Where to begin when writing that first book?
Can only go by my experience and can I tell you, the road has been rocky but has its rewards. I just wish I knew then what I know now!
It was a public holiday, and hubby takes me to the movies. I find out it’s a vampire movie and munching on popcorn and a choc top I try not to be ungrateful, but I hate vampires. These movies frighten the begeezers out of me. But wait! This vampire sparkles. After we walk through a department store and a salesperson is stacking the shelves with four novels from the same movie. The twilight saga begins. Hubby buys me the books and at home, I read them in a frenzy. Why I am suddenly interested in reading a book, never mind four, is strange. I haven’t opened a novel and sat still enough to read in a long time. But here I am fixated on a weirdo vampire that drinks animal blood and sparkles. Goes to show, even at my age I am encouraged to read if the fantasy turns nightmares into daydreams. As I read the last page of the last book, I had an epiphany. I would write a book! So, I tell hubby and he chuckled, sure; he says. Whatever you feel like doing, go for it. And I did. Over the next two years, I wrote 10 novels. Have published 6 and working on book number 11, yes you guessed it, a vampire story. Will my Draco find another me to inspire while reading my story, as the sparkling loveable Edward inspired me. Who knows, time will tell. Until then, here are some hard-knock lessons I learned along the way.
- Dream big and stretch your mind far and wide to create a story you have not yet read, watched, or heard about. It must be your own imaginings.
- Get an idea and research. Google is the most amazing tool. The words ‘Cloud Riders’ stuck in my mind with my series. I had no clue what that meant or what story it would become. I googled the clouds, learned so much. They took me to the stars and planets and here, in awe, I found mythology. Wow, I could keep writing stories now, from just this one insanely mesmerising universe, forever, and never run out of a story to tell.
- Don’t be nervous to share and get advice. No author can steal your story as no one can write it as you can. Look at Twilight and the knock-off that ended up a best seller too. 50 shades of grey. One started copying the other but with a different take, no vampires but still a controlling character. Both turned out to be best sellers. Another I can think of is the Mills and Boon franchise, it’s huge. Every book is a romance written in the same format, yet with each author’s unique characters, places, and sin on the tale. So, open the door, let others in. Take away that shy, am I good enough feeling and find out.
- Don’t give away your manuscript to a publisher who asks you for money. Never! If you don’t want to become an “Indie Author/publisher” there are so many Traditional publishers out there to try. Find them. They will never ask for money. If they do, they hide behind a mask and just vanity publishers. They take your money, offer to make your book a priority, but unfortunately unless prepared to work hard yourself after, and sell, you will never retrieve the money spent. Best to do it for free on Amazon and take your chances with KDP. Yes, I have tried vanity publishing and avoid it now like the plague. But that is another story for another day.
- Send your story out to readers before you publish. It must have readers to find plot holes you may have missed, sentences that are hard to read, and glaring errors. Ask for this feedback and make the changes happen in your own voice. Never change a story to their voice. Yours is the only one that matters. Keep true to you, it is your story. For me, I am a feedback junkie. Love getting critiques and spend hours mastering my story to suit the readers of my genre.
- And finally, get a professional to do your cover, yes, it is that important. If the cover does not attract, the blurb will never entice, and your book will sit on the shelf. When writing the blurb on the back cover, join a writers’ group, put it up, and ask for feedback. There are many experienced writers who will help. The blurb will trigger a reader to buy or not. Make it a good one. Never assume it’s good enough. Make it great!
So, all you need to do now is start writing. Find your niche and put pen to paper. And remember, the first draft is basically the story, writing itself. You will most likely spend another year or two rewriting and making it readable to others. Well, what are you still doing here! Have the time of your life. The sky is the limit! Enjoy every moment and when it’s done, if you work hard and make it readable, like-minded souls will love it too.
Cheers and Good Luck from the storytelling cougar.