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AOA #1: What did you find the hardest part about completing your first published work?

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Welcome to our first ‘Ask Our Authors’. Each month we’ll ask our fantastic authors a couple of questions. It is our ambition that their insightful answers may prove helpful to any aspiring authors out there (while at the same time being interesting to all of you readers).

So here it is AOA #1: What did you find the Hardest part about completing your first published work?

Some of the answers are what you may expect and some not, but all are open and honest and to the point. Getting work out there is a tough business. Here are what our authors had to say about what they found most difficult. Enjoy.

Initially?  Nothing. The first edition of my first novel, Progeny, pretty much poured out of me. However, my skill as a writer did not match my ability to tell a good story. So, over the course of the next…wow, two years?… I revised it multiple times, incorporating feedback from editors and agents while also applying what I learned regarding the craft of writing. Turns out, the more you do something, the better you get at it.

The fourth edition (the one currently available) is the one that has drawn interest from traditional publishers. It’s nearly 70k words shorter than the first edition while containing more story. So, I suppose I will amend my answer. The hardest part about completing my first work is knowing when it’s complete.

R.T Kaelin, author of The Children of the White Lions series

The problem remains the same 6 published books later: DISCOVERABILITY. You can get people who have a connection to you to browse your books through social media etc. But how do you get someone who has no connection to you and has never heard of you to go over to your Amazon page? Even Amazon are struggling with this issue for their self-published kindle authors.

Marc Nash, Flash and Literary Fiction author

Editing was extremely difficult. Having a stranger comb through my personal creative material was a harsh reality check; it was all on me, my decisions, my mistakes. Also, editing is not a miracle process that somehow washes away errors and makes everything more clear… it’s professional feedback, and like all feedback, I had to decide which bits were actually part of a bigger problem, and which were doing exactly what I wanted them to do. I didn’t always make the right decisions. I’m still learning. Anyway, editing was hard, but harder still was letting it go, drawing a line, saying it was done.

Science-Fiction author, Aaron Safronoff

Really, when it came to the first book I wrote, Yella’s Prayers, the hardest part was pulling myself away from the computer to pause from writing each day. I was a seventeen-year-old lifetime lover of fiction, just graduating from high school, and it was like seventeen-years-worth of pent-up passion was coming out all at once. I spent way too many hours sitting in front of the computer screen with no breaks that summer, but at over 140,000 words, that first book is still my longest work.

Romance novelist, Nadine Keels

The hardest part was to get it all together and find the courage to publish it. Much of the literary advice I was receiving said “cut” “prune” “show, don’t tell” “no adverbs” so some fancy prose got the chop. Other advice was to give more attention to my characters feelings. Why? I said to myself. There are so many situations from pregnancy sickness to death of a loved one to meeting a fantastic looking person that are part of life. We all have an understanding of fear and rejection. Nobody needs the author to do more than set the scene – the deepest emotions are inside the reader.

In short, taking and leaving advice was a hard part. Research was not the hardest but the most lengthy matter. I looked at thousands of old photographs and tried to check data. I hope that I haven’t included things invented only much later, and I was surprising to learn how much people were doing, a hundred years ago, without our present technology. Some (men) expressed surprise that the women were “so enterprising” ! I have not the slightest doubt that they were. No snoozing in front of the telly in those days.

Author of Four Florins, Valeria Wilson

As part of the polishing process, I joined a very good critiquing website (www.critiquecircle.com). Members gave comments on each other’s stories on a reciprocal basis, which is an excellent system, but I did find it difficult and time-consuming to read and make constructive comments on many other stories.

Graham Keeler, Science-Fiction author

The editing; I have a nest of typos fairies under my keyboard and although I’m used to editing short pieces on a regular basis, editing a whole book was a nightmarish and seemingly never ending process. The initial writing of any book (before you even realise it might be a book) is the fun part and constitutes about 5% of the work. The hard slog of editing is the remaining 95%!

Tim Bedford, author of RED

I think it comes down to fear and keeping a tough exterior. Knowing not every book is for every person makes you open and vulnerable to the fact that not everyone will “like” something you poured your heart into.

Cyndi Goodgame, author of Denial

Editing: I had no idea what I was doing. 

