Friday, 6 September 2013

How to be an author.


Over the past months I’ve interviewed lots of writers and authors. I asked most of them what advice they’d give a budding novice and I thought it would be interesting to put all their wisdom into one blog post.... at least the printable answers! Some are wise, some are entertaining and some are one word “Dunno!”, but all are worth reading!

Crooked Cat:

I don’t accept - I tolerate. Someone has to write good and use, punctuation properly, and sepll well. But what’s most important of all is when they......BIRD BIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRDDD.....

Lorna Fergusson:

Goodness, how to choose? The first thing I’d say is to trust the process. That means you need to have faith that you can see your project through. Break it into segments, deal with it a little at a time, but deal with it all the same – commit yourself to putting word after word on the page and you’ll get there. Trust also that in the writing process, new notions and connections will come to you. Don’t wait for them. Write and they will come.

Richard Hardie (ME!):

[richard2..jpg]Creat a maintain a blog. I use mine to post interviews with other authors, many of who are very famous such as Sue Cook, Bernard Cornwell and Helen Rappaport, though I find first-time authors equally fascinating when I hear of their struggles to get published and how they came up with their plots in the first place. Currently I try to post an interview every Friday at 6.30pm UK time and at the moment I get around 2,000 views a month. If only those views translated into book sales, I’d be very happy! It does however give other authors the chance of exposure.

Bernard Cornwell:

Social networking. I should imagine it’s important to any author!  You get a lot of ideas from readers!

Anthony Price:

The best piece of advice I could give any aspiring author is to just go out there and do it.  Keep writing.  The key to success is perseverance and not giving up, no matter how many rejections you get.  A writer can learn from criticism as well as praise.

Helen Rappaport:

Helen RappaportI can’t be that pat about it. There’s lots to take on board. You need to be resilient, optimistic and work very very hard. Nothing falls into any writer’s lap unless you are unbelievably lucky. Nor is anything guaranteed beyond each book, as you finish it It is an extremely insecure profession, where the rewards for the  vast majority of writers are small, and getting even smaller. If you are looking for fame and fortune, this is not the profession for you. It requires a lot of persistence and absolute dedication to the craft.

Roxanne Barker:
Roxanne Barker
To have a ripple effect working with other holistic practitioners Have a message to help those who feel there is no hope either through books, or a short film, workshops etc…It certainly takes patience, love and understanding at a deep and profound level.

Gina Dickerson:

I’m not very good at advice but I would say, read. Read lots of books and find out what you like, or don’t like. Most of all though, keep writing even if you can only squeeze in a little each day.

Tina Burton:

Be versatile. Don’t just stick to one thing, write as much as you can. The more you can write, the better you’ll become. Try short stories, letters and articles on a variety of subjects.

Mandy Baggot:

Mandy BaggotKeep writing! Enjoy it! If you want publication decide which path is right for you but don’t be afraid to mix and match. Indie and traditional both have their merits.
But most of all don’t get disheartened if things don’t go right at the first attempt. I’ve had so many rejections and doors shut in my face! Although it hurts, it feels so much sweeter when you’ve come out the other side!

Sarah England:
Sarah England 
Take critiques. Forget your ego – chuck it right out! Be ruthless and objective and take all the advice you can get. 

Mandy James
Mandy James:

Never give up and never forget your dreams. Roll with the punches and be prepared to get back up off the ground every time. If you don’t, you will never make it.

Sue Cook:

Hmm.... that changes every week. I think the best advice is to tell a good story. Don’t get too hung up on the editing and sentence construction. Leave that for the second draft. Once you’re happy with the story  – its beginning, middle and end – and written it out, then you can start the polishing process. Oh – and I always write a biography of each of my characters –  where they went to school, what their parents were like, what always got them into trouble, what heartbreaks they’ve had in their lives, what their ambitions are, where they buy their clothes... some of these things might never come out in the book you write, but they will inform the way your characters behave and speak. Works wonders for writing the dialogue.

