I was first published when I was 15 and wrote a piece on superstitions for Jackie magazine. Over the years, though my writing, this is what I’ve learned -
1. Write as much as you can in as many different genres as you can. That way when opportunities present themselves you'll be ready. I know this from experience. In March 2011, I signed a contract to have my first work of fiction published, my novella How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks. For various reason it didn't happen. I also started a follow up book I called Die Hard for Girls. When I saw on Twitter that Sassy Books were looking for submissions, I tweeted the editor. Would she be interested in Die Hard for Girls that I'd since renamed Hell to Pay. She said yes and I submitted it and was offered a good royalty contract just days later.
2. That brings me to my second point - make sure you're on social networking sites so you'll see these opportunities. Without Twitter I'd have two books sitting in my unpublished file. Join great forums like Writer's News Talkback. Network with other writers. See an opportunity for another writer, let them know. They'll alert you to an opportunity you might have missed.
3. That brings me nicely to my third point - help other writers. Don't see them as competitors; see them as comrades in the trenches of writing. Help one another. Commiserate when things go wrong; celebrate their successes. Unless you do it can get lonely.
4.Learn to promote your books. You can't expect your publisher to place ads in the big newspapers. They only do that for the big names. As for you, a listing in their online catalogue is the best you can hope for. The plus side is that because you know your book so well you're the best person to promote it. I have Twitter, Facebook pages and dedicated blogs for Dead Bastards and Living Cruelty Free. The only cost to me was my time. I know doing this has sold books.
5.Don't ever tell yourself "I can't write in that." If a story comes alive in your head, go with it. I never thought I'd write a horror novel. Then this image came into my head of a man turning up at his friend's door looking like he'd been mugged. Only when he comes inside it becomes clear that his guts are spilling out and this is no ordinary mugging. When he dies and then comes back and tries to eat them, they realize that the zombies are here.
I just couldn't get this image out of my head of this guy's guts spilling out onto the floor and this Glasgow couple trying to scoop them up and shove them back in again, so I started scribbling away. And so, Dead Bastards was born.
6.Just because a publisher says no the first time doesn't mean you should give up. TWB Press who published my
originally turned it down when I submitted it as a serial. I really admired the
ethos of the company (no non-sense entertainment), so I worked on it some more
and what was intended to be a 30k novella ended up a 70k novel (although over
10, 000 words were cut). The publisher Terry Wright liked it and wanted to
publish it. Glasgow