Thomas Rydahl: The 8 Stages of Being a Writer, and Why it is so Incredible to be Published in the English Language
Thomas Rydahl’s first crime fiction novel, THE HERMIT, was an instant bestseller in Denmark when it was first published there. Rydahl received numerous awards for THE HERMIT including The Glass Key Award (previous winners include Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell, and Stieg Larsson), the Danish Debutant Award, and the Harald Mogensen Prize. THE HERMIT has been translated into 30 languages, and the English language edition, published by Oneworld Publications, will be released in the US on November 15th. In addition to writing, Rydahl is a translator, and has translated Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and Outliers into Danish. He lives in Fredensborg, Denmark.
Translator Bio: K.E. SEMMEL is a writer and a 2016 NEA Literary Translation Fellow who has received numerous grants from the Danish Arts Foundation for his work. He lives in Rochester, NY where he is the Executive Director of Writers & Books.
Thomas Rydah: The 8 Stages of Being a Writer, and Why it is so Incredible to be Published in the English Language
Let's play a game and pretend that there are 8 stages to becoming a writer. These stages apply for poets & novelists of any nationality outside of the US & UK.
Reaching each of the stages is major achievement, and the fact that there are more stages does not lessen or cripple the achievement of the initial stages. After reaching each stage you get a caramellized french nougat unicorn. It's just a game. Here we go:
First stage: You finish your manuscript.
In one form or the other. You could argue this is the most important stage, since this is the foundation for the rest of the stages. Besides, finishing a manuscript is more than most people who want to be writers do.
Second stage: You get the book published.
This is the most horrifying part, because this is where your book is evaluated by someone else besides your husband, cat or neighbor. If you self-publish, this stage might be less scary, but more demanding in terms of hard work.
Third stage: You sell a book.
This is huge. Even if the only buyer is a neighbor. Or a cat. I couldn’t believe it, when I saw someone leaving a bookstore with my book.
Fourth stage: Your book is reviewed by a blogger.
Hooray! Someone took the time to write something about your book or mention it on social media. Scary, but good. The bloggers are the new voice of the book industry.
Fifth stage: Your book is reviewed by a newspaper, tv station or online media.
This is the peak of scary, but a treat in terms of helping you reach new audiences and more readers.
Sixth stage: Your book is sold to another country.
Sehr gut and très bien. You are now in the 2 percent game. Or something like that. It doesn't matter what or where the country is. It's just amazing. I am extremely excited, that my book has the power to transcend borders.
Seventh stage: Your book is sold to an American or English publisher.
The height of the career for any non-English writer. This is equivalent of being picked for the Premier League, if you are a soccer player. The best authors have been translated to English. But it is also completely humbling. I grew up reading Dickens, King, Thoreau, Adams, Auster, Nabokov, Salinger, Hemingway, and sharing the bookstores with the greats of literature is an immense honor and a big opportunity.
Eight stage: Visiting the foreign country, when your book is released.
I have now had the privilege of visiting some of the countries where my book has been published. I am always amazed that my words are crossing borders and entering the minds of readers in other cultures. Launching the English edition of THE HERMIT in was in many ways the culmination of 7 years of work. I thank my English-language publisher, Oneworld, and everyone who helped make this edition happen.
Additional stages:Audiobooks, film or theatre rights and awards
You could argue that having your book turned into an audiobook is the best experience in a writer’s career. Or that selling the film rights and having your book come to life on the screen or on the stage of a theatre is stage 9 or 10. Or some will find that winning awards is but the goal of any accomplished author. But these three depend on the nature of the work.
In any case, writing is like tending a lighthouse, and these eight stages are the inspiring moments, when someone replies from the other end of the darkness. And sometimes, the writer, even if they would do it anyway, needs this response to be reminded of the world outside.