Today on #IrishWritersWed I am joined by Adele O’ Neill, whose debut novel Brothers & Sisters was published recently by Aria Fiction.
Brothers & Sisters is described as ‘a gripping, highly emotive story of love, survival, dark family secrets and sibling loyalty, alternating between life in the 1970’s and the present day’
Today Adele is sharing with us all some very invaluable tips, based on her own experience as a debut author, entitled ‘5 Things Every Debut Author Should Know!’
5 Things Every Debut Author Should Know!
by Adele O’ Neill
IMPOSTER SYNDROME IS A THING!
My name is Adele O’ Neill and I’m *looks over my shoulder to make sure that no-one is going to snort when I say it and whispers* a writer!
Have you ever had that feeling when someone compliments your hair and you look behind you to see who is standing behind you? This happens to me every time someone compliments my book.. ..my automatic response is to presume that the person complimenting is either being a.) Sarcastic or b.) Lying?
Regardless of how successful Brothers and Sisters was, including number one for four weeks in my local Easons, getting it’s Orange Bestseller Tag from Amazon Australia, reaching the dizzying heights of number 4 overall in Amazon Canada and number 16 overall on the Amazon U.K., I still feel awkward referring to myself as a writer.
You need to stop attributing your success to luck.
Surround yourself with like-minded people who will remind you about your achievements and prevent you from discounting your work.
‘The trouble with the world is the stupid are cocksure and all the intelligent are full of doubt’– Bertrand Russell
REVIEW-APHOBIA IS A THING!
‘If you have nothing good to say to each other, say nothing.’ said my mother every time I had an opinion on anything my siblings did!
Mammy’s opinion aside, reviews are necessary. We, as authors, need to know what readers think of our work and whether or not we missed the mark on a plot thread or whether a particular style didn’t work. The machine behind us, our editors and publishers, want to gauge what the public perception of our work is and whether or not they have a hit or a miss on their hands, so reviews, while not the deciding factor, are a vital cog in the machine that deems whether or not our books are a success or not.
My biggest fear before my debut came out was other people’s opinions on whether or not my book was good enough. (This ties in with the Imposter Syndrome too!) My contentment with my work hinged on whether or not the reviews were positive. Luckily the majority were, but there will always be some ill-expressed, biased opinions that are neither constructive nor fair. Every author gets them, so view your first ‘not so hot’ review as your rite of passage, you are not a fully-fledged author unless someone disparages your work and the endless hours that you poured into it.
Or you could just take Steinbeck’s approach to it….. ‘Unless a reviewer has the courage to give unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard…’
SECOND BOOK SYNDROME IS A THING!
‘Writing one book was all well and good but I don’t know what possessed me to think that I could write a second, never mind a third!’
I met my editor in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin for the first time to sign my three book publishing deal on the 8th of March 2017. We had a fantastic lunch and a great discussion about my first book, but one of the comments I took away with me that day was when she referred to the second and third book in my contract;
‘We (the publishers) get the most amazing debut books and we are so excited to publish them, but then sometimes the second book comes in and its atrocious – it’s because of the pressure on the second book.’
I can categorically confirm that the Second Book Syndrome actually exists but I can also confirm that any good editor will be able to coach you through it. They know it exists, so don’t worry if the sophomore slump hits you, it happens to the best of us. Trust yourself that you can do it.
It can be explained psychologically, where earlier success has a reducing effect on the subsequent effort. For me, it was as simple as the first story having a lot more time to develop and mature inside my head as I waited and waited to get a publishing deal. The second had six months to materialise while I was focused and distracted on publicising the first. Writing the second book was bound to be a harder slog and remember all the first draft needs to do is exist.
‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ – Nelson Mandela
THE GREAT PRETENDERS!
Remember not everyone who smiles at you is your friend!
The literary industry in Ireland has a cross section of people who will be in your corner, people who will cheer you on from the side lines and celebrate your success with you without expecting a public thank you or fanfare in return.
Trust your instincts and make it your priority to find these like-minded writers, people who will lift you and support you when you need it. Writing is a solitary business so we all need friends. Be careful of the Pretenders though and filter them out, your circle might decrease in size but increase in value, trust me, it’ll be worth it!
‘Some people go to priests, others to poetry, I to my friends.’ – Virginia Woolf
You know that entitlement people assume by touching your stomach when you are pregnant? That!
For some reason people you know, and even some that you don’t, will feel entitled to ask you about your finances and have an opinion on why you put in all those gruelling hours for a relatively small return. Questions like “How much do you get per book?” and “Is it worth your while?” are amongst the most frequently asked. Unless you are going to open your purse or wallet and count your cash in front of them or carry your up-to-date bank statement with you to show them, I would prepare and practise a response in advance if I were you. Something along the lines of the number of books that have been downloaded or the amount of weeks you’ve been in the Best Sellers charts usually shuts them up. Failing that you could say, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!
‘The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.’ – Henry David Thoreau
Adele O’Neill is a writer from County Wicklow, Ireland. She lives with her husband Alan and two teenage daughters and is a board member of the Wexford Literary Festival.
Adele sold her successful Montessori business in 2013 so that she could concentrate on her writing. She was fortunate to win a charity auction to have Sheila Crowley, literary agent for Curtis Brown, complete a readers report of her novel. In her report, Ms. Crowley refers to Adele’s work as ‘clearly the work of a writer with a gift for storytelling’ that has ‘the architecture of a great story’, that in parts reminded her of ‘the warmth of Emma Hannigan’.
Adele has been offered a three book publishing deal from Caroline Ridding of Aria (imprint of Head of Zeus).
Her first book, Brothers & Sisters was published in July 2017.
(Courtesy of Trace Literary Agency )
Twitter ~ @adelesbooks
Brothers & Sisters ~ Info
What lengths would you go to protect the ones you love?
When the complex web of dark family secrets begins to gradually unravel, Tim and his sister Rose are consumed by trying to protect their 46-year-old secret, a secret that was never meant to be told.
Faced with an impossible dilemma, they must decide whether to tell the truth or face the consequences.
One thing’s for sure, nothing remains buried forever…
A gripping psychological thriller that will have you hooked