Advice to would-be authors

Beware taking advice from authors

It is very daunting trying to break into the publishing market, so it is very tempting to research what existing authors have to say about their experiences. I have read many books that generically could be thought of as “How to become a successful author” books. Not only have I found that the books disagree with each other, I have also found that my own views and experiences differ very substantially from those described in the books. All you as a prospective author can do is read lots of different views but be prepared to do what you think is right for you, even if it disagrees with someone else’s perceived wisdom.

I think that the main problem is that authors' circumstances tend to be very different, and what is right for one author, in their particular financial circumstances, writing their style of books, for a particular publisher, will probably be very different from what is right for you.

There are however two pieces of advice I would offer to all would-be authors:

  • Join the Society of Authors. I only have experience with the UK's Society of Authors, and I am amazed at how valuable they have been to me. Their pamphlets on issues such as libel, copyright, contracts (etc.) which are free to members, are a mine of useful advice. Their quarterly magazine (The Author) has been my best source of insight into the publishing industry - as you would hope from a society whose members are authors, it is a wonderful read. They also offer a superb, free contract vetting service, which was invaluable to me as I do not have an agent. Plus their membership fee is tax deductible! One of the real problems for an author is that you can feel very isolated (which is one reason why a good agent can be very supportive) - the Society has made me feel that I am part of a community.
  • Read Rachael Stock's "Insider's Guide to Getting your Book Published", published by White Ladder Press. If only this book had been around when I started!

So, I offer my advice for what it’s worth. At least the price is right – free!