When I sat down to write what became my first novel, I had no idea of the learning curve I had ahead of me. I have learned so much, not only about the writing process, but the publishing and promoting side as well.
I want to encourage anyone who’s ever thought of writing to stop thinking, and start doing, so I’m sharing some of the more important things I wish I’d known when I started.
Writing is incredibly rewarding
Writing is a wonderful, freeing, and exhilarating thing to do. The pure joy I experience is well worth any setbacks that may come with it.
The work starts once you’ve finished the first draft
Writing the first draft is easy. Seriously, it is. The hard work starts with editing, and continues from there. It’s fun, but it’s no walk in the park.
There are many rules
People, mainly other writers, will try to pile you up with rules that in their opinion you MUST follow, or else you can’t call yourself an author: you must do a writing course or three, never use adverbs, show don’t tell, you must write every day, write what you know, only use short sentences, never use a one word sentence, do writing exercises each time you start writing, you must outline you plot before you start... and the rules go on.
I willingly admit that I break most of these rules and I know many others do too. Some rules have validity, but not many.
Writers can make poor reviewers
I’ve had a few fellow writers critique my books rather than review them. There’s a difference. Be careful who you ask to do reviews.
If you choose to publish, you will need beta readers and a professional editor
Beta readers are the people who are the first to read your manuscript. Their role is to provide feedback and pick up typos. My beta readers are great at finding errors, inconsistencies, and pointing out things they don’t think work. My professional editor picks up what was missed by everyone else.
Good promotion can cost a lot of money
Bookbub is the ultimate place to advertise an Ebook. So what is the cost to advertise a romance suspense book on their email list? About US$800. Ouch!
The best promotion is word of mouth (which is free)
Bless the reader who tells others when they’ve enjoyed your book! This is the best compliment a writer can receive.
People will give you strange looks when you talk about your characters as if they’re real
Some understand, some don’t. These people (the characters) live in my head, so to me they are real in their own way
You need someone you can talk to openly about your writing
I have a great family and a friend I talk to about my writing, but the best person has been my writing buddy and fellow author, Jen Redmile. We talk about all aspects of writing and publishing and she helps keep me focused and motivated.
You will be asked to summarise an entire 75,000 word novel in 100 words
Impossible. That is all.
Okay, so it can be done, but it is the hardest thing I’ve had to do, writing wise.
You will occasionally need a thick skin
Rejections, harsh reviews, and editor’s comments all require a degree of thick skin. Like all other criticism it can be hard to take, but you need to hear it, think about it, and then decide whether to act or ignore it.
You will make wonderful friends and meet fantastic people
Okay, so most of the meeting I’ve done is online, but that also means I’ve met people from all over the world. Writers are, on the whole, some of the most sharing and supportive people I’ve ever met. Have a question? All you have to do is ask and someone will give you the answer.
It’s a lot to learn, especially when you consider it all starts with a single written word.
If I’d known all of this before I started would I have written and published a book?
What's it about?
It's about words and my life as a writer. There are also tips for those starting their writing journey, with a focus on self-publishing, and encouragement all round.