Spent the day at the Writers and Artists “How to Get Published” conference learning, um, how to get published. I’ve boiled it down and boiled it down and finally have something approaching jam. So here are my Ten Commandments of getting published:
1. Thou shalt follow the submission guidelines – just do what they say and no-one will get hurt.
2.Thou shalt follow the submission guidelines – no, really, we don’t want any trouble here.
3.Thou shalt do thy homework – don’t send sci fi to a romance agent / publisher; whether they like it or not, they just won’t know what to do with it (paraphrasing there).
4.Thou shalt woo thy potential agent or publisher with the same care and attention that you wooed (woo’d?) your beloved – oh yes, you have to find out what makes them tick, what they like, what they hate, who else they’ve dated / published, where they live, what their PIN number is… oh no, hang on, some of those aren’t quite right….
5.Thou shalt not apologise for thy work – humility kicks in when you accept your Booker, not when you’re trying to get noticed. However:
6.Thou shalt not puff thyself up unduly – leave your ego in the wardrobe and wear your writing instead.
7.Thou shalt not waffle. Full stop.
8.Thou shalt not have a spelling mistake, a punctuation error or any kind of slip that makest thou seem like an amateruish dingbat.
9.Thou shalt not get impatient or huffy when the agent or publisher takes some time to reply – they’re busy people but they will read you and they will respond, especially if you obey number 10.
10. Thou shalt only submit books that are really, really good. The moral of the whole thing was that if the book is good enough, you can break at least some of Commandments 1-9. If the book is a pile of proverbial, then go back and start again.
Sage advice from Carole Blake (superagent), Richard Charkin (senior bod at Bloomsbury), Cressida Dowling (book adviser, editorial consultant etc) and the marvellous Barbara Trapido (seemingly accidential novelist), plus a panel of even more agents (Patrick Walsh, Madeline Buston and James Gill). A lot of wisdom in one room including some lovely fellow writers to talk to in the breaks. Particularly lovely to meet Charlie Wilson, aka The Book Specialist, Amanda who co-produces Harold the Platypus and Ann Thomas who has written and recorded the Enchanted Empire stories. Add decent coffee and comfy chairs and it was a pretty decent day out.