers should stick together, this isn’t an easy business.

  6. Drew Watson
    January 4, 2013

    The harsh reality is that we live in an age where it is fashionable to be a wet soppy poncey liberal metrosexual “I hang out in cafe’s and critique everything with my superior intellect but can’t actually wipe my own arse” type. Whatever happened to practicality? I enjoy your books, and I think its great you make a living out of doing it too. To the arty farty lot, fuck em.

    • Dougie Brimson
      January 4, 2013

      Thanks Drew. It is astonishing how far up their own backsides some of them are. The concept of writing as a profession seems alien to many of them.

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