"Maybe it's something you're born with," says Scott Mariani when asked why he writes novels for a living. "I grew up writing stories and little plays, getting my friends to act them out in the playground. The idea of being an author for a living was my dream."; But dreams are never easy to turn into reality and Scott recalls writing "a lot of nonsense that will never see the light of day"; whilst learning his craft. "I hammered away for a long time trying to achieve my goal," he says. "I dreaded going out to work in an office in a suit and tie, so fear of the conventional world was my motivation."

It was six or seven years ago that Scott had his “lightbulb moment” when out for a walk and the idea of his Ben Hope series started to materialise in his head. “It’s what I call ‘mystery history’ – contemporary thrillers full of chases, action and romance combined with a historical element,” he explains. It was a long hard road to being published, but eventually an editor at a publishing house commissioned the series.

Freedom and speed

The first book of the Ben Hope series reached No. 1 in the Kindle chart and stayed there for six weeks. “I was checking every day and couldn’t believe I was still on top of the list. Word began to spread and my readership grew exponentially with each book,” Scott remembers. Having sold over one million copies of the series, Scott could confidently say that he had achieved his dream of earning a living as an author.

However, he decided to do something to maintain the momentum. “Whilst I was writing the seventh Ben Hope novel, The Sacred Sword, I started to worry that things could start sliding back. I thought that writing a short prequel to the series would help to recapture my readers’ attention. I realised that Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) would allow me to quickly and easily publish this short story, Passenger 13, and earn a 70% royalty too,” Scott says.

“With KDP, a forgotten literary tradition of short stories can be revived,” he explains. “If we as authors want to plug gaps between full length novels, we can. I can write something really quickly and get it out the week after I’ve written it. The freedom and speed is amazing.”

He admits that he’s “not a technical person” but he found the whole process simple to understand. For Scott, being in charge of his destiny was the important thing. “Publishing it myself was such a liberation. It was a huge responsibility to be in control of my own cover design, editing, pricing and so on, but when it hit the top 10, it was such a rewarding experience.”

The future in his hands

This experience also allowed Scott to experiment with writing in different genres. His second independently published short story, House of Malice, a horror novella, was a complete departure, and he was pleased to have the opportunity to make it available in both Kindle and paperback. He used Amazon’s print on demand service, CreateSpace, which offers authors the tools they need to create, print and distribute their books for free. “In the past, authors had to pay a lot of money to print their books themselves, storing them in the garage and touting them around. It was hard to be taken seriously,” Scott says. “Thanks to CreateSpace, authors have this wonderful freedom to create paperbacks. The whole independent publishing system at Amazon is marvellously smooth and quick. It really is revolutionary.”

“I’m still involved with traditional publishing but I now have the freedom to try my hand at other things that I really want to do,” Scott says. “I have other projects in the wings, including a detective series which I know I can use KDP and CreateSpace to quickly and easily publish it myself and share it with readers. I feel happier in my profession now because my future is in my own hands.”