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What Publishers Really, Really Want

January 19th, 2018

First, thanks to Victoria for last week’s post. She’s absolutely right, you know! I can’t count the number of times that I’ve finished a piece of writing, checked it thoroughly, checked it again, uploaded it… and then spotted a mistake. So, always put it to one side for a few days (or a few hours if you’re really up against a deadline) and then read it through again just to be on the safe side.

I’ve been reading through the February issue of Writing Magazine which has a regular column called ‘I wish I’d known…’ where they ask a well-known writer that question. This month they were talking to the historical novelist Victoria Cornwall who had published a couple of novels herself prior to getting a contract with a commercial publisher. She had this to say:

“Apart from a good novel, I learned that publishers and agents want someone whose writing career can be built on. They don’t want a ‘one book wonder’, so you need to prove to them that you are serious about a writing career.”

She also went on to say that publishers want to work with someone they feel they can get on with. So, it’s important to build up a network of writing contacts, so that you know what’s going on and understand the way things work.

And finally, a point that we make in all our courses – these days they want someone who can promote their own work. Gone are the days when they had huge promotional budgets (except for the top few mega-authors) – so it’s important that you start building up your social networks now and learn how to promote yourself both online and off. They will obviously provide some promotional backing and support but they will be reluctant to take on someone who just wants to sit at home and write. They’ll expect you to be pro-active. Writing is a business and, to be blunt, a commercial publisher will only take you on if they think they can make some money!

If you’ve written a book and are unsure about the next step then you might find the How to Market Your Book course helpful. And if you’d like to subscribe to Writing Magazine then why not sign up to The Association of Freelance Writers? Your membership gives you half price subscription to the magazine plus lots of other benefits including a membership card, reduced entry to our competitions, a 10% discount off the Review and Appraisal service, free courses plus much, much more. It all adds up to brilliant value for money.

We’ve finally chosen the winners of our 2017 flash fiction competition – so congratulations to our worthy winners and I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading their stories. It also means that our 2018 Short Story Competition is now open for entries. There’s a 2000-word limit; so you’ve got plenty of scope for using your imagination.

Until next week…






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