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How To Edit A Book

If you Google the phrase “the best writing is rewriting” you’ll find no agreement about who said it first. Hemingway,  Robert Graves, and Truman Capote are just three of the famous candidates. But that doesn’t matter. What does count is the way this quote resonates. When it comes to the importance of book editing, there is near universal consensus. It’s an indispensable part of the writing process and it’s where much of the best work is done. This guide will help explain why editing is so important, how to edit effectively, and the ins and outs of editing a book for publishing  - whether that be with a traditional publisher or self-publishing.   Why Is Editing Important? Writing a book is one thing. Reading a book is something different. It’s manuscript editing that creates the bridge between those two processes. It’s in editing a book that you make sure you are actually saying what you want to say and saying it in the right way. It’s where you get to weigh your words, and make sure they all have the desired impact. It’s where you get to see and remove obstacles between those words and your readers. It’s where you get a chance to enable your book to become the best possible version of itself. It’s where you can turn a book from good to great.   Which all sounds wonderful. But let’s not pretend it’s always easy or straightforward. It’s also where you will make some of the most important and difficult decisions about your work. It is necessarily challenging, painstaking, time consuming and difficult.   Fortunately, there are things you can do to make this process easier and more effective. Let’s get to those now.  The Main Ways To Edit Your Book The first thing to know is that there is more than one way to edit a book. Here are some of the best methods: Editing With A Publisher Or Agent If you’re lucky enough to be picked up by an agent or traditional publisher, you will hopefully get input from a professional who will help get your book ready for the commercial market.  This is the gold standard, in many ways, when it comes to editing a book for publishing. It is a unique relationship because it’s between people who have a special stake in the work in question. However, it’s not the only way to produce results - and often quite a bit of editing goes into a book before it gets through to agents and publishers.   Beta Readers Sometimes a trusted friend or fellow writer can provide that second pair of eyes you need to help you see the things you are missing in your book - and also to give you that crucial insight into how it feels to read your book. It can be extremely helpful - although it can also get complicated and it’s important to find the mix of advice and support that works for you. (Try our guide for all the ins and outs of using beta readers, as well as some useful tips on how to approach the process.)   Editing With A Paid Industry Professional Many writers find it extremely helpful to hire an independent industry professional to give them a detailed and honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses in their work via organisations like ours (access our editorial services here). The advantages of getting this kind of insight into your work speak for themselves. It can be difficult to decide which editorial service to use, which is where our article about the different types of editing and how to choose between them comes in handy. This article also makes the crucial point that “the right time for editorial input is generally: as late as possible.” You’ll get the most out of an external editor after you have taken your book as far as you can yourself. It’s really important that before you bring someone else in, you make sure you know your book inside out and have taken it as far as you can. Make sure, in short, that you have done the crucial work of self-editing first.  The rest of this article will predominantly focus on this part of the process - but some tips will also apply to the other editing methods.  Self-Editing This - as the name suggests- is the part of the process that you can do for yourself. Let’s look at it in more detail now.  How To Edit Your Book The truth is that there’s no one way to edit your book. If I were to tell you that you can map out every part of the process and systematically tick off every aspect of editing a book by following a simple formula, I would be lying. In fact, the very best guide to how do edit your book is very often your book itself. Which is to say, you have to try to tailor the work you do according to the needs of your manuscript. You need to look carefully at what’s in front of you and take it from there. But there are still several important steps that you can and should follow to make sure you maximise the potential of your writing.   Take Time Away From Your Book The first thing to do is nothing. Set your book aside. Give yourself time away from the book so that you can come to it afresh and begin to be able to see the wood, as well as the trees. And perhaps even the path you will need to take through the forest… One of the key elements in editing a book is seeing it clearly. It’s hard to do that when you’re still in writing mode and still in the midst of all those thoughts that crowd around as you get down your first draft.  Format Your Manuscript This feels like a very basic step, but it’s important. When you present your book to agents and editors you want it to be as clear and clean looking as possible. And this is also a good part of that process of helping you to see your words anew. If you have them laid out regularly, in a new font, newly double-spaced and with page numbers your own read through of your work will be more productive - and you will hopefully see your words with different clarity.  Fix Your Spelling And Grammar Again, this is an important job for when it comes to presenting your book to other readers. You want them concentrating on what you want to say, rather than tripping over mistakes and falling into needless confusion. Reading through with an eye on spelling and grammar rather than all the other questions relating to how to edit a book will also again help you see and think about your work in a new way and spot things you might not otherwise have noticed.   Read Your Book I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t carry out this part of the process. It is clearly a key part of how to edit your novel - but before we get too scornful of those who don’t carry it out, I actually understand why so many writers are reticent here. Much as hearing the sound of your own voice can be painful, reading your words on the page can be discomforting. Once you get to the end of a draft it’s also hard not to feel exhausted - and like you already know your book inside out. But you’ll be surprised at just how many surprises your work can contain. And how different a book can feel when you actually sit and read it from front to back. So do it. Try to put yourself in the position of an editor or first reader encountering your work for the first time and think about the things that will jump out at them. Resist the urge to dig in too deep at this stage. Save the big rewrites for later -  although do make marks and comments and keep a list of things that jump out at you.   Attend To The Big Things: Voice, Structure, And Character There are several, important basic questions you can ask yourself when you’re approaching the challenge of how to edit a novel. Of course, editing books is an art rather than a science so these won’t apply universally, but even if they don’t, it may be useful to think about why they don’t matter in your work and what that means about what you should be doing.   Think About Voice There are certain questions you can ask yourself when thinking about your use of voice. Do I know what I want to say, and am I saying it in the most precise, clear and evocative way? Am I using my narrative voice as fully as I can, and have I captured other people’s accurately? Have I got the right voice for the story I’m telling?   Think About Character There are lots of things to consider in terms of your characters and how you\'ve shaped and developed them in your book. Here are some questions you can ask yourself: Are my characters well drawn and convincing both to me and my readers? Do these characters have weight in the world? Can I recognise them as soon as they enter a scene? What about characters\' voices, either in dialogue or when looking at the world from their point of view? Do my characters all have unique voices?   Think About Structure There are lots of questions you can ask yourself when you\'re editing/examining the structure of your book, too. Is my structure working properly, with a good beginning, middle and end? Does it all flow and add up to something? Is it told in the clearest way possible? Does the chronology make sense and is it easy to follow?    Get Down To The Nitty Gritty: Sentences When you\'re editing at the sentence level there are even more things to consider and questions you can ask yourself. Are the words and images I’m using fresh and vibrant? Have I avoided cliché? Am I engaging my readers’ senses of smell, touch, taste, sound and vision in the right way? Am I tagging every verb with an adverb, and every noun with an adjective? (It may be that many are superfluous, and that with a bit more confidence you can cut them out and trust that your writing is evocative enough to get the point across without them.) Does every word, sentence, paragraph, every bit of dialogue serve a purpose?   Check Your Dialogue Are you using prose to break up the dialogue with things like facial expressions, body language, incidental details, internal monologue and physical and emotional responses? Is that working? Are you using lots of emotive dialogue tags, eg gasped, roared, moaned, grumbled etc? Most of the time, you’ll find that it’s best to stick with s/he said which is almost invisible.   Read Another Article! Here’s a really useful alternative article on editing. It gets into the nitty gritty of line editing, increasing the force of your sentences, closing your chapter with resonance, and getting your rhythm right. It’s full of food for thought for when you’re really polishing and improving your work.   Print Out Your Book See how your work looks on paper. And then, that’s right, read it again. Editing a book is a slow, careful process. Sometimes it can be really helpful to have something tangible that you can feel and hold in your hands. And you can make it fun by experimenting with different highlighters and coloured pens, or physically cutting pages into sections and rearranging chapters or paragraphs. The Art Of Editing Before closing let me emphasise again that editing is more of an art than a science. The important things to do are to work with the manuscript you have and edit it according to its needs. Also always try to think of that reader you want to read your work. What do they know, want to know, need to know? What will amuse and entertain them? What will trip them up? What will keep them avidly reading until the end?   There are many different ways of answering those questions - and different ways of getting to the result you want. Self-editing will help you get a good bit of the way there - but do also keep an open mind about getting more help further down the line.   Finally, a bit more food for thought and a few articles that will also help you take your work further:  How to revise a first draft. How to make sense of proofreading marks. What is copyediting?  Developmental Editing: What It Is & Where To Get It. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Parts Of A Book: Breaking It Down

You’ve written the book, all the words are on the page and you are finally happy with the end result. Now what?   How do you lay out a book for publication and what are the different parts of a book?  In this article, I will cover all the parts of a book (in order) you are expected to include, what their purpose is and how they should be laid out.   It doesn’t matter if you are self-publishing or being published traditionally, understanding the different parts of a book in order, how they function and why you need them is important. You may not have to take part in compiling each and every one, but even if you are being traditionally published (and it’s not be your job to compile all the different sections) understanding the contents of a book and all their functions is paramount to understanding the publishing journey as a whole.  What Are The Parts Of A Book? Even if you\'ve already polished your chapters to perfection, you still need to prepare various other parts of your book before publishing — namely, the front matter and the back matter.  Now, these terms are not going to be instantly recognisable to you unless you have worked in publishing, but don’t worry, there’s no need to feel intimidated. All books are broken down into three main categories, the front matter, the body and the back matter. These three sections can then be broken down further and I will attempt to make each of these sections as clear as possible. By the end of this article, you will know all the sections of a book in chronological order.  What Is The Front Matter Of A Book? In the simplest of terms, the front matter is a collection of pages at the very start of a book.   Although many readers tend to skip the pages that make up the front matter, this section contains the most important information about the author as well as the publisher.    For those who do read these pages, they are important – so it’s vital you get the details right, and that just as much importance is placed on these pages as any others.   If you are self-publishing, it is even more important to make sure these pages include the correct details. If you are being traditionally published, a few of these pages are taken care of for you, but it’s always important for the author themselves to understand how they work and check the details to ensure they are correct. After all, you’ve spent so much time getting the book right, why make a mistake at this stage?  Within the front matter of the book, you will find the following (in chronological order).   Now, remember we are not talking about the front covers or the back of the book here – these are all the parts INSIDE the book, and they almost always appear in the front matter: Frontispiece A frontispiece is a decorative illustration page that typically appears on the page facing the title page, on the left-hand side. In many books published in the 1800s, this page was often used to display an image of the author and a space for their signature but these days, many fiction writers (depending on genre) will use this area for a map of their ‘world’ or to illustrate an important moment or theme in the book. Or it’s left blank.  The Title Page The title page of a book will always appear in the front matter. This is the page that displays the full title of the book, as well as the author’s name, as they appear on the cover of the publication. This information determines how a book is cited in libraries and any additional references, so ensuring this information is correct is vital.   This is the place where most authors sign their books.  The title page may also include the name of the book publisher and date of publication.  The Copyright Page The copyright page is always found in the front matter and includes all the technical information about the copyright of the publication, as well as the edition and publication dates, legal notices, the ISBN and details of publisher and printer. This page is generally found on the reverse side of the title page in the front matter. The copyright page is sometimes referred to as the ‘colophon’.    The Dedication Page A dedication page can be added by authors who wish to dedicate their book to a person or persons of importance. It is typically found after the copyright page in the front matter. Although this is generally a one line or one sentence dedication, it is given its own page and focus towards the start of the book.  The Table Of Contents If an author chooses to include a table of contents (generally found in non-fiction), it will be found in the front matter of the book and should list all the major sections of the book that follow it, including chapters found within the body of the text and in the back matter.   The Introduction An introduction page is generally only found in non-fiction books. This is different to a preface found in fiction books. An introduction page (found in the front matter) explains the necessary information needed by the reader to understand the context of the book before they dive into the main body. In fiction, the preface is used in a more personal way – more of an introduction as to why the book has been written and the inspiration behind it. Often, it’s in the style of a ‘Dear reader’ letter and signed by the author at the bottom.  The Epigraph An epigraph is a quote or excerpt that often describes the subject matter of the book. This can be in the form of a poem, or an excerpt taken from another book or source, and will include a reference to the quote’s author. It is found in the front matter of the book and usually comes directly before the first chapter.   When including these it’s vital that you gain permission from the person you are quoting.  The Preface A preface is an introduction to the book, written by the author. It often details how and why the book came to life and will provide context for the edition in hand. If a book has many editions, the preface may include details about anything changed or added since the last publication.   The Forward A forward is an introduction to the book that is written by someone other than the author. This can be a friend, family member, scholar or peer.   The Prologue A prologue is a section found just before the body of the book, in the front matter. This section aims to set the stage for the book and often includes an intriguing hook that will be explained more fully with the body of the book. Generally, a prologue will tell an earlier story, but is connected to the main story.   A Note On Compiling The Front Matter Please remember that most of these sections are not compulsory (otherwise the poor reader would be sifting through many pages before they reached the story or book itself). In most cases the title page and copyright page will suffice. The rest are fun extras.  What Is The Body Of A Book? The body of the book does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s the main content of a book. For works of fiction, this is the story itself – the place where all the magic, mystery, love, death, and murder is explored. You may also find sub-sections such as chapters and parts.  For non-fiction, the body is where all your hard work and research is broken down into the chapters that you have already outlined in your contents page.   Sometimes there are also a few extras at the end of the main text:  The Epilogue The epilogue is a section found at the end of the body of the book (generally works of fiction) and is used to wrap up the story in a satisfying manner for the reader. If can be used to hint at something that may come in the next book or as a way to tie up the story with a neat little bow.   Postscript A postscript is a final and brief note that brings a book to an end. Unlike an epilogue, a postscript is very short, generally only one or two sentences. A postscript is generally used to tie up the loose ends of the story, but, unlike an epilogue, this can be unrelated to the main story in the body of the book.   Afterword This is generally found at the back of the body of the book (most commonly in non-fiction) and, in opposition to a foreword, will include any final notes the writer wishes to make.   In fiction this may be called ‘Notes from the author’ and can often be found in novels in which the author has tackled a difficult theme or wants to share how their own experiences influenced their story.  Conclusion A conclusion section is used in non-fiction and found at the end of the body of the work. It’s a section that sums up the main arguments of the book and includes a final thought or opinion.  What Is The Back Matter Of A Book? The back matter of a book, in opposition to the front matter, contains (surprise, surprise) all the information you will find at the back of the book.   In general, authors use this section to provide further context to their readers. It can include mentions of the authors social media accounts, other books published by the author, or even a note from the publisher themselves. These pages are often be referred to as the end matter.   Other sections you may find in the back matter can include:  Discussion Questions Many book club fiction novels include this list in the back matter. These pages will include thought-provoking questions about the book and its themes in the hopes of sparking debate and conversation about the novel.   Non-fiction and academic books also use these pages to pose questions about the topics or subjects covered.   Accolades And Acknowledgments Accolades or quotes from other authors can generally be found after the body of the book in the back matter. This is a chance for the author to include any positive quotes from other authors about the book, and the acknowledgments allow the author to thank all those who helped bring the book to life. Acknowledgements are generally found in the back matter, but accolades are sometimes included in the front matter, often on brightly coloured pages to draw the reader’s attention.  The acknowledgements section is a great place to look if you want to find out who that author’s agent or publisher is or want to see your own name in print after supporting a writer with their book!  Appendix An appendix (or appendices) is generally used by non-fiction writers to provide additional information for readers, including citations, references, research text or additional source information. An author will lean on the information in the appendix to offer more credibility to the arguments laid out in the book.   Glossary A glossary can be used by both fiction and non-fiction writers. This is a section in the back matter of the book where an author will explain any rare, specialised or unfamiliar words or terms.   Those writing in dialect, for example, may find this section helpful for their readers. Similarly, fantasy or historical fiction writers (among others) may use a glossary to help their readers understand specific terminology that may be new to them – or to translate any made-up words or phrases found in the book.   Bibliography Generally used by those writing non-fiction, a bibliography is a section where the author will cite any and all sources and resources used during the research for the book.  Index An index is not only beneficial for non-fiction writers, as a place to refer to sources, but they can also be useful for fiction books which have been re-published, as they may contain several reference points throughout. Any details of which will be expanded on in the index found in the back matter of the book.  Copyright/Colophon Although this section was traditionally located in the back matter of the book, it is more often found in the front matter these days. As stated before, the colophon is a very brief section that will generally include publisher and printer details as well as any copyright information and legal notes.  The Anatomy Of A Book  It’s not until you have finished writing your first book, that you realise just how much goes into the publishing side of writing.   Knowing what extra sections will appear/are needed in your book, and why they’re important, is imperative. Why? Because this is your book and publishing is your world now too. You should know how it works.   If you are self-publishing your book you need your work to stand alone as professional and complete. And if you are traditionally published, understanding why all of this is important allows you to proof and check these pages properly, ensuring you’re happy with every last word of your work. See here for tips on how to present your manuscript. If you\'re self-publishing, here\'s some advice on writing a good blurb. It also gives you the added advantage of knowing what you will be asked to provide, such as acknowledgements and a dedication. Nothing worse than having to rush a ‘thank you’ and forgetting someone!  So, now you know all the ins and outs of a book, it’s time to get that book planned and think about more than just the story. Come on, what are you waiting for. The magic won’t write itself…  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

What Is Literary Fiction?

One of the trickiest parts of being a writer, at least at first, is trying to decide where in the world of publishing you ‘fit’. Trying to figure out what genre you’re writing can be one of the most difficult parts of solidifying your pitch to agents.  In this article, I will be explaining what literary fiction is, how it’s different to commercial and genre fiction, and why it’s important that as writers we know the difference.   What Is Literary Fiction? One of the questions that crops up time and time again is ‘What is the difference between commercial fiction, genre fiction, and literary fiction?’  Before writing this article, I asked a few people that very question. I didn’t ask writers, because we have answers for everything, I asked readers. Could they tell the difference?  Other than knowing that many literary fiction books find their way into the Booker Prize list, and some readers saying, ‘well literary fiction books are those high brow ones that get featured in the Sunday Times’ it’s clear most people haven’t a clue what it takes for a book to go from genre fiction to being classed as ‘literary.’ The truth is, genres in fiction can be tricky to define, and literary fiction tends to be one of the most difficult for readers and new writers to wrap their heads around.   So let’s delve deeper...    Literary Fiction: Definition Let’s start with the basics, how do you define literary fiction?   Although for most people, literary fiction may be described as ‘those classic books they make you study at college and university’ - while that may be true in some aspects, literary fiction is so much more than long painful prose, convoluted metaphors, slow narrative and a slathering of symbolism.   If you are looking for a clear-cut definition, the closest you will get is ‘literary fiction is a category of novels that put emphasis on style, character and theme over plot.’ Whereas commercial fiction is generally ‘the easy-to-read stuff that sells’ (think of the kind of books you see in a supermarket or airport); and genre fiction is heavy on style (think romance, sci-fi, horror etc); literary fiction tends to focus on bigger themes, a more serious prose style, and deeper characterisation.  But is that all there is to it?  What Are The Characteristics Of Literary Fiction? With an ever-changing publishing industry, the definition of literary fiction can change year on year.   Overall, if your work falls within the bullet points below, you may find your book fits somewhere within the literary fiction genre. Does this sound like your novel?  Character-driven Exploration of deeper themes Exploration of social, political or emotional situations Potential ambiguous ending / not necessarily a ‘Happy Ever After’ No strict adherence to a structured plot formula No strict adherence to standard formatting or prose style (ie no speech marks) Rooted in reality  However, to really understand what literary fiction is we must get a better understanding of what it is not.   Literary Fiction Vs Genre Fiction Genre fiction by definition is popular or commercial fiction rooted in a specific genre. The reason it’s important to define the difference between literary and genre fiction is that literary fiction can also be seen as genre fiction. Each literary book can be classed into a genre, but how the book is written is what defines it as literary rather than commercial. To understand fully, we need to break down a few of these characteristics into more detail.  Character Driven Literary fiction puts an emphasis on character, style, and theme, whereas genre and commercial fiction will almost always prioritise plot. That seems simple enough, right? Ok. So we have a broad understanding, now to get to the nitty-gritty of the detail. Expected Tropes Vs Character Development Through Social Exploration Commercial fiction tends to work with accepted and expected tropes, whereas literary fiction digs deep and often asks uncomfortable questions surrounding moral, social or even political situations, and how those, in turn, create or affect complex and intricate characters. Those characters then become how we see the world in a different way, through their eyes, exploring themes determined by the author. The characters are the catalyst and mechanism with which we explore complex situations.    Character development is key to any great work of fiction, but as genre fiction relies on being heavily plot-driven and more of a focus is heaped on moving the story forward, it leaves little room to delve deep into the character’s mindset. With literary fiction, much more emphasis is put on the character’s motivation…even if not a lot actually happens. Morally Questionable Characters  Essentially what we are exploring here is the difference between likeable protagonists and morally grey characters.  In commercial or genre fiction, the protagonist is almost always someone you can relate to, love, and cheer on throughout the book. Even if they are a little flawed, you ultimately want them to get their happy ever after.   In literary fiction, you are much more likely to come across characters that challenge your preconceptions. Morally grey characters allow you to get absorbed in their inner thoughts and motivations. Take, for instance, Normal People by Sally Rooney. As a contemporary example of literary fiction, in this novel Rooney focuses less on the twists and turns that the plot could have taken her in, and instead digs into the relationships within the novel, exploring motivation and flaws as central themes.   Loving the main characters in this novel is not what Rooney needs from you. She wants you to question them, be angry and frustrated with them in the same way we would be in real life.   With young protagonists Marianne and Connell at its heart, you would expect this novel to sit on the shelves next to other YA novels. But the themes, tone and style of it mean that this complex novel about two young teenagers embarking on an emotional relationship is much more than a simple coming of age novel. Rooney expertly picks apart the fundamentals of relationships, examines darker themes such as depression, and does so in a style that is certainly not suited to the average 14-year-old reader. This is a book about being a teenager, but it is very much for the teenagers inside of us adults. While exploring themes such as sexuality and identity is often a main staple of the YA genre, exploring it in the way Rooney does with such complexity requires a deeper understanding of the human mind. She has taken a traditionally YA theme (coming of age) and delved deeper, written grittier, and explored the darkness of those themes to create a strong representation of literary fiction.   Focus On Style And Theme Style and theme are prominent characteristics of literary fiction. It’s widely accepted that literary fiction tends to inspire longer, flowery, and complicated prose, such as in the works of James Joyce. Others may determine literary fiction as heavily themed, for example, in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.   Both examples are, of course, correct. Both fall under the literary fiction genre, but many paint literary fiction with the tag ‘highbrow’ or ‘complicated to follow’. Flowery prose is not the dominating definition for modern literary fiction. Instead, its defining feature tends to be the impact the story and its characters have on the reader and the ability it has to translate a complicated or sensitive subject to a reader. After all, in this genre, themes are explored in depth.  The conversation surrounding themes often creates controversy when trying to define a book in this genre. Take, for instance, the example of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Widely regarded as a dystopian novel, many questioned why The Hunger Games was not considered literary, after all, the trilogy really focused on themes such as social inequality. However, younger protagonists gave the story a coming of age theme, which complicated matters, as did the incredibly well-drawn dystopian world. Therefore, it was categorised as genre fiction – namely YA dystopian.  Tone And Internal Conflict Tone is the next aspect of literary fiction that sets it apart. Most literary fiction novels tend to be much more introspective in the way they deliver tone, and it is almost always realistic. For that reason, internal conflict drives the plot. Again, it’s the characters driving the plot rather than the plot revealing the character.   Take Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Her debut is a great example of a novel that puts tone and character ahead of plot. Essentially, the novel is about Kya, the ‘Marsh Girl’ from a small town in North Carolina. The whole story revolves around the mystery that surrounds her and how she raised herself when her family abandoned her at a young age. The plot itself is basic, but the themes are anything but. Owens explores the impact of trauma, isolation and the lasting damage of abandonment, but she does this using the most beautifully written characters and by exploring setting in a way that truly draws the reader in. Her observations of loneliness have found a home with readers who relate, and the tone with which she writes creates a space for the novel to breathe and be explored with space and understanding.  Take this quote for example: “The marsh did not confine them but defined them and, like any sacred ground, kept their secrets deep.”Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens Simple words, short sentence structure but packed with emotion. This is literary fiction; simplicity and complexity can be just as powerful as long flowery prose.  The Happy Ever After…  As mentioned already, literary fiction tends to be more realistic, so it would follow that a happy ever after is not always the outcome in the same way that we tend to expect in genre fiction. Authors of literary fiction want you to have more questions at the end of the book than answers. They want you to think long and hard about the themes explored.   So, nine times out of ten you will not find the story wrapped up neatly with a bow, instead, you may find yourself left hanging and therefore contemplating these characters for weeks to come.   Take, for example, Life Of Pi by Yann Martel. Mr Okamoto and Mr Chiba ask Pi to tell them what happened to him and ask for as much detail as possible. Pi does exactly that, but when he is not believed he begrudgingly tells a shorter version. The reader is forced to decide what version they themselves believe. Martel is forcing us to consider the difference between knowledge and belief. To really evaluate the difference between, and the importance of, both faith and doubt, facts and fiction, and what we believe vs what we expect to hear. It’s not tied up with a pretty little bow at the end, instead, we are forced to decide for ourselves which version we want to believe. The Exceptions To The ‘Rules’  Of course, not all literary fiction follows the rules. We are writers after all, and we like nothing more than finding barriers and tearing them down. Not all literary fiction has to follow a flawed, sad and introspective character. Not every person on the page has long rambling inner monologues that question every aspect of life. Literary fiction can be fantastical, magical, even incredibly romantic, just like real life. It just needs to explore aspects of human nature and the world around us in a way that makes us question, think deeper, and look harder at those around us.   My favourite example of a recently published literary fiction novel that absolutely hits the nail on the head in this regard is Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. There is very little about the book itself that is ‘realistic’ in the traditional sense, but Clarke uses the setting to deeply explore themes that hit right at the centre of our human consciousness.   Readers Of Literary Fiction Expect To Be Surprised  Authors of this genre embrace the fact that readers of literary fiction like to be challenged. They know the readers aren’t looking to pick up an ‘easy read’, so the authors of this genre push those boundaries. It allows them to take themes that would be explored at the surface level in more traditional commercial fiction and really dig deep. Also, because literary fiction is generally a slower pace, the expectation for authors to hit the ground running is eliminated. They can take their time, paint the detail, explore the flaws and cracks along the way, in a way that commercial fiction can’t. Readers of literary fiction are ‘slow burner’ readers, and authors of this genre embrace that fully.   Examples Of Literary Fiction Now we know what literary fiction is, and the difference between literary and genre fiction, here are some examples of more literary fiction (from both the past and present-day).   To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee The plot of this groundbreaking novel is really quite simple. Atticus is asked to defend Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman. It’s a very simple plot that allows Harper Lee to explore some of the deepest themes in literary fiction. Racial prejudice, loss of innocence, the fight between good and evil, justice vs the law, and even the lack of trust in institutions. This incredibly deep and affecting novel explores these themes, not through the drive of the plot, but through the depth of character. The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini In this novel, Amir, a Sunni Muslim, struggles to find his place in a complicated new world following traumatic childhood events. Some of the main themes explored are betrayal, violence and rape, politics, violent regimes, and religion.  The Colour Purple By Alice Walker In The Colour Purple, Celie, an African American teenager, born and raised in Georgia, narrates her life through painfully honest letters to God as she navigates a difficult and often abusive life in the early 1900s. The main themes explored here are race, religion, gender roles, violence and suffering, and self-discovery. Atonement By Ian McEwan Atonement is about young lovers Cecilia Tallis and Robbie Turner, who are torn apart by a lie told by Cecilia’s younger sister. The novel explores the fallout for all involved. The main themes explored are guilt, perspective (and how each person’s individual views can shape their own reality), class, and loss of innocence.  White Teeth By Zadie Smith In White Teeth, Archie Jones is attempting to take his own life, but a chance interruption causes him to change his mind. The main themes are racism, female independence, and the importance of family ties and identity. The Great Gatsby By Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby is narrated by Nick Carraway, and from his perspective, we follow events as Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire pursues the love of his youth, Daisy Buchanan. The main themes explored here are love, power, class, and the great ‘American Dream’.   Writing Literary Fiction Would you have classed these examples as literary fiction? Are there any books you have read recently that you feel fit snugly into the literary fiction bracket? Or, more controversially, are there any that you have recently read that you think should be described as literary fiction and weren’t?  Although often thought of as ‘serious’ fiction, and often discussed as the ‘snobby side of publishing’, literary fiction is a genre much like any other. It follows its own rules, has its own readership and knows how to satisfy the needs of those readers.   I hope this article has helped you define your own work. Perhaps it has even encouraged you to adjust your plot and themes or go deeper with your characters – all of which will help you create a clearer distinction between genres. Because without knowing what you are writing, it’s a lot harder to know who you are writing it for and communicate that with any future agent or readers. So choose wisely and enjoy!  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How Long Does It Take To Write A Book?

Whether you\'re writing a book for the first time or this is your tenth attempt, at some point on your writing journey you will ask yourself - \'How long does it take to write a novel?\' And the answer long as it takes. Although this is generally the answer to how long anything creative takes to achieve, if we stop right here this would be a very short and unhelpful article. So let\'s keep going. As an author of six published novels and counting, and having been traditionally published, self-published, written with co-writers and solo, over the last ten years I\'ve learned the hard way how long it takes to write a full length novel, a short story, and a novella. In this article I will be explaining what it takes to write a novel, the process of going from idea to bookstore, how you can better your chances of writing faster (without lowering the quality or getting too overwhelmed), and - to make us all feel better - we\'ll take a look at famous books and their authors and see how long they took to pen their masterpieces. So, let us start at the beginning... How Long Does It Take To Write A Novel? Some of the world\'s bestselling books have taken a mere number of weeks to come into existence, others have taken decades. On average, if you\'re already an experienced author with a few titles under your belt, you can write a good-enough-to-send-to-your-editor draft within 6-18 months. But there are many factors at play as to how long a book takes to write, and you won\'t know what your own speed is until you reach The End of your first novel. Also, please don\'t think that when someone says it took them a month to write their book that it means it took just four weeks to go from idea to publication. What that normally means is that it took them four weeks to get all the words down on paper, because many books start as as a little seed of an idea that grows and grows years before the first word is written. And then, after you\'re done with your very first rough draft that took a month to jot down, you still have a long way to go until your book is of a good enough quality to query an agent with, or send to your editor...let alone publish! So, talking of publishing, let\'s take a look at the entire process before I explain to you how you can write your novel in record time. How Long Does It Take To Publish A Book? In this section I\'ll be talking about the traditional publishing route. When you self-publish a novel, the process can be a lot quicker. When my co-writer and I sat down to write our self-published Caedis Knight book, Witches of Barcelona, we didn\'t start writing it properly until Christmastime and it was available to buy by late March. Now, I\'m not recommending you do that yourself if it\'s your first rodeo ride...but we are experienced authors, this was a 70k word genre novel, and our quick-release business model meant we had four books a year to produce. So writing and publishing a decent book in three months IS possible because when you self-publish it\'s totally up to you how long you take. But traditional publishing takes a lot longer! If you are starting from scratch, with no book deal or agent, then you may take up to a year or more to write your first book. You then need to ensure you\'ve run it past beta readers, maybe an editorial service, and then you start querying agents. If you\'re lucky enough to land an agent, they will then have some revisions they\'ll want you to do. This can take weeks or months (depending on how many edits and how fast you are). Once the agent is happy with the book, it then goes on submission. That means the agent sends your completed manuscript to various editors at various publishers to consider - hopefully leading to a book deal. That too can take anything from a month to a year. Or, as in some cases, you may not even get picked up. This is why it\'s wise to always be working on your next novel. If you do get a publishing deal (hurray!) then it can take weeks to sign the paperwork, and then a publishing date is set. This can be anything between 12 months to 2 years from signing your contract. In that time you will work with your new editor on various rounds of edits, they will design a cover, and you will be expected to assist them on their marketing plan. And, hopefully, you will have started working on the next book to speed things up. All in all, going from having an initial book idea for your first novel to standing in a bookstore holding your book in your hands, the entire process can take years! Let\'s do the maths... Writing a book - up to 12 monthsQuerying agents - 3-12 monthsGoing on sub - 3-12 monthsPost deal edits leading to release date - 12-24 monthsThat means, if you\'re just starting out on your writing journey, with dreams of being traditionally published by a top publisher (ie one that can only be approached via an agent), you are looking at anywhere between 2.5-5 years from idea to book store.So, along with needing knowledge, persistence, resilience and lots of time to write a also need a lot of patience! Now let\'s go back to writing that book and see why some books take longer than others. Why Each Book Takes A Different Amount Of Time As you will see at the bottom of the article, some famous novels took a matter of weeks to accomplish while others took over ten years. Why? If your average book is 80-100k words, why do some take longer to write than others? With my own books, I\'m always shocked how fast some take to write and how others remain simmering away on the back-burner for years. There\'s no exact reason for this, but always having a few projects on the go at once certainly helps keep the frustration at bay and gives your muse some space to breathe. Here are 4 other reasons why books are written at different speeds: How Much Time Can You Spare? Let\'s start with the most obvious reason why a book may take more or less time to write. It\'s all very well when a successful writer says anyone can write a novel in a month. That\'s not true. If you know what you want to write, and you can spare 2-3 hours of uninterrupted time every single day for four weeks, then maybe you will get a decent first draft down on paper. But not everyone has that luxury! If you are planning to write your first book and you also have a full-time job, care for kids and family members, have dependants (including needy pets), have physical or mental health limitations, or you don\'t have the support network to help you carve out time for yourself...then, can\'t comfortably write a book in a month without potentially making yourself ill. That\'s not to say \'I don\'t have the time\' is a valid excuse to not write a book. A lot of people do have the time, they just don\'t want to sacrifice other things to make time. But for those who can only spare a few hours a week to write, then it will take longer. And that\'s fine. My debut novel took three years to write as I was working every day and juggling two sleepless toddlers with very little time to sleep (let alone write). Ten years later, the first draft of my latest book took just four weeks to write because those kids are now self-sufficient, I work part-time, plus I know what I\'m doing. So don\'t beat yourself up. Work at your own pace. Are You A Pantser Or A Plotter? How you approach the foundations of your novel makes a big difference to speed. If this is your first book, it will probably take longer to write than your next novel as you are learning as you go. Most new writers are pantsers...that\'s to say they\'re making up the story as they go along (flying by the seat of their pants, as it were). What\'s wrong with that? Nothing. But, for a story to be good, it needs structure. If you plot your novel before writing it, knowing exactly (OK, more or less) what happens at what stage, you are more likely to be able to get your butt in a chair and churn out each chapter in the right order. Pantsers, on the other hand, discover the plot of their book as they go along, which can result in lots of deletions as well as chopping and changing sections. This also applies to research and data gathering. Doing as much as you can before sitting down to write your first word can help speed up the writing time. Although all that planning and plotting still counts as writing your book! What Genre Are You Writing? Writing a fantasy series is hard. Writing a romance novel is hard. Writing for children is hard (yes, even picture books). Writing any kind of book well is neither easy nor quick - but some do take longer than others. Writing a high fantasy novel of 140k words, for instance, where you have to create an entire world with magical lore, a different language, as well as invent customs and brand new monsters, can take a lot longer to research and plan than, say, a middle grade contemporary book of 55k words. Likewise, historical fiction can also involve a lot more research than, say, a rom com you are setting in your home town. And non-fiction, like a memoir or biography, can take longer to put together in terms of data gathering than a non-fiction book on how to communicate with your cat. Maybe. So, once again, go easy on yourself. I\'ve been nearly three years gathering information and working on snippets of my 17th century historical fantasy novel - whereas my contemporary thriller took no time at all to write. Neither is better or worse in quality, it\'s simply easier to write about what I already know. How Fast Can You Type? This may sound like an obvious reason for taking a long time to write a book, but not being a fast typer can really slow you down. As can writing it all in a notepad first, or (and I know some people enjoy this) using a typewriter or your phone to write on. Ultimately, your novel needs to end up as a Word document when sent to agents/publishers. So if you want to speed things up, get used to sitting in front of a laptop all day and get your head around how they work. So now you know how long it takes to publish a book and why you may take a while to write one, let\'s take a look at how many words your average book is and work out how long it will probably take you to write yours. How Many Words Are In A Novel? How long does a book have to be? Well, there\'s no precise law, but to be considered by an agent and edit you do need to know what your word count should be. And to discover how many words the average book has we need to look at what type of book it is. Here\'s a simple guide of word count by genre. Remember, no matter how wonderful your book is it may still be turned down by agents simply because it\'s 200,000 words long. Don\'t be that person. Do your research and ensure your word count fits your genre: Adult Fiction Literary and Commercial Fiction: 80,000-110,000 Romance (inc rom com and historical): 80,000-100,000 Category Romance (ie paranormal romance, cowboy romance etc): 40,000-75,000 Mystery, Suspense and Thriller: 70,000-110,000 Sci-Fi and Fantasy: 90,000-125,000 Historical: 80,000-120,000 Children\'s Books Contemporary Young Adult: 65,000-80,000 words Fantasy Young Adult: 75,000-90,000 words Middle Grade: 20,000-50,000 words Chapter Books: 4,000-10,000 words Early Reader: 200-3,500 words Picture Books: 400-700 words Nonfiction Nonfiction: 50,000-80,000 words Self-help and How-to books: 40,000-50,000 Memoirs: 80,000-100,000 Yes, you will always find exceptions to these rules - but to be on the safe safe, stick to the correct word count! How Much Can You Write Per Day? The average writer, typing at a decent speed, can write1,000 words every hour or two (including the odd bit of research or proofreading). Can you spare an hour or two a day to write? If you can, then with just 1,000 words a day you could reach the end of your first draft in a couple of months. Here\'s some more maths to consider... 30,000 – 50,000 words: 1000 words/day = 30 – 50 days50,000 – 80,000 words: 1000 words/day = 50 – 80 days80,000 – 100,000 words: 1000 words/day = 80 – 100 days Tips On Writing A Book Quickly (And Well) With my latest book, I went from initial idea to going on submission with the agent of my dreams in just six months. I know! Totally beyond my wildest dreams! How? Because a) it was my twelfth book and I\'ve learned a lot of things along the way and b) I was meticulous with my approach. The timeline for my feminist thriller book looked like this:Aug 2021: I had a great idea that I knew was commercial and uniqueSept-Oct 2021: I plotted the entire book using the Save The Cat beat method, used lots of post it notes, and mapped out what was to happen chapter by chapter.Nov 2021: I took part in NaNoWriMo and wrote one chapter per day (1.5-3k words) from 6am-8.30am every morning before work. In one month I had 30 chapters and a rough 72k word first draft.Dec 2021: I edited the book and sent it off to my beta readers to read over Christmas.Jan 2021: Early January, after getting feedback, I edited it again and it was complete at 85k words. I was ready to start querying!Then, by a fortunate twist of fate, my dream agent saw my author friend\'s tweet singing my book\'s praises, asked to read it, and within three days offered me representation. This time around (I\'d failed to get an agent with two previous books over the course of two years) my querying process was very fast and unusual. Yours may take months. Yet, if you have the time and tenacity, my writing process can easily work for you too. Here\'s How You Can Go From An Idea To Querying In Six Months: 1. Get your life in order and make space To avoid unnecessary stress and pressure, before starting your novel it\'s always best to carve out some time in your life. Be it getting up an hour earlier each morning, forfeiting nights out with friends, or letting your family know that Sunday mornings are writing mornings - whatever it takes, have strong boundaries and take it seriously. If you don\'t, you will cause tension in your relationships and be too hard on yourself. Writing needs to become part of your routine. 2. Find an accountability partner It doesn\'t matter how you do this, but being accountable helps. When I started my latest book I told my closest author friends and I started a thread on Twitter. I\'m sure no one actually cared how many words I did that day, but imagining people waiting for me to update them each day helped keep me motivated. 3. Set deadline dates Next, tell yourself how many words you will write each day/week and what stage of your book you will reach on what date. You may give yourself six weeks to research, or a month per chapter, whatever is realistic. Then stick to it. 4. Research, plan and plot in advance How long does it take to write a chapter by chapter outline for a novel? That\'s up to you, but personally I love to have a plan before I start writing. So if it helps you, write out a character profile for all the protagonists and antagonists, get your rising action in place and all your beats plotted, decide the word count and chapter number in advance so you can roughly work out what happens when, and even create a Pinterest board for visual inspiration. Whatever gives you the confidence to get started. 5. Stick to your daily word count And now write! Some people like to go back and edit each chapter as they go along before moving on to the next, some authors write out of sequence, others plough through the first draft without looking back and don\'t revise until they reach the end. However you do it, get your ass in that seat and get your word count down on the days you said you would. Even fifty words a day adds up to a book eventually (4.3 years to be precise). 6. Celebrate each goal This part is important! Whether you give yourself a tick on your list, a sticker on your bullet journal, or allow yourself to watch the next episode of your favourite Netflix series after each writing session - whatever it takes, keep giving yourself a pat on the back. Some authors even like to put a dollar/pound in a jar after they\'ve written each chapter, and then go on a book-buying spree to celebrate their first draft, while others spend it on a night out. Ultimately, you\'ve written a whole book in the time you gave yourself so CELEBRATE! You\'ve done something very few ever manage to do! How Long Does A Bestseller Take To Write? And finally, in case you need more reassurance as to whether you are writing too fast or too slow, take a look at these famous authors and how long their books took to write. Just goes to show that a fast book isn\'t necessarily a bad book! (Although, to be fair, some of them were hand-writing their book by candlelight and others created entire languages, so we\'ll let them off). John Boyne, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: 3 days Stephenie Meyer, Twilight: 3 months Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: 9 months Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice: 10 months F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby: 2.5 years Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl: 3 years J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: 16 years! Writing A Book Takes As Long As It Takes! I hope you have found this article inspiring and helpful (and not too daunting). The fact you want to write a novel is a fantastic thing in itself, so be realistic, get a plan together, and start writing. The only way you can fail as a writer is not to try at all. You\'ve got this! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Make Money As A Ghostwriter

Unveiling The Mystery Of Ghostwriting Do you love writing?  But does the thought of seeing your name out there in public make you feel nauseous?  Well, what if I told you that there was a way that you could write and earn the same as an author or freelance writer, but remain completely anonymous?   I bet I’ve got your attention now.   In the following guide, I will be demystifying the ghostwriting profession. Not only will we discuss the basics - what ghostwriting is and how it works, but I will also share with you my top tips for becoming a ghostwriter, should you decide that this is the path you want to take.   What Is A Ghostwriter?  Have you ever seen a memoir or biography in a bookshop written by a celebrity or public figure and thought to yourself, ‘wow, I never realised they could write’ or ‘I wonder if they actually wrote this?’   Well, chances are they may well not have written it at all. Their book was probably written by a ghostwriter.  So, as the name might suggest, a ghostwriter is essentially a writer who creates content that has been commissioned by someone else (usually the publicly named author). The writer’s name or byline will never be attached to their work (i.e. they won’t get any authorship credit – at all), and the person who commissions the work will own the copyright - which means that they can amend and republish the work in whatever manner they like without consulting the ghostwriter.   But ghostwriters aren’t just commissioned by celebrities and public figures. Ghostwriting is everywhere – from book publishing and blogs, to speechwriting and news articles.  ‘Why would someone hire a professional ghostwriter?’ I hear you ask. ‘Why not just write it themselves?’  Well, as we’ve discussed above, a publisher may wish to publish a celebrity’s memoir because they know that it’s guaranteed to sell, however, they may not have confidence in the celebrity’s writing ability. There are other reasons too, such as the person whose name will appear on the cover not having the time to write it, or simply not wanting to.   This works in the corporate world too. For example, a person may have an award-winning blog or website but may not have the time to write all their own material. They would rather spend their time marketing or networking than actually writing.    This is when it might be more efficient and cost-effective to hire a ghostwriter to take away the pressure of creating regular content.   Now that we’ve discussed what a ghostwriter is, let’s move on to talk about the benefits/drawbacks of becoming one, and I’ll also share a little about how it works in practice.   How Does Ghostwriting Work?  A ghostwriting commission is likely to be very similar to a freelance writing commission, except of course that the commission is confidential. This means you will probably have to sign a Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement on or before your acceptance of the offer.   When you have signed on the dotted line, you will be given a brief that sets out the scope of the commission and any key deadlines. It’s essential you ensure the brief is clear and that you will be able to work within it and adhere to the timescales required.   Then, depending on whether the commission is for an article or blog piece, or a much lengthier memoir or biography, you will have a series of meetings and/or phone calls to discuss the project. Conversations may touch upon topics such as the themes and overarching narratives of the content, as well as the timeline of events in the story and the authenticity of voice and style.   The duration of this initial phase can depend on the type of commission. For example, if you are writing a memoir or biography, this ‘’fact-finding’’ process could take several weeks or even months, whereas the research element of an article may only require a few days. You may want to ask if you can record any conversations to remind you of any key details at a later stage in the process.   Then, after you’ve completed this more collaborative phase, this is where the hard work truly begins as you will have to actually produce the content that you have been commissioned to write!   As with most writing projects, this part can be extremely solitary. You must be prepared to be very self-motivated and disciplined to work hard on a project that may not interest you (and that you will not be able to take the credit for).   Here are some of the key benefits of being a ghostwriter:   Financial reward. Well-established ghostwriters tend to get paid very well. Fees differs from writer to writer, but most ghostwriters are paid up to 15% more than the average freelance writer. And once you are established in the profession, there is rarely a shortage of work.   Diversifying network. Ghostwriting will inevitably expose you to a diverse range of people within the industry, from bloggers, authors and influencers to celebrities and public figures. It is a great way to build your contacts and grow your network.   Objective distance from work. Many authors will often write about subject matter which has personally impacted them, or someone close to them, in some way or form. Being a writer isn’t for everyone as it can be mentally and emotionally exhausted baring one’s soul to the world. So, ghostwriting instead (writing someone else’s story) can take the emotion out of the equation.   But there are also some drawbacks of being a ghostwriter, such as:    Lack of credit. It’s hard to really know how you’ll feel about this until you have completed your first commission. Some ghostwriters do struggle with working really hard on a piece of work and not being able to shout about it from the rooftops! You have to think hard about what motivates you beforehand. Ghostwriting is not for everyone and that’s okay. If you are concerned this might be you, maybe consider writing a novel under a pen name, which will preserve your anonymity, among other benefits.   Ethics. As a ghostwriter you will have to rely heavily on the brief and your project sponsor. There is a risk that you will be forced to run in a direction that you aren’t wholly comfortable with, or worse, follow a brief with little planning or direction. If you are starting out, you may not feel comfortable pushing back or asking for more input.   Inability to develop own portfolio. Many writers feel that they don’t want to be limited by ghostwriting projects, which limit their own creative freedom and time to develop their own personal portfolio. But arguably, the skills, experience and contacts you can develop while ghostwriting could help you further your own portfolio.   How To Become A Ghostwriter- Tips  Starting out as a ghostwriter is very similar to starting out as a freelance writer, in that you will have to find a way of getting your name out there and establishing a client base for yourself in an already very crowded industry.   To help you get started, we’ve set out some easy to follow tips on how to start ghostwriting below.   Establish Yourself As A Freelance writer  Many ghostwriters start out as freelance writers or editors for a reason, as it helps to show current and prospective clients that you have a portfolio of proven experience. If you don’t have this experience, consider offering to guest blog for well-known blogs and websites. Be prepared, however, to offer your services at a reduced rate or even for free to pick up some clients for your portfolio, but this should hopefully pay off in the long run. Alternatively, you could play the long game and consider starting your own blog or website to demonstrate your skills and versatility as a writer.   Don’t Be Afraid Of Marketing Your Services  All freelance writers and ghostwriters should have a website (or a section of your existing website) offering their services and rates. Not only does this show that you are a serious professional who means business, but you can use it to highlight your freelance writing experience and your portfolio of projects/clients.   Make the most of all the other free marketing opportunities available to you, such as using social media to network and interact with potential clients and other people in the community. Another more ‘out of the box’ way of marketing your services is to guest blog about ghostwriting, which will effectively ensure that your name is publicly associated with the ghostwriting profession (it will also help with SEO and Google algorithms).   Learn The Ins And Outs Of SEO  Navigating the SEO minefield is essential. Not only so that potential clients can find you but also to maximise the traction of any content you are commissioned to create.   If you aren’t familiar with SEO, then consider taking a short online course or doing some further research to learn the basics.   Learn How To Diversify Your Voice  Most writers and authors will develop their own voice over time, which forms part of their brand/author identity so loyal readers know exactly what they are getting when they pick up a book or article written by them. But with ghostwriting you are not writing as you. And that is an entirely different skill set to develop.    You will need to be able to identify and embody the client’s tone and style within your writing in order to completely match their voice. This is much harder than it sounds!   In addition to this, if you are ghostwriting books you may need to learn to write across different genres, particularly when you are starting out.   Leverage Your Network  Word of mouth is one of the most underrated ways of gaining a new commission. But people aren’t mind-readers! So don’t be afraid to approach your existing network to spread the word that you are ‘open for business’.   Examples Of Ghostwritten Books  You may (or may not be) surprised to learn that the following books are publicly acknowledged to have been ghostwritten.   Trump: The Art Of The Deal   This was the book that helped make Donald J. Trump a household name. It reached number one on The New York Times Best Seller list and stayed there for 13 weeks. Whilst Trump has given conflicting accounts on the question of authorship, his publisher stated that Trump played no role in the writing of the book and that it was ghostwritten by journalist and popular ghostwriter Tony Schwartz who cited it as his ‘greatest regret in life, without question.’  Richard Brandon: Losing My Virginity  This is a memoir of one of the most celebrated and successful businessmen of this century and is a must-read for aspiring entrepreneurs. It was ghostwritten by Edward Whitley, most likely to sensitively draw out a softer more empathetic side to a billionaire.   Andre Agassi: Open, An Autobiography  If you have read this book there will be no doubt in your mind that it has been ghostwritten, and not just by any ghostwriter but Pulitzer Prize winning writer, JR Moehringer. The stunning prose and skilful imagery would never have been captured by a former tennis champion.   Sweet Valley High (The Final Books In The Series) Francine Pascal didn’t have much to do with the final Sweet Valley books, which were penned by a handful of ghostwriters. This is quite common with huge hit series books, which for a number of reasons such as time and enthusiasm may eventually be written by ghostwriters (including a few young men in their twenties!).   Jason Bourne  This extremely well-known series was published over a period spanning 40 years starting from 1980. The original author, Robert Ludlum passed away in 2001 but over 11 bestselling books were published 16 years after he died written by ghostwriter, Eric Van Lustbader.   Is Ghostwriting For You?  I hope this article has unveiled all you need to know about being a ghostwriter.  Ghostwriting isn’t for everyone, so be certain of your motivations before you start. But for those who love to write and collaborate, while remaining in the shadows, it’s the perfect path to publication.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Beta Readers: Everything You Need to Know

