Neil Gaiman on how to be an author


Neil Gaiman is legitimately an amazing author. Even if you are one of the few people that don’t enjoy his work, you have to respect the sheer breadth of the man’s success. So this post is a tribute to the amazing advice that Neil Gaiman has freely offered to others wanting to do what he has done.

I don’t want to simply replicate what Mr Gaiman has already posted. That would be content theft and that’s not my bag. You should definitely read his FAQ for new authors. Seriously, that’s solid gold, right there.

Write and finish things

Neil Gaiman’s advice for aspiring writers comes from his talk with Daniel Handler at BAM. He starts by saying “finish what you start”. If you watch only this and start finishing things, you will have become a  better writer.

Writer, author, or storyteller?

One of those things that all authors wonder about is what to call themselves. Am I a writer? When do I claim to be an author? Should I say I am a storyteller? Or, shall I forgo all that and claim to be a lion tamer?

Here is Neil Gaiman’s take on this question.

Authors Read

An almost universal advice to new writers is to keep reading things. This is what Neil Gaiman has been reading and listening to recently.

Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously

Neil Gaiman: Dream Dangerously is a documentary that follows Neil Gaiman on a signing tour. It came out last year and you can watch it for about the price of a pint. Here is a trailer for the documentary.

Find out more

There is a lot more advice that Neil Gaiman has offered authors. A lot of it is available on youtube – you just have to look for it. Some of the edits are better than others. Lots of it can be found on his website. You should probably visit that. You can buy Neil’s books on Amazon. And other places too (like your local bookshop).

There is a lot of advice that Neil has given that I repeat like a mantra. Make good art. Write stuff down and finish what you write. But most of what I learned from Mr Gaiman is ineffable – it comes from reading his work (I highly recommend anything with his name on it).

I’ll end with his 2012 commencement speech. It contains some of the best advice ever given.

Image attribution: By ActuaLitté (Neil Gaiman en France) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


About Matthew Brown

Matthew is a writer and Geek from Kent (UK). He is the founder and current chair of Thanet Creative Writers as well as head geek for Author Buzz. His ambitions include appearing on TableTop with Wil Wheaton and seeing a film or TV series based on something he wrote.