Stages of a Writing Career

Guest Blogger: Scott Nicholson

As a writer, I consider myself early in Act II of my career. In Act I, I had my apprenticeship and my 700 rejection slips, and eventually a six-book mass-market paperback career. I hit a frustrating lull for a few years, in which I couldn’t get a book deal and had turned to comics creation, screenwriting, and other creative outlets. But through it all I continued to write fiction, not only because I enjoyed it, but because I didn’t know what new opportunities might arise on the next turn of the page.

Lo and behold, the digital era and the self-publishing phenomenon erupted, and there I was with a stack of novels and stories. After about six months of research and hesitation, I got back that one final “I’m sorry, but publishing a novel in this competitive environment requires great passion, and we simply don’t have the necessary passion.” And I asked myself which person on the planet had the most passion for my work.

I immediately began formatting and uploading any work to which I held rights, and soon began publishing original novels I had been shopping to agents and publishers. After a year of charting the sales progression and watching the global market expand, I realized I needed to immediately quit my day job and fulfill the only real goal I ever had: to write fiction full time.

I love every aspect of doing it myself, from formatting to cover creation to marketing. I don’t have to write to trends or tastes or audience. Instead, I write what I write and then find people that might like what I write. I can’t imagine a better life, but I’ve also set new goals to stay motivated, or the one plateau I achieved could crumble away beneath my feet. I also don’t have any expectations that today will be like tomorrow. In fact, tomorrow’s publishing environment is likely to be as changed in three years as today’s climate is from 2008.

With the acceptance that I don’t know everything and that I might be nearing the limits of what I can do on my own, I signed with Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer thriller imprint for two books, because I think they are doing everything right so far and have virtually single-handedly launched the digital revolution. I believe that’s the right move for the middle of Act II, but it’s possible I might regret it later in much the same way I regret letting some of my out-of-print books languish with a former publisher that probably doesn’t even know I exist.

I don’t know the future, and I don’t know what Act III will bring. But I do know writers need to stay in the game and on the stage. If you don’t keep writing, it doesn’t matter what role you’re handed. And, truly, the publishing is just a sideshow. It’s the writing that matters. As Shakespeare himself said, “The play’s the thing.”

Scott Nicholson is author of THE INDIE JOURNEY, in which he describes his journey going from his first self-published book to a full-time writer in a little more than a year, with guest contributions from other successful authors. It’s available at Amazon,, and Smashwords. He’s also written more than 20 other books, and his Fear series will be out from Amazon on Dec. 20.

Learn more here or follow “hauntedcomputer” on Facebook and “eScottNicholson” on Twitter.




  1. Great to hear from Scott, as always!!

  2. Pingback: Solitary Mindset » Blog Archive » Page 153 » Solitary Mindset

  3. Thanks PJ!

  4. Nice read. Validates that a true writer never gives up writing what he likes to write – and will be published as long as he keeps at it and tries new tactics.

  5. Very enlightening. I’ve heard from some many workshop leaders that traditional book companies are publishing fewer and fewer books, and that more authors are turning to self publishing. I’m heading down that road, and am looking forward to the adventure.

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