What does it take to find success as a novelist?

First we need define what is meant by ‘success’. I think we can say there are two measures. One do with the quality of the work and the other more quantitative measure – sales.

I have been reasonably satisfied with the quality of my work. They have been well received by readers and well reviewed.  I have an editor I trust and who has improved my early work hugely. She says I am a ‘consummate storyteller’ and I’d agree, I am. That aspect of my work is easy. I do struggle with the pull to conform to genre limitations and commercial viability. I have leaned towards keeping my original voice, which is not mainstream as it does challenge and take readers on journeys into exotic worlds. Most have said they enjoyed the trip and they come back for more – so the quality is there. 

Now we come to quantity – sales and branding. This is an area I am weak and I know it.

Because I’ve been concentrating on the writing for five years during which I’ve completed twelve novels, I’ve found the progress slow and painful when it comes to selling the resulting work.

I am aware I needed to learn and not make mistakes that would damage my prospects so I’ve been careful and have not gone for the hard sell or used all the social-media as fully as I could. I dipped a toe in twitter and withdrew confused and bewildered. But now I’m back.

I have film being professionally edited that will push the individual novels in short films and readings and two or three longer films about myself and the locations featured in the novels.

In stages over the next six months I will begin to put into practice what I’ve learned from those who have made a success of social media selling.

It remains to be seen how successful this will be but I do know one thing. I absolutely know the one thing I and any other writer needs.  I now offer that as my one piece of sage advice to anyone wishing to follow this hard writers path: determination, dogged never-say-die persistence.

My beloved B calls it my ‘terrier mode.’ Once I get my teeth in a thing I never quit.

terrier mode
terrier mode

I’m not sure one can learn such a thing but I can say you must try. Never stop believing in your self and never give up. Keep learning and keep trying.

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4 thoughts on “What does it take to find success as a novelist?

  1. amberskyef May 12, 2013 / 4:28 pm

    I’m doing pre-release marketing right now, and even though I have a contract manager for the publisher I’m contracted with who will do the big stuff, I know I need to take charge of the social media side of things. It’s madness. It’s hard work. I thought writing the book was hard until I realized I spend twice as much time on social media trying to build a platform as I do revising or drafting. I wish you lots of luck and look forward to seeing future posts.

  2. Miriam May 12, 2013 / 6:25 pm

    You’re so right. I think you have it. I’m not sure I do.

  3. davidrory May 12, 2013 / 6:45 pm

    Miriam, I used to think I was a quitter, I was told I was. I now know I was no such thing. I was sensitive and easily hurt and hated confrontation so I’d walk away from things and people and situations rather than fight but… I never gave up anything important. I am still learning doggedness and how to weather the storms of rejection or being ignored.
    You are from the nation that teaches the world what doggedness and keeping going truly means… you can do it.

  4. Brigitte Moody May 13, 2013 / 12:25 am

    Woof – keeping digging for that bone

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