Missed our Q&A with bestselling novelist Fiona Walker? Find out what tips she had to share
More of you than ever have or are returning to work after having a baby – so we want to support you every step of the way with our Working Mums Club.
As part of this, we’ve recruited some of the most inspirational working mums we’ve ever met to create a unique panel, who will offer advice, share their own experiences and support you with the joint pressures of bringing up a family and moving up the career ladder.
Panellist, bestselling author and mum of two Fiona Walker took part in a chat on our Facebook page yesterday.
Fiona has written 13 novels, most recently The Summer Wedding (£7.99, Sphere). Dubbed ‘The Jilly Cooper of the Cosmo Generation’, she became a novelist in her Twenties, injecting her wicked sense of humour into the intrepid heroines of her books.
From making time for family while working at home to getting your foot in the door with an agent, catch up on what she had to say here.
Q: What are your tips for managing the work/writing/family balance?
Fiona: It's incredibly difficult to get right and my family are a long-suffering bunch as a result. I can't count the number of times I've had to write through Easter or Christmas to meet a deadline, but I always try to make sure we have 'us' time that's sacred, not just the high days and holidays, but the quiet moments too.
When they were babies, I'd write with them under the desk in Moses baskets
And I do a lot of my writing late at night when everyone's in bed. My girls, who are now five and six, come and write 'their' novels alongside me in my study with fabulous illustrations (and googly eyes for Os).
When they were babies, I'd write with them under the desk in Moses baskets.
Q: Did you write a whole novel and self publish or can you recommend someone to help get my words on paper?
Fiona: I went down the traditional route and wrote a whole novel, sent the first few chapters and an outline to literary agents, one of whom offered to represent me and found me a publishing contract.
I have worked with that literary agent/publisher relationship ever since. I haven't yet tried self-publishing, although I think it's an exciting option.
For help, there are freelance editors and writing courses, which can give great professional insight at a cost. Or there are local writing and online groups, which are free and provide great moral support as well as advice.
Q: Is e-publishing a book worth the time? I haven't yet found a publisher
Fiona: Definitely! Publishing directly in e-book form has brought great success to some writers, both first-timers and more experienced authors.
It helps to be a good self-publicist (something a lot of us find hard to do), and also it's important to have the book really well copy edited (asking your other half to look through it for spelling errors probably isn't enough – it's really hard for a reader to engage with a book that contains multiple errors).
But I would urge aspiring writers to research the e-publishing route because it's really taking off and is here to stay. And you get a much bigger share of the profits too, which is great.
Q: If I have an idea, how do I get an agent? Or do you do that later?
Fiona: It's probably best to approach an agent with a complete manuscript, or at least the first few chapters and a full outline/synopsis.
If you are already a published writer with a portfolio of work, you may be able to discuss your idea without writing it, but that's unlikely.
Q: What's the best way to get into the practice of writing? I enjoy it but wouldn't know where to start
Fiona: Having a fixed time that you sit down to do it, even for just half an hour once a week, is a great way to start. And trying to have a goal of writing a certain number of words during that session is even better.
Also, email your friends, write letters, post status updates on Facebook – it all helps you practice and get into the fun of writing, and it's great for keeping in touch with those friends too.
Are you interested in writing a book? Let us know below.