Author Topic: Getting Published  (Read 2812 times)

Small Man Big Horse

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Getting Published
« on: September 19, 2020, 04:13:31 PM »
So after writing the bloody thing on and off for over six years (albeit with a three year gap from 2017 - 2020) I've at last finished the final draft of the novel I've been working on, and now want to at least try to get it published. I'm sure in the end I'll go down the self-publishing / chuck it up on Amazon route, but before that I'm going to try and do it the professional way, and I know some folks on here have done so in the past and wondered if they had any advice?

I've heard that you should try and get an agent first, but some people online suggest sending out copies of the book (or the first three chapters at least) to only 3 - 5 agents at a time, others feel that you should just send it out to a fuck load and hope for the best. Though which agents it's worth seeking out is another issue, does anyone know how to find which ones it's worth seeking out (it's a mix of fantasy, humour and horror, for the record)? And should I ignore the smaller publishers who are prepared to read submissions until I either find an agent or get turned down by each and every one of them? Or is it worth sending the book in to them in the meantime?

BlodwynPig

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2020, 04:17:35 PM »
Whats it about?

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2020, 04:27:08 PM »
Whats it about?

It's about a slightly weird depressed guy (ie a thinly veiled version of myself) discovering that magic exists, and who at first has a whale of a time until it all goes horribly, horribly wrong.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2020, 04:38:14 PM »
Will look forward to buying this!

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2020, 04:46:04 PM »
Will look forward to buying this!

The above post is legally binding and I will hold you to it in a court of law if need be. (Also, thank you!).

QDRPHNC

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2020, 05:25:20 PM »
The other day there was a Reddit AMA with fairly well-known mystery author... forgot his name. He said if you send a sample chapter to most publishers, it will get read by someone, but you need to stick closely to their individual submission guidelines.

Congratulations on the finishing it! Even getting to the end of a first draft is an achievement.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2020, 06:39:29 PM »
The other day there was a Reddit AMA with fairly well-known mystery author... forgot his name. He said if you send a sample chapter to most publishers, it will get read by someone, but you need to stick closely to their individual submission guidelines.

Congratulations on the finishing it! Even getting to the end of a first draft is an achievement.

Ah, that's interesting, and I'll definitely keep that in mind if the agent side of things don't work out.

And thank you! It's actually the sixth draft, but the first four were written when I was stoned and so a right old mess, and why it's taken me three and a half months to end up with a version I'm happy with!

Re: Getting Published
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2020, 06:42:07 PM »
Well done on finishing it!

Re: Getting Published
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2020, 07:52:11 PM »
Congratulations!

I can only speak from the experience of working for people who have published books, but self-publishing seems to be a whole new daily grind of promotion, networking, paying for advertising on social media, building up followers, interacting, etc. which obviously is a lot less if you can get a publisher. Having a brief summary that hooks them in is vital. The description you gave sounds interesting enough to me that I'd want to investigate further. Good luck!

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2020, 08:35:12 PM »
Well done on finishing it!

Congratulations!

I can only speak from the experience of working for people who have published books, but self-publishing seems to be a whole new daily grind of promotion, networking, paying for advertising on social media, building up followers, interacting, etc. which obviously is a lot less if you can get a publisher. Having a brief summary that hooks them in is vital. The description you gave sounds interesting enough to me that I'd want to investigate further. Good luck!

Thank you both. And I've heard similar stories re: self publishing, and even then some people have put in a ridiculous amount of work only to sell 20 or so copies, so if I can avoid going down that route I definitely will do so, it sounds almost as exhausting as writing the thing in the first place!

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2020, 08:36:37 PM »
Congrats SMBH, look forward to reading it!

Mister Six

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2020, 03:59:45 AM »
Well done! As someone who's prone to procrastinating and getting distracted even when I'm not stoned, I'm well impressed that you managed not one, but multiple drafts while off your face, and even more impressed that you did another two after that. Honestly, just finishing the book is an achievement - I haven't even fucking started mine - so give yourself a bit of time to enjoy that before you plunge your face back into the grindstone.

