1. The first and most important piece of advice is simply ‘don’t give up’. I know now the best thing to do after getting a rejection slip (which we ALL get), is to focus on your next project. Younger me was far too easily discouraged and there were long gaps (we’re talking years, not months) before I chased my dream again.

Dani Atkins, Six Days

Dani Atkins, Six Days

2. Read. Not just in the genre in which you’re hoping to write. Read anything and everything. Most of us are pretty discerning when we read; we know when something is working and more importantly when it isn’t. I thought reading the genre I was writing in would influence or confuse my own writing too much. But I was totally missing out on how inspiring reading a fantastic book can be it. It pushes you and makes you want to write better and that is never a bad thing.

3. Do your research. I’m not talking about facts for your book, but about the publishing industry in general. There’s a ton of information online offering advice to unpublished authors. One of the most important topics is how to find an agent (and yes, younger me, you definitely do need one). You’ll also learn how to submit your work, write a synopsis and an engaging cover letter. Not every agent will be the right one to represent you. Not every publisher is the right home for your book. I wasted a fortune in postage and stationery (in the pre-email era) sending manuscripts off to the wrong people. Rookie error.

4. Don’t worry about current literary trends or fashion. Of course, it’s sensible to be aware of them, but there’s no point writing a book just because you think it’s what the market wants. Books take far longer to go from words in your head to bookshelves in a shop than younger me ever realised. Chances are by the time your book is published the market will already have moved on. Don’t be afraid to buck the trend… you might just be starting a new one.

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5. This is really connected to the point above, but it’s worth repeating. Write the book that’s in your head and your heart. The one that has its hooks in you so deeply, you can’t shake it off. That’s the book you should be writing.

6. Grow a rhino hide. Not every reader will love your book. This is easy advice to give but really hard to take. I still remember every bad review far more than the glowing ones, but I’ve learnt to be more philosophical about them and not take them to heart like I used to.

7. Life will always try to get in the way of your writing and you need to remain focused not to let it. Don’t set yourself impossible goals – but do give yourself something to aim for. Don’t measure your progress against other authors; this is your journey, not theirs. If 200 words a day is all you can commit to, then that’s fine. It’s not a race and as long as you’re moving forward it doesn’t matter how long it takes before you get to write THE END.

Six Days by Dani Atkins was published in Hardback on 14th April by Aria, priced at £16.99. You can buy it on Amazon now. 


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