I agree with… Val McDermid

Val McDermid “If I published my first three novels now, I wouldn’t have a career because no-one would publish my fourth novel based on the sales of my first three… Back in the day when I started you were still allowed to make mistakes, you got to make your mistakes in public, in a way. I think the world was a more forgiving place when I started my career [in 1987], in the sense that we got time and space to develop as a writer. That is definitely something that wouldn’t happen now. No-one will say, ‘Write half a dozen novels and find yourself’… If you don’t make the best-seller list, if you don’t get shortlisted for any prizes, it’s goodbye.”

[photo: valmcdermid.com]

[photo: valmcdermid.com]

Val McDermid has sold 10 million books. Her first crime novel, Report for Murder, was published by Women’s Press in 1987 and was to be the first of a series about freelance journalist Lindsay Gordon. She wrote a crime novel, because she enjoyed reading them. McDermid went on to write the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. She is a highly-decorated and respected author. So for her to say she doesn’t think she would make it today as a new writer, should make everyone in the book business stop and think. Authors need time to develop their craft, it always used to be that publishers signed up authors knowing this, priding themselves on ‘developing talent’. Now it seems publishers expect every book to be an international bestseller but are less willing to take the risks to find one. That a small press such as Women’s Press signed up McDermid, we should all be grateful. The argument may be that another publisher may have picked her up, and Tony Hill would not have been lost. Perhaps if Val was starting today, she would be an indie author instead. To read the Daily Telegraph’s article about McDermid’s speech, click here.
For Val McDermid’s website, click here.

Val McDermid


‘Report for Murder’ by Val McDermid [UK: Harper Collins]

If you agree with Val McDermid, perhaps you will agree with:-
Sarah Hilaryresearch can become an obsession, and a distraction
Matt Haig – the quickest way you could kill books in their tracks is to stop taking risks
Sofie Grabol always look for the weak side of a character, for the dark side

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
I agree with @valmcdermid new #writers can’t make mistakes any more http://wp.me/p5gEM4-17J via @SandraDanby


  1. So it´s not just my sour grapes then? I might actually be as brilliant as the woman in my life thinks I am! Thanks for that uplifting thought, Sandra. Now I can start heating up the keys with my fingertips flying again.

  2. I so agree with this. I write a Blog, as you know, and looking back at my earliest posts I wince at the raw lack of style and finish. In March I published my first book and, as we know, writing a book is a very different matter to writing a Blog, although they are dimly related. Now my second book is at the publishers, and I am writing my third. I know I still have so much to learn, but also have an inner faith in myself. Nowadays we can make our mistakes in public and pray that they don’t bury us

  3. Successful hybrid author Michael J Sullivan makes similar points about beginner authors today. If you get published too soon, you can blot your copy book with the big publishers. It may be best to self-publish in the beginning because if an author’s first book fails to sell, they may never get another bite of the cherry. Check out his posts on Amazing Stories and elsewhere: http://amazingstoriesmag.com/author/michaelsullivan/ He’s my guru!