writing influencersI’m a regular reader over at Wise, Ink, and I recently stumbled upon a piece where they suggest ten year-end author blog post ideas. What better than to run with all ten and give them a shot in some sort of Christmas/end-of-year special?

2012 has been the year where things changed for me. Back in June, I had an 85,000 word first draft of What We Saw complete, but I really didn’t know what to do with it. A friend and colleague of mine, Stuart Meczes, had recently independently published his debut novel, The Awakening, to fanfare and acclaim, so I began to do a little digging and research.

By July, I knew that independent publishing, at least in the early stage of my career, was the best way to get my work out there.

Now it’s December, What We Saw is on shelves. It’s receiving good reviews. People are buying it. It’s early days, but if you’d told me I’d be a published author at the end of 2012, I’d have struggled to believe you back in June. These are five people/resources who have made it all possible. Drum roll… my top writing influencers of 2012.

Note: a lot of people have influenced me in 2012. This post is not intended to identify the sole five writing influencers. Instead, read it as a post of those who have dramatically changed my mind/made me see new opportunities, etc. Don’t be offended if you aren’t on the list, basically. I’m grateful for the support of everyone. In no particular order…

1. The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn’s blog is one of the first self-published blogs I encountered when researching this route, and boy am I glad I found it. Joanna made me realise with her fantastic Author 2.0 Blueprint just how easily accessible and how legitimate self-publishing was. I learned about using Twitter effectively, connecting and communicating with bloggers, and building a blog of my own. This very site probably wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t found Joanna’s first. So, a big thank you to Joanna Penn and her fantastic blog that made me realise some of the key principles of self-publishing. I’m eternally grateful!

2. SelfPublishingTeam.com

After I’d set up a blog and began posting three times per week, I still struggled with direction and focus when it came to posting and sharing work. Duolit’s website helped me keep on the right track with Toni and Shannon’s fantastic marketing resources and thriving community.

Perhaps one of the nicest things Duolit did for me though was send an email asking if I could do a guest post for them. As a new author/blogger on the scene, I was still a little shy when it came to asking the ‘big sites’ to feature me. ‘I’m practically a nobody. Why would they be interested in what I had to say?’ But that one email they sent me telling me how fond of my site they were and how much they’d love me to contribute changed everything. It broke down this idea that the ‘big sites’ were unreachable, and not only has it led to a friendship with the people at Duolit, but confidence in pursuing opportunities, too.

3. Brenda Errichiello 

For long time followers of my blog and work, you’ll know Brenda as my editor. Back in July, I sent the rewritten incarnation of What We Saw out to Brenda. In retrospect, I probably sent it a little early, but I was eager to get things moving forward. Brenda’s advice on a structural and content level was second to none, and I’ve no shame in admitting that this book is quite simply a better book thanks to her guidance.

Sure — sometimes we disagreed on things. But mostly, I got where she was coming from, and swallowed my writerly pride. The result? I’m much prouder of What We Saw, as proud as I was with the early incarnations. If it weren’t for Brenda, there’d be a whole ‘future’ arc going on that was both unnecessary and bulky. The relationship/friendship between Liam and Adam would be more frustrating than nostalgic. Oh, and Emily was initially called ‘Eve’, creating some sort of biblical allusion that I totally did not intend.

I’ll be working with Brenda again in the future. I’m a better writer thanks to the skills she has taught me, both on a storytelling level and a more micro level.

4. David Gaughran

Again, regular blog readers will be aware of how much of a fan I am of David’s writing and philosophies. Reading David’s blog and guide to self-publishing, Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should, convinced me to launch two of my short stories. Through these short stories, I have been able to build an audience of readers before getting my novel out. It might not be a huge audience, but every gain is, well, a gain at this stage of a writer’s career.

Not only did Let’s Get Digital enlighten me about formatting, pricing, and a whole host of other matters, but it proved a great book to turn to when the whole process seemed to be getting on top of me. It’s so easy to get bogged down in all the social networking, blogging, sharing, tweeting, and writing that sometimes reading a concise ‘Table of Contents’ outlining the key steps of the process is refreshing. Maybe it’s just ’cause I like lists too much, I don’t know.

5. My friends and family

I was a little scared when I set up my author page on Facebook back in June. Although I have a lot of Facebook friends, many of them I don’t keep in touch with unfortunately, so I was concerned that they wouldn’t give a damn about my book related updates/not take it seriously and see it as a novelty/get fed up of me sharing information.

To my delight, I’ve yet to experience any sort of backlash via social media. It’s all positive. People seem to be genuinely pleased for me, which is a nice feeling indeed. Even better, perhaps coincidentally and perhaps not, I’ve seen a few of my friends set blogs of their own up. I’ve had kind words regarding the content of my blog from the same people. Without getting too big-headed, the thought that I’ve actually helped people is very humbling and somewhat surreal.

As for my family and IRL friends — I thank you all for your support and patience throughout the year. It’s easy to be scared when someone says they ‘want to be a writer’ because images of living off Super Noodles and loose change come to mind. But the support has been great. I’m always keen to emphasise that I have a sort of five to ten-year-plan, by which I want to start working to support my writing when I leave university, then let the writing seamlessly take over as my career. It’s a long-game, but one I’m happy to play.


Of course, I could list loads more websites and people who act as writing influencers, but that’s kind of missing the point. If you comment, connect on social media, speak to me in the street, leave a nice review, whatever — you know I’m very grateful.

Also, thank you to everyone who picked up a copy of What We Saw yesterday. Although there was an early issue with the paperback edition, it’s available to buy now, as is the eBook (UK link here).

I’ll be back tomorrow for the second part of my Christmas bonanza — my top twenty albums of the year. I’m a bit of a music head, so this is something that hopefully fellow listeners will enjoy.

Until then…

Who are your main writing influencers of 2012? 

Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee via Flickr