Anyway, yeah, in the US there are books of contacts for literary agents - sort of like incredibly specific Yellow Pages - and I assume the same thing exists in the UK. I'm in a couple of writer's groups on Facebook, so I'll ask on there which ones are generally regarded as the most reliable for the UK (although there are a lot of bozos like me on there who never achieve anything, so grains of salt and all that).

Some info on UK agents here, although I've not read the page fully so I assume they're trying to flog you something.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2020, 04:17:28 AM by Mister Six »

Re: Getting Published
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2020, 11:32:17 AM »
Nothing to add advice-wise but wishing you all the best with this, I'll definitely give it a read

The Mollusk

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2020, 12:56:53 PM »
Echoing the hearty congratulations for such a big achievement, nicely done!

My partner used to work in publishing so I'll ask her if she has any advice to offer. In addition to this, her sister has several published works and a friend of hers also currently works for a publisher which I believe is in the realm of fantasy/sci-fi, so I'll do some digging and see what I can do to help.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2020, 02:08:08 PM »
Thanks for all the kind words everyone, it is greatly appreciated.

Well done! As someone who's prone to procrastinating and getting distracted even when I'm not stoned, I'm well impressed that you managed not one, but multiple drafts while off your face, and even more impressed that you did another two after that. Honestly, just finishing the book is an achievement - I haven't even fucking started mine - so give yourself a bit of time to enjoy that before you plunge your face back into the grindstone.

Anyway, yeah, in the US there are books of contacts for literary agents - sort of like incredibly specific Yellow Pages - and I assume the same thing exists in the UK. I'm in a couple of writer's groups on Facebook, so I'll ask on there which ones are generally regarded as the most reliable for the UK (although there are a lot of bozos like me on there who never achieve anything, so grains of salt and all that).

Some info on UK agents here, although I've not read the page fully so I assume they're trying to flog you something.

Thanks hugely for all of that, as for writing when stoned, well I wasn't working at the time so had a lot of time on my hands, though if it hadn't been for the lockdown I'm not sure I'd ever have got round to finishing it to be honest as it needed a huge amount of work!

And cheers for the link re: agents, that definitely looks helpful and it's free for 7 days, so when I'm ready to submit (a friend is just doing a quick proof read currently) I'll sign up for it. And if you're able to find out anything from the facebook group that'd be great too, I really must join some myself as I'm sure there'll be some handy tips and advice there.

Echoing the hearty congratulations for such a big achievement, nicely done!

My partner used to work in publishing so I'll ask her if she has any advice to offer. In addition to this, her sister has several published works and a friend of hers also currently works for a publisher which I believe is in the realm of fantasy/sci-fi, so I'll do some digging and see what I can do to help.

Thank you enormously too, and if your partner / her sister can help her or have any tips it'd of course be really appreciated as well.

Re: Getting Published
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2020, 02:57:15 PM »
Congratulations! I did the NaNoWriMo thing back in 2013, and that was bloody hard just to write to prove to myself that I could, so I can't imagine how hard it must be to write something to completion that you're prepared to share with others. Well done.

Mister Six

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2020, 04:59:36 PM »
And if you're able to find out anything from the facebook group that'd be great too, I really must join some myself as I'm sure there'll be some handy tips and advice there.

No bites yet - I think it's mostly a US group, unfortunately.

There are some good tips (it's how I found out about the agent contact books) but 95% or posts are people saying "What are some reasons my main character might murder his father?" Like, isn't that kind of your job to figure out?

The other 5% can be great though. I'm in Writers Unite!, Writers Helping Writers, and Fiction Writing.

bgmnts

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2020, 05:04:37 PM »
Well done on completing your magnificent octopus!

Al Tha Funkee Homosapien

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2020, 05:07:07 PM »
Any sexy bits?

Dr Rock

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2020, 05:29:37 PM »
Have you got the latest Writers & Artists Yearbook? It has all the contacts you'll need, plus articles on being published.  But mostly it's all about the agents, what sort  of books they publish and how to send them submissions.