You\'ve finished your book, you\'ve edited it as much as you can, you\'re more or less happy with it - but is it any good? Have you achieved what you set out to do? You need to know the answers to these questions before you invest any more time and effort on a book that may not be hitting the right way. You haven\'t reached the final draft of any book until others have read it too. Which is where beta readers come in. What Is A Beta Reader? A beta reader is someone who\'s prepared to read your entire manuscript at a point where you feel it\'s ready to be read, and whose opinion you trust. Whether you know them personally or not, ideally you will have chosen someone who is the same demographic as your intended readership who you know should enjoy your book (you wouldn\'t ask your 89 year old religious grandfather to beta read your paranormal erotica, for instance). You also need to be able to trust them to give constructive feedback on a number of questions you will ask them prior to reading. So, if beta readers exist - does that mean alpha readers do too? The answer is yes - but they\'re slightly different. Whereas beta readers come in to play once the book is complete and you need someone just like your readers to look at the entire book with fresh eyes, an alpha reader is generally someone who is there at the beginning of your book\'s journey, helping you shape the story from the onset. For some writers this may be their agent, for others a close friend they like to bounce ideas off, or even a fellow author who always helps with plotting, language and pacing. Alpha readers are important - not just to help you get your book off the ground but for motivation and resilience too - but it\'s beta readers who will direct the next stage of your writing journey. They are the one who will help perfect your latest draft into hopefully the last draft. It is your beta readers who stand between you and an agent, editor or your readers. Why Are Beta Readers Important? You may be thinking \'my book is done now, why would I risk a load of criticism at this stage after spending so much time on it?\' The answer is that if you don\'t get feedback on the initial draft of your novel, you run a higher risk of agents, editors, and eventually readers having the same problems with it too. A beta reader is not there to tell you your writing is bad - they are there to answer specific questions so that you can be happy in the knowledge your book has achieved what was intended. How Many Beta Readers Do I Need? And How Much Do I Have To Change? The answer to both of these questions is the same - it\'s totally up to you. I would suggest you ask at least three to five beta readers to read your work at one time, perhaps a mix of friends, family and other writers. And remember, you are simply garnering doesn\'t mean you have to act on every one of their comments. With my last novel I sent it out to five beta readers and most of them said the same thing about the same parts (which means they were totally right, it needed changing). Other times their opinions were contradictory, meaning they were approaching the book from different angles. At this point I asked myself what was subjective and what was something I was comfortable changing. Where Do I Find A Beta Reader? If you are a new writer, the idea of anyone reading your work may be terrifying - let alone someone who then has to give you feedback. The easiest way to find fellow-minded readers is to join an author community. At Jericho Writers we offer free membership to our writers community, with thousands of people at different stages of their writing journey coming together looking for help, support and even to swap books and get feedback. Likewise you can join one of the many writing groups on Facebook, follow the #WritingCommunity hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, or join a local writing group. Then simply take a deep breath, be brave, and befriend other writers. I strongly recommend you look for others who write the same genre as you, and are also at the same stage of their journey as you. If this is your first book and you have no agent or deal in place, it\'s highly unlikely that a published author with three bestsellers under their belt will have the time to read your book for fun. They will probably already have a team of their own beta readers, critique partners, and an agent to guide them. Likewise, you should be seeking out writer friends to grow with so you can share the same trials and tribulations together as you progress on your writing journey. You can also ask friends, family members, or even your social media followers if they\'d like an early glance of your book in exchange for feedback. You\' be surprised how honoured people feel when asked and how eager they will be to be part of your process! Do I Have To Pay Them? No. Because a beta reader is normally a friend, a fellow writer, or already a big fan of your work they should be happy to help. Although they may ask you to repay the favour by reading their book too, and /or thanking them in the acknowledgements. Is A Beta Reader The Same As A Sensitivity Reader? No, although you may want to hire one at the same time as having it beta read. A sensitivity (or \'authenticity\') reader is paid and they are vital when covering topics, themes, and/or characters that you don\'t have personal experience of. Hiring a sensitivity reader is no different to paying a lawyer to double check your legal crime thriller, or a police officer checking for any inconsistencies in your detective novel. For instance, if you\'re a straight, white, man and you want to feature, say, a gay Indian girl with disabilities in your novel - it\'s a really good idea to pay a disabled queer Indian person to read your book and check that you haven\'t misrepresented an entire community. Like beta readers, a sensitivity reader is not there to silence you or censor your writing, they are there to strengthen the contents of your book. As authors we are all free to write about whatever we want, but if you want to cover themes that involve aspects of life you haven\'t had direct experience in, it always helps to work with those who have, in order to add a level of authenticity, accuracy and (most importantly) respect to your work. Unlike beta readers, sensitivity readers are paid and often someone you don\'t know. That way they can offer feedback that is unbiased and fair. How Do I Work With My Beta Readers? A beta reader is not: An editor A proofreader A sensitivity reader All of those jobs are performed by a paid professional who is there specifically to look at structure, spelling, or a certain theme that they represent. A beta reader is simply a friend, book-lover or fellow writer, who will read your book and give you their opinion of it based on a set of questions you have prepared for them. They will understand that this is not the very first draft...but likewise, it\'s not the final one either. It\'s a few drafts before the final one, where you still have the chance to move things about and hone characters and plot points. Because this person is someone you have recruited, like with anything it\'s important to be respectful with them and clear about your needs. If they are a trusted friend or fellow author, they may have asked for a favour in return (ie \'please beta read my wip too\' or \'mention me in the acknowledgements\') and all you have to do is honour that agreement. But if you have put together a group of beta readers made up of people you don\'t know well, you may wish to create a Facebook group, and clearly state the guidelines. Within those guidelines will be what you need from them, a deadline for feedback, and what they can expect in return. Likewise, you may want to offer them an agreement or NDA to sign, to ensure your story is not shared outside the group. NDA templates can be found online. Although, legally, a simple agreement you have drawn up may not carry much weight - it will at least show that you trust them and both parties are clear re: expectations. What Questions Should I Ask Them? Are the first three chapters engaging?If they aren\'t, then you\'re in trouble. It doesn\'t matter if you are trying to grab the attention of an agent, an editor, or someone on Amazon who wants to read the first few pages to get a taste of the novel before buying. If you can\'t hook your reader in the first three chapters then they won\'t keep reading. So ask your beta readers whether they were intrigued from the start. Plot and themesThis is an obvious question - but do they like what the book is about? Is it interesting? Is there anything they would cut that slowed down the story? Or is there more they need you to elaborate on? Are the characters rounded? Are they likeable or scary or whatever it is you are trying to achieve. Are their backstories clear? Are they all needed? Sometimes you can combine two characters into one to have them supporting the MC in the same way. Not all characters have to be \'nice\' or likeable BUT they do have to be interesting enough that people want to keep reading. Is the book consistent?If you are working on a series and your beta readers enjoyed the other books, ask them about continuity. Have you forgotten some world lore? Or do your characters act or sound different this time? And even if your book is a contemporary stand alone, you still need to make sure your world makes sense. You don\'t have a nurse living in an apartment and halfway through she\'s a doctor living in a large house! Worldbuilding If you are writing fantasy, it\'s really important that your readers understand your magic system and how your fantasy world works. The same goes if you are writing history - is this world believable and accurate? Again, this is important if part of a series as you need to ensure there\'s consistency. PacingIf it\'s a thriller, were they on the edge of their seat? If it\'s a romance, was their heart beating in the right place? Did the story sag in any places? Or was it too rushed or light in other places? Pacing is really important when it comes to engaging a reader and keeping them turning the pages. LanguageDo they like the way the book is written? It\'s OK at this stage to ask them for any errors they find (ie if the wrong ocean is referenced or a date is wrong) but I wouldn\'t worry about proofreading as you still have a long way to go until you present a final ms and a lot of the words may be cut anyway. What they loved and didn\'t enjoyAnd finally, it\'s a hard question to ask, but knowing what parts of the book they enjoyed and what they didn\'t enjoy will give you a clear indication of what your final readers will think. Opinions are subjective, which is why it\'s ideal to have three or four beta readers, and then if they all agree you know it\'s something you shouldn\'t ignore! How I Use Beta Readers I write both fantasy and thriller novels, and I absolutely love working with my beta readers. When I was a debut author I put together my own team of readers. I created a blog that explained I was looking for a dedicated team of readers, and I sent it to those who I thought would suit the trilogy best. I literally approached each reader, one by one, from Facebook writing groups and Twitter, ensuring they represented a diverse mix of readers. Those who accepted signed a confidentiality agreement and were added to a Facebook group. I capped it at 25 members and after around three weeks my beta reader gang was formed! The group lasted a few years, and they were instrumental in helping me develop my fantasy series. I would ask them questions and opinions, I\'d run competitions to name a character or to be picked to read an early draft, and in exchange they not only got to be part of my journey but were mentioned in the acknowledgements and all received a free book once it was published. Having a squad like this (especially when writing YA or fantasy) is really helpful once you are published too, as these readers have supported you from the very beginning and will continue to support you. My team went on to shout about the book online, creating a lot of organic buzz that\'s hard to build naturally. Now, five years after being published, I have retained some of my beta readers plus have added lots of fellow published authors and a few friends and family members who want a sneaky peak. I have five key critique partners, all successful authors in their own rights, and we bounce idea off one another as well as alpha/beta read one another\'s work. I find it helpful to have a mix of professionals and book-loving friends on my beta reading list as that way I receive feedback in general (ie \'I couldn\'t put it down\' and \'I got bored in this chapter\') as well as more structured professional feedback (ie \'the pacing was off in chapters 5-7\' and \'the motivation isn\'t strong enough for the MC in the third act\'). Plus having critique partners who are also authors means I get to show off that I have read some of the best author\'s books years before they make it to the shops! Being part of that book\'s journey is a real honour! Find The Beta Mix That Works for You I hope this article answers all your beta reader questions and has inspired you to put your own group together. Remember to be brave and offer to swap books with a writer who\'s at the same stage of writing as may be surprised and find they\'ve been just as eager to read your work as you are to work with them! If you don\'t reach out, you\'ll never know. And most importantly, if you don\'t get all those new eyes on your new book, you may well miss the opportunity to change something fundamental that could be standing between you and your perfect agent, editor, or five star review. My books and my career would not have progressed as far as they have without my beta readers, and I truly hope you find your perfect gang too. Good luck! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How Much Money Do Authors Really Make?

Would you ever approach a stranger and ask “how much money do you make?” Probably not.   Yet, as an author of feel-good romance, I have been asked this question by both strangers and those I know quite a few times.  “You must be rolling in it!” they say. “Did you receive a big advance?” and “how much royalties do you get paid?”   Having pondered what gives some individuals the idea they can glibly interrogate authors about their income from their writing, I’ve come to the conclusion that it must be the perceived fallacy that all writers are generously paid for their articles and books, and that we enjoy an indulgent lifestyle.  If only that were true!  So, how much do book authors really make? How much can they make? And how can we, as writers, maximise our earning potential?  In this article I will be answering that question as well as providing suggestions on how to improve your earnings. I have included a list of rough earning potential in both dollars and pounds – but please remember all these totals can vary greatly.  What Salaries Do Authors Make?  The sad truth is that authors don’t make a regular salary, so it’s really a matter of ‘close your eyes and take a stab.’  The answer to ‘how much money does an author make?’ depends on many factors, such as whether the author is self-published or traditionally published, the number of projects currently in their pipeline, how many novels the author in question has previously published, and what the details of these publishing deals might be.   Because the publishing world has evolved to such an extent over the years, many more avenues are now open to writers – making it harder to provide a ballpark figure for author earnings. According to the site, the average author salary in the UK stands at $33,078 per annum as of 9th February 2022. Although this may be a generous overestimation if they calculate that by including all the millions authors like J K Rowling make and dividing it by the number of published books out there.   In reality, most writers don’t make the minimum wage from their books and work full- or part-time to supplement their book earnings!  Writing is not like other professions, where there are salary scales and overtime payments. It all comes down to which path to publication you decide to take, how much time you have to write, how you sell your work, and how many books you can produce in a year. That’s just to make money from your first book – because staying a published writer takes even more work!  Ballpark Figures Self-published authors can earn up to 70% royalties from their books, while most traditionally published authors make 5-18% royalties which they only receive after ‘earning out’. That means the books sales have “paid back” their advances and the publishers then start giving them a cut of book sales. From a major publisher, such as one of the “Big Five,” an advance can start from $5,000 for a first-time, unknown author and can go into five figures. This may be more if the author is well-known, happens to have a more established literary reputation, it’s a multi-book deal, or the author has an impressive back catalogue.   Sometimes a debut (or less-established) author can hit upon a very topical idea and write a book that has publishers bidding against one another. Debut Middle Grade author, Anabelle Steadman, recently won a seven-figure book deal with Simon & Schuster (including Sony film rights) for her bloodthirsty unicorn series. So, although very rare, you can get lucky!  Smaller, independent publishers, tend to offer lower advances to their writers – sometimes in the region of $3,000-$10,000. Although some compensate for this by paying their writers a higher royalty revenue, which kicks in sooner as it takes a lot less time to recoup the advance.  Plus don’t forget that advances are taxed, and 15% goes to your agent who negotiated the deal in the first place.  Bearing all this in mind, some may argue that the answer to making lots of money writing books is to self-publish. Yes, you will certainly receive more money per book – but it’s not that simple either.  Author and Jericho Writers founder, Harry Bingham, wrote about this in his recent article for Jericho Writers. Unlike traditional publishing, when you self-publish you have to cover all costs of design, editing, typesetting, distribution, marketing and advertising yourself. You can expect to pay anything between $800-$2,000 to have your book professionally edited and proofread, as well as anything from $100-$600 for a decent cover design.  You may not have agent fees to worry about, but you will also need to be your own publicist – and with self-publishing becoming more popular by the day, that means understanding online advertising and getting your book to market.   Basically, there’s no easy way to make money from your books.   Let’s look at traditional publishing first, and the different ways you can earn money.  Making Money From Traditional Publishing Vs Self-Publishing  What To Expect From Big 5 Traditional Publishers  The biggest publishers, also referred to as ‘The Big 5’, are Penguin/Random House, Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, and Macmillan. And within those publishers there are many imprints.  If they purchase your manuscript, the sale is generally executed by a literary agent who will keep 15% of all earnings from that book deal (sometimes the deal includes more than one book).   These publishers often (not always) pay bigger advances than independent publishers.   If they decide your book will be one of their lead titles, then they will use their enviable distribution network to make your book available for sale as widely as possible, which means you can expect to see your book in a dizzying array of retailers, ranging from bookshops and online retailers to supermarkets (depending on what ‘path to market’ they think best suits your readership).   They also work closely with the press and, depending on the marketing budget allocated to the title, will support the release with a carefully executed PR campaign.   Being signed with the Big 5 means you are also more likely to receive a five-figure plus advance and your book will almost certainly appear in print, as well as sometimes audio, e-book and even hardback. If you’re lucky enough that your sales ‘earn out’, you will also receive royalties.  Most authors dream of such a deal, which is why they may spend many years (and many scrapped books) trying to be signed by a great agent, as without an agent you will never be signed with a big-name publisher.  What To Expect From Independent Traditional Publishers  Independent traditional publishers work in exactly the same way as the Big 5 – but with slightly less budget, and slightly less reach. But the good news is that they often accept submissions without an agent and are more likely to take on less-commercial books as they are smaller companies with more subjective decision-making.  Although they often pay smaller advances, as mentioned previously they often provide larger royalties and they may choose to pay big bucks as an advance for a book that they wish to make their lead title, when the Big 5 may have paid less and made it one of their lesser titles.  So bigger is not always better. Once again, each book and each author makes a completely different amount of money, but it’s worth understanding how the business works and realistically what’s at stake.  Whether the publisher is large or not, they can both take a book quite far – to audio, abroad, and even to the big screen. Different Ways To Make Money With A Traditionally Published Book  It can be very confusing for a new author to understand how a book makes its writer money. Every book deal is different, and every author earns a different amount. This is in no way a reflection of the quality of the book; it hinges on how well the editors and sales and marketing teams at the publishers think the book will do.  Remember – publishing is a business, and your books are products. If you produce something that is destined to sell well, then you will be compensated as such. The only problem is that books can be mercurial things and what works once doesn’t always work again!  So how do authors get paid? Author Advances  An advance paid by a publisher is intended to cover an author’s expenses while they write the book the publisher has bought. It should be a rough estimate of what the book might earn, paid up front, to give the author support and reassurance. The amount of an advance can vary from a couple of thousand pounds to a seven-figure sum and it is usually paid by the traditional publishers. However, some publishers opt not to pay an advance to writers and instead pay higher royalties. Royalties A publisher pays authors book royalties in exchange for the rights to publish their work in book form. Royalty rates are made up of percentages of book sales and they are entirely negotiable, though some publishers do have standard royalty rates that they try to adhere to for the majority of their book deals. Average retail royalties tend to fall in the 10% - 15% range on hardcover sales, and 5% - 7.5% on trade paperback sales. These are paid quarterly by some publishers, yearly by others.  Foreign Rights Authors who retain translation rights, may submit their book to a foreign rights agent (sometimes their agent works with foreign publishers and reps), or their publisher may commission a foreign rights agent to represent the publisher’s catalogue, or collection of titles.   A foreign rights agent represents translation rights on a worldwide basis or for select languages. Then, the foreign rights agent plays matchmaker, matching books with foreign publishers who have published or are looking to publish similar works.  You get paid by a foreign publisher for every language or territory you sell your book to – this can be anything from $1,500 per book, per territory, to six figures (not as common).   Literary agents receive a slightly higher commission for foreign subsidiary rates and translations, generally 20% commission compared to the usual 15% a literary agent receives.  TV Rights   One of the first steps a TV/film producer makes when developing a project for the screen in which they are interested in, is to obtain story rights. The usual legal vehicle for this is an option contract. The producer options exclusive rights for a specified time to develop your creative work and determine if there is any interest in adapting the work into a film before committing to purchasing the work. The option puts money in the writer’s pocket in exchange for putting the book rights on hold during the negotiated time period. Sometimes that time runs out and the options are sold again, so the writer is receiving money for nothing while the producers try and get the project off the ground. Again, options vary in amount and contractual length, but $15,000 for three years is not uncommon.  This can be handled by the publishers or the agents direct. Most literary agents have experience of such contracts and would be more than happy to handle this on your behalf!   The literary agent commission on film rights and audio book rights is typically somewhere between 15%-20%.  And now for self-publishing. A completely different kettle of fish…but one that more and more traditionally published authors are diving into. Self-Publishing Publishing your own book means you never sell the rights to the book. It’s yours. There is no advance (ie money up front) in self-publishing – it’s completely down to you as the author to make whatever investment you can afford to get your book out there.  Most indie sales take the form of e-books, often taking advantage of print-on-demand services provided by suppliers such as Amazon. But that means limiting your distribution to online sales. For those with dreams of seeing your work sold in physical bookshop and adorning the shelves, this is much harder to do with self-publishing. You can personally go from bookstore to bookstore, many independent bookshops love to support local indie writers, but you’re unlikely to see huge sales of your hardback in Waterstones and B&N if you self-publish.  You are also less likely to see your book in the national press (again, local publications do support local writers, but you have to do all the PR yourself).  But, because you can decide on the price point of your book and have the possibility of publishing as many as you can write a year (whereas traditional publishers generally publish one book per author per year), plus you get a larger cut per sale, you have the possibility of making a lot of money. After a year, some self-published authors are making a living wage from their books. Some are even making millions!   Here is a list of more Jericho Writer resources about self-publishing and how much you can expect to make: Traditional Publishing Vs Self PublishingShould self-published authors turn to traditional publishing?Why A Best-selling Author Chose To Self-PublishHow Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Book?How to Control Your Self-Publishing CostsHow Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book? And remember, unlike traditional publishing which is very subjective and often down to getting the right agent, the right editor, and publishing at the right time, with self-publishing you get out what you put in.   So the question you should really be asking yourself when considering self-publishing is not ‘How much money will I make?’ but ‘How hard am I prepared to work to make enough money?’  Getting published is an amazing experience. However, for the sake of your future writing career, getting published is not the same as staying published!  Securing one good book deal does not mean you can give up your day job. You should therefore try to remain productive and add to your back catalogue of books and articles, in order to establish a steady income.   Luckily, most authors make their money not from their books, but from being a writer. Here’s how…  Tips For Authors To Make More Money  Here are a few tips which you might like to consider for increasing your cashflow as a writer.  Enter writing competitions. Many offer generous cash prizes and it is a good way of potentially boosting your writing coffers. It is also a very enjoyable diversion from your usual writing routine. Come up with pitches for freelance articles and approach newspapers and magazines. It’s a competitive market, but editors are always on the lookout for new ideas. If you can suggest an original and eye-catching pitch, there is money to be made. You might also find if the editor published you once, they will publish you again.  The figures below from the National Union of Journalists website, gives a rough estimate of what you could expect to earn writing articles in the UK (fees vary country to country). For example, once you are an established feature writer, writing a 1,000-word tabloid feature can earn you approx. £800.  Page lead, tabloids - sky\'s the limit, rarely less than  1250.00 Tip-off leading to exclusive or large spread, upward of  1000.00 Splashy features for \"qualities\", per 1000, from  800.00 Normal features for \"qualities\", per 1000, from  500.00 Page lead, for \"qualities\", per 1000, from  500.00 News, for \"qualities\", per 1000 words, from  430.00 Tip-off for news, \"qualities\" - much more for big stories  200.00 Commissioned online blog post - e.g. \"Comment is Free\" from  110.00 Tip-off for diary - minimum  50.00  RATES:  Writing, reporting and researching National newspapers category: Newspaper supplements  Splashy features for \"qualities\", per 1000, from    1000.00  Per 1000 words, generic   600.00  Being a writer, means you have publishing experience. That means you can also get paid to:  Attend paid literary events and give talks (approx.. $200-1,000 per event, depending on how sought-after you are) Lecture on creative writing, either privately or to uni students (approx. $250-$500 per day) Write blog articles like this one (approx. $100-$200 per blog) Become a freelance editor (approx. $750 to $2,000 per book) Be a proof-reader, beta reader, blogger or sensitivity reader (bloggers and beta readers don’t often get paid, but you do get to read some great books).  Be a writing mentor (you may charge an hourly rate of $80-120) Become a ghostwriter (this can vary, and some writers get paid in royalties only, but others can get $5,000-$10,000 up front per book)  Explore Different Writing Opportunities I hope this article has given you some indication as to how much money you can make being an author. Sadly, unlike being a plumber or solicitor, the career trajectory of an author is never a straight line and no amount of qualifications can guarantee you more success or money.  But, the one way you can help yourself as an author, is to keep learning and keep writing. The more books you write, the better you will get and the more ‘products’ you have to sell. And with determination and dedication, writing books can not only lead to great things but can also help get you other paid work opportunities.   You just have to be creative – and luckily that’s exactly what we are!  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Come Up With A Great Book Title

It’s no secret that coming up with a great book title can make or break a book. But how can you choose the best book title for your work?   This guide will not only show you how to write a book title, but it will also advise you on how to come up with your own title ideas for your next project in any genre.   Why Are Book Titles Important? Have you ever bought a book purely because of its title? I know I have. And plenty of other readers have, too.   Books such as A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson have become instant bestsellers thanks to their clever, intriguing titles. In the case of this example, the title not only tells a reader what genre it is (crime), but also sets up a series of questions that the reader will want to read on to answer. How can a ‘good’ girl be involved in a murder?   Word of mouth equates for a huge proportion of books that have achieved a runaway success. If a title is memorable, it’s more likely to stick in the forefront of a reader’s mind when they’re speaking to friends. To use our previous example, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, uses alliteration to great effect, and uses many of the same words in subsequent titles in the series to create a clear and memorable link.   On the other hand, a bad title can be forgettable. Take Stranger from Within for example – have you heard of that? Chances are you haven’t as this title was later changed to Lord of the Flies (William Golding), which is far more intriguing and memorable.  So – what is it that makes a book title great?  What Makes A Good Book Title? Authors with an established track record can afford to take risks with their book titles. But for new and emerging authors, it’s worth sticking to these tried-and-tested rules:   * Be Unique  That’s not to say that you can’t call your book a name shared by something else, but it will help your title be easier to find by readers if it’s unique.   * Be Memorable   As readers, we can come across hundreds of books every day. Be clever with your use of words to create a title that will stick in a reader’s mind.   * Spark Interest  You can do this by generating a question for the reader, or by clearly signposting what the book is about from the title. For example, The Man who Died Twice by Richard Osman.   * Grab Attention In a bookshop or online, this is mainly the job of the cover. But what about when the book is being spoken about in a conversation, or on the radio? Choose a book title with impact, for example, Tall Bones by Anna Bailey.   These rules sound simple, but they can be difficult to get right. There are lots of other factors that might turn a reader off, even if your title conforms to all these rules.   How Long Should Your Title Be? One of the things that concern a writer when choosing the title of their book is its length.   How Does It Look On The Cover?  Titles must be long enough to be clear, unique and intriguing, but short enough to be memorable (and fit on the cover nicely). Most popular book titles are four words long, but a surprising 10% of the Amazon top 100 at the time of writing include titles over eighteen words.   Of course, this will vary according to genre (subject-led non-fiction can stand a longer, more specific title), and also Amazon metadata (including subtitles with keywords can help a book become more searchable). But as a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to be keeping your title in that magic space between too short, and too long.   Language & Clarity  You should also pay close attention to the use of language in your title. With such a small space to pack an impact, every word you choose has to be pulling its weight.   To help, try to avoid jargon and technical terms in your title that might be hard for the average reader to remember. You should aim to provoke an emotional response and provide clarity, whilst trying to avoid making your reader angry or hurt with the use of derogatory language.    Relevance  It’s also useful to keep the title themed around your book, so that readers can easily associate it with your story long after reading. In the same way, using common genre structures found in the genre you’re writing can help with this.   For example, thriller titles tend to be short, using emotive language: The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides.  Romantic comedies can stand to be a little longer and can often include a name, such as Lucy in the Sky by Paige Toon.   So how can you use these tips to come up with your own book title?  How To Come Up With Book Title Ideas Before sitting down to come up with your own title, I recommend making a note of the advice above, so you can keep it in mind. In particular, it’s important that your ideas maintain clarity, relevance, and stay within your genre.   To help with this, the first step to creating a book title is to look at books similar to yours. Make a note of:   The number of words in the title. Emotive words (what emotions do they conjure?)  Any questions they pose (do they make you want to read on to answer them?)  Anything else interesting about the title, such as the use of character names.   This step is important, as you’ll want to ensure your title communicates what your reader is to expect from your book, as well as being unique.   Get brainstorming!  I like brainstorming on paper or on a whiteboard, but you can do it anywhere, at any time. For each of the following headings, spend fifteen to twenty minutes thinking of possible titles relating to your specific book:   Who the book is aboutThis can be a name, or a description of the character in some way. For example, The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.  What the book is aboutThink carefully about the themes and motifs you’ve used in your book. Looking at your synopsis can be a useful reminder here. For example, Normal People by Sally Rooney.  Where the story takes placeThis can be interior settings, as well as exterior. Where in this world or the next is the book set? If there’s a journey, can this be used? For example, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.  When the story takes placeThink dates, as well as seasons, days and time. You can also use important past or future events as a title. For example, A Week in December, Sebastian Faulks.   Research  When you have some keywords, try mixing them around to create something unique and interesting. Alliteration can be your friend here, as we saw in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. You can also employ one of the following devices with your keywords to make it unique:   Find a synonymIs there another, lesser-used word that packs a bigger punch?  Subvert expectationsTwist the meaning of your phrase to assign a new meaning to it, for example, Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng.   Tell a mini-storyFind the hook of your story and tell it in a small space, such as The House with Chicken Legs, by Sophie Anderson.  Focus on your USP (Unique Selling Point)Is there something about your story that sets it apart from the rest? Perhaps it’s that it’s a true story, or perhaps something as simple as a character name. If it’s good, use it in your title! For example, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.   Try other titles on for sizeIs there a title you particularly like? Try mixing that with some of the words you’ve come up with – sometimes this can help you stumble across your own unique version, which contains all the elements of a title you love.  Look at what’s trendingIt’s no coincidence that, like with any product, there are trends with book titles. You may have noticed in certain genres, that once a book has had great success, other similar titles start to pop up. How many thrillers can you name with the word ‘Girl’ in the title? How many fantasy YA books do you know with the word ‘wicked’ in the title, or using the standard ‘A _ of _ and _’ combination?  Pick out phrases  Another trick is to read through your book, specifically looking for phrases that might make a good title. Some of my favourite book titles are ones that are almost small poems in themselves, such as On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. Reading your manuscript on an e-reader can sometimes help you spot these.   If you’re still finding it difficult, then try an automatic word or title generator. Then, it’s just the simple matter of choosing the right title for you…  How To Choose A Book Title The best book title for your book will be one that conforms to all the rules we’ve outlined here, including that it’s clear, memorable, relevant, and unique. It will also be the one you feel most excited about and are most likely to remember yourself.   Try one or two on for size in conversation. Does it roll off the tongue? What was the reaction?  You may also find that other people can be useful – ask friends who have read the book for their thoughts and include other people in your process. In particular, agents and editors often bring their own thoughts to a title before publication, so be prepared to change it for the market if you’re planning on traditional publishing.   For those who are self-publishing, using social media or reader focus groups can be a great way of testing a title before going forward with it. You may even find that the most popular title is the one you’d least expect.   Whatever title you come up with, your primary goal is to make readers want to read your book and remember it long after they’ve finished reading. Spend time studying book titles, mind-mapping ideas relevant to your themes and then choose the title that you feel most excited by.   For more information on other important book metadata, including book covers, choosing your author name, and that all-important pitch, take a look at our vast library of free articles on our blog. More than ready to get the ball rolling with agents, but just need a little push? Or perhaps you’ve had a few rejections but aren’t sure why? Our Agent Submission Pack Review gives you detailed professional advice on how to perfect your submission and increase your chances of securing an agent. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

What Genre Is My Book?

A few weeks ago, I was asked what I do for a living. When I said, ‘I’m an author,’ the gentleman said, ‘Oh, what do you write? Crime?’  ‘No, romantic comedies.’  ‘What, like Dame Barbara Cartland?’  ‘Er, no. She wrote historical romance.’  ‘So not like that E. L. James either then?’  ‘No. She writes erotica.’  He looked disappointed by this and sloped off, presumably to go and lose himself in a gritty murder or a rampant bodice-ripper.  What is a Book Genre? So what genre is your book and how would you describe it?  In simplistic terms, a genre is the category or style of a book - for example, romance, crime or horror. It comes from the French word, for ‘type.’ In essence, it describes the type of story being told.  There are many book genres, ranging from dystopian to horror (more on that soon) but two of the most popular book genres, in terms of sales figures right now, are romance and crime.  Bestselling names in the romance genre include authors such as Danielle Steele and Sophie Kinsella, whilst for crime, authors such as Ian Rankin and Martina Cole reign supreme.  Romance has an enduring, escapist appeal and has seen a huge variety of its authors and titles consistently topping the bestseller charts for a number of years. The tales of love overcoming adversity, sometimes whilst in sun-soaked climates, set in sprawling castles or with a good dose of humour, continue to enchant and enthral readers of all ages and from a wide demographic. Romance Subgenres But, to make things more complicated, there are also subgenres within each genre. As my Cartland vs E. L. James example shows above, just because there’s a lot of kissing in two different books doesn’t mean the reader is going to get the same kind of romance in both. So, when looking at genre, it’s important to also consider subgenres. In romance, the subgenres are plenty – often crossing over into other genres:  Romantic comedyParanormal romance Fantasy romance Queer romance Christian romance Young adult romance New adult romance Historical romance Regency romance Contemporary romance Erotic romance Romanic suspense  The list goes on…and, much like love itself, there’s something for everyone.  Crime Subgenres But readers, and authors, don’t always stick to enjoying just one genre. As I’m an author of romantic comedies, you won’t be surprised to learn that romance is my favourite genre, but I am in no way adverse to any others. I have just finished reading The Affair by Hilary Boyd, an often dark thriller about a married woman having an affair, who then finds that her ex-lover begins to stalk her.  As most writers know, reading across all genres helps hone your craft enormously.  In recent times, crime and thriller novels have seen a huge resurgence in popularity. Perhaps due to the odd times we are living in, it is the appeal of good triumphing over evil and justice prevailing, which explains why so many readers are keen to lose themselves amongst their pages.  Cosy crime, described as a gentler form of the crime genre, has also seen a massive rise in readership in recent times. Authors like Richard Osman and M.C Beaton are hugely popular in this book category.   Let’s look at some more crime and thriller subgenres:  Cosy mysteries Classic detective/PI Police procedural Hard-boiled crime Thrillers (legal, medical, forensic, military) Suspense thriller Psychological thriller  Book Genre List There are frequent debates as to how many different book genres exist. During my research for this article, I read claims that there were approximately thirty-five varying book genres, whilst other articles insisted there were around fifty.   I have therefore pulled together a book genre list (excluding subgenres) which I consider to be the most prominent ones – with some details as to how they may be defined. Fantasy Categorised by works including elements of magic or the supernatural. This can encompass high fantasy, like Tolkien\'s Lord of the Rings and George R.R. Martin\'s Game of Thrones, or magical children’s books, like Rowling\'s Harry Potter. But it also includes steamy novels like the fae-filled series A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Sci-Fi Sci-fi stands for ‘science fiction,’ meaning it looks at outer worlds with a heavy leaning towards space, technology and science. Think aliens, time-travel or exploration to other planets. This includes anything from Star Wars to Ernest Cline\'s Ready, Player One. Speculative Fiction This can encompass all the above – basically anything with a twist of magic – but can also include fabulism and magical realism. That’s to say stories based in our world (past or present) with a hint of magic. Think Chocolat by Joanne Harris, or The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. Horror When you say ‘horror book’ most people think of Stephen King – for good reason. Horror is known for its frightening, often graphic, elements and paranormal elements. Anything from The Shining to The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. A subgenre of this is Gothic books, such as the classics Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Brontë\'s Wuthering Heights – think eerie and spooky, more than blood, guts and monsters.  Mystery Fiction that includes a mysterious occurrence and a gripping plot to be solved. This can include a good old-fashioned Agatha Christie ‘whodunnit’, or bestselling novels like Flynn\'s Gone Girl.  Crime Stories that incorporate a crime being committed and illustrate the protagonist’s struggle to solve it. Think Lee Child, P. D. James, and Martina Cole.  Historical Books defined by a time period from the past. Fictional stories based in a historical setting such as the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn or Gabaldon\'s romantic Outlander novels set in eighteenth century Scotland. Or many of the books by Tracey Chevalier or Philippa Gregory.  Thriller A step up from Mystery, more edge-of-your-seat stuff, this fiction is often charged with lots of excitement. For example, a life-or-death scenario, huge stakes, cliff-hangers and action. Think of all of Dan Brown’s books, or modern classics such as Hawkins\' Girl on the Train or Larsson\'s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Western Fiction focusing on the American Frontier. Genre usually set in latter 19th and early 20th century, centred around the lives of cowboys and gunfighters. Although more modern stories, such as Proulx\'s Brokeback Mountain (as the tale of two cowboys falling in love set against the backdrop of bigotry and judgement) was a huge hit when it won the National Magazine Award for Fiction in 1998, and then went on to become a Hollywood blockbuster.  Romance Romantic relationships are at the heart of this genre (if you’ll pardon the pun!) Stories may follow various tropes including star-crossed lovers, love triangles, unlikely lovers, and soulmates. As we saw earlier, it can reflect anything from Me Before You by Jojo Moyes to Jackie Collins\' works. Erotica Fiction designed to arouse the reader with explicit sexual scenes and imagery. The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy was the highest grossing book series of the last decade.  Dystopian Part of the science-fiction genre, dystopian novels usually describe a frightening aspect of the future, such as oppressive governments. Think Sweeney-Baird\'s The End of Men, Atwood\'s The Handmaid’s Tale, and Mandel\'s Station Eleven. Literary Literary fiction concentrates on real-life issues and, unlike commercial fiction which is plot-driven, this form of storytelling is a lot more character-driven. It also often has a more complicated or convoluted story structure, using a more complex vocabulary. Sally Rooney has had great acclaim in this genre with her books Conversations With Friends, Normal People, and Beautiful World, Where Are You.  Children\'s Fiction This is a broad subject that includes everything from picture and board books for very young children, through to Middle Grade and Young Adult. Classic Middle Grade authors would include Roald Dahl, and more contemporary novels would include Wonder by R. J. Palacio, Sophie Anderson\'s The House With Chicken Legs, and The boy At The Back Of The Class by Onjali Q. Raúf. These books are written predominantly for 9-12 year olds, and often cover important life lessons.   Likewise, Young Adult (for 13-18 year olds) is very varied in style, themes and content, and includes books such as Angie Thomas\' The Hate You Give, Suzanne Collins\' The Hunger Games, and They Both Die At the End by Adam Silvera.  Why is Genre Important? You might ask yourself whether the question of book genre really matters. Surely it’s the plot and characters that are important, not the category?   Well, genre does matter as it acts like a building block to establish where your book will sit in the market and what readership it’s likely to attract.  By having an awareness of what genre your book is, you’re able to carve out not only your own unique voice, but also an audience who enjoys reading that genre of novel. You are enabling your readers to identify your book as one which they will enjoy reading.   Being able to neatly categorise your book into a particular genre means you’re creating a strong author brand in a genre where other authors have already established themselves. You’re creating a foundation for (hopefully) solid book sales and letting agents, editors, booksellers, and readers know what to expect from your work.  For a book to therefore become successful, the writer, reader and marketer must all possess the same vision and understanding of what the story is and how it’s being told.  Agents and Editors It also makes prudent sense to have identified what book genre your novel is, when the time comes for you to pitch to agents and publishers. Targeting the right publisher and agent for your work, via the genres they publish and represent, means that you will be giving yourself the best possible chance of achieving representation and publication.   I once read a great quote from an agent who said, ‘Imagine yourself in a lift with the agent of your dreams. You have ten seconds to pitch your latest novel to them before they get out. How would you describe it to them?’ This elevator hook or pitch should draw in the agent, enticing them to ask for your manuscript. It would also, if it has done its job properly, give them an idea of where your book would sit alongside their current authors and in the market generally.  For instance - sending your completed manuscript to an agent who represents science fiction, when you have penned a rollercoaster 110k word espionage tale, is a waste of not only your time, but also that of the agent.  Booksellers and Librarians When someone is looking for a book, the first thing they do is head for the shelves categorised by genre. If the genre of your book isn’t clear, and it’s wrongly categorised, then it won’t reach your ideal market. Your Readers Establishing an author platform in the book genre you write in means you stand a good chance of readers of that genre returning for more. It’s therefore essential to create a certain anticipation in your prospective readership, so they know what they can expect from you. This is why authors often write in just one genre – and don’t spread out into others without either waiting to become very established or writing under a number of pseudonyms.  How to Identify the Genre of Your Book To increase your novel’s chances of success, you, as the author, together with your publisher, agent and marketing team, should have a certain expectation as to where your book will fit into the market.  Where do you imagine your novel sitting on the shelf in a library or in a book store? Which other authors would it sit comfortably beside? Is it a heart-warming romantic comedy, in the vein of Jenny Colgan and Trisha Ashley, or a political thriller similar to that of Ken Follet and Jeffrey Archer?  Book genres often cause a degree of heated discussion amongst the writing, reading, publishing and agenting communities.  Everyone, to a greater or lesser degree, has a different idea of what each genre represents. The question of what each genre should carry, can elicit strong feelings, not to mention very differing views. Even book covers in particular genres can cause much debate about their style and substance. How often have you read quotes on the cover of books which have said things like, ‘For readers who love Maeve Binchy’ or ‘For fans of Stephen King?’ This is a publisher communicating a book’s genre to its readership.  This is a clever marketing tool, designed to appeal to the loyal readers of these authors, that your novel is in the same book genre as these giants of commercial fiction and therefore they would enjoy yours too. The most important thing is that you, your agent and editor agree (or, if you are self-published, you are consistent with your marketing). So, How Can You Define the Genre of the Book You\'re Writing? My advice would be:  Read a lot of books and see what elements are featured, and which chime with yours. Familiarise yourself with the book genre options out there and how they relate to your book. Identify the genre elements that are contained within your novel. How do they reflect those? Pull together a short list of potential genres and also subgenres. How does your novel compare with others in those categories? Concentrate on the most relevant genre/subgenre for your book. Think about the audience of the books that you enjoy reading in your favourite genre. Are they the same readers who you think would enjoy your book?  Check out book genre labels which are often featured for each of the different book genres for Kindle reads. Do any of these relate to what you are writing? For example, words such as ‘dark’ and ‘conspiracy’ are often applied to books in the Thriller genre.   Remember, you’re not trying to explain the entirety of your book, you’re trying to advertise its aesthetic. You are aiming to create a similar air of anticipation amongst the book-buying public, so that they too will be drawn to your novel.  Once you have done that, take a look at your own book and ensure your writing style, characters, and plot stick to one (at most, two, genres). For instance, if your spy is getting more action in the sheets than the streets, ask yourself whether you are really writing a spy thriller – or a spy romance novel. Then amend accordingly.  Determine Your Genre Nailing the genre of your book is not the most important element of your writing journey – at least not to begin with.   However, the importance of identifying the most appropriate genre and subgenre of your book, should not be underestimated. Finding that commercial aspect to your writing and to your novels is crucial, if you are to identify a reading audience for your book and appeal to their reading tastes – not to mention hook the right agent and editor.  So, have a clear genre (and audience) in mind when you start plotting and writing, and make sure you don’t veer too much into too many other styles and categories. It’s the first step to ensuring your readers will one day find your book and savour every page – no matter which genre it ultimately finds a home in! More than ready to get the ball rolling with agents, but just need a little push? Or perhaps you’ve had a few rejections but aren’t sure why? Our Agent Submission Pack Review gives you detailed professional advice on how to perfect your submission and increase your chances of securing an agent.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Jack Lutz On Finding Your Perfect Agent

When Jack Lutz first came to us as a mentee, then as a student on the Ultimate Novel Writing Course, it was clear that his writing was something special. Now represented by Jordan Lees at The Blair Partnership, Jack\'s first novel, \'London in Black\', is set to be published in June 2022 by Pushkin Vertigo. We sat down to chat about his writing journey, and the practical ways you can narrow down your shortlist and find your perfect agent. JW: Could you tell us a little bit about your journey as a writer? When did you start writing, and where are you with publication now? JL: I was rummaging around in some old boxes recently and unearthed a short story I wrote when I was eight - a murder mystery set in London. So I suppose writing’s something I’ve always done, or at least always wanted to do...but it was mostly just bits of novels I’d start then immediately scrap. Never enough time, or I’d second-guess the idea and stop. And then in 2019, I buckled down and actually finished a novel for the first time (with mentoring help from Jericho Writers\' Daren King). But I worried it wasn’t strong enough so rather than submitting it to agents, I set it aside and signed up for the Ultimate Novel Writing Course, in order to write another. That second novel, \'London in Black\', will be published next June by Pushkin Vertigo. It’s a near-future police procedural set in 2029, two years after terrorists release a novel nerve agent at Waterloo Station with catastrophic consequences. Our hero is DI Lucy Stone, a cop with crippling survivor guilt who must hunt a killer and recover a stolen nerve agent antidote (that may or may not be a figment of her imagination). So - a murder mystery set in London, just like when I was eight! We’ve just finished copyediting, and at the moment I’m waiting to see first pass page proofs. JW: In what ways did being a student on the UNWC help to shape your writing?   JL: Lots of different ways - the course material was instructive, the Q&As useful - but the thing that I’m most grateful for is the mentoring. I was assigned a brilliant writer named Craig Taylor as my mentor, and we had periodic phone calls throughout the course. The mix of tailored feedback plus support and encouragement was unbeatable. I felt challenged, which I loved because it meant my writing was being taken seriously. JW: How did you find your agent?  JL: I was very fortunate! At the end of the UNWC, Craig (in an act I’ll be forever grateful for) sent a note to Harry Bingham with some kind words about my manuscript. Shortly after that, I received an email from Jericho’s wonderful Rachael Cooper, telling me that she was willing to send a manuscript recommendation out to an agent on my behalf - and did I have any thoughts on who?  Determined not to waste the opportunity, I turned to Jericho Writers\' AgentMatch. First, I ran a search for agents actively looking for crime/thrillers, which spat out about ninety names. I looked them all up and narrowed the list down to about twenty who seemed really focussed on the genre. I read any interviews I could find online, then went on my Kindle and downloaded free chapters from books by each agent’s clients, hoping to get a feel for whether my writing style might appeal.  At the end of all of that, the agent I hoped would be the best fit for me and my book was Jordan Lees at The Blair Partnership. Rachael sent off the recommendation, and later that day Jordan wrote back asking for the full manuscript. Two weeks later, Rachael forwarded on a note from Jordan asking if I could have a chat with him - and that chat was the Call: an offer of representation.  The mix of tailored feedback plus support and encouragement was unbeatable. I felt challenged, which I loved because it meant my writing was being taken seriously. JW: Were there any surprises along the way, or anything you wish you had been prepared for?   JL: My given name’s ‘John’, and I’ve never really used a nickname. But it turns out that there’s already a (quite prolific!) thriller writer named John Lutz, which meant I suddenly needed to pick a new name for myself. I wasn’t expecting that!  I looked them all up and narrowed the list down to about twenty who seemed really focussed on the genre. I read any interviews I could find online, then went on my Kindle and downloaded free chapters from books by each agent’s clients, hoping to get a feel for whether my writing style might appeal. JW: What advice would you give to a new writer working on their first draft?   JL: My favourite ideas tend to pop into my head when I’m somewhere other than sitting in front of my laptop. If that’s true for you, too, my advice is simple: whenever you have an idea -- for a scene, a snippet of dialogue, a word, whatever - write it down as soon as you possibly can.   At first, I only used notebooks, but that got to be a problem when I came up with ideas in the middle of the night…half the time, I couldn’t decipher my scribblings the next day. And then carrying a notebook everywhere wasn’t very practical, either, so I wound up switching to the notes app on my phone (simple, but works great!). But no matter how you do it, don’t put it off. I’m sure I would’ve forgotten the best of my midnight ideas if I’d waited until morning to write them down.   From Rachael Cooper, Head of Publishing and AgentMatch at Jericho Writers Working with John was such a pleasure. Not only was this the first recommendation to come from the Ultimate Novel Writing Course but it came with a glowing recommendation from John’s mentor. So naturally, I made myself a tea and started reading. To say I was blown away by the opening chapters would be an understatement. I immediately sent John a very frantic/excited email saying that 1) I’d love to work with him to find an agent, and 2) very cheekily asking him to send me the full manuscript so I could read on! John and I spent a couple of weeks fine-tuning his submission pack. We even had a transatlantic call mid-pandemic to perfect his elevator pitch for the query letter. When that was ready and John had been able to explore AgentMatch and research his agent shortlist, we decided Jordan Lees could be the perfect match. Before I even had time to cross my fingers, we got a reply from Jordan requesting the full manuscript. This was the quickest response I’ve had from an agent to date. There’s something about helping talented and dedicated authors achieve their dreams, however small a part we play, that makes this job so special. When we heard the news that \'London in Black\' had been picked up by Pushkin Vertigo for publication in 2022, the whole Jericho team were over the moon. There’s something about helping talented and dedicated authors achieve their dreams, however small a part we play, that makes this job so special. About Jack Jack Lutz is a writer and a lawyer. He lives in London with his wife and young daughter. His debut novel, London in Black, will be published by Pushkin Vertigo in June 2022. Jack Lutz, The Blair Partnership The Bookseller, \"Pushkin swoops for Lutz police procedural debut.\" AgentMatch Could you be our next success story? We are currently accepting applications for the Ultimate Novel Writing Course, Summer 2022/23. If you have a novel idea or a first draft you’re willing to work on, we’d love to hear from you. UNWC Summer 2022/23

