Published Writer (novels and short fiction) offering advice to new writers...

Hi. I’ve written several ‘literary’ (published) novels and my short fiction (mostly horror) has appeared in some of the top horror publications in the UK and US. I’m happy to answer (or to try and answer) any questions new writers might have about writing and getting published.

Note: My YA work as Dan Street is a pseudonym.

Welcome!

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My questions are all about the first time you were published and contacted about publishing…

Did you get an agent first or send Query to publisher first?

About how long after your initial Query or contact to Agent/Publisher did you receive a response and then a contract/deal?

How did they contact you initially (email, phone, snail mail)?

Can you give any advice on how to write proper Query emails?.. I know there are many suggestions and tips online, but I’d like to hear from a published writer.

If you like(d) someone’s Work on Wattpadd, are you open to (if you haven’t already) given that author’s contact info to you current agent/publisher?

I think that’s it for now…btw, thanks. And please, only reply to the questions that you feel are appropriate.

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Hi

Did you get an agent first or send Query to publisher first? I did both when I started out and had something I thought good enough. In the end my first novel was published without an agent and I got an agent after. It’s up to you how you approach things. If you’ve got a great novel and feel an agent will be interested (essentially, will they feel they can make money from it) then send to an agent. If your work is more suitable to a smaller press, send it without an agent as smaller presses and agents generally (I say generally) don’t mix.

About how long after your initial Query or contact to Agent/Publisher did you receive a response and then a contract/deal? There’s no answer to this question. All agents and publishers are different. The best thing to do is follow their individual guidelines.

How did they contact you initially (email, phone, snail mail)? These days, almost everything is done by email.

Can you give any advice on how to write proper Query emails?.. I know there are many suggestions and tips online, but I’d like to hear from a published writer. There’s some good advice online. I know this guy personally. He’s the real deal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJEa4LtnWU&t=1365s

If you like(d) someone’s Work on Wattpadd, are you open to (if you haven’t already) given that author’s contact info to you current agent/publisher? I don’t think they’d be interested in what I thought. Part of the process is going through the submissions/rejections mill. I realise it’s frustrating but we’ve all been there. In fact, we’re always going through it. Even published writers.

I think that’s it for now…btw, thanks. And please, only reply to the questions that you feel are appropriate.

No problem.

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Hey!!!

I finished my first book, and I know part of the process is marketing yourself. Whether going traditional or the self-publishing route, you have to talk about your book a bit. I’m really, really terrible at putting myself out there. I’m hoping you have some advice for building an author platform?

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Hi, I’m considering publishing a book in the future. I have some questions.

  • How did you find an agent? Did you have an agent?

  • Did you self publish or did you go with traditional publishing?

  • What do Publishers generally look for?

  • Where did you find an editor?

  • Any tips for writing query letters?

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Hi, I’m a new author here on Wattpad and I would love to have my books published in the future.
My questions are

  1. How did you find a publisher?
  2. How did you first start your writing career?
  3. How did you find an editor?
  4. When seeking a publisher, what do they look for in a possible candidate?
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How does it feel to have to work with an agent? What does an agent even do, exactly? I fear that if, one day, I were to get an agent, all they’ll do is just constrict my work and try to write my story for me.

And editors. How do you find 'em? XD And I mean good ones. Those who REALLY know when to use a semi-colon when to use a dash.

Oh! Oh!
And how can I publish my book online? I’m talking about stuff like Ebook! Like, do I just input my book there and that’s it? Or are there any qualifications?

Sorry if this is a bit much. I’m unsure if I should even publish my book. I only have one so far, but I plan to make more.

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i know this is meant for the OP, but placing it on Kindle is easy. You just need a bank account. I have 3 books on Kindle.

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It’s very nice of you to answer some questions for new writers!
I have a few questions.

  • How long did it take you to feel that your work was becoming good?
  • Do you ever look back at a chapter you’ve written and say “Well, that sucked.” I feel like this happens to me a lot, and that leads to me editing my chapters a lot.
  • Is it good to experiment with different genres? I’ve stuck to fantasy for a while now, but I want to try a horror story and possibly a near future sci-fi.
  • And finally, what is the best tip you know to improve writing?

Thanks in advance!

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These are some really good questions. I can’t wait to see the answers.

Thank you, I was trying to ask some questions that other people would find helpful.

