Guest Post by Alison Williams – 10 things new writers should know

I first came across Alison Williams in 2015 when I was looking for a professional editor to give ‘Visions of Zarua’ a final edit before I self published. I had thought the novel was pretty much ready, but Alison suggested many areas of improvement. In all, I cut 10k off the word count!

She has been a huge help to me through the editing and self publishing stages, and here she offers her advice to all new writers. Thank you, Alison…


Ten things new writers should know

  1. Writing a book is hard. It’s a long process. It will take up lots and lots of your time. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can write a 50,000 word novel in a month – NaNoWriMo has its uses but what you write in November is certainly not the finished article.
  2. While you might love writing, when you’re supposed to be writing other things will take on a glamour and an appeal you never knew they had. Even ironing.
  3. Social media can be the best thing ever and the worst thing ever. You will make writer friends, find support, help and empathy. You will also waste hours and hours and hours of valuable writing time.
  4. You need a fresh pair of eyes. However good your spelling and grammar, spellcheck and your own eyes aren’t enough. You WILL miss mistakes.
  5. You need an editor. For the reasons above and then some. Not only can spelling mistakes get missed, but so can plot holes, inconsistencies, issues with characterisation, flow, pace – the list could go on and on. And I’m not saying that because I’m an editor. ALL writers need editors.
  6. You need a professional book cover if you’re self-publishing. Too many good books fail to reach an audience because the cover is awful, or bland, or doesn’t relate to the content. See Rosie Amber’s wonderful Friday Five Challenge if you have any doubt about the importance of your cover.
  7. Promoting your book will take as much time, if not more, than writing it. This is the case whether you self publish or are traditionally published. You will need to promote your work, blog about it, tweet, use Google +, Facebook, engage with other writers and readers, maybe do book signings, readings, conferences. Don’t think writing is all about sitting at a laptop creating worlds. You have to interact in the real world too.
  8. Not everyone will love your book. Some people might even hate it. And if they do they may well tell you so. On Amazon. In detail. Grow a thick skin and be prepared. And be prepared to listen to criticism. Your harshest critics might have a point (or they might not, in which case ignore them – never, ever engage with them).
  9. You won’t make lots of money. At least you probably won’t. You’ll work hard, very, very hard for not much monetary reward. Don’t have expectations of paying off the mortgage, buying a new car or even giving up the day job. It might happen. But it probably won’t.
  10. Writing is hard. Did I say that already? It is though. It’s hard, it’s time consuming, it’s frustrating and thankless and sometimes it’s really, really boring. But you should do it anyway. Because when you publish something you’re proud of, and when someone, a complete stranger, writes a five star review for your book on Amazon, it’s a wonderful feeling. And it makes all that hard work worthwhile.


Alison Williams lives in Hampshire with her husband, two teenage children, and a variety of pets including a mad cocker spaniel, a rescue Labrador, a psychotic cat and two of the most unsociable rabbits in existence. She is an independent novelist, freelance editor and writer. As an editor, Alison works mainly with independent authors and has edited everything from erotica, memoirs and poetry to children’s books and fantasy. When she has any time left at all, she enjoys blogging, reading, going to the gym and listening to music (she has an obsession with Johnny Marr), and watching The Sopranos (again). From 2011-2012 she studied for a Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Glasgow. As part of her studies, Alison wrote her first novel ‘The Black Hours’ – available now from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Sony and the Apple Store. ‘Blackwater’, the prequel to ‘The Black Hours’ is available free as an eBook from all the above outlets. Both can be read as standalones.



Twitter: @Alison_WiIliams


18 thoughts on “Guest Post by Alison Williams – 10 things new writers should know

  1. Awesome starter advice! It’s good to be reminded what needs to be known, I would encourage any new writer to look further into each of these advices and study up on how this strange world of ours works, it’s homework time kids! There is no such thing as too much knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Guest Post by Alison Williams – 10 things new writers should know | Toni Kennedy : A Writing Life

  3. Just a pity that new (even established!) writers do not take heed! I’m the Historical Novel Society Indie Review Managing Editor – the number of books we reject because of page after page of glaring error typos, incorrectly set text and obviously unedited (not even proof-read!) books is depressing. Why take all that effort to write the thing then not take the trouble to produce it well? What is even more depressing are the (more than a few!) authors who respond with “you are being picky, no one will notice the typos or the layout – its the story that counts.” I even had this reply from an author who said she knew what she was doing because she’d written over 30 books.. she had submitted a book with left justified text and littered with typos. I didn’t respond but my thought was ‘then you should know better!’
    Thanks for the article – fortunately there are some fab new writers out there who DO take notice!


    • It’s hard to believe people can still think like that. There’s so much information out there to guide new writers in the right direction, and professionals willing to offer advice like this.
      If new writers want to succeed, they need to produce the best work they possibly can. Lucky for me, I love editing!


      • I so agree! OK we all miss the occasional typo – but to take the attitude “who will notice” or “does it matter” is beyond me! Do these people really expect potential readers to pay out for sub-standard goods? You wouldn’t buy a suit with buttns missing or seams that hadn’t been sewn up properly, so why buy a book that is badly presented? I think part of the trouble is they only ask friends and family for feedback – which, of course is always good. It takes a brave person to tell a relative or best friend “sorry, this isn’t very good, it needs an editor.”

        Liked by 1 person

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