Get started writing modern military history
Modern military non-fiction can seem to be a daunting topic for writers to break into, so how do you find the stories, generate the leads and get the interviews with soldiers to give your book a fighting chance? Learn from the expert as we ask bestselling author Damien Lewis, whose latest book Zero Six Bravo is out now, to share his secrets:
• Read the newspapers and pay particular attention to military stories, especially those which concern high gallantry awards (medals). It is amazing how many great stories hit the press but no author ever follows up on them. Contact the soldier in question and ask if he’s ever thought of writing his story as a book. Most won’t have.
• Register with the Society of Authors on their author profile web pages as an author who specialises or has a particular interest in military stories – that will draw people in.
• Set up your own website – see mine: www.damienlewis.com – and think of this as a stall whereby you lay out you wares to potential fellow authors/co-authors or sources of stories. Provide a ‘contact author’ function, and make it clear that you’re keen to hear from people with potential military stories. Make it clear you’ll treat their contact in confidence.
• Advertise – in magazines like Soldier Magazine (200,000 circulation; key audience). For what is a small amount of outlay you will get very lively responses if you do.
• Get coverage in your local (or national) press as to the kind of stories you’re looking for from local veterans.
• Maintain your network. Word of mouth is always the best means. Keep your list of military contacts in regular contact via emails and your website as to what you are seeking story-wise and your availability to tell such stories.
Read Damien's fascinating insight into his writing process and the practicalities of getting military non-fiction into print in the May issue of Writing Magazine, available as an app and PC download and as a print magazine.