So ... it's been over four years since I started learning how to write novels and although I have one novel finished to a high standard and an agent getting it under as many publishers noses as humanly possible, there's still no book deal in sight. Sigh.
I join the ranks of many frustrated writers, I know. But here's the thing. I can't sit around and wait. Waiting never helps so I'm going to make some changes to the way I do things in 2016. I'm going to get my stuff out to readers any way I can.
Beta readers tell me they love my stories. My agent loves them. I love them. I need to get my stories into the hands of more people who will enjoy them too. I can no longer sit around hoping a traditional publisher will give me a nice shiny book deal. If nothing has arrived by the end of this year, then I will bring it to you myself.
Watch this space!
Writers need to be able to put themselves in their protagonist's shoes and most do this successfully. We are all human and all know how it feels to be happy, sad, angry etc but unlike actors who sometimes have to pretend the backdrop is there when it isn't, we have to set the scene and really feel our surroundings. Smell, taste, touch, sound ... sight. I could not remember the last of the five senses! Embarrassing. Shh… don't tell anyone.
That just shows how much emphasis I put on sight. My mind is able to conjure up the most magnificent visions, better than anything I can see in the real world. That's why I love books! Every reader will read my books differently and that is pure magic to me.
Whilst writing magic realism, I wanted my protagonist’s experiences to feel real, especially because it's fantasy. I want the reader (you) to imagine what magic rushing through your body feels like, how a magic addict might suffer and what it would be like to use magical instruments. I want you to feel the power, the fear, the anxiety of having dangerous magics at your fingertips. Like The Never Ending Story, I want you to feel like you're part of the story.
Here is why I think I might be a bit of a method author.
Parts of my stories I can experience, I psychically do. I went to Eastwell Manor (a source of inspiration) and investigated. I even spent the night there - it is spooky at night.
I also did smaller things. In one scene, my protagonist slams into the ground from a height. No, I didn't jump off a cliff. I'm crazy but not that crazy! I went into the garden and allowed my body to drop onto the grass. I smelt the dirt, saw the ants scurrying around and felt the prickly blades press into my cheek. I then went back to my desk and wrote the sentence. That is what I think a 'method author' would do.
Another time I wanted her to feel cold, like ice running down her back. So I did that. I noted the change in my skin, my heart rate and generally my body's reaction to the cold. It helped me to write what she was experiencing with a bit more depth.
As long as it isn't dangerous or going to hurt someone else in any way, I try to experience as much as I can to make my stories breathe.
Let me ask you this: Have you ever read a work of fiction where you felt sure the person who wrote it had actually experienced what the protagonist was going through? Maybe you can see the difference in the writing between those who have experienced and those who are faking it?
What about you? Are you a method author? Do you sit around for weeks not washing and stinking up the place because you are writing about someone trapped in the wilderness? Maybe you went to work with someone to get a feel for their job so you can write your story about an accountant turned psychopath? Maybe you are writing about a little dog and go around eating off people's dinner plates and pooping on your neighbour’s lawn. Note: I did not do this when I wrote Curly from Shirley. Eating someone else's dinner is rude.
I'd love your thoughts.
Disclaimer: I am a natural storyteller, not an English teacher.
Go get a fan base before anyone has even read your book.
I know what you are thinking. That is crazy! You're right, it doesn't really make sense. How can you build a fan base without a product to sell?
Well this is what might be expected of you if you want to land a contract with any of the big publishers.
Blog, tweet, Facebook, WattPad, fan pages, website, juggle life, my kids, (not literally of course for all you mad people who now have a picture in your head of me throwing around my three small children!) relationship with my husband, supporting him at work, cleaning the house, bills/school stuff etc etc and oh yeah, don't forget to write the book! Then re-write, edit and polish it. Phew! I feel tired just writing that.
Writers are having to be sales people, personalities, admins on fan pages, marketing experts and the list goes on. This seems to be because the industry is in a bit of a mess for lack of a better word. People are self-publishing some really great books but many are publishing poorly executed, badly edited and just plain boring stories. With this wide range to choose from and a lot of it free you can see why agents and publishers are finding it difficult to take a chance on any new author. A couple of underperforming titles and that could be the end of their business!
When asked by a major publisher to put my work up on Wattpad I politely declined. After almost three years of practise, (mostly teaching myself what I did not learn at school) I was reluctant to put work up that wasn't edited, even though I knew readers would understand. I love WattPad, it's a great place for young writers to get feedback on their work and I would have loved to share a few chapters but at this stage, I want to try and do things traditionally. I haven't given up hope.
Writing was never and will never be about money, for me. I need money so I can feed my family. I've never had much of it and I don't mind if I never do. When people enjoy reading and are excited about a book that you have written and they love your writing, it is the most magical feeling in the world. I live to make people happy, including myself and I really hope my novels will give people joy as they have done for me.
Thank you to all those that have already supported me. You are amazing. I support new authors wherever I can. There are so many wonderful writers out there just waiting for their chance to fly and take their readers soaring through the clouds with them.