How Working in News Prepared Me for Author Life
By Krysten Lindsay Hager
Before I ever got a book published, I worked as a journalist. I began doing internships at TV stations before I started working at newspapers where I would cover everything from news, politics, sports, entertainment and other features. I also did book reviews and wrote a column as well as getting published in magazines. Even though I wasn’t writing fiction, all of this prepared me for being a writer.
First, working in any kind of news whether it’s TV or print/online, you deal with deadlines. You learn how much time you need to get a story done, how to research fast to become a mini expert, and how to work under pressure. Often times you are racing the clock to get something done and you might not have the luxury of getting another pair of eyes on the script or piece, so you need to learn how to edit your own work and be extra vigilant about it. Very often we think our work says exactly what we intended to put down, but often we write fast and make mistakes. So dealing with deadlines helps you to learn those editing skills and perfect them. Deadlines are also great to help you get the work done. In creative writing we often don’t have a “hard deadline,” so there are times we wait and keep trying to make something one-hundred percent perfect and the work never gets submitted. So approaching your creative writing with a set deadline helps make sure that you will get the project completed.
One of the most important things journalism did for me was provide feedback from the public. I got a lot of comments and heard back from readers when I had a column. Even at the TV station, we often got phone calls about what we wore, so there was always someone commenting on something. I remember one anchor getting complaints about her nail polish color!
Hearing comments from strangers really prepares you for dealing with readers, critics, and book reviewers. I’ve seen so many authors just meltdown over a negative review. I have an author friend who had only dealt with some lukewarm comments at a critique group at the very worst, so when an online book reviewer questioned her ability to write her genre, it devastated her. I saw how it crushed her spirit and now I always tell people who want to write books about the importance of getting work out before the book to prepare yourself. It can be shocking to get public criticism from a stranger for the first time on a project that feels like your baby.
Journalism also helped me come out of my shell more. I had to cold call (and email) people for stories, which really takes you out of your comfort zone. Having to ask questions at press conferences and even ask uncomfortable questions (like after a big game loss) or deal with confrontational people, gives you skills that come in handy when you need to set up interviews and other things in the book world. You learn how to be professional under pressure and it helps in so many instances.
You don’t have to get a job at a newspaper, magazine, or TV station to learn all these things. Instead, you can write an Op-Ed piece for a newspaper, submit an article to a magazine (print or online) or write for a public blog to get your feet wet and get used to having your work out there. Even blogging more on your own blog can help if you have a big reach that brings in an audience outside your own circle.
Dating the It Guy
Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.
Enjoy an Excerpt
“By the way, did you hear Lauren got into Senator Agretti’s old school?”
“Seriously? I wonder if she applied there because Brendon did,” I said.
Margaux snorted. “Duh, of course. Seriously, she might as well just pee on him to mark her territory.”
“Margaux, shut up,” Kylie said.
“Whatever. Anyway, the important thing is if Brendon knew she was applying there,” Margaux said. “Em, do you think he knew?”
I hoped Lauren was just trying to follow Brendon, but what if they had planned this whole thing while they were dating? What if he convinced her to apply there so they could go to college together, wear matching American flag sweaters with big scarves while drinking hot chocolate, and jump into leaf piles just like a preppy clothing catalog. At least now I didn’t have to worry about them reciting poetry to one another in South Bend, but still, what if they had made plans to go to school together?
“Don’t worry about it,” Kylie said. “She was probably trying to follow him—like she always does. She’s so pathetic.”
Kylie was trying to make me feel better, but Lauren was far from pathetic. After all, she was pretty much the “Most Likely to Succeed” poster girl. While she was out overachieving and saving the world without messing up her perfect, bouncy hair, I was trying to get through each day. I tried to push away the image of Lauren and Brendon holding hands and drinking hot chocolate under a stadium blanket.
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More about the Krysten
Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Best Sellers award. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Grand Blanc View, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.
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