Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Crabbit's Tips for Writers - 2: On Getting Published

Here is the second in my series of free CRABBIT's TIPS FOR WRITERS. This one is Crabbit's Tips for Getting Published. Last week's was Crabbit's Tips for Writing Fiction. For that and the full list, see that post. Next week will be the one on approaching agents and publishers and I will be publishing one every week or more often until they are all up or I've run out of energy. This might happen.

So, for today's tips, either read them below or go here for the free downloadable pdf, to print out and pin above your desk. Enjoy and pass on!


CRABBIT’S TIPS FOR GETTING PUBLISHED
1.   Be informed – learn about publishing and bookselling; connect to good information sources on Twitter, blogs by published writers and from online book industry experts. There is no excuse for ignorance nowadays.
2.   Get your advice from experts but your emotional support from friends and fellows. An unpublished writer is the best person to advise about how to survive being unpublished, but not how to be published. And even published writers are limited in what they know. Hell, everyone is limited in what they know. Learn to assess those limits.
3.   Seek critical feedback from people you trust to tell the truth. And then respect them for the strength to give it to you.
4.   Publishers only accept a book for one reason: they believe they can sell enough copies of it. They need to make money. We need to get over that. However, not all publishers, genres and books expect to make lots of money or sell zillions of copies – the definition of “enough” varies. Know your market and research the right publisher.
5.   A published writer might not be a better writer than a rejected one. Not all good writers will achieve publication. Some crappy ones will. Getting published is about writing the right book and submitting it in the right way to the right publisher. Nothing more. (Unless you are a celebrity. In which case, publishers will even want to publish your dribble.)
6.   Perseverance is not enough. We also need to improve. This comes with good feedback and lots of informed practice.
7.   The moment when you give up trying to publish your first manuscript and start writing another is what makes you a writer. The second will be better but the first is the one that began to make you.
8.   Be the sort of person you would like to work with: nice, fair, professional, intelligent, willing to learn, hard-working.
9.  Even a brilliant writer needs a brilliant-sounding idea. So, fashion yourself a wonderful must-read pitch to hook your agent, editor and reader.
10. Of course your mother thinks your book is utterly fabulous. She’s your mother.

GOOD LUCK AND WRITE WELL!
The CRABBIT’S TIPS series consists of:
1. Writing Fiction
2. Getting Published
3. Submitting to Agents and Publishers
4. Publishing Yourself
5. Ingredients of Poor Writing
6. Synopses
7. Non-fiction Proposals
8. Author events
9. Teenage Writing
10. Children’s Writing

15 comments:

Patsy said...

Thanks for this useful reminder.

catdownunder said...

Another purr-fect lot of advice.

Neal... said...

Excellent advice again!

I now know how I'm going to get published. I'm going to get on X-Factor and become a celebrity. Writing is tough, but I can dribble in my sleep...

Jill said...

which just goes to show that you don't know my mother!

Katalin Havasi said...

Thanks, Nicola.

I'd like to ask a question. I see this bit of advice everywhere: be professional. But what does it exactly mean to be professional as a writer? Would you please explain?

Nicola Morgan said...

Katalin - that's such a good question. I'm really sorry I've never thought of being more explicit but I can absolutely see why it does need more explanation. I'm going to blog about it as soon as possible but meanwhile, very briefly, I'd say it means things like this:

- in your letter, showing that you have researched the business and have a good basis of understanding about the industry
- not being disrespectful of people in the industry you wish to enter
- seeming as though you would be reasonable and decent to work with
- following the standard guidelines about presenting and submitting work
- taking reasonable steps to improve your work, such as attending festivals and conferences
- being willing to work hard to improve.

Does that help at all? I think it's worth saying that it doesn't involve anything extraordinary, just general sensible, hard-working, serious behaviour.

Nicola Morgan said...

Neal - I'm so glad i know that...

David Griffin said...

Your Crabbit's Tips for Writers are superb, Nicola!

Two of the list struck home with me:

"4. Publishers only accept a book for one reason: they believe they can sell enough copies of it. They need to make money."

and

"7. The moment when you give up trying to publish your first manuscript and start writing another is what makes you a writer. "

I've finally decided - only recently – that I haven't a hope in a holiday of getting my stream-of-consciouness psychological novel published (it's my second novel written actually); not only the fact that it's a literary novel but as it involves experimentalism as well as aspects of a type of magical realism puts it well out of the ballpark of all mainstream publishers. It's just too leftfield for anyone to want to take a chance. So I'm going to self-publish this one on Amazon, either via Lulu or CreateSpace. (Early next year, I'm thinking; get Christmas out of the way). At least it'll be out there and someone might read it then.

And my other novel, being much more mainstream as well as commercial, I'll try with more publishers, and submissions sent to literary agents with this one rather than the literary one; give them more of what they want, I'm thinking; and as my third is being written as a more commercial venture as well with page-turnability as a prerequisite (despite it being odd/surreal) hopefully I'll be well on the right track.

Plough on; plod on; write on... :-)

Lauri said...

I think it's true that some excellent writers will never be published. I know these people. I agree you must know the business and you must accept it is a business.i think that's where many new writers fail. Writing a piece of art that no one will buy. Not that you should throw art away but we must be practical. A great list.

Lauri said...

I think it's true that some excellent writers will never be published. I know these people. I agree you must know the business and you must accept it is a business.i think that's where many new writers fail. Writing a piece of art that no one will buy. Not that you should throw art away but we must be practical. A great list.

Chary Johnson said...

These are some really wonderful tips. Thanks!

olivecollins said...

very good tips, I'm stuck editing a previous novel at the moment, I can't wait to begin the next book, the characters and plot are over-crowding my thoughts. Thanks for the post.

Katalin Havasi said...

Thanks a lot for your helpful answer, Nicola.

So being professional as a writer is all about the right attitude. First I thought it means we keep our deadlines, don't chit-chat in our emails to editors, and wear a suit when meeting agents or other persons in the publishing industry.
But now I can see that it's deeper than that.

I'm looking forward to reading your forthcoming blog post on this topic, and once again, thanks for your kind reply.

Laura Mary said...

What, no mention of Oxford?

Having just visited briefly a few weekends ago I assumed I had automatically tripled my chances of success!

No? Back to the grind then :-)

http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com/2011/04/have-you-been-to-oxford.html

Stroppy Author said...

Katalin - on the contrary, wearing a suit and avoiding chit-chat are probably bad things to do! No one in children's publishing wears a suit. I have published 130 books without owning one. Look clean and stylish or smart or otherwise memorable. One of the joys of working in a creative field is that you can dress creatively and it enhances your image rather than makes you look unprofessional!

I chat with editors in email all the time - but don't add chit-chat to emails with new editors you are approaching, wait until you are working with them.

And make sure your chit-chat never gives the impression you are disorganised, prone to being distracted by a sick child/demanding spouse/elderly relative (even if you are) - and never give that impression on your blog, Facebook page or twitter stream either.

And Laura - there is never a need to say where (or if) you went to university, so you probably won't tell your publisher you went to Oxford unless it comes up in conversation. Unless you are writing a campus novel or a non-fiction book on the subject of your PhD thesis, your education is irrelevant.