1. Writing only what you want to write is fine, but if you want to win over an audience, constructive criticism is invaluable. Once you are completely happy with your work, hand it over to a Beta reader you can trust to tell you the truth, whether it’s good or bad. What they didn’t like (and why) is as important as what they did like.
2. Check every fact you use, and always keep your spellchecker switched on. Keep a pad and pencil close at hand at all times to list notes and queries when you think of them. It’s so easy to forget to do it later. Like ‘tomorrow’, ‘later’ never comes. Always follow up leads and hunches—you never know when you might strike lucky.
3. Polish your manuscript until it shines, and when you send out a query letter or email make sure you go the extra mile and find out the name of the person best placed to help you. Personally addressed correspondence shows you’ve taken special care. It may take a long time for your work to be accepted, but never give up. Fashions change, and as long as you keep reviewing your work in the light of helpful suggestions and keep sending it out, if you’ve got the talent, all you need is a lucky break.
To make sure you don’t miss any of my top tips, follow my blog using the sign-up form on the right hand sidebar of this page. I send out a newsletter a couple of times a year with news about my writing, country life, competitions and offers—join my mailing list here.