I get asked this question a lot, especially by my “non” writer friends. I think it’s interesting because I know it secretly means How do they become a writer? I’m also fairly certain most of the people who ask me haven’t read my books, but that’s another issue at this point.
So I’ll begin with one thing: a burning need to write a story. Then another, then another. This need needs to be more than just an idea. You need to write it down, hash out the plot, the twists and turns, develop the characters.
No time? Congrats, I don’t have time either. I’m a mother and wife, which in themselves are crazy busy gigs, I have a baby and almost five year old, have church and family commitments, and work. Yes, my work is mostly edits, but that leaves very little time for actually writing, and before I received my first contract, I was working in an office part time. Not to mention, I’m a female and put a heck of a lot of pressure on myself.
So no time? If you’re serious about writing, you’ll find time. Please don’t insult me and every other writer out there by asking this.
Next: Remember your first story won’t be the next Harry Potter. There’s a reason why we have the term “first draft.” Working in submissions, I’ve seen a lot of newbies submit. It’s cute, really it is, and I try to send them something constructive for feedback. Yes, please, for the first round get all your ideas down. Better out than in. But after that, get online, join in writers groups, read blogs, make some friends who can critique with you and refine your art. Like anything else out there, there are rules and styles for writing, and these are there to fit the trends and reader expectations. Trust me, you want your readers to be happy.
Once you’ve written that manuscript and polished it to a shine, then you can look into querying. I started by getting involved with competitions. This way I could get great feedback on my query, and I met other writers at the same stage as me. We worked together, and I’d say most, if not all, the people I met during that time have a book deal of some form.
But you’ll need to know a few things.
1. You will be rejected. Over, and over, and over, and over…
2. Know what you’re looking for. Do you want an agent? If so, don’t sign with just any agent. Know who is good, what agencies have positive/negative reputations, who actually gets big 5 publisher deals (some agencies have little to none of these) etc.
If you choose to go through a press, know the same about them, are they reputable? Do their books sell?
Also make sure you read over any contract you consider thoroughly. You don’t want to be blindsided by contract clauses you missed.
So there you have it. Sounds simple enough, right? With hard work and patience, along with frustration and a thick skin, you can get there. There are plenty of writers out there, but the authors are the ones who soldier on and work through the trials.
Katie Teller is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has sold more than 10,000 copies. You can find out more about Katie, the Kiya trilogy, and her other books on twitter, facebook or at her own blog.