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  • Phil Parker

The Road to Success by Steve McHugh

Steve McHugh is a prolific author. With 13 books and 3 novellas, he's sold over a million books worldwide. Yet his career started as recently as 2012. I asked him how it all came about. There's a lot of us who'd like to be in his situation - perhaps there's some magic solution he uses? Here's what he said.

I self-published my first book, Crimes Against Magic in 2012, and the sequel, Born of Hatred, later the same year.

Both were the first time I’d ever had anything published and I would have been amazed if I’d sold 50 books. I sold about 25,000. To suggest that I was over the moon, would be an understatement, but I still had no idea where I was going with this being an author lark, nor whether or not it would last.

A publisher, 47North, contacted me in Feb of 2013 and offered to re-publish the first two books, and publish all future books in the storyline. I accepted. Since then, I’ve had a publisher and soon had an agent, the amazing Paul Lucas of Janklow and Nesbit.

I was no longer an indie author. In fact, I’d only been one for about a year before I’d signed with a publisher, but now I had a new problem. I had a bunch of stories I wanted to write, and they weren’t going to fit with the overall arc of the books, so my publisher agreed to let me self-publish the novellas.

Infamous Reign came soon after, and then nothing for a long time. One of my books, Scorched Shadows, was nominated for a Gemmell Award for best novel, and the busier I got with the main storyline, the less time I had to work on the novellas. The indie part of my publishing got pushed to one side.

I wrote Hunted as something fun to do before the launch of the latest series Rebellion Chronicles. From there I got offered a contract with Audible to write five novellas, the first two (Infamous Reign and Hunted) were already done, and Frozen Rage was next.

By the end of 2020, I’ll have 13 novels published and 3 novellas. I’ve sold a million books worldwide, allowing me to write fulltime, and I find that the mixture of self and trad publishing works well for me.

A lot of people have asked over the years how I’ve achieved success in an industry where success is hard to come by. I wish I had a concrete answer for it, but there isn’t one.

When Crimes was release, I was mostly doing blog stuff. I did a lot of blog tours and social media use. I didn’t really do any adverts because I didn’t have any cash, and back in 2012 book shops didn’t let indie authors do signings. I was pretty lucky that I was a member of an online writing group and a lot of them had blogs and we used to share posts.

At some point people started to pay attention and it just snowballed. I think it took about 3 months before the book really started to sell.

The simple fact is that the people who work hard and are willing to, most importantly, work hard at getting better, tend to be the people who achieve the most. There are no shortcuts, there’s just a lot of hard work, and more than a bit of luck.

I love my job, and in 2012 I couldn’t have even comprehend having the success I’ve ended up having, and I hope that success continues.

You can find out more about Steve and his work via:


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