Becoming a successful author

But, first ... are you really sure you want your work published?

Before launching into the pursuit of literary recognition: before committing to any writing course or spending a single penny on editing fees with Callison or anyone else, do, please, consider whether doing so might actually bring the rewards you hope for.


It may, of course, be that you do not seek fame and fortune. You may write with no incentive other than to experience the sheer joy good penmanship brings, and simply wish to express yourself ever more fluently. In that case ignore this sometimes cautionary tale because you have already set your course for self-fulfilment, and will consider what follows misplaced, irrelevant, and five thousand words too long.


But if, on the other hand, you do harbour the tug of commercial aspiration, then you should first ask yourself if you really do have the stuff it takes to become a successful writer - meaning by many yardsticks, a published novelist … ideally one of the emerging generation of authors whose names will ultimately appear on each book jacket in larger print than its title.


Are you prepared to undertake the commitment of time, mental energy and disruption to your existing life style that confronting such a challenge will demand? Because you won’t be able to avoid making sacrifices, you know. Day and night you’ll be forced to live with the characters you create, some of them possibly quite unsavoury. They’ll lead you into places no prudent soul would wish to venture. They’ll make you conjure visions better left unexplored. They’ll get themselves into terrible situations, and rely on you to extract them - or leave them to their fate, of course, for with your pen you wield an awesome power.


And you do realise, don’t you, that you’ll lie abed thinking about your plot, and you’ll rise every day thinking about … well, thinking about your plot? And rightly so. As James N Cain wrote: ‘If you’re not lying awake at night worrying about your novel, then the reader isn’t going to, either’. Meanwhile you’ll inevitably endure writers’ block, feelings of inadequacy, a recurring sense of failure. Above all, how prepared are you to face disappointment and frustration? Because even after all that creative pain the odds are against you, and you’d be well advised to treat with caution any source which tries to persuade you otherwise. You may never be published, no matter how much you suffered.


Mind you, it is possible that, for you, the journey won’t prove so demanding. You might well be an intuitive scribe in need of no advice from those who have climbed their personal mountains before you. You could be very good, as well as lucky. And there is always the positive view. ‘Writing is easy,’ Gene Fowler claimed. ‘All you have to do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead’. Mark Twain agreed. ‘Writing is easy’, he confirmed. ‘All you have to do is cross out the wrong words'. Andrew Motion possibly sums it up best. ‘Every time I peer into my Dictionary,’ he remarks, ‘I think: all the words I’ll ever need are here. The only thing I have to do is get them out in the right order’.


… whichever way: if you have read this far and are still determined to be A Writer no matter what - for that is the only non-negotiable qualification needed to drive you to a quiet corner, pen in hand, and secretly emigrate to a parallel world of your own choosing - then, next, ask yourself where you stand today in practical terms.


Have you, for instance, recently embarked upon your love-child but wish you had someone of experience to turn to for support while continuing with the creative process?


Or, much more dispiritingly, have you already completed your cherished work, offered it to several publishers or literary agents and wondered why they all turned your submission down ...?


In that latter gloom-inducing event, don’t simply give up. Driven writers never do: never have done. Otherwise there’d be very few books on our library shelves. So this could be the time to consider whether seeking professional input might be worthwhile. Those publishing houses may have found a reason for rejection far less complicated, rather more rectifiable than you realise.


Now, finally: think yet again about what really motivates you - apart from nursing the wistful conviction that becoming an established author promises to be one of the few jobs you can earn a living from in your dressing gown.


Do you still incline to the pragmatic view? Still speculate on whether investing in your dream might just provide you with a second income stream: open the door to another career - even lead to earning handsome returns in future: possibly to your being ranked in the best seller lists? That’s a well-proven incentive, and thoroughly commendable. After all, the dramatist Chekov was driven to writing largely to supplement his miserable earnings as a physician, while Dr Samuel Johnson was obviously of similar mind when, in 1776, he wrote, ‘No one but a blockhead should write for anything but money.'


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Or have you, on the other hand, always felt a compulsion to write a novel, a historical work or, say, a personal narrative because you know you have one in you, and are now determined to produce it irrespective of financial reward? To write primarily for the euphoria, the release, the sheer pride and self-satisfaction that overcoming such a challenge will generate. Now that is the most sensible motive of all, for you will already have climbed your particular mountain. You will never risk disappointment. Tom Clancy puts that aspect well. He states, ‘Success is a finished book, a stack of pages filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.'


Whatever force drives you, are you still trying to decide on the most effective means of building on the skills you have? There are many options open to you. Re-writes: correspondence courses: online study groups: DVD tutorials … buying a book promising, within its covers, all the secrets of how to produce an instant best-seller?


… or there’s a new alternative. It's very much a person-to-person thing. One that’s never before been available to an, albeit necessarily limited, number of individual respondents who can demonstrate that they possess what Callison perceives as a raw literary talent that can be coaxed to fruition. It will allow you access to the hard-won lessons learned by the creator of over twenty best-selling novels published worldwide. And taking advantage of a unique opportunity like that could well prove your wisest choice of all.


Even better, Brian's initial brief assessment of your work - publishers call it 'Pricking it to see if it bleeds'  - will be FREE ...! It won't cost anything other than the time it takes to email your MS to find out whether he feels he's the mentor most qualified to help you - but more on that later, in the 'What Callison will, will not, and cannot do for you' section. 


So, once you’ve weighed the pros and cons: once you’ve decided you do have the stuff it takes, and are still determined to press ahead with your apprenticeship to the pen, then making contact with Brian Callison might just be worth considering.