The Crabbit Old Bat whips you into shape and helps you make a publisher say “YES!”
I am unappealingly proud of being the first Google result for the phrase Crabbit Old Bat. As you will know if you follow my blog, Help! I Need a Publisher!, I do not suffer fools at all, let alone gladly, and I believe that you only deserve publication if your book is up to scratch and if there are readers for it. Publishers say Yes only when they believe they can find readers for your book; your job is to make sure you’ve written something that readers will buy.
Write To Be Published aims to give you the tools and understanding you need.
For review comments, see here.
Below is an extract from the introduction to the book (from the unedited draft):
What this book will do – and what it won’t
Write To Be Published aims to show you why publishers and agents say “No”. Before I was published, I’d had vast experience of this small but infuriating word: twenty-one years of it before my first novel came out in 2002. Put simply, I don’t want you to take so long and WTBP is my solution, underpinned by the belief that when we understand why they say no, we can begin to make them say yes. Rejection is an occupational hazard for writers and often we have no idea what we’re doing wrong. My aim is to unlock the mysteries, to share with you what I wish I’d known so much earlier.
There are some things that this book can’t do. I can’t create something out of nothing, so I can’t create talent if you have no seeds of it. I won’t tell you that at the end of this road is publication, because it may not be. I won’t ask whether you “have a book in you”; I assume that you do, and if you don’t, you’ll soon find out. We will hug no trees and utter ommmmm over no mysterious crystals. Being a successful writer involves working damned hard. It is a butt-on-seat message.
Books on writing must choose between breadth and depth. This book puts breadth first, because breadth is what you need first, though many of you will find enough detail to solve whatever problem you might have. Some books concentrate on a few chosen topics such as character or plot. In Write To Be Published, I aim that you will find enough about all the important aspects of writing books, whatever your genre, non-fiction or fiction, to show you whether or not you might need to investigate an area further. This book plays the role of general practitioner more than consultant endocrinologist and we always need a general practitioner first. So, Write To Be Published is your first stop in your quest to discover what is wrong, or to prevent it. It may well be that this appointment with a general practitioner is all you need. If it isn’t, the resources at the back will suggest further action.
You will also find a great deal of guidance on the subject of how to submit your book. Correct submission is less important than the actual writing, but it’s the area where writers agonize most, so I’ve tried to set you straight on this.
In short, this book is for you:
- If you want to understand why publishers and agents so often say no, and thus have a better chance of making them say yes.
- If you want to discover the problems in your book and avoid them in future.
- If you are ready for hard work and prepared to have your eyes opened.
- If you plan to self-publish, because you still want your book to be as good as possible and attract readers.
- If you want to know the best ways to submit your work once you’ve made it wonderful.
- If you can cope with my crabbitness, irreverence and impatience.
Don’t be put off by this admission of grumpiness. If you fulfill the first three criteria above, I am truly on your side. I can’t wave the magic wand of publication, but I can show you some of the tricks and shed light on the sometimes confusing world of readers and writers. It is strange, but it’s not as hostile or as stupid as it sometimes appears. There is method in its madness.
Why trust me?
Before believing any advice, we should always consider the credentials of the giver. There’s no exam or qualification for writing this or any book and I certainly don’t know everything. But my advice doesn’t come just from my own experience of having around ninety books published in various genres with mainstream publishers. It also comes from contact with countless authors, agents and publishers from both my work as Chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland and my membership of various groups or organizations. From my own work as a literary consultant and because agents often send me examples of submissions, I see for myself some of the mistakes and I learn from agents and publishers themselves why they say no. They kept telling me I should write a book. So I did.
From blog to book
It was in a mood of frustration and grumpiness that I began to blog for (and at) aspiring writers, years after first becoming published myself. In January 2009, Help! I Need a Publisher! was born. Somehow, my grumpiness didn’t put people off and very soon the blog was being read by a large community of intelligent, hard-working writers, striving to be good enough, struggling to understand, desperate to succeed through the correct mixture of talent, perseverance, knowledge and strategy. Many are published writers already, because we’re still learning, and they all pitch in with their experiences. The comments and mutual support are a huge part of what the blog became. Many are now readers, friends, and colleagues. And when the epithet “Crabbit Old Bat” stuck, as I ensured it quickly did, they made it difficult for me to maintain the desired atmosphere of glorious crabbitness. It was most annoying: they kept damned well agreeing with me!
A year later, with hundreds of thousands of my words and thousands more in comments by writers at all stages, it was hard for a newbie to know where to start. Hence, this book. It’s not the same as the blog – it’s neater, better organised, more coherent, and you can curl up with it. You can throw it at the wall when the truth hurts too much. It contains no competitions to win chocolate, no pictures of the bare feet of my fellow train passengers, no spam comments from people trying to sell me shoes. It’s more polite, well-behaved, and controlled. It’s still me, but it’s me in a gorgeous evening dress. And stunning shoes, naturally.
To buy Write To Be Published:
It’s not available yet but you can pre-order on Book Depository – free postage anywhere in the world. Or through the publisher, Snowbooks.
When it’s published, you’ll also be able to visit any good bookshop and if it’s not there, ask for it. Or, if you prefer, you’ll be able to use Amazon.
Come to any WTBP event – books will be available (from June 2011) and each attendee receives a free copy. You can buy extra books and have them signed by Nicola. For events before June 2011, attendees will each be given a money-off voucher.