Happy 2019 and Welcome back to The Write Styles where today, Published Author Bridget Baker Shares Her Secrets with The Write Styles! What better way to start the year than an inspiring writer sharing her secret story of success 🙂
Welcome to The Write Styles Bridget! Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.
Published Author Bridget Baker Shares Her Secrets with The Write Styles
TWS: Bridget, you only decided to self publish having written your sixth book. I noted that you mention rejections and even ‘cursed’ acquisitions on your blog. However, you still kept going. What exactly was your reaction to your first rejection? What made you keep going?
Bridget: I think writers write. That sounds like a simple statement, and maybe it doesn’t make sense unless you’re a writer, but at the heart of writing is a desire to craft a story. In fact, I’d say writing is about 10% craft and 90% not stopping until you get it right. If you want to be a successful writer, attempting traditional publication is a wonderful place to cut your teeth. The first time I wrote a novel it was absolutely awful.
When I wrote my FOURTH novel, it was halfway decent, and that’s the one that landed my agent. It still wasn’t great. It was rewritten so many times, I doubt many of the original words are even left. I paid an editor to help me. I went on and wrote another four books (Three YA contemporary fantasies, and a YA Contemporary Suspense) before going back and rewriting that fourth one again. The only reason I went ahead and indie published it is that I had revised it so much it no longer resembled that first book.
To answer your question though, I kept going because I had to keep writing. If you can stop writing, you should stop. It’s a lot of work without a lot of reward. Some of us can’t seem to quit. We are the writers.
TWS: Your blog also shares that you won your first writing contest in second grade. When you wrote the short story for the class, were you already passionate about writing? Or was it that moment where you won the competition that made you want to continue the writing journey? How did that competition influence your writing career?
Bridget:Actually I thought I was amazing in second grade. I didn’t realize I was awful until after I read over my first book and realized it was tremendously bad. That contest wasn’t actually what gave me the desire to write novels. That came from Little Women. I hated the ending. Hated may not be a strong enough word. I despised the ending. I set out to rewrite it, and my ending was so much better that I knew I could write a novel. Ha! I had no idea how hard it would prove to be.
TWS: Bridget, you wrote your second novel at Panera Bread. That must have been quite a relaxing place to write. Where would you say is your favourite place to write? How does scenery or location affect your writing practice?
Bridget: I am very impressed that you found my blog. I don’t think anyone else has ever read that post. Good job! I used to escape to Panera bread because when my husband was in residency, we had a very very small house and two very small children. He couldn’t keep them out of my hair. I would run to Panera, eat bean soup or tomato soup, or a smoothie, and write. Now I do all my writing in my bedroom, either on the new desk my husband finally insisted I buy, or plonked down on my bed. It’s terrible form, I know, but I like sitting on my bed and writing. And the commute can’t be beat. 😛
TWS: You stated that you had eschewed self publishing for quite a while before looking further into it. What were your first thoughts on self publishing? How do you feel about it now?
Bridget: Honestly, I felt like without an industry gatekeeper saying my book was good, it wasn’t good enough. Then I started reading traditionally published books that were, clearly, not as good as mine. I don’t say that lightly. Every writer struggles with the fear their work stinks. Every single writer I know. And yet, it was very very obvious that my books were good, but they were never selected.
When my agent left her agency and I was agentless again, I thought, “GAH! Why is this happening to me?” I decided to query more agents. I sent out 75 queries and got right around 36 full manuscript requests, (Which is really high), and then I sat and waited and waited. It felt like I’d die without ever publishing a book. And finally, I just thought. To heck with that. I’m sick of other people deciding what books of mine get out there. I started looking into indie publishing and pulled all my manuscripts from agents.
TWS: Your book trilogy, ‘Sins of our Ancestors’ is about a virus nearly wiping out the human race, while the ‘Almost a Billionaire’ is a romantic book series. What would you say is your favourite genre to write? What should aspiring writers be aware of when writing various genres?
Bridget:I am the wrong person to ask about what to avoid. I went into indie publishing because I was sick of doing what people said I had to do. I’m sure I’m ruining my marketing by doing two completely different genres. Part of me doesn’t care. I read all over the place, so I also write the same way. I think you need to make sure you deliver on the promise of that genre, no matter what genre you choose. If you’re going to write romance, you better deliver that happily ever after. If you’re writing fantasy, build that world right. My favorite genre is whatever I’m writing at the time. I’m a shameless lover of so many books that I can’t seem to commit. (Luckily that affliction hasn’t impacted my love life! Just the one husband who I absolutely adore!)
TWS: Bridget, I noted on Facebook that you recently had a holiday in Costa Rica, how exciting! Can you share a sneak previews into any new ideas you may have collected there for your next novel?
Bridget: I am ALWAYS on the look out for new novel ideas and my husband and I travel. A lot! I worked out an issue with my new book coming out while I was on a catamaran to a hidden island. I worked out the details of my next billionaire romance while in a kayak playing with monkeys. I worked out the ending to a YA fantasy when I was hiking in a cloud forest. I am always always always thinking about my stories.
TWS: What would you consider as your most magical experience? And how did the experience affect your writing?
Bridget: My most magical experience in Costa Rica was the monkeys. If you mean in life, I think seeing third world countries, not the tourist locations, and talking to people there is the most transformative experience someone from America can undergo. We live in such a bubble. Seeing the hard work, and the hard life, that goes on around us in the world is shocking and eye opening.
TWS: You stated that your first novel was terrible and that your second one was probably even worse. What helped you become a better writer? What advice do you have for aspiring writers who may suffer from writers’ block? Or those who have great ideas, but cannot string their words together?
Bridget: BUY ALL THE CRAFT BOOKS. So many people love so many different ones. My favorites were Story Genius by Lisa Cron and Story by McKee, but honestly I read dozens before that. You wouldn’t expect to learn the law without reading textbooks. You can’t learn to WRITE just by reading books. I found Stephen King’s book on writing USELESS but other people love it. So read read read those craft books and KEEP applying what you learn. I really do think you’ll level up each time. Write a lot, read a lot, and craft read a lot and you’ll improve with each step.
But prepare yourself. The more you learn about the craft of story telling, the more you will ruin your enjoyment of MANY books and movies. They become predictable and I’m a borderline prose snob. If someone’s prose is bad, I can’t force myself to read it at all! Ugh. It makes me sad because I think I miss a lot of great stories that way, but there it is.
TWS: Thank you so much for your time.
Bridget: No, thank you so much!!!!