How to Use Wattpad If You’re an Author

The Internet is a social place. It’s where readers find their next book, where authors stay connected to readers, where publishers keep abreast of new voices, and industry newbies hunt for their first jobs in the field. “How to use…if you’re…” breaks down best practices for literary social corners of the Internet for different players in the publishing industry.

At BookExpo, we sat in on the panel discussion “Industry Disruption and the Future of Finding Rising Stars.” During that panel, Lindsay Summers, Wattpad star, discussed how she used Wattpad first as a way to read new stories, then a creative outlet for her own storytelling, and eventually as a vehicle for a book deal.

So, today we’ll be looking at how independent authors can use Wattpad to sharpen their own storytelling skills, connect with other authors, and grow a community of dedicated readers.

Using Wattpad as an Author

Wattpad is a great place for authors to experiment with serial storytelling, and to connect with passionate readers from all over the world. Authors can use it to hone their voice, get immediate feedback from readers, and expand their audience.

What is Wattpad?

Wattpad is a socially engaged and enthusiastic community of writers and readers. With a global community of 70 million members, and over 565 million story uploads, the platform is a vibrant place full of passionate readers and emerging writers. Most of the stories on Wattpad are geared toward young women and tend toward YA, Romance, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy, although other genres have devoted followings as well. The website is free to use, for both writers and readers.

Some Wattpad authors have even transitioned their Wattpad stories into traditionally published novels, or turned into TV shows or movies. Others have worked with companies to create branded content on the site. Huge successes like this may be outliers, but even if Wattpad doesn’t turn into a star-making vehicle for you, it is a place to grow as a writer, and to connect with an audience that is invested in your voice.

Hone your voice

Because Wattpad writers publish their stories serially, you have some flexibility to play around with your style. If you realize after a few chapters that the way you’ve been formatting dialogues is clunky, shift gears. If you intended your story to end with the heroine falling for her shy best friend, but realize that the femme fatale is a better fit for the story arc, you can reshape the plot as you write. Wattpad lets you change direction without having to rewrite your whole story.

But as you experiment, don’t forget about the reader! If a reader is clicking through several chapters at a time, they will likely be frustrated if you are making huge structural changes, like switching from third person to first person or turning your dystopian YA story into a sweet teen romance. If you do decide that your story needs a dramatic change, try starting a new one entirely.

Be sure to check out Wattpad’s Writer’s Portal, for both inspiration and practical advice.

Get feedback from readers

One of Wattpad’s most exciting social features is the line by line commenting. Readers leave comments on Wattpad stories, and can even comment on a particular sentence, showing precisely where they are having an intense reaction. You can see what readers are loving and what is drawing them in. You can also learn if your writing is registering with readers in a way that you don’t intend.

Grow your audience

With Wattpad’s huge global community, you can find kindred spirits, both as readers and fellow writers. Joining message boards, called Clubs, can help you become more involved in the Wattpad community. Industry Insider is geared specifically towards authors, and full of threads about the nuts and bolts of the publishing industry (from copyright to cover art) and general community encouragement. You can also join communities of readers who are reading stories similar to the ones you write, or the ones you like to read. See what readers are saying, and jump in on the conversation!

You can also engage with readers and other writers on profile pages. All member profiles, both writers and authors, include a Conversation section for members to chat with each other. Get to know writers whose work you admire by commenting and striking up a conversation. And when readers comment on your profile, make sure to respond! It’s a great way to cultivate a dedicated community of readers.

Check out more tips and strategies for independent authors here, and be sure to subscribe to NetGalley Insights so that you don’t miss a post!

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Pre-Publication Tips for Authors: Selling Your Book to Bookstores, and Beyond!

Getting your book sold into a bookstore can be one of the most daunting parts about being an independent author, but also potentially the most gratifying. Seeing your book in a brick-and-mortar store, next to a curated inventory of other books is an accomplishment for any author.

