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Showing posts from September, 2015

Why the rules for success don't work for authors

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As promised, the unicorn has graced us with a reply to those rules for success I posted earlier this month. This is what my beautiful and spiritual muse has to say about writing fiction...

1. There are no rules.
If you look at the career paths of the authors in the top ten lists, you'll see many different paths all leading to the same place. Following a set rules is not too hard (unless you're a unicorn, anyway), and the thousands of authors who never appear in the top ten lists didn't one day suddenly decide to break every single writing rule and ruin their careers. The truth is there is no best-selling career formula, just as there is no best-selling book formula. So stop worrying!

2. Whose success are we talking about, anyway?
Those top ten lists are almost always about book sales: higher sales figures equals more successful. The unicorn understands that this is the way the human world works, and the only real measure of a book's success in the marketplace is how many…

Rules for success as an author - the cynical version

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You didn't think the unicorn would leave you with the party line, did you? Now that I've had a chance to read through all the literature I picked up at the CWIG conference, here is a cynical version of the rules in my last post. Brace yourselves, male authors...

1. Be born a boy - or use initials so nobody knows you're a girl.
According to an independent study on what kids are reading in British schools in 2015, seven of the top ten most popular children's authors are men, with only three women on the list:
Jeff Kinney
Roald Dahl
Roderick Hunt
David Walliams
Francesca Simon
Suzanne Collins
Julia Donaldson
Michael Morpurgo
Martin Waddell
with John Boyne, Michael Rosen, David McKee, Eric Carle, John Green and Dr Seuss all tying for last place at the top table (which sounds like a fun game of musical chairs!)
Interestingly, J K Rowling is not in the overall top ten list, although she featured on it in 2013 and 2014. Also, all three of the women on the 2015 list are writing…

Rules for success as an author

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Some tips from the 2015 Society of Authors Children's Writers and Illustrators Group conference.

1. Talent
You need to be able to write. Obviously. Many people have the basic talent to write a book.

2. Work
You need to work at your writing to make it even better. Fewer people are willing to put in the necessary amount of work.

3. Luck
You (and your book) need luck. I think this means during the publishing process rather than the writing process, although life can interrupt your writing. Luck is something the writer cannot control, so even fewer people have this one. Or maybe you just need to avoid the bad luck? I've heard people say "you create your own luck", which I actually think means working on the other rules (see 1 and 2 above) so you're in the right place at the right time when the luck comes along... if you don't write the book, then how can you possibly be lucky?

4. Ambition
You need to be hungry for success. Most authors are hungry (some are starving)…