1. Never Stop Learning
I have a degree in education. I taught high school English and Drama for almost twenty years. I was a teacher.
I thought that if I wrote a book it would mean I was a qualified author. How wrong was I?
Even though I’d taught students how to write essays, stories and poetry, deconstructed literary texts and written professional articles, I soon realised that knowing how to write in those contexts, or even being seen as an expert, did not qualify me to be an author.
In my naivety, I thought it would be easy. After all I loved writing. I knew the theory. I’d read many classic literary texts. How hard could it be?
And so began my learning journey.
I confidently sat down at my desk and wrote and published my first book Beautiful: beauty tips for the soul. Then my second.
Then I decided I wanted to write a novel.
I began writing my first YA novel Perfect Mercy in 2009. By early 2010 I believed my manuscript was ready to publish.
I attended an Omega Conference in Perth and had my work critiqued by Annie Hamilton. After spending six hours with Annie while she identified the serious structural problems she’d identified in my work, I was about to give up on the whole idea of being novelist.
However, I spent months afterwards rewriting. I attended the ACFW Phoenix conference in 2011 and received advice from an agent. It still wasn’t ready.
So I rewrote it again. It took until late 2012 before Perfect Mercy was released.
I’ve spent the last three years educating myself and writing.
Here’s a summary:
· Summer school at Oxford University: studying Fiction and Young Adult Fiction.
· Christian writers conferences in Australia.
· Online writing courses and many seminars.
· Author talks. E.g. Jodi Picoult.
· Agent and publishing talk in Florence, Italy.
· Read and studied craft books.
· Two Art of Writing retreats in Tuscany.
· Margie Lawson Immersion Master Class in Melbourne.
What did I learn?
- The more I learn, the more I need to learn.
- If we are going to write, then we need to write well. Write exceptionally well.
- I’m still on a learning journey and will continue to invest in learning.
- Sometimes the more I learn, the more depressed I become. However, once I get over myself, I find that the more I learn, the more inspired I become.
- The more I write, the better I write.
- The more I strive, the more my writing is fired by excellence.
- Whether you’re an indie, traditionally published, freelance, volunteer or online writer you need to be educated. You need to learn.
2. Form a Professional Tribe
Forming a tribe of people you work, share and learn with— a tribe of people who inspire and support each other through the journey of publishing and life—is invaluable.
Editors, designers, printers, readers, distributors, booksellers, critique partners and fellow writers become your tribe, your family, your cheer-squad.
Indie publishing should be as professional as any other career and the people you invite to join you on the journey should be professional too. They make you look good!
We must all be humble enough to realise that while we must write alone, we need to be open to having a tribe of people to support us professionally and personally. A tribe who cry with us, pray with us, celebrate with us and even tell us off occasionally.
We can’t do it alone.
By Elaine Fraser