Posts Tagged ‘advice’

This week, unsurprisingly, I completely failed to read a book. I also failed to think of a single quote to use for the blog.

But I didn’t want to leave you with nothing, so I looked up one of my favourite authors – Margaret Atwood – to find some generally interesting quotes. Here’s the first one I stumbled upon, on Goodreads; it’s not a quote as such, just some really good advice:

My first advice would be: don’t listen to any advice before you start writing. Just start. If you listen to too much advice you will get overwhelmed. Once you start, you will find out what you need to know next.

But read. And write a little every day.

So there you go – writing, habit, and reading all combined in one simple piece of advice. ¬†It’s what I’ve said for 180 – odd weeks and Margaret Atwood clarified it in two sentences.

Perhaps I need an editor…

Happy reading,



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This week an agency response got me thinking about my writing future.

The agent has decided not to take fiction submissions any more. She was very kind and apologetic but she explained that, due to the difficulties in the fiction market at the moment, she was concentrating on non fiction works.

After mulling it over for a couple of days I responded very politely and with a couple of questions. Long story short, she gave me the name of another agent today, who I contacted this evening.

But the exchange left me with the distinct impression that now is a bad time to enter the market, at least via traditional routes. ¬†Typical of my timing, really…

From an agent’s point of view, it seems there is a risk in taking on new authors; from a publisher’s point of view the more reliable sales are known names; the book-buying public would rather get an e-book for 30p than a paperback for ¬£7.99.

All these things make sense, because of the financial position we are in.  But books still sell, and writers are still making a living from what they do.  So what do the bestsellers have going for them?

Well, look at this list¬†of the bestselling books in the UK for last week. ¬†Bridget Jones is on twice for some reason (which I will ignore), and is the continuation of a popular series. ¬†Michael Connelly’s book is also the continuation of a series. ¬†There are three autobiographies appealing to different groups of fans – music, sport, television. David Walliams is a very well-known TV name in the UK; he has written 6 books for children, and already had one televised (in which he also played a character), with another coming along. ¬†Josephine Cox has written a number of books, over at least a decade. ¬†Liane Moriaty has been published since 2004.

None of these people are starting from scratch – they are either established writers, or well-known celebrities. ¬†The second group will always find it easier to get an agent and to get published than the ‘average’ writer – they have less hoops to jump through.

With both groups the marketing has expanded over a period of years; no new writer can hope to achieve that level of goodwill straight away.

You could argue that there are new writers doing extremely well РEL James for example.  Remember that her work was on the back of the Twilight series, which in itself gave her a head start.

There’s no easy way into the market. ¬†E-books are an option for the frustrated writer, but being seen in a sea of books is hard. Besides, there are still many e-books that are released when they are not quite ready for publication, which has a negative impact on the perception of some self-published work. ¬†Prejudices may change – but not quickly.

All you can do is persist. ¬†Keep sending your work to agents, keep trying to get it seen. ¬†Keep trying to make it the best it can be so if you do opt for self publishing its quality will stand out. ¬†Don’t take rejection personally, and raise your profile so that an agent will see your commitment and joy in writing. ¬† Keep working for it and thinking positively and who knows, one day you could get the ‘yes’ you desire.

There is a problem with publishing now, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on your dreams. ¬†You just need to work a little harder to get there.

Good luck



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Writing is a strange calling – often unpaid, frequently squeezed between other responsibilities, rarely seen by outsiders as anything other than a hobby (unless you make a solid living from it). ¬†Sometimes I wonder if it’s like a childhood dream, an idea I should have left behind when I grew up.

But them something comes along to remind me what an important role storytelling has in the world.

Today, it was looking back at some old books. ¬†I was thinking about the historical understanding I have gained from reading – from Homer’s Ancient Greece to¬†Shakespeare’s Tudor England to Austen’s Georgian society and right through to the present day. These things don’t really show me how life was lived (most people in Homer’s time didn’t face Minotaurs¬†very often!) but they give me an insight into the cultural importance of storytelling.

It is the same nowadays – people seek out stories. ¬†They may look at film or TV as well as books, but that’s just about the delivery system: the important thing is that a writer’s work is being shared.

The role of the bard may be diminished, but the role of the storyteller lives on – and I think that’s a brilliant thing to remember.

With that in mind, I’m now veering towards another¬†NaNoWriMo¬†attempt – how better to celebrate the importance of writing than with an international group of fellow storytellers as a support group?!

In project news – I have made up a little for yesterday’s lack of work with about 1000 words on ‘The Story of One’. I want to get another couple of pages done before I stop for the day, but I’m quite happy with the amount so far. ¬†I’m unlikely to reach the 20,000 word revised target, but at the end of tomorrow I’ll see where I am; I think I’ve done about 12,000 extra since last November, so it’s not too bad.

And in other news – Just in time for NaNoWriMo, I found a link to writing a novel in 30 days. ¬†I have to admit I haven’t had time to read it through but I hope it’s helpful to those who have a look.

(I ought to say here that I try to use links that will work in all countries and are free which is why quite a few are from the same places, but if a link doesn’t work please let me know!)

Happy writing,



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