Most of us booklovers have probably dreamt of writing our own masterpieces someday. That dream may be more achievable than you think – the internet has given us more opportunities to get our work noticed, both in terms of helping us connect with potential mentors, buddies and audiences, and also in terms of self-publishing (physical books, eBooks and online). Here’s some inspiration, information and motivation to finally get started on “that book you have in you”.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Did you know that this acclaimed novel of a woman’s battling early-onset Alzheimer’s disease was originally self-published? After receiving no interest from traditional publishers and literary agents, Lisa Genova chose to self-publish, then set about engaging with potential readers through social media. Her persistence was rewarded with internet buzz and solid sales, and eventually led to an offer from a major publisher. E.L. James’ 50 Shades trilogy is another famous and successful example of a book that was self-published before gaining attention from traditional publishers.
How to Make a Living with Your Writing by Joanna Penn
This is the manual for Living the Dream – how to support yourself as a full-time writer. Joanna Penn is an author, speaker, marketer and publisher who has developed a growing business – and a six-figure income – out of her creative output. In How to Make a Living with Your Writing, she uses her own experience to show how to make money from books, and also how to capitalise on your creativity in other ways, such as by blogging, public speaking, coaching and content marketing. Also checkout her website, The Creative Penn for a wealth of (free) tips and resources for aspiring writers.
The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig
Chuck Wendig has built a successful writing career by embracing new formats and media – his works include a blog, eBooks, computer games, scripts, comics as well as novels. He also writes great writing advice – his tone is sharp and in-your-face and aims to challenge and provoke. The Kick-Ass Writer starts from the beginning – how to get started, how to build characters and dialogue and develop suspense – and onto how to deal with publishers and agents, and how to promote, connect and market yourself. It also discusses crowd funding, self-publishing writer’s block and how to handle rejection. A great resource for helping you become the Kick-Ass Writer you want to be.
Publishing: a Writer’s Memoir by Gail Godwin
For an insider’s take on writers and their relationships with the publishing industry, you cannot go past Gail Godwin’s memoir. Gail Godwin has been a writer for five decades, with over 20 published works. Publishing: a Writer’s Memoir reflects on Gail as a writer: her hunger to be published, her craft, and what it means to be a modern author (there is a great anecdote about branding and self-promotion). It also reflects on the changing nature of the publishing industry, from a more “gentlemanly”, literary enterprise to big business. Gail Godwin offers fascinating insights to anyone curious about the book industry.
From blogger / vlogger to author
Developing great blogs and vlogs (eg YouTube channels) are an increasingly common pathway to a book deal. Blogs/vlogs are powerful tools that can help you hone your writing skills, develop/promote your brand and connect with potential readers. Many popular authors – particularly in the humour / food & wellness / lifestyle / parenting categories – first became known through their blogs. Two of my favourite bloggers/vloggers-turned-authors include:
Advanced Style: Older and Wiser by Ari Seth Cohen
Advanced Style started as a blog celebrating stylish, older New Yorkers, and has turned into a worldwide movement. The colourful portraits in Advanced Style urge us to be bold, take risks and dress how we like, whether we are 15 or 85. I saw the eponymous documentary a few years’ ago, and not only was there great style on-screen, many of the audience were bold and stylish too. Advanced Style is joyous and gloriously inspirational.
The Dumpling Sisters Cookbook by Amy and Julie Zhang
Amy and Julie Zhang are popular YouTubers whose Dumpling Sisters videos showcase modern takes on homestyle Chinese dishes.
The sisters – born in China, raised in New Zealand and now living in the UK – love their food because it’s a reminder of their Chinese background and their childhood, and also because it’s a great way to connect with their friends. Dishes such as oyster sauce beef and broccoli, and prawn and spinach wontons, are great whether for some quiet me-time or for fun and casual entertaining.