Self-Doubt, Han Solo, and Writing for Younger Readers

Thursday, 24 May 2018 09:21

For me, being a published author is a constant internal battle. Everything is drowning in self-doubt, and it’s impossible not to cast sideways glances at other authors and wonder: Do their books sell more than mine? Are they invited to more festivals? Do they get better reviews? Are their school events better than mine? Does my publisher like them more than me? Do they have a bigger marketing campaign? Are they more successful? Behind every tweet that I post, linking to a great review, there’s an author desperately hoping that the reviewer wasn’t lying, desperately hoping that people will read the book, and desperately hoping his publisher will like the next one.

I try not to cast those sideways glances, I really do, and when those black thoughts start to weigh heavy, I remind myself that even though it can be tough, trying to chisel a story out of nothing, it is what I do. It is who I am. I wanted to be a published author, and that is what I am. I am lucky enough to call it my job, and it’s the best job in the world. I wouldn’t swap it for anything – except maybe the chance to be Han Solo . . .

Okay, so a little advice for people wanting to write for younger readers. Well, I’m not usually one to give advice because what works for one person might not work for another, but here goes . . .

Never patronise younger readers – they’ll spot it a mile away.

Let your imagination run wild. Younger readers are receptive to all kinds of ideas and stories, and are often far more adventurous than adults.

Don’t be boring. I know this is easy to say, because what is boring to some people might be exciting to others, but if your story doesn’t engage them quickly, they’ll be bored, and that is the worst thing. I’ll say it again – Don’t. Be. Boring.

Imagine that you are writing your book for a reluctant reader. Imagine that yours is the first book they pick up. Give them the best story you can. You’re not just a writer, you’re an inspiration; you’re trying to encourage in them a love of reading.

Decide what age group you’re writing for, and then write the book you would have wanted to read when you were that age.

Thats all!