How a birthday present transformed Paul's life
Paul Pilkington has been writing ever since he was at school. As a nine-year-old, Paul was inspired by the reaction his stories received from the younger children around him. “It felt amazing to hear them talk enthusiastically about my story and characters. I still get that same feeling today when I hear from readers, although their average age is a little older these days,” Paul laughs.
My success as a writer has allowed me to shape my life the way I want and this means having more quality time with my family, where my personal dreams are always centred.
While at university Paul began to think seriously about becoming a published writer. “I used to think that getting a publishing deal was the outcome I was aspiring to,” Paul states. “But then, after years of submitting my work to agents and editors and receiving the same rejections over and over again, I realised I needed to take matters into my own hands.”
When his wife bought him a Kindle e-book reader for his 34th birthday in 2010, Paul found a whole world of independently published authors doing well in the charts and decided to follow their lead. “The thought of my writing being available on Kindles across the world was very exciting. I took some time to find out how self-publishing worked and then I took the plunge. I would never have believed how successful it would be”.
"Every independently published author is a mini publisher”
I uploaded my first book, Someone to Save You, to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in early 2011,” Paul recalls. “It was so liberating to suddenly realise that I had the opportunity to be discovered by readers who could make their own decision as to whether to read my book, rather than waiting for somebody else to say it was good enough.”
He recognised early on that if he wanted to be successful, he needed to think of himself and his writing as a business. “Every single independently published author is a mini publisher,” Paul explains. “We’re all competing with books from traditional publishers, so if you want to be taken seriously, you need to think about what a traditional publisher would do, and do at least that, if not more.”
Putting in this time and effort paid off for Paul, whose books have sold hundreds of thousands of copies in addition to millions of free downloads in just three years. “I had lots of feedback from readers saying that they were really gripped by my stories and couldn’t put them down. It’s one of the best compliments I can get,” Paul explains proudly.
New life, new dream
“My life as an author has transformed beyond all recognition,” Paul explains. “I had hoped that a few people would read my books. Instead, my books now reach a worldwide audience.” Regardless of all the success and plaudits that have come Paul’s way, the pleasure of writing still remains his key motivator. “I still write purely because I enjoy writing. If I stopped enjoying it, then I wouldn’t continue.”
While managing his parallel careers as a writer and a teacher, Paul is also focused on what matters the most to him. “My success as a writer has allowed me to shape my life the way I want and this means having more quality time with my family, where my personal dreams are always centred. My family is very proud of my achievements. They know how much effort I have put into writing over the years and they’ve supported me every step of the way.”
As Andy Warhol states, “As soon as you stop wanting something, you get it.” In 2013 Paul was offered a publishing deal for some of his books, which were republished in 2014. “I was very pleased to be offered the deal, but as soon as it was on the table I realised that my dreams for writing had moved on,” Paul says. “I finally understood that my real dream was to have people reading my work. Independent publishing has enabled me to achieve this and will continue to do so, as my next book will be published independently in December 2014. It’s very humbling. My wife and I often think back to that birthday present. It was the beginning of a dream. I hope I don’t wake up just yet!”
HIGHLIGHTSTaking the plunge into self-publishing was one of the best decisions Paul made for his career.
The gift of a Kindle inspired Paul to think of himself, and his books, as a business.
Since 2011, Paul has sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his own books.