Monday, 9 July 2012

How to Get Published

I went to a one-day conference last Saturday run by the Writer's and Artist's Yearbook team, and the focus of the day was to show aspiring authors how they can get published. Despite some truly depressing statistics about the state of the publishing industry (and there was me thinking my book buying habit was keeping it going almost single-handedly) and the amount of submissions agents receive compared to how many new clients they take on each year, I came away feeling strangely optimistic. To give you an idea of how deluded this optimism probably is, the stats were this bad:
  • paperback book sales down 11% each year for the past few years
  • agent Lucy Luck, who is on my list of agents to submit to, gets around 50 submissions a week and takes on three new authors a year
  • if you do get lucky and get taken on by an agent advances have been slashed
But on a brighter note, ebook sales are rising 10% a year and all of the presenters from the industry said that the cream tends to rise to the top of the slush pile so if you've really got it, you'll make it. I live in hope that my writing is double creamy with cherries on top. 

Then of course there is the self-publishing route. Call me old fashioned if you like but my dream has always been to go through a traditional publishing house, ending up with proper copies of my book that I can look at on my shelves, but it is good to know that there are now more options than ever before for getting published. To show any doubting Thomases about how well the self-publishing route can work, author Kerry Wilkinson was there talking about the success he has enjoyed. His crime novels have sold over 300,000 ebooks on Amazon and he's just signed a six book deal with Pan MacMillan. 

For me though, the inspirational story of the day was Suzanne Joinson's. Her debut novel, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar, was published last week - in hardback, which really is impressive. I'm reading it at the moment and although I am only a little way in I am really enjoying it so far. It was her tale of discovery through winning a writing competition and the relationship she has developed with her agent, Rachel Calder of The Sayle Agency, who seems to be a slave-driver of the nicest possible kind when it comes to revisions, that really made me believe it could be me sometime in the future.

I've also taken to heart the advice from Cressida Downing's session, which highlighted the importance of not rushing to submit. I am so impatient for it all to happen for me that I am chomping at the bit to get the book out there. But I do know in my heart that it isn't ready yet.

In the meantime, I am moving to Exmoor on August 1st and know that I will have much more time and headspace to concentrate on my writing once I am there. Oh, and I'm going to be blogging about being an urbanite transferring to the wilds for Exmoor magazine so you can keep up to date with how that goes here.


  1. Devon is looking forward to welcoming your creative talents Amanda. Can't wait to read your book but I will have to be patient too. Nic

  2. Thanks Nic. I will try and hurry up and finish the editing so that I can start the submissions!

  3. publishing has changed so much since I last published my last novel, that I might as well be a total newbie.

  4. publishing has changed so much since I last published my last novel, that I might as well be a total newbie.

  5. That must have been a great conference, Amanda, I see what you mean about getting yourself out there! I've always fancied the traditional publishing route, and imagined I would only look into self-publishing if I didn't get any joy. But I have to admit... self-publishing really is starting to look more and more lucrative, now that we're expected to do all the PR stuff on our own anyway!

  6. Catherine - it was really good. I'm working on short stories at the moment and considering self-publishing them as a collection. Still holding out for that deal for the novels though :)