Savvy Writing Tips – How to Get Published

Indeed, how?

Beats me. I’ve reached my target of 38,000ish words. What now? How do I get someone, something, somewhere, to publish the thing? Is it enough of a more of a thing to take a publisher’s fancy?

In hope of being given all the answers, I take myself out of my cave, rev up DD (my Dacia Sandero), and chunter over to Lavenham.

Lavenham is, this weekend, home to the ‘Lavenham Literary Festival’. Thanks to my local library, I picked up a booklet of events a few days ago, and settled upon losing £10 of well-earned dosh (my dwindling redundancy pay), for a booking on session manned (personned? wommaned?) by Phoebe Morgan.

Phoebe Morgan, for the ignorant (i.e. myself – first time I’d heard of her too – sorry Phoebe!), is the highly-regarded author of bestselling novels ‘The Doll House’ and ‘The Girl Next Door’ (available at Waterstones). And if Phoebe can do it, the surely I, Jay Cool, can follow suit.

I’m told there’s a free car-park right adjacent to the venue, Lavenham Village Hall, but the only thing that finds itself parked there is me. En route to my destination, I spot a free-er than free car-parking space, next to the church.

Recalling that, on my last Sunday morning visit, my church attendance (compulsory when one’s mum is a guest at one’s abode), was rewarded by a post-service browse in the church’s secondhand bookshop, I force DD to screech to a halt (not difficult – she stalls all the time anyway!).

Book buying = favourite pastime = a love-affair with Lavenham church!

But being a negligent sort of a lover, I wait until my feet are almost at the Village Hall, before turning back to take a pic from whence I came:

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No, I have to remind myself. No, I am not in Lavenham to buy books. And, yes, I am in Lavenham to steal the wisdom of Phoebe Morgan.

As such, I step over the threshold of the Village Hall, resist the momentary temptation of a selection of withdrawn library books on sale in the entrance foyer, and ascend to the Upper Room.

Phoebe Morgan awaits. And, I can’t believe it! She’s dressed in a Princess Beatrice lookalike dress, a long-green-floral affair, and a pair of mock-animal-skin shoes. All very stylish but, in all likeliness, not at all cheap. I must tell Phoebe about my own fashion brand and save her a few pennies on her next statement piece.

In the interim, I feel I owe it to you, my readers, to share with you the key points I managed to extract (in-between my daydreams of fame) from Phoebe’s presentation.

  • Decide on your genre, as publishers like to categorise things.
  • Decide whether to go commercial (plot-driven, rather than character-driven) or literary (open to analytical interpretation).
  • Write the whole manuscript before approaching a publisher.
  • Don’t bother with the publisher – they don’t have time to read every Tom, Dick and Harry’s (or Tilly, Donna and Henrietta’s) submissions!
  • Submit your manuscript to an Agency instead but, first, strut your stuff with a pitch.
  • In your pitch, be sure to include:
    • an opening paragraph, that sums up your book in one sentence
    • a comparison with two similar books in that genre
    • a little about yourself, inc. any social-media presence
    • a synopsis (no more than a page)
    • and your plans for a follow-up book
    • the first three chapters of your manuscript
  • Submit and wait (possibly for a long time!).
  • Get on with writing your next book, or take a long sleep.

Being the irritating sort of a person I am, I butt in with a question: ‘Which agency, from your list of suggestions, would be best for the what’s-it-called genre?’ Phoebe politely asks me to chat with her after the presentation, due to time limitations. And this Post-Session Invitation turns out to be just the invitation that I need for a little bit of self-centred networking.

Courtesy of my own photography and blurb, and a discount code for vistaprint, I have in my possession 500 very snazzy (and savvy) business cards to dispose of.

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And where better to grab a little bit of audience for myself, than in the queue of literati types, all waiting to grab the attention of Phoebe?

Few manage to leave the premises without pocketing at least one of my cards. One very lucky lady almost left with three, after I accosted her three times with my offer (orange-headed bloggers, like their goldfish cousins, being narcissistic, have very short memories for the faces of others (1)).

It’s worth the queuing for a brief exchange with Phoebe. I give her my business card, attempt to purchase a signed copy of ‘The Doll House’, and ask away about agencies and fame, etc.

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She directs me towards a book stall from whence I can buy one of her books, and very kindly and generously says she’ll be in touch with a suggestion with regards to an agency.

It didn’t help, I don’t expect, that I was non-too specific about the genre of my manuscript.

Is there a Jay Cool genre?

Copyright of text and images owned by Jay Cool, Sunday 17th November, 2019

P.S. Just checked out my book and discovered I’ve managed to obtain what was probably the only non-pre-signed copy in the venue! Guessing I was supposed to have rejoined the Phoebe queue?

(1) A scientific fact only in the glass-bowl world of Jay Cool. With no hope of a break-out, from the dome (2) I inhabit, I am forced, on a daily basis, to stare at my own reflection.
(2) My dome is a cave on a cliff-top in Suffolk, which just happens to be lined with mirrors.

To find out more about Jay Cool’s trip to the village of Lavenham (home of my ancestor Sir Norman Cooke, born 1360), Suffolk; or, for review of ‘The Doll House’, please see below for links to my follow-up posts!

In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of some of my prize-winning photography (competition held by my one and only friend, for which I was the only entrant):

REWARD OFFERED FOR ANY INFORMATION ON SHREWSBURY PRISON ESCAPEE, LAST SIGHTED IN LAVENHAM, SUFFOLK!

REWARD = FREE ENTRY TO SUFFOLK PUNCH COMEDY CLUB GIG, FIRST WEDS OF THE MONTH @ THE BREWERY TAP, EAST STREET, SUDBURY, SUFFOLK – 8PM 

Follow-up posts:

Silly-Savvy Travel – Lavenham

Silly Adventure – Lavenham Guildhall

Savvy Book – The Doll House

 

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