1/ Get sorted – clear your desk of all those projects that didn’t work in 2009 and pull out the ones that you believe really have legs. Prioritise. Make sure you are focussed and are truly passionate about the projects you are working on.
2/ Make your workplace a good-place – get some new notepads, get some new pens, put up some inspiring photos, buy a new mug, buy some writers’ tea – small changes can inspire and make the place you write, a better place.
3/ Find your voice – craft your voice. Who are you as a writer? What sort of book are you writing? Why are you special? Be Bold. You are a writer, now act like one. Agents want to represent strong, self-aware writers, and publishers want to publish books by them.
5/ Get a website – it doesn’t need to be flashy and can be a simple one page home-site. Just a short biog, a photo and your contact details. Be reachable. Make sure the details are all correct. Start blogging on your site, but be relevant – don’t just blog for blogs-sake – we don’t want to know about your lunch (unless you are writing a diet book).
6/ Make friends in the right places – who do you know in publishing? Start hanging out in the right places – remember assistants rule the roosts at agencies – so don’t just befriend agents, find out who their assistants are and get networking. Above all, be nice but not creepy.
7/ Work out a schedule – set some deadlines. When do you want to have finished planning your book? When do you want to have written the intro/first chapter/first draft? Keep to your deadlines. If you need some angel-prodding, sign up to a weekly phone call to help – and nudge you.
8/ ’Write at the edges of the day’ (Toni Morrison). Try and set aside 30 minutes a day to write – or think about writing – a small amount but if you write for 30 minutes you will be surprised just how much will be written over a month.
9/ Be tough – don’t get put off by no’s, just think of them as ‘not great matches’. Be inspired by Kathryn Stockett’s The Help – as a first novel, it was rejected by nearly 50 literary agents but has now sold more than a million hardcover copies thanks to word of mouth alone (book clubs and blogging). So two lessons – if you feel passionate about your work, don’t give up and lesson two – start talking about it – get your audience ready.
10/ Finally, learn about the publishing process – writers are becoming far more aware of what it takes to make a bestseller. Whether you self publish or go down the more traditional route of trade publishing, you need to be aware of all the steps in the process. Who are the main publishers? Who do you want to publish your book? What are the benefits and drawbacks of both trade publishing and self publishing? (remember to find out where your books will be sold – vital part of the link from writer to reader).