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Oh, that’s alright. It’s never really meant for the OP exclusively, just for people who knows their stuff. Thanks for the answer!

I finished my first book, and I know part of the process is marketing yourself. Whether going traditional or the self-publishing route, you have to talk about your book a bit. I’m really, really terrible at putting myself out there. I’m hoping you have some advice for building an author platform? It takes time to build confidence. Depending on your genre, consider writing some short fiction (in the same genre) and try to get that published first. Publications help confidence grow. Build a writer’s CV. Attend relevant conventions. Chat to other writers. Get used to talking (a little) about your work and build up. Build and maintain a website. Be active on sites like this. Start small. Writers are (mostly) often quite shy and retiring types. It comes with the territory. I hate parties and small talk but put me in front of a crowd of people who want to hear me talk about my writing and I’m there!

Since you got your first publishing deal without an agent, I assume it was with a small press. What did they do for you that you couldn’t do on your own by self-publishing?

Hi, I’m considering publishing a book in the future. I have some questions.

How did you find an agent? Did you have an agent? See response to TimesNewRiordan.

Did you self publish or did you go with traditional publishing? **I found a traditional publisher after quite a lot of rejections. I've tried self-publishing but I think it's very difficult to achieve sales etc and stand out from the crowd, though people manage it so good luck to them!**

What do Publishers generally look for? **Well, a good story is probably the most (and possibly the only) thing that matters.**

Where did you find an editor? **Publishers provide editors to work with you on a manuscript once you have been accepted. If you're unpublished, you can pay freelance editors but if you get a book accepted you'll still work with an editor before publication. It's great fun.**

Any tips for writing query letters? **See response to TimesNewRiordan.**
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It’s very nice of you to answer some questions for new writers!
I have a few questions.

  • How long did it take you to feel that your work was becoming good? There are two responses to this. The first is ‘a long time’, but publications along the way (short stories etc) really help with that. The second is you never think your work is good enough.
  • Do you ever look back at a chapter you’ve written and say “Well, that sucked.” I feel like this happens to me a lot, and that leads to me editing my chapters a lot. All the time but again, there are a couple of important points to consider. First off, ‘writing is rewriting’. Pin that on the wall above your PC. Even if you write badly, you’re going to come back to it and polish it. You can’t do that if there’s nothing there though, so write first and keep writing. If you’re trying to write a longer piece of work eg a novel, try to avoid the trap of constantly re-writing chapter one. Get through the book first. Go back and edit later.
  • Is it good to experiment with different genres? I’ve stuck to fantasy for a while now, but I want to try a horror story and possibly a near future sci-fi. If you’re just starting out then yes, write whatever you want to write, but do try to get into the habit (eventually) of finishing things. Once you get published the answer to this question becomes a little more complicated. Perhaps we can worry about that further down the line!
  • And finally, what is the best tip you know to improve writing? There’s really only one and many new writers don’t like to hear it. But the answer is ‘read’. Read, read, read good writing. And keep going. It’s a long and often frustrating journey but if you’ve got the writing bug you’ve probably got it for life so get used to it! Okay
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They got my book into the major bookstores. They got my work reviewed in national newspapers, on the radio and on TV. They got my work in a major bookseller’s Christmas promotion. They got me a slot at one of the best literary festivals in the country. With an independent publisher. But not really a small press. Because they’re invested in your work they promote your work. You’re right that there are some very small, small presses. But there are also some very strong independent publishers, just like there are strong independent record labels. They have the knowledge, the contacts and the kudos.

Glad to hear that. I started as a short story writer. I believe people should start with short stories to learn the craft of writing fiction. Others here with more experience than me don’t agree. They believe short story writing and novel writing are different beasts. I believe there are differences but many of the principles of writing fiction apply to both.

  1. How did you find a publisher? Use a reputable digest or the internet. Trawl through it. It takes a long time. Then submit by following their guidelines. And keep submitting.
  2. How did you first start your writing career? I wrote and wrote through my teenage years and into my twenties, gradually building up a list of short story publications, then I finished novels and started sending those off.
  3. How did you find an editor? See response to BlueSpringLife.
  4. When seeking a publisher, what do they look for in a possible candidate? I think they are really only looking for one thing, and that’s a brilliant story brilliantly told.
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