How to get published . . .

It’s lunchtime and I have 5 minutes. So! Five tips from every ‘How to get published panel’ ever coming up . . .

1. WRITE WHAT YOU LOVE. A cynical project will become a millstone around your own neck

2. Finish it, revise it, leave it for 6 months, revise it again, submit it

3. Do your research: know a bit about the genre you’ve been writing in, and don’t make fun of it or be dismissive of it in your cover letter

4. Do your research: submit knowing the editor or agent’s name, and whether or not they work in the genre in which you’re writing

5. Make multiple submissions, be patient, follow up politely, and then start a new novel. Time, tide and inspiration wait for no man!

And since some of you may have seen those tips before on my twitter account, I thought I’d follow it up with five never-before-seen speedy FAQ’s . . .

1. How long should my novel be?
Usually adult fiction publishers look for something between 90,000 at the shorter end and 350,000 at the higher end. Shorter and you have a novella. Longer and you have two books. Somewhere in the middle, and you have a reasonably sized, straightforwardly publishable, book-sized novel.

2. What’s to stop you stealing my novel if I submit it?
So many things! Primarily: we’re editors, not criminals. Practically: we’re editors not novelists. Our bosses will be somewhat suspicious if we suddenly produce a novel from nowhere, and then try to pay ourselves for it. We also like to publish series, and develop authors’ careers . . . if someone were to steal a manuscript, producing book two would become a decided struggle. All that aside: we’re not thieves. Your manuscript is safe.

3. I have a great idea for a novel, but I’ve not written it yet. Will you tell me what you think? No.

4. Do I need an agent to get published?
No. Neither does having an agent mean you will be published. But it does help, because you enlist the assistance of an expert who can bring you to the attention of the right people, is effectively recommending your work, and can guide you through the getting-published steps.

And: agents are as unlikely to steal your manuscript as editors are.

5. I’m thinking about writing a book. What sort of novel should I write?
There are two answers. The first is: a bestseller. The second is: we can’t tell you that. Some genres are more difficult to write, or to sell, than others but there are massive bestsellers in every category. Some of those massive bestsellers were rejected by tens of publishers and agents before finding publishing success. Nor can we predict the future: if you start writing now, it could be three or ten years before you’re published – who knows what trends will be popular then? So: write what you love. Write something that compels you. Write a novel you are prepared to work on and rewrite however sick you are of the sight of it.

. . . and if you are writing a comic fantasy novel, check out the blog post here!

Happy writing!