Wednesday, 24 August 2011

First Time Novelists Warning

I know I am not yet published, so perhaps you may think that I do not yet posses efficient knowledge to be writing such a blog.
However, I have just completed my (current) extremely further revision of my novel, my first actually completed novel. Along the way I have suffered pain and heartache, lots of which I did not expect to. But I tell you this: I should have, and so should you.
Being an author isn't just about writing something with creativity and an original voice. There is so much more to take into consideration.
I am going to go through some of the lessons I have learnt in this ongoing journey. Although I must say that I am not perfect at this, I still have a way to go until I (please please!) See my book on a shelf with a shiny cover.

But I hope this will be of some help to anyway one reads this. And save some time taken away from finishing your masterpiece.

1. Never query too early, this was my mistake. The novel wasn't in a good enough shape, there was so much work that I needed to take the time to complete.
Make sure you are 200% confident that it is at its best before sending it out to the big wide world of querying. I know you may read this a lot, but its true.

2. You have to do your research, and not just for your fictional world you've created. You need knowledge, even if it’s just some, of the genre and market you would like to become a part of. This will help you become more aware.
However I will say don't shape your novel to fit a certain genre or marketplace, this will remove the joy from the process and won't make your book stand out. Know whom you’d like to read your book, and what you want to write about, but be unique.

3. Concerning agents, don't just query any old person who takes your fancy. Make sure you're your sending your work to the right person.
For example do the agency or agent handle your type of work? I myself have had to research what places take on YA Fantasy; some may take on one but not the other.
A good place to start your search is at Agent Query.
Also, are their doors open for submission currently? Do they have specific guidelines for submitting?
I suggest making a table (or spreadsheet if you're good at that) to keep all your information in one place.

4. From my, premature, round of queries I learnt the hard, but polite, way that my novel was too long. Way long. Some agents will just see your word count is too long and instantly dismiss your work.
I didn't really understand word count and how much of an integral part of publishing it is, especially when concerning new authors. (I know it seems naïve, but I'm new at this. I had no idea what to expect)
I say to learn more read this and this. Trust me, it's one of the most important things I learnt.

5. Get some sort of writing platform up and going, even if it’s just a twitter account with 11 followers. Be out there, it will help. Because if you do get published, these are all great advertising tools you will need, and it will help readers feel more connected to you and your work.
I read an interview recently with a great agent; she said that after reading your partial (if requested) she will Google your name just to see if you have an online presence. She said it doesn't matter if it was small, as long as you are there.

All this advice and information you can learn from the net. Look at author’s websites, their blogs or twitters. Read interviews they make, guest posts they publish. Do the same for agents and publishers.
A great website, run by brilliant friendly Stacey on twitter, I personally found a fantastic source for help is the YAFantasy Guide. Not only a good place to go if you're fan of that genre, but also amazing for other writers. It has great articles such as; painting pictures as a writer; how to get bloggers to review your books and what to avoid while writing dialogue.
Here are also some other great links to websites/articles which I found great help:

Great advice from author Josephine Angelini - of Starcrossed Series.

Author Zoe Marriott on getting published & writing diversely.

And finally, the most common piece of advice I see writers and such give, whether it be in an interview or on their blog etc, is:

Don't give up, follow your dreams.

And I agree with them whole-heartedly. As long as you believe in your story, if it has all those elements that make other books you read great, then go for it.
Perfect your book, use some of the advice above and go find more for yourself. Then just go for it.
What's the worse that could happen? People will say no? (Believe me there will be some who do) But then at least you've tried haven't you? You've put all the energy and enthusiasm you can behind it, then at the very least you can say you gave it a go.

Thanks for staying with me till the end of this, and I wish you the best of luck in your endeavours.
However the thing to remember is, keep your patience. Sometimes I struggle to find mine. So I close my eyes and dream of how I’ll feel if I succeed. It tends to help.


  1. Hi Amie, just want to say thank you for the post. There was a lot of articles in there that I hadn't come across before which I think will be very useful when working on my own story.
    Also congrats on finishing your own novel! I'm still dreaming of that day, hopefully it will happen sometime soon in the not too distance future :)

  2. I am really glad you found it helpful to read. It was a collection of some of the things, as I say, I found great help (and still do) so I'm really happy it can help you too.
    Thank you, still a couple things to adjust then we will see. Good luck with yours! Great feeling once it's finished! =)