10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming A Writer
by Fiona Ingram
- DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB BUT…
The hardest part about becoming an author and keeping your day job is finding the time to write. Keeping your job and trying to write means there’s less time for writing but not many people can survive on a starving artist’s income. My first book took four years to write while I had a full-time, high pressure editing job. Later, when I gave up the rat race to write full-time (and my wonderful mother funded me), the second book took two years. The third book took less than a year.
- WRITING IS THE EASY PART
I read a great article about marketing. It began: “So you’ve written a book? That was the easy part.” I thought, Nonsense. What rubbish. Obviously the hard part was the writing. People will naturally buy my book. How wrong can one person be?
- MARKETING IS A HELLUVA SLOG
Marketing is truly the hardest part of being an author. Marketing and getting people to notice your book is like trying to pick out a particular snowflake in a snowstorm. These days it seems that not only is everyone writing a book, but everyone is self-publishing, even traditionally published authors! Marketing is an on-going, constant work load. You have to tell people every day about your book.
- THERE ARE MILLIONS OF OTHER WRITERS OUT THERE
That’s right. Well, maybe not millions of writers, but millions of books. UNESCO annual worldwide statistics as of the latest year come in at 2,200,000. Yep, a lot of books. It’s hard to stand out in that huge crowd. So, your story has to be pretty good to beat the competition.
- THERE ARE MILLIONS OF FANTASTIC IDEAS OUT THERE
Just over 200 years ago, Dr. Samuel Johnson (English writer, poet, critic, 1709-1784) suggested that fiction was limited to a few plots with “little variation.” Take heart, apparently there are only about seven major themes: Overcoming the Monster; The Quest; Journey and Return; Comedy; Tragedy; Rebirth; Rags to Riches. Of course, there are variations within those grand themes such as Love; Adventure; The Chase; Power; Allegory; One Against; One Apart. The hard part is making your story unique within these parameters, which clearly reflect the human condition.
- EDITING IS FOR EXPERTS
That’s right. Editing your own work is a no-no. I have a degree in literature and worked for a number of years as a magazine editor. However, that does not mean I am able to edit my own work. It’s amazing how someone removed from the project is able to see it clearly and make the right suggestions. Hiring an editor is the best step any writer can take and (alas) is one many writers bypass.
- REJECTION LETTERS ARE THE NORM
Imagine my shock and horror when every single one of the 35 British literary agents I had sent my intro letter and first three chapters said no. Some were kind; most gave me the standard letter. Take consolation that most of the Big Name Authors out there have endured the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ (Hamlet) and been rejected, some many times.
- FINDING A PUBLISHER IS LIKE…
Finding a needle in a haystack. Publishers are well guarded by agents with all the characteristics of Cerberus guarding the gates of Hell. And that is why so many wanna-be authors these days self publish, and then with a bit of luck sell gazillions (Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey, E.L. James) and then get snapped up by an eager publisher.
- WRITING IS LIKE HAVING HOMEWORK ALL THE TIME
You know you are a writer when you feel guilty if you’re not staring at the computer, tweaking a line, slashing some adjectives, or developing more plot.
- YOUR LIFE CHANGES DRAMATICALLY
You will possibly lose many friends once you become a writer. They just get bored to death listening to you wax lyrical and at length about the plot/the villain/the hero/the heroine/the problems you’re having integrating your theme(s) with the direction the story is taking. Reading your favorite books loses its pleasure because you start pulling apart the writing you used to read with awe. You find spelling mistakes everywhere … not just in restaurant menus. You begin to correct other people’s grammar. Aloud.
Read more about South African children’s author Fiona Ingram and her award-winning middle grade adventure novel The Secret of the Sacred Scarab by visiting http://www.FionaIngram.com or http://www.secretofthesacredscarab.com. The Search for the Stone of Excalibur (Book Two) will be available in late 2013, while Fiona is working on The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper (Book Three).
A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs.
Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra and sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor.
With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!
Genre – Juvenile Fiction
Rating – G
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