Booksellers are pitched thousands of titles per year, so the competition to get your book carried by a store can be fierce. But, with some forethought, you can set yourself up to meet this challenge head-on.

Make sure to schedule an appointment with a book buyer rather than showing up to a bookstore unannounced, with copies in hand. Booksellers will appreciate your professionalism and the respect for their time. Plus, it gives you both an opportunity to prepare. These meetings tend to be short, so prepare a succinct pitch for your title. Give a quick introduction to your book (no need to give a full synopsis, just enough to pique their interest), and three good reasons why your title is a good fit for their bookstore and clientele.

Let the bookseller know what kinds of promotions you are doing, either in your local area or online. If you have reviews or feedback, be sure to leverage that as an indicator of enthusiasm for your work.

Hopefully, the bookseller will be impressed and take a few copies of your title to sell in their shop. But, if not, gracefully accept their decision. You’ll want to leave a positive impression on them so that you can hopefully build a strong working relationship in the future.

In addition to selling your title to bookstores, consider other places who might be interested in buying some copies of your book. Local museums, libraries, archives, and record stores are great places to start. Be creative!

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Pre-Publication Tips for Authors: Find Your Audience, IRL

Personal connection is a huge part of any successful marketing campaign. To build a personal connection between author and reader, it’s important for authors to meet face to face with their audience and to use live events as a way to grow that audience. We know that it can be daunting, especially for authors who are introverted or just starting out, but it can make all the difference.

Look for reading groups, book clubs, literary open mics, and library events in your local area. See if you can connect with these groups by giving a reading or participating in a Q&A. And be sure to think broadly–if you write historical fiction, look for a historical society that might be interested in your research methods. If you write political thrillers, pair up with a film group to discuss some classic films in the genre and how they influenced your work. Spend some time researching what kinds of special interest groups and literary clubs exist in your city or town, and connect with them!

You can also look for other authors who are publishing a book around the same time you are, or who are also just starting out. Think about how you can support each other, perhaps by joining forces for a combined book tour. Use connections you have to authors in other cities and towns, perhaps authors you are friendly with on social media, to help organize a small book tour. Ask where you should read, and see if your far-flung author friends would be interested in interviewing you at their local bookstore. And, of course, offer to return the favor!

Finding ways to engage with new audiences, both in your local community and beyond, is crucial to building a dedicated and connected community of readers.

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A Writer’s Schedule: Myfanwy Collins

Today we’re talking to Myfanwy Collins. Over the past 25 years, Myfanwy Collins has written and published three books, numerous freelance articles, advertorial, web content, newsletters, blog posts, book reviews, short fiction, and essays. She has also worked as a ghost writer, editor, and creative writing teacher to continuing education students. And, Myfanwy just happens to be the office manager at Firebrand Technologies, NetGalley’s parent company.

How do you set your goals?

I’ve always been goal oriented so I truly like to make goals and stick to them. I have different goals for large projects than for small ones. For instance, I will say to myself that I’m going to finish a draft of this manuscript by x date, which is usually something that corresponds with my Astrologyzone monthly horoscope. Not even joking. One time I told myself I could not watch the latest season of Game of Thrones until I finished my manuscript. If it’s a quick project, I will tell myself I can’t have a glass of wine or piece of chocolate or whatever until I finish. Basically, my jam is a mixture of astrology and denial and treats. I guess I’m sort of like my dog that way.

Photo Credit: Myfanwy Collins

Describe your routines as a writer and how they help you stay on track with your goals:

I got divorced two years ago which sort of blew my routines to smithereens. I’m just now beginning to reclaim and rework them. With that said, I’ve never been a sit at my desk every day and write person. I will do that if I have a project I’m working on and excited about and then I tend to blast through the first draft pretty quickly. After the first draft, I put the manuscript away for a period of time (weeks or sometimes months) and then come back and revise and then put away again and revise until I feel it is ready for other readers. At that point, I pull in my trusted readers and gather their feedback. My trusted readers are my friends who write. They don’t all write the same types of things, but they all know and understand my work and what I am trying to achieve and aren’t afraid to ask me hard questions or tell me when something’s off. Also, they know how I like to receive feedback. Once their feedback is incorporated and I feel like I have done all I can do, I send the manuscript to my agent and wait for her feedback. After her feedback, I revise and return it to her and repeat this until the manuscript is as good as we think it can be.

