Pen To Print

Friday Feature: Dear Fellow Writers

Dear Fellow Writers,

Before I go ahead and explain my writing career to date, I wonder if you might allow me to introduce myself to you. You could say I began writing many, many years ago at school, since I was always jotting ideas down. As the years went on, I found my love of writing increased but I did not want to become an author of a certain genre. In other words, I wanted to write about real-life stories as well as crime, historical fiction, romance and whatever else came into my head.

Please don’t say, “You were born to be a writer,” as this is not true. Rather, it is something I have always enjoyed doing, even though the pay is not fantastic and it’s hard work focusing on being creative, with so many other things going on in the world. But focus I did and the rewards of seeing my ‘premier tome’ published were all I needed. Writing is not an easy occupation and rejection is something you have to take on the chin.

My advice to any, or all up-and-coming authors, is – and I want you to take this advice seriously – Do Not Ever Pay For Publication! Remember, the publisher pays you, not the other way around. As an aspiring author, there are many pitfalls you will come across. Some publishers, especially those known as the ‘vanity press’, can be vulture-like, waiting to take your hard-earned money as you fall for their so-called wonderful offers of publication. Be aware!

Please, though, do not let this deter you from your writing. Understand you might not be the next J.K. Rowling. However, if you enjoy writing and love what you do, who cares? I myself became fascinated with Historical Fiction and began jotting down stories based on true events in history, using fictional characters,  managing eventually to secure publication with a reputable publisher.

In the early days, when I thought I would never see any of my books published, I began with a note-pad and pen, writing down a title and sketching out a cover. For me, this forward- planning is an important part of the process! Each day, I added to my story in my spare time, getting to know every character in my book. This was all before I began the actual story. Then, it was down to my imagination as I pursued my book. I figured out it had to have a decent word count. Even though this is not what sells the book, publishers are fussy and want a certain amount of words in each book. After months of writing, it was time to attack my computer and type up my story, wary all the time of spelling and paragraph breaks and, of course, how big I wanted each and every chapter to be.

Then the ‘real’ work began, as I trawled through magazines including Publishers Weekly to find a reputable publisher. I admit, I did fall into the vanity press trap some years ago and it cost me dearly. I never saw my money and neither was my book published. So please, be aware and never pay for publication! I managed to get a four-book publishing deal in 2006 with a publisher in Ontario, Canada, but alas, after only six months and one copy of each book, they went bankrupt and returned copyright back to me. Not to be deterred, I decided to carry on with my writing regardless, sending the books to other publishers, explaining what had happened. Today, I have two reputable publishers and have just recently had my book published in AHF Magazine as a two-part serial.

At the age of almost eighty-three, I hope I can now call myself a published author and, even if I have made very little money from all my hard work, I consider it to be an ongoing, enjoyable project. We all imagine ourselves as successful authors and pray one day our dreams will come true. However, there is much satisfaction to be had just from being published and who knows what’s around the corner?

I figure, if you love what you do, never give up, or, as the saying goes: “He Who Dares Wins”. I do find, though, sometimes it’s fine to pack up writing for the day and return when your imagination points you in the direction of your computer.

Writing is an enjoyable and sometimes incredibly rewarding experience, especially when you see your book or books not only in the shops but also having readers comment on them. I have had eight books published, along with a four-book crime series, plus short stories in magazines, and I am awaiting the publication of my latest book.

So, as you can see,  writing is hard work. Even after you have written your book, it’s still not finished until you or your publisher edits it, checks the formatting and decides whether it’s a viable proposition to publish or not. Keep up the good work and, I repeat, if you love what you do, never let anyone deter you from your writing. Like any other trade, it is something you learn from and, as the years go by, you find you become more knowledgable in terms of  attracting publishers and readers. You will start finding and correcting your own mistakes, so that you can send in near-perfect stories that will have readers thirsting for more.

I wish you all the very best in your writing journey and hope to see your books published in the near future!

Yours in writing,

Robert James Bridge.

 

You can contact Robert at: robert.bridge@blueyonder.co.uk

Read the latest issue of Write On! magazine online.

I figure, if you love what you do, never give up, or, as the saying goes: “He Who Dares Wins”.