When you start on the journey of writing a blog, a novel or even an article, the first thing you are told and you will notice is the competition. You need to be unique, original, connect with your readers and pull them in. It is hard and not for faint hearted. You will meet people from all walks of life, you will have great successes and great heartbreaking failures. After a while, you will brandish a hardened exterior and become more or less agnostic to others opinions about what path you have taken.
When I started writing the “Meet the Writers Series”, I decided to approach upcoming authors and writers, to minimise that feeling of disappointment you get from rejections. I have had outright definitive “No” to “thank you for asking, let me think about it” answers from number of people. Few however, have selflessly taken time from their busy daily schedules and have answered my questions.
In this edition of Meet the Writer Series, we are going all the way to Cardiff in Wales to catch up with Patric Morgan. Patric is a multi-award-winning author and blogger with over 14 years of experience riding firmly at his side. The last ten years, he has been successfully building his own online brands, some of them have won awards and all of them have helped him pack in his day job and do what he loves best. He is also very active in twitter, where he promotes the work of other Indie writers.
If you’ve got more than one book to promote, we are offering four book promotions for the price of three. Head to Promotion for further details.
1- What inspired you to start writing
It’s the old cliché of writing since I was a kid. On Saturday mornings, I used to go to the shop with my pocket money and buy a pack of blank exercise books. I’d then spend the weekend writing stories. In terms of writing professionally, that all came about when my dad fell ill with cancer in 2012. As a way of coping with my emotions, I created a journal-style blog, just for me to empty my head every few days. I wasn’t promoting the blog but someone came across it and suggested that I enter it into a competition. I was hesitant at first because it would be like someone reading my diary, but eventually I did and I won a national award for it. That made me realise that people might enjoy reading my work so I converted the blog into my first book.
2- What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
To someone starting out, I’d give different advice depending on what they were wanting to achieve. If they were just wanting to write for themselves and wanting to become a better writer, study the way that other good writers work. Always look to learn because no-one is the finished article. If you were wanting to make money, find an audience that you can write for before you even start writing. Find that niche. It doesn’t have to be a big one, in fact, the smaller, the better. Then start building an audience that you can sell to once you’ve finished your book or books.
Writing non-fiction is easier to sell than fiction too so if you want to delve into that world, ask what readers would want to learn from you. Find them and you can then sell your book to them. I did this with a blogging book I wrote in 2015, which was #1 in the Kindle charts for nearly 3 years.
3- What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
For me, good writing is something that can affect people’s emotions or thinking process. We all love a good story but it’s often the little details that make all the difference.
4- What comes first, the plot or characters?
Plot always comes first for me. If I’ve got a story to tell, I start with the plot and bring in characters to help get that plot from Point A to Point B.
5- How do you develop your plot and characters?
I always start my stories at the very end. I write the final chapter before anything else. That way, I can reverse engineer all the plotlines and figure out what sort of things need to happen before I get to the end chapter. I used to start writing and let the characters develop the plot but I always ended up with plot holes and dead ends. Starting at the end also allows me to figure a starting point for the characters, since they always need to have a challenge to overcome in any story.
6- How do you come up with the titles to your books?
I like to play on words for my titles. My first book, about my Dad’s cancer, was originally called A Lump In My Throat, since that’s where my Dad’s cancer was located. It obviously refers to being sad, which we all were. When I published it as a book, I changed it to Do Not Go Gently, a nod to Dylan Thomas’s famous poem about his dying father.
On a totally different level, I also wrote a spoof sheep-based erotic comedy trilogy based on the Fifty Shades of Grey series. I called it Fifteen Grades of Hay. Strangely, that book became a best-seller!
7- When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always considered myself a writer, since that’s what I’ve always done. Technically, I’m more of a blogger and publisher these days although I do own and run my own magazines that I have to write from start to finish!
8- Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
New writers should find their own way. Don’t stress about word count. You’ll see other writers boasting that they’ve written 200k words in one day. Just focus on your craft and tread your own path, no matter how many words you write.
9- How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?
Where I can, I’ll try and use real-life examples in my work to draw out some of that emotion. If you experience emotions while reading back your own work, you’re on the right path. As I mostly write non-fiction for money these days, there’s less emotion to handle. Stay focused on your end goal and it’ll help with your motivation.
10- How do you handle literary criticism?
I’m way past worrying what others think of my work. I often used to let it get to me but these days I realise that you really can’t please everyone all of the time. Constructive criticism is good and I take a look at it to decide if it’s warranted. Always learn.
11- How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?
I plan my stories in the tiniest detail before writing any of the words. I think of it as building a house. I create the structure before adding any of the content. You wouldn’t build a house without a plan.
12- Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?
Yes. I had a painter around my house a year or so ago and he spent all day preparing the walls before actually painting it. The painting part took about an hour whereas he’d spent 7 hours prepping the walls. That’s how I approach my writing and it works well for me.
13- When writing a series how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?
You’ll always need new ideas, but not too different from your original idea. If people are following you because they like your work, they’ll want something similar but not too different. People like the comfort of what they know but you can always push the boundaries a little to keep things fresh.
14- What was your favourite part, and your least favourite part, of the publishing journey?
My favourite part of the publishing process is connecting with people. I inadvertently had a falling out with a follower on social media a few weeks back. I’d said something that upset her and she called me out on it. I offered my apology and an explanation and she in turn, apologised to me and explained that ‘she was upset because it came from someone she trusted.’ I’d never spoken to her before and it made me realise that my works reaches people I don’t even know exist. My least favourite part of the publishing journey is having the discipline to keep at something. I have a very short attention span and have plenty of half-written works that frustrates me in the fact that they are unfinished.
15- Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels?
You’ve got nothing to lose with your first book in a series. Subsequent ones can be harder so write your first novel and then loosely plan your entire series before publishing your first book. If it does well and gains a following, you’ll know exactly where you’re going next with it all. If it doesn’t, you haven’t wasted your time writing an entire series.
16- Describe your perfect book hero or heroine.
My perfect hero or heroine is someone who gives up everything for others. One of my favourite movies is the 1981 movie, Das Boot, which is an adaptation of Lothar-Günther Buchheim’s 1973 German novel of the same name. The captain is taken to his limits to protect his crew and his character has stuck with me for years. Other characters that do it for me are those underdogs who take on the system.
17- Would you like to add a departing note for our readers
If you’re looking to make money from your writing, you’ll need to look at it as a business, and apply a business model to it. So many writers spend years writing what they think will become the next best-seller, and then find that it flops and they become disheartened. The reason for this is because they’ve just written what they think is a good book, but not actually figured out what’s selling.
Do your research beforehand, including planning which audience you are going to sell your books to. Start building your audience via a blog and social media while you are writing. And plan how you are going to market your book after you’ve published.
Lastly, a blog is always a helpful marketing tool. In fact, I got myself an unexpected book deal off the back of one of my blogs.
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