As for shorter work, one new routine I am really enjoying is that my fiance Evan (also a writer!) and I taking part in #submissionsunday on Twitter each week. We submit at least one piece of work to a venue each Sunday. Doing this is actually making me eager to work on new pieces.

How did you develop your writing routines?

Photo Credit: Myfanwy Collins

I have been writing professionally for nearly 30 years at this point and so my routines have been established over time as I worked. When I was younger, I was more impatient to get work out there when it really wasn’t ready to be seen. I was essentially giving all editors an opportunity to say no to my work. After several years of that I began to learn about the importance of taking my time during revision. I learned this also through years of being a reader for various literary journals. When you read submissions you tend to read a lot of work that could have used more time and more revision. Reading submissions is something I cannot recommend highly enough to writers. It really does help you understand your own shortcomings as a writer.

Ask journals if they need help. You can also look on their websites and see if they have any openings listed. Another place to look is on Twitter. If you follow a lot of writers and journals (as I do) you will often see calls for readers or interns. Finally, I think Submittable probably posts some openings. Pretty much all reader positions are unpaid (mine were) and they do require quite a bit of work but I promise you they pay off is that your own writing will improve.

What routines have you tried that didn’t work for you? Why didn’t they work?

I’ve tried to use writing prompts in the past in order to get myself writing more but they generally don’t work for me because I’m a bit of a rebel.

Photo Credit: Myfanwy Collins

What do you do when you feel stuck?

I do a couple of things:

  • I read (I do this all the time anyway but I do it more so when stuck).
  • I force myself to sit at the page and I set a timer for myself for 20 or 30 minutes and tell myself I must write during that time. It helps me get past the anxiety of the blank page. This is something I recommend to my writing students as well and it’s been very helpful to them.
  • I go back to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and work the program. The book is a 12-step program for creative people and it is so immensely helpful. In fact, I think I’m past due for another session.

Describe the balance between having a full-time job, family, and writing. How do you manage both?

This is the hardest balance. It was hard when I was a part-time working married mother and It’s hard now as a full-time working divorced mother. My child and family come first in all things and so writing becomes secondary when I am momming. Since I am divorced, there are times when my son is with his dad and so I could be writing but am often sad and missing my kid which gets in the way of writing. But the good news is that I have a really great therapist! I’m starting to listen to her about using my time more wisely instead of allowing myself to be mired in grief.

How do you think about finding a job that supports you financially and supports your writing? Do you need something that leaves room in your mind for creative work, something that keeps you in the habit of deep thinking and frequent writing, something else altogether?

Financial support is key to me and so that is always my first priority. With that said, it is wonderful to have a part of my current job that feeds me creatively. I think if my job were writing all day, I might not pay any attention to my own creative writing. So right now I have a job that is one part business oriented, one part process oriented, and one part creative. It’s a really nice mix.

For more perspectives on creating a successful schedule as a writer, check out our interview with Stuart Evers!

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Pre-Publication Tips for Authors: Build Your Social Media Presence

Personal branding is an important part of the success of any author, and social media is a strong place to develop and grow that brand. Your tone as an author, your field of interests, and how you communicate with the world should all be considered as your develop your voice on the Internet. While Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter might not be for every author, savvy users of these sites can grow your community of dedicated fans. So, how to begin building a successful social media presence?

Start by looking at social media as a way to connect with your potential audience, not as a marketing tool. Authenticity will help you genuinely connect with the kinds of readers who will be your be among your best advocates and fans, which will also help your online presence grow organically.