And well done, even if you never get published, you've written a fucking book.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2020, 09:19:12 PM »
Cheers SavageHedgehog and Bgmnts, it's kind of you to say that.

No bites yet - I think it's mostly a US group, unfortunately.

There are some good tips (it's how I found out about the agent contact books) but 95% or posts are people saying "What are some reasons my main character might murder his father?" Like, isn't that kind of your job to figure out?

The other 5% can be great though. I'm in Writers Unite!, Writers Helping Writers, and Fiction Writing.

Thanks again for that, it turns out I was already a member of Writers Helping Writers and had forgotten(!), but I've joined the other two. I see what you mean about some of the stranger questions often posed, but like you say there's still definitely a very helpful aspect to them.

Any sexy bits?

There were but I cut them out. However I'm prepared to sell them to you separately for £1.99.

Have you got the latest Writers & Artists Yearbook? It has all the contacts you'll need, plus articles on being published.  But mostly it's all about the agents, what sort  of books they publish and how to send them submissions.

I haven't, but I'll definitely seek out a copy soon, thanks for the recommendation as I'd forgotten about it but had heard in the past it was very helpful.

Quote
And well done, even if you never get published, you've written a fucking book.

Cheers, and it's sort of how I've been thinking too. Of course I want to get it published, but worst comes to the worst I'll self publish and have a physical copy of it that I can look at lovingly! :)

Re: Getting Published
« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2020, 12:08:35 AM »
Another congratulations on finishing your manuscript, nice work!

I work for one of the bigger UK publishers and like many, officially we don't take 'unsolicited' (i.e. not via an agent) submissions, but from what I've gathered, quite a few acquisitions do start life as recommendations through a 'someone who knows someone' type route, frustratingly. My own role isn't in a creative capacity, but from speaking to my friends who've worked as editorial assistants, I gather they will at least try to read as much as they can of what gets sent their way, but a lot of it is basically gubbins so understandably they end up pretty jaded and ruthless.

Second the recommendation for getting hold of a copy of the Writer's and Artist's Yearbook, if only to get a lay of the land in terms of what people are looking for at the moment. It's also worth getting into the habit of keeping savvy about what's out there already, what people are buying and reading at the moment, and any other trends or things you notice in the wider world which might be pertinent to your own book. Essentially agents and publishers want your book to be as marketable as possible, so if you can prove that you've done a bit of research and you know your audience then that can only work in your favour.

I would also add that it might be worth looking out for any writing/mentoring schemes which are designed with a view to getting your book published - I appreciate you've already done the 'writing the book' bit, but there are quite a few programmes out there aimed at polishing and promoting new, unpublished writers. Many of these have a diversity/inclusivity angle, although it's not always as specific as (for instance) finding BAME writers or writers from a particular region - earlier this year I helped read the initial round of entries for a scheme to find writers with 'underrepresented experiences', so it was deliberately left pretty open to interpretation. (One of the submission's opening sentence was a guy giving a detailed description of his dildo collection.)

Not much detailed advice to offer about the process I'm afraid, as I've never really worked directly in the editorial/creative decision-making side of things, but if you've got any specific questions about any of the above I'd be happy to try and find out a bit more.

Egyptian Feast

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2020, 10:33:28 AM »
Congratulations SMBH! I can't help with advice, but I'll definitely buy a copy when it's available.

Re: Getting Published
« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2020, 12:00:22 PM »
Yeah, well done on finishing it. That's a hell of an achievement on its own, but good luck with getting it published. I'll buy a copy, for sure.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2020, 06:34:47 PM »
Cheers all, once again you're lovely people!

Another congratulations on finishing your manuscript, nice work!

I work for one of the bigger UK publishers and like many, officially we don't take 'unsolicited' (i.e. not via an agent) submissions, but from what I've gathered, quite a few acquisitions do start life as recommendations through a 'someone who knows someone' type route, frustratingly. My own role isn't in a creative capacity, but from speaking to my friends who've worked as editorial assistants, I gather they will at least try to read as much as they can of what gets sent their way, but a lot of it is basically gubbins so understandably they end up pretty jaded and ruthless.

