1. No matter how true it is, you will never be able to convince anyone that all that time you spend staring into space, you are actually working on your novel.
2. When you give people a copy of your unpublished manuscript to read, no matter how incredibly brilliant and life-changing they might find it, their greatest pleasure will be derived from pointing out all your spelling, punctuation and typographical errors.
3. If you are invited to speak at schools be prepared for the question, “Do you know Andy Griffiths/Paul Jennings/Morris Gleitzman/*insert here name of any insanely or annoyingly popular and successful author that obviously isn’t you*?”
4. Your answer to the question, “Do you know Andy Griffiths/Paul Jennings/Morris Gleitzman etc?” should always be, “Why yes. They’re my biggest fans.”
5. If you are asked to join other authors at a Book signing table, don’t sit next to people like Andy Griffiths/Paul Jennings/Morris Gleitzman. etc
6. If you foolishly ignore Point 5 and do find yourself at a Book signing table beside an author who has a line of readers in front of them, which apart from the Great Wall of China, is the only other human-made thing visible from space, to save public humiliation, if anyone does happen to bring you a book to sign, don’t under any circumstances, allow them to leave until another person turns up to replace them.
7. If by following the advice in Point 6 you inadvertently become involved in a deadly tug-of-war with a reader over their copy of your book, remember to maintain your dignity at all times. (eg the biting of a hand to get them to release their grip is generally frowned upon, except in extreme circumstances. Head butting is acceptable as a last resort.)
8. If you are fortunate enough to be invited to take part in a panel with other authors and each author has been given a STRICT time limit of say, ten minutes to speak, and you are the last speaker – don’t worry about preparing anything. There may be time for you to hold up your book, point at the cover and say ‘Book, mine!’
9. If you are invited to sign copies of your book at a bookshop, unless you are a best-selling author or a TV star or a Celebrity Chef, a good way to pass the lonely hours is by helping to shelve books and spot shoplifters.
10. If you are writing something for public consumption – a blog for example – and you decide to put together a list such as … let’s say ummm .. “20 invaluable lessons I’ve learnt since becoming a Writer” … and you get about half way through and suddenly realise that at an absolute stretch you can really only think of about 18 things, then just write something that sounds like it’s on the topic but really isn’t. Another thing you could try if you were desperate is to just leave out one of the other numbers completely and hope no-one notices. Sometimes inserting an a totally irrelevant image can act as a distraction.
12. If you are asked to sign a book and the person tells you that their name is something like Twinkle Rose Blossom try not to exclaim loudly,‘You’re joking! Were your parents on drugs or just insane?’ Some people are extremely sensitive about things like that. Certainly little Lotus Petal was.
13. If you get invited to a literary function where there is free food, it is perfectly acceptable for writers to have a sandwich in each hand. Having one in your mouth at the same time is sometimes considered a no-no. If you are a poet there are no restrictions.
14. When you go into a bookshop it is also perfectly acceptable to turn your books out so that the covers are showing. It is not quite as acceptable to turn other people’s books back to front so nobody can read their spines or to move the books of authors you don’t like or those who are insanely or annoyingly popular to the gardening section. (At the very least I’ve found that it’s wise to check for security cameras before you do this.)
15. As a means of self-promotion remember to take every opportunity to work the fact that you are a writer and the name of your book into every conversation. For example:
“Was I really going 120 kilometres per hour in a sixty zone Officer? Wow I wish my typing speed was that high! Why when I wrote my first novel …. What? You’re going to book me! Hey, speaking of books … “
16. Remember there’s no such thing as Writers’ Block! It’s just that you might not be able to think of anything good to write for a really, really, really, really long time. If ever.
17. STAY POSITIVE! Remember The Dubliners by James Joyce was rejected 22 times and Carrie by Stephen King was rejected 30 times! Put negative thoughts like “Hey if really good writers like James Joyce and Stephen King were rejected all those times, what chance have I got?” totally out of your head.
18. Keep in mind that if you address a class who have studied your novel that not everyone in the room will have loved your book. Ask those clowns to leave.
19. If you meet another author and they apologise to you for not having read your novel, you can make them feel really bad by saying, ‘Gee I’ve read all of yours.’
20. Finally, remember everyone has different tastes and opinions and no matter how many glowing reviews you might receive there will always be some negative ones. Don’t worry. Different books appeal to different people. That’s what makes human beings so wonderful, fascinating and enchanting! We are all unique and special and everyone is entitled to their opinion.
Even those pea-brained, insensitive, humourless, cretins, with the attention span of a hyper-active house fly who don’t like your stuff.
I really hope this is of some help.
ps Feel free to send in any ‘valuable lessons’ you may have learnt about writing.