Think about which platforms are best suited to your own instincts and talents. Have a knack for funny or insightful quick turns of phrase? Try Twitter. Are you a visual thinker? Get on Instagram. Once you’ve established which platform(s) you will use, make sure that your tone fits with your audience. If you are a middle-grade author, it’s best to avoid filling every tweet with the most colorful swear words you know. On social media, you are your brand and everything you put online goes toward building that brand.

Be a part of larger conversations and get yourself noticed online by using hashtags, sharing articles, replying to other authors, and engaging with your followers. Communicating directly with your followers is a great way to strengthen your online presence and bond you to your audience. Engaging in conversations that relate to specific topics in your book will attract a like-minded social media following. If you as an author are posting about something that’s interesting to a community, the community will take notice.

Check out the rest of NetGalley Insights to learn more about getting the most out of social media: Which book industry Instagram accounts to follow, using Twitter to learn more about librarians, and how an independent author used NetGalley to boost her title on Twitter.

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An Author’s Path

NetGalley’s own Stuart Evers and Myfanwy Collins share their expert insights as authors and publishing-industry professionals regarding how a book gets written and makes its way into the world.

In “An Author’s Path,” they give a roadmap detailing how authors can find the time and discipline to finish their book, and what to do with it once it’s been written. Stuart covers the conventional publishing route; from finding an agent to represent you and your book, to editing the manuscript, sending out ARCs, and more. Myfanwy explains how and why an author should consider submitting to writing contests or journals, and the basics behind writing a successful query letter. Then, they discuss the basics of book marketing and publicity; how to solicit blurbs and use social media to your advantage.

You can view the full video here. We’ve also included some timestamps so that you can quickly find the most relevant information for your needs.

 

 

 

 

 

Timestamps:

  • Intro: 0:00
  • How to write a book: 1:30
  • What to do with your book once you’ve finished writing it: 8:15
  • The conventional publishing route (finding an agent, pitching publishers, editing, ARCs) 9:38
  • Submitting to your work to journals & contests, writing query letters 22:29
  • Book marketing and publicity: soliciting blurbs, using social media: 32:08
  • Q&A: 50:10
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Case Study: Glimmerglass Girl

How an indie author’s debut chapbook became one of the most requested poetry titles on NetGalley

On NetGalley Insights, we highlight the successes of NetGalley publishers and authors, and share some of their strategies. Today, we’re talking with Holly Lyn Walrath. She is a poet and author whose work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, Luna Station Quarterly, Liminality, and elsewhere. Glimmerglass Girl, published by Finishing Line Press, is her first chapbook, and is one of the most requested poetry titles on NetGalley.

Glimmerglass Girl is your debut book of poetry (on sale Aug. 3, 2018). Tell us a bit about your overall strategy for promoting your debut book. Some authors find it challenging to build a community of advocates and influencers before they are a well-established name.

When I set out to promote Glimmerglass Girl, my main goal was to get pre-orders, so my promotion period started sometime in April. I think that was very helpful because starting out that early meant I had plenty of time for outreach. Beyond reaching out to my existing network of friends and fellow writers, I spent a lot of time contacting poetry reviewers and booksellers. Since my book is short and illustrated, I focused on booksellers that were local to the Houston area or interested in indie and rare books or zines. Because my book is being published by a small press, they don’t have the resources bigger publishers have. It is quite a challenge when you’re just starting out. There were a few times when I felt overwhelmed by self-promotion! But, I was surprised by how kind and supportive the poetry community is.

How has your experience launching your own book differed from being published alongside other authors in collections?

When you’re publishing a poem or short story in a collection or anthology, you have the support of every author who’s been published alongside you. They all share the book with their network and that has an amplifying effect. But when you’re publishing your own book, it’s just you! (Or in my case, me and Finishing Line Press, my publisher.) You have to rely on yourself a lot more.

