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Getting Published

Writing.ie | Member Blog

Ciara Cassidy

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A subject dear to the heart of so many writers. Is my writing good enough to be published? If yes, do I seek an agent who will help me find a publisher, submit directly to a publisher or do I self-publish? In either situation do I pay for a writing course, a literary consultancy or an editor before submission or publication?


Writing a novel is only the beginning. There are so many other issues to consider after you’ve written the ending and, as an unpublished, unknown, it feels like breaking through is almost impossible.


There are countless stories on the internet of the struggles some authors have gone through before being published, all of them telling you not to give up on your dreams. Then I read books like Carole Blake’s From Pitch to Publication and there are some reality checks in it about how far down an agent’s list of priority the unsolicited manuscripts are.


All of this is going on within the shifting publishing landscape.


I blogged recently about the need for an online presence and how necessary it is even for unpublished writers to build their own brand. I think this blog post from Authonomy, a Harper Collins owned website, expressing the view that self-publishing is ‘a powerful incubator for writing talent’ is a step on from that discussion.


The Authonomy post could be saying that publishers are not taking risks on new authors. They aren’t going out looking for them and they want writers to do their own publicity. They want an author to make a name and a success of their books before they will invest, putting their name behind the book. Now, there’s nothing new in an author having to do some marketing and publicity. How many authors have to do book tours, signings, interviews, workshops and readings? That’s always appeared to be part of the job to me. The difference here is that Authonomy appear to be saying that new writers need to do all their own editing, publishing, cover design and marketing to sell a few thousand copies to attract an agent or a hundred thousand sales to get a publisher’s attention. So, if a new writer can only get noticed by spending all this time publishing and marketing their own book to the point that they sell in these figures why do they need a traditional publisher at all and how much time will that leave them for actually writing?


The Authonomy article cites the success of writers, such as E L James, Amanda Hocking and Nick Spalding. Closer to home Leesa Harker signed with Blackstaff Press after she created a noise on social media with her Belfast based parody of Fifty Shades.


I’m still digesting this latest news and trying to decide where it leaves new writers like myself but one thing it has shown me is that publishers are even more reluctant to take on new writers than I previously believed. It looks like they want to avoid all risks and you have to show yourself capable of grabbing readers and sales before they’ll consider adding their logo to your book in return for a cut of the cash.


So, do we give up on the dream of traditional publication? Do we self-publish instead or do so hoping that it will still lead to traditional publication?


Lesa Clarke Blog

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