Author interviews are a great way for readers to get to know the person behind those books they love. They are also useful to fellow authors as a means of learning: every person is different and has their own unique method and style. The insights into persona are also interesting in their own right. One of the principle aims for this website is to assist fellow authors with their craft, consequently, as regular followers will know, a number of authors have been interviewed. One question always asked of them is:
What advice would you give to authors who are just starting out?
It is thought new authors, and even those not so new to the craft, may find the varied responses, suggestions and advice helpful. A resume follows.
Note: The order on which these are presented is not preferential. The order is simply chronological, reflecting publication date (Latest last).
Click on the author name to access complete interview.
Win Kelly Charles: ‘Find an excellent editor who is not a friend.’
Cherei Magnus: ‘Write what you want to say, not what you think will sell.’
Martha Ashwell: ‘Find a subject you believe is worth writing about. Perseverance and tenacity come in useful too. You may not get it right first time but continue to try, continue to write. Draw on your own motivation and self-confidence as a writer and see what you can achieve.’
Linda Kovic Skow: ‘Hire a professional editor. I mean it. You can’t edit your own book. You won’t see the mistakes because you are too close to the writing. It will cost you a few hundred dollars for a line editor, a bit more if you need some in-depth editing, but it’s the best money you will ever spend. I cringe every time I read a negative review where the main complaint is editing. You want readers to judge you on the content of your story.’
Jill Dobbe: ‘I would tell authors to write what you know and to keep putting words into print. Write as much and as often as you can. Look for writing contests and enter them.’
Sue Julsen: ‘My advice to people in general is to follow your dreams and never give up. This same advice goes even more so for authors. If a writer has a message to share but gives up, a story that needs to be told remains a secret and people who could have been helped continue to suffer in silence. …………
………….. If the problem is a lack of confidence, the best way I know to gain that confidence is to share your work with a published author you admire. I don’t mean a New York Times bestselling author. They wouldn’t have time for writers just starting out anyway. A self-published author you like to read is an excellent source to go to. Contact that person ask if he or she has time to read your story and give you their honest opinion. If it’s not what you expected, learn from your mistakes, but never give up on yourself or your dreams.’
Pamela King: ‘Start with something you know about so that you are comfortable with the backdrop to your story. That way you can focus on your story line and the scenes will fall into place naturally.
At the same time don’t include too many references to items that people worldwide may not be familiar with. I have just completed a book set in New York and I was totally lost when it came to mention of particular food, clothing brands and landmarks.
This is something I also learnt from you, Tanya, with my last book. It is a very Australian story about a little known state of affairs for the Australian dingo and I should have provided more background information for an international market. (It will be rectified in the next story.)’
Note: The ‘Tanya’ referred to is author T. R. Robinson (Owner of this website and blog).
Alex Pearl: ‘Enjoy your writing. Don’t be afraid to share it with others. And never be put off by rejection letters from literary agents. The best of us have received them. Even JK Rowling has.’
Aaron Blaylock: ‘Just write. Don’t worry about whether it’s good or not. Some of it won’t be. Don’t worry about getting published or discovered. You might not be. Just write. Try new things, different styles, learn the rules of writing and try breaking a few. The more you read and the more you write the better you’ll get. That’s a fact.’
David P Perlmutter: ‘Just write what you feel.’
Dustin Stevens: ‘The two biggest things are, without question, read and write. Stephen King said it best when he stated, “if one doesn’t have the time to read, they have neither the time nor the tools to write.”
As for the second part, write, and continue writing. Try new things, points of view, genres, whatever. Like anything, it is a learned skill, and it only gets better with time.’
Suzy Stewart Dubot: ‘Like singing, writing is good for the soul. Unfortunately, not everyone sings on key and the same thought can be applied to writing. Your work may not be good enough to sell, especially with so many independent writers self-publishing. Before you invest in an expensive editor, I would suggest publishing some works for free to get feedback from readers. They might say the storyline is good but it needs editing. That should tell you your next step if you really sense the writer in you.’
Lucinda E Clarke: ‘Read, read then read some more. Then write, stop talking about writing and write. Then get an expert to edit it and make it the best it can be.’
Julie Watson: ‘I think to be aware it takes a lot of commitment, time and energy. You can do it if you put your heart and soul into it. First there is the writing, then the publishing and then the marketing. All areas need your total commitment and it is ongoing. If you have a passion for writing and don’t give up, it will all be worth the effort. Also there is a lovely, supportive community of authors online that will help you on your journey.’
- ‘Write what YOU want to write, not what might be popular today.
- Research the FAQs and TOS of the publishing sites (Amazon, Smashwords or where ever). Seriously. It’s not exciting but it is very useful. It never ceases to amaze me how many new writers publish on Amazon (for example) not having understood the contract, the royalty system, and the fact that Amazon does not market their book. There are always scores of newbies complaining that they are being ripped off, or their book is blocked because they didn’t take the time to learn the rules.
- Research what you need for your world. I write fantasy which gives me scope to come up with some weird stuff or bend the rules with magic but a sword still hurts if it pokes in you; gravity still works; a horse can’t gallop all day; a person can still only travel so far on foot. If you decide to fiddle with reality as the reader knows it then prepare to back that up. I don’t necessarily mean you need to go into specifics about how your star drive works, or exactly what magic is doing to the space-time continuum but do keep it consistent and believable (to a degree).
- Don’t expect the reader to know what you know about the world or the characters. Some explanations are needed. Work on that character building, and world building.
- Bad reviews happen. Deal with it. Not everyone is going to like your work. Do you think every book you read is wonderful? Nope. So why should Joe or Joanne Reader necessarily think your work is the bee’s knees? You can’t please everyone – there will be too much sex/violence/romance/teen angst/vampires/description or not enough in the same book for two different readers. Sooner or later someone isn’t going to like your precious and that’s fine. Move on and celebrate the next person who does. Don’t reply to reviews and never ever argue. That will do your reputation far more damage than a couple of one-stars on Amazon.
- Read. A lot. All the time.
- Learn the craft. Take a course on grammar, creative writing, world building etc. There are loads of style and writing guides available and some are cheap or free. There are plenty of low cost or free courses.
- Write because you can’t not.’
Leila Sen: ‘I don’t know if I have much advice to give, I’m still finding my feet and have such a long way to go myself! All I can say is it does take a great deal of diligence and patience, so one really should be able to enjoy the writing process. Pour one’s love of writing and belief in the subject one has chosen into creating a world tangible enough for readers to step into. And then, – oh, this is so much easier said than done! – don’t allow the rejections to get you down.’
As already mentioned, author interviews are interesting in themselves but also provide insights and information other authors may find useful to apply to their own work. It is hoped those reading this find the titbits shared above inspiring and helpful.