For Aspiring Writers, Essential Tips From Fiona J. Roberts

Fiona J. Roberts is a Tree District Books' author. Her book, Just Des(s)erts, will have you laughing and crying with the ladies of a small English town as they seek to give criminals their just dessert.

I'm A Published Author Now. But What Do I Wish I Knew Back Then?

Recently I gave a talk about writing and getting published to a wine club. The audience was great, asking lots of questions, engaging in discussion, and giving me a glass of wine.

As I spoke about my often rocky journey towards becoming a published author, it made me think about all the things I wished I had known at the beginning.

My first draft of my first novel was 20,000 words. I turned to the internet to find out that the average book was 70,000 words. I should have known at this point that it was not as easy as one might think.

That initial attempt taught me a lot about writing and how to structure a book, but what I didn’t know was legion.

Had I known that they even existed, I would probably have found a beta reader at this stage. A beta reader will look at your work and then give feedback about the story and style of writing.

I would definitely NOT have paid someone to publish my novel. That turned out to be frustrating and disappointing.

Getting Published Doesn't Mean You Are Done Working

I would have embraced social media a lot sooner. Gaining a following, means that you are gaining an audience. I now have a Twitter account, a Facebook page, Pinterest, Instagram and a website.

Twitter is my favourite. You can reach a lot of people and many of the posts by others are witty, informative, and fascinating.

No one told me when my first book was published that you have to work hard to publicise your own work. Now I am fully on board, using every opportunity available to me. I’ve given talks to various groups, I’ve been on local radio, and of course I use social media.

I’ve become quite proficient at making book trailers. I use Movie Maker, and my one for Just Des(s)erts has been viewed over 5,000 times on Pinterest.

Editing is essential

Editing, what can I say? Being properly edited for the first time was a revelation. It's not just about grammar and spelling, it’s about the structure, story, pace and so much more. If you are going to self-publish, this is the place to spend your money.

Keep Writing After many setbacks, I saw one of those life affirming sayings on social media. Usually I glance at them and then move on, forgetting immediately what the message was. This one struck a chord.

“Your dreams do not have an expiry date.” For me it meant keep writing.

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