I was so afraid to send my first book out into the world. Even after several rounds of edits, I worried that I had missed something; I wanted to re-read, hone, polish. Over time, I have learned that if I wait for perfection, my books will never see the light of day. I know that I’ll never be completely happy with each book I send off, but… I have learned to trust my editors, trust that I have done my best, trust that my book is ready to be shared with the world; I have learned to take a deep breath and let go of the story that has burrowed in my head, the characters that have taken over my life for so long, and start over, with a new set of characters and dilemmas.
I have learned that it doesn’t get better or easier with each new book. With every book, I am just as terrified that I will not be able to do it, that the readers who liked my other books will not like this one, that it will be a disaster. With every book, I experience that slump at around the 30,000 word mark, the absolute conviction that everything I have written is rubbish. With every book, I have the sinking feeling that it is not and will never be as good as the last, that I have lost ‘it’, whatever it was that made me write the previous books, that I am a fluke whose run of luck is now over.
I have learned, the hard way, that not everyone is going to like my books. I know this seems obvious, but… The first bad review hurt terribly, and it hasn’t eased with time. It doesn’t matter if my book has a thousand good reviews, every bad review hurts.
I thought that if I wrote a wonderful book, then that was enough to guarantee its success. I have since learned that there are so many thousands of books published each year that writing a good story and hoping for the best is not enough. I have learned to market my books, shout about them, bring them to the attention of readers. Although I was shy at first, now, thanks to this, I have made the acquaintance of several wonderful book bloggers and fellow authors, whom I count as friends, and who are so generous with their time, reviewing and celebrating our books.
Advice for aspiring authors:
- Take help where you can. Writing can be a lonely process. Join a writing group either online or at your local library. Writers’ communities are very supportive.
- Pantser or plotter? It doesn’t matter. Do what works for you. Every writer is different. Some plot. Others, like me, start off with an idea and see where it will take them. This makes for a longer, more circuitous route with more editing, but as long as you put words on paper, it doesn’t matter how they came to be there.
- Once you are done with your manuscript, leave it for a bit. A little distance helps immensely and when you come back to it with fresh eyes, all those glaring things you missed before are instantly visible.
- Do some research regarding the market for your book before sending out your manuscript. When I finished the first draft of my debut, ‘Monsoon Memories’, I bought the Writers and Artists Yearbook and started sending out to agents, listed under ‘A’ to begin with and working my way from there, regardless of whether they were representing authors in my genre. Five minutes of research would have spared me a load of rejections.
- Try not to be too disheartened by rejections. Easier said than done, I know. I can see now, with the benefit of hindsight, that most of the time, the agents/publishers are rejecting because of a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of your writing. Being disheartened only knocks the fragile confidence we writers have in our writing.
- Do not lose faith in yourself or your writing. We all have bad days, days when the writing is rubbish, days when we cannot write. But we all write because we want to, because despite everything that goes wrong, the one time something goes right, the one time we create the perfect sentence, there is no feeling at all in the world quite like it.
- Don’t give up. A published author is one who has just got up after each rejection, dusted himself off and tried again.
- And here’s the best piece of writing advice I was given by my wonderful publisher, Oliver Rhodes: ‘Write a good book and you’ll be able to sell it;write a great book and readers will sell it for you.’
A MOTHER’S SECRET by Renita D’Silva – Pub date: 7th April
What if you discovered that everything you knew about yourself was a lie?
When pregnant Jaya loses her mother, then her baby son Arun in a tragic cot death, her world crashes down. Overcome by grief and guilt, she begins to search for answers – to the enigma of her lonely, distant mother, and her mysterious past in India.
Looking through her mother’s belongings, she finds two diaries and old photographs, carrying the smoky aroma of fire. A young boy smiles out at Jaya from every photograph – and in one, a family stand proudly in front of a sprawling mansion. Who is this child? And why did her mother treasure this memento of a regal family lost to the past?
As Jaya starts to read the diaries, their secrets lead her back to India, to the ruin of a once grand house on a hill. There, Kali, a mad old lady, will unlock the story of a devastating lie and a fire that tore a family apart.
Nothing though will prepare Jaya for the house’s final revelation, which will change everything Jaya knew about herself.
About Renita D’Silva:
Renita grew up in a picturesque coastal village in the South of India, the oldest of three children. Her father got her first story books when she was six and she fell in love with the world of stories. Even now she prefers that world, by far, to this.