Jessica Jarlvi shares her five top tips that she believes would help any aspiring writer.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of speaking at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai and one of the most common questions I received from budding writers was: ‘how do you become a published author?’
As with any dream, staying motivated is important but it can be difficult when you don’t reach your goal immediately. For me, writing has been a rollercoaster ride for many years. I would write a book, send it off, only to face rejection. Looking back at these letters from publishers, however, many of them were actually positive! I just didn’t see it at the time.
Still, when you love what you do, you keep going, and when I finally decided to start writing in English, as opposed to Swedish, I found my voice. In 2016 I sent the first couple of chapters of my new novel to a writing competition and that changed everything.
The novel When I Wake Up was picked up by an agent and then a publisher and before I knew it, I was asked to write another book. That’s how What Did I Do? was created.
I would like to share these five top tips that I believe would help any aspiring writers:
1. Be persistent – if you receive rejections, don’t get upset. Be grateful that someone read your material and keep going.
2. Ask for feedback – this can be through writing courses, groups or trusted friends – seek out places for like-minded people and find support.
3. Do send your material to agents and publishers – don’t keep it in a drawer. Be brave and open about what your dreams are and search for people who believe in you. You only need one agent and one publisher.
4. Read books in your genre – to see what sells.
When I did my Masters in Creative Writing, the focus was on the creative and literary aspects of writing, not the commercial side. Publishing is a business and publishers will ultimately look for a book that’s going to sell. Having said that, don’t write something that doesn’t come naturally to you – whatever your heart tells you, and whatever your voice is, there will be a way for it to appeal to readers. You just have to find the right story, and the right market.
5. Surround yourself with people who believe in you
You will find people who think you’re going after an impossible dream, since getting a publishing deal is often described as ‘finding a needle in a haystack’. However, you need to think that you will be the exception. If you work hard enough and long enough and truly believe in yourself, anything can be achieved. People are often negative about your dreams because they’re too scared to go after their own.
When I wrote When I Wake Up, I was working in marketing and had three children. I was tired in the evenings but I would still write for one hour every night, since I knew that would bring me closer to my dream – that’s how I finished it.
With my second novel, I had a tighter deadline and had to be equally disciplined. What Did I Do? however, had the advantage of already having a deal. The idea for this novel came about when I did my Masters a few years earlier (nothing you write is ever wasted!) and although the subject matter has changed, a couple of characters remained.
Simply put, this new novel is about two ambiguous murders, a woman with mental health issues, and human trafficking. The book takes place in Chicago and Helsingborg, a southern town in Sweden. While I was writing, a dark tale unfolded and I became immersed in the characters and their fates. I also travelled to Chicago, a city where I used to live, to revisit certain locations, and now can’t wait to go back.
To anyone who wants to be an author, or who has another dream, don’t wait to pursue it. Life is short – go after your dream. And while you’re doing just that, don’t make the mistake of becoming jealous of other people’s success – be happy for them and success will be sure to reach you too.
The new heart-pounding psychological thriller from the bestselling author of ‘When I Wake Up’.
“Kristin is on the run. From her life. From herself.”
When two murders happen in Chicago, a witch-hunt ensues, and Kristin quickly finds herself at the centre.
The problem is she isn’t sure of what she did or didn’t do. Armed with a life insurance payout, she runs away to Sweden to start her life over.
But it’s not that easy to escape the past. And whatever she’s done, someone is on her tail, wanting her to pay…
The question is: could she be a killer and not even remember?
Jessica Jarlvi was born in Sweden and moved to London at the age of 18 to obtain a BSc Hons degree in Publishing and Business. Back in Sweden, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing. Since 2010, Jessica has taught journalism and media at a local university, and has spent the last five years as the marketing and PR manager for a British firm. Jessica is married with three spirited children, and although she’s known for her positivity, her writing tends to be rather dark!
Facebook: Jessica Jarlvi