Monday 24 June 2024

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: Choosing Your Path


I have been writing crime, to some degree, for almost thirty years. I was always someone who, as a kid and teen, loved reading and listening to crime novels. Whether they were the ones of my childhood in Enid Blyton's Famous Five, or the ones my parents would listen to on audiobook in Dick Francis' books. I loved to write a mystery and try and drop hints and clues and allow the reader to pick up on it.

But when it came to publishing, and it came to writing my first book, I didn't really know what path I would choose to go. Be that indie (which wasn't really a thing to the level it is now back then) or trad. I did send my first book to agents and publishers. I did get back both form rejections and personalised ones. I did try and make it work, but it wasn't to be for me. And that's okay, because I found a way to get my debut out in 2005 and when things like KDP and such came along in 2011, I jumped on that as well.

I never stopped writing, even with the big gap between debut and my next book, there were always stories that I wanted to tell, and the majority of them had a crime lingering through the pages. I went from straight up thriller with BLACKOUT to paranormal/mystery with the DYING THOUGHTS series, and then more crime with my later books. I always knew that I wanted to write crime, and I also knew that if I wanted to take the books that I'd kept writing even without knowing if they would ever see the light of day, I had to keep my eyes on the right path for me. I had to keep writing, but also be ready to pivot and decide whether indie really could work for me.

2011 was one of those years that changed the scope of publishing. It had allowed everyone who wanted to, to write, publish and sell a book no matter whether or not they'd done the due diligence and hard work when it came to covers and edits and the like. That's not me shaming people for doing things a way I wouldn't do now, but just showcasing that because of books that weren't well written or weren't edited, a lot of that change in the scope of publishing became a bad thing to call yourself indie.

I have spent almost 20 years as an indie author, and I have seen a lot of changes down the line. I've seen paperbacks become a thing, I've seen audiobooks open up to indies, and I've seen a lot of differences when it comes to how those new authors in 2011 approached the indie path, to how the new authors now do the same. There's a lot more research done, there's a lot more information out there for anyone wishing to publish, and there's a lot more respect for those who are indie.

There was a period when saying you were indie or self-pubbed got you cut off from marketing routes because people assumed that meant that your book was terrible and littered with editing mistakes and the like. It's really only been the last five or six years where thee are big big names in the indie world, and they're big names for a reason.

Going back to the want to tell and write crime stories, people like LJ Ross, who is very much indie, she's huge when it comes to crime in the UK. She, and others, have paved the way for indies who write crime, and she's set the bar so high because the point of all of this is, that whatever path you choose, you need to show up and do it right.

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't do it right. I didn't do the research, I slapped on old, unprofessional covers, and while I had some success in the start, it didn't carry through because I didn't treat it as my job, which it was. It's only been the last ten years maybe when I've started to really look at being an author as my career. The mindset change is huge and it really just helps you put things in perspective.

So whether you choose to go indie or trad, whatever path you go down, make sure you approach it knowing that this is the start of your career, and you can make mistakes and pay for them many years down the line, or you can do it right, do the research, find your readers, and grow and grow and grow. It really is just up to you.

Good luck!

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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