Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Baptism of Fire

Since I got the contracts for three Great War books with Pen & Sword Books around 18 months ago I have been on this incredible journey. It has not only been a very steep learning curve but a fascinating one too. Did I ever think, when I first stared writing, that I would end up writing non-fiction books about war? No I didn't, but that's the beauty about writing; you never know where it is going to take you.

When you are thinking about your writing projects are you put off by your perceived lack of knowledge on a subject? I had to think long and hard about whether I was capable and had the time and energy to tackle three books at once, especially as I wasn't all that knowledgeable on the First World War. My head was telling me that I would be mad to try but my heart was gently pushing forward, urging me to at least try. In the end my heart won.

I am quite organised by nature and believe me, I had to be in this instance. I had to get on top of the research at an early stage in the process. There was no time or margin for missing things out or getting it wrong. When I started I was unsure that there would be enough material for each book, but what I discovered was that there was more than enough - some I had to cut out completely. I could have gone way over my word count with all three books.

And that's what this blog post is all about. You don't know what you are capable of until you try. Admittedly, my efforts could have gone either way but I kept myself on task. I had to. So the next time you are offered a writing opportunity, or you come across a writing opportunity you are unsure as to whether you could do or not, have a think about it and bite the bullet.

It's important for a writer, if they wish to be published and seen as a professional writer, that they do not take too much on and end up annoying their publishers and everyone in the team that is putting their book together. If you don't complete your work on schedule, you throw everyone else's schedule and working life out of sync too. They then have to make other arrangements which, in the the long run delays the publication of your book. It also means. unless you have a valid excuse that is acceptable to the publisher, that you are unlikely to be offered more work with that publisher.

I have just finished and sent the second proofs and index for one of my three books. I am waiting for the other book to come back from the editor so I can start answering any queries they have and get the first proofs ready for sending back. With the third book I am almost finished editing and I will have sent the manuscript in for the editor to see by the end of this month.

It's been hard work but I have learnt so much that I can take with me to my other writing projects that will follow on from these books. So what are the important things I have learnt?

* Be organised and meticulous with your research.
* Keep your publisher informed of your progress periodically.
* Don't be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure of anything.
* Go back to the source of your research if there are any inconsistencies.
* If you are not going to hit your deadline, tell your publisher as soon as you realise, giving them a        valid reason and how long you anticipate your extension will need to be.
* If your publisher or editor asks for something or clarification, give it to them ASAP.
* Be professional and courteous at all times - people will want to work with you and do their best for    you if you treat them as you expect to be treated.
* If you make a mistake, own up to it as soon as you discover it. The sooner you do, the easier it is to
   put right.
* Don't give up.

I'd like to hear of any projects you have on the go and what you've learnt during the progress too.

Happy writing


Lynne Hackles said...

Well done, Julie. That was one daunting prospect and you tackled it in the right way. I bet you can't wait to see all three books in the shops. Good luck with them.

Julie P said...

Thanks, Lynne. I'm both excited and nervous if you know what I mean!