Today, we conclude our conversation with prolific author Alton Gansky, writer of 20 novels and six nonfiction books. His most recent novel is the thriller Director's Cut (Zondervan), and his most recent nonfiction work is the upcoming 40 Days: Encountering Jesus Between the Resurrection And Ascension (B&H).
Al has made some of early work available as free e-books through his website. The novels, By My Hands and Through My Eyes, are his first two books ("Don’t judge my work too harshly, I was still getting my literary legs"). Plot Line is a supernatural suspense novella that was origjnally published only in Dutch; an American publisher may pick it up, so the novella is only available for a limited time.
Al has also started a weekly audiocast.
* * *
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
1. Don't just read, analyze. What makes a book good? How is the dialog handled? How is the book structured? In other words, ruin your reading.
2. Know that writing is a craft. It must be learned. It must be practiced. It's not for the faint at heart.
3. Get over yourself. It's not about the writer, it's about the story. If the story is great and the craft is great, then maybe, just maybe, the writer will be great (but no guarantees).
4. The business is nutty, often illogical, always frustrating, maddening,
lonely, disappointing and really, really fun. It is worth every bump and bruise.
5. Writer's write because they have to.
6. Go to writer's conferences and network. Learn to pitch your ideas.
7. Think out of the box. Know the rules, but don't be afraid to be a bit of a maverick. If anyone gives you grief, tell them Chris Well told you to do it.
8. People will love your book but never as much as you do. It's like having kids.
9. No one ever hit a homerun from the dugout. Step up to the plate.
10. Failure to try is guaranteed failure. Attempting something great brings at least the possibility of success.
WHAT DO YOU WISH NON-WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
1. The work is hard; often the returns are small.
2. There's a good chance you and your work will be misunderstood.
3. It is far easier to tear down someone's work than it is to do it yourself.
4. I am not any of my characters.
5. No, I did not model my character on your Uncle_________.
6. Christians are human and Christian fiction should show that.
7. Novels are not tracts.
WHAT DO YOU WISH OTHER WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
Write what makes your heart sing not what you think the market wants. (This remains a difficult lesson for me to learn.)
FOR THE WRITER WITH A NEW BOOK, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BEST THING TO PROMOTE IT?
WOM. Word of mouth is and will probably always will be the best way to promote a book. I use blogs and websites and speaking and more, but the thing that makes the big difference is someone saying, "I just read this book by a guy named Gansky...."
* * *
Many thanks to author Alton Gansky. Be sure to sign up for his newsletter. Find him online at AltonGansky.com or his blog, Imagination@Work. He is also a contributor to the multi-author blog Charis Connection.
Related link: Q&A: ALTON GANSKY, PT 1
Q&A: WANDA DYSON (Abduction)
Q&A: T.L. HINES (Waking Lazarus)
Q&A: CORNELIA READ (A Field of Darkness)
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY (On The Run)