Tips For Writers? I’m Terribly Sorry, But I Simply Don’t Have Any.
Five or so years ago I woke one morning, gazed for a while at the ceiling and decided that I could no longer do what I had been doing for twenty – odd years!
That’s quite a thing to decide.
Each day you get up, go through the routine of breakfast, kiss the cheeks of the busy family members, exit the home, get in the car and drive to work.
In a way I was fortunate as I owned a long established advertising agency. We were considered to be ' hot' (creatively speaking). I had a terrific staff of 48 who loved their jobs and the work they did, and they really did do some terrific work.
The trouble was, I no longer did.
To get up, go to work and spend all day fooling your clients into thinking you were still enthusiastic about their products and their brands was suddenly beyond me and to be honest, it really it wasn't fair to them.
So, as a true advertising man I followed the Nike credo of, "just do it "
And, I just did it.
I sold up, (for a song) and did what I had told friends, family and anyone else who cared to listen over the years, that one day I intended to be a writer,
I was a copywriter by trade. I think I was moderately good at my craft, if the award statues that cluttered up the staff bathroom were anything to go by, but becoming a novelist?
I wasn't really that sure.
So, what does one do?
Naturally one moves to Bali, finds a house and becomes a mediocre typist.
I then wrote a thriller, " Final Diagnosis" in just 39 days flat, fluked a publisher within a week and released the novel in America in less than four months.
I mean, how hard could this lark be?
But really, in producing the first book I made every mistake in the book (excuse this extremely poor pun) The edit was absolutely appalling, the text layout mediocre, the cover dark and gloomy which all meant getting a decent review was well nigh impossible. The distribution, even with my publisher at the time assistance was akin to a kid doing a paper run in the tiny suburb of Nowhereville.
I was listed on Amazon and ranked 4,762,410 on their 'all time best seller list!’ And I so learned the painful lesson that a book, when published, doesn't just walk off the shelves.
The publishing business and the business of being a full time writer is a damn site harder than advertising, and believe you me, that business is seriously hard!
My first book was withdrawn from sale, re – edited and re – released which made the novel at least readable and sales picked up after a couple of decent reviews. Naturally, I then decided that more punishment was required.
I wrote another book!
Now, if you write TWO books you no longer have to say to doubting family and strangers that, “ I write book,” as, you can then say with confidence, “I write books”
This definitely (so I was reliably informed) puts you into the category of something called ‘ full time writer,' as apparently you are no longer a 'one book wonder'.
Its’ true, my ranking on Amazon shot up to 157,726th on their, "all time best seller list” which meant the books were selling. Just think another 157,716 to go and I make the New York Time top 10-bestseller list!!!!!
Inspired, I immediately embarked on yet another novel and within the year I had three published books under my belt. That belt however struggled valiantly to try and hold up my trousers over an emaciated waistline brought on by the tiny royalty cheques I received which didn’t really cover the grocery bills.
What happened though was that I was swamped by a trove of e–mails in the form of requests for advice.
Advice? .... Go figure. I'm 157,000 th. and something on Amazon’s list for Gods sake.
The sort of questions I received revolved around the following bits of twaddle.
" How should I market my new book?" "Should I get an agent?" " I’m writing a book about vampires, is this wise?" “ How do you cope with writer's block?” " My characters all seem wishy washy. What should I do?" "Is this a good title for my book?" etc. etc. etc.
Now seriously folks, how the bloody hell would I know?
Setting out on a path of being a full time writer is fraught with dangers but, overcome the fear and really, most people could become a writer. The expression, 'everyone has a book in them," is apt but for most, it's best that their potential book stays in them.
When I started on my first book the publishing world was pretty much as it had been forever and then, overnight it changed. Steve Jobs, as a last act on this planet, introduced a device we all now know as the iPad, closely followed by iTunes and iBook’s and then Amazon brought out the Kindle.
Suddenly, anyone could publish (even if the content was dubious) and the publishing landscape turned on its head. What was once closed territory was suddenly wide open and really, anyone could play.
Good thing? Bad thing? I have no idea. All I know is that now, at the rate people publish (2.5 million fiction titles in 2015) there will soon be more writers than readers!
As readers, and I am certainly an avid one, we know that good writing is paramount and consequently we are selective in our choice of spending time with a writer's creation. Produce rubbish and the reader will reject you and promptly tell an Amazon forum just how shite your book actually is.
Still, when faced with all of this, I persevere, deluded in my self belief that maybe, just maybe my writing keeps a few people on the planet entertained for a while; nothing more nothing less.
For me, the best thing about writing is that when I travel and have to fill out those pesky immigration forms I am able to list my profession as …. Writer.
You have to admit, it sounds pretty sexy doesn’t it?
Paul v Walters is a best selling novelist and when not cocooned in sloth and procrastination in his house in Bali he scribbles for several international travel and vox pop journals. His latest novel “ Scimitar” was released in September 2016