*pokes head around corner* *realizes TWN has kinda totally disappeared for the past two month (ish) with no explanation whatsoever. Sooo where have we all been? I’d like to say I was doing something super productive, like I found a way to jump into books and have been living in either Middle Earth or Carthya for a while, but alas, I was mainly just enjoying the Christmas season and doing some writing!!! (More on some of that later… especially those of you who have seen the recent changes to my works page under the team’s writings and are wondering when I’m gonna talk about a certain story put there *cough, cough*. I have no idea currently, but you should be hearing something before the end of the month!)
For now, I hope TWN will be back to posting more regularly and with that, I shall let you read on into today’s post. THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH to the fabulous authors who submitted questions for this post!! I hope you found the answers you were looking for!!! 🙂
Our first round of questions comes from the AWESOME (and can I just say one of the most brilliant and talented writers I’ve EVER MET) Faith Elizabeth. If you don’t believe me that she’s good, just read her story in Imagine *mind is still blown like four months later* She submitted us some awesome questions about the publishing end of writing, and I hope I’m able to give a good answer for them!!! I’m still learning a lot in this area too, though. 🙂
How much of an audience do you need before you’ll be accepted into this highly competitive field?
Izzy: There is no set number, as far as I’m aware. Yes, authors with a high audience following do have higher chances, but that is not always the case. I’ve even heard some publishers say that they care more about the quality of the book than the following of the author! It depends on the agent, so always do your research before querying any literary agency. For now, I’m going to direct you to this blog post here for more information!
Will they pressure you to write more books in a certain period after the first has been published?
Izzy: Okay, so I want to first put out there that I am, by no means, 100% knowledgeable in this area as I have never published a novel currently. However, I know a little about the process by listening to what other authors are saying, and I’m basing my answer largely on that. But keep in mind that this answer will change depending on the author, publisher, agent, and other circumstances. There are two routes that I know of that you would be very likely to be pressured into writing more books. The first route would be if your first novel was a success and the fanbase is wanting more. Depending on the agent or publisher, you could very well be pressured into writing more books after a certain period. The second route would be, if you’ve signed on multiple books (like a whole series, for example) with a certain publisher, you would have a deadline to get each book sent to the publisher. However, signing on multiple books at a time rarely happens with debut authors. All in all, it is possible that an author can face the pressure to write more books after the first has been published, but this is not something I hear that happens a lot so I wouldn’t be too concerned.
And they discussed some of the cons of this field (most notably turning your writing into something different and removing certain elements), but does the same apply to Christian publishers?
Izzy: I’ve heard this fear being raised multiple times, and to be honest, I don’t believe it’s entirely accurate. Yes, as I’ve previously stated, my publishing knowledge is limited, but from what I’ve heard, authors always have the final say in what’s in their book. When it comes to edits to the book and what is in your story, if the author doesn’t want to change it, he/she doesn’t have to. If a publisher doesn’t like a certain element in your book, they are more likely to just not publish you. An editor cannot change anything to your book without your permission. Christian publishers are just like secular publishers in this area.
Our next round of questions comes from the incredible Louise Taylor! She’s a fantastic gal I recently had the pleasure and honor of meeting. AND SHE RUNS A BOOK BLOG with her friend!!! I MEAN HOW COOL IS THAT!! I know I’ve said it before, but sometimes I wished I ran a book blog instead of a writing blog. They are THAT fun!!! So go check out Bookish Productions and maybe plan on staying a while. 😉
How did you go about building your author platform?
Alana: Creating a blog for people to follow.
Katherine: We started out by creating a blog. However, what I feel like benefited us the most, was what happened after we created our blog. You see, we started out with a site that we knew was not indexed on Google, so we realized we needed to get our name (more specially the link to our blog) out there so people would know about it. With this thought in mind, we started searching for other blogs like us and commenting on their sites in order to meet new people. In doing this (combined with noticing that Jennifer Nielsen [unlike other authors I knew about at the time] engaged with her readers), I realized that engaging with your readers and being active in the reader/blogger community was beneficial in building up an author platform. You build connections this way. Not only that, but when your readers/followers get to know you, they become more excited about what you have to offer (e.g. your stories). (I do want to make a note here that when we created the blog, we were not thinking about “building an author platform.” We had never heard that term before at the time. I can see now, though, how our blog was a great step for our “author platform.”)
Izzy: Building your author platform is something that takes time, commitment, and dedication, but is pretty much a necessity for the writing career. There are many ways to go about expanding your author platform, but I’ve found the best ways are posting consistently (which, I’m sure y’all have realized, I have failed at this so much lately XD), being active in the social media community of your choice (like the blogging community is a great place to start!), and posting valuable content for your readers. But through all of this, I think the biggest one is to be a part of your social media community. For the blogging one specifically, you could wait for bloggers to come find you, or you can find them! Follow blogs, read their posts and comment. Be active. Build relationships. Remember, your following are people, not numbers, and this is a great opportunity to make new friends.
And how did your drive and passion go into that, making it a wonderful and immersive experience for your followers?
Katherine: Mostly, we were excited to meet new people and get to know them as well as talk to someone who liked stories as much as we did. Because of this, we put a lot of enthusiasm and excitement into our blog and created
hopefully fun and entertaining posts for our readers to enjoy. We were also passionate about creating a website that encouraged other writers in their writing as well. This passion helped make our “mini community” a great place for followers.
