Writing can be a lonely task, generally a quiet, calm, relaxed atmosphere is required for thought and concentration and so by that very fact writers normally work alone.
Speaking with or listening to other writes describe their working techniques can help make you feel less isolated in your task. I find I work better when the rest of the household is asleep but this, by its very nature, means late night or early mornings. I have never needed a lot of sleep an so working late into the night is not a problem for me, but I found it refreshing when watching the 'Getting Published' workshop (see previous post) yesterday, to find I am not alone in this. Several of the people at the workshop get up early to have a couple of hours before the day starts for everyone else, or work long after everyone else is tucked up in bed.
What has this to do with getting a book published? Well, the first step is to get your book finished. It is one of the biggest reasons books don't make it. It's very easy to start a book, it's quite easy to get many chapters complete but it seems that the hardest part is actually finishing it and to do that you have to find manner of working that allows you focus.
The workshop covered a wealth of information, the guest speakers were very interesting to listen to and some of the websites they suggested have now been added to my favourites list.
Writer's dream that their book will be the next big thing, they dream of the manuscript landing on a publishers doorstep and the wheels being cranked up to get it into print. In truth, many publishers no longer accept manuscripts directly, preferring to have agents sift out the ones that won't make it first. Suddenly, getting an agent takes on a whole new perspective. If you are lucky enough to get a publisher interested directly, the contract then becomes the next big thing. While publishers will have their standard contract, this will be more in their favour than the writer's and the agent plays a massive part in negotiating the finer details to get. Listening to the agents at the workshop speak about what they do for a client I have to say my views on them was vastly improved.
One of the biggest pointers to getting published that came from all speakers yesterday was to read and re-read the submission criteria and make sure your submission complies with all their requirements or it will be unlikely to be looked at. If they ask for the first 5 pages, don't send the whole book. If they ask for your submission by email don't post a paper copy to them. Apparently, it is very common for people to completely ignore the submission requirements and this does not endear them to the agents or the publishers.
It also came over loud and clear what a protracted process getting an agent, getting a publisher and getting a book to market can be. It can normally take upto 2 years to get your book out there. Hazel Gaynor, the author of 'The Girl Who Came Home'. She had an agent and she had her book based on the Titanic, but she also knew she had a massive opportunity to make the book relevant with all the publicity surrounding the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic in 2012, but the timescale for getting her book published through traditional routes would mean she would likely miss centenary year so she chose to self-publish with Amazon, the route I plan to use.
It was very interesting to hear how much the marketing of a book matters, and how after months of working alone creating your book you then have to become incredibly sociable to promote your book.
So, a very useful workshop, and a promise of a further one in the new year on self-publishing. Depending on timing that workshop could be very useful or too late, only time will tell.
Now, to continue with my first point... time to write some more on my book and work towards getting the first draft finished and being at the point of typing the last 6 letters...T H E E N D