Talking about writing and publishing with Suzanne.
Welcome and thank you for being here.
Please tell us about yourself
I’ve been a full-time freelance writer and editor of creative writing magazines since 1987 (Quartos and currently The New Writer), with over 30 published titles under my belt on the countryside, creative writing and MB&S subjects. Over the years I’ve tutored at Horncastle College, the Welsh Academy, Winchester University, Caerleon Writer’s Holiday and the Cheltenham Literary Festival. Joined John Hunt Publishing last year as commissioning editor for Compass Books – the writers’ ‘how-to-write’ imprint of the operation. We’ve got some interesting titles by some excellent authors in the pipeline, which we promote regularly on facebook.com/JHPCompassBooks
What is your writing routine
Up early to feed and walk the dogs, breakfast and then check all the emails, etc before working my way through the ‘things to do’ list. I’ve usually got two or three books on the go at any one time, and it depends which one is the nearest to deadline as to which I’ll be working on that day. I work through until the afternoon feed is being demanded and then have a break. If there’s anything pressing, I’ll work late into the night.
As a publisher what tips can you share with authors seeking publication
First and foremost, get to know your market. There’s nothing more irritating to a publisher or editor than to receive a proposal where it is obvious that the writer hasn’t bothered to check on the submission guidelines. Check out the new titles in the genre you’re interested in writing for, and then try to find an original idea for putting a new slant on an old story. Don’t try to copy what’s currently on the best-seller list … try something different and look to the future. Market research is boring but it pays off in the long run.
What advice can you give to someone who is:
- interested in freelance writing
It’s an old saying but a true one … don’t give up the day job! I’ve been a full-time, freelancer since 1987 but I’ve always had other writing-related interests to supplement my income. It’s very difficult for a beginner to break into the markets and earn a decent living, let along pay a mortgage. Take your first steps by writing for publications that cover things you know something about – I began with countryside articles because I’m country born and bred – you might be interested in sport or education, for example. One you begin to gather confidence, you can aim higher and higher up the publishing ladder, but it rarely happens without a lot of hard work and luck.
- has a book to promote
It depends on how good your book is and what it’s about! You must be enthusiastic about what you’ve written or you can’t sell it to potential publishers/readers. I must confess that I’ve written a couple of pot-boilers in my time but by and large I love my all of my books and that enthusiasm shows through during promotion. Novels are more difficult to promote than non-fiction, simply because there are now so many out there (mainstream and self-published) and good stories don’t necessarily find their way onto the best-seller lists. Non-fiction is easier because we can aim at the publicity at magazines and organisations that share our interest – and will hopefully give us some space in their newsletters and blogs.
What other things do you do
It’s a bit sad really because my work (writing) is also my hobby! Having cleared the decks of non-fiction, for the moment, I’m hoping to get re-started on the new novel ‘The House of Strange Gods’. We’ve just retired from rehoming ex-racing greyhounds but we still have the Rat-Pack of our own – nine in number plus a little mongrel called Harvey - and they take a bit of looking after. I read quite a lot and like watching vintage Japanese films from my DVD collection.
What is the preferred way for people to contact you
Either via facebook.com/JHPCompass Books or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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