Monday, 21 January 2013

Getting it Wrong! - Ruth Symes/Megan Rix

5 Misconceptions I used to have about writers and writing:

1. I used to think all writers were rich.

Now I know that most writers barely make a living from their work - so cash-wise they're poor.

But they're also rich: Rich in having time to do the thing they love, the pleasure of knowing they're doing work that their innermost core calls them to do, flexibility of working space and flexibility of working hours.

2. I used to think a writer could write anything they wanted.

But I soon found out if you want to be published by a regular publisher you need to take into account the word count publishers are looking for (especially for younger readers) and if you want to use your writing to express your ideals and be published by a regular publisher its better to do this subtly. (Of course with e-boooks you can do what you like!)
Bella Donna's favourite meal

My first book published was very close to my heart and expressed my life view and because it got published relatively easily I thought I could do that all the time - but my manuscripts then started to turn a bit crusader-ish and got turned down. I still want to share what I believe in but I put it within a fun story. My Megan Rix books are all about how amazing I think animals are. In November I took part in the World Vegan Month and blogged for Animal Aid. I realised that my characters in the Bella Donna books (apart from the cats) only ever eat vegan or vegetarian food - and that's how I'd like to be (I count myself as a nearly vegan as I can't always manage it.)

 is Munchkin

3. I used to think once your first book was published it'd be plain sailing.

Hohoho! How wrong could I be. But not having my second or third novel manuscripts published was the best thing that could have happened because it meant I learnt to diversify and write for a range of ages and media and publishers rather than just one slot.

4. I used to think the writing life was easy.


5. I used to think you needed an agent.

But that isn't true. I think I'm up to my fifth agent now - one for children's books and one for adult non-fiction. I like having an agent because it lets me have more time to write and also gives me professional back-up, editorial help, sorts out my contracts and makes sure my finances are in order. But my first three books were published without having an agent so it isn't always true (and certainly not true now when you can publish yourself.)

What misconceptions did you have or maybe you went into writing with your eyes wide open - and if you did then good for you!

Ruth Symes website is and her Bella Donna website is

She also writes as Megan Rix and her latest book 'The Great Escape' has been shortlisted for the East Sussex Children's Book Award.


Katherine Roberts said...

I believed number 3! Took me ages to get my first book published, but I told myself the struggle and sacrifice would be worth it, since from then on it would all be "onwards and upwards" as my late agent used to say. Hmmm.

I don't think I ever believed number 1... Some authors are rich, in the same way other people win the lottery, but I bet there are a lot more lottery winners than rich authors!

Stroppy Author said...

I thought most writers wrote novels. In fact, there are far more non-novelists who are professional writers than novelists: writers of picture books, non-fiction, plays, poetry, screenscripts, opera libretti... Novelists just get (demand?) most attention, particularly literary novelists.

Ann Turnbull said...

Most writers barely make a living? Surely most writers don't come anywhere near making a living and are supported by spouses or have day jobs?

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