About The Author
Nicola Morgan struggled to become a published witer for 21 years but is now the award-winning author of around ninety books. She's been best known for gritty teenage novels, including the Carnegie-nominated and prize-winning Wasted, and her acclaimed book about the teenage brain, Blame My Brain. Nicola also blogs, writes and speaks for aspiring writers. Her blog, Help! I Need a Publisher!, has now led to a book, Write to be Published, published by Snowbooks.
Nicola was born and educated in a boys' school - where she became expert in tree-climbing and weapon-making - and has lived all over the UK, though she now splits her time between Edinburgh and London. She is a former Chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland, a Cambridge graduate in classics and philosophy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Write to be Published is for aspiring writers with talent and determination to succeed. Joanne Harris said of it, "This is the tutor I wish I'd had when I was starting out: brisk, funny, just a little bit schoolmistressy, but an eminently sensible schoolmistress who knows her subject, doesn't suffer fools and is not afraid to hand out detentions where necessary."
Here Nicola offers a taste of the philosophy that drove her to write this honest, informed and practical book. Nicola will be appearing at Foyles at 6.30pm on 2nd June, as part of our Listen*Read*See London series; click here to book free tickets, to hear her advice and ask her questions .
THOUGHTS FOR WRITERS WISHING TO BE PUBLISHED
- Publishers only accept a book for one reason: they believe they can sell enough copies of it. Publishers need to make money. We need to get over that.
- A published writer is not necessarily better than a rejected one. Not all good writers will achieve publication. Some bad ones will.
- You need to know what your readers read. So, read in your genre. Read critically, analytically. Then write. But keep reading.
- Write from your heart, but don't forget your head.
- Perseverance is not enough. We also need to improve.
- A moment that defines you as a serious writer is when you decide to abandon your first manuscript and start another. The second will be better but the first is the one that began to make you.
- Books are utterly fabulous. If you don't think so, don't try to write one.
- Of course your mother thinks your book is utterly fabulous. Mothers do.
- Don't get bitter; get better. The world does not owe us publication.
WHY I WROTE WRITE TO BE PUBLISHED
There are two ways to hook a publisher: trial and error or understanding why they say yes. And no. I attempted the trial and error method for far too long, and my prolonged failure was extremely painful. What bile I spat every time I heard of another debut author getting a fabulous deal! Now, many books later, I understand how publishers and agents think. No, I don't always like their decisions, but I see method in them. Usually.
Becoming published is hard - harder in some genres than others. But worthwhile and praiseworthy things rarely are easy. Sometimes the process is horribly frustrating, especially when we see what we regard as inferior writing being published and selling. But the steeper and higher the mountain, the better the view and the achievement. If you can achieve good, selective publication, the effort is rewarded.
That's why I spend time helping good writers edge closer to their dream. There are perhaps a million words on my blog - Help! I Need a Publisher! - but that blog, full of free advice and bolstered by the thousands of comments, is huge and unwieldy. Even I often can't find what I'm looking for. Hence the book: Write to be Published. Because, if you want to write to be published, I want to help you, even though it's hard, or even because it's hard.
I can't promise you will succeed. That depends on your skill, ideas, determination and luck. I can't give you those things but I can show you why publishers and agents make the decisions they do, what they look for, what puts them off, how the whole business works and how you can try to succeed in it. I also outline the things that could be wrong with your manuscript, before finally guiding you through the submission process. And there's a huge list of resources for those who want them.
The forthright honesty of my advice quickly earned me the epithet 'Crabbit Old Bat'. 'Crabbit' is a Scots word meaning grumpy and I thought I'd tell you some of the things that provoke my crabbit moments.
THINGS THAT MAKE ME CRABBIT
- Aspiring writers completely ignoring the masses of good - often free - advice out there and just listening to their non-writing friends and relatives.
- Aspiring writers listening only to praise from friends or other unpublished writers and not seeking the genuine, expert criticism which will help them move forward.
- Multi-rejected writers who refuse to countenance the idea of beginning their next book, saying, "I can't do that again. This is the book I was born to write." Well, if you can't do it again, why would a publisher want you?
- Anyone leaping on a piece of stylistic advice and turning it into a law: "Show, don't tell." "Don't use adverbs." Don't start a sentence with 'and'." All these things are nonsense.
- People making rules about process: "Write every day." "Don't self-edit during your first draft." Why should anyone care how you did it? Just do it; do it your way. Focus on results, not method.
- People saying, "I self-published to save time." That is the worst reason to self-publish. You must take time, all the time you need to get your writing as good as it can be.
- All the various scams that prey on vulnerable writers.
- People saying they don't need or want an editor because "editing disrupts the creative flow."
- Celebrity 'writers' who've written more books than they've read.
Writing to be published is a journey, with a destination that I believe is worth the blisters along the way. It's said that to be published you need any two out of talent, determination and luck: I'd say that if you add knowledge and understanding, bolstered by good advice, you have an even better chance. And those three things are what I aim to offer.
To find out more about Nicola's writing consultancy, Pen2Publication, click here.
Below is a list of titles by Nicola Morgan currently in print in the UK. You may find other editions in our 'New and Used' section by typing the author's name into the Search field at the top of this page and selecting the 'Author Exact' filter to the far right of the Search field.