Megan Gaudino describes herself as a mixture of black clothing, iced coffee and a desire to go adventuring, the sort of combination that naturally forms a writer. She’s the author of the YA Guardian Kiss series, with two novels currently published with the third and final installment soon to be released.
What made you want to be a writer? How did you begin writing?
I think loving to read made me want to write but always wanting to be a part of something bigger than myself made me want to be a writer. When you read you go on an adventure so being a writer is like being in charge of that adventure. I always liked to imagine myself in these complicated, fun, new, scary, romantic settings so writing about them is the best way to experience them.
What inspires you to write?
A lot of times it is a physical location. A picturesque neighborhood, moody forest, or magical waterfall might inspire a scene or a character. Then I just build around that. A feeling is a good source of inspiration for me too. The sensation of someone watching you in the dark or a first kiss with someone you’ve had a crush on for ages might lead to a whole novel.
Is there any particular incident that has happened along your writing journey that you’d like to share?
I don’t think I’d be published today if it wasn’t for the social media, story sharing site, Wattpad. Before I started posting on the site what I wrote was just for me, but the idea of reader feedback and the possibility of fans was too appealing to pass up. I posted a chapter of Always Kiss Me Goodnight every Friday and watched my reader count grow. It took a while but by the time the final chapter was posted I had over 2 million reads. All the readers commenting on how much they loved the story gave me the confidence I needed to believe that I could be published one day. Until then holding a book I wrote in my hands seemed like a long shot, something that happened to other people but not me. With my readers behind me I started submitting to publishers and was offered multiple contracts.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
It’s probably the single most uttered piece of advice out there but keep writing. I know you know all the reasons why this is so important and you can probably find this same answer in practically every article you’ve ever read about writing advice but that’s because it is so, so true.
The second most common piece of advice is to read as much as you write and I’m also giving you that advice today. The difference is I’m going to offer a slight curve to this answer. Don’t just read published books, they’re highly polished, read manuscripts. My writing really improved when I started interning for a literary agency because I learned how to look at the story critically and not just for enjoyment. If at all possible, apply to be an intern at an agency.
Any advice for approaching publishers?
There are so many writers out there. Some of them are far more talented than you’ll ever be and some can only dream of your level of talent. But, no matter their level of skill, they’ll never be you. No one has lived your life and sees the world the way you do and that’s what you have to express to publishers. Highlight whatever makes you unique. Write the story only you can tell. Different is good. Weird is better.
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
There are just so many of us! In a world a free reads or 99ȼ books it is hard to compete. Offering a well told and well edited story is key and of course a beautiful cover is a must.
What methods of book marketing do you find the most effective?
For me Instagram works well. I really enjoy taking pictures of books in beautiful or interesting settings so it makes sense for me to also promote my own work while doing that. I also think getting your book on NetGalley, or in front of a solid group of reliable reviewers, is a huge must. A couple reviews go a long way.
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
It’s funny because writers are arguably the most sensitive people out there. We “bleed on the page” to the point of our writing being extremely personal and then we set it free in the world to be critiqued. Rejection is going to happen and it’s going to happen a lot. Writing is personal which also makes it objective. Not everyone is going to see it through the same lens, or with the same feelings, or with the same heart. Just because one agent/editor/reader doesn’t get it, doesn’t mean they all won’t. If you keep putting your all into your work, eventually someone will get it. Eventually, if you keep trying, a lot of people will get it.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
Even though I highly encourage you to be as weird and creative as you can, always, always, always follow submission guidelines and be kind.