19 January 2021

WRITER TIPS: HOW TO GET PUBLISHED


Recently I've been struck by how many old friends and former colleagues have been in touch with a very specific question to ask. How did I become a published author? So many of us have a book idea that is just waiting to be written so I thought I'd put together a post to try and help explain the process. 

Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert! This is just the info I gleaned when I was starting out. I hope it helps.

1. FIND SOME TIME

First thing's first, you do actually have to write the book and to do that, you'll need time. Write in your lunch break, at weekends, early in the mornings... whatever time suits you best and feels creative. You don't need to go on a super fancy writing retreat like lots of big name authors do, just find some space in your week to focus on getting that idea out. 

2. READ READ READ

It really, really helps to read lots of books within your genre. You'll be absorbing tricks of the trade without even realising it. 

3. PLOT IT OUT

All writers differ on this one. Some like to plot the heck out of their story before they write a single word. If you've seen I May Destroy You, I'm thinking of Arabella's entire-bedroom-covered-in-post-its level of plotting. And some prefer to get writing and see where the words take them. Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. I spend some time writing a synopsis and getting to know my characters, but I'm also incredibly impatient so usually get writing pretty quickly, too. For me, that's when everything comes together. 

4. WRITE THE BOOK

Tap away on that keyboard! Writing your first ever book is a bonkers experience. You wonder if you're doing it "right" and sometimes even why you're doing it all. The good news is that you're doing it because you want to and there's no real right or wrong way of drafting your first manuscript, it's just about giving it a go and seeing how it makes you feel. 

5. DOUBLE CHECK

Finished your manuscript? You are amazing! Before we get to submissions, do a proof read and if you have friends who read within the same genre, it's a good idea to ask them to read it too. It always helps to have a second pair of eyes on your book before you send it out into the big wide world. 

6. FIND AN AGENT

Now comes the biggie! Finding a literary agent who will represent you and your book is huge step in the publishing process and for that, you need a hit list (the good kind). Having scanned the internet for advice, I put together a top five list of agents who I found by skipping to the Acknowledgements section of my favourite books and noting down who the author had credited as their agent. The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook website is also a really useful resource for writers and will tell you which agents are open to submissions in your genre. Once you have your list, go to each agent's website to check their submission guidelines (which can differ) and make sure that they are currently accepting submissions. 

7. GET YOUR PITCH READY

Got your top five? You'll need to send each agent the first three chapters, or first 10k, or whatever they request in their guidelines, plus a synopsis of the whole story, as well as a cover letter explaining why you'd love for them to represent you and why you think you'd make a good fit. Phew! Ready to go? Press send on that email! 

8. BE PATIENT. 

9. BE REALLY PATIENT. 

10. ARE YOU STILL BEING PATIENT? 

It can take months and months and then some more months to hear back on your submission.

11. PREPARE FOR REJECTION

It's a tough old business and you will get a rejection letter or two or more. Don't be disheartened. I was incredibly lucky to find representation from my top five but do not worry if none of yours take the bait. Go back to point six and hunt for some more, and pitch some more.

12. GOT AN AGENT?

Congratulations! Agents are brilliant superstars who will champion you and your books as well as securing you the best possible publishing deals, too. Not got an agent? Don't panic. There are lots of options. You might have had some feedback from the agents who couldn't take you on and that's invaluable. Take any advice on board! You can pay to have your manuscript professionally assessed by someone in the industry. You can look into self-publishing. You can do this. 

Good luck and happy writing. 

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> My writing routine



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13 January 2021

THREE POINT ZERO READING LIST



THREE POINT UH OH. This is dragging along, isn't it? Now doesn't feel like the right time to offer up things to be grateful for, or hopeful platitudes about everything being alright in the end, because frankly we're all just a bit fed up. 


What I can offer are Good Things To Read. Or more specifically One Good Thing To Read. This one deserves a post of it's own.


GHOSTS, Dolly Alderton. 

We've heard her on the High Low, read her in Style mag and now she's served up her fiction debut. To me the discovery that Ghosts is an absolute triumph was an utterly unsurprising one. Dolly sees into the soul of... all women ever, I think? 

