G'day guys,

I recently asked some of my former guest authors to write a few words about their biggest frustrations as a writer. Here are their comments ...

Dr. Judith O’Malley-Ford

 My biggest frustration as an author is discovering that publishers and literary agents are reluctant to take on new authors who don’t have a proven track record and proven marketability. You only have to read the personal story of JK Rowling  to know how many attempts she had in finding a publisher who would take a risk with her new style of writing. Her action packed fantasy books for young adult reader represented a different style. As it turned out, her books became compulsory reading for young and old alike.

Learning the art of creating a book which convinces the publisher of a ready market is the first hurdle for the professional creative writer.

After completing a work, the next task as an author is to earn a living from the work you have done. Royalties from publishing houses are slim pickings, and self publishing has other time constraints for the author who wants to write and not spend large amounts of time promoting you book.

Different audiences have different needs and wants, and it is the task of the author to know who the audience is and target the story to their reading audience. For first time fiction writers it is a matter of convincing a publisher that your work has an audience. Creative writing is all about holding the interest of the audience. As an author, you also need to develop and maintain your own voice. Not even best-selling authors can claim unqualified universal appeal.

When it comes to writing for entertainment, “style” and the story line, plot and the adventure become the most important factors. Style is a matter of personal taste and preference. Different genres require different styles of writing. When it comes down to basics in writing, it also comes down to how appealing the work is to the publisher and to the reader.

Judith O’Malley-Ford

Richard Clark

'Like most authors, I prefer to be writing books than marketing, but accept that this is part of the deal and know that I need to put aside time to do this if I want to make a living. However, as a writer who specialises in books about Greece (The Greek Islands  A Notebook, http://tinyurl.com/cv3j4jm; Crete  A Notebook http://tinyurl.com/6vbdn3a; Rhodes A Notebook http://tinyurl.com/lw5abtk; https://www.facebook.com/richardclarkbooks) my one frustration is the difficulty of getting my books into Greek shops, finding a distributor who will respond to emails and who has a transparent business model. My books are frequently ranked No1 in bestseller lists for travel books about Greece and sell in their thousands but short of going to Greece and hawking them around shops myself I don't seem to be able to make any inroads into what should be a fertile market, frustrating!'

Richard Clark

Phil Simpkin

Aside from the likely 'top ten' frustrations, e.g. agent rejections, editors, fickle publishers, mine is a little 'pointed'...

My biggest frustration was being drawn to the plethera of 'expert' advice currently available on-line, regarding self-publishing requirements, and more specifically, the perecived need for complicated software or apps to allow for publication of ebooks. I only intended to publish in Kindle format.

I read and was directed to a range of packages that would allow me to convert a word document book draft, into a PDF, then into a format, such as epub, and all this to allow me to publish an ebook.

After several failed attempts using a variety of the recommended software, I went with my gut, which was to provide Createspace and Kindle with a good old fashioned .doc word document, with no page numbers, and in Word 2003 style formatting.

The end result was simple and effective. You do not need to convert and reconvert, nor do you need to purchase or download additional software, unless you want to publish in different formats.

A Kindle is happy with the KISS system!

Phil Simpkin

James M. Copeland

My greatest frustration as an author from the get go has been the fact that each turn down comes in a nice package. No instructions as to how you flubbed, no statements as to quitting your day job, nothing! The reason I have cordoned myself into this 15 by 15 room and slaved over this *%#))*& computer for 8 to 10 hours a day was not to receive a turn down stating how nice I was.

Once I learned, the hard way, I might add, how. . .to write I have done quite well. I now know how to put words on paper that actually mean something. . .to others! Now that I can do that my next problem is why are computers designed to dump things right in the middle of when you are the hottest? Did you know that the second time or maybe the third time you write something it will be entirely different?

When I was a kid my mommy would have a birthday party for me with my cousins. One of the games we played was ‘telling a tale.’ Mom would start by whispering something in the ear of the first person in line and it was that persons job to relate that tale to the next one. IT WAS NEVER THE SAME! I have learned a great deal including how to use the computer as a word processor. That’s cool. I still don’t know how to spell. Thank goodness for ‘spell check.’

The last thing I am going to talk about is the great guy who is sponsoring this very blog. Thanks Clancy, I couldn’t have made it without you.

Best regards, James M. Copeland

Jasha M. Levi

Back home in Yugoslavia in the 50’s, as a celebrity foreign correspondent and editor of the daily newspaper battle between Tito and Stalin, I was so well known that publishers were after me to write a book for them. I finished five in as many years, in my spare time, as it were.

My frustration as an author began in the US when I wrote my first book in English, The Last Exile - a tapestry of a life.

It was about my growing up in Yugoslavia during Hitler’s rise to power, my life as a civilian prisoner of war in Italy, a fugitive Jew in Rome, engineering officer for the first Yugoslav armored brigade chasing the Germans out of Dalmatia, and my post-WWII meteoric rise as a youngest correspondent at the Paris Peace Conference in 1946.

The rejections came in many forms, most in not answering queries to literary agents (27). Others were rejections by preprinted postcards (5). About 15 were pre-printed letters.  Two agents, on recommendation, read the manuscript and found it not fitting their publishers’ programs. One was interested because her parents came from Croatia; never heard from her.

Fortunately, this occurred at the time when a technological revolution made self-publishing feasible. It was also still a time when a stigma reigned against vanity publishing. But I wasn’t paying someone to print me: Print of Demand and digital platforms made it possible to spent money on good editing rather that bogus publishing house which have been preying on hopeful writers.

By the time I was writing, I was in the US over 40 years. My English was such that, when my daughter and her college friends descended on our New York apartment and got into a linguistic dispute, they’d say: “Let us ask the Foreigner”.I knew my books were well written and well edited. I also knew they were not sexy, and won’t sell many copies. To my surprise, about 150 sold of each. I am not frustrated anymore.


Clancy's comment: Thanks guys. Amen to all that ... and more. Appreciate you taking the time to contribute. Love ya work!

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