David Wright is the bestselling horror and sci-fi co-author of the Yesterday’s Gone and WhiteSpace series, and a cartoonist. He is also one third of The Self-Publishing Podcast with Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.
Introduction: Tell us who you are, how and why you decided to be an author and where you’re at right now in your career.
I’m David Wright and I’ve been creating stories for as long as I can remember. As a child I was heavily influenced by the Peanuts comic strip and it held a magic which transported me to another time and another world. After the Star Wars movie came out, my parents got me the first few comics in the series, and I was immediately hooked on comics and serialized storytelling. Ever since, I’ve been merely hoping to do what the best artists did for me — create worlds for others to get lost in. I’ve gone back and forth between comic strips and writing books.
What was/is the hardest thing about balancing writing with everyday life and/or a day job?
Thankfully, writing is my job at the moment. I’m not sure how prolific I could be if I’d gone back to another job, as I’m pretty low on energy to begin with most days. Having a full-time job and making time for my family would seriously hamper my ability to write books.
Having said that, I think the hardest part now is getting out of my own way. I battle with depression, so it’s difficult to feel like anyone gives a shit about anything I’m creating, but fortunately, my co-author, Sean Platt, is a very optimistic person and has done a lot to help me get out of my own way.
Tell us about your schedule and habits from this time (or what you’re doing now if it hasn’t changed).
My schedule and habits suck with a capital S. As I said, I tend to get in my own way. It’s not uncommon for me to procrastinate, or write a bunch, hate it all, delete it, then start over like two days before deadline.
I am trying to get my shit together, though, and put a system in place.
Would you tell us how your sales first started out? How many books did you have out before you started seeing traction?
We sold very little in our first month. Despite a ton of interviews around the time that Yesterday’s Gone: Season One came out in summer 2011, I think we sold maybe 50 copies?
It took a little while for sales to really pick up, though I can’t recall the exact time. We didn’t wait around, though. We went right to work on another book so once people did start to discover us, they’d have more than just a book or two to read.
There’s a debate amongst writers about the luck factor. Some writers say you don’t need luck, that you can succeed on your merits alone. But I disagree. I think you DO need to work your ass off, and in doing so you can create some luck, but I feel there is still an element of luck involved. Had Pixel of Ink not featured us when they did, who knows what would’ve happened?
I think we still would have found success, but would it have come in time to be enough to support us as full-time writers? It’s tough to say.
Which is why I’m grateful to our readers, as well as the attention that reviewers and book bloggers have given us.
I know it can be difficult to see other people break out when you’re still behind in some way, but you have to work through it because while luck doesn’t give you a guaranteed outcome, giving up does.
At one point in time did you make the decision to support yourself/your family as an author? What was that decision like and how did you feel afterward?
We were working freelance as consultants and writing and doing art for companies when we decided to invest in ourselves.
Sean was a huge factor in us taking a chance on ourselves. He basically continued to work (for a little while) as we wrote so we could support the company (and I could pay my bills) while we got this writing thing off the ground.
Then Sean quit consulting, probably a bit earlier than I would’ve felt comfortable with, and we were on our own — sink or swim.
We swam like the desperate motherfuckers we were.
It’s tough to make a leap of faith like that and not know whether it will pay off. If I hadn’t had Sean’s belief (and financial support early on), I’m not sure I could’ve done it.
I would tell most writers to keep their day job as long as possible, though. I’m very pragmatic in that way. Though some would call me cynical. And by some, I mean most.
What is one thing about your author career that not many people know of? Alternatively, what are some of your other hobbies/interests outside of writing?
We talk about everything on SPP, so I’m not sure if there’s anything we haven’t discussed.
As for hobbies, I’d like to be a musician but lack the dedication to learn how to play well enough. But I’ve always had a love for diverse musical styles and almost always listen to music while I wrote. I’m also a casual gamer. I like shooters and big open world games like the Fallout and the Elder Scrolls series.
What’s the single best piece of advice you have for authors who can’t support themselves with their writing yet? What should they be focusing on?
You HAVE to treat writing like another job. You HAVE to put the hours in. This means sacrifice in your social life, your TV or movie watching, video games, etc. There is no shortcut to putting in the hours. I spent thousands of hours in my teens and twenties writing crap in order to get to a point where I could write stuff less crappy. Even then, I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t until my job as a newspaper reporter, with the constant writing to deadlines, that I got over my fears and learned to get out of my way.