How did I become a Writer at a Prestigious Advertising Agency?

Writer at a Prestigious Advertising Agency
Marina Hilanderas

I am a Spanish girl born in Valladolid on April 7th, 1995, who wrote a short horror story on a hot afternoon in 2015. There were three simple pages, but my closest friends liked them so much that I decided to continue the story. Looking for inspiration, some fellow students took me to a corner of the university’s library where a book titled “Practices of Exorcists and Church Ministers” went unnoticed (What was it doing there? I still don’t know…). After reading it, I knew that that short story, which was so timidly taking shape, was meant to be something else. And after three long years, in 2018, the dream of publishing that little story, that today is the first novel of a trilogy full of intense feelings and loved by many, was fulfilled. I am currently writing the second part of my small success, “Violet y Los Lazos del Destino,” while working as writer at a prestigious advertising agency.

Hi! If you are reading this article, it is because you have that internal fire that makes you take a blank page and fill it with fantasy worlds, intrepid stories, and charismatic characters… or perhaps you are just full of doubts as to whether you are worth being a writer or not. Well, keep reading, and you will see what made me have that “title” of a writer! I am Marina Hilanderas, and I am delighted to have you for a few lines immersed in my story:

Career and the Beginning as Writer

I don’t have specific studies to call myself a writer. Still, I have them call me a “communicator” since I have a career in “Advertising and Public Relations,” something that directly influenced my path to launch my first book, but we will talk about this later.

First, I will tell you about my first book: “Violet y Los Lazos del Destino,” a supernatural romance novel I wrote in college. At first, it was a short horror story for an internet contest, but then, a friend read it and said that she wishes it was longer. Motivated, I began to investigate, generate a universe, discover several manuscripts that would help me continue the story when I realized I had a 420-page document in my hands.

When I started writing, I didn’t do it for fame or money, but to have in my hands a story that I liked, that entertained me, and that I loved. When they asked me after I had written several chapters if I was going to publish it, I was afraid. I was not a well-known influencer nor a language magician. In fact, I made several orthographic mistakes. But did that stop me from writing? No. I did it because I fell in love with the story I was writing and, suddenly, I had some fans in my circles of that invented world. It was then when I realized that the story I had in my hands was worth it. It did not matter how people liked to read it, and that is what makes a writer.

That is why I decided to publish.

Editorial and Staff

The writing was the most beautiful part, but when you involve money -like everything in life- it gets complicated. Finding a good editorial is currently very complicated; many make false promises or directly try to scam you, so you have to be prepared for the real world.

But let’s start from the beginning: the first thing I looked for was a spell-checker because, even if it is a book, a first impression counts, and you still don’t have a cover, so what’s inside has to be as flawless as possible. Some publishers have this internal service, but I got the wonderful help of two female students (one in journalism and the other in linguistics) who agreed to help me; the first one because she was a friend and fan of my book and the second one because she believed that helping people get started would make her karma positive. At that time, I didn’t have much money, so we bartered: I did design work for them (cards, websites, help with presentations), and they checked my work.

When we were all satisfied, the second and most important thing is: register your work. And by registering your book, I mean register EVERYTHING: the text, the watermarks, the front cover, back cover, drawings, maps, etc. Everything you have done is recorded in the intellectual property registry. It cost me about 12 euros here in Spain, and my work is extensive (720 pages with drawings).

And now, time to find a publisher! Go to bookstores and write down the name of editorials that fit your work, search for booksellers’ guilds, go to conferences where you can speak with self-published authors, and enjoy the process! And now that you have a good list, breathe, introduce yourself, give them the summary of your work, talk about the strengths that you think readers might like and don’t be mysterious, strip your book, so they want to sell it, and don’t forget to collect the most interesting chapters! My recommendation is: if you have extensive work, send the first chapter, two from the center that you can see various emotions, plots, etc., and a fragment of the end. If you are not narrative and write poetry or compilations of stories, send three that contain various feelings, ways of expressing yourself, and the endings you like the most.

Finally: you are the mother or father of your book. Love it. Nobody better than you to support your work, to say all the good things, and show that it is worth it. Don’t be pushed back because for one hundred “no” you have. What difference does it make when one publisher says “yes” to you? And linked to this: the first “yes” is not usually the final one. It is exciting when they tell you that your book will see the light, but the conditions may not be what you want (they do not give you distribution throughout the country, they make you pay for a print run of 100 books, and then you start having profit, you have to pay an amount to start printing, watch out for this!) We want to publish, not to be scammed.

Book Fairs and Fans

And we come to the most beautiful part of all! When you have your book printed and your first sale made. Congratulations, you are already an official writer, and nobody can tell you otherwise!

This is when my facet as a publicist comes to light to give you some final advices:

  1. Be proactive: no matter how many books you sell to your family and friends, there are still many people who do not know about you who may love your book.

  2. Get creative! Sales are not only made when you present your book in your neighborhood bookstore. They are made in libraries, book groups, poets bars, cafes, and much more! Do you have a cookbook? Stop by your civic center and ask if they can cook a recipe from your book. Do you have a fantasy book? Take advantage of arcades, superheroes, and fantasy events to give presentation cards! Photography book? Make yourself known in an exhibition of someone with more influence than you!

  3. Have you thought about having to merchandise? I’m not talking about business cards, but bookmarks, illustrations, stickers, etc., that you cannot only sell with your book but also raffle through social networks or other events. You can even try having your own trailer book for digital interactions. (Want to see mine? Here!: http://bit.ly/VioletTrailer).

Do you see? There is an entire world of possibilities! And the best thing is that you will meet a lot of people on your way to becoming a professional writer because, as you have seen, you don’t need to have a lot of awards to be someone’s favorite writer.

If you have any questions about the process or any personal concerns to launch your book and you think I can help you, you can write to me at [email protected] or message me on Instagram: http://bit.ly/InstaViolet

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Also read How I Became a Writer by Mark David Gerson

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