Second the recommendation for getting hold of a copy of the Writer's and Artist's Yearbook, if only to get a lay of the land in terms of what people are looking for at the moment. It's also worth getting into the habit of keeping savvy about what's out there already, what people are buying and reading at the moment, and any other trends or things you notice in the wider world which might be pertinent to your own book. Essentially agents and publishers want your book to be as marketable as possible, so if you can prove that you've done a bit of research and you know your audience then that can only work in your favour.

I would also add that it might be worth looking out for any writing/mentoring schemes which are designed with a view to getting your book published - I appreciate you've already done the 'writing the book' bit, but there are quite a few programmes out there aimed at polishing and promoting new, unpublished writers. Many of these have a diversity/inclusivity angle, although it's not always as specific as (for instance) finding BAME writers or writers from a particular region - earlier this year I helped read the initial round of entries for a scheme to find writers with 'underrepresented experiences', so it was deliberately left pretty open to interpretation. (One of the submission's opening sentence was a guy giving a detailed description of his dildo collection.)

Not much detailed advice to offer about the process I'm afraid, as I've never really worked directly in the editorial/creative decision-making side of things, but if you've got any specific questions about any of the above I'd be happy to try and find out a bit more.

And thanks for all of that, there's some great stuff there, and I definitely will get the writers guide when I get paid at the beginning of next month.

When it comes to trends I'm vaguely hopeful given the magic/fantasy aspect that it will attract interest, not that that was in any way deliberate, I'd had the (very rough) idea of what the novel would be like bouncing around in my head for years and years. Still, now that everyone hates JK Rowling I could perhaps take her place!

And that's interesting when it comes to "underrepresented experiences" as well, but as I'm a 46 year old white male originally from Surrey and the main character is a 30-something white male from Surrey I'm guessing it won't apply to me! Looking in to mentoring schemes as a whole is a good idea though, certainly if I struggle on the agents front I'll do that to see if there are ways I can improve it, though a few friends have read it in the past and been very helpful on that front.

Re: Getting Published
« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2020, 07:37:59 PM »
When it comes to trends I'm vaguely hopeful given the magic/fantasy aspect that it will attract interest, not that that was in any way deliberate, I'd had the (very rough) idea of what the novel would be like bouncing around in my head for years and years. Still, now that everyone hates JK Rowling I could perhaps take her place!

I'm no expert on fantasy/sci-fi but there are certainly publishers and imprints which specialise in those genres, so if that's how you imagine your book would be classified then it's definitely worth taking a look at their lists to get an idea of the kind of stuff they're interested in at the moment. Most publisher's websites will allow you to download a PDF of their latest catalogue of forthcoming titles (in fact this probably isn't a bad time of year to have a look, as Autumn is normally when the biggest titles are scheduled for).

If you haven't done so already, it's also worth thinking about other culturally comparable non-book stuff (for example, comedy/TV series etc.), if applicable - as in, "fans of this thing might also enjoy my book" - as that's definitely the sort of stuff that goes into the marketing materials and sales points used for promoting most new books, and would also potentially give an agent/publisher a flavour of what the book will be like, while showing that you've got a good handle on your audience.

And that's interesting when it comes to "underrepresented experiences" as well, but as I'm a 46 year old white male originally from Surrey and the main character is a 30-something white male from Surrey I'm guessing it won't apply to me! Looking in to mentoring schemes as a whole is a good idea though, certainly if I struggle on the agents front I'll do that to see if there are ways I can improve it, though a few friends have read it in the past and been very helpful on that front.

You mentioned that the main character is depressed - without sounding like I'm cynically forcing an 'issues' angle on it, mental health (perhaps especially male mental health) would certainly be pretty topical at the moment (although that definitely doesn't mean your book would have to be repackaged as some earnest manifesto).