How to Ruin Your Author Brand

When Author Branding Goes Wrong Just as you put thought and dedication toward what you write as an author, the same focus should be put on your writer brand. Author branding tells your readers a story about who you are and inspires them to connect with your work.   Think about some of your favorite businesses. What draws you to them and what sort of characteristics come to mind? What about the brand keeps you coming back?  You should consider the same questions when it comes to your writer brand. Creating a strong, defined presence will significantly help you find and connect with your readers – helping them know if what you create is for them, and what to expect from you in the future.   Getting started on your branding involves several different factors from conceptualisation to marketing. In this guide you will learn exactly what elements to focus on, along with us sharing a few author branding examples for inspiration!  What is Author Branding?  Author branding is how you choose to present your values, mission, credibility, and personality to readers. In order to create your author brand, you should start by identifying your target readership. Remember you’re not aiming to appeal to everyone; a loyal target audience is more beneficial than trying to reach all readers.   Once you know who you want to connect with you can work on developing your brand voice and the face you will put out into the world. Tell your story and showcase what makes you different from other authors in your niche, it’s your USP (unique selling point). This also ties into your brand appearance, which might include consistent colours, logos, and fonts across your website and social media channels.   For instance, if you’re a horror writer then the images you share, posts you write, and general look of your social media will differ from that of a children’s writer who publishes books on unicorns and fairies.   As a horror writer you may link to horror-related shows, other books, funny images, explain your writing journey, run a competition around Halloween etc. Whereas a children’s author is more likely to talk about school visits, sharing cute pictures, talking about funny things kids said to them, inspiration for their books, and get behind child-related charities etc  Your writer brand should offer an experience for your readers, and as you gain your following you also want to make sure to stay consistent with reader expectations. Yes, building a winning brand is a lot of work but it’s 100% worth it for longevity (and can be a lot of fun). The Importance of Author Branding  So why is having an author brand so important?   For one, it’s what helps inform readers why they should buy or support your content. When you have a strong, effective brand, it shows your audience that you’re an expert and demonstrates why they can trust your writing.  Your author brand is also a bridge of communication with your audience, keeping them engaged and excited. When readers feel they have a personal connection with you and your work it keeps them coming back for more.   You can engage with your audience by asking their opinions, talking about real experiences, and most importantly, being consistent. Getting your author brand right is only a small part of your author marketing activity – it’s more PR than sales. Remember: only 10-20% of what you post online should be promoting your work (no one likes to be sold to). This is about giving a clear picture of what you stand for as a writer.  Your brand also goes a long way with reinforcing your overall reputation. For example, if you are going live on your social media and interacting with your followers, they’ll get to know you as a reliable brand. Responding to comments, answering inquiries, and providing meaningful content are all reputation boosters. A positive image is crucial for marketing success! Author Branding Mistakes Now that it’s clear exactly how beneficial author branding can be for your writing career, we want to also highlight just how damaging certain mistakes can be. It takes a long time to build a good reputation, but it doesn’t take long to ruin your author brand.  So take your time building your brand in order to avoid certain pitfalls that can diminish all of your hard work. Here are a few common author branding mistakes to avoid: Failing to Connect with the Right Audience  As previously stated, determining your audience should be the first step to take when considering your brand. If you fail to target the right audience then no connection will be built, and that is bad for business.   Your tribe will be naturally interested in you and your story, so it’s up to you to deliver stories, visuals, and content that match your niche audience and the product (i.e. books/your writing) you are promoting. This all helps to establish an emotional connection that must be maintained to keep your audience interested on a deeper level.  If you are struggling to pinpoint one specific target market, it can help to imagine an avatar, a literal representation of who your reader is. Then have that image in mind when deciding what to talk about and share. If your make-believe ideal reader is Jane, a thirty-year-old mother living in Idaho who enjoys pottery and poetry – then great. Think of all the things Jane would like to know about, not just about your books but your life and interests that may match hers too. And if 65-year-old Bob from London hates that content, then that doesn’t matter. Don’t change a thing. Bob isn’t your target market.  The more you stay focused and consistent, the easier it will be to naturally form a coherent audience that grows and supports you and your work. Poor Market Understanding As you start to consider yourself as a brand and a business, you’ll need to also think about competitors. You have to research the market to understand what others in your niche are doing. Focus on what they are doing well and what they could improve upon. How are competitors influencing audience perception? Not doing your due diligence when it comes to competitive analysis will adversely affect your author brand.   If you see that an author of similar books to you is getting a lot of traction by sharing certain pictures or asking certain questions, see how you could do similar things. But that doesn’t mean losing your individualism…  No USP Think about some of the most popular writers across different genres. The reason they stand out is because they have a unique selling point, also known as USP. Your author brand needs to convey how you are different from the thousands of other writers in the market. Simply matching what competing brands are doing won’t make a reader want to choose you over them. You must clearly communicate your own brand values, vision, and a strong author identity to be unique.   Inconsistent Messaging and Visuals Do you have a website? Social media channels? Do you attend public events or take part in school visits?  While completely different platforms, the content you post should be consistent across all forms of communication. Online you should identify colors, fonts, and logos that best reflect who you are as an author. Then ensure you use your branding kit when you post visuals. If people don’t automatically recognise your work, it’s impossible to stand out from the competition – this is especially relevant to those who write non-fiction, run a blog, or offer freelance writing services.  Your messaging should also be consistent, making sure that you (or a social media manager) always write in the same voice and tone. And when you are taking part in public events, reflect that brand. You should act, look, and sound exactly as they expect you to.  Some authors like to be visually recognised when at public events: Terry Pratchett was known for his hat and scarf, V E Schwab wears cat ears to her signings, and Jackie Collins wouldn’t be seen dead without her big jewellery, big hair, and very glam outfits!  No Brand Strategy Without a brand strategy, you won’t have any structure for your author brand. Without structure, you won’t have consistency and that can contribute to brand failure. A solid brand strategy is built from your values and vision. You need to find the balance between authenticity and having a clear direction.  Once you have achieved that, you can identify your goals, and then determine how you will track them. These can include financial goals, marketing goals, or goals set around content production. Consider how you’ll position your brand and iron out how you will highlight your value proposition.   With all of these elements in your strategy, you will have brand success.   All this may not be as relevant to fiction authors who are simply wanting to showcase their books and talk about their writing journey (some authors are lucky enough to have huge support from their publishers in terms of marketing, so don’t feel the need to be on Twitter every day). But it’s highly important if you write non-fiction and wish to prove your worth as an expert in your field, if you want to interact with your readers, or if you are looking to create hype in order to sell more self-published books, attract an agent, or get readers excited about a new book release.  A Subpar Website You don’t have to invest a lot of money in a web designer. In fact, there are plenty of DIY website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress that are more than good enough for writers.   However, you do have to ensure your site looks professional and accurately represents your brand. Your webpage is where readers (as well as reviewers, press, interested publishing professionals etc) can go to learn more about release dates or new announcements. It’s also a hub for your social media channels and contact info.   Keep your domain active and make sure your site is up to date, has a press kit with working purchase links, author photo, your contact info, and that it all loads properly. It can reflect poorly on your brand if your website looks subpar.  Stay On-Brand Many authors gets sucked into Twitter wars or make mistakes in their career. That’s OK, we are all human, but often it’s not the strident opinion that the public and their fans take umbrage at…it’s that their opinion is off-brand.  If you are an children’s author writing stories about equality, but you don’t think kids in the UK should have free school meals, you’re off-brand. If you write about saving the planet and you wear a fur coat to a signing event, you’re off-brand. If you spend a year posting funny content and wise writing advice, then all your post from then on are photos of your pet snake, people will stop following you. A huge U-turn is the fastest way to undo your hard work and stop your hard-won readers from trusting you.  So pick three words that represent you, your values, and your work – and ensure all you do reflects that.  Get Branding! Author branding is something all writers should create a strategy for. Showing your readers who you are and connecting with them on an emotional level is key to building a fanbase. Yes, it takes dedication but as long as you avoid these common branding mistakes you will easily win the hearts (and trust) of your readers – and in turn, you will have an audience that will not only support you but encourage others to as well!  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

A Guide on Writing Memoirs or Autofiction

A Guide on Writing Memoirs or Autofiction Many people have lives that would make incredible stories, yet it can be difficult to figure out how to unpick that life and set it on the page. How do you write a memoir? And is memoir the only option?   In this article I will be walking you through different ways to write your life story and offering tips to help you get started and narrow your focus.  What is a Memoir? A memoir is a first-person account of someone’s nonfictional life story that uses the techniques and crafts of fiction to make it a page-turning read. The word comes from the French word for “memory” or “reminiscence.”   The promise to the reader is that whatever is inside is as true as the author can make it. Of course, writing your exact memories is challenging as very few of us have photographic memories. Readers will forgive small fictions, like writing out a conversation verbatim when you only remember the jist of what was said, but not larger ones.   There are plenty of examples of authors who made up memoirs. The best known one in recent years was James Frey in A Million Little Pieces. Readers felt betrayed and angry because the author had broken the pact and the promise. However, if you still want to use a kernel of the truth but not be beholden to it, read on to learn more about autofiction and other options. Do Memoirs Sell? Memoirs are incredibly popular, especially in the age of COVID. Some recent examples are the Obamas’ memoirs: A Promised Land was 2020’s bestselling book (2.4 million copies in one year alone) and Becoming was also an extraordinary bestseller (came out in 2018 and has sold 3.4 million as of the end of 2020). Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime (2016) provides an interesting and heart-breaking account of race in South Africa as he recounts his life with his signature humour.   I don’t know about you, but I am unlikely to ever become President of the United States and have people desperate to know my story. Luckily, people are also hungry for stories from people who haven’t brushed fame or become public figures. This is evidenced by memoirs such as Educated (2018) by Tara Westover. Her memoir’s about growing up as a fundamentalist Mormon and her quest for education—her first day of school was university at Brigham Young when she was a teenager. Maid (2019) by Stephanie Land is about an impoverished white woman cleaning the houses of the ultra-rich. The Glass Castle (2005) by Jeannette Walls, is about her eccentric, nomadic upbringing and her troubled father’s dream of a better life. Roxane Gay’s Hunger (2017) focuses on her relationship with food and her body, as informed by trauma. Many of these have also been adapted into TV shows or films, showcasing memoirs have massive crossover appeal.  Memoir vs Autobiography (and other options) Memoir is part of a spectrum from narrative nonfiction to fiction inspired by fact. You might realise, once you start working on your story, that there are gaps in knowledge that have been lost to time. Or perhaps you’d like to weave several generations together, which of course moves it away from your own lived, first-person experience.   Many people ask, ‘are memoirs nonfiction?’ The answer is yes…and no. Let’s take a look at how flexible written memories, and this genre, can be.  Memoir As we said, memoir aims to be true with small liberties. It rarely starts with your birth and tells the story in a straight As we said, memoir aims to be true with small liberties. It rarely starts with your birth and you telling the story in a straight line, ending with however old you are when you finish writing it. For example, Mary Karr has written three memoirs: The Liar’s Club (1995), which focuses mostly on her childhood, Cherry (2000), which focused more on her late adolescence and blooming sexuality, and Lit (2009), which focuses on her journey of faith and her divorce. Trying to focus on all three of those in one book would have been too much and they wouldn’t have had the space to be as hard-hitting. There is also nearly 15 years’ difference from the first memoir she wrote and the last—the memoir is a snapshot of the writer as much as the contents of the book, as the tone is affected by the author’s age and experience.  Autobiography  Autobiography, by contrast, does tend to be more linear. The author here functions more as a historian. It tends to be less intimate, more expansive. There’s less room to zoom in on certain moments and it can feel more of a summary of a life. This is useful if you want to know what, say, Benjamin Franklin, Malcom X, Nelson Mandela, or Agatha Christie thought about their own lives, but autobiographies are less common for people who aren’t public figures.  Autofiction If you realise that there’s no way to tell the story in a compelling way while remaining fully married to truth, or the truth is unknowable, you may consider autofiction.   There has been a lot of discussion of the ethics of writing fiction based on truth, particularly if the subject has not been made aware (just fall down the rabbit hole of “Cat People” or “Kidneygate / The Bad Art Friend” to see discussions on this). Autofiction still focuses on yourself but gives the story the opportunity to come alive in a different way. You can even write it in third person, if you wish. You can change timelines more dramatically or add characters or subplots who are amalgamations or completely fictive. Because you haven’t promised it’s a straight memoir, readers are fine with this.   On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (2019) by Ocean Vuong is a great example of autofiction — the main character, Little Dog, is a Vietnamese refugee living in America, writing a letter to his illiterate mother he knows she will never read. Vuong is also a gay Vietnamese refugee, and his mother does not read English or Vietnamese. The story delves into his grandmother and mother’s stories in third person, as well as his own, yet crucially it’s sold as fiction and he doesn’t give us a detailed post-mortem of what is or isn’t true.   Other well-known autofiction authors include James Baldwin, Ben Lerner, Rachel Cusk, Tao Lin, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and more. This is sometimes also called the autobiographical novel, with ‘novel’ signalling that it’s leaning heavily into the fictional side. Autobiografiction And to make things slightly more confusing, there’s also the term autobiografiction, which combines autobiography, fiction, and essay. Stephen Reynolds coined the term in 1906 and describes it as a “record of real spiritual experiences strung on a credible but more or less fictitious autobiographical narrative.” It’s often published anonymously or under a pseudonym, and many queer people used this form to express themselves in times of oppression. It’s not as common a term and tends to be lumped with autofiction: indeed, you could make an argument that Vuong’s book falls more into this category in some respects as there are essays within it.   So, now - the nitty gritty. How do you get started on your project based on truth?  Tips for Writing a Memoir (or Autofiction) Start Researching Now – and Beware the Skeletons Even if you don’t think you’ll start writing your memoir for a while, start gathering information as soon as you can. Depending on the project: sign up for a trial of, interview your family members, start journaling about your memories, look up articles in, flip through photo albums or belongings, request court or other official documents.   It’s so easy for these things to become lost, or for us to tragically lose those close to us, taking their memories with them. You might also have to prepare yourself for more secrets potentially coming to light. You might need to have a discussion with how family members might feel about sharing the truth. Yvette Gentile and Rasha Pecoraro discovered this when they started properly digging into everything for their podcast Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia (2019). The TV adaption I Am the Night (2019), starring Chris Pine, added an entirely fictive noir subplot to make it more dramatic on the screen.  What’s Your Promise to the Reader? How fictional do you plan to be? You don’t necessarily need to know immediately but notice if you start to shift further away from the facts.   This happened with my current project: it focuses on three generations, so I knew it would always have an element of fiction since my grandmother died before I was born, so I can’t exactly ask her how she felt about any of the facts we know. My mother also wrote her sections and I edited over them, and we made-up certain details or massaged timelines so the scene was more evocative. Each draft has had it depart more from the truth and become its own entity. I felt conflicted about this before I realised that my goal is to use the truth as a jumping off point. I don’t actually owe the reader the truth; I owe them a good story. For me, it was more freeing, and I also knew I’d feel less exposed if the project is ever published.   This brings me to:  Check in With Your Mental Health I barrelled right into my project, thinking I was ready. From a craft standpoint, I was – but not from a mental standpoint.   If you are still processing your trauma, you might consider some therapy first, so you are better protected if you have to delve into some painful memories. Remember: it’s all right to take a break and come back, and it also might still be challenging once you return.   As Mary Karr says in her 2015 how-to The Art of Memoir (highly recommended!): “I’ve said it’s hard. Here’s how hard: everybody I know who wades deep enough into memory’s waters drowns a little.” Focus on Experiences and Emotions Whether memoir or autofiction, your reader wants to experience what it was like to be you or this version of you. You might find you’re tempted to relay the information quite factually, but it may read cold. This is fine for the first draft as you focus on story, but when you edit, focus on making it come alive.   Don’t Attempt to Cover Your Whole Life As mentioned, there won’t be room. Think of those touchstones, the main themes you wish to draw out and examine. Again, it might take you a while to hone in on this. That’s all right, as long as you’re willing to set aside writing that doesn’t serve your overall purpose. Save it for another book, potentially! Engage the Reader from the Beginning One thing I found in my previous draft was the opening was too slow and needed a clearer hook. Read the openings of some memoirs and notice how they draw the reader in. And of course…  Read a Lot of Memoirs and Autofiction & Examine Form I’ve recommended a large selection of creative memoir novels I’ve enjoyed in this article, but there are so many more incredible ones out there. The bestseller charts on Amazon are a good place to start (though do consider ordering from an independent bookstore!). Some are even written in innovative and experimental styles, such as In the Dream House (2019) by Carmen Maria Machado. Reading a lot of memoirs or autofiction might give you some ideas on how you can lay out your story.  Think About Tone For some projects, humour might work very well (Trevor Noah, Mary Karr, Caitlin Moran). For others, it might be horribly jarring, and you should consider a more sombre tone. Experiment with this until you find the right voice and approach.  Remember Your Reader You, of course, have no idea who is reading your work once it’s out there. But memoirs have a common theme: they all seem to focus on making sense of the past to inform our present. With a lot focus on healing and letting go, these can be cathartic for both the writer and the reader. That’s the magic of memoir: your book may save your readers without them knowing they had a void that needed filling.   I hope this article has helped you consider how you might start thinking about writing your memoir, or whether taking a more autofictional approach works better. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Complete Guide to Writing Sex in Fiction

A lot of authors have their doubts about writing sex. How much do you include? What should you leave out? How do you structure a sex scene? How do you move past the awkwardness of it all? Most writers find sex scenes harder to write than dialogue and action. Yet sultry scenes don’t have to be a literary challenge. In this guide, you will learn how to approach your sex scenes, how to have fun writing them, how to use them as vessels for characterisation and plot development, and lastly, how to decide whether you need the sex scenes in the first place. The Challenge of Writing Sex Scenes Writing sex can be challenging, and many authors fear how their scenes will be received by readers. Readers can be highly critical when it comes to a bad sex scene. In fact, there’s even an award by the Literary Review for bad sex in literature. Take a look at these eye-opening excerpts from last year’s contenders. Writing about sex makes us vulnerable – no one would deny that. Writers worry their family might read it, that readers may cringe or gasp or yawn at their scenes and judge them. It’s a lot more intimate to be judged on your sex scene than on your action, settings or dialogue, and many authors dread receiving feedback on how they write sex. Other authors want to include a sex scene but are worried about the mechanics of putting the scene on paper. How should the characters act? What should you describe? What should you not describe? How much is too much? These worries, albeit valid, should not stop you from including sex scenes in your work. A sex scene is still just a scene, and chances are if you’re applying the same craftsmanship to these scenes that you apply to the rest of your work, then your readers are no more or less likely to judge it harshly or like it any less. And yes, your aunt Margaret might get a hold of your spicy scene, but that’s just something you’re going to have to live with (unless you consider using a pen name. Check out our complete guide to pen names and our pros and cons of pen names). If you feel that sex scenes will add depth to your work (no one appreciates a gratuitous sex scene that’s irrelevant to the plot), or if sex is integral to your genre (such as romance novels), then there are ways to make writing a sex scene easier and even fun. Tips for Writing Effective Sex Scenes Depending on your genre, readers will either be surprised by your sex scenes, or already expecting them. Expectations such as these can add more pressure to the writer, but here are some things you can do to make sure your scene delivers. Read Many Sex Scenes To write decent sex scenes then it’s important to read sex scenes written by other authors. When you sit down to write your hot scene, it’s likely you will quickly run out of creative ways to say “thrust,” or “straddled” or “throbbing member” (perhaps don’t say ‘throbbing member’). Seeing how other authors are able to keep descriptions interesting and avoid repetition or laugh-out-loud clichés (like comparing genitals to fruit), will inspire you in your own work and help you with your scene. Reading sex scenes from highly acclaimed and popular romance novels means you will be reading carefully edited scenes where the rhythm, metaphors and terminology have all been edited to the highest standard, meaning you can study and incorporate this flow into your own first attempts. Also, try to read diversely - from a sex scene in a thriller or a romance novel, to hardcore erotica. A lot can be learned across genres and understanding the varying degrees of intensity you may require for your own work. Ensure it’s Necessary If you are questioning whether to write a sex scene, ask yourself how integral it is to the plot. Does it move the action forward? Does it deepen the stakes and the characterisation? Will the story be as enjoyable without it? Will it carry as much meaning? Is a sex scene expected in your genre? If you can fade to black or allude to them having slept together in another way, and that feels more natural for your book – then try that. Just because your characters have sex doesn’t mean your readers need to be in the room too. Sex scenes that are forced or gratuitous are like any other unnecessary scene – a waste of time, energy, and words. Hot Tip: Examine Your Chosen Genre Sex scenes can be very important for a novel’s plot, and in some genres they are downright integral. Sexier genres include Erotica, Romance, Paranormal Romance, and a branch of steamy adult Fantasy (think bestselling authors like Sarah J. Maas, who are currently taking bookstores by storm). Sex scenes are important because they characterise relationships and move the plot along, but they can also be important because the reader expects and wants them. The idea that sex sells is not lost in the literary business and it’s no surprise the 50 Shades of Grey books took the top three spots for the bestselling books from 2010-2020! If you are writing in these genres, consider including a well-placed sex scene. If you are writing outside of genres that expect sex, only include it if it feels genuine to you, integral to the story, or necessary for character or relationship development. Sex scenes can also be used to add colour to the setting (such as a drunken orgy to illustrate the gluttony and wealth of a Roman family in your book) but whatever you do, do not include it gratuitously. The advice would be the same for any type of scene.  Don’t be Modest Look, no one wants porn shot by a nun. Writing a sex scene is like art directing a tasteful nude shoot - shame, modesty, indignation, and personal bias all need to be left at the door along with the robe if the scene is to come across as genuine. Your discomfort will affect how you write and how a scene will read, so it’s the first thing you need to tackle. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t let the fact you feel uncomfortable stabbing people with swords keep you from writing an epic medieval fight scene. If you leave out too much detail or keep it too vague, you will only be cheating the reader. Include Enough Detail Great sex writing leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination, yet it must also convey a balanced amount of detail. Of course, how much you include also depends on genre (as you can imagine, Erotica leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination, laying out each tryst in all its sordid glory). Researching and reading widely across your genre will also help you decide how much detail to include. As an artist you are of course free to break these conventions, but make sure it’s with good reason and with your target audience in mind. If you feel your historical fiction needs a 5,000-word sex scene, which is uncommon in that genre, make sure you know why it will add depth to your story. Don’t indulge in too much detail (yes, I know it can be fun), but likewise don’t skim over details either. And remember – most people know how sex works. You don’t have to include every literal in and out. Good sex writing isn’t about the mechanics but about the emotion, flow, and imagery. Write from the Characters’ Perspectives Just like sex between two people in the real world, no sex between two characters should or would ever be the same. Sex is a direct extension of the character’s personality. You have to be true to their perspective when writing it, and true to your story so far. The last thing you want to do is insert a generic “who put what where” scene. Put yourself in both the minds and positions of the characters in the scene. If your novel is dual POV, try describing the sex from both perspectives and treat it as a way of extending the reader’s understanding of the character - including mannerisms and deep characterisation. Why would the character like this and that? What would they say? Which actions would make them feel embarrassment, or joy, or excitement? What rhythm would feel natural to them and why? How a character has sex is no different to imagining what they would order in a restaurant, or how they dress. Even if your book isn’t split POV, doing a writing exercise where you write out the scene from the perspective of both participants could be beneficial. Build Tension Building tension is important in any scene, and even more so in a sex scene. You can’t have a two hundred page lead-up to a steamy scene and then have the sex be over in one page. Similarly, if your romantic interests just met and they are already going at it, your readers are not likely to be invested emotionally. So, build tension leading up to the act, but also don’t forget to build tension throughout the scene itself. No one wants the literary equivalent of a ‘wham bam thank you ma\'am.’ Don’t Overlook Emotion Sex scenes shouldn’t be all about the mechanics - they should include the emotional responses and experiences of the characters involved. This is the perfect moment to incorporate characterisation into the scene. What is the character feeling? How are they responding? What do their actions and rhythm say about what they are feeling? Sex should reveal as much about a character as a good piece of dialogue, or showing them in a high-stakes situation, would do. Make it Real (or Don’t)   In order for sex scenes to be believable they need to be realistic and not idealised. That’s not to say you can’t have an alien having sex with a vampire. Just that if they both keep overpraising each other, and the emotions are flat, and everyone climaxes after two minutes, your reader will feel like they’ve been pulled out of the story and doused with a bucket of cold water. Try to stay true to the characters, their individual personalities, the world and the setting the characters are currently in. If your characters are having sex outdoors don’t feel the need to say the thorns scraping their backsides felt like silk. Stay real, even within fantasy. Here are a few things you should keep in mind: If you are writing romance, remember real-life sex can be bumpy, messy and imperfect. I mean, maybe Edward’s penis glittered like a jewel in Twilight, but no one is using that scene as a barometer anytime soon.Consider the need to accurately represent orgasms and how they are experienced by characters of all genders. Sadly, it’s not difficult to find erotica where a woman nearly climaxes simply because she glanced at the man’s thirteen-inch member. Maybe in your dreams, but readers will laugh…not get aroused.If you are writing a sex scene in Young Adult (they are usually subtle but they do exist) consider important aspects such as contraception and consent. Always stay mindful of the responsibility you carry as a writer for young people.Don’t shy away from things that could go wrong. This type of attention to detail can help contribute towards creating believable sex scenes. Use Appropriate Vocabulary It’s all good and well to say, “call a spade a spade” and all that, but the word spade can get tiring if you say it fifty times in a row. His spade did that, then he took his spade away, then he put his spade on the table. See how monotonous that sounds? Though we might think that euphemisms are cheesy, they are also essential for the simple reason that you can’t write ‘vagina’ eight times in a paragraph and still expect the prose to flow well. But you also don’t want to use overly floral comparisons, or terms that sound outright ridiculous. The best thing is to go back to your research on sex scenes and see what kind of vocabulary is appropriate in your genre. Create a list of synonyms, a spreadsheet, fill a notebook up – whatever works for you. Don’t Overdo It The number of sex scenes in a story should be carefully considered and not overdone. Include a few scenes too many and you are teetering on the brink of erotica territory. So consider if that’s the genre you initially wanted to write in, or if you’re being self-indulgent. Consider Using Humour We know sex can be funny and there’s no reason to shy away from adding humour in a sex scene. Maybe your MC cracks a joke because that would be true to their nature. Maybe funny sounds from the weird neighbour next door adds a pinch of humour to an awkward start. Whatever feels true to you and your story is great, just make sure you don’t cockblock humour just because it’s a sex scene. Use Variety Just like any other action scene, if you are planning on having multiple sex scenes, consider introducing variety (you wouldn’t have three car chases in one movie if you could have a motorcycle chase as well). This will make the scenes more believable and retain the readers’ attention. A mental copy and paste simply won’t work because each time your MC has sex is unique, so each interaction must be marked with its own characterisation and emotional weight. Consider also adding variety to the setting, reactions, dialogue, clothing, and rhythm, in order to keep the reader engaged. In Summary There you have it; sex scenes don’t have to be rocket science. Consider your genre and your story when deciding whether you want sex scenes, and how many of them you might want. Treat the sex scenes as if they were any other scene, apply the same meticulous care to them as you would with dialogue and action. Make sure the scenes move the plot forward, and that characterisation is as evident in them as in the rest of your work. Yes, sex scenes can be challenging but (as we all know with real relationships) practice makes perfect. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How to Write Sex for a Young Adult Audience

Sex in young adult literature is one of the topics with the most ‘hot takes’ you’ll ever find. From ‘It’s never appropriate!’ to ‘It’s always appropriate!’ this article will look at the tricky, sometimes controversial, issues involved, before I share some of my top tips for tackling sexual content in your own work.   Writing for Young Adults Let’s start by defining what young adult literature encompasses. YA fiction will typically feature a protagonist between the ages of thirteen to eighteen, although increasingly they’re predominantly in their upper teens. The themes of young adult novels will correlate with the age and experience of the protagonists, mirroring adolescent concerns, motivations and inner thoughts. Young adult fiction is aimed at readers in a similar demographic to the protagonists, although some readers are younger (often eleven or twelve) and an estimated fifty per cent of YA books are actually bought by adults.   You might have already seen what the issue is here. At the lower end, YA fiction has readers who haven’t even started puberty yet. At the upper end, they’re heading off to university. That’s a huge gap in terms of experience and stage of life, and what might be right (and entertaining) for a seventeen year-old reader might not be for a thirteen year-old.   While not everyone has sex, and not every book needs to include sexual content, to not sometimes include it when writing teen characters feels like a glaring omission. Yet what’s acceptable varies from publisher to publisher. When my debut Noah Can’t Even was on submission, some agents and publishers couldn’t get their heads around the fact it featured a fifteen year-old boy who… wait for it…  masturbated. Something that is normal and commonplace for a teenage boy was too much for some gatekeepers in the industry – even against the backdrop of popular publishing ‘buzz phrases’ about how authenticity is important, and teens need to see their lives on the page.   The inclusion of sexual content can also make some schools and libraries nervous, especially if they come under pressure from parents or campaign groups - the recent challenge to Lev Rosen’s Jack of Hearts in a Texas library being a prime example. Meanwhile, some parents are blissfully unaware of the sexual content their children are accessing online, but weirdly furious about content that is far less explicit appearing in written form. When you also factor in religious and cultural sensibilities, it’s a minefield.   Can You Write Sex in YA? Of course you can! With YA books, you’re striving to be authentic to the teen experience, and whether they’re thinking about it, just curious, or doing it, that experience often includes sex.   Before we look at how, it’s important to address the use of the word ‘appropriate’, which regularly crops up in these discussions, and which often masks what someone’s real objection is – namely the inclusion of LGBTQ+ storylines.   “I don’t want my child reading about same sex relationships - it’s not appropriate,” goes the refrain. For other people, no mention of sex will ever be ‘appropriate’, and these people will also typically withdraw their children from sex education classes too.   So, let’s be clear: not discussing these things, not being open and honest, but living in shame, fear and ignorance –those are the things that hurt people. We shouldn’t, as creators, shy away from giving young people the tools they need to help them make safe, informed choices. Some young people can’t access that information easily elsewhere. Maybe home isn’t a supportive environment. Perhaps school sex ed. is lacking. This is so often the experience of LGBTQ+ teens, but it also applies to many other situations young people find themselves in. For me, this is why this subject is so important, and why, while accepting I have to tow the publishing line to an extent, I’ll always fight to include realistic portrayals of teen sexuality in my books.   So, rather than talking about appropriateness, let’s frame this in terms of how much is too much for this age group and their gatekeepers. After all, you want to get published at the end of the day, and a novel containing a hundred pages of overt erotica probably isn’t going to make the cut. However, a storyline featuring teenagers having sex, if described sensitively, will often be deemed acceptable. While there are a few exceptions (Doing It by Melvin Burgess springs to mind) the issue of how explicit you can be is usually the key factor here, and it’s probably the biggest thing that separates YA from adult fiction in terms of writing about sex. While it’s undoubtedly a constraint, you can also use it to your advantage.   How to Write Sex in YA Keep it real. Remember that teenage sexual encounters are often awkward. Conveying this fumbling, nerve-wracking inexperience is important, not just for authenticity, but because many young people use literature as an information source. While porn is overblown, Hollywood is rose-tinted, and the internet is awash with misinformation, YA fiction can be a safe and reassuring place for teenagers looking for realistic portrayals of sex.   This is one reason why explicit material isn’t always helpful, but also why it isn’t necessary – realism is more valuable to the readership than titillation, addressing issues of consent, shame, and safe practices, while giving young people the understanding and language to discuss and explore their own sexual experiences. The best writers do this without it ever being didactic, of course – Lev Rosen, William Hussey, Juno Dawson and Holly Bourne being just a few cases in point.   Don’t Overdo It It’s important not to include sex scenes gratuitously – they need to work within the narrative and support the story. In many YA novels, such scenes may well be the culmination of a romance plot running the entire length of the story. In others, like Lev Rosen’s Jack of Hearts, the content may feature throughout as it’s a key facet of the plot. In the former case, the scenes work because they’re deeply connected with the emotional journey of the characters, so they feel like a natural progression. In the latter, Rosen ensures all his scenes emerge organically from the plot, providing information and a realistic portrayal – a type of sex education, if you like – which is refreshingly upfront without ever feeling gratuitous.   Be Subtle and Sensitive Less can sometimes be more. Writing good sex scenes is incredibly difficult, and you don’t want to stray into cringe territory. In some cases, leaving exact details to the imagination is your best bet, but regardless, be mindful of anything too explicit, especially in books targeted towards the younger end of the market.   Be sensitive to some of your readers’ lack of experience – something that’s too hardcore might not engage your teen reader as much as something that introduces them to the topic a little more gently. Subtle can also make for a pleasing shared joke, which can break the ice when it comes to discussing themes of a sexual nature, which some readers might find awkward.  A brilliant example of this: Read the whole of  Sex and Reproduction in bed last night. Woke up to find that a few hundred million sperm had leaked out. Still, it will give the remaining sperm room to wag their tails about a bit. Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole Use Appropriate Language Be aware that your choice of language can have a huge impact on what gatekeepers consider suitable for their young charges. While you need to make sure your voice is authentic for a YA novel, (and you need to use language familiar to teens) an over reliance on slang and swear words in a sex scene may have the consequence of making it read more crassly and being perceived as more explicit.   What if it’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera has some good examples of getting this right, where the sexual scenes never read as explicit.  Remember Emotions   Don’t forget the avalanche of feelings that run through a teen’s head during sex scenes – especially if it’s their first time. Spotlighting these internal thoughts can be a very effective way of conveying the scene, rather than focusing too much on physicality and mechanics. It will also resonate with many of the fears and concerns your target readership will have – Is this right? Are they ready?   Anticipation is Exciting  Anyone familiar with thriller or horror writing knows that there’s as much fun to be had in the build-up and anticipation of something happening, as the event itself. The same can be true of sex scenes. If you get the connection right between your characters, your reader will be willing them together - ‘shipping them’ as the kids say - and doing a lot of the work for you in the process. Sometimes, they’ll then go away and write fan fiction featuring the type of material you weren’t allowed to include, in a sex scene that will make your eyes water.   Funny and Awkward is Good  Humour can be a very effective tool for sex scenes. Sex can be built up into such a huge ‘make or break’ momentous occasion, thanks to the proliferation of that attitude in popular culture. So, why not turn that idea on its head and take a lighter approach? Teens will probably thank you for being honest about the messy, embarrassing, awkward side of it, rather than what the movies and porn tell us it should be.   Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison is great at using humour to convey some of the most real sexual scenes I’ve ever read, and Editing Emma by Chloe Seager is definitely worth a look too.   Know Your Age Group, Trust Your Reader, and Trust Librarians  If your story is aimed at younger teens, ensure the content you include is right for them. Many books are listed as being ‘Suitable for 12+’ or ‘14+’ and while age banding is a blunt tool, it does mean readers, and gatekeepers, have less cause for complaint when they encounter sexual content. While your book may be picked up by younger readers, in my experience teens are good at knowing whether a book is right for them, and will often abandon one that isn’t. Children mature at vastly different rates and it’s impossible to account for that. Meanwhile, all the school librarians I know are experts at knowing what book is right for which student at which time.  There\'s No Formula... There are myriad challenges when writing sex scenes in young adult fiction and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution when including this sort of content. The needs, experiences, and maturity levels of YA readers are so vastly different, you won’t ever tick the right boxes for everyone.   However, sex scenes are an authentic and valuable part of YA stories, and by ensuring your portrayals are sensitive, and emerge out of plot and character you can create something highly effective, rewarding for you as a writer, and truly appreciated by your teen audience.   Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

A Complete Guide to Using a Pen Name

Budding writers often ask whether they should use their real name or create a pen name. The truth is pen names can be very handy. Whether you don’t want your boss to know that you spend your nights writing about peacocking lords and their throbbing members, or you don’t want your aunt Susan to find out she was the sole inspiration for your serial killer MC. Hey, it’s her fault for being a countryside taxidermist, right? In this complete guide to using a pen name we will cover the many reasons authors might consider using pen names for their work, explain why it might be right for you, and how to pick a pen name of your very own. And check out our post on the pros and cons of using a pen name to help you decide if it\'s the right move for you. What is a Pen Name? Simply put, a pen name is a pseudonym chosen by an author and used on their by-lines for their work. It’s also referred to as a Nom de Plume. Despite the words being French the expression originates from England, when the English failed to use the then common French expression Nom de Guerre (Name of War) which was used by the French at the time to describe pseudonyms. They later switched to using the catchier expression Nom de Plume (Name of Feather – as in a feathered quill). Famous pen names include Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair), Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), and even the mighty Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet.) Why Authors Use Pen Names There are countless reasons authors may choose to write under pen names - from privacy concerns, legal reasons, or preferring the sound and visual aesthetics, to the desire to choose a pen name that will better appeal to their readers. The reasons can range from the obvious to the very specific. In order to help you make your decision on whether or not you should use a pen name and how to use one, we will delve into the most common reasons pen names are used in the first place. Privacy Of all the uses pen names have, keeping your identity secret is probably the least useful. Yet, nonetheless, one of the most common. Consider this, a book will flail and burn if not properly promoted, and since we know author promotion starts with your existing network, being completely secretive about your work will probably not do you any favours in the long run. With that said, there are reasons authors would like to keep their identities secret from families, colleagues, and institutions. A few notable examples include stories inspired by true events or memoirs that depict toxic family members or dysfunctional family dynamics. Some authors may want to write about the domestic abuse they’ve experienced, but don’t want to write under their own name and have the work traced back to them. Often people will choose pen names to retain privacy from their employers. Just because an employer can look you up on LinkedIn and Facebook doesn’t mean you want them to read your violent novels, or know that you write erotica, or have access to your dark poetry collections. The truth is many authors retain their day jobs whilst simultaneously pursuing careers as authors and it makes sense to keep both worlds apart. Though the degree of anonymity you are able to retain is up for debate. As we mentioned earlier, the success of a book depends heavily on marketing – basic requirements, such as author bios and author pictures, will still give you away – but you can still retain a degree of anonymity with employers and control what they see when they google you. Pen names can also be beneficial if you are being critical of an employer or institution in your work. If you, for example, are on the police force but are writing about incompetent cops and corruption, you may wish to keep the two separate. All in all, privacy plays a large role in people choosing to use pen names. Change Gender Female authors are (whether we like it or not) more popular in the romance genre, and male readers tend to buy more crime thrillers written by other men. This is of course all very outdated, but nonetheless factually accurate. Of course, this won’t stop an author penning the book of their dreams - so those worried that the gendering of their name might affect their sales may opt for a unisex pen name, or a pen name with initials. Back in the mid-nineteenth century, when women weren’t as prolific in the world of writing, Mary Ann Evans wrote under the pseudonym George Eliot in order to be taken more seriously. And it worked! Clashing Names Some authors adopt pen names because their real names clash with, or are the same as, those of existing authors, actors, politicians or even people famous for a negative reason. Before setting off on your author career it’s probably a good idea to look at the viability of your name from a legal, practical, and even SEO standpoint (how easily Google can find you). Something I realised only a year into my career was that Sylvester Stallone’s mother was named Jacqueline, which means I (Jacqueline Silvester) often have to contend with Rambo’s mom trumping my SEO. Of course, this isn’t going to affect my writing career too much, but if your name is similar or the same as someone with a lot of internet presence, you might want to consider a pen name. You especially don’t want your name to clash with an existing author or media personality, it will just cause unnecessary confusion and you will be fighting an uphill SEO battle. Genre It’s common for authors to pick pen names or alter their current name (i.e add an initial or swap to a maiden name or deviation) when switching genres. As an author you build a personal brand, and (hopefully) a loyal following. A readership will have expectations about what sort of work you release. So if you have a following that has read your last six quirky romance books and suddenly you release a bloody psychological thriller, they might be put off and lose faith in your brand. This is especially true if you’re making a massive leap in genre (erotica to middle grade, for instance) in which case it\'s vital you change your author name. You certainly don’t want readers to be confused or auto-buy your books, or for a child who has loved your kids’ mermaid stories to end up getting a hold of your much more…umm… 18+ mermaid content. Another thing to consider is that authors often choose names that suit their genre. Names in children’s literature tend to be easy to pronounce, light and airy, with an air of magic or mystery. For example, the famous pen name Lewis Carroll sounds more delightful than his birth name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and Lemony Snicket (author of A Series of Unfortunate Events) sounds more whimsical and adventurous than Daniel Handler. Consider creating a new, more fitting, pen name when switching genres. Aesthetical Preference Some people simply don’t like their name and don’t think it will look good on the cover of a book, or the by-line of a heart-breaking poem. Sometimes authors want something with more flare, or a less common name. We can’t all have Kris Jenner’s foresight and be born into a family with perfectly trademarkable names peppered with alliteration, like the Kardashian clan. And we can’t all be born with a perfect sounding name like Stephen King. Although even King resorted to using a pen name (Richard Brachman) when he realised his incredible output required two names instead of one, so he chose a separate name for his more twisted work. Author Output and Co-Writing Speaking of Stephen King, in trade publishing authors are generally expected to release one book a year (it takes a long time for trade publishing to market and position all their books), so if your output exceeds that you may choose to use a different pen name so you can churn out more work. Stephen King did it, and so does Sophie Kinsella (who also writes under the pen name Madeline Wickham) because trade publishers will very rarely publish and market multiple books a year under one name. Co-authors will often choose to co-write under one joint pen name too. It simplifies marketing and PR, plus one cohesive name on the cover instead of both names means their new work won’t be mistaken for their previous solo backlist. How to Choose a Pen Name As outlined above if privacy is a concern, or if you would like to distance parts of your life from your work, a pen name could be just the ticket. If you don’t like the way your name looks on a book, or if you don’t think it’s easy to remember or pronounce, or if you think you’ll be fighting an uphill battle with SEO, you should opt for a pen name. Whatever your reason (you don’t even need one), here are some ways to help you pick a pen name. Did you know, like with any other trends, there are trends for author names in your genre? Romance novelists, for instance, often choose names with a romantic flare. When choosing a joint pen name for our paranormal romance series Blood Web Chronicles, my co-author and I landed on Caedis Knight. ‘Caedis’ means ‘slaughter and bloodshed.’ We write romance, and the name sounds quite modern with a heroic surname, but we also wanted to make it clear we write dark paranormal romance. Had we opted to write more floral country romance, then a name like Rose Delacourt would have been a better fit. Or had it been BDSM erotica, we may have opted for Scarlett Pane. Yes, this pen name game is a lot of fun! The first step of choosing the perfect pen name is research. Go to a bookshop (or go online) and browse your intended genre. See what trends you see in the way names look and sound. Examine the names in depth. What are their genders? Do they use full names or initials? Is there anything distinctive about the chosen names? Who is your target audience and what would they like? Ask yourself what sort of name your target audience would find memorable? When you have a shortlist, choose a name that’s easy to spell and pronounce. Make sure it’s not already used and isn’t associated with anything bad (e.g. Fred West). Check the name’s SEO viability; are you competing against the name of a popular brand? For example, Kath Kidson might sound like a great pen name but, because of the brand, you would be crazy to use it. Even if it’s your actual name. Also check whether the URL is already owned. Having your author name as your website is ideal, so if you get to choose your name choose one where the domain name isn’t already taken. Once you’ve completed all your research, start putting pen to paper and get brainstorming! In Conclusion Picking a pen name is a very personal choice, but one you can approach freely and confidently knowing that countless authors have chosen this route. Remember that a pen name is akin to a stage name - it serves a purpose and that purpose can be whatever you want it to be. Consider your genre first, your personal privacy preferences, the aesthetic appeal of your name, and make sure to check it for SEO, legal issues, commonality, and genre appeal. Lastly, make sure that you absolutely love it – because if things go well, your author name will be everywhere! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Write Creative Nonfiction

