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British Crime Writer Dougie Brimson has a confession to make...

I’M A MID-LIST AUTHOR AND I EARN MY LIVING BY WRITING BOOKS THAT SELL. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?
by Dougie Brimson

I have an admission to make: my name is Dougie Brimson and I am a professional author. I say that not as an introduction to some kind of warped writers anonymous group, but as a statement of fact.

I mention this because someone recently asked me what motivates me to write and having thought about it at length, the one thought that inevitably enters my head is ‘what a stupid question!’ Let’s get this clear once and for all; I write for two reasons: 1. I’m a lazy so-and-so 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 with a fondness for 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 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’ll only get published if 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 approach the process by looking at the market and giving it what it actually wants as opposed to what some publisher thinks it should have, you are regarded almost as some kind of 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 you can forget 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 that’s too bad.

The reason why this is so relevant is because as some people are already aware, I’m currently working on my 16th book which is the sequel to my best-seller, Billy’s Log.

However, whilst the original was traditionally published, Billy’s Log 2 will be written solely as an eBook.

There are numerous reasons why I have gone this route ranging from being able to choose the subject matter through to being directly involved with the PR but one of the main ones has to do with money. You see what a lot of people don’t understand is that when a book sells in WH Smiths, it can be anywhere up to 18 months before the author receives his meagre percentage of the cover price. For an eBook however, it’s 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 I’m not JK Rowling or Jeffrey Archer and I don’t get offered 6 figure advances. My income is generated solely by sales and I have to eat.

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 much 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 has to be a good thing.

The irony 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. Whilst I get no pleasure from that, 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 damned if I’m going to either.


Green Street
Dougie Brimson is the best-selling author of 15 books as well as the writer of three feature films including the Hollywood funded, Green Street.

His crime thriller, The Crew, was first realised in 2000 and has been at the top of the Amazon charts for four and a half years since its release in ebook format. The sequel, Top Dog, is also a best-seller and was adapted by Dougie for the big screen in 2014.

Further details on Dougie’s work can be found at www.dougiebrimson.com
Dougie Brimson's books at Amazon
Follow him on twitter: @dougiebrimson

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