Words Alike
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Words Alike

Berry: Published Author Highlight

Another of our young authors and a regular in Words Alike, Berry gives us insight into his publishing and writing journey. He is currently working on a fantasy novel, The Whims of War.

As a reminder, this series is all about highlighting the published authors of Words Alike and getting some insight on their publishing journey, inspirations and tips for others. Read along to learn more about publishing and what you can do to publish yourself.

Apparently his current profile picture is copyrighted. Oops.

Quinn: Hey there Berry! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for us to get a look into your journey. We’ll start off with one of the most important things: tell us about yourself.

Berry: I’m an Eastern European writer who loves fantasy of all forms. Growing up in a country where the genre only ever impacted the younger generation, myself included, was a bit hard. There wasn’t much of an audience for fantasy, but I was lucky enough to be introduced to the world of books by my parents.

Q: What inspired you to start writing and how did you go about starting?

Berry: I loved the stories I read as a kid. I think deep down I always wished I could create something as wonderful as those books I read. Eventually, I realised I love telling stories too.

I started by writing down whatever ideas I had. After I wrote my first short story, I was lucky enough to receive some positive feedback and encouragement from my friends. I wanted to write for myself, but if others enjoyed what I wrote, then all the better. So I kept writing.

Q: What is your inspiration for your current work?

Berry: My current novel is something I’ve been meaning to write for a few years. It’s the epic fantasy I always wished I could create: a story of a dark fantasy world with quite a lot of esoteric elements. I like mediaeval worlds, and I like the idea of deities in such worlds, so I mixed the two in my own style. I believe this love of mine for these elements comes from reading authors such as Joe Abercrombie and Brandon Sanderson.

I also wanted to write about tall people who wear colourful clothes and wield long, black, blood-sucking swords, so there’s that too.

Q: What route of publishing did you choose? Tell us about your journey.

Berry: For my first novels I tried traditional publishing. To be honest, I didn’t know much about self-publishing back then. I contacted the editor of a small publishing house in my city and presented them with my book. They liked it, and for this I will be forever grateful.

I wrote two more books, the sequels to that first one, and got them out with the same publisher. I was well aware of the small chances of success I could have with them, but the simple fact that someone read them and thought they were worth a try was enough for me. It was the push I needed to understand this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and the confidence boost that taught me I may one day have success in writing.

Q: If you could publish your book again, what would you do differently?

Berry: I wouldn’t change much about the writing or publishing itself. Perhaps the one thing I wish I did back then was ask for more beta readers. An early opinion from someone impartial can make a great difference.

Q: What are your top three tips when it comes to publishing?

Berry: Firstly, don’t be afraid to ask. There are many people I have seen hesitating to get their work known by other people, let alone agents or editors, because they don’t consider it good enough. Well, that’s usually the case. Almost everyone’s first story will be bad in one way or another, there’s no need to sugarcoat it. But by asking for someone, be them professional or not, you get the chance to see the bad and maybe find a way to improve it.

Secondly, don’t get too personal about rejection. Now this can be applied in many situations in life, and publishing is no different. You might get rejected, most likely will, truth be told.

Don’t let that stop you. You worked hard for your story, just because someone in the publishing business didn’t like it, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good story. There are many reasons an agent or an editor might reject your work, but it’s not always about you as a writer or even about your story. Publishing is a business and in the end it’s about the publishers and everyone between them and you who wants to make some money. Sometimes opportunities fail simply because your story might not be profitable at the current time. New writers, you wouldn’t believe how many times authors you’ve heard of were rejected.

Lastly, understand what it means to make a living from writing. Lots of new writers who intend to be published one day might imagine they have to go big, bestseller level, in order to make a living on their writing. This is not the case. Many midlist authors can make a more than decent living and even the kind of authors you don’t hear of so often have writing as their job, and it’s a good one too. Family or friends might tell you it’s hard and unless you end up being a bestselling author you won’t have a good income. This is not true. You can aim for the stars if you want, but don’t get your hopes too high. Maybe you won’t make it on those bestselling lists, but you don’t have to.

Q: What is a common theme you like to address in your writing?

Berry: Friendship. I know, for someone who said they work on a dark fantasy story, friendship is quite the odd choice. The way I see it, grimdark and all the nihilism it involves can use a small positive theme, for the sake of contrast. It also helps the bigger theme if said positive thing is crushed or twisted at some point, but hey, friendship is cool no matter what.

Q: Give us a random, but a personal favourite tip when it comes to writing in any form

Berry: Words. Their number, their lack, and the wrong use of them. I am not a native English speaker and I decided, although my English isn’t all that bad, that I should write in my native tongue, mainly so I could avoid misusing some words. I then translate what I write to English, always looking for an improvement of my thesaurus, and ask for the help of native English speakers. I keep an eye on how many words I have, how many I want, for each thing I write. This is particularly important for people who want to publish for the first time.

So don’t write in a language you don’t master. It might seem like a good way to get better at it, but it doesn’t pay off as often as you might think. In the end, you want to be a writer, not a translator. If all writers were bilingual, there wouldn’t be nearly as many job opportunities for translators. It’s always great to know more than one language though.

Q: What is it like being a young published author?

Berry: It’s definitely great. I’m not really known or anything, so it’s not like people point at me when I buy groceries. But it gives me confidence, as I mentioned. It’s an achievement I can always look back on and feel good about.

Q: Do you think it’s important to be part of writing networks and communities?

Berry: I think it’s always a good thing to interact with people that share your passions. I wouldn’t dare recommend people who are successful in their writing to join communities focused on this theme. They probably don’t have time for it or don’t need it, even though it would certainly be of great help for those who aspire to be like them.

But to those who want to write, even if publishing isn’t your goal, there’s a whole lot of people like you. You might just realise all you need in order to improve your craft is the opinion of someone else who loves writing.

A big thank you to Berry again for his detailed answers! I think these tips are great to remember and carry with you in writing.

Join us throughout the week for more highlights and articles! Until next time.

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