When I read Dancing in the Dark by Caryl Philips, I wasn’t quite sure what I was reading, as it was unlike any novel I’d read previously. But I was curious how the author crafted the “voices” or dialogue, which were so finely tuned and authentic it made me feel as though I was in the thick of the plot as it unfolded. Eventually, it dawned on me that the book couldn’t solely be classified as a novel per se, as the story was based on “real life”; because of its biographical and historical context it sat comfortably within the genre of creative nonfiction.  What is Creative Nonfiction? The term creative nonfiction has been credited to American writer Lee Gutkin, who first coined the phrase in the journal he founded in 1993: Creative Nonfiction. When asked to define what creative nonfiction is Gutkin says simply “true stories well told.”   Expanding on Gutkin’s definition I would add that the main difference between creative nonfiction – also known as narrative nonfiction - and other genres is that in creative nonfiction the focus is on literary style, and it is very much like reading a novel, with the important exception that everything in the story has actually happened.   Essentially, creative nonfiction incorporates techniques from literature, including fiction and poetry, in order to present a narrative that flows more like story than, say, a journalistic article or a report. In short, then, it is a form of storytelling that employs creative writing techniques including literature to retell a true story, which is why emphasis is placed on the word creative. I would underscore that it is this aspect which distinguishes the genre from other nonfiction books; for instance, textbooks which are, as implied, recounting solely of facts – without any frills. Types of Creative Nonfiction The good news is that the expanse of creative nonfiction as a genre is considerable and there is ample scope for writers of every persuasion, in terms of categorisation and personal creative preference. Some terms you may be familiar with, and some are essentially the same, as far as content is concerned – only the phrasing may be interchangeable.   Memoirs Memoirs are the most commonly used form of creative nonfiction. It is a writer’s personal, first-hand experiences, or events spanning a specific time frame or period. In it you are essentially trying to evoke the past… and by the end you will, no doubt, hope to have successfully conveyed the moral of your story. Not in a preachy kind of way but in a manner which is engaging, informative or entertaining.   You should note that there are important differences between a biography and a memoir: in writing a biography you need to maintain a record of your sources – primary or secondary – that will stand the rigours of being fact-checked.   A memoir, by contrast, is your recollection or memory of a past event or experience. While they do not necessarily have to be underpinned with verifiable facts in the same way as a biography, there’s more scope for your creative or imaginary interpretation of an event or experience.  Literary Journalism In the early days of the genre literary journalism hogged the headlines; it was, according to The Herald Tribune, “a hotbed of so-called New Journalism, in which writers like Tom Wolfe used the tools of novelists — characters, dialogue and scene-setting — to create compelling narratives.” The way this fits into the creative nonfiction genre is that it uses the style and devices of literary fiction in fact-based journalism. Norman Mailer and Gail Sheehy were exceptionally skilled exponents, though, arguably, critics contended that both could, on occasion, be so immersed that some of their writing was tantamount to an actor who inhabited their character via method acting.  Reportage and Reporting  Ultimately, the primary goal of the creative nonfiction writer is to communicate information, just like a reporter. If you choose to pursue reportage it is imperative that you pay close attention to notes and record-keeping as reporting is not – as with other elements of creative nonfiction – based on your personal experiences or opinions and, therefore, has to be scrupulously accurate and verifiable.   Personal Essays Other types of creative nonfiction include personal essays whereby the writer crafts an essay that’s based on a personal experience or single event, which results in significant personal resonance, or a lesson learned. This element of creative nonfiction is very broad in scope and includes travel writing, food writing, nature writing, science writing, sports writing, and magazine articles.  Personal essays, therefore, encompass just about any kind of writing. They can also include audio creativity and opinion pieces, through podcasts and radio plays.   The Five R’s of Creative Nonfiction  In Lee Gutkind’s essay, The Five R’s of Creative Nonfiction, he summarised the salient points of successfully writing creative nonfiction and, if you followed these instructions, you’d be hard-pressed to go wrong:  1. Real Life I daresay this is self-explanatory although as a storyteller, instead of letting your imagination run riot you must use it as the foundation. Your story must be based in reality - be that subject matter, people, situations or experiences.  2. Research I can’t emphasise strongly enough that conducting extensive, thorough research is of paramount importance and, not to put too fine a point on it, this is not an area you can gloss over – you will be “found out” and your credibility is at stake. And, no, Wikipedia doesn’t count – other than perhaps as a starting point. Interestingly, by the company’s own admission: “Wikipedia is not a reliable source for citations elsewhere on Wikipedia. Because it can be edited by anyone at any time, any information it contains at a particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or just plain wrong.”  3. W(r)ite Not technically an “R” but we get his point… Put succinctly by William Faulkner: “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it\'s the only way you can do anything good.\" 4. Reflection No-one can negate your personal reflections, but you should be aware, given that what you’re writing is based on “fact” that someone mentioned in your article or book may not necessarily agree with your perspective. The fallout can be devastating and damage irreparable. A case in point was the debacle following publication of Ugly: The True Story of a Loveless Childhood by Constance Briscoe. In the best-selling “misery memoir” the author accused her mother of childhood cruelty and neglect; her mother rejected the claims and said the allegations were “a piece of fiction” and sued both her daughter and publisher for libel, and lost.   It goes without saying that when writing about people who are still alive you need to be especially cautious. Of course, you’re entitled to your own unique perspective but, as Buckingham Palace responded to the Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry – which may yet find its way in book form – “some recollections may vary”.  5. Reading It’s often said that the best writers are also voracious readers. Not only does it broaden your horizons but it’s a perfect way to see what works and what doesn’t. And, as William Faulkner admonished: “Read, read, read. Read everything –trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You\'ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you\'ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”   How to Write Creative Nonfiction We now know what kind of creative nonfiction exists, and what to bear in mind before writing, but when it comes to starting your story…where do you begin?  Structure While it may be tempting to jump straight in and start writing, you will save yourself a headache if you begin by deciding upon the structure or form you want your work to be based on. This doesn’t need big whistles and bells, you just need an outline to begin with, something to shape your thinking and trajectory. It’s always worthwhile to know what direction you’re headed in. Nothing is set in stone - you can always add to it or amend accordingly.   For planning there are different models you can employ but I find it easiest to think along the lines of a three-part play: act one, I open by establishing the fundamentals of what I am going to present; act two, allows me to build upon the opening by increasing the dramatic effect of what’s unfolding; and act three, I bring my thesis together by pulling together different strands of the story to a logical, coherent narrative and, even better in some circumstances, a cliff-hanger.  In your outline you should bear in mind the main elements of creative nonfiction and the fact that there are some universal literary techniques you can use:   Plot and Setting  There are many things from your past that may trigger your imagination. It could be writing about an area you grew up in, neighbours you had – anything which can be descriptive and used as a building block but will be the foundation upon which you set the tone or introduction to your piece.  Artefacts  Using what may seem like mundane artefacts can be used effectively. For instance, old photographs, school reports, records and letters etc. can evoke memories.  Descriptive Imagery  The most effective way to ensure your characters are relatable is to work on creating a plausible narrative. You must also have at the forefront of your mind “Facts. Facts. Facts.” I can’t stress enough how your work must be based on fact and not fiction.  Dialogue  Also referred to as figurative language, when using one of the most effective ways to set the tone of your work, the language used in dialogue must be plausible. You simply need to step back and ask yourself, “Does this sound like something my character would say?” There’s no greater turnoff for a reader than dialogue which is stilted.   Characters  If you want your readers to be engaged, they have to “buy what you’re selling” i.e. believe in your characters.   Top Creative Nonfiction Writing Tips Stick to the Facts  Even a mere whiff of fiction in your writing will automatically disqualify it as creative nonfiction. To make sure you haven’t transgressed it’s easier to avoid doing so altogether. Although it’s fine to incorporate literary techniques which include extended metaphor, allegory, and imagery, among others.  Research You will also need to make note of the references you have relied upon. Not only is this good housekeeping it is also what’s expected of a professional writer. There are a multitude of places you can begin your research: family recollections/oral history; my local library serves aspiring writers well with both a respectable catalogue of physical books and online resources such as the British Newspaper Archives; Ancestry; and FindMyPast, among them. These are invaluable tools at your disposal and the list is by no means exhaustive.   Checklist  So, to conclude, what are the takeaways from this guide?   Firstly, methodically work your way through the checklist contained within the 5 R’s. Also, remember, whatever your interest, the extent of creative nonfiction dictates that there’s likely to be a market for your writing.   But, at all costs, avoid falling into the cardinal sin of making things up! It may be tempting to get carried away with being creative and miss that the finished product absolutely must be anchored in facts – from which, no deviation is acceptable.   Indeed, please ensure everything you’ve written is verifiable. You never know when someone is going to fact-check your thesis or challenge an assertion you’ve made.  Best of Both Worlds All in all, creative nonfiction is a wondrous way of telling an important and real story. Never forget that even though you are writing about factual stories and scenarios, you can still do so in an imaginative and creative way guaranteed to bring your readers on a journey of exploration with you.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Julia Stone on managing your publishing expectations and using psychology in writing

Jericho Writers member Julia Stone has had a long and varied career, often using her background in psychology as a springboard into her writing and other creative pursuits. Her first book, a psychological thriller called Her Little Secret, was published by Orion Dash in August 2021. We were honoured to talk to her about her journey to publication, and the expectations and surprises of commercial publishing. JW: Tell us about your first published book, \'Her Little Secret\'. Where did the concept come from?  JS: When doing therapy work with couples, I sometimes hear two completely different versions of events; like a mirror image. She paints him as a miser. He describes her as wasting their savings. Both believe their interpretation is ‘the truth’. But how would I know if one of them was lying about the other?  As a therapist, I don’t get to meet my client’s friends and family, I don’t see them at work or at home in the evenings. All I have to go on is what I see, hear and feel in the therapy sessions. But what if someone came for therapy and didn’t tell the truth? What possible reason could they have…?  These were the questions that got me thinking.  Cristina, the therapist in my novel, has been trusted with a lot of secrets. Her client, Leon, is being selective with the truth because he wants something - something only Cristina can tell him. The story idea blossomed from there.  JW: Had you done much writing before then? What’s your background as a writer?   JS: My earliest published work was a letter to Jackie magazine in 1974 – I pretended to be a Vulcan and not understand the concept of love! My mother encouraged us to be creative and we wrote our own stories from a young age – although I have to admit, most of them were rip-offs of \'Mallory Towers\'.   In my 30-year career as a business psychologist, I wrote professional materials for client companies and contributed to managerial text books. Then in my early forties I came back to my creative side, completing an art degree part-time and studying scriptwriting. I brought writing into my artwork, as each sculpture was always accompanied by an imagined ‘backstory\'. I also self-published an artist’s book - \'Heavy Clumping Cat Litter\' -  a flash fiction/photography collection inspired by found shopping lists.   Around this time, I was lucky enough to be shortlisted in several competitions for a script idea, a short story, and the early chapters of a novel. That encouraged me to think more seriously about novel writing. I had loads of ideas half-written in my bottom drawer but now I’d rediscovered the creative writing bug, so in 2017 I applied for the Faber Academy Writing a Novel programme.   JW: What was your journey to getting an agent? JS: During the six-month Faber course I produced a draft novel that sparked some interest from agents with three manuscript requests, but sadly no one offered representation.  In 2018 I signed up to Jericho Writers and attended every workshop I could which really fired me up with enthusiasm. An idea came to me when I was driving on a long journey and I started work on a new story. I was thrilled when it was short-listed for Best Opening Chapter at the Festival of Writing that year. That gave me the courage to enter the Blue Pencil First Novel Award. As the book went from longlist to shortlist I was amazed and didn’t expect anything more. I was on my way to London for a meeting when I heard the novel had won and Madeleine Milburn wanted to offer me representation! I was so surprised and excited I missed the train, but it was the best ever excuse to be late for a meeting.  In 2018 I signed up to Jericho Writers and attended every workshop I could which really fired me up with enthusiasm. Managing expectations and emotions JW: In what ways has your work as a psychologist complimented or contrasted with your work as a writer?   JS: My background is in management consultancy where deadlines are set in stone and ‘time is money’ – back in the 1990s we literally had to keep timesheets and account for what we were doing every half hour. So, the time lags in the writing & publishing process were a bit of a shock. For the writer, there seems to be a lot of waiting - for a response, for feedback, for edits – and no idea of when this might come. Agencies and editors are inundated and it can leave the writer in a reactive position, feeling a bit in the dark. And, as we all know, that is when the doubts creep in. I do wonder if more could be done to explain what is happening and manage expectations?  On the other hand, my work and experience in psychology helps me to cope with the ups and downs of the journey. I’m not immune but I know the tools and techniques that help manage any emotional reactions to disappointments and setbacks. Psychology has also helped me to understand personality, motivation, and behaviour. This is a great help with developing rounded and believable characters, although I don’t think you ever stop learning your craft.  For the writer, there seems to be a lot of waiting - for a response, for feedback, for edits – and no idea of when this might come. Agencies and editors are inundated and it can leave the writer in a reactive position, feeling a bit in the dark. And, as we all know, that is when the doubts creep in. The publishing industry: expectations vs. reality JW: You signed a deal with Orion Dash, a digital-first imprint. What was that experience like? Was it what you had been expecting?   JS: To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. What has pleasantly surprised me is the speed; the time scales are so much quicker than traditional publishing. The offer from Orion Dash was made in March 2021 and \'Her Little Secret\' was published in August, having been through a significant structural edit in that period. The whole thing is a learning experience for me and I’m loving it.  JW: You’ve also had work published before in your professional field of psychology as well as having experience in scriptwriting for training videos. How did this background inform your expectations of commercial publishing, and did anything surprise you?   The rounds of editing! Aside from proof edits, no one has ever given structural feedback on anything I’ve written in my professional field. It was fascinating and something I hadn’t expected, although I really see the benefit. I think it would be helpful for writers to know how many rounds of rewriting they will need to go through at all stages: before they submit to agents, then before their agent submits to a publisher, and finally, with the publishing editor.  You’ve got to love the characters to stick with them through all this!  I think it would be helpful for writers to know how many rounds of rewriting they will need to go through at all stages: before they submit to agents, then before their agent submits to a publisher, and finally, with the publishing editor. JW: What are you working on now? If you’re writing the follow-up, how are you approaching it?  I’m currently halfway through rewriting a previous psychological suspense novel, which has a totally different feel to \'Her Little Secret\'. (That said, the protagonist is once again an unmarried, child-free woman in her fifties!) As always I start by working out the key plot points and write a 2-4 page synopsis as if I am telling someone else the story. I then find images that represent the main characters and anything relating to their environment and stick them in a notebook. Obviously, the story changes as the characters take it off in unpredicted directions, but this gives me enough to get started. By the time I’ve finished the first draft, the notebook pages are bulging with scribbled notes, mind maps, sketches, quotes and articles torn from newspapers. It’s the only way I know how to do it!  JW: Any final advice to those starting out?  Obviously sign up and get involved with Jericho Writers! From my own experience, I strongly recommend taking part in workshops, writing groups, and competitions. Ideally set up or join a writing group. I wouldn’t have stuck with it had I not been part of a mutually supportive writing group that I met during the six months at Faber. Writing can be a lonely job and we need all the support and encouragement we can get from others who are on this journey.   About Julia Julia Stone applies her creativity in her work as a writer, ceramic artist, coach, supervisor and therapist. She has had a long career in psychology and psychotherapy and now works part-time. She loves learning and was recently thrilled to pass her Level 1 exams in British Sign Language. Her second book will be published by Orion Dash in 2022.  Her Little Secret is available in ebook, audio and paperback from Amazon. Website:  Twitter: @julestake3  Instagram: @julia.stone.writer 

Pros and Cons of Signing with a Small Publishing House

Have you heard that we’re living in a golden age of small press publishing? Small publishers around the world are putting out a good proportion of the most exciting and innovative fiction and non-fiction, dominating prize lists and thriving in a way that means they are having an ever-increasing influence on the book world.  This guide will introduce you to some of the most important of these big-hitting small presses, as well as explaining what makes them different from normal publishing houses and investigating the pros and cons of working with a small publishing company. What is a Publishing House? Let’s start with a rough guide to the basics processes of book production that most publishers follow: 1. Submission Manuscripts are sent by agents, or, in some cases pulled from slush piles (which is to say, the collected manuscripts sent by individual authors.) 2. Acquisition Publishers make offers for books. This generally includes an advance, outlines of royalties and publication date. Once the offer is accepted this will be formalised in a more detailed contract. 3. Delivery of Manuscript Hopefully on time! 4. Editorial This is where the author and editor work on structure, characterisation, and all the important nuts and bolts of the book. Done properly, this can be a long process with lots of back and forth between editor and author. Often, it’s done to a tight schedule. 5. Cover Design This is generally done in-house, but freelance designers and illustrators are also used. The author is generally consulted about the cover - but rarely has final say. 6. Typesetting The process by which words are laid out on the page, which is actually more complicated than it sounds. Making those precious sentences flow nicely, with the correct margins and no mess, is a job that takes real skill.  7. Proofs and Publicity Proof copies are made of the book for final copy-editing checks and to send to reviewers. At this point publicity begins in earnest, although publicity often starts earlier. Most importantly, book reps should have been talking about the book with bookshops. Publicity campaigns still continue after books are released with posters, YouTube videos, social media campaigns and more. But are generally more limited… 8. Ebooks are Prepared The typeset document (usually a PDF) is converted into ebook format 9. Printing and Binding The actual physical books are printed at the publishers’ expense. Generally, at specialist print works, not in-house. 10. Warehousing and Distribution The books are sorted, stored and sent out to the shops to fulfil their orders. 11. Books Arrive in the Shops Hurray! But this isn’t quite the end of the process as (assuming things go well enough) the publishers still have to process sales figures and author royalties. What is a Small Press? In the UK and the USA most of the trade publishing industry is dominated by the Big Five presses: Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster. These are multi-million-pound businesses, each controlling numerous separate imprints and employing vast numbers of staff. They also don’t accept submissions unless they come directly from an agent. Beneath that are smaller independent presses like Faber & Faber and Canongate, which are still companies with big lists and large numbers of staff. They often only accept agented submissions. And then there are small presses – publishers who are much easier to work with direct. There are different definitions for what constitutes a small independent publisher. Many define small press companies which make less than $50 million a year (which is still pretty big!).  One useful guide in the UK is the entry criteria for the excellent Republic Of Consciousness Prize for small presses which is an annual competition for publishers with fewer than 5 full-time employees. In the USA, where everything tends to be bigger, the equivalent prize instead defines small presses as those which publish an average of 18 or fewer published titles per year.  It’s also useful to think of small literary presses in terms of atmosphere and state of mind. They carry out all the publishing processes listed above - but in a different way. They are like the micro-breweries of the publishing world, producing smaller quantities of (ideally!) high-quality work favoured by enthusiasts and connoisseurs. At best, they are run with passion for people who are passionate about books. They also provide a huge range of special, and particular, flavours.  In the USA and Canada, meanwhile, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of presses catering from local to international interest and every kind of voice. Leading lights include Coffee House Press, Coach House Books, Melville House and Biblioasis. In the UK, some of the best small presses include Jacaranda Books who state they are run by “talented women of colour whose aim is to promote and celebrate inclusivity and diversity in the publishing industry”, Dead Ink who focus on “new and emerging authors”, Influx Press who are “are committed to publishing innovative and challenging fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction from across the UK and beyond”, Bluemoose Books who explicitly state they don’t want “orange headed celebrity books” but do want “brilliant stories”, And Other Stories who “aim to push people’s reading limits and help them discover authors of adventurous and inspiring writing”, Fitzcarraldo who focus on “ambitious, imaginative and innovative writing”. My own press, Galley Beggar Press tries to support writers of great literary talent writing outside the norm, who push the boundaries of form and language some of the best small publishing houses can still be more specialist. Two Rivers Press, for instance, publishes poetry as well as books about the city of Reading’s people, history, places, and culture. Pros of Working with a Small Publishing House This kind of specialisation is one of the great advantages of working with small publishing houses. If your work fits with their niche and ethos, you’re onto a winner. It’s also quite possible that fitting in well with a small house also means your work won’t work for bigger, more conservative and conventional houses. There are also several small publishers for new authors that accept unsolicited manuscripts, meaning you don’t have to go through the agent route to have your talent spotted. There are further advantages to consider: More Likely to Welcome New Authors When it comes to small publishers accepting submissions, they are often more able and determined to take risks on new writers and new kinds of writing. And they deal with you direct!  The fact that they have small lists of books with tight financial margins can be uniquely liberating. Because every book they put out is a risk, they don’t have to hedge their bets and can go all out on a book that they believe in. As a result, many of the best new writers in the UK and USA in the past ten years have emerged from small houses - and small presses that publish novels and non-fiction have won a disproportionate number of prizes and short-listings. Greater Author Involvement In large publishing houses different people tend to manage each part of the publishing process. They have established, regimented procedures which don’t enable so much author input. Most notably, your editor will be mainly responsible for the first five of those processes listed above - but once they’ve signed off your book it can often feel like that’s the last you hear from anyone. You don’t have a contact who’s working on production - and the editor will know next to nothing about this stage of the process. If you’re lucky you’ll perhaps have a meeting with someone from the publicity team, but it can often feel like most meaningful contact with the publisher finishes long before your book comes out.  Work with a Trusted Team of Professionals At smaller presses, because the teams are smaller, the people who work on your book tend to work on most stages of its production - or at least have good knowledge of what’s going on at each stage. Your point of contact will be able to tell you more - and involve you more. Authors do not tend to have the final say with a small press any more than in a larger press, but they can generally expect greater consultation and involvement.  Ideally, the best small presses will also give your book an extra level of dedication. They tend to take on books because they feel passionately about them. They don’t have books that are there to bulk out the list. They can’t rely on big name celebrity memoirs to put them in the black. So they have to get right behind everything they produce and push it as hard as they possibly can. Cons of Working with a Small Publishing House So far so great. But authors also need to be aware that a small publishing house may not be the best fit for them - and there are potential disadvantages to working with them… Poor Author Advances If you’re looking for a six-figure advance, you’re unlikely to find it with a small press. Some are philosophically opposed to giving too much money in advance because it so often means authors don’t earn out, don’t get to see any royalties, and can find themselves viewed as an unprofitable proposition as a result. Instead, small presses tend to offer more generous royalty rates because they see this as fairer.  Lower Marketing Resources Arguably, smaller publishers don’t have the marketing budgets or resources enjoyed by bigger publishers. For more writers this is immaterial, since it’s very rare that significant marketing money is invested in an individual author who isn’t already selling well - but it can make a difference as books begin to climb the charts.  Smaller Distribution Opportunities? One thing that big publishers can guarantee is a relationship with established bookstores and outlets, along with a good distribution network and a team of book reps who will work on getting books onto the shelves. Plenty of smaller publishing houses will also have good relationships with the shops (and perhaps even better relationships with some independent bookstores.) In the UK they may also use established distributors like Turnaround and Inpress who do the vital work of warehousing, distribution, and bookstore relationship management. Plenty of US independents also have excellent distribution. But it’s not always guaranteed so it is something to check before you sign on the dotted line.  Eccentricity From a commercial and authorial point of view the great strength of small houses can also be their weakness. All small presses accepting submissions are different. They all have their own personality and impact on the market. They all have different passions and beliefs. That’s fantastic if you find yourself in alignment. It’s wonderful if you’re writing the kind of book that you can work together on. But you should also be aware that this kind of relationship may not be for you or the best fit for your work. Something for Everyone Small publishing houses can provide many benefits for new authors. They are there not only to take a risk on good new work, but to love it and nurture it and give it the best possible push into the world. But you should enter any relationship with a small press with your eyes open and think carefully about the potential downsides. Confidence is a two way thing in publishing and you need to believe in your publisher as much as they believe in you.  Small presses do great things for many writers - but so do the big five and other larger independent presses. It’s a big world out there and there’s space for everyone. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Average Book Sales Figures: A Transparent Look into Publishing

One thing that every writer naturally wants to know is how many copies of their book they can expect to sell. But clear answers are hard to come by. It isn’t just that book sales numbers for an individual title are dependent on so many different factors ranging from what kind of book it is, to who is publishing it, via a good dose of sheer luck. It’s also that industry figures for all book sales can be opaque and confusing. Making sense of it all is a considerable challenge. But hey! That’s why this guide is here. I won’t be able to make definite predictions for you in what follows, but I will be able to give you a good idea of how book sales are calculated, and how to make sense of book sales data. Along the way, I’ll also provide some useful benchmarks. Book Sales Sources First of all, let’s look into why book sales tracking is such a difficult business and why it’s hard to get reliable book sales figures. When people ask how to work out how many books they can expect to sell, the temptation here is to invoke the old cliché about working out the length of a piece of string. But the truth is even that analogy won’t cover it, because there isn’t a single reliable measuring device for book sales data. In the UK, for instance, print book sales charts generally rely on a system called Nielsen Bookscan (the US equivalent is called NPD Bookscan), which compiles point of sale data for bookshops. Which is to say, it counts how many books go through the tills. But it doesn’t count all books sold because not all shops that sell books are signed up to the system. It also doesn’t count sales from all websites, including the increasingly numerous and successful direct sale webstores on publishers’ sites. It doesn’t count ebook sales either.  This already out-of-focus picture is made even fuzzier by the difficulty of getting reliable sales figures from major online retailers like Amazon. And that’s before you get to the problem of working out audiobook sales figures once you factor in the complexity of all the different streaming and ‘credit’ systems used by platforms like Kobo and Audible. It’s also before you get to the essential points that publishers and retailers don’t tend to make sales figures public anyway - and that you have to pay a healthy subscription fee to access Nielsen’s figures. See? I told you it was complicated. What are Average Book Sales? Now, to add to the confusion… You might come across a few websites discussing average sales figures here and there on the internet. One figure that often crops up is that the average traditionally published title can expect to sell 3,000 copies in its lifetime. Another famous figure is that the average annual sales figures for literary fiction are lower than 250 copies in the UK. Because I’m a publisher, I sometimes give talks to ambitious students on creative writing courses and have to share that melancholy figure with them. You can imagine how it goes down. And then I have to make things even worse. I don’t want to encourage too much cynicism about the average sales figures you might read online, but I do want you to think about how useful they are. Once I’ve depressed those students with the 250 books figure, for instance, I remind them that this is just the mean average. And you have to know more than that to really understand books sales statistics. The mean average sales figure is calculated from the total number of books sold divided by the number of titles. Which is to say, if 100 books were sold, and there were ten different books the average sale of each book would be 10 copies. The trouble is that different books sell in vastly different numbers. That literary fiction figure includes hard hitters like Hilary Mantel and Booker Prize winners who may be selling close to a million copies in a given year. Which makes that 250 copies start to feel like an optimistic estimate! It\'s Not All Doom and Gloom Here’s another way of thinking about it.  Let’s go back to that figure of 100 books sold. Out of those 100 books, one book might sell 10 copies. Another couple might sell five. Then, three or four might sell four copies. And so on, down the list. If you extrapolate that out into the real world, it means that while the small number of bestsellers might skew the average figures, there are other useful calculations to make. It’s often a good idea, for instance, to look at the median figures as well as the mean average. Just a reminder - the mean is the total of the numbers, divided by how many numbers there are. So, for example: (4+4+6+15+100) ÷ 5 = 25.8 To find the median, you order the numbers and find out which one is in the middle of the list. If we look at the following list: 4, 4, 6, 15, 100 then the median is six.  (Just for statistical completeness, the mode, meanwhile, is the number that appears most often. In the example just given, it’s 4. It’s harder to relate this directly to book sales since the figures vary so much - but I mention it here in case you’re ever looking at figures that can be usefully rounded up or down.)There’s a useful article written by Lincoln Michel over on Electric Lit explaining that out of the books to hit the number one spot on The New York Times bestseller list in 2014, mean sales were 737,000, a figure which was heavily skewed by the 8 million copies of 50 Shades Of Grey that were sold. The median was 303,000. More Cause for Optimism Confession time. I’ve kept something back from you. So far, I’ve been talking about annual sales figures. That’s distinct from the weekly sales figures that are used to compile book charts. And also, crucially, for the lifetime sales of a book. These, you’ll be glad to hear, tend to be higher. Indeed, if you’re lucky enough to have a book that comes out in both hardback and paperback, you could find yourself selling more books in your second year than your first. And even if you don’t, you can hope for some accumulation as time goes on.  What’s more those average figures I’ve been quoting may be on their way to being out of date. The book industry has been growing. In 2020 print book sales rose by 8.2% in the USA. For the year ending on Jan. 2 2021, units rose to 750.9 million, from 693.7 million the year before. (I know! That’s a lot of books!) In the UK, meanwhile, there were also reports of increases in 2020, even if the Nielsen Bookscan system wasn’t operating as usual. The Publisher Association reported that fiction sales income rose 13% to £285m, sales of digital consumer books rose 26% up to £125m and also said \'there was a 47% rise in UK sales of audiobooks (up to £39m), while the value of consumer ebook sales rose 18% to £86m.\'  This may be a blip. 2020 was a highly unusual year after all and books became a source of comfort as well as a very good way to fill time during lockdown. But there’s hope that plenty of people will have re-acquired the reading habit. It certainly seems that shops that have reopened have been enjoying brisk sales as people have also rediscovered the joy of browsing*.  *Another interesting fact - it’s very hard to talk about overall annual sales figures until after Christmas. I’m writing this article in October 2021. Plenty of stores will still be hoping that more than half of their annual trading will be done in the next few weeks. Christmas is the big time in book world. In fact, many of the top selling books each year aren’t even released until October. So we won’t know about the top selling books of 2021 for a while. Most Popular Genres Time for another confession. Literary fiction may be the genre that most interests students on creative writing courses - but it is not the only game in town. In the UK, in 2017, Nielsen Bookscan figures showed the crime books had become the bestselling fiction books, with 18.7 million sold, compared to 18.1 million general fiction titles. Statistica have also put out research showing that the mystery/thriller/crime was most popular genre in the USA. 47% of their survey respondents said they had read a crime book up to July 2015. Meanwhile, a writer called Geoff Affleck did some useful number crunching on the US Amazon store back in 2019, for instance, and discovered that a mighty 25% of the top bestselling ebooks on Amazon were Romance, Women’s Fiction, and Teen novels (and, he noted, a good proportion of those were “the kind with ripped, bare-chested hunky men on the cover.”)  Perhaps the best way to sell books is to become a writer of ebook romance?  Meanwhile, adult nonfiction sales have also continued to grow. Affleck also provided the following top list for print books (with the number in brackets being the average Amazon ranking of the top five books in each category): 1. Biographies & Memoirs (10) 2. Self-Help (15) 3. Religion & Spirituality (20) 4. Health, Fitness & Dieting (22) 5. Politics & Social Sciences (24) He also did a breakdown of ebook sales using the same method: 1. Religion & Spirituality (61) 2. Biographies & Memoirs (96) 3. Business & Money (123) 4. Self-Help (146) 5. Cook Books, Food & Wine (171) Best Selling Books of All Time Let’s carry on in an optimistic vein and look at the top ten best-selling fiction books of all time. It’s fun to dream, after all.  1.The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien 140.6 million copies 2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher\'s Stone by J. K. Rowling 120 million copies 3. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 100 million copies 4. Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin 100 million copies 5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie 100 million copies 6. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis 85 million copies 7. She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard 83 million copies 8. The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio) by Carlo Collodi 35-80 million copies 9. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown 80 million copies 10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling 77 million copies A few caveats. These figures are estimates. This list doesn’t include older titles like Miguel De Cervantes\' Don Quixote (which some estimate at having sold 500 million copies), or Charles Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities (some say 200 million copies). JRR Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings isn’t in there either, because of the confusion over the fact it’s been sold both as a single book and with its three parts separated out. Final Numbers... Okay. Back to reality. Not everyone gets to sell 100 million books. Sometimes, you might be lucky to reach 100 people. And, okay, we don’t hear as much about those books at the lower end of the spectrum. We don’t, as this article has explained, even get to hear how many copies those books have sold without subscribing to expensive aggregators like BookScan. Publishers only really tend to share those figures with their authors and agents. Not because they’re trying to hide anything, but because there’s no real demand that they should.  There are also the feelings of the writer to consider. I can tell you, for instance, that I am not keen for anyone to know the sales figures of some of my own worst-sellers…but, I hope with time, I’ve also grown realistic about these things.  The main lesson here is that you shouldn’t just measure success in terms of hard sales. Bringing a book to completion is a victory in and of itself. It takes skill and dedication - and if you touch only one reader with your work, that still means you’ve had an impact, which has to count for something. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.

Writing Under a Pen Name – Pros and Cons

When I used to dream about being a published author, I always imagined taking a paperback off the shelf and seeing my name on it. I’m working on book fourteen now and none of them have my full name on. Instead, I have two pen names - Rhoda Baxter and Jeevani Charika.  A great many authors use pen names (or a ‘nom de plume’ if you want to be fancy) for a whole variety of reasons.  But what are the pitfalls to look out for? Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Read on to find out. Why Writers Use Pen Names Steven King is also Richard Bachmann, Nora Roberts is also J D Robb, Jill March and Sarah Hardesty, and Dean Koonz has had so many names that it’s hard to keep count. Having all these different names seems unnecessarily complicated. So why do it?  Here are some common reasons: PrivacyBrand differentiationDisguising gender or raceTo consolidate several writers under one name All of these and more are discussed below and, because this is a pros and cons article, there are some pitfalls to watch out for too. Advantages of Writing Under a Pen Name Privacy This is probably the number one reason that most people want a pen name. Being a public personality can be scary. It may be that you don’t want prospective employers (or clients) to put your name into Google and come up with all the dinosaur sci fi novels you wrote. Or perhaps you write erotica, and you really don’t want your friends and family to know (or worse, if you’re a teacher - the school to know!). If you’ve written something highly political or an exposé about real people, you might not want journalists hounding you for comment.  There is no wrong reason for wanting to maintain your privacy. In this hyper-connected age, it’s nice to be able to put some space between your public persona and your private life. Branding Some genres have expectations attached. A name like Amy Silver lends itself well to a Christmas romcom, for example, but might jar a bit on the cover of a psychological thriller. But ‘Paula Hawkins’, now that’s a nice thriller name. In case you haven’t guessed, they are the same person writing in two very different genres.  If you write in more than one genre, having two pen names helps you keep your reader groups separate. Sticking with the Paula Hawkins example - having two names stops a reader expecting a romcom and getting a thriller. Some authors write across genres under the same name, but your publisher may ask you to think about using a different pen name if your new book is a departure from your usual style, or if they want to build a new brand for you. For me, the Jeevani Charika books all feature at least one Asian protagonist, while the Rhoda Baxter ones are mostly about white protagonists. To Create a Distinct Public Persona  It can be helpful to have a distinct writer persona, especially if you’re shy in real life. One of my favourite things about having a pen name is that ‘Rhoda’ is slightly different to the real me on social media. While the fundamentals were the same, she’s more outgoing, and much more cheerful than I am. When speaking at events I always feel less self-conscious if I imagine that Rhoda or even Jeevani Charika is a completely different person to me.  Hiding Your Gender If you’re a woman writing in a traditionally male dominated genre, you might want to use a male pen name in order to sell more books. If you\'re a man writing romance or sagas, you might consider writing under a female pen name. Many writers like to keep things ambiguous and use their initials and a last name (which doesn’t have to be their real last name).  Making Your Race Less Obvious Okay, this is a contentious one. This was one of the reasons my early romcoms came out under the name Rhoda Baxter, rather than my Sri Lankan name.  My first book was about Sri Lankans. I got a lot of very nice rejections from agents with notes along the lines of ‘I like it, but I don’t know where I’d place it’. After a while, I wrote a second book - a romcom about a white heroine. I found a publisher (in the US) relatively quickly. They asked if I was going to use a pen name. I’m a microbiologist by training, so I named myself after Rhodobacter sphaeroides, the bacterium I did my thesis on). ‘Much easier to Google’, the publisher said, approvingly.  I used my own photo in the bio and talked about my Sri Lankan heritage openly - this was not a catfishing exercise - but it meant that on the shelf, my romcom looked like all the other romcoms.  That was 2011. I didn’t get a publishing contract for a book under the name Jeevani Charika until 2018. I know a few other romance authors of colour who started off using white-sounding pen names to get established and then moved to using names closer to their real ones as romance publishers became more open to the idea of non-white names on the cover. It\'s not a good idea to try this if you’re actually white. To Make Your Name More Memorable If you have a fairly unremarkable name, then you can have fun choosing a dramatic and memorable author name. To Differentiate Yourself From Another Author With a Similar Name Occasionally, you’ll find two different authors who have the same name. This is a huge pain because it confuses retailer algorithms, and it confounds readers. You can avoid this by using a pseudonym or just adding a middle initial to your name.  To Combine the Work of Two (or More) People The author Juliet Bell writes Bronte retellings set in the early 20th century. Behind the name are two authors (Janet Gover and Alison May) who write romance and women’s fiction. Sometimes a prolific pen name like Franklin W Dixon (The Hardy Boys) and Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew) can be supported by a whole host of ghost writers. As a Whimsical Touch to Enhance the Book Occasionally, you see pen names that are closely related to the characters in the book, which make it look like the book was written by one of the characters. For example, Daniel Handler’s children’s books in A Series of Unfortunate Events are presented as the memoirs written by Lemony Snickett. Because the Publisher Requested it Sometimes publishers will ask you to choose a different pseudonym - either for branding reasons, as discussed above; because you’re too prolific and they can’t publish more than a couple of books under each name in any given year; or simply because they want to market you as a ‘new’ author (especially if your last book didn’t sell very well).  Disadvantages of Using a Pen Name There are undoubtedly many advantages to using a pen name, but it’s not all sunshine and roses. Here is the counter argument. Your Friends May Not Recognise the Book as Yours Imagine you’ve just told your friend about the publication of your new book. Being a supportive and delightful person, they talk about it in the pub later ... except they can’t remember your pen name. Since friends and family can be a good way to spread the word, you could lose some word-of-mouth recommendations. More Names Mean More Marketing I found this out to my cost. When the first Jeevani Charika book came out, I excitedly set up new social media accounts and a new website. But keeping up a presence in all these places is quite hard work with one name - keeping up TWO was exhausting. In the end, I gave up and changed the name of my Rhoda Twitter account to include both names. I still maintain two separate websites, though. Despite the websites mentioning the other pen name, not many readers click through from one site to the other.  Achievements in One Name Don’t Translate to the Other As I mentioned before, readers don’t often go from one pen name to another, even in genres that appear to be closely related. So your achievements in one pen name will mean nothing to readers who read the other pen name.  In real life, you could win a major award, but none of your friends would know about it because they didn’t make the connection. Sometimes the consequences of this disconnect can be massive. An inverse example is Robert Galbraith - whose novels did moderately well, until it was revealed that Robert Galbraith was a pen name for JK Rowling. The books became instant bestsellers. Financial Complications It is usual to sign publishing contracts under your real name, despite the books coming out under a pen name (you can request that your identity is kept confidential). This makes it easier for the publisher to pay you, as they can send payment to your real name.  If you need to keep your identity secret, you can sign contracts in your pen name, but that may make it harder for you to prove that you are the owner of the copyright and there may be additional hoops to jump through to get your royalties paid. Consolidation Difficulty What if one of your pen names becomes a runaway bestseller? You might want to consolidate all the other books you have under the more popular pen name. This is difficult, but not insurmountable. Before the Shopaholic books took off, Sophie Kinsella wrote novels under the name \'Madeleine Wickham’ - they have now been remarketed as ‘Sophie Kinsella writing as Madeleine Wickham’, so that Sophie’s readers can find them easily. Being More Than One Person is Confusing Okay, this might be just me, but sometimes I forget which writer persona I’m meant to be. If you’re going on a podcast, for example, it’s good to work out which persona you’re going to be beforehand, especially if your pen names belong to very different genres. Sometimes Readers Feel Betrayed This is a strange one. Using pen names is long established in the writing world (George Elliot, George Orwell, Mark Twain are all pseudonyms), but some readers are offended by well-known authors using new pen names. They feel like the author is ‘lying’ to them, especially if an established author is being presented as an exciting new debut. There isn’t a lot you can do about this, apart from telling your followers when you’re starting a new pen name.  Legal issues to Using a Pen Name It is not advisable to use an established author’s name as a pen name. If you write a horror novel and stick ‘Stephen King’ on the cover - you will almost certainly hear from his lawyers. You can trademark a pen name.Signing a contract under a pen name does not let you get out of your contractual obligations.In the US, you can register copyright under your real name or your pen name (but the length of copyright is different). So Should You Use a Pen Name? Now that you know all the pros and cons of using a pen name, should you use a pen name? There is no right or wrong answer. Personally, I like having pen names (although I find having two hard work). The pen names provide a tiny bit of separation from my books, which helps me feel a little less awkward about promoting them. Think about the pros and cons and work out what would work best for you. Good luck … whatever you end up calling yourself. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How to Write a Story Pitch

You’ve just typed ‘The End’ and you know that this story or article is hands down the best thing you have ever written. I believe you. I do. But before you go attaching your work and bashing out an email where you will tell the recipient that this story will take the world by storm, let’s take a little time to concentrate on arguably the most important part of your road to publication: Your story pitch. With submissions in publishing at an all-time high, with most agents receiving around forty to fifty submissions a day, the job of your story pitch is to (as quickly as possible) make your story stand out from the crowd. In this guide we will look at how to grab the attention of your pitch reviewer from the minute they open your email.  In just the opening line, we are going to make your reader sit up and take notice of your submission. Not only that, but we’re also going to tell them why it will sell, why they should pick your story above all the other submissions, using the example below of a story pitch template. So, before you go hitting that send button, let’s talk about why getting your story pitch right is important and what you need to do to get it right the first time. What is a Story Pitch? A story pitch is a succinct way of explaining what your story is about, what makes it right for the person you are pitching it to, and why it will sell. Pitches are used throughout the publishing industry, be it journalists pitching to newspapers and magazines, screenwriters wanting the next hit on Netflix, or authors hoping to grab an agent’s attention with a view to bagging that all important publishing deal.  Regardless of where in the industry you are aiming to see your work, a good story pitch is vital if you’re hoping to break into this highly competitive market. Why is it Important to Know How to Pitch Your Story? As a new writer, the question I most dreaded was, ‘What’s your story about?’ I would describe what happens at the beginning of the book, waffle on using words like, ‘oh and then’ and ‘meanwhile,’ and after five minutes I would see the person’s eyes glaze over. Publishers, agents, and booksellers do not have that time. Not only do you need to be able to pitch your idea quickly, but they will also need to when they try to sell it to publishers or bookshops. The good news is that if you can show them how easily your story will grab a reader’s attention from the onset, then you’ve just made their job a whole lot easier. How to Pitch a Story Right, so you have this killer story, you know it’s something special, so how on earth do you describe this masterpiece in just one line or, at best, a short paragraph?  The easiest way is to focus on the key elements of your story (for novel submissions, forget about your side characters and subplots for now, that will all become apparent in your synopsis). To hone your pitch, you need to concentrate on the key elements of your story, why it will fit that publishing establishment and why they need you. So, what does a good story pitch include? A hooky first lineA short paragraph describing your story by focusing on the key elements. For fiction these will be your protagonist - the event that upsets their world; what they hope to achieve and what is getting in their wayA popular comparison to explain genre, setting, themeA reason why your work will fit that establishmentCredentials explaining why they should work with you Simple right? But what if you’re not sure of the answers to these questions? Know Your Story Before you begin writing your pitch, you must be able to identify the key elements of your story. For a novel submission, here are five key components you must highlight when writing a good story pitch. 1. Your Protagonist The first thing a pitch reviewer will be asking is who is your protagonist and most importantly why should we be rooting for them? You might know the answer to this, but to pitch successfully, you need to tell that agent/publisher why your readers are going to want them to succeed. Unless we are rooting for them, why should we care what happens to them? Why would we keep turning the pages? Your explanation of your protagonist can be as simple as a bubbly hard-working woman called Helen who has never caught a break, or on the other end of the spectrum, we could have Rob, a grieving father who has tracked down the person who killed his daughter. 2. The Event That Upsets Their World Now we know and are championing your protagonist, what happens to push them out of their comfort zone and into a new world? This is very important because this is often where you will find the hook of your novel, the reason that a reader will have picked up your story from the shelf, the thing that screams out from the blurb. So, does Helen, the bubbly hardworking woman suddenly get offered the job of a lifetime? Or does Rob the grieving father kill the wrong person? 3. What do they eventually want to achieve? What is their goal? Now we have your lovable protagonist thrown into a new world, what is it they want? Does Helen now want to leave the new high-pressure job? Does Rob want to atone for his mistake? 4. What is standing in their way? Next, what is stopping your protagonist from getting what they want?  Has Helen become tangled up in some dodgy dealings with her new employer? Does Rob’s victim’s family come after him? Now you know these answers, it’s time to show where your story fits in the market. 5. Compare Your Story Finally, and very importantly, what book can your story be compared to? Not sure? No problem, these comparisons can be a mix of literature, film or simply an author. It’s all about highlighting the story and the style of writing. Feel free to mix them up! The above examples could be ‘If Sophie Kinsella had written The Firm’ or ‘Dexter meets Gone Girl.’  Take some time to think about comparisons, your examples should reflect your genre, protagonist, and style.   Do Your Research Congratulations, you can now identify the key elements to your story and you have your comparisons ready - so what now? The first thing is to research the organisation you are targeting. Take some time to look at the novels on their lists, or if you’re pitching a magazine or newspaper check if they have published similar articles and when?  Follow Submission Guidelines I know you’re chomping at the bit to get your story out there, but a word of caution. Check the submission guidelines. If the agent/editor/magazine asks for a one-page synopsis, do not send them three. If they only accept email submissions, do not send them a hard copy. If you can’t find submission guidelines on their website, then contact them for clarification. Ensure A Clear Subject Line for Email Pitches Once again, make sure you comply with the submission guidelines. Often an agency will have an email address specifically for submissions; the most common format in this case would be to have your book title followed by your name in the subject line. Check what they are looking for. Engage with a Strong Opening Line Right then, here we go.  You’ve checked who you are sending your submission to and you have stuck to the guidelines - so now it’s time to grab their attention. Remember that first impressions count, so before you explain your idea in more detail, grab your pitch reviewer’s attention with the very first line. A good way to do this is by using the words ‘what if’ or ‘imagine’: ‘What if you landed your dream job only to find out that you couldn’t escape it?’ or ‘Imagine if your daughter was murdered and you knew where her killer lived.’ Within your first line you have grabbed their attention, pitched your hook, genre and shown your protagonist. Construct the pitch Now is the time to expand your story pitch in a short paragraph revealing those all-important key elements:  ‘Imagine if Sophie Kinsella had written The Firm, this is what you get in my romantic comedy THE DREAM JOB where we meet Helen who…’ or ‘With shades of Gone Girl and Dexter, my psychological thriller I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE follows Robert Green, a grieving father who is set on a path of revenge when he finds out where his daughter’s killer lives…’  Provide Compelling Reasons to Publish You have their attention, they like your idea, so why should they consider your story for publication as opposed to the other pitches in their submission pile? Easy, you tell them!  You tell them where it sits in the market, which titles are similar but what makes your story stand out: Do you have an unusual protagonist? Is it set over the course of just one week? Or in a village during a power cut?  This is your chance to show them you know what you’re talking about and how this book is going to make them (and you!) a lot of money. Tell Them About Yourself You’ve done it, you’ve intrigued them - now they need to know about you. Tell them about your qualifications, your credentials and background but keep it brief.  If you haven’t got any qualifications, explain why you’ve decided to become a writer. If you have been published before, mention this and provide a link to any relevant online resources or profiles.  Thank Them for Their Attention Last, but not least, thank the pitch reviewer for their time and attention.  Always be polite and professional.  If you have established a positive professional relationship already, they may keep you in mind for future projects.  Story Pitch Template Excited? I am!  You now have all the tools to pitch your story - so here is a basic story pitch template to help you along the way: Subject line: Follow the guidelines for story pitches to agents/publishers. This will often be your book title followed by your name. Salutation: Be sure to address this to the correct person. If you are unsure who will read your submission, a simple ‘Hi!’ will suffice.Headline and Introduction: Start with a simple and brief ‘I hope this email finds you well’ then get straight to your one-line story pitch or headline, if you are approaching magazines/newspapers.  Make this as engaging and grabby as you can! For fiction, here is where you can use your ‘Imagine’ and ‘What if…’ sentence starters.Story Summary:  Make this a short, concise paragraph where you focus on the key elements to your story.Story Relevance: Explain who this story will appeal to, why it stands out from the crowd, why it will sell. Author Bio: Add your credentials, background, qualifications, or if this is your first foray into the publishing world, explain why; be passionate about your decision.Contact Details: Give details of how you wish to be contacted.  Make sure this is all correct. One typo in an email or missing number in your phone number could mean all the difference.Thanks: Thank them for reading your pitch, be polite, friendly and professional at all times (especially if you are rejected). Writing a Story Pitch And there we have it! I hope that this guide helps you understand the importance of your story pitch and what is needed to pitch successfully.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

‘Ghost Girl, Banana’: Wiz Wharton on choosing a publisher and staying true to your heart as a writer

