Posted: 7 March, 2019

How to succeed as a novelist – PIE at Lunchtime with Rebecca Ley

Arts, Careers, Guests, Interview, Past Events, PIE, Senior School, Sixth Form

We were delighted to welcome the winner of the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize to Putney this week, aptly on World Book Day.

Rebecca Ley, author of Sweet Fruit, Sour Land and sister of English Teacher Miss Ley, came to give our PIE at Lunchtime talk about how to succeed as a novelist.

Here are just a few of the many pieces of wisdom she shared with us:

  • You can have a full time job and be an author at the same time. Rebecca is a copywriter and is currently writing her second novel at the weekend.
  • Doing a Masters degree is good because it fine tunes your skills and will help you to stand out when you apply to an agent, but be aware that it won’t give you the motivation to write independently or prepare you for setting and keeping to deadlines.
  • Get an agent! They are the gate keepers to the industry and will mediate between you and the publisher. But make sure you choose one who will understand both you and your goals.
  • Learn to deal with rejection but don’t aim to be published at any cost e.g. to fit in with a popular style which is not really your own.

And finally, Rebecca’s key points to take away:

  • Read everything – all types of literature and different styles.
  • Write what you want to write about, not necessarily what you know, but use your own experience as material.
  • Don’t go too easy on your characters. The drama happens when your characters are in difficult situations and forced to make decisions.
  • Find a reader whose opinion you really trust
  • Surround yourself with a community who do similar things
  • Go easy on yourself.
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