5 actionable tips to get you published
If you love writing, you will probably have asked yourself the question, “How can I get published?” Becoming a published author, signing books, and receiving recognition for your work is what many aspiring writers dream about. But it can be a challenge and it can take time!
For me, it’s been a learning curve.
I started working in journalism and later, marketing, but throughout my career I kept writing and occasionally pitching to publishers. I learnt to appreciate the positive rejections, when someone took the time to provide feedback. At times, I questioned myself. I questioned my writing and my goal of being a published author. But I persevered, because I love to write, and eventually, I won a prize at a prestigious competition and signed a book deal.
My 5 actionable tips to become a published author are:
5 Actionable tips to
get you published
1. Read books
Read in your chosen genre to know what sells. Who are your favourite authors and what do they do well? Are they good at creating intriguing characters, suspense or surprising twists? I have always been an avid reader and am particularly impressed by authors who can hook you from the beginning. Put at least 30 minutes a day aside and prioritise reading in a genre that you aspire to write in. Remember that publishing is a business, and agents and publishers will assess whether your idea is commercial enough.
If you feel you’re too busy, think about when and where you could read. On the train or the car for example, could you listen to audiobooks? Or while waiting for an appointment?
2. Write something every day
This may seem obvious, but you would be amazed how many people are talking about writing, rather than actually doing it. Spend less time talking and more time doing! Carve out time and prioritise it – we are all busy. Set yourself a daily target if that works for you, even if it's a small, manageable one like 300 words.
I was working full time and had three children when I wrote my debut novel, 'When I Wake Up', but I worked on it every day, even if it was just for one hour in the evening. Despite feeling exhausted, I continually reminded myself that this would bring me one step closer to achieving my dream.
3. Seek feedback
Join a writing group or attend writing courses. Your story might be clear in your head but perhaps you haven’t described a situation clearly enough, or maybe the plot doesn’t make sense to the reader. Writing groups can inspire you and keep you accountable. I did a writing course through Curtis Brown Creative a few years ago and I still exchange chapters with a couple of the others participants. It’s useful to hear what other people think about your work, but it’s equally useful to provide feedback. Reading someone else’s text helps you to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s also wonderful to share your writing struggles and successes with others who love to write. Most importantly, seek out people who will provide HONEST feedback (so maybe not your family...).
4. Press 'send'
Rather than leaving your manuscript in the drawer to gather dust, send it to agents or publishers, but research who represents your genre . Find your match. Authors usually thank their agents in the Acknowledgment section, so that's a good place to look too. Also, enter the manuscript into competitions. You’ve done all this hard and amazing work, now it’s important to market it! Many people may reject your work (just like JK Rowling’s – she pitched her Harry Potter series many times before it was picked up) but don’t give up! Sometimes, it’s about connecting with the right person at the right time. You only need one YES.
5. Believe in yourself
Finally, the most important (and perhaps the hardest of all!) ingredient is that you need to believe in yourself and your goal. With practice, daily effort and perseverance, you have the ability to become published! It may take 6 months or it may take 10 years (for many esteemed authors, it took many years!). Remember that anything is possible, and you've got this.