Our final set of questions comes from the lovely, fun, kind, and all-around FANTASTIC Saraina!!!! It’s been such an honor to get to meet this author and be a part of her writerly journey!! AND Y’ALL SHE JUST STARTED A BLOG TOO!!!! I HIGHLY recommend checking out her site here!!
What are your tips for staying motivated?
Alana: Creating sprints and setting myself a goal.
Katherine: One thing I do to stay motivated is get myself inspired to write. Here is a link to my guest post on some things I do to inspire me to write. Another trick that I found over the summer was to at least touch your novel/story every single day. Looking over my story, whether that was reading the last thing I wrote or adding a new sentence, often got me excited and motivated to continue working on my story and be more persistent in it. Talking to people about your story is another great way to motivate yourself to keep working.
What are some tips for writing faster?
Izzy: Every author is different, and what helps one write faster can be different for another. However, here is a list of a few things I do to help me write faster.
(1) Use writing sprints. Whether you do them alone or with a friend, writing sprints are a great way to get a lot of words down in a short amount of time. You can set a timer in short sprints of time and see how many words you get down. You can even find writing sprint videos online to go along with! You’d be surprised how much this helps.
(2) Get rid of all distractions. Turn off wi-fi, put your phone away in another room, let your family know you are not to be disturbed. This will help you stay focused on writing and not lose time checking to see what your friends are reading on Goodreads (#GuiltyAsCharged). I’ve even heard of some authors who will turn their computer’s screen’s light all the way down and write like that. After trying it, I gotta admit, it really helps! Just be prepared for a LOT of typos!!!
(3) Join writing challenges. I’m always surprised how writing challenges help me write faster! From doing NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Workshop’s Crazy Writing Week, to my own challenges—either alone or with friends/sisters—(like getting up at six A.M and writing in the morning for a week or an all-day writing sprint) these help me get huge chunks of words in my novels! Even though I’m exhausted afterwards. XD
(4) Set writing times. Having an hour or two set aside every day to write, can help you stay consistent and complete stories faster. Just remember to be flexible—life isn’t always kind to us authors. 😉
(5) Be kind to yourself. This one has helped me SO much. Just reminding myself to enjoy writing and not be so hard and pressuring myself to meet a certain amount of goals every day, can help keep the fun in writing. And if you’re enjoying it, chances are you’ll be excited to write, and who knows what kind of progress you can make then. 😉
What are your tips for coming up with plot twists?
Alana: Planning the story out then deciding what I want to be the plot twist.
Katherine: For me, I plan out details about the story or character and then I decide which details I want to keep secret from the reader. Here’s an example from Star Wars: Let’s just say for now that George Lukas planned his plot twist ahead of time (whether he did or not, I don’t know). Maybe while creating the characters, he decided that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. But Darth Vader was the villain, so then he could have thought that it would be interesting if the detail about Vader really being Luke’s father was kept secret from the audience. Then the audience’s minds would be blown when they find out the truth, and it would end up being the perfect plot twist!
Izzy: I think my best tip for this is to figure out what the reader is least likely to expect. For instance, the whole “villain dude is actually my father” plot twist has been pulled a LOT, meaning it’s lost its impact and is kinda expected now. Not saying you can’t still pull a great plot twist using ones that have been done over and over, but sometimes if you want to pull in an extra punch, I would set a list of ideas. Which one of these have you seen done a lot lately? Which one is the most obvious? Which one is the least likely to believe? Weed out the bad options until you have the best choices left!! You can also ask a trusted friend, get some beta/alpha readers, and ask others their opinions on your plot twist! (Bonus: need help actually writing and pulling off a plot twist? I have a post all about that right here!)
How do you deal with perfectionism in writing?
Katherine: Perfectionism in writing is something that I definitely struggle with. At times, it has even caused me to just not write at all. It may sound crazy, but I used to think that I needed to wait until I was good at writing to write my novel.
Yeah, I didn’t realize that’s what I had thought. It was subconsciously but still affected the fact that I didn’t get anywhere in my writing. I’ve realized now that you don’t just suddenly get better at writing. It takes practice. Therefore, this is what I’ve come to do. First, I write without caring about how it sounds. Give yourself permission to write SloPpY. After all, it’s only the first draft, and in my experience, it all turns out better in the next draft and through edits. Don’t go back and read your writing until you have finished the first draft. However, if I am working on a longer project such as my novel or have to pause in the middle of my writing, I will read the last paragraph or couple of previous sentences before continuing writing. (Or if I forgot what was going on in the scene, then I’ll go back and read what happened.) Other than that, try not to read your work until you get through the first draft. Just write whatever comes to mind first, even if you think you’ll need to cut it out or edit it later. The important thing is to write and to complete that first draft.
Another thing you can do is darken your screen when you write. I did this once, and it sorta worked for me. Darkening my screen helped me to not look back at my writing and feel discouraged, but it did cause me to end up with a lot of grammatical and spelling mistakes because I couldn’t see my writing. Which was frustrating for me afterwards. Even so, I’ll probably use this method again, and you can try it out and see if it works for you.
So, to end this: I wish you the best of luck as you defeat perfectionism!!!
And that’s a wrap yall!!! THANK YOU to my two awesome sisters for helping me get this post together and I hope you enjoyed reading it!!!!! Be sure to let us know in the comments below what do YOU do to stay motivated in writing? Do you struggle with perfectionism? Would you like to see more posts like this in the future? Who’s happy TWN is
hopefully back? *waves hand excitedly*. Talk to me all about it below!!
Until the next post,
Keep on being awesome and never stop writing,