We first met Wiz when the opening of her debut novel was longlisted for Friday Night Live at the 2020 Summer Festival of Writing. She went on to win our bursary for the Self-Editing Your Novel course, and after receiving six (!) offers, is now represented by the RCW Literary Agency. \'Ghost Girl, Banana\' was pre-empted by Hodder Studio and will be published as its major summer launch in 2023. Here, we got to chat to Wiz about staying true to your heart as a writer, the importance of a writing community, and more. JW: Tell us a little about your background as a writer. When did you start writing? WW: I was an absolutely voracious reader as a kid, and I think that naturally led me to think it would be something fun and easy to do as a job - haha! I remember when I was about six, I sent a hand-drawn children’s manuscript to Hamish Hamilton, called Tilly and the Flower People. It was about a gang of rebellious tulips plotting a coup against their greedy human nursery boss (don’t ask). One of the editors sent me the loveliest reply - a rejection, obviously, with two bits of advice: 1) Never send your original MS through the postal system and 2) Keep trying. I actually started my career in a different field, studying screenwriting at the National Film and Television School where I had the privilege of being taught by some of the greats like Stephen Frears, Mike Leigh and Ken Trodd. My graduation film won a couple of prizes on the international film circuit and from there I was picked up by the BBC. I subsequently worked on a few projects, but ultimately none of them were green-lit - another hard lesson in rejection! JW: What was the first piece of work you put through the submissions process? What was that like? WW: My first adult submission was for a novel that I believed sat firmly in the genre of literary/upmarket commercial. What I was subsequently told by two agents - who offered me representation - was that I’d written an “unintentional thriller” and could I please make it more of one! I absolutely love thrillers as a reader, but in my heart knew that this was not my natural home as a writer. I also knew that I was in this as a career rather than a one-book thing, and worried how I would follow this, having set up readers’ expectations of my work. As a result, and after much soul-searching, I turned down both offers and started again... Finding a community JW: How has having a community of writers around you helped with your writing journey? Do you have any advice for writers trying to find their community? WW: I think the best thing a writer can do - apart from reading everything you can get your hands on - is to find a group of people who understand you. For writers, that’s other writers because no one else can quite comprehend either why we do what we do, or the struggles of the journey. I was incredibly lucky to discover the Twitter writing community early on, especially the #VWG (Virtual Writing Group) who have been absolutely instrumental in keeping me going, but there are other outlets available too: in-person groups, creative writing initiatives/courses (like Jericho Writers!) Instagram and Facebook. The best way to find your tribe is to engage with others. You have to put in the effort because writing is a reciprocal act. What I mean is that it’s not just about creating; you’re always looking to find and understand your audience. It’s intimidating at first, but just say hi, offer suggestions to questions, enter competitions or things like #pitmad, #askagent and #WritersLift, or congratulate someone else’s achievements. By and large, the writing community is incredibly generous and inclusive, despite occasional pockets of unpleasantness, and you will be welcomed. You have to put in the effort because writing is a reciprocal act. What I mean is that it’s not just about creating; you’re always looking to find and understand your audience. JW: Tell us about Friday Night Live. What was that experience like? WW: I was a festival novice when I entered and didn’t think I had any chance of being longlisted, so it was wonderful to have that validation. And just entering a competition is an act of faith and bravery, so I have a lot of admiration for anyone that does it. I didn’t reach the shortlist of FNL but my experience with Jericho did lead to me winning the Self-Edit bursary that year, and being noticed in other competitions, so it’s definitely worth putting yourself out there. I will add that the quality and standard of teaching at Jericho Writers is wonderful, but if you can’t stretch to the cost of a professional assessment or a course, the Summer Festival of Writing is a brilliant, affordable alternative that gives you access to some of the greatest speakers and workshops on writing. The fairytale choice JW: You submitted to six agents and received four manuscript requests within an hour. You also received six offers! How did that feel? Was the process what you expected? WW: I’m still reeling, actually! It’s an enormous privilege and a thrill to have that response to your work, but I do think a lot of it came down to timing and a public appetite for more diverse stories. This wasn’t my first rodeo, and I’d been told previously that my writing was sound but my voice was too marginal for the market. Because of this, I was girding my loins for rejection again (and the famously long wait for a response), so to have that turnaround was a bit bewildering. I remember speaking to my friends in the #VWG and saying “X has asked for a meeting. What does this mean?” You always wonder “is this the call?” because sometimes it isn’t; sometimes it’s a request for a revise and resubmit (an “R&R”), but it just happened that all six offered representation. And as much as it was an absolute fairytale situation, I can’t even begin to describe the agony of making a final choice and having to turn people down. It felt really alien to me, and I do think it’s important to remember that agents are people, too, and they are also said no to daily - be that through editors, publishers or sometimes even writers! I do think it’s important to remember that agents are people, too, and they are also said no to daily - be that through editors, publishers or sometimes even writers! JW: Rather unusually, you’re represented by two agents. What is your working relationship with them like? WW: I am incredibly blessed in that department. I have to say that the wonderful Claire Wilson is my primary agent at RCW and helps me day to day with absolutely everything, but Peter Straus has also taken me under his wing and emails me with incredible advice, offers editorial notes, or sometimes just emails to ask if I’m okay. It’s incredibly collaborative and nurturing, as is the whole agency. Claire’s assistant Safae and all at the foreign rights team are also majorly amazing. I’m working on that “difficult” book two now and Peter and Claire have both been brilliant in terms of their insights. JW: How did the offer from Hodder come about? WW: Claire drew up a submissions list for both the UK and US. We’d spent the previous five weeks rewriting the manuscript (twice) to try and make it as strong as possible before sending it out as we wanted to catch people before the summer break. The “nos” came quickly, and quite fast, but the fact they were all for different reasons helped me view them as subjective rather than a fault with the book itself. And that’s the thing. A book lives for a long time in these early phases and for that reason you absolutely NEED an editor to be in love with it 100%. Some of the editors were incredibly passionate about the book, but it fell at the acquisitions meeting stage for one reason or another. I do think there’s this misconception that only one person has to love your book for it to be published, but it actually takes a village to get to that finish line. Luckily, we did have a fair bit of interest from both here and in the US, but when I had my first meeting with Sara Adams at Hodder I knew instinctively that she was who I wanted to work with. First of all, she’d brought her lucky cat to the meeting (haha) but secondly, her whole team was on board already and loved the book. Most importantly, however, Sara understood the story to its bones which is crucial to me as a writer. We were immediately on the same page about what might need changing/tweaking whilst maintaining the heart and integrity of the novel. That combination was irresistible to both me and Claire. And can I just add that I am so glad to have had an agent at that point; not just for the professional connections but for the negotiations that took place after the offers came through. It was stressful enough handling the phone calls, let alone doing all the figures behind the scenes! A book lives for a long time in these early phases and for that reason you absolutely NEED an editor to be in love with it 100%. JW: Finally, do you have any tips for writers working on their debut right now? WW: In much the same way as any creative field, writing is a skill acquired over many years of dedication and training, and the journey is fraught with disappointment and “almost there”s. Keep the faith, but also keep reading and learning. No one can write your story your way, so as tempting as it is to compare yourself to others it’s also counterproductive to finding and loving your own voice. Your voice is what makes you special and uniquely qualified to tell your story. Write with your heart rather than with one eye on the market (you’ll always be behind the curve) and do it as if no one is looking. Find a support network of other writers and be generous and sincere in your praise. Connect with agents professionally and courteously and don’t trash talk on social media, even when you’re at your lowest. And if you achieve your dream, whether that’s finishing a book or being published, or being successfully published, don’t pull the ladder up after you. I wish you all the very best on the journey. About Wiz Wiz Wharton is a prize-winning graduate from the National Film and Television School. Previously published in non-fiction, she has appeared on various broadcast platforms, including radio, television, and print media. Her debut novel, Ghost Girl, Banana - based on her mother’s posthumously discovered diaries - is a dual narrative examining the search for belonging and identity, set between the last years of the Chinese Windrush in 1966 and Hong Kong’s Handover to China in 1997. Wiz currently divides her time between London and the Scottish Highlands. Read more about Wiz on the RCW website; or on The Bookseller. Connect with Wiz on Twitter: @Chomsky1

How to Control Your Self-Publishing Costs

How to Control Your Self-Publishing Costs So you’ve chosen the self-publishing route, and as a responsible author-entrepreneur, you’ve no doubt set out to create a detailed self-publishing budget for your book. Unfortunately, you’ve discovered you don’t have unlimited money, and are facing some tough choices. How do you control your costs without compromising your vision? In this article, we’ll show you some effective ways to reduce your self-publishing costs—and warn you away from some unsafe ideas that could do more harm than good. To begin with, let’s examine your budget situation. Know Where You Stand I’m going to assume you’ve set a maximum budget for your project, and that you have an idea of the cost to publish a book. You should therefore know the relationship between your budget and your expected costs. If you’ve got room to work with, great! You can use this article to check for any extra savings that might allow you to shift more of your budget to promotions or future books. But if you’re feeling the squeeze, start by calculating how much you need to save. Then, you can use this article to identify the safest ways to save that money, without compromising your book’s potential. As you read, keep in mind your audience’s quality expectations. Each genre or category has its own standards. Don’t do anything that would bring your book below your audience’s expectations. Book Editing and Proofreading Costs Editing and proofreading can easily take up 40-50% of your budget, making this a tempting target. But savings here are not always easy to come by. You should banish from your mind any thought of not paying a professional editor. No matter how good you are at self-editing, you can’t see your own blind spots. Use a professional, but prepare your manuscript well, so that their time and effort produces the most possible value for you. And please don’t even think of using an automated correction tool for your final edit. The technology simply isn’t there yet—you’ll end up “incorrecting” passages that were actually correct as-is. Check spelling, of course, but leave grammar and phrasing to the humans. So, with those ground rules in mind, what can you actually do to reduce your book editing costs? Keep a list of any errors your beta-readers report. Before sending your manuscript to your editor, correct those errors, and search your manuscript to see whether you’ve made the same mistake elsewhere.Learn to self-edit effectively. By removing distractions such as repetitive tics or basic errors, you help your editor to focus on finding problems you can’t see.Avoid unnecessary rounds of editing or proofreading. Keep your audience’s quality standard in mind, but don’t get caught up in perfectionism. Internalize this truth: widely promoting a book that contains a handful of trivial errors is a better business strategy than weakly promoting a book whose text is flawless. In the end, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to save a lot of money on your required editing. It’s simply a less flexible cost than others—so let’s move on and look at some of those. Book Layout Costs Your layout needs and costs will depend a lot on the type of book you’re publishing, and so will your cost-cutting decisions. If your book is a visual product (for example, a recipe book), you should be very cautious about cutting any corners on your layout. For books that are primarily text-focused, understand that layout isn’t so much about aesthetics as it is about readability. Font choice, line spacing, margins—many aspects of your layout, if done wrong, will make your book unpleasant or even difficult to read. Because layout is a specialized technical task, your options for cutting costs are limited—but you do have a few: Use an automated layout program, if appropriate. If your manuscript contains only running text (for example, most novels), you can safely use an automated layout program with a professionally-made template and get acceptable results for both e-book and print (but do resist the urge to tinker with the results).Ask your designer to provide a no-frills design, if that will lower the price. Fancy chapter graphics or other custom design are pleasant, but never necessary.Publish in fewer formats at first. If your audience is strongly focused on either e-book or print, you can publish first in the main format, making other formats available afterward as demand justifies it. For example, a hard sci-fi novel can safely be published as an e-book first, since that’s the preferred format for that audience.Merge your hardcover and paperback layouts. If you’re publishing both a hardcover and paperback edition (which is a decision you should scrutinize), you can potentially use a single interior layout for both formats if they have the same or similar trim size. Ask your designer about this possibility. Saved anything yet? If not, don’t fear—we’re about to enter more fertile territory. Book Cover Design Costs Authors have a strange relationship with their book covers. For something that has the same business purpose as the sticker on a tin of sardines, the intensity of emotion involved can be surprising. (Alright, alright, I’m teasing—barely.) My point is that you need to approach your cover from a business perspective. It’s a piece of advertising, it targets a specific audience, and it needs to convey a specific message. Have you taken the time to identify that audience and that message? If not, how will you instruct your designer, and how will you know when you’ve got the right cover? And have you surveyed other covers in your genre, so you know the stylistic conventions? Avoid any temptation to use a style that’s cheap but doesn’t fit your genre. Your buyers will be confused, and your sales will suffer. With those cautions in mind, here are some safe ways to cut costs on your cover design: Buy a pre-made cover. Only do this if you’ve thought hard about the message your cover needs to convey. Otherwise, you’ll end up making compromises to convince yourself this approach is workable. If you do find a pre-made cover that truly fits your book, ensure that you’re licensing it for exclusive use.Commission a cover based on stock photos. Assuming a photo-based cover is appropriate for your genre, stock photos are an inexpensive way to get a striking, detailed image. Make sure your designer composites or manipulates the image in some way, to reduce the likelihood of your cover being (legally!) cloned.Go with a less-detailed design. Authors, especially of fiction books, often ask for too much detail on their covers. Talk to your designer about ways to pare down the level of detail to save costs, especially if your cover features an original illustration. Even better, allow your designer to provide their own ideas—conveying a message with only a few visual elements is part of their skill set.Avoid custom photography or illustration if you have other viable options. These are the two most expensive sources of cover imagery. Only use them if required in your genre or central to your book’s marketing. We’ve now covered the production side of your expenses: editing, layout, and cover design. What about cutting costs on distribution and marketing? Self-Publishing and Distribution Costs The rule here is simple: any choice that reduces the reach of your distribution is a bad one. Always maximize your availability by distributing to all retailers with significant market share, and in all formats that are in demand with your audience. However, there are two quick ways you can save a little on your distribution costs: Don’t buy more ISBNs than your immediate need. Of course, if you can get a large bundle cheaper than individual ISBNs, you should do that. But don’t buy a hundred-pack for hypothetical “future use”.Don’t pay for a bar code. These are supplied for free by most distributors, and there are also free barcode generators on the web. Book Marketing and Promotion Costs Marketing and promotion is individual to each book, and so are the opportunities to reduce costs. We can’t anticipate your unique situation, but let’s examine a few tips that apply universally. First of all, remember that your goal is to generate awareness of your book. So avoid any big mistakes that “save” money by crippling your marketing:MARKETING MISTAKES Relying solely on word of mouth. Maybe you’ve heard that “a good book sells itself”. Unfortunately, that’s a lie. Don’t sabotage your hard work—plan and expect to spend money on promotions.Relying solely on local legwork. Selling books in person can be invigorating and builds positive relationships. But keep in mind that your audience is global. You need to reach the 99.9% of your readers who don’t live in your neighborhood, and to do that you’ll need to invest.Paying for shady shortcuts. For example, paying for social media followers or likes, paying for Amazon reviews, and so on. These scams are worthless, and worse, they can get you banned from the very platforms that are vital to selling your book. Okay, so you know not to make those big mistakes. Is there any other universal advice for controlling book marketing costs? Marketing Advice Never pay for promotions you can’t measure. Book marketing is a long-term game of finding the right promotional methods and fine-tuning them. Without measurement, you can’t make those decisions rationally. You’ll end up spending randomly, and that means waste.Only pay for tangible results. Always ask yourself, what impact will this ultimately have on sales? Don’t get caught up with abstract or intangible concepts like “buzz”, “exposure”, or word of mouth. The best way to get people talking about your book is to get them to buy it, so look for promotions that have an obvious pathway to generate sales.Don’t spread your money too thin. Many promotional options require a certain investment to produce results—or to get sufficient data to know whether they’re performing. Rather than trying everything at once, concentrate your money on the most promising options and evaluate their performance. Save Money and Make Money If you’ve made some tough sacrifices, but your expenses still exceed your maximum budget, don’t push ahead in denial or make damaging cuts out of desperation. Instead, make it your mission to find creative ways to raise the remaining funding for your book. Hopefully, though, this article has helped you to trim your self-publishing budget to something you can afford, or even better, free up additional money for promotions or a future book. These decisions aren’t easy. One of the best things you can do to get feedback on your plan is to join a community of other authors. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

The Best Book Publishers Of 2022

Ever been to a bookstore and wondered what all the little images on the book spines mean? All those H\'s, penguins and sowers lining the shelves? Well, they are the logos of the publishing companies who have published that book. Take a look at the rows of books in any bookstore and you will most probably be looking at the emblems for the Big 5 publishers and their many imprints, as well as a smattering of independent (indie) publishers. With so many amazing publishing houses out there, the perfect home for you book may well be out there, but how do you know where to look, and who are the most reputable? In this article we will be looking at the very best book publishers, how publishing companies work, and how to get published by a traditional publishing house. The publishing industry can be a little tricky to understand, but by the end of this article you will be armed with all the knowledge you need when it comes to choosing the best book publishing companies for your work. How Do You Search For A Publisher? Finding a book publisher can be hard, especially if you\'re hoping to be traditionally published by some of the top publishers in the business. Where do you begin, and what information is important for you to know before you start submitting your manuscript to some of the largest book publishers? Is there anything to be said for self publishing, and what types of publishing should you avoid? Do I Need A Literary Agent? Yes, you will most likely need to be represented by a literary agent before you (via your agent) can start submitting to bigger traditional publishers. Nevertheless, there’s no harm in window shopping; it might even provide you with a focal point if you are still working on getting an agent. For more information on how to find a literary agent, read more here. Where To Start If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of book publishers out there, I’ll be listing the top five biggest publishing houses, some of the best educational publishers and those who publish children’s books, as well as some of my personal favourite independent book publishers.Read on to discover the very best publishers, covering all book genres across the globe. The Big Five Book Publishers While aiming high can be daunting to some authors, literary agents will often wish to submit your manuscript to the top publishing companies first. After all, not only do they have the most power and influence, but they also know what they\'re doing - most of them have been publishing books for over a hundred years! Who Are The Big Five? The biggest and most successful traditional publishers in the world are often referred to as \'The Big Five\'. So I will be starting with them. These are the five powerhouse trade publishing houses which are most well known and widely recognised. Within them you will find many other recognised imprints (publishing houses owned by them) whose logos appear on the spine on the book. Let’s take a look at them in more detail. Simon & Schuster Simon & Schuster is where we begin our big five journey, as this publishing company holds an annual revenue of $830 million. They have over 35 imprints, including notable ones such as Howard Books, Scribner, and Touchstone, and they release over 2,000 books a year! Some of their biggest titles as of late are Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat and The Institute by Stephen King. Founded in 1924, Simon & Schuster remains a prominent publisher today, publishing a variety of genres along with big names such as renown authors F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jodi Picoult and Philippa Gregory. They also offer many opportunities for those wanting to pursue a career in publishing and are one of the biggest names in the industry to work. HarperCollins With an annual revenue of $1.5 billion, HarperCollins has no shortage of good books and authors. Their notable imprints include Avon Romance, Harlequin Enterprises, Harper, and William Morrow, and their titles range broadly. Some of the top books as of late are Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis and The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin. Authors published originally by Harper include Mark Twain, the Brontë sisters, H. G. Wells and Agatha Christie. A book deal from this giant will most certainly help with book sales! With over 100 imprints, this publishing powerhouse also offers a great opportunity to learn about the industry from the best.  Macmillan Publishers Established in 1843, Macmillan Publishers is still going strong. With $1.4 billion in annual revenue, there are many publishing routes and imprints available through them, namely Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Picador, St Martin\'s Press, and Thomas Dunne Books. Some of their biggest titles from the recent past that you may have heard of include The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah and Me by Elton John. With an eclectic list of authors under its belt (from W B Yeats to Leigh Bardugo), and a global market with countless possible genres to publish under, you’d be wise to consider them an ideal place for your book to end up.  Penguin Random House Everyone recognises that little penguin on book spines in bookstores, and everyone is familiar with the orange Penguin Classics books, but what else do you know about this iconic publisher? With over 15,000 books published a year, not only is Penguin Random House one of the top five, it may well be the top of the top five. Their annual revenue exceeds $3.3 billion, and they have countless notable imprints such as Knopf Doubleday, Crown Publishing, and Viking Press. They also have many famous authors under their wing, including books like The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, and The Guardians by John Grisham. As of 2021, Penguin Random House employs approximately 10,000 people globally and has published 15,000 titles annually under its 250 divisions and imprints. Hachette Livre Looking for a European based publisher with more published books a year than Penguin? Then take a look at the Hachette book group. Hachette Livre has an annual revenue of $2.7 billion and nearly 200 imprints. Some of these include Grand Central Publishing, Little, Brown and Company, Headline, and Mulholland Books. Their biggest titles in the recent past include Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell and Little Weirds by Jenny Slate. they have also published names such as James Patterson, Martina Cole, Donna Tartt, and Celeste Ng. Growing steadily since their merger in 1992, Hachette Livre has a lot to offer both you and your book. Best Educational Book Publishers Looking for a reliable and quality educational book publisher, or someone who specialises in nonfiction titles? This can be more difficult than you think, but thankfully I’m here to shorten the list for you. These publishers are looking specifically for educational books, quality hardback textbooks and the like. This won\'t be helpful if you\'re looking to get your fictional manuscript published, but if it\'s educational materials you write, then read on! Bertelsmann Education Group Bertelsmann is a media, services and education company that operates in about 50 countries around the world. The online education and service offerings are primarily in the healthcare and technology sectors, as well as in higher education. With an annual revenue of around $300 million, this group has no shortage of educational texts, resources, and reliable online connections. Scholastic I can’t recall how many Scholastic book fairs I went to as a child. Perhaps you went to some as well, given that Scholastic is both an educational publisher and a popular children’s publisher. Their book sales are always consistent and their annual revenue is roughly $1.7 billion. Their notable imprints include Arthur A. Levine, Klutz Press, and Orchard Books. While their educational books are extremely popular for grades K-12, their YA fiction remains the most popular (no doubt you’ve heard of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, right?). Pearson Education Have you ever used DuoLingo for your language learning needs? Did you know that Pearson Education has recently partnered with them? There’s a lot of other notable mentions surrounding Pearson, such as their annual revenue of $1 billion, and their well-known imprints (Adobe Press, Heinemann, Prentice Hall, Wharton Publishing). Their most popular publications are always subject textbooks for higher education, and for good reason. McGraw-Hill Education One of the largest publishers in American education is Mcgraw-Hill. Their annual revenue often exceeds $1.7 billion, and they are well known for their many editions of test prep books (SAT and ACT) and elementary school math textbooks. Their most notable imprints include Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, and McGraw-Hill Higher Education, no doubt familiar to you if you’ve been involved in any American education system. Wiley While Wiley has a lot to offer in terms of non-educational publishing, their For Dummies series of educational books is one of their top sellers. With an annual revenue of $1.7 billion, their various instructional titles are big hits in the publishing world. Their most notable imprints include Bloomberg Press, Capstone, Hungry Minds, and Wiley-Blackwell, and they continue to publish a large variety of titles, both educational and otherwise. Cengage Learning Publishing both hard cover print books and maintaining a dedicated digital library can be difficult, but Cengage learning can do it all. From imprints that publish specifically for grades K-12 as well as books for higher education learning, Cengage is a wonderful publisher to consider. Cengage is also the owner of the National Geographic Education division, made to bring excitement to classrooms worldwide. With an annual revenue of $1.7 billion, it’s safe to say that this publisher is one of the educational publishing powerhouses. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt You may have already heard of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, or HMH for short. This publisher specializes in different disciplines including business and economics, biography and memoirs, children’s books, cookbooks, health and wellness, and more. They make more than $1.4 billion annually, with many notable imprints: Clarion, Graphia, John Joseph Adams Books, and Sandpiper among them. Their largest and most recent titles include elementary school textbooks in all subjects, as well as cookbooks. Best Children’s Book Publishers Some of the top selling books published today are for children or young adults. However, writing and publishing for children and young adults can be a lot harder than you would think! Although young adult novels have really flown off the shelves in the last twenty years, and often offer the most variety in terms of diversity, content and audience, young adult fiction, middle grade fiction and picture books still remain one of the most competitive markets in the publishing world. Here are some of the best choices for children’s book publishing today, and how you can reach out to them (via your literary agent, of course). Bloomsbury With offices around the world and prominent publishing houses in both the US and the UK, Bloomsbury Books is a top contender for children’s book publishing (they also publish a vast array of nonfiction books including political nonfiction). Established in 1986, Bloomsbury has many popular children’s book authors across every age group. With an annual revenue of $150 million, Bloomsbury USA Books for Young Readers was established in 2002. Their YA fiction has grown increasingly popular, their authors often topping the New York Times Bestseller list. If they\'re good enough for the likes of J K Rowling, Sarah J Maas, and Samantha Shannon, then I\'m sure your book will be more than happy in this home. Ladybird Books It\'s impossible for anyone over the age of thirty to not have fond memories of their first Ladybird hardback book as a child. Who doesn\'t remember their favourite fairytales presented in that iconic little book with a plump ladybird on the cover? UK-based and another division of the Penguin Group, Ladybird books is perfect if you’ve got a bedtime story to tell. Their lineup of children’s books is primarily geared toward younger audiences, from toddlers to roughly age ten. They have many award winning series published under their name, including many Peppa Pig books, as well as an educational division with their famous Peter and Jane reading guides and other titles where they have teamed up with names such as BBC Earth. Their annual revenue is roughly $17 million. Chronicle Books San Francisco-based favourite Chronicle Books, with a $10 million revenue, has a wonderful eye for the unique and aesthetic storyteller. Their children’s books are beloved and unique, and this small independent publisher receives more than 1,000 submissions a month for their young adult department alone! They publish most type of children’s books including activity books, art books, board books, picture books, chapter books, middle grade, games, and gift and stationery items. Hogs Back Books Hogs Back Books publishes fiction books aimed at children up to 10, as well as early readers for children up to 14, and teenage fiction. Amongst its most notable titles, Boris the Boastful Frog was recommended by The Telegraph in 2013 as one of the best books of the year for young children. They are a small family-owned and independent publisher, and the small selection that they choose to publish is beautiful and heartfelt. Arbordale Publishing With just about $1 million in annual income, Arbordale Publishing isn’t the largest in US children’s publishing. However, their books are aligned to Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), as well as state education standards. Arbordale books are vetted by experts and professionals from a variety of organizations including NASA, JPL, Project Learning Tree, USFWS, SeaWorld, the Cherokee Nation and others. They publish an average of 20 books per year. Immedium Based in San Francisco, CA, Immedium is influenced by an increasingly diverse world. While they are a small company and make an average of $150k in annual revenue, they have wonderful illustrations and ideas for children’s books.  Immedium publishes subjects range from eye-catching children’s books to contemporary non-fiction, including commentaries on art, popular culture, and multicultural issues. Kids Can Press Kids Can Press is a Canadian-owned publisher of children’s books, with a list of over 500 picture books, non-fiction and fiction titles for toddlers to young adults and an estimated annual revenue of over $10 million.  The Kids Can Press list includes characters such as Franklin the Turtle—the single most successful publishing franchise in the history of Canadian publishing, which has sold over 65 million books in over 30 languages around the world. Quirk Books Looking for a smaller publishing agency for your unique and captivating children’s book? Publishing only around 25 books a year, Quirk Books is based in Philadelphia and is searching for the most original, cool, and fun ideas out there. Is your book creative enough for Quirk? It’s one of my favourite publishing companies, having taken the helm on series such as the Miss Peregrine anthology by Ransom Riggs, which has won many literary awards. August House Publishers A more traditional publishing company, August House Publishers are seeking children’s book authors committed to folktales, diverse and memorable. They enjoy stories from many diverse backgrounds, as well as stories that work well as oral tales, stories meant to be passed on from generation to generation. They also have a soft spot for scary stories and stories that can be used in a classroom environment. With an annual revenue of roughly $10 million, they produce beautiful children’s books. ABDO Publishing With almost $50 million a year in revenue ABDO is a formidable children’s book publisher. Based in Edina, Minnesota, this family-owned book publishing company specializes in non-fiction books for the school library market. From engaging nonfiction to illustrated titles, ABDO has both educational and fantastical book titles for children of all ages. Best Independent Book Publishers Are you looking for a smaller company to publish your book? This is a better option if you are still seeking a traditional publishing company, but want to work with them directly There are many benefits of working with an independent book publishing company. Smaller companies often accept unsolicited submissions (ie you don\'t need to have a literary agent and can approach them yourself), especially if the submission is more unique and experimental in nature. Plus, independent publishers often offer a more hands-on approach for new and inexperienced authors. the downside is that their budgets and reach may not be as large as that of the big five, so you are less likely to get an astronomical advance or become an international bestseller. But it\'s not impossible! Let’s check out some of the best in the business... Autumn House Press Autumn House Press is an independent, non-profit literary publishing company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that was founded in 1998. They began as a publishing company strictly for poetry, but they have since expanded to include fiction and nonfiction. Autumn House Press’s especially notable titles include Anxious Attachments by Beth Alvarado and Not Dead Yet and Other Stories by Hadley Moore. Tupelo Press Tupelo Press is an American not-for-profit literary press founded in 1999. It produced its first titles in 2001, publishing poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Tupelo Press publishes the winners of its national poetry competitions, as well as manuscripts accepted through general submission. Awards given by Tupelo Press include the Dorset Prize, the Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry, and the Snowbound Series Chapbook Award. They have a lot to offer as an independent book publisher. Influx Press Hackney-based London independent publisher, Influx Press, was founded in 2011. They focus on site-specific literature closely linked to precise places across the UK and beyond. They have printed unique books such as How Pale the Winter Has Made Us by Adam Scovell and A Door Behind a Door by Yelena Moskovich. Fledgling Press Fledgling is an exciting and innovative publisher founded in Edingburgh, Scotland. Their focus is primarily on Scottish talent, but they still consider writers from other parts of the world. Founded in 2000, Fledgling Press have have launched the writing careers of award winning authors including Helen Grant, Philip Caveney and Alex Nye. Graywolf Press Graywolf Press is an independent, non-profit publisher located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They publish fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Graywolf Press currently publishes about 27 books a year, including the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize winner, the recipient of the Emily Dickinson First Book Award, and several translations supported by the Lannan Foundation. Their published work is bold and award winning. New Directions New Directions was founded in 1936 and they publish about 30 new titles a year. They publish anything regarding literary fiction, poetry, memoir, nonfiction, and their annual revenue is roughly $1 million per year. It was the first American publisher of authors including Henry Miller, Vladimir Nabokov, and Jorge Luis Borges, among others. Tin House Books Publisher of award-winning books of literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; home to a renowned workshop and seminar series; and partner of a critically acclaimed podcast, Tin House champions writing that is artful, dynamic, and original. While they only publish about two dozen books per year, they are all astounding, and you can learn more about their small operation here. Europa Editions Europa Editions is an independent trade publisher based in New York. The company was founded in 2005 by the owners of the Italian press Edizioni E/O and specializes in literary fiction, mysteries, and narrative non-fiction. They have a few imprints, namely Tonga Books, and a series for mysteries known as Europa World Noir. City Lights Publishers Known for publishing Howl and other poems by Allen Ginsberg, City Lights Publishers is a great independent publishing option. Founded in 1955, with nearly 300 books in print, City Lights publishes cutting-edge fiction, poetry, memoirs, literary translations and books on vital social and political issues. For over fifty years, City Lights has been a champion of progressive thinking, fighting against the forces of conservatism and censorship. Forest Avenue Press Forest Avenue Press, founded in 2012 in Portland, Oregon, publishes literary fiction on a joyride and the occasional memoir. While they are currently a small-scale operation, they are growing in popularity in the Pacific Northwest. And That\'s Not All Of Them... And that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the best publishers to consider! The best thing to do, when looking at what publisher to approach or consider, is to look at the books you love or that are most similar to your own and look at who publishes them. You may well be surprised, and they may well not even be on this list (which doesn\'t make them any less fabulous). A Publisher For Every Writer Writing a book and finishing it is a huge achievement in itself. Choosing whether to self-publish, look for an agent, or approach indie publishing houses yourself is the next step..and a large one. So take your time and choose your route to publication wisely. While I hope you found a few excellent book publishers to consider from this list, do keep in mind that there are many more that are worth your consideration. And however you choose to get your book out into the world (and all options come with a list of pros and cons) they all ultimately all lead to the same thing - holding your book in your hand one day and having others enjoy your words. Frequently Asked Questions Who Are The Big 5 In Publishing? The big five publishers in the world are:Harper CollinsSimon & SchusterMacmillanHachettePenguin Random House These five publishers make up over 90% of hardback book sales in the US and over 80% of paperbacks sold. What Is The Most Prestigious Book Publisher? In terms of the most established book publisher, Cambridge University Press, dating back to 1534. But in terms of revenue, iPenguin Random House generated revenues of 3.8 billion euros in 2020, up from 3.63 in the previous year. Which Publisher Is Best For First Time Authors? The best thing a first time author can do is find a great literary agent that specialises in whatever genre they write. Through that agent they will then have access to the very best publishers. Without an agent, you can\'t get near the Big 5! How Do You Pick A Publisher? To have access to the top publishers you need a literary agent, and they will know who to approach. But if you want to approach smaller publishers without an agent, or just curious as to who you\'d like publishing your book, then simply take a look at books that are similar to the one you have written and see who publishes them. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Natalie Chandler’s debut two-book deal with Headline Accent

Natalie Chandler began researching and writing her debut novel, \'Believe Me Not\', in 2020, and attended the Summer Festival of Writing to build up her confidence before seeking agent representation. She\'s now represented by Liza DeBlock at Mushens Entertainment, and recently signed a deal with Headline Accent. Natalie kindly shares her story and some words of wisdom here.  JW: Tell us about finishing your book – where did the idea come from, and how did you go about turning that idea into words on a page?   NC: ‘Believe Me Not’ was born from a dream, believe it or not (delighted to have got a pun in so early on). I woke up thinking about a disorientated woman trying to find her baby son despite everyone she trusted insisting she didn’t have a child - and the idea just wouldn’t be quiet until I sat down and started writing.  I’m very much a pantser so I had no idea where the plot was going or what was going to happen. But my protagonist, Megan, was already fully formed and she drove the early chapters. I did a lot of research – I hate getting details incorrect – and was fortunate that one of my best friends works in the NHS and she not only patiently answered my countless questions but also put me in touch with other mental health professionals.  For the first time, I had no other distractions, due to the small matter of the world coming to a halt with a global pandemic. No lunch invites, no exhortations for ‘just one drink’ or weekend getaways. I was writing practically full-time and it was flowing like never before. I had nearly finished the first draft when I saw an advert for the Summer Festival of Writing and decided, since I was Doing This Properly, it would be a sound investment. It turned out I was right. I came away feeling empowered, knowledgeable, no longer a complete amateur – and ready to edit until I could edit no more.    JW: How did you land your agent? During the 2020 Summer Festival of Writing, I attended every webinar led by an agent. I wanted to learn as much as I could about submissions before jumping into the fray again, having previously tried to find representation for two earlier novels and been unsuccessful. Jericho Writers provided such wonderful opportunities to, for the first time, really discover the secrets of the industry and I felt much more confident in my submissions package after applying everything I’d learnt. I also booked several agent one-to-ones, which were nowhere near as terrifying as expected! One of the early ones was particularly brilliant. She ripped my opening pages to shreds and it really stung at the time, but when I sat down to work through her deeply perceptive notes, I realised she’d helped me improve tenfold and I was so grateful to her. From then, I had a stronger package to present at one-to-ones and I gained three more full requests from subsequent sessions.   By this point, I already had six full manuscripts on submission and was prepared to wait to see what the feedback would be when, out of the blue, I saw on Twitter that Liza DeBlock at Mushens Entertainment had opened her submissions that morning. I’d followed Liza for a while and really liked her style so I decided there was nothing to be lost in contacting her. She replied within hours asking for the full manuscript and just over a week later, I was signing on the dotted line in a state of wonder, disbelief and sheer joy.  It had been nearly a decade since I sent out those first tentative letters (no email back then!) seeking representation and I was so thrilled by the opportunity to become part of the Mushens Entertainment family – a dream agency I had followed since its creation – that I didn’t quite dare to believe it was finally happening.   JW: What was the process of choosing an agent after a number of full manuscript requests?   Liza was the first agent to call – she read the full manuscript in 48 hours and left me the most wonderful voicemail telling me how she loved it so much she’d stayed up half the night to finish it, which I intend to keep forever! As soon as we got talking, I was amazed by her excitement and her sheer passion for ‘Believe Me Not’. She already understood the characters and themes and we were completely on the same page regarding edits and improvements. I knew we’d clicked but Liza encouraged me to continue talking to the other agents who had the full manuscript and see what their thoughts were. They were all lovely and so encouraging but my gut was telling me I was going to accept Liza’s offer. My partner told me to listen to the voicemail again and said ‘anyone that enthusiastic is going to be your most valuable ally. She’s 100% committed to you and the book and you can’t ask for anything more’. That sealed it for me.  JW: What is your relationship like with your agent now?   Wonderful! Editing together was the best experience – the book grew stronger and I learned so much working alongside a talented professional for the first time. Liza’s cup is always half-full and she approaches everything with positivity. She checks in regularly whilst still giving me total autonomy in the writing process, and she always has time for me despite being super busy. I can discuss any problems or concerns with her and know I can trust her advice and guidance.   My partner told me to listen to the voicemail again and said ‘anyone that enthusiastic is going to be your most valuable ally. She’s 100% committed to you and the book and you can’t ask for anything more’. That sealed it for me.  JW: So you got your agent, but then what? What was the submissions process like?   ‘Nerve-wracking’ is probably the best description. There had already been interest from a number of editors when I gained representation so we started with a list of twenty initial submissions to mostly Big 5 houses after we’d done two rounds of edits. I knew there are always rejections so I’d steeled myself but we were getting fantastic feedback and after three weeks, the magic word ‘acquisitions’ was whispered. Days later, Liza called with the news that Headline Accent wanted to meet me and was offering a two-book deal – I was really going to be a published author!  JW: Has everything met your expectations so far, or have there been a few surprises?   As a debut, I didn’t expect to be given the level of autonomy and control I have.  Even though I’m learning fast, I’m still inexperienced, therefore I’d anticipated more instructions and fewer discussions. I was impressed that my thoughts and opinions are valued and how it has been constantly emphasised that it is my book and I am free to decide what works best.  Editing together was the best experience – the book grew stronger and I learned so much working alongside a talented professional for the first time. Liza’s cup is always half-full and she approaches everything with positivity. JW: Has this experience taught you anything about the publishing industry and pursuing your goals? Primarily, I’ve learned how lovely people in the publishing industry are! Everyone I’ve met has been so generous with their time, advice and encouragement. I’m very grateful. Don’t be scared to ask questions and take every opportunity to learn and network. If being an author is what you really want, understand it won’t happen overnight – sometimes it takes a decade. Stay committed through all the rejections and keep going – write anything, write everything, but keep honing your craft and growing as an author. You’ll feel like giving up many times but never forget you write, above all else, because you love it.  It’s all worth it the moment you get the voicemail that will change your life!  About Natalie Natalie Chandler was educated at the University of Durham and currently works in behavioural education, specialising in social, emotional and mental health issues.  Her debut psychological thriller \'Believe Me Not\' was written during lockdown and delves into the fractured mind of a woman abruptly diagnosed with psychosis, as she fights to prove the existence of her baby.  \'Believe Me Not\' will be published by Headline Accent in March 2022. Natalie is represented by Liza DeBlock at Mushens Entertainment and divides her time between London and the rural North of England. 

Jan Cavelle’s Achievements in Business and Books

Entrepreneur and Jericho Writers alumna Jan Cavelle is phenomenally successful, having grown her own 20-year-strong business from scratch and published a book of expert insights into growing a business, ‘Scale for Success’, with Bloomsbury in 2021. Whether it’s a business or a book, the journey is never easy - and Jan kindly shares her experience of non-fiction publishing with us here.   January 2020 seems a different world away for all of us.  I was paying little attention to tales of an old lady dying of some unknown disease in remote China.  In fact, I had gone off-grid, telling no one what I was doing.  It was too big, too heart-stoppingly important to me.    One chilly day that January,  I hauled myself upright at around three in the morning and drove to London, terrified of missing my appointment.  I spent most of the four-hour wait in a tourist hotel pushing congealed eggs around my plate and wondering just how many cups of tea it was possible to drink.  Finally, I walked around the corner to the hallowed offices in Bloomsbury Square to stare in awe at the Harry Potters on display in reception.   I had gone off-grid, telling no one what I was doing. It was too big, too heart-stoppingly important to me. But let me take you back a little.  My childhood dream was to write a book, but life and, as a single parent, an abrupt need to make a living took over.  I started a business on a shelf under the stairs in our tiny Victorian cottage and, from non-auspicious beginnings, grew it to something mid-size.  Single parenthood and solo-entrepreneurship are both a recipe for isolation, so it would be years before I met other entrepreneurs.  Entrepreneurs are an interesting bunch.  They come from all sorts of backgrounds and work in virtually every sector.  They are hugely driven, often obsessive, yet the majority are far less judgemental, far less worried about who they are talking to, and more interested in the quality of what is being said.  Most – definitely not all, but most - are highly intelligent and have great stories to tell.  By chance, I saw a business publication advertising for a blog writer. Remembering my writing dreams,  I answered, and thus started a decade of writing for a digital publication called Real Business.  I also joined Jericho Writers.  When I finally parted company with the business, my first thought was retirement.  It took about two weeks for me to miss writing.   I went back to writing articles, but the dream of a book still niggled.  I started working my way through the Jericho Writers resources, focussing on the merits of attempting either self- or traditional publishing.    It took about two weeks for me to miss writing. I had decided to write about sales, my strength - and with the confidence I gained from the articles, I was somewhat cavalier about the writing.  However, to play safe, I submitted my first draft to be assessed by one of the Jericho Writers team.   My editors had always been rather nice to me, so I was unworried when it came to the feedback phone call.    By five minutes in, I was having to ask for a couple of minute\'s break because I was crying so hard that I couldn\'t actually hear. The expert tore it to shreds.  The concept was wrong, the writing careless on fact and atrocious on style.  It was the very definition of tough love.  It says much for my love of writing that I kept going, and much for his judgment that when I re-visited the manuscript a few months later, I was beyond appalled that I had even considered anyone reading it.    Chastened, I wrote another manuscript.  I followed all the instructions on the Jericho Writers website and researched likely agents and publishers.  I treasured the reply that told me it was well written (but not for them).  Elsewhere it was silent.    Relaxing in the glorious summer of 2019,  I had another idea.  People often advise you to write about what you know, and what I know best is how hard it is to scale a business.  I also knew that it is a business stage that many people struggle with.   Suddenly, I realized I had a subject that could potentially be of genuine use to a reader, unlike my somewhat self-interested previous attempts.  My problem was that I was no expert.  But I did know other people who had achieved the leap successfully.  I started off by attempting to interview friends and get their expertise.  Not an easy experience, with both parties in unfamiliar roles and keen to get back to the usual bottle of wine.  I dug out old contacts, people who I barely knew.  I trawled the net endlessly for businesses that looked on an upward curve.  A massive hulk of a book, going from start-up through scale-up, started to take shape.  People often advise you to write about what you know... Suddenly, I realized I had a subject that could potentially be of genuine use to a reader. At around three-quarters of the way in, I realized that I had forgotten the trad vs self-publishing quandary, and worse, I now had an obligation to do something with this thing to the people who had kindly given their time.  Back to my Jericho Writers knowledge bank, I went.  I knew that many of the people interviewed would be less than impressed unless it was traditionally published.  Old school, perhaps.  I spent a month putting together three submissions.  The one to Bloomsbury bounced back on my email.   That bouncing email was the wild piece of luck that we all need from time to time.  Tired and frustrated, I sent a quick tweet off to Bloomsbury to tell them the email was down. It was just before Christmas, so perhaps it was the festive spirit,  but I received a charming reply suggesting I send a brief outline of what I had been trying to send through to the respondee\'s personal email.  I thought no more about it.  Other publishers, too, were notably silent.   I was dumbfounded over Christmas to receive an invitation to come into Bloomsbury\'s offices. Hence finding myself pushing around the congealed egg in January.  The initial meeting was held in a room full of would-be writers, all of them having the weaknesses of their proposals pointed out to them by the editors.  The size of my project was demolished as being far too broad and my use of UK entrepreneurs was no use to a global publishing house.  I argued - I can split it.  I can get other entrepreneurs.  I was packed off to the country to form a submission.  Luckily I could still draw upon Jericho for it.  I muttered \"possibly for Bloomsbury\" into the ears of overseas entrepreneurs and found it a magic key to get them talking.  Hearing back is not a quick process.  The book had to be approved by several layers of international hierarchy.  At each stage, I was genuinely stunned and delighted to have got that far.  Finally, however, a contract was offered, and I was on my way to being (magic words) a published author.  I muttered \"possibly for Bloomsbury\" into the ears of overseas entrepreneurs and found it a magic key to get them talking. \'Scale for Success\' came out in February 2021 in the UK and July in Australia and America.  It contains the stories and wisdom of 30 genuinely amazing people from across the globe.  I didn\'t want to go for the Bransons or the Musks (not that they would have talked to me either), but I wanted relatable people, and I am still stunned by their stories.  Working with a range of people meant a vast amount of extra work.  They all had to be found, convinced that the idea was good, interviewed, and their approval of what I had written obtained.  If I hadn\'t so loved hearing their stories, it would have been a nightmare.  Non-fiction is unbelievably overcrowded.  The self-publishing market has gone wild under the \"a book is your business card\" mantra.  Looking for a backup plan, I spoke to a few of the publishing coaches who take a fat fee for helping you self-publish.  All were confused by my expressed desire to write \"a good book.\"  Entrepreneurs of decidedly mixed-level writing skills are employing hugely expensive PR companies to tout them as the next Tolstoy.  There is little chance to compete in the sunshine with that if you are writing for the love.   Reviews on Amazon are so precious – I can read the stars but haven\'t got the nerve to read the words.  As for the future, I am having a bit of a ‘what-now’ moment.  I produce a stream of business interviews and articles for my website and other publications, but I would love to do another book. Whether Bloomsbury or any other publishing house would love me to do another book is something for the future.  About Jan Jan Cavelle is a writer and entrepreneur who successfully grew and ran her own business for over 20 years. She was chosen as one of the first 50 Female Entrepreneurial Ambassadors to represent the UK in Europe and has been invited to speak on Newsnight. Jan contributed to Real Business for many years and her first book, ‘Scale for Success’, was published by Bloomsbury and cited by publications such as Elite Business, Irish Tech News, Medium, and the Undercover Recruiter.   Find out more about Jan here. Buy ‘Scale for Success’ from here. Interested in Creative Non-Fiction? We offer a six-week crash course that could be the perfect way in to your new project, taught by Galley Beggar Press\' Sam Jordison. Find out more here. Read about finding an agent for your non-fiction here. Learn how to write a non-fiction book proposal here. Getting rejected by literary agents? Here\'s what to do next.

Writing For Children: “When a writing course is everything it promised and a bit more”

We\'re thrilled to be offering another round of the Writing for Children course with Eleanor Hawken, beginning in September 2021. The course is six weeks long and is perfect for beginners, lovers of children’s books and for those with a passion for storytelling. Florence Gladwell, a student on the inaugural course, shared her experience with us. (Image: @nickmorrison on Unsplash) Writing For Children With Eleanor Hawken If I were to sum up my experience of Jericho’s Writing for Children course with Eleanor Hawken, I would say: I’m so glad I did and I’m confident of what to do next. And because of the tutor guidance, frequent quality critique, and encouragement within the group, I really want to do it again! Early Expectations I was excited from the day I enrolled. I had a clear set of expectations for myself and from the course. For myself, I wanted to grow the pocketful of ideas I had been carrying around and focus on developing them into a fun, gripping, and marketable story. Another major driver was to get more experience in exchanging critique with people who were interested in writing for kids. From the course I expected everything that was advertised – weekly tutorials; peer-exchange and video meet-ups; covering the ins and outs of the children’s book industry; selecting an appealing narrative voice for different ages; building rounded characters with distinctive voices; creating dramatic tension; establishing a workable plot; as well as making sure to nail the ending. It was a full-on six weeks, to say the least, and I absolutely loved every minute - even if my young daughter sometimes had to nag me to get off the computer. Delightful Surprises What I hadn’t expected was how great it would be to have a diverse range of stories, voices, and skill sets all bouncing off one another. Our group had people working on everything from picture books to YA, contemporary to fantasy, first person to third person with multiple POV, and some beautiful lyrical prose to contrast others with a more tightly-paced style of writing. Although many of the group commenced the course with fully-formed ideas, completed first drafts, and in some cases, well-advanced manuscripts, I did not. This is because after finding no takers for my first manuscript (a middle-grade fantasy adventure), then seeking feedback from Jericho’s manuscript assessors, I decided to let it go and start again. This was a lot easier than I imagined. I had realised the story’s core wasn’t good enough, and this time I was already starting to understand so much more about myself, the industry, and what I really wanted to write. \"What I hadn’t expected was how great it would be to have a diverse range of stories, voices, and skill sets all bouncing off one another.\" At this stage, a course where I could develop an idea with some guidance and feedback sounded perfect. And then one day an email came from Jericho Writers, offering me just that. The Nitty-Gritty: How My Ideas Developed Through the Six Week Course Week one: Our homework was to write a brief pitch, such as you might send to an agent. This isn’t easy for anyone. Even our most progressed group members struggled. But with exchanges of feedback and Eleanor’s keen eye, I managed to find a pitch I was really happy with. Now there was just the small task of living up to it. Week two: The exercise involved outlining a simple plot. Again, \'simple\' does not mean easy. This was a big concept to turn around in a few days, but I cobbled something together and submitted it. I was relieved to find I wasn’t miles behind many of those with a first draft. After the group helped me express my ideas more clearly, Eleanor really hit the nail on the head when she explained what made my proposed story special and what it lacked. The worst of it was, my proposal didn’t live up to the pitch. For the time being, I let my ideas marinate – but we’ll get back to that later. \"After the group helped me express my ideas more clearly, Eleanor really hit the nail on the head when she explained what made my proposed story special and what it lacked.\" Week three: We had our first chance to share the first five hundred words of our writing. This is when I discovered how different all our writing styles and voices were. Though distinct, some voices - like mine - were still emerging, while others were well-developed and confident. It was inspiring. I wasn’t the only person to submit multiple edits following critique from a very encouraging group, and the final offering was much better for it. Week four: We were able to share any scene from our story which showcased characterisation. As I went away with my family during this time, I wasn’t able to make use of the group’s feedback to edit. But as it was, most comments were on the things I already suspected weren’t clear enough, while Eleanor’s notes made me completely re-evaluate the relationship of my characters. This fed a lot into how I redeveloped the plot. Week five: This week was all about creating dramatic tension, and Eleanor gave us the option to either submit a scene of our choice or write a scene about the main character entering their bedroom. There were many variations on this theme offered up in the homework as others adapted the exercise to suit their stories. As I didn’t have a settled plot yet, I took the task requirements and built a scene which (with some editing) I think could very likely end up in my final manuscript. Brilliant. Plus, the feedback from the group gave me a lot to think about. \"Eleanor’s notes made me completely re-evaluate the relationship of my characters. This fed a lot into how I redeveloped the plot.\" Week six was supposed to be about endings. But as I mentioned earlier, I had not settled on a plot, and I was having a crisis of POV to boot. I had cheated in all the previous weeks, finding scenes in the first quarter of the story which I was pretty sure would remain the same. But an ending required me to make some decisions. Fortunately I had now been arranging and rearranging plot ideas in my head for five weeks, and I was ready to write something down. So instead of submitting a passage of writing from the end, I resubmitted a plot and five hundred words from a slightly adjusted beginning passage using a new POV. The POV change was hard, but I really wanted it so I could better tell the story as I now imagined it. With some absolutely amazing feedback and encouragement from the group, along with a few rounds of shared edits, I got somewhere that felt right. Even better – it lived up to my pitch In just six weeks, I had found my story. Expectations Exceeded I put a lot into this course, but I got so much more out of it than I expected. I am grateful I had the opportunity, and feel privileged to have been able to experience it with such a great group of people. If you’re interested in writing for children and are looking for a course to progress your skills and story ideas, I can highly recommend this one. Thanks again Eleanor! About Florence Florence Gladwell is an aspiring writer from Australia and mother of one adorable but rascally pre-schooler, who charmed the course participants by drawing pictures for them based on passages they submitted as homework. If you would like to say hello to Florence or ask anything else about how she found the course, you can find her on Twitter @FlorenceGladwe1 About Eleanor Hawken Eleanor is the published author of nine children’s books, which include the Sammy Feral’s Diaries of Weird series. She has also written numerous books and novels under pseudonyms and as a writer-for-hire for licensed brands such as Disney, Warner Brothers and Universal. Eleanor is an experienced children’s fiction editor, having worked in the publishing industry for over 15 years. She has worked on a wide range of books from young fiction through to YA. She has a passion for storytelling, children’s books and helping other writers find their narrative voice and navigate the path to publication. For more on Eleanor, see her website or Twitter. For more information on the Writing for Children course and how to apply, just click the button below: Writing for Children Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

What Does Book Coaching Really Mean?

