I had my first book published in 2013, and since then a further five books have made it into the world with my name on the cover. Despite this I still feel like a ‘new’ author – though looking back at what I thought then, and what I know now, I have learnt a few things.
What I thought before I was published – and what I know now.
1) Published authors make a living from their writing
There are many who do, but there are so many more who don’t. So many authors who write books in between their day jobs. The image I had of writing books by my poolside has been sadly shattered. Jackie Collins managed it. Kathryn Freeman sits in her study and squeezes her romance writing in between her medical writing. At least I have Jenson Button for company. [insert photo]
2) Writing is a solitary existence
It’s true the only way to get words onto paper is to ignore everyone and everything around you for a while and just write. For those who miss face to face interactions though, there are plenty of conferences and local writer group meetings that provide opportunities to chat with other writers. People who understand when you mention sagging middles (of the book variety) and head bopping points of view. Then there are the virtual interactions on social media. Comment on a blog, reply to a tweet – the writing community (authors, bloggers, readers) is hugely supportive. You don’t have to do it alone.
3) Editing is about correcting plot inconsistencies, spelling and grammar
Editing does feature all of those – but by heck it’s about a whole lot more. My editorial reports are often split into sections: plot, characters, pace, romance, timing and style. All of these are looked at in the first edits – well before the spelling and grammar. I’ve had to add chapters, delete thousands of words, combine two characters into one, soften my heroine. All far more complex – and challenging – edits than my naïve unpublished self had thought. Then again, my unpublished self believed the book I’d written and submitted was as good as it could be. I had no idea what a huge difference an editor can make.
4) I’ll run out of plot ideas
I’ve found that having the ideas isn’t the problem – it’s knowing which of them to run with that’s the hard part. As is keeping focus on the book you’re writing, while in your head you’ve just had the most brilliant idea for another book…
5) Writing is easy
Yes, that was the most stupid of them all. When I started out, I was writing around 4,000 words a day. I thought it was a doddle. Funnily enough, that first book never did get published. I’ve recently revisited it, and was horrified by how terrible it was. In hindsight, writing it again would be have quicker. So writing is easy – it’s writing something that people will want to read that’s bloody difficult.
This post is brought to you by Kathryn Freeman.