I often attend lectures at the National Writers Union to keep up with the publishing industry and recently heard New York Times Bestselling author and multiple Bram Stoker Award winner Jonathan Maberry speak about his career. Described as writing “…in the grand poetic horror tradition of Poe..” by his contemporary Stuart Kaminsky, Maberry detailed the dogged optimism and determination behind his spectacular success. I soon realized the points he was emphasizing are valuable traits for any entrepreneur, not just writers.
Maberry began with an anecdote about a pivotal moment in his youth. A librarian who had become a mentor during his teen years introduced Maberry to the famous science fiction writer Ray Bradbury. It was on Maberry’s 14th birthday and Bradbury told him the most important advice he could give him is that a writer “writes” and that “if you learn the basis of writing you should be able to write about anything.”
Mayberry took those words to heart. While he is best known for thrillers like Ghost Road Blues, the first of a trilogy of supernatural horror novels, he has written for many formats and genres, including plays, lyrics, poetry, fiction, non-fiction and comic books – and loved it all. He’s even written for the Burpee Seed Company on how to plant a seed.
He succeeds by getting up early and writing up to 10 hours a day and is currently under contract for a series of bioterrorism thrillers for St. Martin’s Press. The first three books have been optioned for television and the latest, The King of Plagues, just came out this spring to rave reviews.
Above all, Mayberry urges other writers not to undervalue their talent, but to find agents and editors they admire. He told the audience that there’s a mindset that many writers get into that says “artists are not good at business” and he challenged the audience to refute it. His business secret? Just do the necessary homework in the form of solid research before you send out a query, whether it is to an agent or a magazine editor, and query more than one at a time. When he is trying to place an article, he will pitch any publications that might be able to use it. Finally, he follows up with a phone call. When he was looking for the right agent, he did lots of homework before inviting the person he wanted out to lunch to discuss how they could do business together. He landed one of top agents in the country before he had his first bestseller.
You can read more about Maberry’s books, read interviews on his blog or order his latest thriller The King of Plagues at www.jonathanmaberry.com.