Glynis Smy:

Glynis SmyHave faith in yourself. You can do it, if the book wants out, it will find a way. Never give up because you feel you can’t get published. Self-publish if you cannot find an agent/publisher. Don’t waste your life wishing you had, just do it! Get the book out there, print off a paperback version, hold it in your hand and realise your dream. Go for it, ask for help. I did when my mentor passed away, and now have a beta reader in Talli Roland! Yes, I know how lucky I am.

Carol Hedges:
Carol Hedges 
Place backside on chair. Turn on laptop. Write.

Marit Meredith:

Marit MeredithDon’t ever give up!

David Robinson:

David W RobinsonI have this mantra: doubt everyone, never doubt yourself. It’s as simple as that. I have some wonderful people who help me along, particularly my dear friend and editor, Maureen Vincent-Northam, and Laurence and Steph at Crooked Cat Books, but essentially it’s up to me to get those words down on the page, and every writer must have that inner-belief. Without it, you’ll get nowhere.
One other piece of advice. Remember that most overnight successes take 20 years to achieve.

Trevor Forest:

Trevor BelshawDon’t let the nagging doubts get to you. Keep at it. Don’t be frightened to let others read your stuff; it’s the only way you will ever know how good your work is. Smile and hug relatives who say nice things about your project, then share it with people who actually know something about the craft. Always remember, not everyone will like what you turn out but then not everyone likes everything J K Rowling and Dan Brown have written either, (especially me). Join an online writers site or a local, face to face group if you can find one. Hopefully it won’t be as cliquey as the Westwich Writers Club.

Richard Hardie (Me again!)

Richard HardieWriting is a business. A hobby stops being a hobby the moment you depend on it for an income, no matter to what extent. A writer has to bear in mind a number of things, the most important of which is that he or she is writing for their readers, not for themselves. An agent I once had gave me a piece of paper with the letters GOWTS on it and told me to put it on top of my computer. She explained that the letters stand for Get On With The Story and although she taught me many things, that was a fantastic lesson. I don’t need that piece of paper any more because the letters GOWTS are embedded on my writer’s brain.

Carol Drinkwater:
Work hard!

Ailsa Abraham:

Ailsa AbrahamWrite. Just that. Even if you end up with a mass of back material, that will come in really handy when you DO get published. Believe me, there is nothing worse than having a successful book out, your publishers clamouring for more and nothing to give them – that is pressure!

Maureen Vincent-Northam (Mo):

Maureen Vincent-NorthamBelieve in yourself and NEVER give up on your dream. I know this isn’t easy in the face of constant rejection (we’ve all been there) but as a wise person once said, “A successful author is just an unpublished author who didn’t give up.” Or something like that.

So there you have it from the mouths of a number of horses! How can you fail now?

Blog on, Dudes!


  1. Blimey! There's enough advice there to put a 'how to write' book together. 20% of the royalties to me for saying it first.
    Nice compilation, Richard. Interesting stuff.

    1. Hmm, that's a thought, Trevor. Mind you that's 250% I've given away already!


    1. How true, Carol!
      By the way, your CAPS lock is on!

    2. How true, Carol!
      By the way, your CAPS lock is on!

  3. Didn't we all do well? I feel like a propur awfur now!

    1. You did good, Kid! Trev reckons there's a book in it!

  4. Some great tips were shared, Richard. :)

    1. Very much so, Glynis. If only we all followed each other's advice!

  5. Fantastic advice on all fronts, Richard! All of it is painfully true :-) I like your point about GOWT and Carol's succinct instructions, but then I'm from a marketing background, so hooks I can remember easily work well for me! Also because I'm getting on a bit…haha. That aside, thank you very much for your kind comment on Carol's blog. I answered, but it didn't get through for some reason, so I thought I would come and tell you here. I shall now add your blog to my list!

  6. Loads of good advice here, thanks Richard! A great compilation for reading during those insecure moments. A reminder to KEEP GOING and I CAN DO IT!!!