When I first joined my local writers' group, among the first people I met was crime author, Dave Sivers, who has self-published a range of ebooks for Kindle and recently found his work among the top selling books in his genre.
His latest book is Scars Beneath the Soul, a detective story of murder and mayhem in the Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire. I asked Dave to tell me about his writing journey. This is what he said...
"I seem to have been a ‘writer’ for about as long as I have known how to read and write; it has been a constant for me through all the changes that life throws at you. In a sense, either my writing has been like a soundtrack to my life, or my life has been like a soundtrack to my writing - I’m never 100% sure which.
"My first love was fiction. I started trying to write 'proper' novels in my twenties, and produced something half-decent in my thirties, which received encouraging feedback from agents and publishers - but no publication deal. Over the next ten years, I found that I had a tougher outer shell than I had realised. Writers have to learn that rejection is an occupational hazard - you either learn from it and move on, or give up in favour of something less challenging, like alligator wrestling.
"Joining a writers’ group marked a big step-change. Suddenly, I was exposed me to a wide range of 'real' writers who were doing all sorts of stuff that I hadn't thought about. And I realised that I needed to be flexible as well as persistent if I was going to make a success of writing.
"So I tried my hand at journalism, first securing weekly columns with two local newspapers. This developed my professionalism, gave me discipline, and led on to success with magazine articles. I won prizes and publication with short stories, and have also dabbled in amateur stage material and TV comedy sketches.
"The big life lesson I had learnt was this: if at first you don’t succeed, don’t just try again, but try a different approach. I've quite recently become a songwriter, almost by accident, and found I'm rather good at it. I have also started self-publishing my fiction as e-books, after years of ‘near misses’ with agents. If I'd only been getting standard rejections, I would have known I was rubbish, but there has been enough positive feedback to encourage me to take the plunge.
"As a self-publisher, I’m not only author, but editor-in-chief, typesetter, publisher, marketing manager and press officer. If I really was doing it all by myself, then writing really would be the lonely, solitary occupation the clichés say it is. But you know what? It doesn’t have to be. I have a little team of readers whose opinions I trust who read my stuff and offer suggestions. I have enjoyed collaborative work with various co-writers. I have my writers group and other writing mates to ‘talk shop with’. And I have my family, who have always supported me. Writing can be as much about team work as any other profession.
"I've also discovered that, for a writer, no bad experience is wasted. It can lead to an article, or it can be grist for fiction. Instead of getting mad at people, I can make them characters in short stories and murder them horribly. There’s no other job like it."
Dave's Books: You can view Dave's literary collection here: www.amazon.co.uk/Dave-Sivers/e/B005OUQCD0/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0. Follow him on Twitter @DaveSivers or visit his website www.davesivers.co.uk