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 kept entering my head was ‘what a stupid bloody 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 Brexiter and admiring 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 someone thinks that 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 as a writer approach the process by looking at the market and giving it what it actually wants as opposed to what some editor thinks it should have, you are regarded almost as a 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 screw them.
The reason why this is so relevant is because as some people are already aware, I’m currently working on the sequel to my novel Billy’s Log and it’s highly likely that I will be releasing it purely as an ebook.
There are numerous reasons for this (most of which are quite tedious) but the two main ones have to do with speed and money.
It can take months, sometimes years, for a manuscript to make the journey to Waterstones and even longer for the meagre percentage of the cover price to reach the authors bank.
For an eBook, it can be online within hours and any royalties 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 (around 750,000 at the last count) I’m not JK Rowling or Jeffrey Archer and I don’t get offered 6 figure advances. My income is generated primarily by sales.
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 effectively 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 and the speed with which it arrives, has to be a good thing.
The downside of course, 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.
On the subject of ebooks, it continues to astonish me that over 5 years since it was first released as an ebook, The Crew has almost continually held the #1 slot on both its Amazon and iTunes chart and was the most downloaded football book of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. 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 Wings of a Sparrow which continues to sell well.
This, in spite of the fact that publicity for my work remains an elusive beast. In fact I have found it all but impossible 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.