How I Wrote My First Book and What I Learnt on the Journey

The inspiration behind The Detective Two and how this became a published book.

When I was eight years old, the amazing Michael Rosen came to our school.

He spoke about his new book and read to us. He also said something that stayed with me.

Good writers see books in their heads like movies. Great writers can then transfer these movies to paper.

I might be paraphrasing, it was 35 years ago, but the idea is the same.

At first, when these words hit my eight-year-old brain, I was relieved. I had been going to bed every night with a group of imaginary friends, living out a soap opera in my head. Thank god there were other people that this happened too. Then I remember thinking I could write a book, this movie in my head could be a book.

The same year my Grandma bought me a diary. It had a little lock and key, to keep away from my sister. It was the best gift I had ever received, I started writing every day. I keep all these diaries and look back on them with fond memories. Since that day, I have kept a journal of my daily thoughts and feelings. I changed to a journal when I was 15, it sounded more mature.

The Realisation of a Dream

Fast forward through to my early 30’s and my little sister gave me the gift of a niece. This little girl and my sister’s scruffy, boxer dog became firm friends. That was where an idea sparked and grew. The Detective Two started their journey.

Based on aspects of my family and the street my sister lived on, the idea would not leave my head. In three months, I had the first draft of a novel.

That was where the journey ended, for many years. I printed a couple of copies for family and then let it rest. My life got in the way of my creative brain, as I battled some personal demons.

Then I met my current partner, who pushed me to start writing and I wrote a second manuscript. I also found Medium and started contributing.

That second manuscript was at the editing stage, but I couldn’t let The Detective Two go. It always had a special place in my heart, because of the connection to my family.

I dusted it off the shelf and started rewriting it. I say rewriting it because I’m not sure editing covers it. Over the years my skills of writing had developed, there was a lot of editing needed.

Like a mother getting a child ready for her first day at school, I constantly tweaked and picked fluff. Then I had to hit publish and let my baby go out into the world.

This novel has been a labour of love and has a very personal connection to me. Not only is it my first novel, but it also has stories from my childhood weaved within. This will not spoil the reading for anyone else, but for me, there are parts of myself in The Detective Two.

What I Have Learnt

Through this process, I have learnt some valuable lessons to take into my next novel.

  • In order to attract more readers, I had a brilliant professional cover made. This cost me £20 on Fiverr and is amazing. I am unsure whether I want to self-publish my next novel or not. If I do self-publish I would buy a cover again.
  • I endeavoured to do all the work for this novel myself. For my next novel, I will hire a professional editor to work on my manuscript. I have tried it, but my skills are more suited to writing than editing.
  • The process of getting my book into a format Amazon would accept, was harder than I ever thought it would be. The eBook version was easy, the paperback version was an uphill climb. Having accomplished this once, I will have no problems producing a paperback now. I have been through the huge learning curve and those lessons will help me in the future. They are also valuable lessons to share with my mentoring group.
  • For my next book, I need to make more use of beta readers, before publishing. I also need to improve my marketing skills.

Sadly the real Oliver passed away some years ago. The real Mady has turned into a beautiful young lady with an amazing heart. She now has an equally amazing little sister and brother.

Will this be the last Detective Two novel, I doubt it. There is an idea for a sequel swimming in my head. I have already been asked by my little niece when she will be included in a book. It only seems fair to include her in the next edition. I’m not ready to say goodbye to these characters yet, anyway.

My advice to anyone who wants to write a book is simple.

Just do it.

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Published by Sam H Arnold

Sam H Arnold is a writer of True Crime, Parenting and Writing Tips articles. If you have enjoyed her work you might consider donating her a coffee on Ko-Fi. Links to this and all her other work can be found on the about me page.

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