My journey so far as a writer and some advice for aspiring authors
Published in 2015 with Momentum (Pan Macmillan Australia), I never had a life-long dream to become a writer. But once the urge started, it was unrelenting. After having my second son the stories start popping into my head. I thought I was going crazy until I sat down at the computer one day and started to write. I haven’t been able to stop since.
After recently presenting the story of my journey so far as an author at the Brisbane Writer's Group Convention on November 8, 2015, I was asked to document it down along with some advice for aspiring authors and writers. So here it is.
Presenting at the Brisbane Writer's Group Convention
Time Management: -
This is a critical element and you will have to find something that suits your lifestyle. Whether it be a certain number of words per day, per week or per month, find time to write that suits you.
I draw inspiration from many things — dreams, life events and conversations I have with people. Draw inspiration from anything and everything around you and surround yourself with a good group of people that are like minded. Writing groups are a great source of motivation and inspiration. Associations that focus on your genre are full of useful information, workshops and understanding members. I love being a part of the Romance Writer's Association of Australia.
What keeps me going: –
I love the creative aspect and therapeutic qualities I get from writing. It is a fantastic outlet for my creativity. The ability to create worlds, people, characters and events that are totally fictitious is a great talent and hopefully people enjoy reading my work.
Money – while the reality of making a living off writing is a long way off, at least I’ve started with my first published book. Yes, I have to keep my part-time day job to help pay the bills. I look forward to the day where I can write full-time and have income from my books.
My journey to date:-
2011 – I started writing my first manuscript.
With no idea where to go or what to do to see if I was on to something, I turned to Google for my answers. I discovered QLD Writers Centre http://www.qwc.asn.au/ and Romance Writers Association of Australia (RWA) http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/1/Home - being involved in these organisations has without a doubt aided in my success of becoming a published author. My first leap was to take part in their one-on-one critique partner programs.
2012 – I attended my first annual RWA conference on the Gold Coast – it was one of those life changing events. I met amazing people, learned so much and new that writing was the career I wanted.
I did my first pitch to some publishers at the RWA conference, had 3 x manuscript requests that were quickly followed by my first 3 x rejections. I discovered I had so much to learn about how to write. With my background in corporate marketing, I was quick to discover that journalism did not help at all for creative writing. I had to set out about upskilling myself and reworking my manuscripts yet again.
Continual education in this business is key.
2014 – At the RWA conference in Sydney, I pitched to Pan Macmillan and was contracted a month later. Woohoo. Perseverance and hard work paid off.
2015 – My debut novel, Propositions, was launched on March 26th, 2015.
Available for $3.99
More info click here.
2016 – The year ahead is exciting with 2 x novels due out. The sequel to Propositions, current working title called Acquisitions, will be released in the first half of next year. A single-title New Adult romance, titled Distractions, will be available shortly after.
Improving your craft:-
The main elements I have learned on this journey is that it takes time, dedication, persistence and continual effort to improve your craft.
My four key areas I recommend for new authors is focus on are:-
- Show – Don’t Tell. Learn everything and everything about this creative element in writing. There is so much available on the internet.
- Character Arcs – make your characters leap off the pages allowing readers to become emotionally involved and develop empathy for them.
- Plot and Structure – Plot - what is your story about. Structure is the balance of all the interrelated events.
- Edit – Edit, edit and re-edit. Learn how to edit your own work and also find critique partners or a professional editor to aid in this area. I use both before I submit to my publisher. This ensures that my publisher gets the best possible manuscript from me.
For more information and the resources I have used to assist in my learning please visit http://taniajoyce.com/blog/writing-resources
My aim was to be traditionally published. Rather than submitting across the internet and being added to the slush pile, I learned how to pitch at conferences. It took me several goes, a lot of rejections with critical feedback, reworking my manuscripts and retrying. The added advantage of pitching is it gives you personal one-on-one contact with publishers. Networking in this business is essential. Get yourself to conferences, workshops and writer’s festivals and get in the face of the publishers. It worked for me.
The business side of thing:-
Being an author is now a business. It’s all about the marketing. Establish early on whether you are going to use a pen name or your real name. What image would you like to present out to the world? What is your tag line and what is your branding going to look like?
Marketing and promotional activities can take up a great deal of your time. Sometimes I think writing the book was the easiest part. Social platforms are used by most authors for their cost effective global reach. My advice is you don’t have to use all of them but whatever you do choose, do it well. Provide regular fresh content and do not just promote your book all the time.
Most marketing activities have to be done by you. The publisher does not stop the universe for you. Join groups, advertise online (can get expensive), attend events, and keep on writing.
Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser and struggle with where to go next. Keep writing. Don’t stop and don’t give up. Get to the end of that manuscript. That is one of the biggest achievements of all.
Love to you all!
Debut novel out now at all good e-retailers