How To Get Published

The draw of being in the company of a professional literary agent and published authors is all that it takes for me to snap up a ticket for a literary event. It appears that I cannot say no to finding out as much as I can about the big, bad writing world out there. And that’s how it should be. I don’t think there will ever be a time when I know enough about it all.

The train arrives from soggy Edinburgh into the sun-filled streets of Bridge of Allan – a fantastic town which is host to the ‘Off The Page’ literary event for 2015. 2015-05-16 13.45.58I am at Bridge of Allan library and astounded at the effort made by the librarians to make sure readers of all ages are catered for. Enticing wall art, comfy bean bags and a reading tree for each genre are just many of the amazing sights I find on my tour of the facility. 2015-05-16 13.46.22I see lots of familiar faces peering down at me from the shelves too: Emily Dodd, Cathy Cassidy, Jonathan Meres to name but a few.

I am here to discover all the things I need to know about ‘How to get published’. The do’s and dont’s list goes on and on, but where’s the best place to start?

Luckily I had Kathryn Ross (Fraser Ross Associates), Frances Sessford (lecturer at Stirling University), Vicki Clifford (author) and Sue Reid Sexton (author and Weegie Wednesday organiser) to help me work my through what is what.

Social media is a hot topic and I am no stranger to them both. I constantly use Facebook and Twitter as they seem to have everything I need. Access to those in the know, information on literary events that are coming up and so much more. From just the click of a finger I have instant links to everything. Admittedly there is the danger of getting sucked into the world of cute cats and dogs but if you manage your time on it wisely, you should be fine.

What else should I know, what else should I be aware of that somehow hides in a little cloud above my head waiting for me to type the right thing on my key board?

First up, Vicki Clifford on her thoughts on what is best for you as a writer to help you on your way:

  • Read, read and read some more!
  • Join a book group.
  • There is no substitute for actually writing something down rather than just thinking about it in your head.
  • You will get better the more you practice.
  • Learn to love your delete key.
  • Read aloud to someone who loves you.
  • Writing, verb, format exercises
  • Get a writing buddy/peer reviews
  • Consider paying for a professional editor to notice all the – had, and so then, just etc
  • Keep an eye out for useful informative sites – literaryrejections.com
  • Be brave – writing is no place for a sissy!

Kathyrn Ross inspired us all with her thoughts on writing from an agents point of view:

  • It’s a solitary life – but it doesn’t have to be
  • Social media can be a great way to connect with others in the same boat
  • YA readers can be aged between 20-30 so think of the wider market regardless of what genre you are writing for.
  • There are many places to get feedback – on-line, face to face. Scottish Book Trust , Creative Scotland and the SCBWI have many networking events available, you just need to search in your area for what’s out there. Go along to your local library and ask for help!
  • Most of Fraser Ross’s business is done by e-mail now – get yourself connected as every agent and publisher have different submission guidelines.
  • Talk to your local bookseller – especially the independents
  • Attend Book festivals – Boswell, Aye Write, Ullapool, Edinburgh.
  • Consider investing in a literary course that will compliment your work – Monack Mhor, Arvon etc
  • Continually search for open submissions – Emergents, Publishing Scotland etc
  • Check out other writer’s blogs – Nicola Morgan – Heartsong, Notes From The Slushpile, Awfully Big Blog Adventure
  • Publishers do look at blogs

Sue Reid Sexton joined in and enthralled us with her journey to publication:

  • Don’t send 1st draft
  • She cut 130,000 down to 65, 000 and all publishers said no.
  • Completed her Masters in Creative Writing helped her along the way.
  • Regularly attends Weegie Wednesday – next meeting is 17th June CCA, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow 7.30 onwards. Everyone welcome!
  • Gatekeeper – her word for agents/publishers.
  • Go along to open mic nights and share your work with strangers, you will notice changes straight away and will give you an emotional feedback on it too.
  • If you are self-publishing: write and create the book BEFORE you create the kindle version. Completely different format.
  • Use Twitter – only 140 characters – fantastic exercise to limit your word count.
  • Submit to competitions – Bridge Port, New Writing Scotland
  • Subscribe to writing magazine Gutter

A very informative session bringing together insights from all walks of the literary world. There is so much out there, you just need to escape from your writers cave and delve into the outside word. Good luck!