One of the huge advantages of taking a writing course is having a book coach, or mentor, by your side giving you one-to-one support. But what does this actually involve? How closely will you work with your book coach, and what will the dynamic be? We asked the US/International tutors on our Ultimate Novel Writing Course to tell us about what mentoring means to them and what to expect. JW: What is book coaching? Can you say a few words about what you would expect your relationship with your students to be like? Lindsey Alexander: The mentoring component of the UNWC is one-on-one customized coaching that\'s calibrated to your needs as you move through the course. Your mentor is your creative collaborator, someone who\'s going to get to know you and your project really well in order to help you ensure that your novel reflects your intentions in a way that\'s going to captivate your reader. Each month, you\'ll submit a portion of your work-in-progress to your mentor. You and your mentor will connect for a conversation over Zoom or by phone, typically for about an hour. You can also opt for written feedback, or choose a combination of the two. \"Your mentor is your creative collaborator, someone who\'s going to get to know you and your project really well in order to help you ensure that your novel reflects your intentions in a way that\'s going to captivate your reader\" In our conversations, we think big and brainstorm, review specific passages in your manuscript to look at what\'s working well and where there might be room for improvement, and navigate the ups and downs of the writing life as you build toward a sustainable creative practice you\'ll be able to stick with long after the course is over. Between these conversations, your mentor is there to field your questions, concerns, and middle-of-the-night epiphanies, and each month, your mentor will gather their group of students for a  Zoom conversation to reflect on the tutorials and discuss progress and challenges together. You\'ll also have the option of continuing your work with your mentor through a manuscript assessment in the final months of the course A.E. Osworth: I have a really particular pedagogy. I teach it a lot, and I teach a lot of different kinds of students. One thing I find that nearly every writer has in common, especially when they’re working on their first draft, is that momentum is more important than anything else. You don’t know what’ll happen to the finished draft. Then you can go back and apply things to it, but up until then, you are experimenting with choices. So when it comes to working with me – as an instructor, as a mentor, as a peer, as anything – my pedagogy is one that focuses mainly on praise, so that you know which of the choices you’re experimenting with are the strongest, and are getting across your message the strongest. And so you can hoard those choices. My approach to coaching is praise-focused because it gives students the chance to write toward their strongest choices instead of away from criticism, which honestly could stop a writer in their tracks. And the most important thing is to finish that first draft. “My approach to coaching is praise-focused because it gives students the chance to write toward their strongest choices instead of away from criticism.” The other thing that people can expect from me when it comes to coaching is that I have a pedagogy of decentralising the instructor. So in any group of novelists, I believe that we all have things to learn from each other; I am not special in that room. Working with me is a really non-hierarchical experience. I have tools and I am happy to hand those tools over to someone else - but someone else’s experience of their life and their art and their career is just as valid as my experience of mine, and their experience is more relevant to their life. So what you can expect from me is: here is an array of tools, we get to practice using them and then you get to pick which ones are actually working for you. I’m not going to impose my taste or aesthetic, or my practice, on somebody else. My practice works for me because I’m me. Read more on ‘useful praise’ by A.E. Osworth for Catapult. Brian Gresko: I try to be very available to students to field questions, and essentially to be a kind of accountability buddy but also there for support– that might require a pep talk, but sometimes it’s just knowing that somebody is there listening. I think especially with writing for publication – it’s a communicative art. It can help to have someone who is waiting to get your pages, and that gives you a certain amount of energy to complete them. Your mentor gives you real-time feedback on your work, and that also can help guide how you’re moving the narrative forward. I like really getting into the text and talking about story decisions. Structure, and pacing, are both really important to me. Besides reading, I’m a big television watcher and I think it’s a similar principle. Keeping your audience’s attention over around 300 pages is hard, and you have to really think about how you’re going to keep the energy of the reader chapter by chapter. “I try to be very available to students to field questions, and essentially to be both a kind of accountability buddy but also sometimes for support– that might require a pep talk, and sometimes it’s just knowing that somebody is there listening.\" So I will be talking to my students face-to-face once a month and seeing them together as a group once a month, and hopefully getting everyone to share some of the challenges and experiences finding their way through a story I try to help the author thread their way through their narrative structure, before they become lost. Sara Lippmann: As writers, we sit at our desks all day, in our own worlds, with all these characters looming large in our heads. It can be extremely isolating. I know. I get it. I\'ve been there. I\'m still there. As a mentor and coach, I am personable, honest, and hands-on. I will walk alongside you, cheering you on when you need it, but I will not blow smoke. I am an intuitive, close reader - that is, I read for intentionality in order to help you realize your vision on the page. “As a mentor and coach, I am personable, honest, and hands-on. I will walk alongside you, cheering you on when you need it, but I will not blow smoke.” I will keep you on track by holding you accountable, and I will push your work to the next level, encouraging you to lean into your natural narrative strengths and to stretch them beyond your comfort zone, toward greater urgency and resonance. I\'ll challenge you to take risks and dig deep, in order to excavate a larger truth. My style is a mix of merciless and generous, but I always come from a place of openness and love. Lindsey Alexander, A.E. Osworth and Sara Lippmann are available as tutors on the UNWC US/International course. They\'ll give you one-to-one book coaching and expert tuition as you write a publishable novel over a year. Find out more below. UNWC US / INTERNATIONAL Brian Gresko is now available as a mentor on the course with a UK/European timezone: UNWC UK / EUROPE Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Felicia Yap on weaving your life experiences into your writing

Friday Night Live shortlisted author, Felicia Yap, was snapped up by Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown soon after our 2015 Festival of Writing. Her brilliant high-concept thriller \'Yesterday\' was bought by Headline’s Alex Clarke for a six-figure sum. Her latest title, \'Future Perfect\', was also published by Headline in March 2021. Felicia has had an expansive and divergent career; we spoke to her about how you can use multiple interests to inform and add texture to your writing. JW: Hi Felicia! It\'s great to talk to you. Could you start by telling us about yourself as a writer? When did you start writing? FY: I started out as a journalist. I wrote newspaper articles from the age of nineteen (for The Economist and The Business Times, amongst other publications). Later on, I became a historian at the University of Cambridge and spent years writing academic papers about the Second World War. I only began writing fiction properly after the idea for my debut novel \'Yesterday\' came to me; the concept struck me on my way to a dance studio in Cambridge. I started writing the next day and I’m glad I did. JW: Tell us about your journey to publication. Were there any events or resources that helped you along the way? FY: I was fortunate to be shortlisted for the Friday Night Live competition at the Festival of Writing in 2015. It was a joy to read the opening paragraphs of \'Yesterday\' to a large audience in York; I was thrilled by how the audience responded. It made me confident that my story began decently – which in turn made me twice as determined to finish my manuscript. \"Nothing in life is ever wasted when it comes to writing.\" JW: So, you got your agent – what happened next? FY: I did an extensive round of edits with my agent. He then sent out my manuscript and it went to auction in multiple territories. JW: What happened at the auction?   FY: I had the wonderful privilege of speaking to several editors in both the United Kingdom and America, to find out if we shared similar visions for the manuscript. It was an exciting time. JW: You’ve had a multi-hyphenate career, including working as a radioactive-cell biologist, a war historian, and a technology journalist. How have your different career paths informed your writing? FY: I have drawn on technical elements and knowledge from the professional orbits I\'ve moved through. I have also incorporated sensory details from these worlds. My second novel \'Future Perfect\' combines high fashion with technology; the book is set in the near future where computers will be able to predict how we will live and when we will die. The first chapter is told by a model who carries a bomb down a catwalk in Manhattan. I used to be a runway model and wrote quite a few articles on detection/prediction technologies for The Economist in the past. \'Yesterday\' contains spoof academic papers and science articles in the house styles of the publications I have contributed to. Nothing in life is ever wasted when it comes to writing. JW: Do you have any tips for balancing writing alongside other, seemingly divergent pursuits? FY: My unorthodox pursuits have stemmed from curiosity; I’m fascinated by the delicious possibilities out there, the things worth trying and doing. I’m convinced that divergent activities can enrich a person’s life (and one’s writing), especially the quirky ones. Life is too short not to be embraced fully. If one truly enjoys one’s pursuits, balance will come naturally. JW: Your writing balances being very high concept whilst at the same time achieving the complexity of a murder mystery. How do you approach this? FY: I normally begin with the concept and iron out the details later. Both my novels were inspired by conundrums, questions I knew I would be happy spending two years of my life figuring out the answers to. \'Yesterday\' grew out of the question: ‘How do you solve a murder if you only remember yesterday?’ While \'Future Perfect\' was inspired by the concept: ‘What if today were your last day?’ Yet, high concepts are merely empty canvases on which to hang narratives. What makes a story sparkle are the tiny yet lively details that populate it. JW: Is your writing more research-driven or informed by the experiences you’ve already had? FY: All my writing is informed by personal experience, the things I have done or encountered  (or eavesdropped on). I try to set my stories in places that I have visited before or know well. This is because the five senses are crucial in the art of storytelling, especially their rich alchemy. Stories come alive when readers can feel, touch, hear, taste and see what the characters are experiencing. I believe that one can only write about the five senses convincingly if one has experienced them in the magical amalgamation unique to a particular location. I also do a lot of research but only after I have completed the first drafts of my manuscripts. It helps to know what you don’t know, so that you can ask the right people the right sort of questions. \"High concepts are merely empty canvases on which to hang narratives. What makes a story sparkle are the tiny yet lively details that populate it.\" JW: Do you think that your experience as a journalist had an impact on your writing? FY: Most certainly. The first paragraph of The Economist Style Guide continues to resonate with me. It says: “Clarity of writing usually follows clarity of thought. So think what you want to say, then say it as simply as possible.” JW: Were there any other resources you found helpful along the way? I did a couple of writing courses; they helped me understand the basic ‘rules’ of storytelling and gave me some appreciation of form, structure, and technique. It helps to know the rules if you hope to break them. More importantly, the courses put me in touch with other writers. Many of my classmates have since become good friends and we still send our works-in-progress to each other for critical feedback. \"It helps to know the rules if you hope to break them.\" JW: What are you working on next? FY: I wish I could tell you but I’m afraid it might jinx what I’m currently working on. Even my long-suffering partner Alex hasn’t got a clue! About Felicia Felicia Yap is the author of the speculative literary thrillers \'Future Perfect\' and \'Yesterday\', published in multiple languages around the world. She has worked as a radioactive-cell biologist, a war historian, a university lecturer, a technology journalist, a theatre critic, a flea-market trader, and a catwalk model. Read more about Felicia Yap on her website. FUTURE PERFECT YESTERDAY Follow Felicia Yap on Twitter at @FeliciaMYap

The 10 Best Children’s Book Publishers In 2022

It isn’t easy, becoming a children’s book author. From deciphering endless submission requirements to learning that your dream publisher doesn’t accept submissions from authors without an agent, it can be difficult finding the right home for your work. In this article, I will endeavor to make the process of getting a children’s book published a bit clearer for you, as well as include my top picks for children’s book publishers. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of options out there, and you should be armed with the best possible knowledge out there. You’ll learn the submission requirements for some of the top children’s book publishers, as well as some examples of children’s books these companies have already published so that you can choose a publisher that aligns with your current book.  Still plotting your next book and unsure if you are writing at a level that’s optimal for children? I encourage you to read our existing post regarding everything you need to know about creating a children’s book, from start to finish! Now, onto the publishers. Best Children’s Book Publishers Before I discuss some of the top children’s book publishers and their most successful children’s books, I should note that not all children’s book publishers accept submissions directly from authors. Some only accept submissions from literary agents, and you should keep this in mind before falling in love with any one publisher. It is also important to know which category your work falls under. While this may not seem necessary right away, some publishers may only be looking for certain submissions at certain times. And some kid’s book publishers may not even accept certain varieties of children’s books.  The most common submission types are as follows:  Children’s fictionChildren’s non-fictionChildren’s picture books If you are unsure if your current manuscript meets any of these categories, you may wish to consider our Children’s Manuscript Assessment program. Through this editing service, our  team of editors will read your entire manuscript and give you structured editorial feedback that you can use to craft your work into shape. If your editor thinks your work is ready, we’ll also help you find the right agent, for free. Now, let’s get onto the publishers. Keep in mind that the following is only a summary list of some of the best children’s book publishers, and that many more exist. I do hope that one of these choices suits your publishing needs perfectly! Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA With offices around the world and prominent publishing houses in both the US and the UK, Bloomsbury Books is a top contender for children’s book publishing. Established in 1986, Bloomsbury has many popular children’s book authors across every age group. Their YA fiction has grown increasingly popular, their authors often topping the New York Times Bestseller list. Their kid’s division covers all books for any age, from picture books to young adult novels. Bloomsbury is known for publishing high fantasy YA fiction and heartwarming tales that help provide kid-friendly entry points into emotional intelligence topics. Some of their most popular authors and series are Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival and Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer.  The unfortunate news is that, unless you have a YA book ready to go, Bloomsbury only accepts submissions from a literary agent. However, feel free to take a look at their website for any more useful information, including their various adult and children’s book authors. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, known as HMH for short, has gone through a few changes in its recent past. Now known as either Clarion Books or Mariner Books, this company has been a mainstay in children’s publishing since 1832. From board books to graphic novels, HMH publishes just about any children’s book you can think of. HMH has worked hard to develop programs for more unique voices in publishing, including new authors in their children’s publishing division. Entitled VERSIFY, this fantastic publishing program reflects a need for accessible and powerful prose and poetry—in children’s picture books, novels, and nonfiction. HMH strives to publish work that can celebrate the lives and reflect the possibilities of all children. For the most part, HMH is an agent-only submission publishing house. However, their VERSIFY program does accept unsolicited submissions during certain parts of the year. Learn more about HMH and its various submission opportunities here.  Holiday House Established in 1935 as a publishing company for young readers, Holiday House is a wonderful organization to submit your children’s book to. Their books are processed and distributed as a division of Penguin Random House, and they publish children’s books from ages 4 and up. From picture books to nonfiction informational handbooks, they are publishing some of the most creative and educational children’s books out there. Given their commitment to education and teaching children about major childhood themes, their website’s search engine for currently published books is in-depth and informative. From young readers books such as Lunch Box Bully by Hans Wilhelm to riveting and humorous YA fantasy like the Devil series by Donna Hosie, Holiday House no doubt publishes something for every kid in your life. Holiday House does indeed accept unsolicited submissions, which is great news for those of you without an agent. They don’t have the time to respond to every submission that they receive, but they will of course reach out if your manuscript interests them. You can learn more about their variety of books, list of awards received, and their submission process here.  Chicago Review Press An independent publisher founded in 1973, the Chicago Review Press strictly publishes nonfiction, including an award-winning selection of children’s nonfiction. They are firm in their desire when it comes to children’s picture books: they do not accept them, whether fiction or nonfiction. However, that doesn’t mean you are completely out of luck. If you have a fantastic nonfiction book for children, their submission process is clear and easy to follow on their website! While nonfiction children’s activity books are their bread and butter, their topics range broadly, from the history of American environmentalism all the way to Salvador Dali. There are a lot of perks to publishing with a small independent publisher, including the fact that they accept unsolicited submissions without an agent. If your book fits the niche that is the Chicago Review Press, they are an award-winning publisher that would be happy to have your nonfiction children’s workbook! Flashlight Press Looking for another publisher searching for very specific submission guidelines? Check out the specificity needed from Flashlight Press, a children’s book publisher hunting exclusively for books that explore and illuminate the touching and humorous moments of family situations and social interactions through captivating writing and outstanding illustrations. What does this mean, exactly? Well, if your book targets 4–8 year olds, is under 1000 words, and has a universal theme fitting with many other Flashlight Press titles, you may have found a home for your book! Their titles vary wildly in themes, but all of them have to do with childhood themes and concerns. All of the books tend to tackle these themes with a sense of humor, such as I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll, and Carla’s Sandwich by Debbie Herman.  So long as you are familiar with the rest of Flashlight Press’s work and think your book has a similar thematic feel, their submission process is easy. Feel free to submit without an agent too, and check out Flashlight’s website here. Simon & Schuster Children\'s Publishing An American publishing company started in 1924, Simon & Schuster is a powerhouse, capable of publishing 2,000 titles annually under 35 different imprints. Their children’s publishing division is just as lauded and award winning, and they publish just about anything ages 0-12 as well as everything young adult.  There’s no shortage of award-winning selections published by Simon & Schuster, including the ever-popular To All the Boys I\'ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han, and the City Spies series by James Ponti. Simon & Schuster may not be the easiest publishing company to publish with for your first book, especially because they don’t accept submissions without an agent. However, they should definitely be a publishing company to reach for as you grow as a children’s author! Learn more about them here. Chronicle Books San Francisco-based favorite Chronicle Books has a wonderful eye for the unique and aesthetic storyteller. Their children’s books are beloved and unique, and this small independent publisher receives more than 1,000 submissions a month for their YA department alone! They publish most children\'s books ideas, including activity books, art books, board books, picture books, chapter books, young adult, games, and gift and stationery items. While they accept a wide variety of children’s publishing themes, it is important to note that, since Chronicle receives so many submissions, they are hoping for the most unique and innovative stories out there. No pressure, right? At any rate, check out their submission process and desires here! Ladybird Books UK-based and another division of the Penguin Group, Ladybird books is perfect if you’ve got a bedtime story to tell. Their lineup of children’s books is primarily geared toward younger audiences, from toddlers to roughly age ten. They have many award winning series published under their name, including many Peppa Pig books.  Their offerings also include a long list of informative nonfiction titles, such as books about the human body and our natural world. While publishing for any division of Penguin may seem complicated at first, they have provided an easy to read guide regarding their submission process. I believe having an agent would be useful if you are hoping to submit to any Penguin Group.  Quirk Books Looking for a smaller publishing agency for your unique and captivating children’s book? Publishing only around 25 books a year, Quirk Books is based in Philadelphia and is searching for the most original, cool, and fun ideas out there. Is your book creative enough for Quirk? It’s one of my favorite publishing companies, having taken the helm on series such as the Miss Peregrine anthology by Ransom Riggs. Quirk Books has a very informative and helpful submission page, found here. They have clearly outlined books that they are interested in, as well as appropriate emails for your submissions. From popular YA series to nonfiction books for young readers, Quirk publishes just about anything, so long as it’s quirky. August House Publishers A more traditional publishing company, August House Publishers are seeking children’s book authors committed to folktales, diverse and memorable. They enjoy stories from many diverse backgrounds, as well as stories that work well as oral tales, stories meant to be passed on from generation to generation. They also have a soft spot for scary stories and stories that can be used in a classroom environment.  August House is committed to children’s publishing, and there’s no shortage of awards gifted to them for such a commitment. If you have a picture book made especially for young readers or a story related to folktales, stories from the oral tradition, stories from diverse cultures, scary stories and resource books about using stories or storytelling in the classroom, August House Publishers may be the right choice for you. You can email them and learn more about their submission process here. Conclusion While I hope you found a few excellent children’s book publishers from this list, do keep in mind that there are many more that are worth your consideration. Whether you have an agent or not, there are always publishers seeking the best new stories out there. Yours could very well be one of them! What are some of your top publisher picks for your children’s book? Are you still crafting your book? I encourage you to take some time exploring our website for many publishing resources, and perhaps consider joining the world’s leading online writers club! Happy writing! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Aliya Ali-Afzal on working with her agent & choosing a publisher at an auction

Aliya Ali-Afzal became a member of Jericho Writers in 2019, signing with her agent in 2020. Aliya’s debut novel, ‘Would I Lie to You?’, will be published by Head of Zeus in the UK and Grand Central Publishing in the US in July 2021. Having already proven to be in-demand at auction, it looks set to be incredibly popular. Aliya is represented by Juliet Mushens of Mushens Entertainment. We spoke to her about the working relationship between author and agent, and the surreal experience of choosing a publisher from an online auction.   JW: Hi Aliya! Great to talk to you. We’re really intrigued by the concept of your debut - where did the inspiration for ‘Would I Lie to You?’ come from?  AA: The initial inspiration came from something that happened in my own life. I had been on a big spending spree, and when I got home, my husband called to say he had lost his job. I felt a surge of panic - then guilt - as I thought about all the money I had spent, especially as my husband didn’t know about it. This sparked the idea about what would happen if someone had spent a lot more in secret, and unless they could put that money back quickly, they risked losing everything.  I’m fascinated by human nature and when I worked in London as a career and life coach, I saw how people’s sense of self can sometimes get caught up with how much they earn and what they have, rather than who they are. I also wanted to explore what happens after someone makes a terrible mistake. Can we ever put things right and can others ever forgive us?   JW: How did Jericho Writers membership help you with your writing journey?  AA: I became a member of Jericho Writers in the Spring of 2019, when I had just started editing my novel. I listened to every single podcast and video in the resource library! There’s a really broad range of topics covered including plot, characterisation, editing, writing cover letters and synopsis. I also loved watching Slushpile Live.  In September 2019, I attended the Festival of Writing in York for the first time and loved the panels and workshops. In my one-to-one session the agent asked for the full manuscript, which was an incredible boost for my confidence. It was also very helpful meeting other writers who shared their experience and tips about the submissions process. I felt inspired by hearing stories about writers who had found agents, after countless rejections!  All these things helped enormously when I started submitting in November 2019 - which resulted in me signing up with Juliet Mushens in January 2020. I would recommend that writers sign up with Jericho Writers immediately!  \"I became a member of Jericho Writers in the Spring of 2019, when I had just started editing my novel. I listened to every single podcast and video in the resource library!\" JW: In what ways have writing groups helped you along in your journey to publication?  AA: Our group meets every fortnight to give honest feedback, help with plot ideas, synopsis, advice on cover letters, agents, and publication. We also provide each other with that other vital ingredient for writers- moral support! The group has been invaluable and feels like having my own personal hotline whenever I need help!  Knowing each other’s work intimately, we feel comfortable enough to point out things that could be improved or are not working. By workshopping regularly, we also shift the focus from writing being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, to work that is simply being edited and improved. This is an important distinction. As well as learning how to give clear, productive feedback, it is important to know how to receive and process feedback too. Over the years, I’ve almost developed an intuition about which feedback I want to take on (often something that most people in the group agree on), and which elements of the feedback I disagree with. After a while, you learn to trust your own instincts as well, and it is important to be able to reject feedback sometimes too, even if you value and accept it most of the time.  \"[We] provide each other with that other vital ingredient for writers- moral support! The group has been invaluable and feels like having my own personal hotline whenever I need help!\" JW: Can you tell us about how you found representation with Juliet Mushens?  AA: Juliet was my dream agent and there were several reasons why she was at the top of my list. I knew that she represented some incredible writers, who all raved about what a great agent she was. She was super successful and brilliant at her job, but also seemed very passionate about it, which I admired. I followed her on Twitter and found that we shared a similar sense of humour and a love of beautiful dresses, which also convinced me that she would be my perfect agent!  I attended an excellent Guardian masterclass that she presented on how to find an agent, but was too shy to go and introduce myself or even ask a question. I did, however, take lots of notes! By the time I submitted to Juliet via the slush pile, I had done months of research about her wish list and wrote a targeted and personalised cover letter. Juliet asked for the full manuscript the same day that I submitted to her. Five days later, she emailed me to offer representation. It was, without doubt, the best email I had ever received in my life!  In total I submitted to five agents and it took me seven weeks to find representation. I had expected it to take months, even years, so I was blown away at the speed at which it all happened. Some of this was of course down to luck and timing too, but I think it also helped that I did months of research, preparation and hard work before I started to submit. JW: What’s your working relationship with your agent like? What do you think are the benefits of having an agent?  AA: Juliet is an incredible, extraordinary agent. Despite being insanely busy, she is always available for me and makes me feel as if I am her only client! She is direct and honest in her communication and I love that – I\'m the same and I feel comfortable saying what I think to her. We also instantly got on when we met, so I really enjoy working with her too.  The most valuable aspect of having Juliet as my agent is that I absolutely trust her opinion on both business and creative matters. I have consulted her throughout the publication process and value her advice. This is especially important as a debut, when you can feel out of your depth.  Juliet is also a brilliant editor, and gave me extensive editorial feedback. I love brainstorming with her, and it helps that we are both obsessed with working on the manuscript until it\'s perfect, however many rounds of edits it takes!  \"Juliet asked for the full manuscript the same day that I submitted to her. Five days later, she emailed me to offer representation. It was, without doubt, the best email I had ever received in my life!\" JW: Can you describe the auction?  AA: It was a surreal and very exciting experience. Under normal circumstances, we would have visited each publisher’s offices for the auction, but under lockdown, everything took place on Zoom. Each publisher’s entire team- editorial, marketing and publicity - pitched to me and Juliet, showing us presentations about their publication plans and creative visions for ‘Would I Lie to You?’ We also chatted to see how we got on.  After years of wondering if I would ever get an agent or any interest at all from a publisher, I suddenly had three publishers, each wanting me to choose them! It was a great feeling to have these amazing publishers telling me how much they loved my writing and discussing my characters with me. It boosted my confidence enormously, both in my writing and in my story. Juliet debriefed me after each pitch and outlined all the factors I needed to consider before making my decision.  JW: Do you have one last piece of advice for the JW members?  AA: Prepare, prepare, prepare, before you start to submit!    About Aliya   Aliya Ali-Afzal is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London, and studied Russian and German at University College London. She is an Alum of the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course. Aliya lives in London and is a career and life coach.   Get Would I Lie to You? from Waterstones From From Amazon Follow Aliya on Twitter: @AAAiswriting 

How Taking A Writing Course Helped My Confidence Grow

We’re thrilled to be launching another year of our Ultimate Novel Writing Course. It’s the most practical, hands-on course we offer, helping you go from first draft to full publishable manuscript with expert tuition and ongoing support. We chatted to Sharon Dunne, a student on the 2020-2021 course, about how the UNWC has impacted her writing journey.   JW: Hi Sharon! What stage were you at with your writing before the UNWC?   SD: I had very little experience before the course. I\'d always loved writing but it just wasn’t feasible as something to do as a career, at least not in my circle. I started writing properly about a year beforehand and, after eleven or twelve months, I realised that I needed help. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I was just going with it - but if I wanted to make it a serious career, I really needed some help.   JW: What was your favourite part of the course?   SD: It’s hard to choose! Meeting my group was absolutely amazing because they were such great support. You end up building a friendship - a supportive circle where you can help each other when someone is struggling. That was one of my favourite things. I think the weekly exercises, the feedback, and the tutoring have been excellent as well. I had started with a book, but I ended up deleting a whole 96,000 words and starting again. I’d thought I needed a little bit of help, but I realised quite quickly that it just wasn’t good enough. The first tutor feedback I had was from Wes (Brown, UNWC tutor) and it was really good. He gave feedback in such a supportive way that it encouraged me to start again. Now I’ve just finished my manuscript. It’s just been sent off to Lindsey (Alexander, UNWC tutor) and it’s so much better. I basically learned from the ground up and I worked really hard at it – the whole experience was great.   JW: Amazing! Do you think starting from scratch on your MS was made a little easier because of that support?  SD: Yes, definitely! I had started writing without knowing I needed the basics, but once I’d started learning them I realised that [my original manuscript] wasn’t good enough and there was no point in trying to make a load of changes. In the end I just wanted to start again. Actually, I think I was more excited than anything. Whatever chapter I was writing, I would use that for whatever was the focus of the course each week – so I was kind of tweaking as I went, as well. The weekly tasks were really good because I performed them on my work-in-progress as I wrote.    I had started with a book, but I ended up deleting a whole 96,000 words and starting again... JW: It sounds like that corresponded really well then! Which aspect of the course did you find the most challenging?  SD: I have four small children and I work, so I suppose for me the most challenging thing really was just finding the time. But I was, and still am, very creative and I was learning very fast throughout the course. It was during that time I realised I just loved it – I really loved it. So I made sure I made the time, whether it was 9pm at night or getting up at 6am and doing a couple of hours in the morning. That was probably the most challenging aspect, but it was good to fully commit.   JW: How have you found fitting the course round your schedule?  SD: The course is great; it’s so flexible, especially for someone like me whose time is very limited. The amount of time and effort you give it is up to you and I think the more you put in, the more you’re going to get out of it. So I just decided that I was going to do the task every week no matter what, whether that was late night or early morning. I think that helped with building relationships with everyone in my group, as well. We also set up some monthly zoom calls where we could talk things through and see if anyone needed any help.   JW: It must be lovely to have that nice, supportive environment, because sometimes writing can be quite isolating. How would you rate your confidence with writing after the UNWC?  SD: I’m way more confident now! I believe that it’s possible now, and I’ve just committed to keep going.    JW: That’s brilliant! Do you feel that you have something close to being ready to submit?  SD: I’ve just submitted my work-in-progress to Lindsey (Alexander, UNWC tutor). I’m waiting for the response and then I’ll have feedback to do the next draft. I have a few drafts done – the second draft is the one that’s just gone over for critique. I would hope that I could then do another draft with Lindsey’s feedback – she’s been great as well – and hopefully then be ready to submit. Actually, last year I booked the Jericho Writers Self-Edit Your Novel Course  for this September, so I’ll do that with my new draft, and I’m hoping that after that I’ll be ready to submit.   I\'m way more confident now! I believe that it’s possible now, and I’ve just committed to keep going. JW: Amazing – I look forward to hearing about how you find the Self-Edit course as well. Lots of people have said great things about Debi [Alper] and Emma [Darwin].   SD: Yes I’ve definitely enjoyed them in webinars! I’ve also found the webinars really good – on the Jericho Website I found the ‘How to Write’ video course that Harry did, and I found that super-useful. I watched the whole thing when I first started writing.  JW: To what extent do you feel being an UNWC student has helped you find new opportunities?  SD: I think I’ve been opened up to an awful lot of opportunities because now I understand so much more about the fundamentals of writing. I have a lot more knowledge of how agents and publishers work, the different ways to get published, how difficult it is to get published and the standard your work needs to be at before you submit. Also, the importance of having a supportive team – I got to know all the other writers, knew where I could go for help, the different types of assessments and reviews you could get on your manuscript, and the whole writing world in general. I suppose that was especially good for me because I was very new to it – before I started this course, I didn’t know any other people who wrote in their spare time.   JW: I’m so glad you had that for support; having like-minded people around you is so important to keep going. In what ways do you think taking a writing course is helpful (compared to learning independently)?  SD: I think mainly it helps because of all the support. I know some people don’t like critique, but I loved it because it told me where I was going wrong. It made me want to change it - otherwise I would have never known! Obviously so much was wrong – nearly everything was wrong – and it was all revealed in the critique so maybe even from the first week it set me on the right track. Lindsey talked me through and I realised, okay, this is just not good enough. I know if I’d kept writing independently, I wouldn’t have improved. Some people perhaps are born being able to write well, but I needed to learn.   JW: You definitely do need that constructive criticism sometimes, especially in the early stages. Is there anything else you’d like to add?   SD: Generally, the tutors were all fantastic, and the group as well. I’ve found that the whole thing has been a really enjoyable experience and it’s taught me so much.   Sharon Dunne is an Irish mother of four young boys. She is a primary school teacher (who previously worked in advertising) and lives in the sunny South East, although she often questions the \'sunny\' part! Sharon is writing a novel called Phoenix Park, which follows the lives of three Irish women, two of whom are running for President. The third is a relentless reporter with the Viral Touch, who\'s covering the election. One of them is hiding a secret and when it\'s uncovered, the trajectory of all three women\'s lives are changed forever The Ultimate Novel Writing Course is now open for applications for Summer 2022/23. With online tutorials and mentoring sessions led by leading authors in their fields alongside in-person events, editorial assessments, literary agent inductions, and more - no other course offers this level of support as you work towards publication. Find out more: Ultimate Novel Writing Course Summer 2022/23 Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

NaNoWriMo: How To Write A Novel In 30 Days

NaNoWriMo: How To Write A Novel In 30 Days Ah, autumn. Crisp mornings. Brisk winds. Back to school weather, new pencil cases, pumpkin-flavoured everything, and writers all over the world preparing to take part in NaNoWriMo. They’re all a bit bonkers – right? Surely there is no sensible reason to write 50,000 words in 30 days? I beg to disagree. It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and if you’re reading this then I am hoping that it’s something that you’re considering, and if you are, then let me share five good reasons why you should go for it.  5 Good Reasons to Join NaNoWriMo 1. November is a Great Month to Write The weather’s dire, even when we aren\'t in a global lockdown, so why not put every moment of spare time to use and write? And if not now – when? Even better, get a head start this year in October with JW\'s free NaNoWriMo event. 2. You Have Nothing to Lose It’s only thirty days, and at the end of it you will potentially have 50,000 words that you didn’t have before. The key to it is letting go of the expectation of writing something GOOD. Nobody can write a perfect novel in a month. Whatever you end up with will need serious editing, if you feel like it. You’re not writing a masterpiece in a month, you’re just going to WRITE. And that is tremendously liberating. 3. It\'s Great Fun! Writing is by nature a solitary business, but this is an annual opportunity to be cheered along whilst you do it, to engage in competitive sprinting (writing for a given amount of time without stopping) if that’s your thing, or at least to be encouraged by a host of pep talks and discussions with fellow writers locally and around the world. And a side note: if you’re having fun while you’re writing, it will probably be better than anything you’ve written that’s felt like a chore. 4. It\'s a Magic Cure for Writer\'s Block No, really – it is. There is nothing like the pressure of a deadline to get you writing. If you get stuck, you can skip to the next scene, or change your story completely, or even throw in the Travelling Shovel of Death (a traditional NaNoWriMo technique). There are many suggestions on the NaNoWriMo forums to help you if you get stuck, and because there is no pressure for your writing to be good, then there is nothing stopping you bouncing off that metaphorical wall and back into the story. 5. You Never Know Where This Might Lead There are many published novels that started life in November - have a look here if you don’t believe me. Seven out of my eight published novels were NaNoWriMo novels. Admittedly each one took a year or more to edit, but we’re not talking about editing now, we’re talking about writing. What I’m saying is: I’m a normal person, whatever that is, and if I can do it, you can do it. How Do I Plan For NaNoWriMo? There’s plenty you can be doing now to prepare to write your novel. If you’ve already got a story idea, there are some brilliant, encouraging and comprehensive guides to planning your novel right here on the Jericho Writers website – see How To Plan A Novel and this guide on how to flesh out your ideas quickly with The Snowflake Method. Planning is just part of it, however. You’re writing a novel, you’ll need to take yourself seriously. If you tell all your friends and family that you’re going to do NaNoWrimo, then you are making yourself accountable, because you can bet they’ll all be asking you how the novel’s going during November and beyond – and as a bonus, it’s a great excuse to get you out of things you don’t want to do. Social events can wait till December – you’re writing a novel. The laundry can wait for a bit – you’ve got writing to do. Shopping? Let someone else take their turn. (On a practical level, if you celebrate Christmas, it’s a good idea to do some festive shopping and Christmas card writing now – December is going to come around mighty quickly if you’ve spent the whole of November writing.) It’s also worth pointing out (in case you’re reading this on Halloween) that you don’t need to plan at all. You can dive straight in on day one, or even several days in, if you missed the start. You can write an entire novel without planning – it’s called Pantsing, or writing by the seat of your pants. It will mean that you’ll probably have more editing to do later, but it’s no less valid a technique. In fact – hands up – I am a Pantser and proud. I never plan. I get bored if I know what’s going to happen. How Many Words Am I Going To Have To Write? To reach your goal by the end of the month, you’ll need to write 1,667 words a day. That sounds like a lot – and it IS a challenge, let’s be honest: if it was easy, everyone would be doing it, wouldn’t they? But if you manage to turn off your inner editor, put aside the urge to fix problems as you go along, and just WRITE – you’ll be surprised how quickly your total goes up. Remember, NaNoWriMo is all about quantity, not quality – and while that might sound counter-productive, actually in the process of writing freely you’ll find that some of what you’ve written is really pretty good. As a 15-year veteran of NaNoWriMo, here are my top tips for getting it done: 1. Try and Get Ahead of the Game Inevitably, there will be some days in the month when real life will intervene, and you won’t be able to write. If you’re ahead in terms of word count, it won’t feel quite such a slog to get back to the story. Aim for 2,000 words or more a day in the first week, if you can. 2. Track Your Progress and Celebrate Milestones The NaNoWriMo website has a helpful graph to show your progress and it’s very motivating to stay on or ahead of that target line. Every 10,000 words is a victory! 3. Sprints are Great You might not be accustomed to writing at speed, but in fact, the only writer you are competing against is yourself. If you can write 300 words in 20 minutes, set a timer and try to do 320 words next time. How Can I Stay Motivated? Writing a novel in a month is something of a rollercoaster. There will be days when your story just flies and it’s hard to write fast enough, and then there are days when every word is painful. There is an acknowledged ‘Wall’ that most participants hit, often around Week Three – so if you’re struggling, you’re definitely not alone. This is where your writing buddies can help. Others in the Jericho Writers community will also be taking part – find a friend for a bit of mutual accountability, and maybe do some sprints together. Join your local NaNoWriMo region, too. There are no in-person events taking place this year, but every region will have its own community and online writing events throughout the month to help you with your wordcount. If you’re not feeling sociable, there are plenty of other resources to keep you going – personally, I can recommend Focusmate and Brain FM to help maintain concentration. Tell yourself that this is only a month, and the achievement at the end will feel amazing. Give yourself rewards for sticking with it, and try to write every day – or don’t go more than a day without writing at least something, even if it’s a sentence. You’ll probably write more. If you’re stuck, the NaNoWriMo forums provide solutions to most problems. You can ask others to unravel your plot dilemmas (often the act of describing the issue to someone else will help your brain to find the solution). You’ll also find extensive lists of user-provided ‘adoptables’ – for example, ‘adopt a plot twist’, or ‘adopt a character’ – ideas for you to throw into your story when you get stuck. They might not work, but they will keep you writing while your brain works out how to pick up your story again. Beware of procrastination, and getting in your own way! At this point I think it’s important to say it again: YOU CAN DO IT. How Much Should I Edit My Writing? Not at all. Just – don’t. It’ll interrupt your flow, cause you to doubt yourself, and takes valuable time away from driving that word count forward. November is not the time for editing – your inner editor should be locked in a virtual cupboard for the duration. I’ve made that sound very absolute, but it’s not quite that brutal. If you make a spelling mistake as you go along, by all means fix it, especially if it makes you twitchy. But what you shouldn’t do is delete anything. If what you’ve just written doesn’t make sense, type ‘FIX THIS’ or some other searchable place marker, and write the paragraph or chapter again. If your plot takes an unexpected detour that you know is horrendously waffly, leave it be. If your characters end up having a long conversation about pandemics, let them carry on and maybe encourage them to discuss Brexit while they’re at it. You know you’re making a mess. You know you’ll read this all later and wail ‘what was I thinking?’ but that doesn’t matter during November. Quantity, not quality! What\'s Next? Whether you make 50,000 (or more!), or any amount at all, celebrate your achievement, collect your winner’s goodies from the NaNoWriMo website, and have a well-deserved rest. It’s a good idea to let that novel sit undisturbed for a while, certainly at least a month. In the dark days of the new year you can revisit it, read through (and marvel at the bits you can’t even remember writing) and decide whether your story has potential. Mostly, despite the mess, it will have some really rather brilliant bits, and then the work of untangling, restructuring, and developing can begin. Have I convinced you to have a go? I hope so. It’s a complete blast. In the words of Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, the world is waiting for your novel. This is your chance! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Getting Rejected By Literary Agents? Here’s What To Do Next

All writers face rejection. But what if you’ve sent your book to well over fifteen literary agents or small publishers and still aren’t getting anywhere? What do you do?   As a writer who has faced exactly this MANY times, I want to let you know that this doesn’t mean it is over. Not by any means. There are things you can do to continue working towards publication, even if that doesn’t feel possible right now.   So – let’s look at the options available to you.   Option 1: Edit The Crap Out Of This Book So maybe you have an idea here that agents seemed to be excited about, but you were getting feedback on something like ‘unlikable characters’, or ‘lack of voice’.  Fortunately, this is something that can be fixed with some hard work and perhaps even a bit of help from other people.   The first thing to do is to identify what parts of your book as it stands aren’t really working. This can be difficult in itself because a lot of agents don’t have the time to deliver feedback. You could be getting standard rejections, with no idea why.   This is where something like a Manuscript Assessment might come in handy. An experienced editor will read your entire book and give you a detailed report on what is working and what isn’t. You can then use this as a base to look at your book as objectively as you can, and ask yourself if that is something you are able, or willing to fix. This is a REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION that we’ll explore a little more in the next section.   But let’s say your feedback is mainly that your idea is brilliant, but your execution needs work. And you think you are able to do that work. What next?   Now, the real work begins. And it’s worth knowing from the off that re-writing a book is hard. First drafts are a doddle compared to it, because you have a blank page and a whole world of opportunity to write something awesome. So my personal tip for big re-writes is exactly that – start a new document. Learn from your old draft (and copy/paste some sections if they are working), but give yourself the space to write the book you are trying to write, rather than getting bogged down with what you already have.   There are people who can help at this stage, too. JW\'s brilliant Self-Edit Your Novel course was created specifically for this purpose. You can work with a tutor and a small group of writers in the same boat as you to identify and fix the issues with your book. With 1-in-5 alumni now published, it’s fair to say that it works!  Once you have something you are pleased with, send it out again to new agents, or any agents who have asked to see any changes again. You can also test it out with some competitions and see how far you get this time! Or if it\'s help with your submission pack that you\'re looking for, then try our agent submission pack review. Option 2: Write Another Book   This is my personal favourite option. I found myself in this very position three times before my debut novel was published, and I 100% stand by my decision to ditch every single one of those three books.   The thing was, that although each of those three lost books were good, they just weren’t good enough. The writing in my first book was dire – but then it would be – I was completely new to writing and I hadn’t learned the basics yet. My second book I think might have been a masterpiece, but wow – was it problematic. That book will never find a publisher because it couldn’t be marketed. And my third novel was fun, but I knew before I’d even finished that it just wasn’t special.   Your book needs to be absolutely mind-blowing to stand a chance in this market. It needs to have an original concept, brilliant characters, a striking voice and a plot that will keep readers turning pages. Nothing less is good enough.   I mentioned earlier that there was a REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION you needed to ask yourself. And that is: ‘Is this book really good enough? Or can I write something better?’   I know it can be hard to say goodbye to a project without really seeing an end to it. But it isn’t wasted time. Every book you write will take you one step closer to one that will launch your author career. So write another book. And if that’s not right, write another. And know that once you get published, you will keep needing to write, write and write some more – it never stops.   But that’s okay. Because we’re in this because we enjoy it, right?!  For anyone wanting to write another book and ensure their idea is marketable right from day one this time, then I recommend joining the Ultimate Novel Writing Course. This is ultimate for a reason.   Option 3: Self-Publish  Now this one comes with a big BUT. Self-Publishing IS an option, BUT it is NOT a last resort because you couldn’t get a traditional publishing deal.   Self-publishing takes a great deal of time, passion and dedication if it is going to work. It only works if you are willing to write book after book (preferably in the same world/series) and you accept the fact that you probably won’t sell any of this first book until after your third or fourth have come out.   To self-publish properly, you need to be a writing machine. You also need to learn everything you can about what it takes to become an indie author. You need to invest time and money into it, and so you need to be 100% sure that you are willing to do that.   If you are, then great. This is a fantastic option that should have perhaps been your option 1. You’ll earn more money from your books, have more of a say in how they are presented and engage with your readers in a way traditional authors can’t. Whatever option you choose, know that rejection doesn’t mean the end. If publication really is something you want, then get ready to roll up your sleeves and work for it. Read everything, learn everything and write the best book you possibly can. If you want it, you’ll get there.   Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Paul Braddon’s Journey To Publication & The Speculative Fiction Market

Paul Braddon discusses the publication process for his debut sci-fi/speculative fiction novel, ‘The Actuality’, published by Sandstone Press in 2021 and optioned by BBC Studios. Paul’s connection with Jericho Writers began with a series of manuscript assessments by Liz Garner. Paul also attended our Festival of Writing for several years and was shortlisted for Friday Night Live in 2013. He got his agent in 2018, and you can read about his journey to finding representation here. Set in a crumbling future England where human life has been bioengineered and subsequently outlawed, ‘The Actuality’ follows Evie, an example of near-perfect AI, as her hiding place is exposed and she is forced to take to the streets and make critical judgements about who she can and can’t trust. We loved that alongside explicit sci-fi themes, ‘The Actuality’ has notes of philosophy and human psychology which invite the reader to question what sets humans apart from machines. Its pace and journey-led structure would make it ideal for television. We sat down with Paul to discuss his debut, his experience working with his publisher Sandstone Press, and what it was like to have his work optioned by BBC Studios. JW: Hi Paul! When we last spoke, you had recently been signed by your agent. What role has she played since she took on ‘The Actuality’? The first thing Joanna (Joanna Swainson – Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency) helped with was making the manuscript as attention grabbing as possible. One of the challenges was ensuring that none of the tension dissipated during the opening chapters. To achieve this, I made sure that a reference to accumulating events appeared on every page. We also added a prologue to provide a foreshadowing of events and a chilling strapline (‘Fear makes her human / Humans make her fear’), which is now on the front cover of the hardback. Once the manuscript was ready, Joanna drew up a list of editors to approach and sent it out. We had favourable feedback from quite a few but Sandstone Press was first to the table with an offer. Joanna called to let me know in April 2019 – it was my birthday and the best birthday present I could have had. We were very happy to go with Sandstone. They’re a great indie publisher and having recently won the ‘Not the Booker’ with the dystopian ‘Sweet Fruit, Sour Land’ by Rebecca Ley, were keen to build a thread around speculative fiction. They had great ideas on how ‘The Actuality’ could be given a final polish and their enthusiasm was infectious. It took a few weeks to finalise the contract, with negotiations handled by Joanna, and then it came through to me to sign. JW: What has been the subsequent process of working with your publisher? Once the UK and Commonwealth rights had been acquired by Sandstone, the editorial work began. My editor, the talented Kay Farrell, gave me as the main challenge the reordering of section 4 (the novel is in five sections). She was absolutely right – the flow here was not working as well as it could. After spending a few weeks on a revised draft, I returned it and to my huge relief, had nailed it. The manuscript was then passed back and forth a half dozen times. It was all small things, like she’d challenge why a character was behaving in the way they were and I’d go back into a scene and try to understand her concerns. It was down to me to find solutions and make the changes. Kay’s role was to challenge but I’d usually find that she was right, and an improvement could be made. By October 2019 we had an agreed draft ready for proofreading. The proofreader – Georgie Coles – did an excellent job tidying the punctuation and ensuring consistency. Her changes were largely invisible – just as they should be – but afterwards the novel felt slicker and smoother. The cover then went out to the designer. I was asked to contribute ideas but had no expectation of what the creative mind of Heike Schüssler would come up with. The trade loves ‘different’ and her eye-popping, all-the-best-colours-from-the-children’s-paint-box design has garnered praise from all quarters and has been successful in heralding the novel’s literary ambitions. Christina Dalcher – author of the bestselling ‘VOX’ – submitted a lovely review and from it, the word ‘Exquisite’ was taken and added to the front cover. Next came typesetting and I was sent a pdf to check. Whenever I read the text through, I saw little things I wanted to change and although at this stage I wasn’t meant to be doing anything other than checking for typesetting errors, I persuaded Kay to allow me a few more tiny edits. Arrangements for the audiobook were also now completed. Sandstone don’t publish audiobooks themselves but sold the rights to W.F Howes – the audiobook specialist. The audiobook for ‘The Actuality’ is now complete and is read with great sensitivity by the actress Eva Feiler. Having been used to only hearing myself read my words, it’s such a pleasure to hear them spoken so movingly. In January 2020, I met with Ceris Jones, the Sandstone marketing exec, to discuss promotional plans, including the venue for the launch event – we were assuming a central London bookshop – and in the background I was compiling a list of attendees… …which is when the virus struck! Initially Sandstone tried to stick with July but when it became clear that bookshops would be closed, deferred publication to February 2021. The delay was a disappointment but also a silver lining, as it allowed time for an option for the TV/Film rights to be sold to BBC Studios, helping create a buzz ahead of publication. In the leadup to publication, social media activity has mounted. ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) have been sent out to reviewers to drum up excitement. One highlight is a piece on the BBC Culture website which positions ‘The Actuality’ in the footsteps of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. I think this is lovely and works on so many levels, not least in that there is indeed something of the gothic heroine in my ‘electric’ character Evie. The revised date for publication – Thursday 18th of February 2021 – is now upon us. As before, bookshops remain closed, but Sandstone have gained experience with online events and we have a Q&A on Twitter planned for lunchtime – plus hopefully an evening event to follow soon. I will also definitely have a proper launch party when circumstances allow and the wine can be safely shared around! ‘The Actuality’, Paul Braddon. Sandstone Press, 2021. JW: How would you place ‘The Actuality’ within the sci-fi/speculative fiction market?  ‘The Actuality’ straddles sci-fi / dystopia and literary fiction. What is rare about it, is that the story is presented through the point of view of the AI and maybe because of this, reviewers have engaged. In the words of The Publishing Planet: ‘As an exceptionally designed and advanced AI, Evie is outside the category of human but feels like the most human character in the book. Braddon’s ability to write about this rough and brutal world through the eyes of such an elegant and honest character is beguiling.’ I love that they love her. JW: The world in the novel is quite bleak – does this reflect your perception of what the future could be like or are you more optimistic? The setting of ‘The Actuality’ is 2135 and the impact of climate change has taken its toll on the environment and society. The UK has fragmented, suffers bitter winters and baking summers and the population has drastically shrunk as a result of a decline in fertility caused by unchecked pollution. All of this is completely plausible. However, our potential saviour is science – technological advance has created this mess, but it is quite within our wits to use further advances to find our way out. The rapid growth of electric vehicles is testament to this and the implementation of artificial intelligence will enable machines to aid us in the quest. JW: In very exciting news, ‘The Actuality’ has been optioned by BBC Studios! Can you explain what the process has been like so far?  It was amazing getting the news that we had an offer for the TV and film rights from BBC Studios. Joanna spotted the screen potential of ‘The Actuality’ right from the start. Her agency works with a specialist dramatics rights agent called Marc Simonsson who has all the studio contacts here and abroad and had been championing it, albeit the crucial lead came from a pitch made by Sandstone, with Marc expertly negotiating with BBC Studios to close the deal. The great thing about being optioned at this stage is that it gives us valuable pre-publication publicity. JW: What’s next for you, and how are you approaching new projects? ‘The Actuality’ was written as a standalone novel but the potential to develop the story is part of the appeal to BBC Studios and if a TV series is commissioned I might well revisit Evie’s world. I love dystopian/speculative themes and hope to work more in this genre. The novel I am currently working on however is a bit different – I’d love to say more because I’m very excited by it, but it’s early days and I can’t risk jinxing it! From Paul’s Agent, Joanna Swainson (Hardman & swainson Literary Agency) JW: Hi Joanna! Thanks for chatting to us. What was it about Paul’s manuscript that originally drew you to it? JS: I was initially drawn to Paul’s manuscript by the prospect of reading a novel set a hundred years in the future, in a ‘broken down England where technology has lurched forward then all but seized up’. This was how Paul described it in his pitch and although it sounds depressing, I immediately saw a vivid backdrop to a story with wonderful potential for exploring human nature. And then as soon as I started to read, I was hooked in by the atmosphere he creates and the protagonist, Evie, a beautifully drawn character who kept surprising me. JW: As an agent, what kind of thing are you looking for right now? JS: As an agent, I’m genuinely open to representing a wide range of fiction and non-fiction. Particular areas of interest in fiction are novels which explore the darker side of human nature, so crime and thrillers and horror (and folk horror). But I do also like funny and uplifting, too! And in fact, I think a book should put a smile on your face, whether it’s through humour itself, or irony, or sheer ingenuity of character or writing or whatever it is. We’re here to marvel and be entertained. I’m also a big fan of history and folklore, whether in fiction or non-fiction. JW: Could you comment on what it’s like pitching work in the sci-fi/speculative fiction market right now? JS: There are possibly slightly fewer editors you can approach for sci-fi/speculative fiction but pitching into this market is much the same as pitching in any other – it’s tough out there, but if the work is amazing then it should get the deal. If it’s speculative with cross over (i.e. book group or literary or other categories) appeal, then all to the better. But then sometimes you don’t really know if it will cross over until it’s published and embraced by the masses and it very much depends on how a publisher positions a book too. About Paul Braddon Paul Braddon lives in London with his wife Mary and son Thomas. He got the writing bug after coming runner-up in an essay competition as a teenager and went onto study English Literature at Reading University. You can check out Paul’s website here and follow him on Twitter here. Links to buy ‘The Actuality’: From Sandstone Press From Amazon From Hardman & Swainson Literary submissions information here. Got a manuscript ready to submit? Our renowned AgentMatch database has up-to-date information on every agent in the UK and US – perfect for compiling your shortlist.

