Stephen Games On The 5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author
One word of advice: seek out a good editor and be open to criticism. Ask your friends, by all means, but remember that they’ll want to encourage you, not criticize you.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephen Games. Stephen Games is the founder of EnvelopeBooks, the British publishing house set up to help authors who have struggled to find a mainstream publisher or agent. He is a former architecture correspondent for The Guardian, radio documentary maker for the BBC and opinion writer for the Los Angeles Times. He studied Graphic Design and then Architecture and has taught as an adjunct professor for Temple University, Boston University, and the University of Kent. He has a PhD from Cambridge University.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
EnvelopeBooks really isn’t about me: it’s about our authors. I’ve already done many of the things I wanted to do — in broadcast media with the BBC, in print journalism with the Guardian and other British papers, and in academic teaching, and I did much of this very early in my career. I’ve also written or edited a variety of non-fiction books, one of which has sold nearly 100,000 copies, and I felt it was time to help others get on the ladder I’d climbed up. It’s like taking a break from having babies of my own and becoming a midwife: I love it.
The established writing industry is tougher than it was when I was young. As a freelance writer I used to be able to pick up the phone every morning, sell a story to any national newspaper — in the UK and in the States — and then write it. Before I was 30, I’d become the first architectural writer to win a commendation in the British Press Awards — the UK’s equivalent of the Pulitzers. During three-and-a-half happy years living off-campus at UCLA, I sailed into writing Opinion Section features for the LA Times and started the satirical zine Live Live News News. It used to be easy.