This year, I wrote my first book The Sensory Home
. It’s a project that was in the making for a really long time – an idea bubbling away in my mind for years before I finally, eventually, put pen to paper. Writing The Sensory Home
was a real labour of love – there were a lot of setbacks along the way, and it was quite demanding of my time and energy. That said, it’s one of my proudest career achievements to date.
I know that, for many fellow creatives, publishing a book is a huge goal. So, I thought I’d share some of the things I learnt whilst writing The Sensory Home that may help you on your way to achieving your dream of being a published author.
5 things you need to know if you want to write a book
1. Experience is everything
Perhaps this is obvious, but you simply can’t fill hundreds of pages on a subject if you don’t know a lot about it.
If you have an idea of the subject you’d like to author a book on, my best advice is to learn as much as you possibly can about it. Read, yes, but also immerse yourself in the right environments – and talk to people who have lived experiences of the subject that you can glean wisdom from, too. And, if there are courses that cover or touch upon elements of your chosen subject, even better.
Try not to rush this process – knowledge and experience are things that we build over time, so allow yourself to collect all of the info you need without an unnecessary looming deadline.
2. There’s never a “right” time to write a book
I’m not suggesting that you pack in your day job, despite having little savings, to crack on with your book, or start writing before you have anything to actually write about. However, it’s helpful to be aware that you’re probably never going to feel like the timing is perfect to begin working on your book. It’s always going to feel like you could have a little more experience, a little more energy, a little more money, a little more of a work-life balance, and so on. So, try to make informed decisions where writing your book is concerned – what timeline is financially viable? What needs to change in your day-to-day to make time to write a book, and when, realistically, will you be in a position to make those changes?
Try not to doubt yourself. If you have a solid idea and enough resources in place to make it happen, then go for it.
3. Timing is everything
Whilst you should have ample knowledge on the subject of the book you want to pitch, remember that you don’t need to have the finished article polished before you begin pitching. The whole point of the pitching process is to sell an idea – it needn’t be 100% perfect (particularly since your idea may end up evolving over time as editors help you to develop it).
It’s also worth bearing in mind that waiting to pitch until your idea is fine-tuned – and particularly if the idea is very timely – may result in rejection, as someone else already had their similar idea commissioned.
By all means, flesh out your idea thoroughly, but don’t wait so long to pitch that you miss the window.
4. You’ll probably experience rejection
Truth is: the process of finding an agent and a publisher can wear you down. It often takes a while to find the people who both share your vision, and are able to help you bring it into fruition.
Try not to be too disheartened if you don’t find the right fit right away. Social media highlights can make it appear as though something as complex as getting a book commissioned is easy, and that if it takes longer than you perceive to be an acceptable time frame, that it’s a reflection of your talent or value as an author. It’s not. It’s just a really hard thing to do.
Try, tough as it is, not to take rejections too personally, and keep believing in yourself and your idea.
5. There isn’t only one route to success
You don’t need an English (or any) degree to write a book. You don’t need to have completed a book-writing course, to have published author friends, a big following on social media. And you don’t even need an agent.
I won’t lie – some of these things will 100% boost your chances of getting your book published. However, it’s a myth that you *need* them. There is absolutely more than one route to success.
I do have a degree, but not in English. And whilst I have feature writing experience, I have never been taught how to write for a book – and the two are very different.
My point is: don’t be fooled into thinking that you *need* certain privileges in order to get your book published. Privileges, by nature, will undoubtedly make the process an easier one for you to navigate, but there are other ways.
If you’re looking to author your first book and would like some support – particularly if you’re someone who doesn’t have certain privileges – in the new year I am offering free 30-minute mentoring sessions to creatives. To register your interest, complete my contact form