How Steffanie Edward Went From 28 Rejections To A Two-Book Deal

We first met Steffanie Edward in 2018 when she became the first recipient of our Self-Edit Your Novel Course bursary. Two years later, we caught up with Steffanie to find out what it’s been like to sign her debut contract with a digital-first publisher, without the help of an agent, discuss writing for oneself, getting past the first draft, and, of course, her fantastic achievement with Bookouture. JW: Lovely to chat with you. Where are you at with your writing process right now? S: At the moment I’m doing structural edits – it’s all new to me. I’ve had my work looked at through manuscript feedback, but it’s nothing like this. Structural edits are much more detailed, and all in your hands. Rather than being given specific suggestions on where and how to make changes, you’re tackling specifics where you have to read the whole novel again and again to tweak and implement changes. It forces you to go deeper into your characters, makes you interrogate who they really are and why. JW: Your debut, ‘This Other Island’, comes out in May 2021. What can readers expect from it? S: It’s fresh, it’s different. It has lots of twists, turns, and surprises. Working with my editor, Isobel Akenhead, is helping me produce a novel which will have the biggest impact on readers it can possibly have, and I’m loving it. JW: How did you land your book deal? S: I was submitting to so many agents and just getting nowhere. Three or four of them said nice things in their rejection, but it was still a rejection. Then I signed up for a book surgery offered by Peepal Press. It was suggested that mine was quite a common journey for black writers – they often end up at independent presses because they can’t get an agent, and so it was suggested that I tried submitting to independent presses, like Peepal Press. I felt quite demoralised, but I submitted to a few independents. And then the Jericho Writers Summer Festival of Writing came up. I watched the Bookouture interview with Jenny Geras, and thought, ‘I really like this woman.’ Sometimes you just get a really good vibe. Jenny was saying all these nice things about how they don’t believe in slushpiles and you don’t need an agent to submit to them. I still didn’t submit – I thought I’d just get another rejection. Then the Jericho Writers newsletter came out and Harry did a write-up on Bookouture. He was very encouraging. He mentioned that if you do the maths, you’re more likely to get through with Bookouture than you are with an agent, just based on the number of submissions they accept per year. And there was another Jericho Writers piece about Bookouture encouraging black writers to submit to them. So, in the end, I submitted twice! JW: How did you feel when you found out Bookouture wanted to publish your novel? I was so overwhelmed. I’d had so many rejections from agents, I think I’d had 28 rejections. But then Isobel’s email said she was so pleased my book was assigned to her because she ‘absolutely LOVED IT’. I couldn’t believe it – it was an amazing moment. Debi Alper [who runs our Self Edit Your Novel Course] was the first person I told because she was always there with me. Every little disappointment, every time I had doubts, she’d say ‘just keep going!’ Every time I contacted her, she came swiftly back and really helped to prop me up. JW: That’s a lovely relationship to have. Do you think you’ll contact Debi for the draft of your second book as well? S: Yes, I’ll always be running things by her! I feel really blessed that I’ve met her, that she believed in me and that she kept encouraging me to hang in there. ‘Keep submitting,’ she’d say. ‘You just need to find the right person at the right time.’ JW: How did you discover our Self-Editing Course in the first place? S: I joined Jericho Writers in August 2018 mainly because I’d get access to loads of webinars and other things that I could tap into to learn more about writing and getting published. Then I saw the Self-Editing Course advertised and I thought, ‘well, I’ve got this novel I’ve been working on for the last ten years. Let me see if I can get moving on it.’ I’m not working – well not paid work anyway. I look after my mum who has Alzheimer’s, so I applied for the bursary and thought, nothing ventured, nothing gained. When Jericho contacted me to say I’d been successful, I couldn’t believe it. That was my first opening door. “I feel really blessed that I’ve met [Debi Alper], that she believed in me and that she kept encouraging me to hang in there.” JW: What has it been like to work with Bookouture? S: So far, I’ve found everyone to be very on the ball, easy to talk to and efficient. When I was submitting to agents, I noticed how young many of them were and I remember saying to Debi, they’re not going to get me, they won’t get my story. Not only am I a mature writer, but I am also a black writer. She told me I should just go for it. My editor, at Bookouture, Isobel Akenhead is young enough to be my daughter, but she knows her work and has a good eye for what works and what doesn’t. Also, she loves my work and actually gets it. JW: That’s exactly what you need. Sometimes, especially for a debut author, the publishing process can be really daunting. What was it like to negotiate the deal without an agent there backing you up? S: I didn’t like it. It took me away from the creative process to something more business orientated. On Debi’s advice, I joined the Society of Authors, and I sent the contract to them for feedback and advice. They gave advice on things I should query, but very little changed at the end I thought I’d take a chance and be positive about Bookouture because this is the contract that would launch my career, and they seem like a great fit. Everything moved quite fast. I just couldn’t believe this was happening to me, or that I was the person this was happening for. JW: It must be very overwhelming. Bookouture do things like royalties slightly differently don’t they? S: They don’t do advances, but they give you 45% of your sales. It really suits me. JW: They’re doing a few things that are quite radically different, which I think is so intriguing. Are there any challenges that you’re facing right now as an author, and how are they different to challenges you might have faced in the past? S: I feel now that I’ve signed a contract, I’ve joined the big league. So, I can’t get demoralised, or say, ‘I can’t be bothered to write today.’ But the great motivating thing about it is that I’m not writing in the hope that a publisher or an agent will take me on. Things are clearer, I know the stories I’m writing will be published. I love writing, find it satisfying all my efforts are being rewarded and it’s exciting, so it’s all great. JW: How long have you been writing for? S: I started writing seriously in my thirties. I wrote a novel when I was living in Abu Dhabi, despite knowing nothing about writing. I sent it off to all these agents in England, and all of them said ‘get stuffed,’ basically. I abandoned it, and then when I came back to England I started going on courses and getting my short stories published. I was really into Octavia E. Butler, who wrote sci-fi. All her main characters were black, and I liked that about her – I liked that they were women as well. I thought perhaps I could write a story like that. My first novel, which was the one I submitted to the Self Edit Your Novel course, was literary fiction with Caribbean magical realism (there are lots of myths and legends in the Caribbean). I’d been writing that for so many years and couldn’t get past a certain point, and the course helped me to get past that point and actually finish it! JW: Let’s talk about first drafts. Do you have a method that you stick to? For example, do you give yourself a certain amount of words to write each day or set deadlines? S: That’s exactly what I do. For my second novel, which I’m writing now, as part of the Bookouture deal, the target is 1500 words each day. Sometimes I even manage 2000. For my previous novel, the target was 500 but then I realised I could do much more! You definitely have to have an element of planning. I didn’t do enough of that for my first novel. But as you’re writing it’s like some magic happens in your brain – ideas just come to you. Things just happen! You just have to keep going until you’ve got that first draft completed. Put it down for a bit, then come back to it for a second draft, which is likely to be more challenging than the first because that’s when you change things, find certain things don’t fit well into the plot; some characters disappear, another might enter etc. “That’s the writing process. It just has magic in it.” JW: How different is your final draft to your first? S: With ‘This Other Island’, I started the first draft thinking I’d only have one point of view and one protagonist. My final draft has three points of view and the plot itself has become much more intertwined – with more twists and surprises. Having to write a synopsis, query letter and pitch, helped me to identify the main theme in the novel. When I was submitting to agents, some asked which novel or author your novel would sit comfortably next to. Though irritating at the time, that helped to get me focused on the themes in my novel too. With the help of Isobel, I’ve identified more themes running through ‘This Other Island’. And I feel even more proud of the novel. I have always been fascinated by the consequences of not knowing who your parents are. JW: That’s interesting, where do you think that fascination comes from? S: I think it comes from my culture – perhaps a historical thing from slavery when many children were sold off and didn’t know their parents. Parents had children they had to say good-bye to and never see again. I think it’s important to know who you are, who your people are, and who you’re connected with biologically If you don’t, it could lead to dire consequences. JW: Of course. Do you feel like writing became a kind of catharsis in that sense? S: Maybe, but unplanned. The idea for this novel actually came from my mother, when I listened to her talking about her journey to England on a ship. Then whilst plotting and getting the story out, things came through and eventually the whole thing worked. That’s the writing process. It just has magic in it. JW: Do you have any tips for writers who might be working on their first draft? S: Have a plan – you don’t necessarily have to know the end, but make sure you know what the characters are going to go through and have a rough idea of what you want to happen. Many seasoned writers say write the first draft for yourself. Don’t worry about the reader yet. I agree. It’s the best method for me. From Isobel Akenhead, Steffanie’s Editor At Bookouture JW: You must see a lot of submissions at Bookouture. What was it about Steffanie’s novel that stood out for you? Isobel: From the moment I started reading Steffanie’s novel, I was captivated by the story she was telling, the characters she’d created, and her entirely distinctive voice. It was a book I couldn’t stop thinking about! In talking to Steffanie, it became clear that we felt the same way about this beautiful novel, and shared a vision on publishing and readership, that made the editorial partnership feel strong right from the outset. JW: What are you currently looking for at Bookouture and how can writers help their chances of success? Isobel: [At Bookouture] we have an open submissions portal, and are equally delighted by direct and agented submissions, which we endeavour to respond to within a matter of weeks. Writing a compelling synopsis, and enclosing the entire manuscript are practical things you can do to help its success, but in terms of content, we simply want powerful, gripping stories that readers won’t be able to put down. Whether that’s romance, crime, historical fiction, or more book club reads, broadly at Bookouture we’re just looking for commercially written stories that we think a large audience of readers will love. With two books already on the way, Steffanie Edward is a Self-Edit Course alumna to watch. We’re so glad Steffanie found our resources useful and can’t wait to see the debut of this exciting new author on our shelves. You can follow Steffanie on Twitter at @EdwardsaEdward. Don’t forget to view our bursary opportunities here. See more success stories from the Self-Edit Course for yourself at #SelfEditAlumni on Twitter. More about Steffanie’s deal with Bookouture here. Submit your work to Bookouture here. About Steffanie Edward Steffanie Edward was born in St Lucia but brought up in London. Her writing career started with short stories, five of which have been published. Two of them came runner-up in a Darker Times Fiction flash competition. Her novel ‘This Other Island’, was longlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize. Her first attempt at writing a novel was over twenty years ago, whilst living and working in Abu Dhabi. That novel, Yvette, didn’t make it into print, but the main protagonist, has muscled her way into Steffanie’s debut novel, This Other Island. Her second novel, My Mother\'s Gift, was released in 2022. For more on Steffanie, see her Twitter or Amazon author page.

Neema Shah On Her Two-Book Deal With Picador

Neema Shah talks to us about her experience with Jericho Writers and her debut novel ‘Kololo Hill’. We were first introduced to Neema Shah on our Self-Edit Your Novel Course, and then at the Festival of Writing in 2017, where she was longlisted for two out of our three competitions that year. Her work was noticed by agents who were keen to read more, and now we can’t wait for the release of her debut novel ‘Kololo Hill’ (18 February 2021), the first in a two-book deal with Picador. We chatted to Neema about how she got her agent, balancing writing with other commitments and telling underrepresented stories.  JW: Hi Neema, lovely to talk to you! Could you start by telling us about your background as a writer? When did you know you wanted to be an author?  N: I actually started off doing a law degree and then went into marketing as a career. I only decided to take up a short creative writing course because my work offered us the chance to do an extra-curricular thing – and I was just hooked. I remembered how much I loved writing as a child, and now I just can’t imagine my life without it.   JW: It’s really strange how life can work out like that! Your debut novel, Kololo Hill, is coming out in February 2021 with Picador – where did it begin? Did you start with a particular character, or maybe a concept?   N: I grew up reading lots of fiction about other places and times, but I found that although there was fiction about the British-Asian experience and the Indian experience, there was nothing about people like my family. I also knew a bit about the expulsion of Asians from Uganda by Idi Amin in the 1970’s – I was always astounded that people could be sent out of their country in just three months. Those two things were really interesting to me, and that’s really what sparked my story. I wanted to explore different viewpoints, because people like my family aren’t necessarily that well represented in fiction.   JW: How did you discover Jericho Writers?   N: I found out about both the Festival of Writing and the Self-Edit Your Novel course back when Jericho Writers was called the Writers’ Workshop, and I used both in my early stages of writing. I had heard really good things about the Self-Edit course – all of which turned out to be absolutely right. Not only did I meet Debi Alper and Emma Darwin but I also met a really great writing friend, Daniel Aubrey, who continues to beta read for me. There are so many great things that come out of the Self-Edit course and I just love it. I’ve recommended it to so many people since.  Off the back of that, I decided to go to the Festival of Writing. That was such an incredible, intense day with lots of workshops – I also did the agent one-to-ones. There were three competitions that year – I came runner up in ‘Best Opening Chapter’ and was longlisted for ‘Pitch Perfect’. I’ve used those on my submission letters since and they’re really well-recognised!  I’ve had loads to do with Jericho Writers and you‘ve been a really key part of my journey.  JW: Do you have any tips for writers working on their first draft?  N: I really feel that a lot of writing is psychological. We spend so much of our time having doubts (which are natural), and you have to push those aside. In an early draft, it really is ‘just keep writing.‘. I’ve been thinking a lot about psychology through my day job in marketing, and the idea of the rational and emotional sides of the brain. When you’re writing, you want to ignore the rational side (which is telling you it’s awful) and access the emotional side. I know there are some writers who will write the first paragraph and edit it straight away, but I find it easiest to write a draft without looking back at all.  Keep on going past the next few drafts and accept that to get a novel finished it can sometimes be boring. It’s just keeping going that’s really important. You also have to have space away from your draft, because you’re far too close to it when you’ve just read over it.  JW: Can you tell us about your journey to finding an agent?   N: I did lots of research – I even made an Excel spreadsheet because I knew I was going to contact quite a few agents and would need to keep track of it all. I also went to events where agents were talking and read blogs so I could get a sense of what agents were like. I made a shortlist and starting by submitting to about 10-12 agents. I was lucky because some of the agents had been on competitions I’d been listed in, including the Festival of Writing, who had said they wanted to read more when it was ready.  I had a lot of rejections, but quite a few manuscript requests, which was brilliant. I ended up with two great agents offering to represent me and I was really spoilt for choice.  JW: I also wanted to ask about your gorgeous book cover – what do you think of it? I noticed that it’s modern Batik print – was that an idea that came from you?   N: I love it so much! It wasn’t the first version – the designer had come up with a few concepts based on fabrics and she wanted them to be related to the story. If you look closely on the cover you notice that as well as the Batik print, which is common to Uganda and India, there’s also an imprint of an Indian passport. There are so many little details working together which you might only see on a second look. I was blown away because I love looking at covers but I never considered how much thought and conscious choice goes into it.  ‘Kololo Hill’ by Neema Shah. Picador, February 2021 JW: How are the challenges you’re facing as a published author now different to challenges you might have faced in the past?   N: When I first started out, I didn’t know any writers at all. Doing the courses definitely helped, as I’ve kept in touch with quite a few people I met there. Twitter was also great for finding other writers, particularly ones to beta read for. There’s a massive writing community there, and the #bookstagram community is also huge.  I do think the publishing industry is getting much better for underrepresented writers (I’m an example of that), but I did have few experiences that I was quite taken aback by. There’s still a way to go, but it is better than it was even five years ago.  I also find there is a slight lack of transparency about what it’s like to be an author. Advances are all different and the way you’re treated in terms of marketing can be very different. Picador are brilliant and they’ve been really transparent with me, but from my understanding that’s not always the case. So, I think finding communities or people going through similar experiences is such a big help, and that’s a piece of advice I would give whatever stage you’re at with your writing.  At the one-to-ones with Jericho Writers, I got really detailed feedback on my opening chapters and my covering letter – that kind of thing can be quite hard to come by and looking for those resources can be really helpful.  JW: How do you organise your time between writing and generating free content for your online platforms (blog and YouTube channel) and having a day job in marketing?   N: The funny thing is that I wrote ‘Kololo Hill’ on my commute, on my smartphone! So, just making use of what would otherwise be dead time really helps. I’m lucky enough to have a good work/life balance as my job is quite flexible. That said, it’s only now that I’m promoting ‘Kololo Hill’ and starting book two and working a day job that it’s starting to feel like a bit much, so I am trying to get better at organising myself. It’s so important to save energy for your creativity – just being creative takes a lot out of you! I try to write early in the mornings before other things get in the way.   “There is a slight lack of transparency about what it’s like to be an author… Finding communities or people going through similar experiences is a big help, and that’s a piece of advice I would give whatever stage you’re at with your writing.”  JW: You mentioned that you’re a big fan of books on the writing process. Are there any other books, perhaps works of fiction, that particularly shaped your writing?   N: One of my favourite books is ‘Small Island’ by Andrea Levy (based on the Windrush generation, which definitely inspired me). My other favourite books aren’t necessarily the kind of thing that I write about but are things I’d love to write more of – ‘Fingersmith‘ by Sarah Waters is amazing – it has an amazing twist and I’d love to write a book with a proper twist because it’s so hard to do.  For ‘Kololo Hill’ I used a lot of blogs, online photography and a couple of TV shows. I also went on a research trip to Uganda. In terms of first-person experience there wasn’t that much available in writing though. That’s another reason why it was important to me to make sure that story was told, even if in fiction.  JW: Are you reading anything good right now?   N: I’ve been getting into audiobooks, and I’m listening to ‘Elevator Pitch’ by Linwood Barclay. I’m reading a proof I was given of ‘The Smallest Man’ by Frances Quinn, which comes out in January, and I also just finished ‘If I Can’t Have You’ by Charlotte Levin, which is a really good debut from 2020.  From Jenny Savill, Neema’s Agent (Andrew Nurnberg Associates) JW: Hi Jenny. What drew you to Neema’s work, and in what ways was it a strong submission?   JS: Where do I start?!  Her manuscript had a strong opening. The action was firmly rooted in a terrific sense of place and time – a place and a time that I knew a little about from TV as a child but had never really understood. Seeing the 1972 expulsion through the lives of one particular family and their friends was such a brilliant lens through which to show a massive political and social upheaval. That coupled with distinctive, flawed characters whose story I felt compelled to follow, and whose lives continued in my imagination long after the last full stop, made for an impressive submission. I do love a novel that illuminates a life or lives in a way that does away with preconceptions or conventions. I love to be surprised by characters and by the turn of events in a story. ‘Kololo Hill’ does this beautifully.  As an agent, Jenny is always keen to find new voices in 7+, Middle Grade and Young Adult writing. Jenny also represents authors writing for adults. She is on the look-out for writers of literary fiction, commercial and literary women’s fiction, well-written thrillers and psychological suspense, historical fiction (the whole gamut – including alternate histories), memoir and narrative non-fiction. She welcomes originality, depth, and the ability to move and surprise in submissions.    If you’re interested in submitting your own work to Jenny or other agents, AgentMatch is a great tool to refine your search and develop your perfect shortlist. Find out more here.    If you can’t wait until 18 February to read some of Neema’s work, take a look at her website here for more insightful writing tips.    More about Neema Shah here.    Submit your work to Andrew Nurnberg Associates here.    About Neema Shah Neema Shah is an author, blogger and marketer. Her debut novel Kololo Hill will be published by Picador on 18th February 2021. She came runner-up in the ‘Best Opening Chapter’ and was longlisted in the ‘Pitch Perfect’ competition at the Festival of Writing in 2017. She has also been shortlisted for the DGA First Novel Prize and Bath Novel Award, both in 2018.

Read A Sample Literary Agent Query Letter, With Hints & Tips

Sample Query Letter & Template Included You want to know what a great query letter to literary agents should look like? We’re going to show you a perfect sample letter in a moment. But we’re also going to figure out what your query letter needs to do – and how you’re going to write it. This blog post will give you everything you need – and I promise that if you are talented enough to write a book, you are EASILY capable of writing a strong, confident query letter. OK. We’ll get stuck in in one second. But I should probably tell you that I am a real author describing a real book. The query letter below pretends that this book is a first novel and I have no track record in the industry. Tiny digression: this isn’t a complete guide to getting your book published. You can get that here. Nor is it a full guide to getting an agent – more info here, and here.) Write A Query Letter In 3 Easy Steps: Introductory sentence – include your purpose for writing (you’re seeking representation!) book title, wordcount, genre.1-2 paragraphs about your book – what your book’s about and why a reader will love it.A brief note about You – who you are and why you wrote the book. Here’s What A Query Letter Should Look Like Remember that your query letter needs to accomplish the following goals: Introduce the purpose of your letter (ie: to secure representation).To define in a very concise way the manuscript that you’ve written (ie: title, genre, word count)To introduce your work at slightly more length – so you say what it is (setting / setup / premise / main character)To give a sense of the emotional mood of your work – what is the emotional payoff for the reader?To give a hint of your book’s USP or angleTo say something – not much – about you We’ll say more about all that shortly. But first up, here’s a query letter of a sort that would make any sane agent want to start reading the manuscript in question: Dear Agent NameI’m writing to seek representation for my first novel, TALKING TO THE DEAD, a police procedural of 115,000 words.The book opens with news of a murder: a young woman and her daughter have been found dead in a rough area of Cardiff. The house where they’re found is in poor condition, but in the corner of the room is a platinum bank card belonging to a local millionaire. A millionaire who died in a plane crash some nine months previously. New recruit, Detective Constable Fiona Grifffiths is assigned to the investigation.Puzzling as this crime looks, it’s not the heart of the book’s mystery. It becomes rapidly clear that Fiona Griffiths herself is a very peculiar woman, who is withholding crucial secrets from the reader. Who exactly is her father? What was her childhood illness? And what is it with her and corpses?I currently run my own small consultancy business, and this is my first novel. I look forward to writing further novels in the series.I enclose the first three chapters and a synopsis. I hope you like what you see and look forward to hearing from you.Yours,Harry Bingham Simple right? And you can do it, no? Here’s that query letter again with my comments highlighted in bold: I’m writing to seek representation [the purpose of you getting in touch] for my first novel, TALKING TO THE DEAD, a police procedural of 115,000 words. [title, genre, word count – all defined fast and clearly.]The book opens with news of a murder: a young woman and her daughter have been found dead in a rough area of Cardiff. The house where they’re found is in poor condition, but in the corner of the room is a platinum bank card belonging to a local millionaire. A millionaire who died in a plane crash some nine months previously. [This sets up the basic premise of the crime story. Already, the agent has the basic co-ordinates she needs to navigate.] New recruit, Detective Constable Fiona Grifffiths is assigned to the investigation. [Introduce main character – clearly and succinctly.]Puzzling as this crime looks, it’s not the heart of the book’s mystery. It becomes rapidly clear that Fiona Griffiths herself is a very peculiar woman, who is withholding crucial secrets from the reader. Who exactly is her father? What was her childhood illness? And what is it with her and corpses? [This hints nicely at the book’s mood and USP. It starts to suggest the emotional payoff – a mystery to do with the book’s central character.]I currently run my own small consultancy business, and this is my first novel. I look forward to writing further novels in the series. [A line or two about me. Confirmation that I understand I’m writing a series – an important touch for this kind of fiction.]I enclose the first three chapters and a synopsis. I hope you like what you see and look forward to hearing from you. [Wrap it up. The whole letter easily fits onto one page. And yes, I know you’ll be sending an email, but you know what I mean.] Now you know what you’re doing, we’ll get into a slightly more specific analysis. What To Include In Your Query Letter All the letter must do is: Give a very brief 1-sentence summary of the book and your purpose in writing itA somewhat longer, 1-2 paragraph, introduction to the book. (Not a full-scale plot summary, that’s for the synopsis).A brief introduction to you.Not be badly written. That’s it. If you can write a novel, you can write that letter. And each of those elements is simple enough. The 1 Sentence Summary You need to say why you’re writing. (You’re seeking representation, right? So say so.)You need to give the title of your book, either underlined or (better) in italics, please.You need to give the word count of your book, rounded to the nearest 5,000 words. (And one word of advice: just be sure your word count is approximately right for the market. Advice here.)You need to give the approximate genre or territory of your book. If you do those things, the agent can instantly understand what you want and what you’re offering. You will also, by the way, prove yourself to be a swift, professional writer. The 1-2 Paragraph Introduction To The Book First, it’s important to say what this is not. You are not writing a back-of-book blurb. But nor are you writing a detailed outline of your story. (That’ll come in the form of your synopsis – more synopsis help right here.) What you are doing is explaining what your book is and why a reader will feel compelled to read it. That ‘what’ element will typically be a matter of presenting some facts. You need to give some more information about your settings, your premise, your characters and so on. You don’t need to be as salesy as a cover blurb, and you don’t need to be as dry as a synopsis. It’s almost as though you were chatting to your best friend and telling her about the book you’ve just been reading. The ‘why’ element is equally crucial. Here, you are conveying something about emotions. What is a reader going to feel as they read the book? What kind of atmosphere will they inhabit? What kind of emotional payoff or challenge is likely? A Brief Introduction To You, The Author About youLuckily, agents don’t care too much about you. Nor should they. They should care about the book, and only the book. That’s a fine, honest, meritocratic approach. May the best book win! That said, agents are obviously curious about the person behind the manuscript. So tell them something about yourself. It’s fine to be human here, rather than resume-style formal. It’s also OK to be quite brief. For example: “I am a 41-year-old mother, with three children, two dogs, one husband, and the finest vegetable garden in the southwest.” Why you wrote the bookIf there is a real connection between who you are (a shrimp fisher, let’s say) and the book you’ve written (something to do with the sea and fishing) then it’s worth another sentence or two to tease that out a bit. But don’t feel compelled to do that. In my case, I wrote a crime novel, just because I wanted to write one. I’m not a cop or ex-cop. I have no forensics expertise. I have no legal expertise. Or anything else relevant. And that doesn’t matter, of course – what matters is the quality of the book. So if you have something good to say, say it. If you have nothing to say, then say nothing and don’t worry about it. Your previous writing historyIf you have some real background as a writer, then do say so. For example, you might have written a textbook or similar on a topic relevant to your own professional area. Or you might have won or been shortlisted for a major short story prize. Or perhaps you work as a journalist or copywriter. Or something similar. If anything like that is the case, then do say so. But if it’s not – don’t worry! We’ve seen a lot of agent query letters that say things like “I haven’t had much writing experience, but my English teacher always used to say that I would be a writer one day . . .” And, you know what? It just sounds feeble. So don’t say it. Agents know that most slushpile submissions will be by complete newbie authors. And that’s fine. JK Rowling was a newbie once . . . Writing a series?If you are writing a series, then you should say so, much as I did in that sample letter above. Agents will like the fact that you recognise the series potential of your work and that you are committed to taking the steps needed to develop it. What you don’t want to do, is sound overly rigid or arrogant. (“I have completed the first four novels in my Lords of the Silver Sword series, and have got complete chapter outlines for the next 11 titles. I am looking for a publisher who will commit fully to the series.” — if you write something like that, agents are likely to reject you out of hand.) How Long Should Your Query Letter Be? Your overall letter should not run to more than one page. (Except that non-fiction and literary authors can give themselves maybe a page and a half). And that’s it. If you\'ve written your query letter, and would like some feedback before querying agents, why not purchase an agent submission pack review from us. We can help YOU get published.Did you know, we have a complete course on getting published? The course covers absolutely everything you need to know: how to prepare your manuscript, how to find agents, how to compile your shortlist, how to write your query letter and synopsis – and much, much more besides.That course is quite expensive to buy . . . so don’t buy it. The course is available completely free to members of Jericho Writers. Not just that course. You get our Agent Match tool for finding literary agents. You get our awesome How To Write course. Plus our members get regular opportunities to pitch their work live online to a panel of literary agents.Sounds good, doesn’t it? So hop over here and find out more about joining us. Query Letters: The Exceptions OK, there are a few exceptions to the above rules. Of those, the two most important ones you need to know about are: You Are Writing Literary Fiction If you are writing genuinely high end literary fiction, agents will want you to strut a little, even in your query letter. So if you were writing about (Oh, I dunno) a fictional nun in 14th century Florence, you might talk a bit about the themes of your work and what inspired you to pick up this story. This kind of thing: “I got the idea for this story, while working as a game warden one winter on the Hebridean island of Macvity. I was all alone and with a deeply unreliable internet connection. It occurred to me that my solitary life had its religious aspect and I became very interested in female monasticism. Blah, yadda, yadda, blah.” (Sorry for the blahs, but personally I like books that have corpses in them.) The idea of this kind of approach is that you are selling the book (its themes, its resonances), but also you’re selling yourself – you’re showing that you can walk the talk as a literary writer. You Are Writing Non-fiction And You Have A Remarkable Platform Let’s say you are writing a cookbook and you have a couple of million people who subscribe to your YouTube channel. Or you are writing a book about motorcycle repair and you have a motorbike-themed blog with 250,000 monthly readers. In those cases, you have to delineate your platform in enough detail to convince an agent (and ultimately a publisher) that you are the right person to write this manuscript. In those cases, then your query letter does need to outline your platform in sufficient detail. You may even want to kick that outline over into a separate document. However you handle it, the “one page query letter” rule can safely be binned. Your prospective agent wants to know what kind of platform you can supply – so tell her. Oh yes: and having a website is not a platform. Having 10,000 followers on Twitter is impressive, but means nothing in the context of national or international marketing. In short: if you are going to make a big deal of your platform, your platform itself needs to be a big deal. That means having six- or seven-figure numbers to boast about. Nothing else will really cut it. You Are Writing Non-fiction And You Have Extraordinary Authority Much the same goes if you are (let’s say) writing a book of popular psychology and (like Daniel Kahnemann) just happen to have a Nobel Prize to wave around. If you bring amazing authority to a topic, then you need to cover that, either in your query letter or a separate bio. Again, the one page rule just doesn’t apply. What To Do If You Don’t Hear Back From Literary Agents So. Let’s say you’ve got a shortlist of agents. You’ve checked those agents’ websites for their specific submission requirements – probably opening chapters + query letter + synopsis. You use our query letter sample and write your own perfect query letter. You avoid any weak language, misspellings or grammatical howlers, of course. You use our advice to put together your synopsis (advice right here.) You don’t spend too long on writing the synopsis either, because if you use our techniques, that process is simplicity itself. You read the opening chunk of your manuscript one last time – and follow our simple rules on manuscript formatting. And then – well, you send your stuff off. You light some candles, pray to your favourite saints, tie a black cat into a knot and throw a mirror over a ladder. (Or under it? Or something to do with a wishing well? I’m not sure. Superstition isn’t my strong suit.) Anyway. You get your stuff out to at least 6 agents and preferably more like 10-12. You wait an unfeasibly long amount of time – but let’s say 6-8 weeks as a rough guide. What happens next? Well. Rejections do happen, and are likely to happen even if you’ve written a great book. (Because agents have their hands full. Or just like a different sort of thing. Or have an author who is too directly competitive. Or anything else. It’s not always about you or your book.) But if you send your material out to 10-12 agents, and find yourself being rejected, then you have to ask yourself: Am I being rejected because I’ve chosen the wrong agents?Am I being rejected because my query letter / synopsis are poor?Am I being rejected because my book isn’t up to scratch? Truthfully? The third of these issues is by far the most common. If you’ve written a great book, and a rubbish query letter, you can still find an agent. The other way around? Never. If you are confident that you’ve gone to the right agents, and have been rejected by 10+ people (or heard nothing after 8 weeks, which amonts to the exact same thing), then the probable truth is that your book is not yet strong enough for commercial publication. And, you know what? That’s not a big deal. All books start out bad. Then they get better. So getting rejected is really just a signal that you still have further to travel down that road. Remember that getting third party editorial advice is the standard way of improving your work. We offer outstanding editorial help and you can read all about it here. Alternatively, join the Jericho Writers family, and you can get a ton of help absolutely free within your membership. Free courses on How To Write. Free courses on Getting Published. Free access to AgentMatch. And so much more. Find out more here. Happy writing, and good luck! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Write A Memoir

We get loads of enquiries from writers wanting to write their own life story. Sometimes it’s just a personal project. Sometimes it’s for friends and family. Sometimes it’s intended for commercial publication. But the question we’re asked is always the same. Where do I start? That’s an easy one. Follow the rules below. 1: Tend Your Expectations Writing your life story down is massively worth doing, but please don’t think that it’s easy to get published. It’s not, if you’re after commercial publication. Only the best stories will get taken on by literary agents and publishers, and only then if they are really well written and well told. Of course, you can always self-publish, too. 2: Keep It Simple Many memoirs fail because they try to over-complicate. Keep it very simple, but be sure to do the simple things well. That means: Start at the beginning and move forwards chronologically from there. (If you’re not doing this, have a good reason, and be talented at it.)Keep the reader in your shoes. Talk about what you saw, what you did, what you felt. Stay in the present moment of your story.Don’t digress.Don’t tell your story in diary form, unless you keep a journal as compelling as Sylvia Plath’s. A diary is a very stop-start type of experience. You need to write a flowing narrative that keeps the reader engrossed.Don’t lecture.Remember to stay descriptive. You may remember what Heathrow looked like in the 1950s, but most of us don’t, so tell us. That’s why we’re reading your book. 3: Research Research the market. Find out how professional, published memoirs are written. See how those writers handle the things you need to deal with. One book we recommend you look at is Please Don’t Make me Go by John Fenton. We recommend this for two reasons. One: we worked on it with John, so we’re fond of it. Two: it’s a masterclass in memoir writing. Very simple, but very, very good. Other memoirs of note might be Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth, Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Nafisi Azar, or Where am I now by Mara Wilson. Look at these and other memoirs you like and ask yourself what all these have in common. It could be a poignant insight into off-piste topics (Mara Wilson’s musings as a former child star turned writer), or a knack for colouring the ordinary to make it unusual, compelling (Jennifer Worth’s years as a midwife in London’s East End). There may be other great, well-written memoirs from celebrities you like. What Happened by Hilary Rodham Clinton might be a compelling memoir, but a readership was already in place for her. Publishers would have considered this (before looking at a manuscript) when offering her a book deal, so try to pick out books from relatively unknown writers (or unknown before publication) wherever you can when researching the market. Also, do get a proper idea of length. For commercial publication, and to have a chance with a literary agent, you’ll probably want to produce a manuscript of between 70,000 and 100,000 words. If you are much longer or much shorter than that, you can pretty much forget about publication almost irrespective of content. Finally, although you are writing about your own life, you may well find that some research really does wonders for what you are talking about. Let’s say you were working in Iranian oil fields in the 1950s. You’ll remember a lot, but you’ll have forgotten things, too. The more you can research that time, the more you may spark your memory. 4: Take Care With Your Style If you want to grip a reader, to make sure that your words and your story hold the attention, then you must take a lot of care with your style. That means you can’t just write as you speak. It means you need to get in the habit of challenging yourself to write clearly, forcefully, visually, so the reader can see exactly what you are telling them. For more tips on good writing, please check tips on prose style. 5: Seek Feedback Once you’re properly stuck into your project, why not come to us with the first 10,000 words or so? That’s far enough into it that we can give you detailed advice on what is and isn’t working in your writing, and how to improve where needed. The advice will cost, but for a project as important as this, it can be worth the investment. Alternatively, if you prefer to plough through and come to us with a complete manuscript, we’d be delighted to work with that, too. We’ll tell you whether your writing is the sort that a literary agent or publisher might be interested in. If it is, then we can advise on next steps regarding agents. 6: Enjoy Don’t let writing your life story become anything but a pleasure and a joy. This is your story. Enjoy telling it and be proud of it. You deserve it. Your Life Story If you’ve come through to this page, you’ve perhaps been through challenging times and have a story to tell. As far as publishing that story goes, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the market for inspirational true life stories (also called inspirational memoirs) is still fairly hot. The bad news – you guessed it – is that competition is intense and only the best manuscripts are taken on by literary agents. If you have a story to tell, please ask yourself these questions first: How will you feel if your story never gets published, or even accepted by a literary agent?How will you feel about commercializing your story?Can you tell your story in an emotive and unique way to connect with readers?How will you feel about doing PR and other publicity work? If your responses to these questions are negative, then ponder before going any further. If your answer is that you still want to go ahead, then read on. Cathy Glass Shares Her Tips Cathy Glass is bestselling author of seventeen books. True life stories, or inspirational memoirs as they are also known, have enjoyed so much success in the last ten years that they have become a genre in their own right, often separate from biography. My own first book Damaged, in which I told the story of a child I fostered, spent three months at the top of the bestseller charts. Since then Please Don’t Take My Baby, and Will You Love Me? have also been at number one, with all my other fostering stories going into the Top 10 for weeks. To date, I have sold millions copies of my books around the world, and they have been translated into ten languages. Is there a formula for writing memoirs like there is for Mills and Boon romance? One that I can pass on? Not a formula as such, but having spent some time pondering how I write these books, I have come up with a few suggestions which may be of use if you are about to embark on memoir writing (more covered in my book). If you are writing your own memoir, as opposed to ghost-writing for someone else, you will know your story better than anyone, and here lies your strength. Write straight from your heart. Think back and remember. When, and where did it all begin? Where were you? What could you smell and hear? What could you see through the window? What was going through your mind? Be there and relive it, although this may be very upsetting if you have suffered; but writing is cathartic and writing it out is a therapy in itself. Have an aim for your book (a remit) – a message you want to impart to your readers. It may be one of courage, faith, hope, or sheer bloody-mindedness. And remember when writing a true life story you have an emotional contract with your reader. You owe your reader honesty, and in return you will have your readers’ unfailing empathy and support. I have been completely overwhelmed by the thousands of emails I have received from readers who felt they knew me personally and were part of my family from reading my books. Their words of encouragement have been truly wonderful and are much appreciated. Some of these emails are on the blog on my website. Write scenes, not a monologue. Although the memoir is true it doesn’t have to be a diatribe of abuse and suffering. Write it as you would a gripping novel, building scenes, creating tension, and using cliff-hangers at the end of chapters to keep the readers’ interest. There will be highs and lows in your story, so keep the reader on a roller coaster of emotion. There will be some very sad scenes, some horrendous incidents, and some funny incidents. If there is constant and unrelenting degradation and abuse the reader will soon become desensitized and lose empathy, and therefore interest. Make your book episodic, describing in detail events that are of interest or highly poignant to your story. Leave out the mundane unless it is an intrinsic part of building the scene. You can kaleidoscope years into a couple of lines, or spread half an hour into two chapters as necessary. Your memoir should be approximately 85,000 words in length, with double line spacing, using a word processing package. If it is your first memoir, the agent and publisher may also want a detailed proposal, even if your book is already written. For writing a proposal, there are guidelines to follow, as there are for getting a literary agent. Read other books in the same genre, and consider how and why these books work. Good luck with your writing, and most importantly, enjoy it! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Revise A First Draft

A checklist for your novel or manuscript rewriting process So you’ve written the first draft of your novel (or other manuscript). That’s great. Congratulations! It’s a big moment. But now you need to make sure that your novel draft works on other readers as you want it to. Maybe you’ve just about managed to tame your novel, but now you’re facing A Big Revision or Rewriting of your first draft – so where on earth do you start? Before you edit, revise or rewrite anything, here are some pointers. Step 1: Read Through Your Book First, I suggest, you need to do your own appraisal, trying to read your first draft novel straight through, and as much like a reader as you can. I call this “problem-finding”, and by far the best way to do this it on paper, with a pen in your hand. Using track-changes and comment balloons on screen is a poor second, but possible; either way, you’re trying to record your reactions, as a reader, to the story, not start problem-solving: that comes later. Also note any wider thoughts that this reading throws up, but don’t then just dive into the most urgent or least frightening job. Because so many decisions and changes will affect all sorts of other things, it’s terribly easy to lose track, get diverted, lapse into fiddling and tinkering, and generally get into a worse muddle than you started in. Step Two: Organise Your Thoughts So, first bring all the different feedback you’ve had together, make an enormous pot of coffee or your working-drink of choice, and start sorting it out into rough categories. Problems that run all through the story: the order you’re telling the story in doesn’t work; a character is cardboard, or vanishes, a lost-letter plot’s in a muddle; the narrative voice is dull.Problems with particular sections: a saggy middle; that scene where the dialogue is flat as a pancake; the too-confusing opening; the crucial but oh-so-difficult sex, or battle, scene.Problems of continuity and consistency, such as paragraphing, how dialogue is punctuated, or how you represent dialect.What I call “bits”: individual corrections and tweaks, from typos, to one-off clunky paragraphs, to missing research. Once you have the overall picture, you can sort it out into a to-do list, and decide on the order to tackle your rewrite. The temptation here is to plunge straight into the revision process . . . but you need to resist that. Before you start to edit, revise and rewrite like crazy, you have a little more organising to do. Step 3: Work From Big To Small One possibility is to look at your first page, do everything it needs, then move on to page two, but that’s probably not the best way to tackle it. As with totally renovating a house (only this is one you don’t have to live in at the same time), it’s not wise to do the whole of one room, from damp-course to top-coat, before you start the next. You need to make sure the structure is solid and the roof waterproof, then get the electrician in to move lights and install heating, and only when all that’s done, do you paint the walls and lay carpets. Whichever order you do things in, any major change probably has ramifications elsewhere. Get into the habit of not galloping off to follow up now, but make a note on your To Do list to tackle it at a logical point. And although every writer is different, this, I suggest, would be a good order in which to tackle things: Big structural changes. Don’t worry about the close-detail of stitching the sections into their new places, just do the rough carpentry.Any all-through-the-story things which need shrinking, changing or enhancing.Individual work on scenes and sections, now that they’re all in the (probably) right place.Consistency and continuity things which are most easily done when you put on the right glasses and deal with that issue all together: a character’s taste in clothes, say, or the punctuation and paragraphing of dialogue.Just work through from the beginning of your manuscript, and adjust anything that will adversely affect the reader\'s experience. You could even recruit some beta readers to help you out with this stage. Step Four: Work In Layers As much as you possibly can, tackle any particular problem working forwards in the story, so that you stay in touch with how the reader reads. It’s super-important for plots which depend on many other elements of the book (sub-plots, foreshadowing, pacing etc). But it also matters for things like characterisation and setting, because the reader is encountering this person or place in stages, through time: make sure you’re in control of how that knowledge develops. If it helps you, work through the novel focusing on just one layer: focus on editing Aunt Anita’s character arc, let’s say, or the way you build a picture of 1940s Manhattan. Ignore anything else (good or bad) if it doesn’t pertain to those exact issues. I know it feels inefficient to “go through the book” so many times, but believe me, you save far more trouble than you spend, because you don’t get in a muddle, duplicate work or cause muddles elsewhere without realising. Step 5: Re-Read The Entire Text If you follow the advice above, you’ll have far less work to do once you get to the last stage: Do another straight read-through-like-a-reader, in print or on screen. Use this to pick up any darning-in of the big structural changes that’s still needed, and anything else you might have missed. This also is a very good moment to read it aloud, pen in hand, if you haven’t already: it’s brilliant for picking up typos, and more generally getting outside the novel to read it as if you didn’t write it. Just have a big jug of water to hand. Step 6: Stay Positive If all this sounds as if it’s more work than writing the first draft was – you’d be right. All authors know that writing is rewriting. Revising the first draft of a novel isn’t easy. True, some rewrite each page or even line, until it’s perfect, then move on, while others hurl a whole first draft down on the page, spelling-mistakes and all, and only then go back and start to hammer it into shape. Still, most would say that they spend perhaps three or four times as long on that rewriting of a page or novel as they did on putting the first version of those words on paper. But, like most things, rewriting gets easier with time. I hope these steps have given you the support you need to get started. Happy rewriting! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Get A Book Published

