Guest Post: Real Life by David Edwards
The media branded me the ‘Riches to rags’ author under my pseudonym of Jack George Edmunson and The Sun Sharer trilogy. They loved the way I gave up my high-flying job, my family and material wealth, to pursue my writing career full time in 2007. Even Chat magazine, was entranced by the millionaire who gave up everything to become an author and ended up with £173 in the bank and my caravan that I towed all over the UK whilst promoting my books. “I lost everything, my homes, my wife and even my son – now I want him back…’ But at the time I wanted to be an author and nothing was going to stop me. Nothing! I had a dream from the age of 13…
Of course the publicity was great, it made me feel important. It gave me 10 BBC interviews and more than 50 regional newspaper articles but that is not success. Success is simply pursuing the very difficult art of writing a story and knowing that the end product is the best you can do. The achievement is the satisfaction, whether self published or a Penguin classic. Don’t feel that you need to do more than have a book published because you will soon learn that having a book in your name is more than enough. It says you tried and you know what – many people wouldn’t get that far. So be assertive, it is not what the friends and neighbours say that is vital. It is what you achieve. Statistically, 3% of books make money for the 5 big publishers. So now you can understand that literary agents and publishers are always trying to find that excellent new, unique novel. And authors are looking for a little bit of magic fairy dust. But reality says, if you can publish your book and then market it – you have as good a chance of success. In the end it is because people tell other people about the great book they just read. Yes, word of mouth is fundamentally the way a book sells. I tried advertising on the rear page of The Bookseller, I tried radio adverts and magazine articles and they gave me nothing back. They wasted my limited budget.
So after a break, I tried writing again. It takes a year or so to get over the experience. Not modern literature this time but historical fiction. In March 2012, ‘The Ebb & Flow’, went to no. 59 in the charts. This book tells how the English bought North Wales in Georgian times but The Welsh fought back. Why did I write it? Because I lived in the middle of the history in N.Wales on Anglesey. I was intrigued by the tales of old and so I gathered my notes over 6 months and wrote the book over the next three. This was a true work of love. I wrote about what I loved around me.
Of course a successful author needs money, needs an investment by him or his wife/friend to make sure the marketing is spot on. That is true. But self publishing is cheaper than a good holiday and far more fun. So I self published again. The thing is. You still get royalties and it is quite easy to get a return on investment if you market yourself. Not just Twitter and Facebook but real marketing, handing out postcards of your book cover in the local town or to people who might like your subject matter. Go to a railway station, put some free books on each train for an hour. Sit in a local independent bookshop with your own stock and pay the owner 50% of any sales. Be brave, be imaginative and it will work, I know!
Okay, I now commute between my cottage in Anglesey and my chalet in Switzerland. I have this perfect life of writing and retirement. No, it isn’t funded by me, I guess I make about £20,000 a year from writing, but that’s great isn’t it? Doing what I love. My latest project gives something back to people. To children to be exact. I created an electronic game with my son and decided to launch it via a website, theblackhandgang.com to say – enough of the electronic life for our kids – read a book! We all know kids who can multitask with a PC, TV and mobile! So I hope the game on my website entices them to want to know more about the characters and the book is then read. Mission accomplished. Kids that read. But be warned, it all takes time and a little investment. The Black Hand Gang was written 3 years ago. It was trolled around the agents and rejected many times. But now it is published, people love it and hate it. That is the way it is, the readers all read the book differently and if 40% like it and 40% hate it, then only 20% can’t be bothered with it. That is success. And how much was my budget? No more than £900.
In conclusion, my moral crusades gave me the strength to write and publish. ‘The Sun Sharer’ was my reaction against the modern lifestyle. ‘The Ebb & Flow’ was about a place I loved and the local Welsh I got to know. The Black Hand Gang is about giving not taking.
So whatever your dream, whatever your interest, please don’t leave it to fester and die. Do something about it and feel good inside.
Thank you for a wonderful, post! You’re a true inspiration to me…