Advice to Authors

FAQs  |  Advice to Authors

How does one get published?

How do you do it? You do it.

You write.

You finish what you write.

You look for publishers who publish "that kind of thing", whatever it is. You send them what you've done (a letter asking if they'd like to see a whole manuscript or a few chapters and an outline will always be welcome. And stamped self-addressed envelopes help keep the wheels turning.)

Sooner or later, if you don't give up and you have some measurable amount of ability or talent or luck, you get published. But for people who don't know where to begin, let me offer a few suggestions:

Meet editors. If you're into SF, Horror or Fantasy, go to the kinds of SF, Horror or Fantasy conventions that editors go to (mainly the big ones - look for words like WORLD or NATIONAL in the title). Same goes for Romance or Crime. Join associations - SFWA or HWA or the Romance Writers of America or The Society of Authors. Most organisations like that have an associate membership for people who wouldn't qualify for a full membership.

Even if you haven't met any editors, send your stuff out.

The "slush pile" of unsolicited manuscripts is not always a bad thing - publishers take enormous pleasure in finding authors from the slush pile (Iain Banks and Storm Constantine are both writers who simply sent out manuscripts to publishers), although it occurs rarely enough that it has to be a special thing when it happens.

If you write short stories, don't worry about agents, just find places that might print the stories and get them out there. If you write novels, I think it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. I'd written and published 3 books before I decided it was time to get an agent.

Writers groups can be good and they can be bad. Depends on the people in them, and what they're in them for.

On the whole, anything that gets you writing and keeps you writing is a good thing. Anything that stops you writing is a bad thing. If you find your writers group stopping you from writing, then drop it.

The other thing I'd suggest is Use The Web.

Use it for anything you can - writers groups, feedback, networking, finding out how things work, getting published. It exists: take advantage of it.

Believe in yourself. Keep writing.

How do you write comics?

When I decided I wanted to write comics in 1985 I went out and bought Will Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art. If I were doing it now I'd also buy Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. I'd look at some comics scripts (there's one reprinted in the back of Dream Country, although there are an almost infinite number of ways to write a comics script, and that's only one.)

And then I'd read a lot of comics and try to work out what works and what doesn't and why. And then I'd start drawing some comics for myself, not for people to see, just to figure out how to get from one panel to the next, one page to the next. If you're going to work with an artist, now's a good time to go and meet artists.

You'll do best if you realise that there is a lot to know. Most bad comics are written by people who don't know that there is anything to learn... (Many of them were written by writers who are successful in other fields.) Having something to say is fairly essential, too.

Good luck. Write good comics.

Hi. I was wondering are there any tips you can give me on handling revisions of work. I'm starting to finish things off (short stories)but when I get to the end and look back I start to get a bit of a sickly feeling in my stomache. Do you have any suggestions for adopting a healthy approach to ironing out the creases, and arriving at something I can be a bit happier about.
Yours perplexedly,


The best advice I can give on this is, once it's done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. Finish the short story, print it out, then put it in a drawer and write other things. When you're ready, pick it up and read it, as if you've never read it before. If there are things you aren't satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that's revision.