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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