The importance of luck

Hi folks

I have a very good friend from Baltimore in the USA. She is one of the finest natural writers that I have ever read, yet she has not yet had a book published.  Yesterday I asked myself why that should be?

Her writing flows perfectly; the dialogue is natural, the plots are interesting, her characters are true to the genre and she is willing to adapt to a publisher’s demands.

So why are publishers not queuing up with offers?

The answer is simple.

Luck. That first published book depends on luck as much as anything else.

My first book was away back in 1990. It was a small book. I sent the manuscript into a publisher entirely on spec and was surprised to receive a letter [this was well before electronic communication] a few weeks later asking me to call on him. He was not in the slightest bit interested in the book I had offered, but he had read a small article on pubs in Edinburgh I had written a few weeks before and, as he was a dedicated drinking man, he wanted to meet me.

He published that book of mine: Scottish Battles. Nothing to do with beer but everything to do with luck.

At present my writing is on a bit of a roll. I have a book The Real Mean City: Crime in 19th century Glasgow, due out on the 18th April and another The Dundee Whaling Fleet about to be sent to the printers. I have just completed the second draft of a book on 19th century Highland Crime and yesterday received a cotract for another whaling book. Added to that there is a possibility I could have another novel: The Dundee Murders coming out later this summer. That one depends on the agreement of the publisher.

How so many in the one year? Luck; pure and simple. With the addition of hundreds of hours of hard work in researching and writing of course.

So I sincerely hope that Lady Luck decides to descend on my good friend in Baltimore. Or even a publisher looking for an excellent writer of dark fantasy. Her name? Krista Krueger and she blogs on WordPress as KompletelyKrista.

Go on, Luck: have a look. . . you won’t be disappointed.

I wish you all the very best on this Easter Sunday








About malcolmarchibald

Happily married for 34 years to Cathy, I have three grown children and live in the depths of Moray in northern Scotland. I was educated in Edinburgh and Dundee and work as a lecturer in Inverness, while writing historical books, both fiction and fact.
This entry was posted in Crime; History, history, life experience, literature, Luck, writing, crime,, People, Scotland, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The importance of luck

  1. Thanks Malcolm. 🙂 You just keep rolling out those books and that will make me just as happy. Almost. lol

  2. Malcolm – I used to believe in luck and publishing and back in the day when I first started, it played its part for sure. (You and I both know that was a LONG time ago!) Now, I don’t believe in it much at all. The dice is weighted, the cards are stacked and all in favour of celebrity ghost written nonsense because the big corporate publishers no longer nurture careers or even hope to. They decided they wanted the instant bestseller, declared the mid-list dead and hoped we would all go away. Fortunately, the eBook and Amazon came along. Now, i firmly believe that we have to start treating ourselves as small start-ups, small businesses. If we can (and want to) form a partnership with a smaller publisher, that’s fine – but because they tend to specialize, it only happens if your books fit their requirements. And when it does happen like that, it’s great. Otherwise, I now think self publishing eBooks, and/or POD is a far better option than wasting years of your life waiting for Lady Luck to turn her gaze in your direction. Been there, done that and even thought it was my lucky day/year. Unfortunately a writing career is a switchback. So is a business, but at least now I feel as though I’m in control. (And being paid, too!) And for anyone who still hankers after a trad publishing deal – the big publishers are now trawling Amazon for likely candidates! I’m really delighted to see you doing so well these days though – couldn’t happen to a nicer person! – but I’m not sure that’s luck either. It’s SKILL and as you say, all that hard work and writing!

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