Neal James' latest book 'Full Marks' receives great publicity boost in the Leicester Mercury
But the accountant's persistence paid off and, in 2008, his novel A Ticket to Tewkesbury provided the breakthrough.
He's gone on to publish four more books with the latest addition to his bibliography, Full Marks, released earlier this month.
Leicester, like the rest of the East Midlands where he has always lived and worked, remains an inspiration – his serial killer novel Two Little Dicky Birds opens with the murder of a prostitute on the streets of Leicester.
He's also planning to expand his fanbase by branching out into science fiction. He has written 80,000 words so far of his debut in the genre, The Rings of Darelius.
But he admits that he has been lucky and knows that many writers would love to get as far.
He says: "You just don't know. Pneuma Springs just looked at my work and said 'here's a contract'. I thought it was too good to be true – but it wasn't. They have done an enormous amount for me."
Read the full Leicester Mercury feature