Fame and fortune! I’m constantly driving just how long it takes on average for a writer to make it with the now Big 5. I’ve consistently mentioned the number of writers who espouse the “6 and 14” model, which equates to writing 6 books during a 14-year period before the first one is signed. I’ve recently read about two authors many subscribers will be quite familiar with who had to wait 20 years before their first book was published. One is the immensely popular Debbie Macomber. My wife recently handed me a book by Ms. Macomber in which the author alludes to her early struggles. She states that during a 20-year time frame she wrote a dozen books before the first one was signed, and now she has 136 books in print, with more than 100 million copies of her work sold in 23 languages! None of that is an exaggeration. Here’s an article in which Ms. Macomber discusses her success and her early failures. The article is brief but might be of benefit, especially for anyone who might be thinking about tossing in the towel.
My fabulous copyeditor, Martha Moffett, whose talent many of you have experienced if you’ve ever had me line-edit your work, sent me an interview by David Gaughgran. It’s with another “overnight success,” Michael Wallace, who states that it also required him 20 years to “make it” as a writer. Since 2011, he’s sold 400,000 of his e-books on Amazon, and he prices his digital material at 99 cents. The article is a long one, and comes in two parts. I pulled a quote from the early Q&A that I trust subscribers will find interesting, as it follows Mr. Wallace’s homage to becoming published: When asked, “Are you one of these classic ‘overnight’ success stories with ten years of hard work behind it?” he replies, “Make it twenty years and that’s about right. The Righteous was my ninth completed novel. Toss in over a hundred short stories and maybe a thousand rejection letters and you start to get a picture of how persistent I was.”
The article goes on to explain his success with Amazon’s thriller imprint, Thomas & Mercer. With his success with Amazon still fresh, I found it rather significant that Mr. Wallace says he would jump at a deal from a major publisher. With all the big houses following the blogs and e-book sales, I’m surprised no one has signed him yet. As an aside, Thomas & Mercer is the same publisher who told my agent they would do my latest book and then said “later”–and now I’m looking for another publisher. Back to Mr. Wallace, he does admit that Amazon’s marketing was able to shoot his books (there were three to start with) right to the top. And he also concedes that he had a bit of luck in being selected by T&M for a major advertising campaign, which is exactly why I was interested in this opportunity and hung in there for so long time before moving on.