So many people dream of becoming a bestselling author, the next Sally Rooney or Stephen King, but not many of us actually make it.
From the act of writing itself, to getting published, the path of the author is riddled with hurdles as they struggle to turn passion into a sustainable income, let alone achieve bestseller status.
However, former Lancaster University student, Daniel Hurst, has done just that. In 2020 he began following his lifelong ambition to become an author. He now has several books entering their genre’s top 100 on Amazon and his most famous book, The Passenger, became the #1 selling psychological thriller in the UK in October 2021.
I spoke with him to gauge how he achieved this success and what advice he has for students aiming to go down a similar road.
Legendary screenwriter Russell T. Davies once said that the best writers are the ones that invented stories as children but never grow out of it, and Daniel Hurst is just that. Although initially pursued other careers, studying Media and Cultural Studies as Lancaster University, Hurst was never too far away from books.
Although Hurst has seen a lot of success, he started off by speaking about the challenges writers face. He felt that the biggest challenge was finding people, beyond friends and family, to read his work. This led his down the route of self-publishing.
Hurst summarized self-publishing as running a business as well as being a writer. You’re paying and chasing cover designers, running the accounts, and even organizing deliveries. Although this is a lot of extra work, it does mean you are in control of the whole process instead of relying on other people, who likely don’t care about your work as much as you do.
This is obviously a costly venture, which is why he recommends having a job on the side to begin with. But the good thing is that the heavy expenses are mainly at the start, finding the right cover designer, for instance. But once you have those relationships and expand your network, your costs will inevitably go down.
I asked Hurst what’s the main thing a writer needs. He said just one word: persistence.
He also highly recommends a podcast called ‘The Self-Publishing Show’, which hosts an experience and a newbie writer discussing all things writing and self-publishing.
However, his most striking piece of advice for me, was that there is no need to rush into authorship. There is no set path to go down. It took Daniel five to ten years out of university before getting serious about writing. That time spent in the real world gifted him with so many ideas and memories to use in his work.
How can anyone write a book without a shred of experience?