The story follows Nina, newly 32 and about to embark on the weirdest year of her life. She's watching time go by like sand through her fingers. Her perfect match can't hack a relationship and vanishes. Her dad's suffering from dementia. Her oldest mates are getting married, having babies and making Nina question if they'd still be friends if they met now. 

It's compelling and so well observed that you'll laugh and wince your way through it. I don't think I've ever heard the knicker game, a hen do staple, so perfectly described... "A ceremony of heteronormativity; a coronation of sovereign naff-ness; a whooping, winking ritual of humiliation lacking irony, decency and taste."

Dolly will get you through the pandemic. 


More book recs here pals!

Three Great Books For Life in Lockdown

October 2020 Reading List

> A Stormy Sunday Reading List


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16 October 2020

OCTOBER READING LIST

Like one long groundhog day, this year seems to have whizzed by and staggered along in equal measure. It's the middle of October and my main achievements for 2020 are, um... oh. Wait! I'm writing book three. That's an achievement! And I'm still standing, so there's that too. How are you doing? 

It may not have been a year for nailing achievements but the main thing is that we're looking after ourselves as best we can, right? For me that involves pulling on some super soft joggers and reading a lot of books. These are my October faves... 




THE WISH LIST, Sophia Money-Coutts
Sophia is excellent at writing gorgeous, funny characters you quite want to be friends with so I was really keen to meet her latest protagonist, Florence, in The Wish List. Eternally single, Florence is shoehorned into visiting a love coach by her step mum where she writes a wish list describing her perfect man. A couple of days later, along comes Rory... but is he actually perfect? I'll leave it to you to find out, because you really must. I think this is Sophia's best book yet. 

THE SHELF, Helly Acton
Amy probably should get married and have babies soon so the idiot she's dating will have to do... Until he dumps her on live TV and enters her into a reality show called The Shelf. Think Big Brother but for newly single women who will spend the next four weeks learning how to be better at dating. LOL. This is fresh, feminist fiction at its best, I loved the concept and how deftly Helly explores her characters. 

THE TRUANTS, Kate Weinberg
I stayed up way too late devouring this, the literary love child of Agatha Christie and Sally Rooney. Jess heads off to university to find herself but ends up falling into dangerous relationships in this gripping mystery. 

Need more book recs? 


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16 September 2020

LITTLE WINS

Every morning I whizz myself up a spinach smoothie while my kids have breakfast and recently they asked to try it so I poured some into cups, fully expecting them to get thrown all over the walls in disgust. It turns out they liked it. What I'm saying here lads is that my kids have spinach for breakfast. 

I know. 

Before you run for the hills, let me just take this opportunity to explain that the rest of their diet (and mine) is mostly cheese- and carbohydrate-based. So seeing them drink a little shot of goodness each morning gives me such a boost and I've realised that it is the little wins like this which keep me going, even if the rest of the day is one giant cheese-eating, toddler-wrestling dystopia. 



Let's face it, we could all do with making the most of our little wins right now. Here are some more of my personal faves... 

🥇 Wearing a face mask and your glasses decide not to steam up. Rare triumph!

🥇 Finishing a chapter of a good book before falling asleep. Champ. 

🥇 Walking round the supermarket on a toddler-free trip. The Sainers clothes aisle never took such a battering.
 
🥇 Needing a snack, being outraged at the selection of nuts in the cupboard and then finding a hidden bar of chocolate!

🥇 Getting a spot and then realising that you never leave the house now anyway so toothpaste on the face is fine.

🥇 Realising it's Money Diaries day on Refinery29. J'obsessed. 

🥇 Publishing a blog post with the outrageous mash-up "j'obsessed" in it and feeling pretty fine about it.

🥇 Buying pastel-coloured highlighters in your thirties and feeling pretty fine about that, too.

🥇 Spotting a dog poo on the pavement before all of your kids wade through it.

🥇 Finding your favourite wine's on sale. Chin chin. 

🥇 Starting your day with a run or a body brush. Smooth operator. 

🥇 Messaging the group WhatsApp and then spending the whole evening reminiscing with your bests.

🥇 Non-chipping nail varnish. 

🥇 Successful online clothes shopping with zero returns. 

So now I obviously need to hear yours too and in the meantime, congratulations on the small stuff, buns!

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