Gerald M. O’Connor’s debut novel, The Origins of Benjamin Hackett, was recently released in the United States, by Down & Out Books.
The Origins of Benjamin Hackett is a unique adventure tale set in County Cork, Ireland. The story introduces readers to a young man on the cusp of adulthood whose parents reveal that he is adopted on his 18th birthday.
This revelation sends Benjamin on an unforgettable journey with a friend to find his birth mother – and himself – before the people determined to keep his origins a secret destroy his records forever.
Today I’m delighted to introduce you to Gerald who has written a guest post for us outlining the seven things he learned as a debut author.
We also have a copy of Gerald’s book as a prize for a giveaway courtesy of Down & Out Books, but before I share the details of how to enter, I will let you read Gerald’s insights into the amazing world of writing and publishing.
This is something I heard other writers talk about, and I never really appreciated it until I found myself glaring at my Amazon page when my book went live on the 6th of February. Somewhere in the Amazon matrix a virtual button was switched, launching my novel into the world. After all those years of rewrites and emails and skype calls to my publishers, my book was being read, and all I could do was wait in silence.
Would anyone like it? Will strangers actually buy the thing? Will my book be ridiculed and eviscerated by reviewers? Or worse, will it just sink into rapid obscurity like so many other well-intentioned books?
The days following the book launch seemed to drag on forever, but then reviews started trickling in, along with the phone calls and Facebook messages, and I slowly dragged myself out of my pit and began dressing myself again. I was unprepared for that silence. I will not make that same mistake again.
Some of my author friends say they never read reviews of their books. I must admit to being slightly in awe of anyone who has the strength of mind to not peek at the Amazon or Goodreads sites. But, in truth, I like to read each and every one of them, the good and the bad.
I find I learn something new from most. And if there is a consistent criticism of plot or character or style, I think it wise to pay heed. There are a lot of very intelligent and well-read reviewers out there, and I am not arrogant enough to assume I cannot improve. Far from it, in fact.
At the beginning, an indifferent or harsh review could have caused me some degree of self-doubt, but now, with the benefit of experience, I look at them with a critic’s eye, gleaning information as to where I can hone my writing. So to all debut authors out there, I say, embrace all reviews.
And remember—someone had to buy your book, read it and care enough to write those few words about it. That is a mark of success in it’s own right. Only published books can be criticised, after all.
3. Never give up
This is a bit of a cliché, but it is probably the single most important bit of advice any aspiring author needs to hear. The path to publication is paved with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Finishing a novel, editing and rewriting it, composing the hellish one-page synopsis, perfecting the blurb, seeking author endorsements, querying agents, submitting to publishing houses… the list goes on-and-on.
Succeeding in this industry is a question of luck, ability and grit. If it is your dream to become a published author, then you had better be ready for a long and hard ride. Expect it, prepare for it.
All successful authors I know have the very same mind-set—they write everyday, come holidays or sickness, and they never give up.
4. Befriend other authors
I was lucky enough in this regard. At the start of my writing career, I joined an online class where I met the inimitable Les Edgerton. If you’ve never heard of him, look him up. He is one of the most hard-working and dedicated professionals out there, and a class-A writer to boot.
It was through my friendship with him that I met a heap of published and aspiring authors in his private writers’ group. The advice and insight I receive from this class continues to help me to this day. I would have had zero chance of publication if they had not pointed me in the right direction regarding querying and editing.
When you are a beginner, the world of publishing looks like some faceless behemoth filled with secret rules. Other authors can help guide you through the quagmire, and, in my experience, most are only delighted to do so. Seek them out wherever you can. They’ll quickly become your most important asset.
5. Write everyday
Again, this point has been discussed ad nauseum, but it is one worth mentioning, as it is the crux of successful writers.
Writing, like any skill, requires practice. It is akin to a muscle, one that will quickly turn lax and waste unless it is exercised everyday. Get into a routine early on and stick to it.
The average novel contains 80K words. That seems like a massive amount, until you break it down. Write a page a day, 250 words, and you’ll have a novel completed in a year. It’s as easy and as hard as that.
6. Become your own Superfan
Early on in my career, I used to be this shy, humble thing, too afraid to champion my book for fear of people’s opinions. Do… not… do… that!
In the US alone, over 1 million books are published each year. For every shelf space on Barnes and Nobles bookstores, 1,500 books are competing for it. No other industry has more products introduced on a daily basis.
If you refuse to promote the virtues of your book, the sea of everyone else’s screeches will drown you out. Become your own Superfan and stand proudly behind your novel. To do otherwise will make a difficult job near on impossible.
7. Platforms are for trains
This is a bit of a buzzword at the moment. Every time I hear the word ‘platform’ I get this flutter of nausea in my belly. Some will say you need to build it ASAP. And you will find loads of wisdom online on how to do just that.
Create a website, grow an email list, have a Twitter account full of personal asides and stacks of wisdom. Link to a Facebook Author Page (different to your personal one, of course), and another for each of your novels. Join Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Start blogging daily; write giveaway novellas, or permafree short stories just to lure people to your subscribers sign up form and yadda yadda yadda…
Some people may like all of that, but I have three young kids and a full-time job, and I just do not have the time, or the inclination, to devote myself to this.
Truth is, I am not very good at it. I constantly find myself staring at the Facebook status bar, wondering what the hell I should say and why would anyone care? So I don’t, bar the occasional share of important events and other friends’ news, I limit myself to a few minutes a day. I think the best platform an author can have is to simply write more books.
GERALD M. O’CONNOR is a native Corkonian, currently living in Dublin with his long-term partner, Rosemarie, and their three children. He writes character-driven novels of various genres by night and is a dentist by day. When he isn’t glued to the keyboard, he enjoys sci-fi films, spending time with his family and being anywhere in sight of the sea. He is currently working on his second novel, The Tanist.
If you are interested in Gerald’s writing you can follow him through the following links.
You can purchase his book at …
One lucky winner will win a copy of The Origins of Benjamin Hackett by Gerald M. O’Connor.
To enter just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017.
Any comment will do. What you write does not affect your chance of winning, but if you need inspiration why not tell us about your favorite book genre.
A winning comment will be chosen randomly. Remember to leave your e-mail so that I can contact you should you win. Your e-mail won’t be published, just used to contact our lucky contestant for mailing of the prize.
The winner will be announced on Wednesday, April 23rd 2017, at the bottom of this blog post.
You may check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstakes’ entries by clicking here.
A big thank you to Down & Out publishing for sponsoring this prize, and wishing Gerald every success with his debut novel.
Update 4/23/17 – Winner Chosen:
Good news. Our winner has been chosen using the randomized “Pick Giveaway Winner” WordPress plug-in.
Congratulations to …..
I’ll send our winner a quick e-mail to let her know about her lucky win.
Thanks to everyone who joined in and entered this little giveaway. And a big thank you to Gerald for his wonderful guest post.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)