Getting help: the writer’s dilemma

Okay, you’ve done your first draft, you’ve edited it, your aunt Mabel who taught English has checked it, your mate Bev says ‘It’s great!’. You’ve left it for a few weeks, come back, tightened the manuscript, checked for shockers and you’ve even written your synopsis. You’re on the starting blocks for publication, fame and fortune(!).


A tiny nagging doubt is furkling around in between the two halves of your brain. No, it can’t be better, can it? Yours is better written than loads of books you’ve read (And you have been reading a lot of books in your genre/field, haven’t you?). But is it good enough?

I learnt a depressing statistic the other day from Nicola Morgan at Pen2Publication: the average reader buys only 6 books a year. So why should yours be amongst those six?

Hmm. Perhaps you’d better get a professional opinion on the quality of your book and whether it’s publishable before you start submitting to those important gatekeepers: the literary agents. Does your novel have PTQ (Page turning quality)? Are the pace and structure right? Are you characters appealing and your voice original and enticing? Is it a genre that sells? Will it appeal to a broad mass of people? Will it be likely to be placed where the public can buy it?

I’m a mere tyro, but I know experienced, tough experts who can help answer these questions. But first you must do your research, find out the basics of getting published and work out exactly what help you need. For starters, have a look at  How Publishing Really Works blogger Jane Smith’s notes from her recent talk The Writing Business’ at the Edinburgh Literary Festival. Nicola Morgan’s blog is bracing, refreshing and a source of gold nuggets (metaphorically speaking!).  And I hope you read Carole Blake’s From Pitch to Publication while you were still writing your first draft.

Most importantly, you must be ready to accept what they say….

Expertise is out there, some better than others: I have only listed those sources I have found particularly helpful.  You have to find the one you feel will help you most.  But using the wisdom and experience of such experts not only saves you many a pratfall, but will probably save you time, money and heartache.

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