Doyle Duke, author of Fantasy novel, In search of Camelot

The hardest part was letting go. I am a revisionist to the nth degree and if I keep looking at something I’ll keep tweaking and refining until the cows come home. Moo. Must be the editor in me, as I’ve edited way more books—moo—than I’ve actually written. What is that? Does someone hear a cow?

Co-author of Dead West, J.M. Martin

The hardest part, for me, was definitely finding the time and energy to write. I teach high school English for a living so my day job is mentally exhausting and time devouring. Self-discipline is something most writers struggle with, so I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. But finishing that first draft was SO rewarding.

Young adult and Comic author, Stephen Hines

There are two: starting and stopping. Getting those first few pages hammered out without constantly going to the internet to check my facts or the thesaurus to pick just the right word can be grueling. The second hardest part is finally writing “the end”. It’s so easy to second guess yourself. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to edit, re-edit and then edit some more, but there’s a knack to knowing when to stop.

Claudia Harbaugh, author of Her Grace in Disgrace

I don’t believe anything can prepare a first-time novelist for the amount of time and effort it takes to edit a full manuscript. There’s huge painful cuts to make in the first round, and suddenly your 80,000 word book is 60,000. Then you have to write new scenes or expand on old ones, then re-shuffle them around like an enormous maddening puzzle game. And then there’s the joy of painstaking grammar and spelling and punctuation edits. My advice for writers: hire someone to do it for you. I know you’re a broke first time writer. Do it, rob a train and pay for an editor. Save your sanity.

Albert Sawyer, author of Pirate Boys

For me, the hardest part of completing the work was starting it in the first place. I was my own worst enemy, constantly revising and editing all the first few pages of my story. In the end, I wasn’t getting anywhere, until I sat down and wrote forward, never looking back. Finally, I had finished my first rough draft–what I like to call a ‘skeleton draft’, as it only has events and some dialogue. All the details and additions, characters and nuances, were then fleshed out in subsequent rewrites. It was a great process of self discovery.

Canadian author of Darker Than, J.W Patten

The hardest part for me would have to have been finding the time. I am a full time student and work since writing isn’t paying the bills yet. It took me a little under a year to finish the book even though actual writing time it wasn’t really more than 2 months.

A.R Price, author of The Apothecary Murders

Knowing when to stop editing and trust that the narrative(s) worked

Short Story author, Steven Harris

I didn’t finish it the first weekend, or the second. It took for-ev-er! While I really enjoyed the milestones, there was no immediate gratification.

David J. Pedersen, author of Angst

Completing my first published book required a great deal of patience and persistence. Like many writers, I was working full-time. I also had young children. Writing happened on weekends, during vacations and on many late nights when I stayed up to work after putting the children to bed. Two things ended up being critical to my success: 1) after I’d finished about a third of the novel, my husband realized I was truly committed to finishing and publishing the book and became very supportive of my work, and 2) I honestly enjoy my story and characters. I feel obligated to finish the series because I care about these characters and I know they are relying on me to share their compelling tales.

Fantasy author, Trista Wilde

Setting a goal to write every day and to keep pushing on through times of low confidence. The middle was the hardest to get through for me.

Kenny Soward, author of Rough Magic

My first published work was a newspaper article that was supposed to be around 700 words.  I had so much to say on the topic, which related to the industry I worked in at the time, that when I finished saying everything I needed to say – it was over 2000 words!  The hardest part was editing it down to the word limit and still keeping all that I thought worthwhile.

Ritu K. Gupta, author of Awakening Colors

The hardest part of the publication process for me was the editing. Love writing the story, finding cover art, and hearing from beta readers. I had hired an editor to polish my manuscript and his results were mixed. My advice to anyone is to put your novel away for a month. Then return to it and read it slowly while writing notes for each page. It’s tedious but it is the most important part of the publishing process.

Dust Pan Girl author, James Fox

Proofing. By far this provided the greatest headache. Self-proofing is unreliable (wood for trees) and I struggled to find a good and cost efficient proofreader for Challerton, which meant, despite paying out a lot of money, that the first Kindle version still contained mistakes.

Author of Challerton, Mark Fleming

The hardest part was writing the action scenes without going over the top into nbelieveability. Oh, and getting the right ending.

Shadow of the Drill author, Rhani D’Chae

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