I’ve just come back from being on panels at three literary festivals and talking to authors published by Silverwood Books. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind mini tour, juggling childcare (Asian Literary Festival combined with dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum), meeting old friends (my chemistry teacher at the Ilkley Literature Festival) and logistics (candles, camping chairs, no toilets!) at Bristol Festival of Literature where I was reading from my thrillers in a cave beneath the city centre!
I thought I’d share with you the five writing tips that I shared with my fellow writers at these events.
1. Never give up! Remember the story about Enid Blyton papering her study walls with rejection letters? It is HARD to get a novel published. It takes determination, perseverance, humility, self-belief and stamina, as well as a hefty dose of luck. Just keep going!
2. Keep going. If you do get a novel published – celebrate for all you’re worth – but don’t think that just because you’re a Published Author, it’s always going to be easy, straight-forward and lead to repeated book deals, champagne at publisher’s parties and that MGM will be beating a path to your door. Each book has to be as good if not better than the one before.
3. Have empathy. For yourself and your long-suffering family, of course, but mainly for your characters, and especially your villain. No one (well, almost no one) thinks they’re doing the wrong thing. We can all justify most of our actions most of the time. So get in your characters’ heads and see the world as they see it, particularly the person who is the antagonist in your plot.
4. Write. Preferably every day. You know those people who tell you they’ve got a novel inside them? Uh huh. I’ve got a violin concerto inside me. I’ve never picked up a violin, but I know it’s in there. Practise. You need at least 10,000 words under your belt before some of them are any good. Remember those overnight successes you read about? Most of them took a decade to be an overnight success.
5. Publicise yourself. Even if you have a book deal with a major, mainstream publisher, your editor will still expect you to do some publicity. Writers are often introverts so if you don’t like, you know, reading your work out loud to complete strangers, networking in bars where you know no one, or shouting about how great you are, do what you can in whatever form is most comfortable for you. Don’t want to organise a book launch? Have a Facebook one instead.
Bonus tip: Keep learning. Talk to other writers, join a writer’s group, do an online masterclass, read books about your craft and read. Just read. Anything and everything.
I love this Tedx Talk by Nathan Filer: How to write an award-winning best-selling first novel (in seven easy steps).