Emma Rose was commissioning editor at Arrow Books, Random House where she worked on a range of bestselling authors, including Katie Fforde, Kathy Reichs, Fiona Neill and Katie Flynn. Emma is currently a freelance editor. She has spoken at the RNA conference and is a graduate of Essex University’s MA in Creative Writing and Literature. Emma will be teaching on LWC’s next fiction masterclass – bookings now being taken.
LWC asked Emma what strategies a writer could use to ensure a publishing deal and she told us:
First and foremost, your attitude – focus, passion and belief in your work need to be evident, but be careful this doesn’t tread into blind expectation. Be prepared to work hard, rewrite, rewrite and rewrite, and, more than anything, to ditch an idea if it’s not getting you anywhere – you can always come back to it. Remember if you care passionately about the characters and story you have written, it will shine through and it will be all the more likely that the reader will care too.
Professionalism and patience – approach any communication as if you were applying for a professionally paid job. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional writer then you need to approach it seriously and wholeheartedly. Avoid gimmicky submissions letters. Be succinct in your correspondence – avoid including your life story! Don’t pester agents and publishers – they’re not purposefully ignoring you, they’re just very busy. Get to know the book industry. You will experience a great deal of rejection, often without feedback – every published author did at some point in their careers.
Have a clear hook – a strong concept makes all the difference when it comes to commercial fiction. And the title should reflect this, even sum it up. Be able to summarise your book in just a line or two and in a way that sells the idea clearly – it will help grab agents & publishers attention instantly.
Think ahead – try to anticipate what people might be keen to read in a year or two – easier said than done, that’s half of what publishing is all about. But you could look at whether your novel is likely to be particularly topical anytime soon – maybe it ties in to a big event or anniversary of some sort.
The next book – already have your next book in mind. Publishers also love book a year authors. It allows them to quickly build a brand around the author and maintain a dedicated following. Reliable authors are much-loved authors! And be aware that publishers need you to stick to your genre, so they can consistently market you to the right audience each year.
Be realistic – don’t kid yourself that you can be the next Kathy Reichs for example if you don’t have the relevant experience and credentials. Write about what you know. Also, don’t kid yourself that what your friends and family say is good, is necessarily good enough for a publisher. Quality of writing and appeal of a book is so subjective, but listen to any feedback you do get, even if it’s negative and make the most of it.
Research – familiarise yourself with the ever-changing trends in fiction. Look at the market trends and what’s already published as these are the primary concerns of a commercial publisher when reading submissions. Check out the top-ten lists in the Sunday Times each week. Get to know what people are really buying and reading. Look at magazine reviews, features etc.
Contact us if you’d like to book a place on the Fiction Masterclass.