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7 questions writers most often ask me

1.     How long will this book take?

2.    Can I get on the New York Times Bestseller list?

3.    Where do I start?

4.    Why are publishers or agents not getting back to me? 

5.    Should I write a trilogy? 

6.    Should I get a ghostwriter rather? 

1.    How long will this book take?

Long. That is the short answer. Most of my authors take a minimum of a year to actually write the book. By that I mean they go through a series of drafts until they are satisfied that the book is ‘pretty decent’. I have had four authors who completed a book in four months (from start to a decent finish). Most of my authors have taken four years from the start to the time they end up with a published book in their hands. This differs with novels vs nonfiction writers. The fastest books written are often those in the nonfiction realm where there is an urgency, or the author teaches this stuff and has a large amount of material already written. Arundhati Roy took XX years to write her second book The Ministry of Utmost Magic. Give it time. 

2.    Can I get on the NYT bestseller list? 

Of course you can. In an ideal world any book has a chance of being a bestseller and getting to the top of a list. It is not, however, easy. But there are steps you need to take to start that path. The first is to write a good book. Then you need to promote it so hard that it actually sells, and sells well. We are playing in a market that is saturated with book releases, so to make your book really stand out and capture the reading public you need a strategy, or just a magic book. Most often you first prove your sales in your local territory ,and getting picked up in more countries comes with time. That is how a book starts to sell more and more units. 

3.    Where do I start if I want to be published? 

All books start with two clear decisions. First you need to get clear on what you are writing, and by that I mean I want to know the exact genre (and you can check Amazon to see their list of genres if you are not sure). Don’t tell me "it’s a coming of age story" as that doesn’t speak to the way we sell and list books. The second is to have a structure that is going to allow you to write. In a novel this is your plot list or outline, and in a nonfiction it’s a solid table of contents. 

4.    Why are publishers or agents not getting back to me? 

Getting a publisher or agent is a combination of many things. They are looking at your ‘brand and reach’ if you are a  nonfiction author. They want to know your book will sell enough copies to break even (at the very least) and for that they want to know who you are, who will buy your book  and how you will promote it. In the world of novels it’s a bit more complex. We want to see you have a story, you know your genre well, you have a solid plot and strong characters. Pitching publishers and agents can easily take a year. Some never get back to you at all. It is a frustrating business. 

5.    Should I write a trilogy? 

This is a common question I get from novel writers. I am not sure where this started (possibly looking at Sarah J Maas as a model) but there is an ongoing rumour that authors need to have three books, and often release them together. This is a bit of a digital trend. It may work (I am not discounting it) but first just write a single, searingly brilliant book. It is true that publisher want to sign an author who has several books in their future, but we don’t need them to all be written yet. Just work on one solid book, then build your readers, hone your craft and a trilogy can follow in time. 

6.    Should I get a ghostwriter? 

If it’s a novel, then no. Rather write it yourself. Even though if you are on the writing community you will meet a few professional ghostwriters who write novels for clients (yes JK that’s you). For a nonfiction this is entirely possible. It really just depends on your budget as ghostwriters are an expensive business. I like to encourage you to write at least one version yourself, and then hand it over. The reason for this is that often it is the writing process that allows your ideas to cement, your life to come into focus and the lessons you learned and want to share to really start to sparkle. It’s nice to outsource a project, but the hard work of writing does bring big rewards. 

How can you write this year?

  • In June - We have a few rooms open in Lesbos, Greece 20 – 27 June info here 

  • In July we are in Tuscany 7 – 14 July info here where I am being joined by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Pulitzer. 

  • In August I have a year-long writing mentorship by application

  • In October we are writing in Barrydale South Africa info here

I also have a series of workshops in South Africa 

- Johannesburg and Cape Town

Write a Memoir August  8, 15, 22, 29 August. Mornings. Cape Town  BOOK

Novel Writing Weekend  17 + 18 August. Full day. Cape Town BOOK

Write a Novel Weekend 14 + 15 September. Full day. Joburg BOOK

Write a Memoir Week-Long Class 16 - 19 September. Mornings. Joburg BOOK

Novel Course Week October 14 - 17   9am - 1pm   Cape Town BOOK

Memoir Course Week-Long November 4 - 7 9am - 1pm   Cape Town  BOOK

Mail me if any of these feel right for you. 

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