From a big idea to a best seller...

Stephen Booth with reader Marlene Bennett and (below) Stalmine author Joseph Delaney.
Stephen Booth with reader Marlene Bennett and (below) Stalmine author Joseph Delaney.
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SO you want to be a writer? You’ve had a fantastic idea, penned 100,000 words, shown friends and family who all say it’s great, so what do you do next?

The answer for many thousands of people across the world has been to publish their own work on the internet, creating an e-book which can be downloaded by readers for just a few pence.

Stalmine author Joe Delaney with his book Spook's Apprentice

Stalmine author Joe Delaney with his book Spook's Apprentice

Amazon revealed 15 of their top 100 in 2012 were self published. Twelve of those authors sold more than 100,000 copies, and 11 earned more than £100,000. For some, becoming an internet phenomenon can be a route into mainstream success as a book hitting the best seller chart will be noticed by the big publishing houses. But success is by no means guaranteed and there are literally thousands of independent novels on the web, of varying degrees of quality.

It is a route Hambleton author of the Spooks series Joseph Delaney says he might have taken had he not been signed up by an agent back in 1991.

He said: “I would probably have self published by now. It’s good to get your work read and to be seen, but self publishing is not a money spinner for most people.

“Even those who are successful are aiming for a traditional book deal and to be noticed by publishing houses using those charts to find new talent.”

The former Blackpool Sixth Form teacher has been a full-time author since 2004 and is about to see his Spooks series take to the big screen with Hollywood star Jeff Bridges in the title role of The Seventh Son.

He added: “While I was teaching I dreamt about this different life and believed one day I would be published. Now I’m travelling the world promoting my books and waiting for the premier of a film based on my work, it’s amazing.”

Veteran crime writer Stephen Booth, who grew up in Blackpool and attended Arnold School, is about to publish the 13th book in his Cooper and Fry detective series this summer, but even he has used the self publishing route as a way of giving fans that something extra with a side story focusing on one of the characters. ‘Claws’, which explores Ben Cooper’s back story, has become his on line best seller.

He said: “I’ve got the rights back from my books that have gone out of print so the whole series is available online for readers, alongside Claws, and it has been surprisingly successful.”

A writer first and foremost, he worked as a local newspaper journalist in Nottinghamshire and wrote in his spare time before getting signed up with an agent,

He added: “It is extremely difficult to get a traditional publishing contract, publishers are inundated with manuscripts so if I were starting out now I would be doing it.

“There’s no longer a vanity publishing stigma, it is a valid route to being published.”

Both authors spend time speaking to writers groups and young peopleabout their route to the top. There are a number of clubs in the area, offering creative and moral support for members.

Malcolm Brocklehurst, 78, of West Drive, Cleveleys, is president of Cleveleys Writers and a published author.

A former technical writer in the aerospace industry, Malcolm writes for fun. His first book, the Secret History of Christianity, was put into print by a publisher while he has self published some others. Four are available through Amazon, one as an e-book, and he hopes his latest collection of short stories and anecdotes will also be made available for download.

“It’s not about the money, I don’t make a penny, I do it because I love writing. I like to entertain people and can do that through Cleveleys Writer. We go to local care homes with our poetry and entertain with performance poetry and music.

“It’s a hobby not a career for most people.”

JOSEPH DELANEY’S TOP TIPS

• Get an agent, names are listed in Writers and Artists handbook. I found a copy in the Knott End library and selected three that listed my genre, there’s no point in sending fantasy to a romance agent. You don’t want one that charges up front, and look for one that has been around for a while, it means they’re doing something right.

• Work with an editor, they will help you develop the story and the characters.

• A copy editor will check for typos and continuity. I will have up to five drafts before it even goes to the copy editor.

ADVICE FROM STEPHEN BOOTH

• Work out where your talent lies and practise. I tried out lots of different genres and characters until I found the right voice for my novels. You also have to be proactive in submitting stories to competitions, agents and publishers. You have to take rejection, there will be a lot of in the early days.

• Send the first three chapters and a synopsis of the whole story, plus a covering letter. Agents want to see your style, and make sure it has a beginning, middle and an end.

• Writing is only half the job, you also have to be prepared for the marketing and be ready to talk about the book.

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