1) Be prepared for the long haul.
It MAY be quick for you, and that’s great. But it may take 20 years (I wrote my first “drawer novel” in 2001 just after leaving uni!)
2) Find people you can moan to.
I had a submission buddy and when we were both sending out to publishers we were able to share all the horrors of waiting. SO MUCH WAITING.
3) Get lots of opinions but then trust your own judgement.
I find it v useful (and found it in the pre published bit) to get feedback from people I trusted… but also it’s important to get a sense of what YOU think is right for the story, or you can end up with a bit of a mish mash and no sense of where things are going.
When sending to agents, there are obvious channels to find out what they want/what they’re open to in terms of queries…. but there’s nothing like a bit of internet stalking too to find out stuff they’re saying about books in general.
Not everyone likes it but it’s been a real godsend in terms of building networks. It’s not somewhere you can reach consumers necessarily but in the publication quest, it’s really helpful to build up a community of book people – including booksellers, who in the end will be the difference between your book selling or not! And it’s how I found people to moan about waiting with, see 2) above!
6) Don’t get too hung up on what the market is doing.
The second you try to follow a trend, it’s over. Publishing works far ahead, so if a bunch of books on topic x are being published now, it’s too late to hop on that trend.
7) You don’t need to go for the most famous/noisy agent or publisher.
You need to find the one who’s right for you. Also, the one who says yes!
8) Slightly contradicting the above…there are parts of the market worth thinking about.
E.g. if you make your story too UK centric it will be less appealing to foreign publishers. So, your characters get on a london bus, using british slang a lot, talking about british things…
9) Research what publishers already publish!
It will both tell you what they don’t need more of, but also what their taste is. So, there’s no point pitching hardcore horror YA to Nosy Crow. But also don’t pitch something that’s basically my book to them either cos they’ve got that!
10) Don’t compare yourself to other people because it will send you PROPERLY INSANE
That’s the easiest advice to give and the hardest to follow – everyone tweets about “six figure deals” and “pre empts” and bestsellers and whatnots. But from so many private convos with outwardly successful writers, it’s ALWAYS more complicated than that.
Louie is a writer and editorial director at Ladybird, PRH.
She’s been writing non fiction for years and her first novel was out June 6th: The Dragon in the Library from Nosy Crow.
Louie is also running a workshop at WOWCON and tickets are still available.