Every writer’s journey is different. Author Steve Wand is my guest today and he shares his path from adversity to publication, including resources he found useful. In the last paragraph he offers sensible and motivating advice – take it and you’ll immediately appear more professional.
Over to Steve:
Robert Schuller once said ‘good things are often birthed from adversity’.
This was the case with me when recurrence of my old spectre epilepsy resulted in me losing my job and driving licence. The event placed me at one of life’s crossroads forcing me to re-evaluate my options. A love of writing led me to consider proofreading and, upon completion of nine-month’s professional training, I formed Steve Wand Editorial, allowing me to work from home, providing editorial services. I was also able to resurrect an unfinished fiction project and, in October last year, I set out to complete what I’d begun in 2004.
Along with self-doubt as a writer, one reason I’d consigned the completed first draft of my novel – a children’s fantasy adventure – to the drawer was my frustration with the story’s clumsy opening. I’d no idea how to remedy this and allowed myself to become disheartened. I now had opportunity to re-assess the work. My ‘eureka moment’ was when I chose to cull the first four chapters and start the tale at the point where things become interesting. But what of the missing backstory? How could I include this without relying on hefty paragraphs of narration? Using the ‘show rather than tell’ rule I selected elements crucial to the tale and worked them into dialogue. For example, two scrapped chapters illustrating the protagonist’s school bully problem were replaced by eight lines of verbal interaction.
Solving the tricky opening gave me confidence and motivated me to redraft The Door to Caellfyon with a view to self-publishing it on CreateSpace and Kindle.
At this point my editorial training became invaluable, I knew the role outstanding book covers play in achieving sales so I elected to proofread the final copy myself and use my limited funds to buy professional artwork. For this I had just the chap in mind.
I emailed the remit to local graphic designer Stu Smith, along with sample text from scenes I considered would make for good cover art. Given the tight budget I think Stu did a terrific job. I received his completed artwork on Christmas day, at which point I was free to upload my novel. This proved to be a greater challenge than I anticipated. Sally helped here with her book Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. Rick Smith’s Createspace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass was also helpful.
Having allowed self-doubt to deny me my ambition for so long I’d like to end here with a closing statement from my own recent blog-post Owning and Blowing Your Trumpet:
“ … as I begin 2016 with a sense of achievement and a feeling of excitement for the coming year I urge every aspiring writer who reads this to revisit your social media profiles and remove any trace of the word ‘wannabee’ or ‘aspiring’ and simply declare yourselves as writers. Make no mistake, this simple yet certain acknowledgement will serve as a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy and, in recognising yourselves as writers, writers you will be.”
Many thanks, Steve, for sharing your experience with us. It’s worth having a ‘look inside’ The Door to Caellfyon on Amazon and Steve’s website can be found at www.stevewandeditorial.co.uk
#1 by Steve Wand on January 18, 2016 - 9:16 am
Many thanks, Sally. If this inspires just one writer to strike out and show their potential to the rest of the world I’ll be well pleased.
#2 by Sally Jenkins on January 18, 2016 - 4:31 pm
Thanks for taking the time to put the post together for us, Steve! Fingers crossed for the book’s well-deserved success.
#3 by Julie Lees on January 18, 2016 - 9:52 am
Inspiring article and great advice about the self-affirmation. Sounds like a guy on his way to even greater success. The book cover looks fabulous, by the way, Steve.
#4 by Sally Jenkins on January 18, 2016 - 4:32 pm
Yes, Julie, I liked the self-affirmation stuff, too.
#5 by juliathorley on January 18, 2016 - 1:18 pm
It’s definitely worth spending money on the cover. This looks great.
#6 by Sally Jenkins on January 18, 2016 - 4:33 pm
I too think it’s a great cover to be judged by, Julia.
#7 by Patsy on January 18, 2016 - 7:47 pm
I didn’t decide that I wanted to be a writer until I’d actually started writing (Not writing anything good, but I was stringing words together). Because of that I missed out the wannabe stage. I’ve never quite understood why the wannabes don’t just get on and have a go.
#8 by Sally Jenkins on January 18, 2016 - 8:26 pm
Patsy, I think the wannabes are having a go but use the description wannabe or aspiring to indicate that they have yet to achieve a level of success they are happy with, e.g a wannabe novelist might be working on a first novel but feels unable to call himself a ‘proper’ novelist until he’s published. It’s probably due to that understandable lack of confidence in our abilities that many of us feel until an outsider validates our work (by publishing it).
#9 by stuart127 on January 22, 2016 - 6:32 pm
As someone with a first draft gathering dust in the drawer, I couldn’t have found this at a better time. Thank you!
#10 by Sally Jenkins on January 22, 2016 - 7:59 pm
Glad it gave you inspiration, Stuart!
#11 by JMD Reid on May 20, 2016 - 12:37 pm
Great article. It can be so hard to balance the backstory exposition, especially in genre fiction, without squeezing out your actual story.
#12 by Sally Jenkins on May 24, 2016 - 7:36 am
Thanks for commenting, James and I agree, backstory does have to be sprinkled lightly.