A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
1. Writing when you are published:
a) I need an editor. Writing my first book, Numbers, was comparatively easy and of all my books it needed the least editing. Writing gets harder and being published doesn’t make any difference. I now accept that my first draft of anything will be almost embarrassingly bad, but it’s good to have something on paper (or on screen) to work with. There’s no shame in admitting that you need a second pair of eyes to help see the wood for the trees and I’ve been lucky to work with the best.
b) Being a writer doesn’t insulate you/exempt you from the rest of life. Little things – cooking, cleaning, ironing – and big things – family dramas, illness, etc – carry on whether you’ve got a book deadline or not. It’s not easy, but try to hit those deadlines anyway. A contract is a business agreement – a lot of people depend on you honouring your side of the deal.
c) Do your best. Whether a book sells or not is unpredictable, but if you know that you tried your best with each book and tried to make each one better than the last, then you can sleep easy at night. You’re never too old to try different things and to learn.
d) Writing is The Thing. Blogging, tweeting, school visits and events are fun, enriching and stimulating, but don’t forget that you are a writer. You’re only a writer if you actually write.
2. Patience is a virtue. There’s a lot of waiting involved when you are trying to get published and that doesn’t stop when you are published. If you are waiting for that all-important email, either keep busy with the next thing, or go and do something else altogether. Actually, it’s really important to have a ‘something else’ and not to become too wrapped up in writing. Politicians need wider constituencies and so do writers. I walk a lot with my faithful hound, but have also recently started taking photos and having a go at painting.
3. The children’s book world is a friendly one. I didn’t know any other writers before I found my publisher. Since then I’ve met lovely fellow Chicken House writers, Bath & Bristol writers, and others on FB and Twitter and at events. And it’s not just writers there are many wonderful editors, publicists, librarians, booksellers, teachers and bloggers out there, who have made my world a warmer, fuzzier place.
4. Feedback can floor you. Sometimes criticism hits home or people are just plain mean – if the complaints are valid, you have to take them on board and do better next time. If someone is just being nasty for the sake of it, or out of jealousy, try to laugh it off or rise above it. On the other hand, sometimes emails are so kind or moving or enthusiastic that they knock you sideways (in a good way). I treasure these. (Uh-oh, I’m tearing up just thinking about them … let’s move on quickly to Number 5,)
5. Home comforts. If school visits, or other bookish business, take you away from home, take your ‘comfort blanket’ with you, whatever that might be. Tea bags, bottle of fizzy drink, packet of Werthers, whatever. And don’t forget to pack some spare pants, a hairbrush and your phone charger.
Rachel Ward is the author of the Numbers trilogy and The Drowning. Water Born, a sequel to The Drowning will be published in August 2014.
http://www.rachelwardbooks.com @RachelWardbooks on Twitter.