Q: I’M WRITING A BOOK, HOW DO I GET PUBLISHED?
A: These days, most publishers don’t accept submissions unless they come via a literary agent, so that’s your first step. Google agents and choose one or two who deal with your genre (ie: women’s fiction; crime; humour, etc). Write an introductory letter, and send it to your chosen agent(s) along with a brief synopsis of the storyline (one A4 page should be enough), and the first 3 chapters of your book. Send by Special Delivery so you know it reached them, then wait. If they’re interested, they will get back to you; but if you start ringing every other day, they may well get irritated and tell you to get lost. Once you have an agent, they will approach publishers on your behalf, leaving you to get on with the writing.
Q: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WRITE A BOOK?
A: It varies from writer to writer. Some, depending on the genre and whether or not a lot of research is involved, may take several years, while others seem to bang them out one after the other without pausing for breath. I am personally contracted to write one book per year, which works for me as it gives me space to get it exactly how I want it.
Q: DO YOU PLOT YOUR STORY BEFORE YOU START WRITING?
A: I wrote out the entire storylines of my last two before I started, but my earlier books were pretty much written off the cuff, in that I had a seed of an idea and just went with it to see where it would go. In some ways it’s easier to have a structure to follow, but it doesn’t really matter if I plot them out or not, because the books rarely end how I thought they would. My characters invariably take over somewhere along the way and steer me in surprise directions. But that’s half of the pleasure, I think.
Q: HOW OFTEN DO YOU WRITE, AND FOR HOW LONG?
A: I write as often as I can; sometimes, if I’m getting nowhere, for a short time; and sometimes, if I’m in the flow, I can go on for hours. I tend to start each day by going over what I did the day before, and then write as much new stuff as I can from there. I’m ruthless in my editing. If something isn’t working, I push it down the page. If I can bring it back in at some point, great, but if I can’t, it’s gone – no matter how good I thought it was!
Q: I WANT TO WRITE MY LIFE STORY, WHERE DO I START?
A: I get asked this a lot, and it’s a difficult one. Publishers are wary of ‘true’ stories, because they can be a minefield in terms of libel suits. Invariably, your story will include other real-
Q: WHAT DO I DO WHEN I’VE FINISHED?
A: One of two things. Either get yourself an agent who will approach publishers on your behalf, or publish it yourself. I personally haven’t done the latter, but I know many who have put their work up for sale on Amazon, and I believe it is an easy process. If you do choose this route, be sure to edit your work thoroughly before you release it. You may think it’s a masterpiece, but if readers don’t agree they won’t waste money on your next one.
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