To the uninitiated, the process of getting a book published can feel like an unfathomable mystery. It’s entirely forgivable to feel daunted by how to get your book published as a writer and how to get a book deal. Finally holding your book in your hands can feel like a very distant dream for any new writer - let alone getting that all-important book contract! So what do you do when you’ve finished your story? Should you even finish a full manuscript before you send it to literary agent, or is it better to send a partial manuscript with your query letter? Who do you send it to? Who will best be able to look after your work? How do you find a publisher? What are most agents looking for? Do you even need a literary agent? What about publishing it yourself? And these questions are just the tip of the iceberg. But don\'t panic, because in this article I will be outlining everything an emerging writer needs to know before they get anywhere close to a publishing deal. How To Get Published- The Three Main Paths Even to the initiated, the publishing process can feel mysterious and confusing. I’ve been in the industry for over twenty years but that doesn\'t mean I find it in any way straightforward. Although that’s also what makes it interesting and exciting. There are many possible routes from manuscript to published book. The following guide will provide you both with the map you need to start finding your way through those woods - and some good reasons to start putting one foot in front of another. The first thing to know about getting a book published is that there are three main paths: traditional publishing, self-publishing and hybrid publishing. I’ll describe each of these in detail as this article goes on, but briefly, for now: Traditional publishing is the route where you sign a contract with a commercial publisher who will be responsible for getting your book made and then out in the world, in the shops and into readers’ hands. This should also include editing, marketing and distribution. More on that later. Self-publishing is, as the name suggests, the route where you take on the responsibility of producing, marketing and selling your own work. Hybrid publishing is, as the name also suggests, a kind of blend of the two, where an author might pay for some of the services that traditional publishers supply and do the rest themselves. There are also numerous other options including crowdsourcing, putting work on fan forums, online platforms like Wattpad, and approaching various specialist forms of micropress. But I’ll get to all that as we get deeper into things. For now, let’s focus on traditional publishing because I know it’s the aspect of getting published most authors at the early stage of writing are curious to hear about, and what most have in mind as their desired end point. Traditional Publishing  Traditional publishing is what a lot of people think of when they consider writing a book and getting it published. It’s so traditional that you can trace its lineage at least back to Guttenberg. The business of printing and selling books is still recognisable from the 15th century. ‘Traditional’ is a useful label to use to conceptually separate this kind of publishing from self-publishing and hybrid publishing. Not that any readers consider it when browning through books in a store. Traditional publishing is what the majority of people think of when they think about publishing at all. It\'s the business of seeing an author’s manuscript through from completion to the moment it is sold in the shops - and of trying to make a profit from it. The UK and US publishing market is dominated by the ‘Big Four’ (Penguin Random House, Hachette Livre, Harper Collins and Pan Macmillan) who are responsible for numerous imprints publishing all manner of literary fiction, genre fiction, and non-fiction and have multi-million pound annual turnovers. There are also dozens more medium sized publishers like Bloomsbury, Oxford University Press, WW Norton, Faber & Faber and Canongate who also have annual turnovers in the millions. And then there are hundreds of smaller independent presses and micro-presses catering to all kinds of tastes and interests. How To Get Your Book Published Traditionally Finding the right publisher for you can be tricky, so here are some key things to consider. Importantly, this form of publishing does not cost the writer anything. Instead, the publishing house pays the author. Generally a traditional publisher will give writers an advance against royalties (anything from £100 to £100,000 and more) and then a percentage of the sales (generally something in the region of 10-25%) once that advance has earned out (ie the book has sold enough copies to make back that publisher\'s initial investment). It\'s important to note that the advance is rarely a reflection of the quality of the book that has been acquired, but can be determined by how much interest it has had (ie if more than one publisher wants it then it may go to auction), or it may reflect the writer\'s past successes or ability to sell books (ie a celebrity). This is why a literary agent is important, as they will do their best to negotiate the very best deal for you. The publishing house also foots the bill for all the other vital parts of the book production process such as cover design, editing, print, distribution, marketing, and promotion. Already you can see the benefits of having a literary agent and not having to pay for all the important and expensive parts required to get your book published - but there are also more advantages for writers: Having A Literary Agent Agents are like brokers for the publishing industry. You\'re a lot more likely to get a great book deal (and have your announcement appear in trade press, such as the much-coveted Publishers Weekly) if you have an experienced and supportive agent. More on how to get one further down the article... Agents are experts at getting books in front of publishers, at knowing what publishers will want to see, and they often already have a great relationship with editors - knowing which publisher and editor is most likely to sign your novel. Most agents will also work with you on your manuscript to help get it into shape before submission, looking at sample chapters and suggesting edits. There are many different agencies with a vast range of specialities, so not only is it vital you approach the right ones but that you form a strong working relationship with them. Successful authors can work alongside these agents for years and years, and together they build great careers for one another. But remember you only need an agent for a traditional publication, not when you go out and do it yourself! Editing Good publishing houses have skilled and experienced editors who are experts at helping writers make their books as clear and complete as they can be, this applies to both fiction and nonfiction books. Editors should help with line edits, structural edits and everything in between. For instance, a great editor will help fiction writers bring their characters to life, avoid plot holes, keep a grip on pacing, and keep to the ideal word count. They will also help non-fiction writers martial and order their arguments, check their facts, and avoid mistakes. Editors will have a good understanding of the readers you want to reach out to, as well as the nuts and bolts of the writing process. They will often be the best in the world at what they do and their help can be invaluable. Very few great books have become a success without the help of an equally great editor! Professional Production And Printing As well as working on editorial, publishers are responsible for copy-editing and proofreading manuscripts and also for getting them properly typeset. (Typesetting is the art of getting arranging words on the page so they look good, without strange gaps and more. It is a crucial, if generally invisible part of the process. Read more about it here.) Traditional publishers design covers and write blurbs, as well as help find great quotes from top authors to help promote your work. They also oversee the printing of the books (normally via an offset printer, not digital print on demand) and the preparation of ebooks. All these things are complicated technical processes involving considerable skill and knowledge. Without a traditional publisher, doing these jobs properly can cost a lot of money (and those who self publish soon learn the hard way that doing these things yourself can damage sales and careers). Publishers also have the capacity to print very large numbers of books, if need be, leading us on to storage and distribution. Effective Distribution Once books are made, the next challenge is to store them and get them out into the shops when they are needed. Publishers have established networks to get this done and a dedicated sales team - not to mention the budget to promote them in the trade press. They also have the necessary relationships with bookshops and other retail outlets to persuade them to stock the books. Remember, not all books that are published by a traditional publisher is guaranteed to end up in a bookshop - many factors are at play to ensure a book becomes a bestseller (even a book published by big names). Publicity And Marketing Talking of networks, the traditional publishing route also offers the best chance of getting your book seen by reviewers and journalists. They have the media contacts and the ability to achieve the necessary column inches. If your book starts doing well they should also have the marketing muscle to make sure even more people hear about it via social media, digital advertising, PR, and trade press. Kudos Thankfully, some of the stigma has gone out of self publishing, especially as we are seeing more and more established and traditionally published authors become hybrid authors and releasing books both ways. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still some prestige to getting a book published with established and well-regarded publishing houses. If you spend a lot of time on places like Twitter, you may see a lot of criticism of publishers being gatekeepers and arbiters of taste. But take that with a pinch of salt. Partly because some of that social media bile comes from resentment, but also because being a gatekeeper is a publisher’s job and part of their strength. For better or worse, publishers can bestow a seal of quality and approval (let\'s be honest here, we all know a book published by Penguin and stocked in Waterstones is going to probably be better edited than a self-published book, with few reviews or press coverage, that you can only buy on Amazon). The simple fact that a traditional publisher is prepared to put their time and money into a book is a demonstration to the world that someone other than the author believes in it - and not just in the ability of the writer, but the fact that book is more likely to appeal to a wider audience. After all, publishers aren\'t signing books to be nice. It\'s a business! The fact that these big publishers are reputable professionals who know the industry and the market (or, at least, they ought to be!) and that they believe in your work should be a demonstration that the book has potential. So it stands to reason that most authors start out wanting their book to be signed by one of the top four big publishing houses. But that doesn\'t mean that route will find you money and fame. In fact, a lot more money can be made (and a lot quicker) publishing your book yourself! It just involves a lot more skill, time, money and know how... Self-Publishing With this option of the publishing industry, authors take responsibility for the production and marketing of their books and all other parts of the process. Generally, this means they will publish ebooks of their works on platforms like Amazon and Smashwords. But they can also produce audiobooks of their work, print on demand paper copies, and even pay for their own print runs and book storage. All this means that authors take responsibility not only for the words on the page, but how they are presented. It might be that they do all the work themselves, or they employ professional editors, copy-editors and proof-readers, cover designers and typesetters to help them present their intellectual property in the best possible condition. There are also agencies who can help you convert your finished manuscript to ebook form - or you can use the in-house explanations and templates provided by platforms like Smashwords. Once you\'ve produced the necessary computer files, there aren\'t normally too many more upfront costs when it comes to how to producing your own ebook. The platform you choose is generally supportive and easy to use, and they will help you get it out to readers while taking a percentage of each sale. Print on demand suppliers like provide a similar system. They will offer you a cost per book based on your production specifications. The print on demand supplier will then take a percentage from the sale of each copy sold on their store, and pay some royalties to the author. If you choose other print methods and print in bulk, you will generally be expected to pay those production costs yourself and will need to find a place to store all these books and sell them at either events or through distributors. People choose to publish their books themselves for three main reasons: They\'ve tried the traditional method, had no luck securing a literary agent or publisher, so decide to go out there on their own.They understand that their choice of genre or fiction is niche, and better suited to readers who look online for these kinds of books (because they aren\'t commercial enough for book stores and big publishers to stock).The author is already established in their own right (ie big social media presence, or an expert in their field) so they know they will be able to make more money using their already-established captive audience and communication channels, and can sell books that way.This normally works best for a nonfiction book (ie you\'re a famous gardener with a number of garden centres around the world where you can sell your book) or you\'re a huge TikTok star and can promote your novel that way.  However you choose to produce your own book, or why, here is a list of reasons why it may be the right choice for you: Ease Of Access  Perhaps the clearest advantage of self-publishing is that just about anyone can do it, and there are very few barriers to entry. If you want to write about cowboy mermaids in space, you can, there is absolutely no one stopping you! Speed You can also get your book out quickly. When considering how to get your book published, ask yourself how important the timing is. A traditional publication may take three years from final draft to bookstore shelves (you need to find an agent, go on submission, secure a deal, then wait 12-18 months for your book to be released). Most platforms offer a step by step process that helps you through production. This means that with just a small amount of know-how you can convert your manuscript into an ebook within hours. And it doesn’t take much longer for that book to pass the quality control checks on whichever platform you choose. After that you can start selling. You Generally Get A Higher Percentage Of The Profits  Because there are far fewer people involved in the publication process and because there are fewer costs involved in getting your book out as an ebook, you can also generally expect to receive a higher percentage of the profits from each sale of your book than you would in the traditional publishing industry. (There are caveats to bear in mind here though. Self-published ebooks generally also have to have a lower cover price to attract buyers - so you’re only going to get a larger percentage of far less money. The books also tend to sell fewer copies.) Control Since you are in charge of the publishing process you also get to make all the decisions about when the book comes out, cover design and pricing. Plus you have full access to sales stats and get paid royalties monthly, not quarterly or yearly. You Get To Unleash Your Creativity Okay, this isn’t for everyone. Often book covers and their related artwork are best left to the professionals. But if you do have design skills, creating a self published novel gives you a great opportunity to make the most of your design, illustration and photography skills. Hybrid Publishing Also sometimes known as co-publishing, author-assisted publishing, or partnership publishing (and, more misleadingly, indie publishing) hybrid publishing is an umbrella term for a mix of traditional publishing and doing it yourself. Generally, the publishing company offers professional publishing services when it comes to things like cover design and typesetting - and sometimes they will even take on distribution. But the author pays some of the upfront costs of getting the book made and into the world. Although don\'t get these mixed up with vanity publishers, who we strongly recommend you stay clear of! Many people opt for Hybrid as a \'self-publishing but with help\' alternative. Here are a few advantages: Ease Of Access Because they are not taking a risk on your writing, hybrid publishers are often more likely to take your work on. The flip-side of this is that they will not always care about it as much - but if you have realistic goals and enter into the partnership with open eyes it can be a good way to get a decent quality version of your book out into the world. More Control Since you will be footing the bill that should also mean you get more say over the look and feel of the book, book cover design, when it\'s released and how many copies are produced. High Royalty Rates Many hybrid publishers offer attractive royalty rates. But a word of caution here - because you are paying them upfront, they have less of an incentive to help promote your book as they have already earned from it. Other Publishing Models You can publish a book with a publisher in more than just three ways, as there are a huge variety of publishing companies out there. Other options include: Micropresses There are dozens of high quality small independent publishers in the UK and USA who represent books by all sorts of writers, releasing both top quality fiction and non-fiction. There are different definitions for what constitutes a small independent publisher or micropress, so let\'s take a closer look. Some say it’s a company that makes less than $50million a year (which is still pretty big!). One useful guide in the UK is the entry criteria for the excellent Republic Of Consciousness Prize for small presses which is an annual competition for publishers with fewer than 5 full-time employees. In the USA (where everything tends to be bigger) the equivalent prize instead defines small presses as those which publish an average of 18 or fewer published titles per year. They generally operate more like a bigger publishing house and are likely to offer you a traditional publishing deal. But all small presses accepting submissions are different. They all have their own personality and impact on the market, with different passions and beliefs. They cover everything from: Science fictionChildren\'s booksYoung adult booksHardcore literary fictionShort storiesNon-fiction booksSpecialist booksLGBTQ+ booksTravel books And much much more! Smaller presses (including university presses) are often specialists, with distribution options to reflect that, and in most cases you don\'t need to submit your work via an agent. But, the flip-side of that, is that your book may not reach as many people. Crowdsourcing This is an interesting alternative way to get your book published. As in hybrid publishing, the crowdsourcing publisher offsets some of the risk of publication by asking the creator to raise the funds necessary to produce and print a book. But in this case, they are asking their target readers to help out! In the UK the publishing company Unbound has published several successful and well-regarded books using its crowdfunding platform. And is now one of the biggest publishers of comics and graphic novels in the world because creators have had so much success on their platform. Crowdfunding can work for creators because it connects them directly with their audience, the process of raising money for a work can also help to raise its profile and generate excitement. Plus, because many platforms have reward tiers that allow creators to offer extra incentives to their funders, it means creators and their fans get to work on a project together. Digital First Publishing Some big companies like Harper Collins have digital first imprints, a division that only produces ebooks and distributes them on relevant platforms. Many even accept un-agented authors. Some genres (ie crime and thrillers) do incredibly well as ebooks, and if a book become an instant bestseller the publisher may choose to then print the book too. Most digital contracts do not offer an advance and the publisher has a much lower investment in each book than under their traditional models. But this can also mean they sign on a multi-book deal, they can get it out sooner, and often pay higher royalty rates. Amazon Publishing Amazon offer a digital and print service that helps you quickly build your book and get it to market on the Amazon website. It\'s one of the quickest ways to get your book ideas published and out into the world, and as they also offer a publishing service they have a ginormous captive audience to publicise it to. Fan Fiction Forums This is niche but it can often be a great way to build a dedicated readership. If you’re a fan of something and love writing about it, there may well be people who love reading about it. There are numerous forums for the Star Wars universe, Harry Potter, the Twilight saga - and much more. Famously, the multi-million selling 50 Shades Of Grey started life as Twilight fan fiction and there have been other self published authors who have found mainstream success in this way by being snapped up by a traditional publisher. And even if such breakthrough stories are rare, publishing on these forums can be a really good way to reach readers and practicing your craft. Wattpad Wattpad calls itself “The world\'s most-loved social storytelling platform” and is so big it deserves a heading of its own. With a community of millions of readers, writers publish their work directly via the site across a huge range of categories from adventure, LGBTQ+, romance, nonfiction books, books for young adults, historical and fan fiction. There are also - inevitably! - a whole range of erotic categories. A number of Wattpad stories (mainly YA and romance) have even become successful TV series and films (ie Through My Window, The Kissing Booth, the After trilogy). How Do You Get A Book Published?- General Tips We’ve seen the main publishing options that are available, but many writers at the early stages of penning their novel will still have questions about how to write and publish a book.  So here are a few of the things that will help you on your journey: Get Editing The first step (no matter what publishing route you decide to take) is to get your manuscript in the best shape it can be. Finish it. Read it. Re-read it. Carefully check for elementary spelling and grammar mistakes as well as all the important matters of structure, plot holes, characterisation, flow, argumentation (we have a blog post on everything a writer needs on our site). It often helps to set your manuscript aside for a while after you have finished writing. And also to print it out so that you can read it away from the screen in a new context. If you have trusted beta readers, bring them in too. Consider Getting Professional Help If you are uncertain about the quality of your work and how to develop it further, it can help to get a professional assessment. Yes, friends may offer to help, but you really need an expert who is objective and honest. Professional writing mentors can answer all kinds of questions that may be nagging you. Is my query letter OK?How do I choose a book title?How long should my book be?Will anyone want my non fiction?Is my writing strong enough? A mentor or professional editor will not only read your book proposal and manuscript, they will have had some of the same battles with finding the best publishing routes that you have and will guide and support you. Most writers find these services invaluable.  Take a look at the mentoring, editing and agent match services we offer at Jericho Writers. Attend Writing Conferences A good writers’ conference will give you the opportunity to meet industry professionals, to ask questions about what they are looking for and why, and listen to talks from established traditionally published writers, self-published writers, agents and publishers. Being part of a writing community is important when it comes to meeting fellow writers who are also learning how to publish a book with a publisher. They are a great place to swap stories, give each other encouragement and to learn that you aren’t alone. Why not take part in Jericho Writer\'s York festival of writing, our Summer Writing Festival, or join our FREE writing community! Scope Out The Market Determine your genre, have a look at the kind of books that are being published in that genre and who is publishing them, and try and gauge what the public enjoy reading. This will help you decide the best route to market and how to get your book published the right way. Approach Literary Agents We\'ve already discussed how it\'s not possible to get a publishing deal with the big top four publishers without an agent. So how do you get one?  Most literary agents have what we call an MS Wish List - this is a clear outline of the kinds of books they are looking for and the kind of writing they enjoy reading. Do your research and draw up a list of those who are more likely to want to read your work. It can be a bit of a mine field, but luckily you can find plenty of free resources on the Jericho Writers website: A list of US literary agents along with tips on how to write your query letter A list of UK agents along with tips on how to write your query letter Discover our agent match service to help find your dream agent Some more useful tips on how to approach agents Put Together A Submission Pack  If you wish to become a published author of fiction, a submission pack is what literary agents ask to see once you have a finished manuscript and are seeking representation. In most cases, a submission pack consists of a query letter, a brief synopsis (and maybe a chapter by chapter summary) and a sample of your work. If you are writing non fiction it may be simply be a concept and some examples of writing plus credentials along with your query letter. The most important tip about the submission pack is that you should carefully check on the website of each agent and publisher to see what they are asking for. Follow their submission guidelines carefully (some even request a certain font type and size). Some may want to see a full manuscript. Some may want sample chapters. Some may want a chapter-by-chapter summary. Or some will have different requirements for different kinds of books. Make sure you tailor your submission accordingly. It’s not only good manners, it demonstrates that you know who you are applying to and care about what they want. Here are more articles on the subject: You can read a sample query letter here - along with some useful hints and tips Here\'s a guide to writing a novel synopsis Here\'s more information on how to present your manuscript Build Your Author Platform  If you can raise your author profile through writing a blog post, being in the press, attracting social media followers and winning writing competitions, it can help to stand out to literary agents and publishers. Most writers like to start with at least a Twitter or Instagram account to appeal to their target audience. Although building up your author profile before sending out a query letter isn\'t vital to your success and won\'t automatically lead to a book proposal (most literary agents, acquiring editors and readers simply want to read a great story), it can help grow a bigger audience for your writing, regardless of the path you wish to take to publication.  Now You Know How To Get Your Book Published! Phew. You made it to the end - well done! I hope the information shared has helped you understand the best route to publication. I also imagine that most of you reading this will be at the early stage of your writing career, whether fiction or non fiction. And the vast majority of you debut authors will now be wondering what the heck you\'ve gotten yourselves into. Well don\'t worry, the writing community is a fun and supportive one, so at this stage just take your time and focus on writing a great story. Maybe bookmark this article and refer back to it at each stage of your journey. Time To Get Going The key things to consider, when choosing how to publish your book, is what you want out of it. Do you want to set your sights high and aim for the top dream of traditional publishing, see you books in Barnes and Noble and Waterstones, and even make the New York Times bestseller list? Do you want to write a book every two months, be in full control, and make lots of money? Or do you simply want to hold your book in your hands and have it read by your nearest and dearest? Whatever you choose, this article demonstrates that there are many routes to publication, all of which have the potential to make you happy and proud. And at the end of the day, all that matters is that you finish your wonderful story, and that you share it with others. So go on, get out there, and make it happen. Because we are right there beside you, cheering you on every word of the way! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Write A Non-Fiction Book Proposal: A Guide

Creating an agent submission pack for fiction is reasonably simple, with clear guidelines. But nonfiction book proposals can be a little trickier. In this article, I\'ll show you how to write your own nonfiction book proposal that will work for a literary agent and a publisher. I’ll provide a sample proposal and give you examples of what to do (and what not to do) as you put your proposal together. We’ll start off by considering what nonfiction publishers actually want from you. Their wants drive what you need to give them. In effect, we can just build a template book proposal where all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Easy, right? Write A Nonfiction Book Proposal In 4 Steps: Prepare a query letter – include a book overview, target audience, USP, writing CV, and motivation for writing.Add a bio – including a professional resume and platform, i.e. social media, blog, mailing list etc.And a market overview.You’ll also need to send sample chapters, book outline, and introduction. What Is A Book Proposal? And what do publishers want from it? A book proposal is a pitch to a publisher. Quite likely, you reach that publisher via a literary agent, so the first pair of eyes on your work will be those of an agent, but either way, your final target is a publisher. So, when you’re writing a nonfiction book proposal you need to think about what makes your book stand out. Your pitch offers the traditional publisher the opportunity to acquire a nonfiction book, authored by you, on the subject set out in your proposal. In exchange, the publisher will (assuming they’re keen to proceed): agree to publish your workpay you an advancepay you royalties if and when your advance is ‘earned out’ by book sales. You will receive a slice of that advance payment once a contract is agreed. The remainder of the advance will be paid out, typically, (a) on acceptance of a complete manuscript, (b) on hardback publication, and (c) on paperback publication, if you have one. If your nonfiction book only comes out in one edition, the last two chunks will come as one. Clearly, publishers make their money by acquiring books with commercial potential, so it makes sense to pitch them with interesting book ideas. Here are some things you should cover in your proposal: Subject What do you want to write about? Audience Why do you think anyone would be interested? Competition What other titles are there in your area? Or, to be rather more accurate: what titles in your area have made money? That’s important, because those comparable books will form an important part of any acquiring editor’s in-house pitch at the time of acquisition. Angle How does your book differ from everything else that’s out there? Why does the particular angle you bring feel urgent, necessary and compelling? Authority What qualifies you to write on this topic? Why should anyone listen to you? Platform What platform do you have to generate publicity or visibility for your book? Answers might include large followings on social media, a regular broadcast presence, or a position as a columnist in a major national newspaper or magazine. Title It’s almost possible to overlook the title, just because it’s so damn obvious. But a great title counts for a huge amount. A good title should do two things. It should communicate what the book is about, but it should also do that in a sexy, edgy, novel, exciting way. A book called A Journey of Self-Discovery would be unpublishably bad. A book called Eat, Pray, Love could just be an international hit. Or just think how many extra sales Yuvral Noah Harari achieved by calling his first book simply Sapiens. That’s a huge subject with an utterly enticing one-word hook. Perfect! Do likewise. Intended Word Count Honestly? You won’t know this until you’ve written your book. But say something. 70-90,000 words would be about right for most memoirs. A 100,000-word book would be about 350 pages in print, so think roughly how long you want your finished book to feel. Anything over 120,000 words will have a slightly epic quality for the reader (and be more expensive for the publisher to produce), so only aim for high word counts if the subject matter is really worth it. (The American Civil War: yes. One somewhat interesting murder in Minnesota: no.) All that is to look at your proposal from a publisher’s point of view, but they have to think about things from a readers’ perspective as well. So they will also want to know: The Pitch To The Reader How would you go about pitching the book to a reader, rather than to a publisher? Does that pitch feel compelling, or a bit flat? Writing Skills Can you write decently? What is the actual experience of reading your book going to be like? Detailed Subject Matter What is your book actually about? It’s all very well to say (for example), that your book will be a history of Rome. And good – that’s clearly the kind of subject matter for which there is a perennial market. But what will the actual, detailed, chapter by chapter content be? You need to be able to outline your content and do so in a way that will make sense to someone who has little prior knowledge of your topic. These questions have to be answered by the proposal you offer to the publisher/literary agent. In effect, your proposal will simply go through these questions one at a time and answer them in a way that will give the strongest possible reassurance to the people holding the chequebook. What Should Be In Your Book Proposal:A Template A nonfiction book proposal template might run roughly as follows. (Why only “roughly”? Well, several reasons, really. First, non-fiction is a very varied field, and the basic template will need to bend a bit depending on what’s on offer. Secondly, there’s no required industry-standard format, the way there is with screenplays. That gives you some wiggle room. And third, you may be stronger in some areas and weaker in others. There’s nothing wrong with constructing your proposal so as to make the most of your assets!) Right. So things may vary, but a good place to start is as follows: 1. A Covering Letter (Or Query Letter) Your covering letter will deal with the following elements: Purpose: Explain why you’re writing in the first place.Example: “Dear Annie Agent, I am writing to seek representation for the attached book proposal, A Puzzle in String”Subject matter: Explain what the book is about.Example: “My book is a popular science book that explains string theory in terms that laypeople can understand [etc].”Audience: Explain who you think will be interested.Example: “The book will appeal to anyone interested in understanding the most fundamental aspects of the universe we live in. It will appeal to broadly the same people who bought Steven Hawking’s Brief History of Time . . . etc.”Angle: The world mostly doesn’t need more books. So why is yours the one that readers will want to pick up, given the vast range of options they already have?Example: “My book differs from the other books on the market in that it …”Personal background: Explain (in brief) who you are.Example: “I am a Professor of Physics at XYZ University . . .”(Optionally) Motivation: In some cases, it can help to explain why you felt driven to write this book.Example: If you were writing a book on silence, you might want to mention (say) that you had spent six months living, in silence, as a hermit.Documents: Explain what documents you are presenting.Example: “I attach the following documents . . .” A good letter will run to no more than two pages. (If you were a novelist, we’d suggest your letter run to no more than a single page, but the rules are a bit different for nonfiction authors. You have a little more room.) 2. A Professional Author Bio Your self-description needs to cover (usually) two elements: Here’s where you set out something like a professional resume. Even here, bear in mind your audience. So let’s say you are a professor of physics. Since you\'re addressing laypeople, instead of listing your papers in detail, you can just say, “I have authored more than 70 scientific papers . . .”You should also set out your platform, if you have one. That platform will include any way you have of reaching your target audience: social media, broadcasting, journalism, a blog post, a mailing list – anything. Do note that publishers have pretty high standards here. You’d need several hundred thousand Twitter followers, for instance, to move a publisher’s stony heart. Typically, you will either bring significant authority (“I’m a physics prof”) or a significant platform (“I have over 2,000,000 followers on Instagram”). It’s pretty rare that an author brings both, but if you have both – brag. And what happens if you have neither platform nor authority? Well, authority and platform are great, but if anyone tells you they’re essential – well, they’re wrong. Great writing plus a great idea will work fine every time as they\'re the most important things. If you have neither platform nor authority, your bio doesn\'t need to go into any great depth. 3. A Market Overview A marketing plan is also crucial. You’ll need to provide: A swift definition of your market as you see it. Be as precise as possible here. Don’t tell agents/publishers that your book will appeal to “all intelligent book buyers”. Define your audience as precisely as you can.Example: “This is a book of popular physics, part of the broader popular science market. Because the book lies at the harder end of the science market, it’s likely to appeal to readers with past enjoyment of quantum physics, astronomy…”Measures of engaged audience size: You want to give publishers some kind of metrics for the possible target audience – but be sober here, not expansive. If you are writing a book about Ireland, for example, don\'t say, “The worldwide population of Irish, Irish-American, and other Irish descended people is estimated at…” Yes, you may arrive at a large number that way, but it will be a meaningless number. Much better to say something like, “Nuala FitzShamrock’s history of the Irish Famine spent Y weeks on the NYT bestseller list.” It’s quite hard to get useful measures of engaged audience size, but you\'re better off giving a few hard stats rather than a larger number of fluffier ones.Offer an overview of major recent titles plus, if you want, some older classics – but publishers will certainly be focusing primarily on titles of the last 2-3 years. Don’t just list out the titles themselves, but include details of author, publisher, publication date, ISBN, page count, formats (eg: hardback, paperback, e-book, audio), and price points for each. These things matter a lot to a nonfiction publisher because they’ll instantly be able to tell what kind of market currently exists for these books. (They can also check, which you can’t, what the sales history for these titles are.) So if the only current publishers for your subject are academic publishers with books priced at $100+, it’s unlikely that a trade publisher will think that a mainstream market exists for your book. You\'ll want to provide data on at least 5 comparable titles, but 10 would be a better number to aim for.Provide any data you have on sales / prizes won / publicity achieved for your comparative titles. This can be hard, by the way, because this is an area where publishers will have paid-for sources of data that you don’t have. All the same, it’s worth making some effort here, as you can show yourself to be a professional, market-aware author – something publishers love to see! The easiest way to guesstimate approximate sales is by looking at Amazon sales ranking . . . just be aware that those rankings are volatile, so they can be an unreliable guide.Example: “String Theory for Idiots, by Prof Quentin Quark (Pub: Penguin Random House, 2018) is currently ranked at #1,800 in’s overall bestseller list. Format, pricing and ISBN details are: …)”Angle: Provide a brief summary of how your book differs from the competition. What makes yours special? Why does the market need your book? This last point is the crucial one. Sometimes, you might come across an idea that hasn’t been done before. In that case, say so. You have to bring something new to the market you are writing for. It is the newness and urgency of that idea which will go a long way to determine whether your nonfiction book proposal succeeds in generating offers or not. 4. Sample Material So far, the material we’re offering to the publisher includes stuff about the book (your query letter, that market overview) and about you (the bio.) But we do also need to give publishers a good taste of the work itself, which means you will also need to supply: A. Sample Chapters You\'ll need to include sample chapters from the book itself, to give the agent and publisher an idea of whether you can actually write. Can you write engagingly for a broad audience? This is your chance to prove it. If your book is narrative nonfiction, you will need to include the first three chapters from the book, because the narrative won’t make sense any other way. For subject-led non-fiction, the chapters can be non-contiguous. B. A Synopsis You need to give a detailed synopsis of the complete book. If you\'re writing narrative nonfiction, that can take the form of a regular synopsis, but probably longer than what you’d offer for fiction. Aim for about 2,000 words, if you’re not sure – though again, these things are variable. In some cases, you’ll find that narrative nonfiction – such as memoirs or travel books – simply demand to be treated like the novels they resemble. And that will probably mean that you need to write the whole damn book and that a proposal will simply not be enough. Sorry! (Though you can always get a proposal over to an agent. At the very least, a good proposal will start a useful conversation with an interested agent.) So what about the more subject-led non-fiction? The good news here is that you may be able to get away with relatively little. If you’re writing, let’s say, Paleo Science: What’s fact, what’s myth, and what matters to you, a detailed skeleton outline of a few pages should be fine. Don’t go wild. C. An Introduction As well as a sample chapter or two and a detailed outline, I strongly favour including the introduction that you intend to appear in the final finished book. That intro should act as a kind of manifesto for the book. It needs to proclaim, in effect, “Here’s why this topic is so important and so urgent that you have to fish $20 from your pocket right now and buy this book.” The manifesto is partly a communication of facts. (For example: “If sea levels continue to rise at their current rates, 47% of lower Manhattan will be underwater by 2029.”) But it’s also partly a process of seduction. You are seeking to entice the reader into seeing the world your way. That’s where strong writing comes into its own – and indeed, this will probably be the most important chapter you’ll write, as it’ll be the most influential in that buy/don’t-buy decision. Quite likely, you’ll find that actually writing that intro will bring your own project into greater focus, even for you. You’ll realise exactly what it is about your project that drives you so much. Communicate that passion to the reader, and you are onto a winner. What Not To Do In Your Nonfiction Book Proposal When you\'re including anecdotes in your nonfiction proposal, it\'s important that you add some human colour to it, rather than just offering a piece of information in an uninteresting manner. In particular, if your book is narrative non-fiction, you want the reader’s response to be rather as it would be at the start of a novel. Why are we here? What’s going to happen next? It’s those questions that compel attention. It’s that human anecdote which seduces the reader into the author’s project, and the author’s passion. If you can get your actual writing to strike the right seductive tone, you will succeed. Readers will read your book for pleasure and interest above all else. Want More Help With Your Book Proposal? Why not try an agent submission pack review, or our video course on how to get published. Or, take a look at our range of editorial services here. Frequently Asked Questions How Long Is A Nonfiction Book Proposal? The average length of a nonfiction book proposal is roughly around 10-25 pages. This varies greatly, depending on the topic, how thorough your proposal is, and how many sample pages of your writing you include. Specific literary agents and publishers may also have their own requirements for the lengths of the book proposals they receive. What Is The Format For A Book Proposal? The format of a book proposal may vary slightly, though most of them include: a query letter, a professional author bio, a market overview, and sample material (which includes a synopsis, sample chapters, and the introduction to your book). How Do You Write A Pitch For A Nonfiction Book? A pitch for a nonfiction book tends to be one or two sentences in length, and will reference the setting, subject, story, and unique selling point. Pitches summarise the key points of a book in a way which is clear and engaging. How Do You Write A Synopsis For A Nonfiction Book Proposal? The synopsis for a nonfiction book proposal should have a clear beginning, middle, and end; reflect the tone of your writing and the genre of your book; be engaging; reveal the key sections of your book (including any unexpected twists or spoilers); and be objective. They tend to be around 2,000 words long, though if you\'re writing subject-led nonfiction it can be briefer and around a few pages long. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer’s community. 

Literary Agents For Travel Non-Fiction

So you’ve written a travel memoir and want to find an agent to represent it? Easier said than done, because there are so many agents, with so many preferences and requirements, so many different sites to explore and notes to take. If you’re writing a travel tome, it also needs to set itself apart. Think about what makes books like Into the Wild, Eat Pray Love, or Under the Tuscan Sun appealing to readers. We’ve at least made your agent search easy through AgentMatch. Agentmatch And How To Use It On AgentMatch, there are plenty of travel-loving agents, and you won’t want to approach them all. The best way to develop and refine your own shortlist of likely targets is to visit our page and use the search tools on the left to make your selection. You can select by genre (e.g. travel) but you can also select by the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and very much more. Our database is completely comprehensive and it’s really, really easy to create the searches you want. This site is designed to give users a good feel for the data and functionality for free, but the real riches of our site are available only to members. Become a member. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

US Agents For Romance

From Jane Austen and onwards, romantic fiction is one of the most popular of all genres. There are plenty of romance-loving agents but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors should query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject areas, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. You can save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. We’ve done all the work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there.   So, if you want to get to know the agents below (as well as the other 900+ literary agents!) a little better, then take out our 7-day free trial and get searching.  Jessica Alvarez Rachel Beck Beth Campbell Susanna Einstein Thao Le Nikki Terpilowski Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein  Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! Agents Looking For Romance Authors Although Romance is a popular genre, it hasn’t necessarily always got the respect it deserves. Romance is generally used in modern publishing to distinguish between ‘women’s fiction’ (this is fairly literary, upmarket and serious) from ‘romance.’ A term normally associated with happily mass-market brands such as Mills & Boon and Black Lace, as well as fun, frolicky romances from big publishers.  As the genre is so broad, it’s not enough to simply look for agents with an interest in women’s fiction. You need to find those who are expressly interested in fiction at the more commercial end of the market. You can find the agents interested in representing Romance here, on AgentMatch. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Amanda Berriman, Author Of ‘Home’, On Getting An Agent

Guest author and blogger Mandy Berriman shares with us how she hooked her literary agent and the importance of never giving up. I went to a family wedding earlier this year. At our places at dinner, we each had a name card with a quote on the back. Mine read: I have one talent; I never give up. We laughed at the aptness, but it was also a well-timed personal reminder to me. Keep going, you’re almost there, don’t give up. And on I went with the current rewrite, kicking the doubt demons into the dust along the way. I think it is possible that in the history of Jericho Writers (The Writers’ Workshop), I hold the longest record for not giving up: eleven years, two months and 26 days, to be precise. I was one of their earliest clients with my nine chapters of an unfinished ghost novel for children. It was the first piece of fiction I’d written since leaving school and although I had experienced a huge buzz writing it, I’d taken a year and a half to get to Chapter 9 and then stalled. Was it any good? Did I even know what I was doing? Could I actually write a whole novel? After uttering once too often, ‘but how do I know if I can actually do this?’, my husband found The Writers’ Workshop and told me to go and find out. A few weeks later, I had a report back from Harry. The gist: yes, you can do this, and here are all the things you need to learn about writing. That was June 2005, and I haven’t stopped learning since – Arvon, reciprocal critiquing arrangements, constructive feedback from agents, self-editing, six Festivals of Writing, mentoring from outstanding Debi Alper, and always the ongoing support and encouragement from the team here. I spent many years on that original novel (writing, finishing, rewriting, editing, finishing again, rewriting, editing, finishing again), and I came very close with a number of agents, including one who read, offered feedback, and re-read several times over a period of three or four years, and my opening chapter was shortlisted at 2012’s Festival of Writing, but I never quite jumped the agent hurdle. I decided to put the novel in the drawer and move on. I’d been writing and rewriting it for nine years and was desperate for a change. I started a second children’s novel and rediscovered that buzz of fresh, no-idea-where-it’s-going writing. But fitting it in around two children and an increasingly demanding job meant progress was slow and I struggled with motivation. I dabbled in other bits and pieces, never settling on anything, but I started to write short stories and flash fiction in different styles and voices, and quite a step away from the children’s fiction where I felt comfortable. In 2013, several things happened to dramatically change my direction and fire my motivation. Firstly, I moved jobs to one that was far more creative, allowing me to focus on my passion for music and step back from time-consuming paperwork. Secondly, my youngest son started preschool freeing up a precious few daytime hours in which to write. Thirdly, and probably most importantly, Stories for Homes happened. Debi and her friend, Sally Swingewood, decided they wanted to create an anthology of short stories and poems on a theme of ‘home’ to raise money for Shelter. Debi asked for submissions of stories, techy help, proofreading and so on. I was determined to make progress on my children’s novel and I had no story ideas, so I replied to say that I would help where I could but doubted it would be in story form. However, just before the story deadline, I read Claire King’s The Night Rainbow, a wonderful, inspiring novel written from the POV of a five-year-old girl. (Read it!) Its themes are not about homelessness, but it sparked a thought – what does homelessness look like, feel like, smell like to a young child? And there was Jesika with her hands on her hips and that look she gets on her face when an adult is being really silly, wondering out loud why it took me for ages to notice her. I wrote and edited Jesika’s story in a week and sent it to Debi and Sally just in time for the deadline. They loved it. They made it the first story in the book. The book was filled with sixty or so other fantastic stories and poems and the book went on sale and raised over £2,000 for Shelter. (It’s still on sale, still raising money for Shelter.) I was very proud to be a small part of the overall project and when the excitement died down, I returned to the children’s novel. Except Jesika had other ideas. She wouldn’t leave me alone. I realised that one short story was not going to satisfy her. I’ve spent the last three years writing, rewriting and editing Jesika’s novel. In that time, Debi has continued to mentor me and I’ve been to four Festivals, each time taking a little bit of Jesika’s story with me for my one-to-ones. In 2013, all three agents told me they loved the voice, and they’d love to see more. (I wasn’t finished, so made a note of their names). In 2014, I saw two more agents who loved the voice, but weren’t convinced I could sustain it (and I still hadn’t finished it, so I couldn’t prove them wrong). However, that year I also went to a workshop run by Shelley Harris and because of a piece of writing I scribbled for one of her tasks, she introduced me to her agent, Jo Unwin, and we talked about the novel and she gave me encouragement to continue. In early 2015, I finished the first draft and started rewriting. In 2015, I submitted to Jo as one of my one-to-ones. She loved it and wanted to see more, and then after the festival, one of the agents I saw in 2013 asked to see the first chapter. She also loved it and wanted to see more, but the rewrite wasn’t finished. It took me a year to finish – during an emotionally challenging year and with enormous help from Debi’s editorial genius – and just before the 2016 festival, I was ready to submit again. I had two agent one-to-ones arranged and I emailed Jo Unwin and the other agent to ask if they wanted to see it, too. I assumed that nothing much would happen for a few months, and then I’d look at any feedback I got from the agents and talk to Debi about further rewrites. What did happen was I ended up with four agents reading the full manuscript, two making me an offer of representation, one taking me out for lunch and me having a choice to make – all in the space of three and a half weeks! I’m delighted to say (and still pinching myself when I say it) that I chose Jo Unwin. I know that this is one more hurdle in a series of hurdles and who knows what comes next, but I’m very excited to have arrived at a place I’ve been working towards for so long and so grateful for the day my husband handed me The Writers’ Workshop info and told me to get on with it. I stepped through a door that day that led me to so many fantastic opportunities, wonderful people and great friends – and I am the writer I am today because of them. Back in 2007, Harry posted about me on a now-dead blog to congratulate me on that initial success of finding an agent who believed enough in my first novel to offer feedback and ask to read it again. He acknowledged there were no guarantees that it would lead to representation but he said, ‘I bet Mandy makes it though. And I bet she sells well when she does. Certainly hope so.’ I printed that blog off and pinned it up to remind me to keep going, and I did keep going. Thank you, Harry. And thank you to everyone else along the way who believed I could do this. Lastly, incredibly, one of the many agents who rejected my children’s novel five years ago is the agent I’m now signed with as my book heads to publication with Doubleday. My advice: be rejected, crawl away and weep in a corner, look at feedback, eat chocolate, learn, re-read feedback, swear, try new things, get involved with other writers, allow your writing to be critiqued, learn more, delete, rewrite, edit, throw the whole lot in the bin for a day – but never give up! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Get A US Agent For Your Crime Thriller

There’s a common misconception that if you’re a crime or thriller writer you need an agent who focuses solely on those genres. But agents typically have eclectic tastes and like to diversify their list. If you go to a leading crime agent, you may just become one in a number of crime authors. But, if you find an agent who appeals to you and whose client list is a little light on crime titles, then your book could be just what they’re looking for. US Crime And Thriller Agents There are plenty of ways to figure out which agents represent your genre but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles. After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s a few crime/thriller agents to get you started: Jessica Alvarez Amelia Appel Noah Ballard Rachel Beck  Danielle Egan-Miller  Donald Mass  Evan Marshall  Kiana Nguyen Joy Tutela Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  How To Target Submissions It’s important that you find an agent that is interested in representing crime or thriller novels. A little targeting of potential agents is fine, as long as you don’t overdo it. There are two things that we always advise querying authors to consider, when they’re searching for agents:  Check who represents your favourite author. Even if your favourite author writes women’s fiction or literary fiction, you may find that you and the agent share a taste for a certain kind of writing and have something in common. Research agents that represent good but lesser known authors in your genre. If you were to query Dan Brown’s agent, for instance, that would certainly be a waste of time as his desk would undoubtedly be covered in various conspiracy-thriller-manuscripts. Whereas, if you find a pool of talented thriller authors that haven’t yet hit the big time, those agents are more likely to be open to seeing submissions from querying authors.  If you’re still convinced that the only way to publication is through a Very Well-Known Agent, then have a think about this:  The Very Well-Known Agent will have a long list of Big-Name clients (sometimes over a hundred!). Do you want to be the least important on that list? A Very Well-Known Agent may not be looking for debut writers at all. Any additions to their client list will likely be established authors moving agencies. Selling a book to a publisher, isn’t rocket science. If the agent is competent and can sell a literary novel, for example, then they have all the skills to sell any other genre too. If an agent’s contacts are weak in one area, then after a few phone calls that’s easily rectified. The exception being fantasy or science fiction and children’s fiction; both markets are pretty specialist. Publishers want to find wonderful, saleable books. They won’t care who the agent is that submits it to them. All that matters is that a) the editor loves the manuscript, and b) enough other people in the company love it, too. Ultimately, all that really matters is your writing.  You can read up on more tips for crime and thriller writing, here. If you’re writing a police procedural crime novel, then this article on researching those procedures is everything you need to read today!  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

US Agents For Popular Science

Looking for an agent that represents popular science non-fiction work? Then look no further, we answer all your questions here. Plus, we’ll even introduce a few agents you should query! There are plenty of ways to figure out which agents represent your genre but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.     We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some names to get you started:  Jessica Alvarez   Danielle Egan-Miller Regina Brooks  Annie Hwang Jody Kahn  Adam Schear Frank Weimann  Cindy Uh Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  The Market Authors of popular science and psychology are more popular than ever. Stephen Hawking, Oliver Sacks and Michio Kaku, to name a few.   Regardless of the ebook revolution and its impact on the publishing market, it remains the case that for countless areas of the book trade that traditional publishers still dominate. Your most likely route to those publishers will be via literary agents.  It’s important to remember that no agents only specialise in popular science. Your agent is likely to represent a range of areas including serious and topical non-fiction, fiction, as well as other lighter non-fiction subjects, too. This doesn’t mean that your agent won’t have the necessary connections. He or she will have them and will be motivated to place your work in the best (and most lucrative) place possible.  Best of luck!  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

US Agents For Food & Cookery Books

The food and cookery market remains a dependable corner of the book market. Agents Representing Food And Cookery Books There are plenty of cookery-loving agents but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors should query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject areas, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. You can save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. We’ve done all the work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there.   So, if you want to get to know the agents below (as well as the other 900+ literary agents!) a little better, then take out our 7-day free trial and get searching.  Rica Allannic  Jennifer Chen Tran  Mark Gottlieb  Sandy Lu Amanda Jain   Deborah Schneider Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! THE MARKET This is an area dominated by full-colour, hard-copy books. The ebook revolution has done little to change the basic market. Which is good news.  The bad news is that this means the market dynamics are very challenging for debut authors in this area. A sure-fire way to get a cookbook published is to have a TV show first. Or a column in a national newspaper. Or, you’re a celebrity. But for ordinary cookery writers, it is hard to get published. It’s hard to get publishers interested enough to invest in a book, not only because the high production quality means that a book needs to shift a lot of copies to break into profit.  There are still opportunities for new debut writers. Especially if you are an expert in an under-explored area of food and drink.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

US Agents For Travel Non-Fiction

So, you’ve written a travel memoir and you’re ready to find an agent to represent it? There are plenty of travel-loving agents but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors should query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject areas, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. You can save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. We’ve done all the work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there.   So, if you want to get to know the agents below (as well as the other 900+ literary agents!) a little better, then take out our 7-day free trial and get searching.  William Clark  Rachel Dillon Fried   Wendy Levinson  Alison Mackeen  Dan Mandel  Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! Finding An Agent Finding an agent sounds much easier than it is. There are so many agents, with varying preferences and requirements, and so many sites to explore and notes to take. It can be a daunting task.  If you’re writing a travel book, it needs to set itself apart from others like it in the market. Take a look at Into the Wild, Eat Pray Love, or Under the Tuscan Sun, what sets them apart and makes them so appealing to readers? Bear this in mind when querying agents, and show them what makes your book unique. We’ve at least made your agent search easier with AgentMatch. Good luck! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

US Literary Agents Representing Politics And Current Affairs

‘Non-fiction’ covers a wide range of subjects, and in this case, politics and current affairs offers a broad and eclectic market. There are plenty of ways to figure out which agents represent your genre but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.     We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some names to get you started:  Betsy Amster   Amy Elizabeth Bishop  Dado Derviskadic  Stuart Krichevsky  Rita Rosenkranz  Gordon Warnock  Howard Yoon Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  If your book isn’t strictly about politics but about how society works, think Malcolm Gladwell, or similar to Michael Lewis and addresses specific aspects of how the world works, then agents within this category are likely a good match for you.  It’s important to remember that no agents only specialise in politics and current affairs. Your agent is likely to represent a range of areas including serious and topical non-fiction, fiction, as well as other lighter non-fiction subjects, too. This doesn’t mean that your agent won’t have the necessary connections. He or she will have them and will be motivated to place your work in the best (and most lucrative) place possible.  Good luck!  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 
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