Tag Archives: Writers’ Forum

Writing tip: learn about publishing

I’m often asked for tips so I thought I’d post a few. In my view, at least as important as improving your writing is improving your understanding of publishing. There’s a lot you can safely leave in the hands of your editor or agent if you have one but an overview of the industry can make your expectations and approach realistic.

You can learn about publishing in similar places to those where you learn about writing:

  • talks (conferences and literary festivals have gone on-line during the pandemic, which often means they’re free – a bonus). The speaker can be an agent, editor, publicity guru, librarian, cover artist, author, media manager, sales manager, self-publishing specialist, journalist, ghostwriter or dozens of other roles but what they’ll have in common is a knowledge of publishing. Example: The Avon Lockdown Show features not just snippets from authors but advice from Avon editors.
  • newsletters. I think these are an underrated resource. I take free daily email newsletters from The Bookseller and Publishers’ Weekly. There are paid options too but even these free newsletters will give you insight into what’s selling, who’s buying, and, importantly, who’s moving. Why ‘who’s moving’? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read about this agent or editor going into a new role and looking to acquire. ‘Looking to acquire’ means ‘taking on new authors’ if they’re an agent and ‘buying books’ if they’re an editor. It might tell you what is being looked for such as ‘authors from diverse backgrounds’ or ‘feel-good fiction’ or ‘psychological thrillers’. From there, it’s not too hard to find the person online and discover how they accept submissions. NB If you’re taking the free newsletter, read the headlines first to decide which articles are of interest because you can usually only read a couple of articles in full per day. Look out also for writing newsletters from your regional authority. You can often find these as a result of searching your local authority website under ‘arts development officer’ or similar. Example: Writing East Midlands offers a digital newsletter. Sign up by emailing marketing@writingeastmidlands.co.uk.
  • websites. Writing East Midlands is just one of many resources. Your search engine is your friend though, personally, I’d avoid all the entries with ‘Ad’ attached to them. Publishers’ and agents’ websites and blogs are full of information and so are those of writing communities and arts councils. The personal blogs of authors and other industry professionals can be useful too. NB Look for recent content. Publishing changes quickly but websites hang around for ages. NB2 Be aware of market boundaries. Something you read on a US site may not apply to the UK.
  • writing magazines. I’ve worked for both Writers’ Forum and Writing Magazine in the UK and they’re both great for market news such as magazines accepting submissions and whether they pay. I don’t think there’s any substitute for keeping up-to-date with a market you might wish to submit to. There are also books that are guides on getting published. I would suggest you buy the most recent you can.
  • social media. Follow agents and editors! They give hints of what they’re looking for and you can often see what area they work in from the authors they already work with. Join writing communities. I’m part of an authors’ Facebook group where people share their experiences and I often hear news there first. By browsing around social media you’ll find a group to suit you.

These are just my favourites but maybe there’s something here that will work for you.

You may also like:

Should I write a prologue?

What happens in Chapter One?

Chapter Two and beyond

Final Chapter(s) and (possible) Epilogue 

Act, react and interact – breathing life into my characters

My plotty head, Fiction Land and my dad

Descriptive writing

Learn about publishing

Agent or no agent?


Filed under Sue Moorcroft

Cover girl!

Well, I’ve left it a little late in my career to be a cover girl – but here I am!

I’m beaming at you in glorious colour from the newsagents’ shelves as I’ve taken over judging the Writers’ Forum fiction competitions, which means that Jan Jones and I will be providing the optional critiques. As for the Target Practice competitions in the last two years, the critiques will be more analytical than was allowed by the previous ‘tick box’ format. I’m not a fan of tick box critiques, especially now that desktop computers make it so possible to turn out something neat and professional, electronically. It helps to be able to type quickly – those years at Motor Cycle News as a copytaker weren’t wasted.

I have to admit, I was really tempted to read this magazine on the train home from South Shields, yesterday, displaying the cover in exaggerated fashion to see if anyone did a double take. But, viewing the disconsolate and beery Peterborough United footie fans returning from an away match loss and determined not to let a second pass without a bellow or a belch (them – not me), I decided I’d rather be as invisible as possible, thank you! (I also decided that I’d rather not use train loos that said beery footie fans had already visited … a wise choice.)

Anyway, to celebrate the new Writers’ Forum fiction competition relaunch, for a trial period you can enter the competitions free if you are both a subscriber and enter electronically at Writers’ Forum‘s website! You do still have to pay £5 for the critique, if you elect to take it, of course. Otherwise, the fees are £3 for subscribers and £6 for non-subscribers, plus critique fee, if selected. The prize fund is good, too – £300 plus publication in Writers’ Forum for the winning story, which is more than you’ll get from most magazines, at present.

So … worth a try?


Filed under Uncategorized