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Tips for writers


The first set of our pages of tips for writers

Improve your writing

  1. Think about the market for your book. Research the category and read widely to see what other published writers in this area are doing. Which writers are successful and why? Visit bookshops and analyse what you find there. If you are reading this you are probably already writing, but it really is worth thinking right from the beginning about your readers, as that makes it far more likely you’ll eventually find them.
  2. Be clear about the genre of your work. This is something that writers find quite difficult to work out and we are often asked about it.
  3. Be prepared to redraft your work and to rethink it. Many new writers assume that their work will immediately be ready for publication, but the truth is that many highly successful writers produced several drafts of their first work before they got it published. This applies even more strongly if you are planning to self-publish your book.
  4. When you’ve got your work into the best state you can, put it on one side for a few weeks and then look at it afresh. You’ll be amazed what difference a fresh eye will make.
  5. Before you send it to anyone, use a spellchecker and read it through carefully looking for textual errors rather than reading for sense. Publishers and agents are literate people and will find illiterate work off-putting. If you can, get a critical friend to read it carefully for you. There are plenty of basic grammar and spelling books which can help you get this right.
  6. Finally, it’s worth thinking about getting some professional editorial help from an organisation such as WritersServies, but make sure they are reputable as otherwise this could be a waste of money and even quite disheartening. You need honesty and constructive criticism. What a professional editor can do is give you the kind of detached overview of your work which it is very difficult for you to achieve for yourself. It's natural that you don’t have the editorial expertise, but you are also much too close to your work to be able to see it clearly. After all, you’ve invested many hundreds of hours of your time working on it and it is your baby!

Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage.

See also An Editor's Advice on doing further drafts and manuscript presentation

Our Services for Writers

Which service?

Tips for Writers 1: Improving your writing
Tips for Writers 2: Learn on the job
Tips for Writers 3: New technology and the Internet
Tips for Writers 4: Self-publishing - is it for you?
Tips for Writers 5: Promoting your writing (and yourself)
Tips for Writers 6: Other kinds of writing
Tips for Writers 7: Keep up to date
Tips for Writers 8: Submission to publishers and agents