Our audience of publishers and authors is always eager to learn more about how others are planning their publicity and marketing efforts on NetGalley. Where does NetGalley fit into the overall strategy and timeline for Glimmerglass Girl?

At first I wasn’t sure what NetGalley would do for my book, but I decided to try it out anyway. I work as a freelance editor, so I’ve seen clients use NetGalley to varying degrees of success. For me, listing my book on NetGalley was an extra push to get the word out about my book and a bit of an experiment. But I think that experiment has really paid off. It’s also been so much easier to get ARCs into the hands of folks who want to read the book—I just send them a link to NetGalley.

Which segments of the NetGalley community were most important to you (ie. Reviewers, Librarians, Booksellers), and why? How did you go about reaching them?

The biggest reward has been in receiving reviews on Goodreads, Blogs, and Twitter. Because I started early, I have a good amount of ratings on Goodreads and my book isn’t even out yet! It’s also very useful to have a list of reviewers that I can contact when the book comes out and ask them to review on Amazon and other retailers.

How did you optimize your Title Details page to drive requests and reviews for your book?

I included a short description with a few blurbs and an excerpt from an early review of Glimmerglass Girl by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. I was careful to link to my Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter accounts with the #GlimmerglassGirl hashtag so readers could easily tag me online, allowing me to reshare their posts about the book. I also included a press kit from my publisher with additional information about the book.

We loved how you linked to Glimmerglass Girl’s Title Details page on Twitter, bringing attention to your title using NetGalley, for an audience that might not already be on NetGalley. Why was this audience important to you?

It’s pretty much ingrained in me that when I have news, I share it on Twitter (I’m addicted!). I noticed that any reviewers use the #NetGalley hashtag on Twitter when they review an ARC. So it made sense to me that that audience would also be scrolling through the hashtag to look for new books to check out. There’s also a fantastic audience of writers, readers, and fans of books on Twitter via the #amwriting, #amediting, and #amreading hashtags, who don’t know about NetGalley but would love to be a part of the community here.

*for more information about incorporating hashtags into your marketing strategy, check out this 3-minute video.

 

Tell us more about strategies you used to leverage your NetGalley listing outside the site.

One strategy that’s been super fun is reaching out to Instagram’s book community. There are readers who post beautiful, artful, enchanting posts with their current TBR pile or reading obsessions. I asked a few of them to check out my book on NetGalley and got a lot of responses back from people excited to be offered a free ARC. I think that’s a pretty unique way to reach readers. I’ve also added the NetGalley link to my website and Press Kit.

Which NetGalley marketing tools did you take advantage of, and how did you use them to leverage interest?

I’ll be ramping up my NetGalley marketing in August when the book comes out. Glimmerglass Girl was chosen as a featured title as part of the “debut authors” month so it will appear on the front page of NetGalley. I’m stoked for this opportunity and curious to see how it goes. I think this last burst of interest should help get the book in front of more readers.

How did you engage with members who requested access? Did you follow up with them via email?

I made sure to follow members who requested access to Glimmerglass Girl on Goodreads and Twitter and share any blog posts to my website. I plan on reaching out to all my members who requested access with an update when the book is live to let them know they can order it, review it on Amazon and other retailers, and thank them for reading. I’m grateful for this chance to get to know other lovers of poetry, but I didn’t want to bombard them with emails either.

How will NetGalley be incorporated into your post-pub strategy?

My book will be on NetGalley for about two months post-publication and my hope is that this will help garner some Amazon reviews . . . for the coveted algorithm! I’m also planning a Goodreads Giveaway during August and I’ll probably pair this with NetGalley to let anyone who enters know that they can also get a free copy while they wait (and vice-versa with members who’ve already requested my book and might want to enter the giveaway.)

What is your top tip for authors listing an individual title on NetGalley?

