Firstly, I'll say that any set of tips from a specific writer are subjective. These are things that might have worked for me. I'm not an international best-seller, and I can't pretend to tell you how to get there (if only I knew... etc etc. But I do believe that best-sellerdom involves luck, talent, and serendipity, not necessarily in equal measures). I can offer you tips about how to write and, hopefully, how to get published. This list isn't exhaustive, and it also doesn't intend to replace or lessen the importance of #1 on the list. In fact, if you're prepared to embrace #1 fully, then you could probably do away with many of the others. It's all about...

Tim Lebbon

Tim Lebbon

#1 -- work hard. This sounds trite, but if you want to be a writer you need to write. I've heard so many people saying, 'I'd love to write a novel but I don't have the time'. Well, then, you don't want it enough. When I was working full-time as a surveyor, my publishing career slowly got to the stage where I was getting commissioned to write novels. I'd get up at 6am to write before work, write during lunchtimes in work (and, er, occasionally beyond the official lunchtimes, too), during the evenings, and most of my annual leave went on time to write, too. That time pressure eased when I started writing full-time (although now I take on more work, so sometimes I feel just as stressed timewise as I always did). Getting published and becoming a bestseller involves a long, sometimes arduous process, but the starting point is very simple, and very dependent upon you--sit down on your behind and write.

#2 -- learn from rejection. Everyone gets rejection letters. I still get them. There's always that pang of disappointment, but sometimes a rejection letter will include advice that you might want to listen to. Especially if rejections from different markets say the same thing. Rejection is part of the writing process. It's part of living process, too. Learn from it and be stronger.

#3 -- read a lot. If you want to be a writer, you need to be a reader. Read widely, not just in the genres you write in. I probably read more non-fiction than fiction at the moment, but I always have a book on the go. I know that life can sometimes intrude and steal away precious time. But work at it. Immerse yourself in words.

#4 -- tell the story you want to tell. If you chase after the latest sensation and try to replicate it, you're likely doomed to failure. First, because by the time your book's finished, edited, perhaps sold and published, that latest sensation is old news. And second, because writing to a formula will undoubtedly not work. You need to write something you love for it to work well. Working on a 50 Shades-type book just because the original made a squllion pounds will be pointless--from a creative viewpoint--unless that is the sort of book you enjoy writing.

There's a fine line between the art of writing and the commerce of publishing. But I'd always say to writers, write both what you love, and the sort of fiction you'd want to read. That way, whether you become a bestseller or not, you're always true to yourself. And you'll get much more enjoyment out of writing. Which leads me on to--

#5 -- enjoy yourself. Writing is hard work. If you don't find it hard work, there's a good chance you're not doing it very well. It can be emotionally and mentally draining, and going back to the desk day in, day out, until a project is finished can become a real chore. Always remember that you're writing because you enjoy it.

I often compare writing a novel to running a marathon (see also #6, below). You train well, you start fresh and excited, and maybe you write too much too soon, wearing yourself out. By the halfway point you're starting to feel tired, and might even have the feeling, I'm not sure I can finish this. That's when you remind yourself that you're doing this for fun. This is something you want to do. No one else is forcing you into it. And nothing worthwhile comes about without a little bit of effort. Dig deep, believe in yourself, and as that finish line draws closer, you'll start to realise that that period of anxiety was just a part of the process.

#6 -- keep fit. Might sound strange, I guess, but writers spend a long time sitting down behind their desks, tapping away, staring from the window (which is still writing), surfing the internet (which is less so). I exercise every day, whether it's walking, biking, running, swimming, or doing weights. If I go more than two days without exercise I get cranky and the writing is harder. Exercising clears my head and keeps me sane (ish), and I know that some writers actually work through plot points while they're pounding along the road or doing laps of the pool. While this is something that works for me and it might not work for others ... well, this is my list of tips. There is no downside to being fit.

#7 -- persistence. Keep writing. Believe in yourself. Not many people make a lot of money from writing. I've been doing it for a living for ten years and published for ten years before that, and I still sometimes joke that I'm determined to be an overnight success one of these days.

The simple truth is, if you're writing to make money, stop writing and go and get a job. If you're writing because you love it, you're driven to tell stories, you have ideas and you want to know what happens at the end, you love experimenting across genres, and you want to get better with every book you write ... keep at it. However you define success, I hope it comes our way.

Tim J. Lebbon is a New York Times-bestselling writer with over thirty novels published to date, as well as dozens of novellas and hundreds of short stories. He has won four British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award and a Scribe Award. A movie of his story Pay the Ghost, starring Nicolas Cage, will be released soon. The Family Man is published on the 11th August.