Treat your writing like a career and a business and it can change your life. That's one of the gems I learned on our writing retreat in Greece from our guest speaker Northern Irish romance writer Gill McKnight. She has built a huge following with her 19 romances published so far and she talked to us on how to build a writing career. The first romances "were rubbish” – her words. But 19 books later she will admit they are now “pretty solid stories”.
"It is impossible not to get better with each book. I read all the Amazon reviews, take any advice on board and make the next book better." That is the advice I took home with me. Get over yourself and just WRITE IT. You will get better. Your plotting and words and story get better. And some people only need to write one book to change their career and lives.
You do need a few things to get the book out of your head and onto paper if you want to end up becoming a published author. Here are my top 3 essentials:
You need to have a story.
Look this is a basic requirement. If it's a novel you are going to have to dream up a story and a plot. If you are writing a non-fiction or memoir you also need to find the story in your story. This is the single-minded concept that is going to hold together your book. I believe in, and teach, having a clear roadmap and a structure before you start writing. I want to see your book published and readable. That’s why I push writers to plot, plan and execute a book in a very clear way. That’s what it takes to write over 60,000 words and keep a reader gripped. It can't be random. You are writing for it to be read (by ten or ten million). Otherwise you are writing a diary, right?
You have to actually write your book
Aaaaah yes, the writing time. Writing a book is a long journey, but this is also the magic part. Once you have the right spine over which to drape your words, they will flow. Or you will force them out. Either way you will want to write that book. My advice is always to write the first draft FAST. I am writing at the moment and I am finding that if I walk away for a few weeks I keep losing the story and the magic. I push you to write it in FOUR MONTHS on my mentorships.Writing time is an investment in your future as an author/ speaker. Find the time.
You have to sell it again and again.
Yes you are going to have to sell your book. First to an agent or publisher and then to your reader. You want people to read it, don’t you? This is the step where so many writers get stuck, even if they have the most fantastic manuscript. You need to send it out consistently and with purpose. Send it to publishers, agents and any connections. You can also look at digital or self-publishing. This is such an exciting time in publishing where you can share your story with the world. You don’t need a big publisher to approve you (although that is very nice). You can build a brand, a huge readership and a career on just your dreams and stories.
Writing a book is starting a new career in a way.
So you get that I am simplifying what is actually a scary, exhilarating and magical adventure. Writing a book is brave. It takes courage and massive amounts of discipline.
Putting your ideas out into the world is reckless and crazy. That’s why we do it!