Hello everyone. First I want to thank Mike for allowing me to do a guest post for his wonderful blog. I hugely admire Mike as both a reader and a writer and look to him for inspiration for both my own writing and on what to read next. I wanted to write this post not only to share details about my latest SciFi novel release, Book 2 in the Orbit Series ‘Haven’ (reviewed by Mike last week), but also to prompt any new writers who are hesitating on jumping into the deep end to take the plunge. Because, let me tell you, the whole ‘I just released a new book’ thing never gets old.
Wanting to be a writer and actually getting a book out there, or even written, sometimes feel like two separate places on either side of a deep, echoing canyon. Bridging the gap is daunting. So daunting in fact that sometimes new writers don’t even try, or try only as hard as adding a paragraph to an old manuscript every couple of weeks, following agents on twitter or joining writers’ groups online. All these things, and I know as I’ve been there myself, are helpful and feel good and may help you learn some technical skill, but don’t actually get you anywhere real on their own.
The trick? Write a book.
No, I’m not kidding.
Sit down, get it written.
No, I’m not joking. You think it’s obvious but not having a manuscript to work on or to approach agents with is the biggest stumbling block I’ve seen many promising new writers trip on time and time again. The major obstacles to getting something written (in my experience, usually worrying about whether your book will be any good, what people will think of it, whether your facts will be straight or whether it will even get published) are not sinister and evil and should be squashed, they are also redundant as you will never have to confront them unless you’ve actually written something.
I’m not saying don’t be prepared. By all means, seek feedback as you go, make plans, take a course or get a book about writing (I recommend Stephen King’s On Writing), but don’t get yourself into such a knot of preparation you’re afraid to commit even a single word to paper. Just get yourself a plan or a premise and have at it and see where it takes you. You’d be amazed at how quickly a manuscript can come together and once it has you’re committed. You’ll motor forward because there’s no going back.
Don’t worry that your first draft is pants. It’s meant to be pants. Big, baggy, shapeless, unattractive pants more times than none. Polishing, editing and refining is when the story really comes into its own and where you really get to roll up your sleeves and show that script just how much potential you have. So don’t worry if, once you’ve geared yourself up to get a book written, that the script doesn’t feel right, or if it doesn’t feel good enough or even if its riddled with plot holes and cliché. All that can be fixed. You can’t fix anything if you haven’t written it.
Once you have a book, then you can get to work on everything else. Whether you decide you want an agent and, through them, a traditional publishing contract or if you want to self-publish or go through a smaller, independent publishing house like me, (Dagda Publishing I believe are currently looking for submissions if you wish to look: http://www.dagdapublishing.co.uk) you can’t even begin to approach any of it if you don’t have a script. So get it written! You have the power to do it, it is all down to you, you call all the shots and it’s fun. Ok, so it’s hard work, it’s nights of hair pulling and forehead-clutching, it’s early-morning Google fact-checking and it’s facing the fact that you will need to kill some or parts of your darlings. But there’s nothing else like it and it’s why we do what we do.
I won’t approach getting entirely to the other side of the canyon, i.e., going through all the pros and cons of the all the ways of getting your book actually published (though I will say: once you have your manuscript, do your research. There is no right or wrong way to get published but they all require work, commitment and determination and how long or painful the journey is can depend on whether you’ve chosen the right path for you) because there are many, many such articles out there that will explain it better than me and this post is just about that first step. Writing your book. Because once that’s done, you’re officially on the path and that’s where it all begins.
I wrote my first novel, Zero in 2013 and it came out last year. I was lucky enough to have Dagda Publishing already interested in my work as I’d contributed a couple of short stories to some of their anthologies (which I discovered through those half-trying methods of getting out there – following publishers etc online - proof it is still worth doing!), but even their interest wouldn’t have been enough to get me anywhere without an actual novel. So I wrote one. And having done that, I knew I could write another. And I did.
Haven, my latest release, is book 2 in the Orbit Series, sequel to Zero and came out over the weekend. Both books have done well amongst fans of Science and General Fiction alike thanks to the efforts of both my publisher and the promotion work I have taken on myself. And now the third is on the way too.
And let me tell you, the late nights, the hard work, the worry the doubt and the fear about the quality of your work or what people will think of it (or what people DO actually think of it once the reviews start coming in) all pale away to mist in comparison to the fiery, invigorating feeling of seeing your book published, whether it’s your first or your hundredth. Whatever you do to get there, it is all worth it. And is more than possible.
So what are you waiting for? Where’s that first draft? Put the time aside and get it down! Because once you’ve done that there’s no stopping you.
I still have a long way to go and many more books in me, but being two steps further along the journey than I was two years ago I have found is the best incentive for continuing down the road, wherever it may take me.
Book 1 in the Orbit Series is called Zero and has been described as ‘James Bond meets Firefly’. It is out now on Amazon: http://a-fwd.com/asin=B00MRACF86
Haven, book 2 in the series, which has been described as ‘cinematic, full of breathtaking moments’ and is out now for Kindle and as Paperback: http://myBook.to/havenjscollyer
Details of all publication and more thoughts on writing, publishing and promoting SciFi on J S Collyer’s Wordpress: http://jcollyer.wordpress.com