For some reason, I've recently been pondering where I am in my writing "career" and just how I got here. Much of it was achieved by a combination of insane hard work and blind luck.
It's been a strange journey for me to become a published novelist. I started off writing short stories and carried on doing that for several years. Then I managed to sell the first novel I'd ever written to a small indepndant publishing company called Humdrumming. My novel, Rain Dogs, came out, received glowing reviews and a BFS award nomination...and then the company went bankrupt.
A few years later I was asked by Jon Oliver to send in a pitch for a zombie novel for Abaddon, an addition to their popular Tomes of the Dead line of titles. To my suprise, my pitch was accepted. I'd never written a zombie novel before, hadn't read many zombie novels, but dived in anyway - it was a great learning experience, and gave me my first mass market title: Hungry Hearts. I'm still very proud of that grim little bastard of a novel.
During this time I also pitched to Angry Robot a novel-length story featuring a character I'd been writing about in the short form for years: a man called Thomas Usher. It took a while, but that one was finally accepted. I had about three quarters of the novel written when I got the phone call. I'd pitched two novels - Pretty Little Dead Things and Dead Bad Things - and the acceptance gave me the impetus (and the confidence) to write the second one.
Flushed by this success, I then pitched an ambitious horror/fantasy trilogy to Solaris - The Concrete Grove. I never expected this one to fly. I thought I was pushing my luck, trying to be too ambitious. But, to my amazement, that one was accepted, too.
Now all these books are out in the world. They've been critically well-received, but haven't exactly set the world alight with sales. I'm not quite sure where that puts me in the eyes of publishers.
I'm currently working on another pitch - a novel that combines gritty crime and horror with a sliver of SF. I'm also writing a haunted house novel on spec. I have no idea if either of these books will sell to a publisher. Possibly not. Probably not. You can never tell with these things. But I carry on. I keep writing the stories that demand to be told. What other choice do I have?