Make sure to check out the other titles in your category. Read their description and model your title page off the books that you love and that are successful. I think readers really rely on the description to know whether they’ll like a book, so having some comp titles (books similar to yours) is helpful. In the case of Glimmerglass Girl, I’d love to reach the audiences of authors like Rupi Kaur and Lang Leav—women readers who are sure of themselves and maybe a bit creative too. Don’t be afraid to name-drop similar authors!

Glimmerglass Girl comes out on August 3 from Finishing Line Press. You can pre-order it here.

*Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

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Pre-Publication Tips for Authors: Ensure Your Book is Ready for Publication

As an author, you have likely spent more hours than you care to count dreaming up your story, imagining the inner workings of your characters and working through plot structure. And now that your manuscript is ready, your book is almost ready to meet the world! In order to help your book make a positive first impression, here are some ways to make sure that it’s ready for publication.

You’ll want to do everything in your power to make sure that it grabs a potential reader’s attention right away… and holds it. This means a strong cover design, editing with a fine tooth comb, and adhering to publishing standards and deadlines.

Book cover inspiration from @perfectbound_

Readers are inundated with books to choose from, at their libraries –on retail websites, and in brick-and-mortar bookstores–which means that your cover matters. Make sure that it looks professional and eye-catching, and pay attention to what other books look like in the category or genre you’re writing. For inspiration, check out perfectbound_ or  She Designs Books. You might end up shelling out for a professional book design, but a compelling cover makes a big difference for readers in a crowded marketplace.

Once you have a reader’s attention with an enticing cover, one of the quickest ways you could lose that attention is with typos and grammatical errors. A book might be full of the most fascinating characters and original worldbuilding, but if the apostrophes are always in the wrong place and commas are running rampant on the page, the reader will be quickly distracted and turned off. Make sure that you are sending your book out into the world in its very best possible state, with a comprehensive line edit. Your book gets one first impression with readers, so make sure it’s as strong as possible by sorting out any wayward spelling or grammar issues.

If you intend for bookstores and libraries to carry your book, make sure to set a realistic pub date and stick to it. Most bookstores, libraries, and even “long lead” review outlets, need significant time to plan what new books will be added to their store. Setting your pub date at least six months in the future will give you time to share it with book buyers at stores, librarians in charge of collection development, and traditional review organizations. Additionally, it’s important to  ensure that any digital files you have are formatted correctly, and that you have an ISBN number.

While graphic design, line editing, and ISBNs might not seem like the most important part of publishing your book, these are the details that will help your book stand out for readers, reviewers, and retailers.

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Pre-Publication Tips for Authors: Know Your Book

The beauty of a bustling bookish marketplace is that there is a book for every reader; a lid for every pot. This also means that not every book is for every reader. For an author, it means that not everyone will love your book. And that’s ok! The best way to make sure that your book makes it into the hands of the readers who will love it as much as you do, who will buy copies for their friends, nominate it for prizes, and review it for their audiences, is to know your book. Sounds easy, right? Not quite.

Hollywood writers, Madison Avenue advertisers, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are well-versed in the elevator pitch; the sentence or two that summarizes the scope of a project and piques the listener’s attention. One of the most famous examples is Alien. Pitched as “Jaws in Space,” it generated huge studio interest and went on to become a classic. As an author, you don’t need anything quite so short or quippy, but you do need to know how to talk about your book in a way that will entice your audience, and give them a sense of whether they are going to like it.

The best way to start thinking about the elevator pitch for your title, as with many things, is to read more. Read the blurbs for the books you love. How do they describe themselves? What details do they highlight? How do they describe the plot and its characters? How do they condense hundreds of pages in to just a few lines?

Ultimately, you should be able to explain what your book is about quickly and succinctly. Feel free to compare it with other books, but remember, if you’re comparing it to Harry Potter, Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, or Fifty Shades of Grey, these are some of the most popular books, and many new titles compare themselves to them. So readers might feel a bit jaded when they see these same titles mentioned again. Try comparing your book to a slightly lesser known, though still beloved title, which might resonate with a more niche audience. If your book is about a young wizard learning the ropes, consider comparing it to Wizard of Earthsea rather than Harry Potter.

