There’s huge pool of writing talent roaming the internet, and every one of them wants to be the next J.K Rowling or E.L James. Here are three tips to help your work get noticed.
1. Read lots of best-selling books, especially of the type you want to write. Authors become popular because they know what readers like, and expect. Background research helps you understand your audience. Write first and foremost to please yourself, but if you want to entertain others as well, make sure you tailor your work to their likes and dislikes. Check out author guidelines, such as the ones produced by romance publishers Mills and Boon. http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/.
2. When showcasing your work, first impressions count. They shape a reader’s experience. William Shakespeare would still be a genius if he’d scratched words with a stick on wax tablets, but his texts would have been thrown away without a second glance. He knew how to present his work, and to whom. Times have changed, but some basic facts remain the same. An editor with piles of manuscripts to check will start with the ones that are easiest to read. It’s human nature to assume that a writer who can’t be bothered to make an effort with presentation hasn’t put their whole heart and soul into a project.
3. If you’re sending off a paper version of your manuscript, make sure the lines are double spaced. Use white paper, print only on one side in black ink, in Times New Roman 12 point or other easily read font. Include a front sheet with the title, your writing name if you’re using one, the word count and your contact details. Type “The End” at the end of your sample (of course!), so nobody’s left in any doubt, and add your details again. That’s it. You don’t need fancy bindings, Gothic script or coloured ink. Just make it clean and clear. If you’re sending a submission by email, find out how your contact wants your work sent—as attachments, or samples in the body of the email message. If you use a Mac, supply your text as a Word document too, just in case. And always keep copies of everything.
4. Dreams of becoming a full-time, professional writer face stiff competition. If your first move is to look for an agent or a publisher, choose carefully. Research firms, and individuals, via the Internet, or an up-to-date copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. Don’t send your steamy sex-saga to a publisher who only deals in children’s books, for a start. Make sure you send off exactly what is asked for, too—no more, and no less. Ideally, don’t start approaching agents or publishers until your book is finished. If it isn’t complete, tell them so, and when they can expect to see the whole thing.