What does it take to be a writer? – Persistence

For most writers success is not an overnight event.  One of my all time, and sadly missed, writer heroes, Iain Banks, completed five or six books before being published.  He persisted.

Now I write this blog a week or so after I’ve launched my latest book.  I’ve had some sales, but not as many as hoped for.  So yes, I admit it, I’m a little disappointed.  I feel that I just need that kick start, that nudge that sends sales cascading.  The book itself is a new venture for me, being urban fantasy / detective story, written in a humorous style, rather than my usual science fiction.

Those that have read it, whose opinions I trust, enjoyed it.  They have told me they think it’s more “mainstream” i.e. should appeal to more people.  Not that that’s why I wrote it.  As always I wrote it because it was an idea I felt worth pursuing.  In this case it rose out of a few short stories for my writing group (shows the power of short stories).  I liked the characters and the concept.  I thought it had legs.

It takes persistence to write a single book and I think everyone who completes one deserves congratulating.  At least my friends are impressed that I’ve completed one book let alone several, even if some of them haven’t read any (why not?).  The say they wouldn’t know where to start writing a book or are simply daunted by the idea.  It takes many weeks of graft to complete the first draft and then many weeks more to revise.  Then there’s having it proof read, getting a cover produced etc. etc.  So to all you out there that have written or are writing that book I say don’t call yourself an ”aspiring” or “would be” writer, you are a writer.  Say it out loud and be proud.  Just because you haven’t joined the ranks of the best sellers yet, doesn’t mean you’re not a writer.  You persisted or are persisting.

I recently paid good money for an on line course by a successful self-publishing author Nick Stephenson.  What convinced me to part with the cash was that he said he’d been like me.  He’d published books and watched them languish in the hundreds of thousands in the Amazon ratings, getting a few sales every now and then.  That’s when he decided he had to put more effort into selling and be much smarter about it.  His success then didn’t occur over night.  It took time, persistence and more books to get the point he where could give up the day job and make a living writing.

Has the course made a difference?  A little is the answer.  I’ve made changes to what I do, I’ve implemented some of his ideas.  I have made a few more sales (although not enough to pay back my investment – yet).  It would be easy to give up, however, I know his methods have worked for him and others he’s worked with.  I also know they are better and more coherent than anything else I’ve tried in the past.  So yes I need to persist, which is the hardest part.  I’m a writer (see above) I enjoy writing, the marketing is what I must do if I want some measure of success as defined by sales.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not just moaning about why people aren’t reading my books (OK maybe a little). I know it’s up to me to change that.  What I don’t moan about, ever, is the actual writing.  That’s what I care about, what I love, why I wrote that first Inspector Kirby book.  I just want more people to read my work and hopefully love it to (I believe they will).  I’ve drafted a second Inspector Kirby book and I am working on the third – how persistent is that?   I know having a series will open up more sales opportunities.  Yes, being a writer is all about persistence.


As always comments are welcome

Ian Martyn (writer)

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

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