Thinking carefully about what makes your book unique, and distilling its unique characteristics into a quick elevator pitch will help you find the right target market for your work.

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A Writer’s Schedule: Stuart Evers

Today we’re talking to Stuart Evers, former bookseller and editor, and acclaimed author of Ten Stories About Smoking, which won the 2011 London Book Award, the novel If This is Home, and Your Father Sends His Love. He lives in London. He is also the Assistant Director of NetGalley UK.

Photo Credit: Pan Macmillan

How do you set your writing goals? Are they daily, weekly, etc?

The ideal is for there to be no goals or targets at all; to be writing with a complete ignorance of such outside-the-text pressures. Just picking up from where you left off: The words, the shape, the tone and the timbre so entwined that’s the only thing on which you concentrate. These moments are few and far between, however. Mostly I give myself long deadlines – a story, a chapter, a section finished by some time in the near future – and try to adhere to them. This has a moderate success rate. Otherwise, goals are sharp sticks with dubious carrots at the end – get a thousand words down and you can bathe the kids before their bedtime, get five thousand done by the end of the week and you can go to the pub. These goals are easily achievable – I always want to see my kids, I always want a beer on a Friday – but whether the work that stems from them is usable is something of a moot point.

Describe your routines as a writer and how they help you stay on track with your goals:

My routines are shaped by two vital factors, my job and my children. I write around these – before work,  when the kids are eating, and after they have gone to bed. I sometimes do an hour just before bed, and a few hours on the weekend while my wife looks after the boys. These twin commitments allow me to write, so they have to be treated with respect and priority, even if characters are screaming at me for some attention.

Photo Credit: Pan Macmillan

How did you develop your writing routines?

I’ve always had a job, so it’s always been the same for me: Snatched hours here and there; concentrating for short periods at a time; blocking out time on weekends and holidays. It is a necessity and I have got used to it. I’d love to be able to take the time to spend a day honing a sentence, but I suspect that even if I had that space, the sentence would be the same as the one I wrote originally.

What routines have you tried that didn’t work for you? Why didn’t they work?

I found that any very strict deadlines I set myself, I became resistant to. If I said that I absolutely had to finish a piece by a particular date, I would fail. A more generous deadline and I would beat it handsomely.

What do you do when you feel stuck?

I walk. Sometimes for some hours. I usually end up in a pub of some kind. Sometimes I just go off and write something else, other times I revisit writers I love to remind me that it can be done.

What compromises have you had to make in order to have time for writing?

I am less sociable than I once was. I once met David Mitchell and his advice to me was to halve my social life and buy a teapot. I already had the teapot.

Photo Credit: Pan Macmillan

Describe the balance between having a full-time job, family, and writing. How do you manage both?

They are all fun, all frustrating, all important – and they are all interdependent. The difference is that, for the most part, writing can wait. It is a kind of vital luxury – but it’s like some people are with exercise, if you’re not doing it, it can impact on other aspects of your life. So you always find the time.

How do you think about finding a job that supports you financially and supports your writing? Do you need something that leaves room in your mind for creative work, something that keeps you in the habit of deep thinking and frequent writing, something else altogether?

Most writers – certainly those who are in their forties like me – need a job. Even Zadie Smith has a day job. That means you need something that works for you. That can be something flexible, something stretching, or something that you hate, but gives you impetus. You’ll know the fit when you find it.

Tell us a little bit about the New Year’s resolution you made at the beginning of 2018 to help you keep on track with your writing goals.

My wife and I resolved to make Monday to Wednesday no television days, so I would write in the living room as my wife read on the sofa. It’s been a success – I’ve read more and written more than I’d expected and it’s been a very easy transition. It’s the kind of joy – having a partner who likes to read like you – that’s easy to take for granted.

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