5 Tips on getting started as an Author

Welcome back! Here are my top 5 tips on getting started as an author...

Why am I qualified to give you these tips you may ask... well, because i've just recently started out myself!

1. Take a course / Research - Read. Read. Read.

While it may be easy to say, 'Oh hey, i've got a great idea, i'll write a book.' There is so much more to it! Taking a course, such as through the Australian Writers' Centre, is a great place to start. In these courses you can find out the updated knowledge on the particular genre you are interested in, relevant information on the current market and how to find out everything you need to know.

Additionally, read! You need to read a range of books that have become available recently. Check out who published them, to figure out what those publishers are interested in seeing.

On a side note, be sure to check out publisher websites' submission guidelines to see what they are accepting. One thing I am finding difficult when looking around is that unsolicited manuscripts are often not accepted (especially not in popular areas, such as Sci Fi & Fantasy).

2. Get involved & Begin building your author platform

That's right - get involved! Connect with your writing community online and in person. Some great ways to do this:

- Join social media - there are a great range of groups/writing communities, particularly on Facebook and Twitter. These platforms have great support, including everything from Manuscript swaps and critique groups to just general support!

- Go to writing events so you can meet people. Next year I will be attending my first big event - The Creative Kids' Tales Writing Festival, where I am paying to also have my manuscript appraised by a representative from Scholastic Australia! Wish me luck!

- Join online activities, such as:

  • NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). There is a group support group around this on both Twitter and Facebook. - I am participating in this for the first time this year (November), keep checking in on my home page for word count updates!

  • Pitch events (# PBPitch on Twitter). Where agents and publishers may check out your pitch and favourite your tweet, inviting you to submit to them.

  • Auswrites (# Auswrites on Twitter). Often have activities available, where you can join in and get to know other authors and aspiring authors

- Build your platforms. This may be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, a website and/or blog, etc. I read some great advice, which was to start small.

I adapted for my interests and do the following:

  • Twitter - to connect with other writers and join activities (I make posts here & advertise - click the Twitter bird on my site to visit my Twitter page).

  • Facebook - I used this platform to join a range of groups, such as Creative Kids Tales Network, Just Write for Kids, The Duck Pond, KIDLIT411 MANUSCRIPT SWAP and Transmedia Mutts - Unleash Your Creative Bark (these guys work on pitches with you).

  • Website/Blog - What i'm doing right now, talking to you! I was told this is a great way to begin building a fan base, a way to promote your materials when it comes time and to have a space about you for your (future) readers. Don't be discouraged when it starts slowly (i'm trying my best not to be!)

3. Recognise this journey will probably cost you money!

Something I have realised so far is that even if you are trying to do everything solo and in writer groups, etc., is that this pathway costs some money. Here's some of the things that cost money that i've found so far:

  • Courses

  • Festivals and meetings

  • Subscriptions. Subscriptions. Subscriptions. There are so many to choose from, all of which seem vitally important!

  • Edits of your manuscript - before it's ready for submission

  • Reading materials (research & enjoyment of course) - though Libraries are a wonderful resources!

  • Self-publishing - artwork including the cover art, various edits, etc. unless you are able to do your own.

Needless to say, there are many more things in this world that seem to cost money, picking and choosing is something I quite struggle with myself. I see some Christmas money investments coming up!

4. Balance - I know, it's tough!

I am working full time, have a husband and a baby. Not to mention the platform building, connecting, and oh yeah, writing! So in essence, I can see how this is a problem.

My advice so far - Try and plan your time! This has probably been the biggest struggle for me, being that I love to write. But make sure you are still putting the effort into your family and day job (assuming you have them). For example, I try to write when my husband is doing his own thing, and my baby is sleeping. Figure out the balance that works for you and go for it!

5. Make time to write (of course!)

It may seem like, duh! Of course I will write. But, once you have a website, perhaps a blog, a Twitter or Insta account and then some Facebook groups where you sign up to review other people's work... Oh, where did the time go!

A big struggle is not getting caught up in all of the side biz involved in writing. Make sure once you do your social side for the day, you leave yourself time to write and edit your own manuscripts! (Though as I said, do get involved because it is a greats supportive world in here, and it would be a shame to miss out on it!)

Some great advice I recently heard - you make time for what you prioritise - so if this is your priority, you will indeed make some time!

Well, that's it for me today. Thanks for visiting, and i'll be back soon with another blog post. Though it may be a short one since i'll be novel writing during NaNoWriMo in November.

Shay :)

© 2018 by Shay Laurent. 

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