Questions from a Young Writer

'Questions from a Young Writer' came from a writer just out of school who recently contacted me for some feedback on his fantasy fiction manuscript. His questions are around helping him find the best ways to polish his manuscript and then seek publication.

Many of these questions from a young writer may also be helpful to other writers.

photo of stones one stone has question mark for questions from a young writer

How do you get your novel or idea to publishing standard?

Attend writing workshops to hone your technique.

Read quality books extensively.

Read books on writing craft by well-known writers. Below are some recommended writers’ resources:

The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell audiobook

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

C.S. Lewis and the Art of Writing: What the Essayist, Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic, Apologist, Memoirist, Theologian Teaches Us about the Life and Craft of Writing by Corey Latta

Have your manuscript professionally edited once it’s finished, i.e. once you have written more than one draft and got it as close to perfect as possible.

What does publishing entail?

What is the process for getting a cover or illustrations?

Through a graphic designer. You can either choose a local designer or commission a cover through an online services provider like Fiverr. Often, book designers don’t do illustrations so you could look for a local illustrator, or find someone through Fiverr. Make sure you are very specific when you advertise on Fiverr. Think carefully about your ad. Word your instructions carefully and clearly. This is because you’ll likely be working with people whose first language isn’t English.

How can you tell if your ideas appeal to readers?

One way is by using beta readers. You can search for online writing groups, such as Writers Helping Writers or Fiction Writers, and find people who read your genre. They generally provide free feedback.

By joining writers' groups.

By asking other writers how they have gained feedback.

How to sell to your audience, gather a following

Today, writers need to be prepared to self-promote. Through Amazon, clubs like Goodreads, through a landing page on your website, by having a book launch at stores (in Queensland, e.g. Avid Reader in Brisbane or BookFace on the Gold Coast), talks at public libraries, talks in front of people who read your genre.

Are there any cost-effective tips or financial assistance for young authors

First, improve your writing skills by following ideas such as those given in the first question above. Make your manuscript as good as it can possibly be. This will reduce editing costs.

Work with a mentor who will help polish your manuscript. Writers' centres often provide mentoring services at lower than commercial rates.

Use crowd-funding to pay for professional editing.

Contact your local writers’ centre and ask if they have any programs available to fund or assist young authors.

Can you advise of any groups or book clubs that I may benefit from

The best way to find writers’ groups and book clubs is to Google them in your area. The Queensland Writers Centre (QWC) holds many courses for writers, many of them now online and more affordable (from as little as $49). See my recent newsletter for some of these events.

On a youth membership under 25 years of age, you can join QWC as a member for $55 a year.

Also, keep in touch with events on your local writers' centre website.

I hope you've found this post 'Questions from a Young Writer' helpful. Please feel free to email any questions you may have about your work in progress.

Gail Tagarro is a Book Writing Coach and Accredited Editor who works with writers in any genre, fiction and nonfiction.

Her book coaching program Get Your Book to the Finish Line is designed to help writers get their book to first draft stage within 12 weeks. Please phone or enquire here.

Photo credit Ana Municio Unsplash

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