To be honest, I don't really know enough about the range of writer's schemes currently available to be of much help in that area (the one which I assisted with earlier this year was a bit of an anomaly, as lots of the editorial staff were on furlough at the time) - but I think generally speaking, most publishers/agents would primarily be seeking original, engaging ideas and quality writing (which may address under-represented viewpoints and subjects) over tokenistic box-ticking, so it's probably not worth getting too hung up on that.

Anyway, I'll stop waffling, but best of luck with getting it out there, and as mentioned, happy to throw out questions to anyone I can think of who might be better placed to help.

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #26 on: September 21, 2020, 09:22:59 PM »
Well done SMBH.  The other thing to take into account when you approach publishers etc is that you must figuratively have a second and even a third album up your sleeve.  I recommend reading literary agent, Jo Unwin's (Mrs Chris Morris)chapter in David Quantick's How To Be A Writer book for further information.

ZoyzaSorris

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2020, 10:07:50 AM »
Well done SMBH! Great work. Look forward to checking it out, hopefully in lavish hardback straight from the presses of an enormous publishing behemoth.

From a personally selfish point of view I am very glad you have raised this subject. I too am in a similar position, having finally returned to put the finishing touches to my novel after nearly a year's hiatus - a friend of mine has, finally, after 18 months of discussion, arrived at a suitable life juncture to help me do an intensive final edit to get it in the shape it needs to be in. Interesting going back after that kind of break, feel like I can get a much more objective perspective on it.
Hoping to be in a position to send it out to the big wide world in the next couple of weeks!

Personally I am also an (early) middle-aged white man - the most persecuted minority of all - but at least I have been gifted lifelong struggles with Epilepsy, ADHD* and nerve damage to lend me some 'alternative perspective' points I guess. Also grew up amongst a pretty rough and dirty criminal-rich milieu, I  mean I'm not saying it was the Bronx or anything but hopefully I can really over-egg that side of things when chatting to posh industry gatekeepers to make me a bit less 'pale, male and stale'.

I guess 'white man in his (early) forties, yes - but having spent a significant time amongst the desperate hovels of the poor, and still in the prime of his life, honestly, oh and with minor lifelong mental disabilities to boot' could get me on a slightly different watch-pile maybe.

I've definitely made a creative feature of the protagonist's neurodivergency, shamelessly inspired by my own experiences (and then turned up to 11), so I could get that in there whilst trying to pitch it I guess. As I've said before it is NOT repeat NOT a memoir, but I'm sure I am not the first (wannabe) debut novelist to take some influence from those formative years that linger so vividly in our memory even as the accumulating decades of our lives coalesce into mental sludge.

It's set in an environment of early 90s rave culture as experienced by slightly-detached teenagers with a toehold in the world of petty criminality, but with a big dose of metaphysical weirdness (and a tiny pinch of Phillip K Dick) at its heart, so it's hopefully not some annoying 'remember this thing' Ready Player One type of vibe (not that I've read that but it sounds annoying). Also has a lot of 'healing power of nature' gubbins thrown in. Like Kes ON ACID.

So I guess there is still a bit of 90s / rave culture revival at the moment, which I can see lasting a bit longer, and also 'rewilding yourself / forest bathing' type of stuff seems fairly in the zeitgeist. Chuck in a bit of exploration of mental illness and existential apocalyptic angst, as well as an early echo of all this tabloid 'county lines' nonsense, play up my mental illnesses and underworld authenticity beyond all reasonable artistic licence, and I feel that it could just possibly be something that would be marketable in the current climate.

Just got to make the not-so-good bits as good as the good bits now! And get rid of as much as possible. Cutting mercilessly I actually really enjoy, quite liberating (and you can always file away all of the trimmings to try and partially reuse in something else). Killing your darlings is immensely painful when you have just given birth to them, but once they have had time to grow and fly the nest gunning them down actually gets quite grimly enjoyable.

I'm in the odd position that I think the ending is genuinely great, I'm really happy with it - it's one of those wonderful things where you read it back after a gap and think 'how the hell did I write that', like it was piped down from somewhere else outside your brain and you were just the conduit -  but the beginning is one of the weaker points of the book as it stands, which is obviously not what you are after terms of trying to sell it. So may main quest is to try and turn the slightly clunky first part into a page-turning monster. (Partly the problem is that I wrote a fair bit of the first section a while before the rest and the progression of my writing ability in the parts written later is quite noticeable.)

