I’ve been writing full time for nearly eight years and have over seven million words published—a lot more if you include collaborations. This job isn’t for those who aren’t committed to themselves.

You wake up. You get your coffee or tea or Diet Coke, and you think of the words waiting to be written while drifting back to the words already there and fiddling with them to make them better.

You hope you’re making them better. And then you flow into the blank page. 

Long-term success in this business is about the words. Had I written one book eight years ago and not written since, I would be lost to obscurity. No one would read that title from so long ago. With new books, new readers will find you, and if they like your style, they’ll go back, all the way to that first book. They’ll be forgiving as long as your first is a good story, even if it’s not written with the panache you have learned through practice.

My first book is going strong. It’ll be on sale in a couple of weeks for a big promotion. It’ll move a bunch of copies and bring people into the many worlds under my umbrella. 

It’s all because I keep writing. Sometimes it’s not easy, but every time, it is an escape. I love to tell stories, shape the scenes, detail the ebbs and flows a reader must go through to get to the end. I write fewer words now than I used to. For the first five years, I averaged nearly 2,800 words per day. Now, I’m happy with two thousand words a day. I spend more time massaging the text nowadays, but I’m not sure that makes it better.

From obscurity to a million sales. Eight years. My fingers are a little stiffer than they were before, but they’re still nimble when I envision the three-dimensionality of a scene within which the characters grow. And then I get to share that scene with readers who ask me for more.

I’m writing this article May 29, 2023. My second book to publish this year goes live tonight, after nearly 1,200 full-price preorders. I’ve written five books this year but am stockpiling for a tidal wave this fall when KENP rates on Kindle Unlimited should increase—that’s the historically supportive bet—to move a revenue windfall into 2024. I’m running backlist promotions a couple of times a month to keep the revenue streams juiced between releases.

It’s all because I write. Quantity has a quality all its own, but quality is the final arbiter. Readers will not come back if the books aren’t good. Write a good story and put it in the right readers’ hands. Then do it again and again. 

Eight years. And it’s okay, because I know what it has brought me. I spent three hours in the woods with my dog, Stanley, yesterday, on six different walks, because I could drop everything and go out with him. It was a beautiful day. And I also put 2,600 words into my current work-in-progress.

Picture of Craig Martelle

Craig Martelle

High school Valedictorian enlists in the Marine Corps under a guaranteed tank contract. An inauspicious start that was quickly superseded by excelling in language study. Contract waived, a year at the Defense Language Institute to learn Russian and off to keep my ears on the big red machine during the Soviet years. Back to DLI for advanced Russian after reenlisting. Deploying. Then getting selected to get a commission. Earned a four-year degree in two years by majoring in Russian Language. It was a cop out, but I wanted to get back to the fleet. One summa cum laude graduation later, that’s where I found myself. My first gig as a second lieutenant was on a general staff. I did well enough that I stayed at that level or higher for the rest of my career, while getting some choice side gigs – UAE, Bahrain, Korea, Russia, and Ukraine. Major Martelle. I retired from the Marines after a couple years at the embassy in Moscow working arms control. The locals called me The German, because of my accent in Russian. That worked for me. It kept me off the radar. Just until it didn’t. Expelled after two years for activities inconsistent with my diplomatic status, I went to Ukraine. Can’t let twenty years of Russian language go to waste. More arms control. More diplomatic stuff. Then 9/11 and off to war. That was enough deployment for me. Then came retirement. Department of Homeland Security was a phenomenally miserable gig. I quit that job quickly enough and went to law school. A second summa cum laude later and I was working for a high-end consulting firm performing business diagnostics, business law, and leadership coaching. More deployments. For the money they paid me, I was good with that. Just until I wasn’t. Then I started writing. You’ll find Easter eggs from my career hidden within all my books. Enjoy the stories.

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