Do you want to be a writer? My top tips on getting your work published
So you want to be a writer
I get a lot of questions as an author and journalist about the book, my inspiration, my job and developing writing style (I’ll be discussing these in future vlogs so look out for those) but the question I get asked BY FAR the most is:
“HOW ON EARTH DO I GET PUBLISHED?!”
Well, usually people ask me in a more subtle way but that’s pretty much the question.
And of course, for all those writers out there who have asked it themselves, I’m sure you have heard this answer many times: it is not easy.
BUT that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. So, without further ado…
KATY’S TOP TIPS FOR GETTING PUBLISHED
Buy the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook
If you haven’t already bought this and you’re looking to get published then you’re a silly monkey.
It lists everyone in the industry and comes with pages of advice from bestselling authors. It tells you exactly what each agent and publisher is looking for, plus guidelines on what to send them. Despite what you might think, they DO read your stuff but they won’t if you don’t bother reading what they’re looking for, which is kind of fair enough.
A new one comes out ever year, make sure you have the most recent one as guidelines can change and get updated.
So get hold of one of these bad boys, circle the agents that suit your book—I only sent mine to those specialising in children’s and YA…I didn’t think those who represent biographers and historians would be interested in Anna setting fire to people in The It Girl, you know what I’m saying?—and make notes on what they want: the first 10 pages, the first 3 chapters, an author bio, the synopsis length…
WRITE WRITE WRITE
Oh my goodness. You know what I hate? When people tell me they’re a writer, they’ve always wanted to be a writer, writing is their life, they love writing and, oh by the way, how do they get their writing published?
And I go, “great! What have you written?” and they go, “oh nothing yet.”
WHAT A DODOHEAD. You have to practice your craft even if you write a load of crap.
Honestly, you should see the sort of rubbish I have written. But it doesn’t matter because I work on it, improve it and make it AWESOME.
But you know what you can’t make awesome? No words on a page.
Get that creativity flowing my friends!
Simples. Let’s move on.
Get work experience
If you’re looking to be a journalist then work experience is absolutely crucial.
Check the publication’s website to see if they have a specific person in charge of work experience candidates and then whizz across your CV. If they don’t list anyone, then send your CV out to the Editor, with their PA or an Editorial Assistant ccd in—the inbox of an Editor is rammed and they are supremely busy. Cc’ing in someone else gives your message more chance of being seen—and tell them why it’s THAT publication specifically that you want to work at.
For both authors and journalists I would really recommend that you write a blog. Doesn’t matter what it’s about—cooking, books, make up, fashion, lifestyle, sport, your weird friends—but it gives people (a) the chance to see your genius and (b) proves that you love writing so much you spend your free time doing it. I always check out someone’s blog if their CV has caught my eye.
Writing is hard work. If you want it to be your career, you have to really want it, whether it is journalism or writing novels.
My story is this:
I spent a year interning at various publications, earning zero money. The highest I was paid was £25 a week. In London that barely covers travel for a day.
I spent most of my evenings, weekends, mornings writing and not going to parties or events. Yes, I became a bit of a hermit and didn’t have much of a social life but I also produced a book that was then spotted by Jo Hayes of Bell Lomax Moreton agency when I sent in the required chapters according to their guidelines in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook of that year.
I also got a job at a national magazine because I sent my CV in and I had a load of experience and a hell of a lot of enthusiasm. I wanted that job so bad and BY JOVE I was going to get it. I think my Editor could sense my desperation (he still teases me about it…)
Put in the time. The long hours are worth it in the end.
Don’t give up
Very easy to spend eight hours writing one sentence that you hate and then delete.
Then you go and cry in a corner, shoving strawberry laces into your mouth.
Then you go and sit back at your laptop and you start again.
Because you have a wonderful idea and you know it.
You’ve got this, buddy.
GOOD LUCK BOOK NERDS! #BookNerdsAreBest