Any more tips on to how to go forward once I've got my final doc most gratefully received!

*which I basically got diagnosed with as a result of the process of writing the book and suddenly realising that the protagonist, and by extension me, matched the symptoms I'd just read about exactly, leading me to get the opinion of the medical authorities on the matter who wholeheartedly agreed that I was a textbook case! Quite a nice story to get into the inevitable high-profile interviews I guess, once I start doing the charity advocacy rounds...

ZoyzaSorris

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2020, 10:12:19 AM »
And does this mean I need to get the current Yearbook? I shelled out for the last one (and spent a good while making a list of possible people to send it to) but I guess you want to make sure all of the details are up-to-date.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #29 on: September 22, 2020, 04:27:12 PM »
I'm no expert on fantasy/sci-fi but there are certainly publishers and imprints which specialise in those genres, so if that's how you imagine your book would be classified then it's definitely worth taking a look at their lists to get an idea of the kind of stuff they're interested in at the moment. Most publisher's websites will allow you to download a PDF of their latest catalogue of forthcoming titles (in fact this probably isn't a bad time of year to have a look, as Autumn is normally when the biggest titles are scheduled for).

If you haven't done so already, it's also worth thinking about other culturally comparable non-book stuff (for example, comedy/TV series etc.), if applicable - as in, "fans of this thing might also enjoy my book" - as that's definitely the sort of stuff that goes into the marketing materials and sales points used for promoting most new books, and would also potentially give an agent/publisher a flavour of what the book will be like, while showing that you've got a good handle on your audience.


Thanks for all of that once again, it is a big help and I'll definitely check out the various genre publishers. As for making comparisons, that sounds like a great idea too, the thing I think it must resembles (and what I was attempting to do from the get go) was to write a comics series but in novel form, but there are a couple of tv series it vaguely resembles, or bits of them thrown together at least.

Quote
You mentioned that the main character is depressed - without sounding like I'm cynically forcing an 'issues' angle on it, mental health (perhaps especially male mental health) would certainly be pretty topical at the moment (although that definitely doesn't mean your book would have to be repackaged as some earnest manifesto).

That's another great suggestion, the mental health aspect isn't a huge factor all the way through, but it is a vaguely big part of the final third of the novel and so if it helps attract an agent / publisher it sounds like it'd definitely be a good idea to mention it.

Quote
To be honest, I don't really know enough about the range of writer's schemes currently available to be of much help in that area (the one which I assisted with earlier this year was a bit of an anomaly, as lots of the editorial staff were on furlough at the time) - but I think generally speaking, most publishers/agents would primarily be seeking original, engaging ideas and quality writing (which may address under-represented viewpoints and subjects) over tokenistic box-ticking, so it's probably not worth getting too hung up on that.

Anyway, I'll stop waffling, but best of luck with getting it out there, and as mentioned, happy to throw out questions to anyone I can think of who might be better placed to help.

I don't think you've been waffling at all and your posts have been really helpful, so thank you again!

Well done SMBH.  The other thing to take into account when you approach publishers etc is that you must figuratively have a second and even a third album up your sleeve.  I recommend reading literary agent, Jo Unwin's (Mrs Chris Morris)chapter in David Quantick's How To Be A Writer book for further information.

Thank you, I'll try and track down Quantick's book, though I have to admit I'm not sure I have a second book in me, it took me a ridiculous amount of time (albeit with long gaps of not writing at all) to finish it, though perhaps I'm just feeling a bit burnt out right now. Not that I didn't enjoy writing it at times, but the rewriting of it could be exhausting, especially when I slowly began to realise just how much I needed to do. Still, I could always lie and say I've a sequel planned out, and I do have a vague idea for a different book if I ever regain my mojo.

And good luck Zoyza, I really hope everything works out for you and you get published too!

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