Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Recently independent authors Brian Drake (CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE) and Percival Constantine (CLICK HERE) provided guest posts on the costs and rewards of self-publishing. These generated a lot of interest, so I asked the prolific Bill Craig to share his self-publishing journey. Bill is extremely prolific, which helps him make a living as a full time writer. However, as you will see, it took a lot of hard work and persistence on his part to achieve be able to quit his day job and become a full time writer…


I have been writing since I was six years old. I worked on polishing my writing for 34 years, and I still continue polishing it to this day. However, I did publish my first novel, Valley of Death, in 2000. Print On Demand publishing was still in its infancy back then. The original edition of Valley of Death was published by a company called xlibris. I still have that on my book shelf. It was the first book to star my action adventure character Jack Riley. 
Once it was off to the publisher, I started writing Mayan Gold, though I started writing that book under the working title of Mexican Stand-off. It was the second book to feature Jack Riley and his partner Ken Alston. It was published first through iUniverse and I was so blown away by their cover that I moved Valley of Death over to them.
Now at the time, xlibris and iUniverse were considered vanity presses because the author paid a fee. Sure you could buy them on BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com, but they wouldn’t carry them in the stores. 
The third book in the series was published through a POD company that was actually run through Amazon with a lower price. I don’t remember the name. I jumped ship and published the next two books through Publish America. It didn’t take long for me to realize that PA really was a vanity press because they would publish without charging, but then wanted the author to pay extensive fees to get copies, buy marketing packages, and a number of other things designed to drain the author dry.
Then while looking through a copy of The Writer, I discovered two new publishers. Lulu.com and Createspace.com. I was trying to expand out of action adventure at the time and had written the first Decker P.I. book, Scorpion Cay. I bought a cover from a cheap service and published it originally through Lulu.com/
About that time, along with Sean Ellis and a few others who belonged to my now defunct Yahoo writers group, we discussed creating a whole new pulp universe of characters and Age of Adventure magazine was born. I really didn’t make much from them, but it was through that effort Hardluck Hannigan came into being. Emerald Death and The Sky Masters were originally produced as e-books through Lost Continent Library and publisher Walter Bosley. My character, Paul Sabre, came to life in Lost Continent Library E-Zine.
By this time I was going through a really nasty divorce and wrote the first of my mysteries featuring Police Detective Joe Collins titled The Butterfly Tattoo, followed by Paradise Lost. The Butterfly Tattoo began to sell well on Amazon as both a Kindle e-book and as a POD title through CreateSpace. My Decker P.I. books had also started selling well. I was making money doing something I loved, but still had to work a day job. I was also taking care of an aging and ailing father and raising an energetic young son of whom I gotten after the divorce.
The Decker books were looking good with fantastic covers by Colorado artist Laura Givens. The covers were eye-catching and made people give the title a look. The same with the covers she was doing for the Hardluck Hannigan books. Did I mention I write a lot?
Anyway, I reconnected with an old friend named Mark Howell who was formerly a managing editor at Gold Eagle Books. He was then working for the Key West Citizen. Mark introduced my writing to Shirrel Rhoades, the publisher of Absolutely Amazing E-Books in Key West. Shirrel took over publication of the first two Joe Collins books. About that time, my father’s health took a turn for the worse and he went into the nursing home for the first time.
In the month that followed, I wrote Marlow: Indigo Tide, the first of my Key West mysteries featuring Rick Marlow, a former NYPD cop shot in the line of duty by his partner right after finding the dead body of an undercover Narcotics officer. Here was a character I could really sink my teeth into. He had flaws. He smoked too much, drank too much, was fighting post-traumatic stress syndrome and had lost half a lung from the wounds he had suffered. Indigo Tide went on to become my first Amazon.com best seller, breaking into the top 100 in the hard-boiled mystery category. 
I was starting to move away from the pulp adventure genre and devoting more time to my mystery writing. As I got older, mysteries had more of an appeal to me. I’ve always enjoyed puzzles, plus I could say I killed people for a living when people ask what I do. I usually make it clear I only do it in fiction.
As I look back at the past fifteen years. I realize how much how much I’ve change as a person and how much my writing has changed along with me. I like to think I have grown as a writer as well as a human being. All six of my Marlow Key West mysteries have gone into the top 100 on Amazon along with two Decker P.I. titles. Since Dad passed away last year, I write full time and I am an active full time parent.
Last year, I set a goal for myself to publish a novel a month. This included a visit to Key West for the inaugural Key West Mystery Writers Weekend. I was working on my 5th Key West mystery before I ever set foot on the island. I not only met my goal, but surpassed it, churning out 21 titles in twelve months.
I am currently writing three mystery series, Marlow, Decker P.I., and the new Chandler Circle City Mysteries. I’m also working on projects in both the science fiction and western genres. I told myself I was going to slow down this year, but I just published my 8th title for 2015, with twelve for the year a strong possibility. 
Arizona Deadline is my 10th title in the Decker P.I. series – my 56th book since 2000. I have just started the first couple of chapters for the 7th Marlow book, tentatively titled Dark Waters. I am also working on the first book in a new series set in San Diego titled One More Way to Die. It features an ex-Naval Intelligence agent turned private eye. Plot possibilities for that series are endless.
When people ask me how I do it, my only answer is I write. I write every day. I make enough money to live on without having to hold down an outside job, but I am always trying to put out new content and give readers something to enjoy.
My two mentors over the years taught me a lot. Don Pendleton taught me to not be afraid to break the rules and to let the characters tell the story. Jerry Ahern taught me to show what’s happening and to have the manuscripts as camera-ready (an obsolete term in this digital age) before it goes to press.
However, I measure my success by the fact readers keep buying my books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I taught myself to read when I was four-years-old and started writing my own stories at age six. I kept working to improve, doing some newspaper reporting along the way. I finally published my first novel at age forty, so it only took me thirty-four years to become an overnight success. Now fifty five books later, I am still going strong, my writing continues to improve, and the stories keep getting better.


  1. Great post! It's always good to see someone who is able to go full-time through a ton of hard work and a professional attitude towards their writing and publishing.

  2. Bill, a terrific article. Paul, thanks for posting. 'Tis a fine time to be a writer!


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