Founder of OWN IT!, the publisher of JJ Bola and Robin Travis, Crystal Mahey-Morgan shares her five top tips for emerging writers.
One of the most exciting things about running a publishing house is the submissions inbox. Everyday I’m reminded of the vast and brilliant talent out there particularly from voices who haven’t always been represented in books. I’m filled with hope knowing that the future of British literature is bright and beautiful and exists in many guises from many voices.
However, while an abundance of writing talent is great for the future of publishing and more generally society, the sheer volume of submissions publishers get can make it difficult for emerging voices to be noticed. Even before you get to that stage, the process of writing your first novel or long form non-fiction can be daunting
So here are 5 tips that might help:
- Enjoy it – Concentrate fully on your craft. Read widely, dedicate to your writing whole heartedly and allow yourself the freedom to explore your creativity. When you start to share you work with agents, publishers, magazines etc, chances are you’ll be bombarded with advice, opinions, constructive criticism, edits. This should all be welcomed and ultimately (if you find the right match) will help you become a better writer. As you get further along in the process you’ll inevitably also have to start thinking more about your audiences. So during the early days of the process make sure you give yourself a chance to just enjoy writing.
- Your way is the right way – Every writer has a different process. For some writers, routine rules – writing at the same time each day or for a set amount of hours, writing in a particular places or with a particular pen or even in a particular set of clothes is what gets their creative juices flowing. For others trying to force the creativity is the worst thing they can do and they just have to write as and when the muse takes them. The truth is you’ll hear lots of different methods but there’s no right or wrong way. You just need to find your own unique approach that works for you.
- Editing isn’t easy – Not only is editing not easy, it’s uncompromisingly difficult. After you’ve put everything into creating the perfect piece and poured your blood, sweat, tears and love into it, the last thing you will feel like doing is ripping it apart and identifying sections to delete, change, amend. Editing isn’t just about losing what’s bad it can also be about losing what isn’t working or isn’t needed and sometimes that can be the individual passages of writing which you feel show you off at your best. But if it doesn’t fit or add to the overall piece it has to go. You’ve had your time to enjoy it, now you need to be prepared to edit it either alone or more commonly with your agent/publisher.
- Research gets results – once you’ve made it through the writing process and are ready to share your work you may think the hard work is over but the truth is it’s just beginning. The key to doing your work justice is getting it published with someone who understands your creative vision. The best way to find your perfect match is to research your options (including agents). This is also the best way to demonstrate why you are perfect for the platform you are approaching. With publishers getting such a huge volume of submissions, demonstrating that you’ve done your research and articulating why you think you’re right for a specific publisher/platform will really increase your chances of the conversation going further.
- Audience is everything – Writing and reading can both (although not always) be quite solitary experiences. This can be part of the charm and appeal. But within those solitary spaces is a strong sense of sharing. Sharing ideas, emotions, knowledge, empathy. So don’t forget to think about your audience.
Crystal Mahey-Morgan is Founder at OWN IT! Entertainment Limited. OWN IT! is a storytelling lifestyle brand, telling stories across books, music, fashion and film. At the heart of everything it does is a desire to share, empower, celebrate and inspire.