Straight from the horse’s mouth…

There’s a big difference between writing a book and having a book published.

In some ways writing the book is the easy part. It’s your baby. You are in control as it spills from your imagination onto the page, where you can craft and polish it to perfection.

Getting the book published, on the other hand, is dependent on finding someone who loves your story as much as you do – and subjective opinion is something that you have absolutely no control over at all.

I have written a couple of books over the years and have had no luck in finding a publisher for them. Looking at them now I can see why: they simply weren’t good enough. But I have no regrets about writing them, or trying to get them published. I learned a huge amount from each one, and I know that my writing has improved a lot since then.

So I found it hugely reassuring yesterday when I met someone who has not only served his writing apprenticeship but has managed to come out the other end with not just one, but four successful books under his belt – crime and thriller writer Gary Moffat.

Gary’s first book, Daisychain, was published in 2009 and was swiftly followed by three more in the series – Fallout, Blindside and Protection. All four feature Glasgow lawyer Logan Finch, his girlfriend DCI Rebecca Irvine and his friend and ally Alex Cahill.

Gary, who is also a partner and commercial litigator with a leading Scottish law firm, kindly took time out of his busy day to talk to me about how he managed it. I’ve tried to boil it all down to a few useful tips:

  • The more you write, the better your writing will become, so keep at it.
  • Be persistent.
  • Write what you want to write. You have to enjoy it.
  • Listen to what those in the know say to you. No one likes criticism, but everyone has something more to learn.
  • Get an agent if you can – they do make a difference.
  • Do your research. Target the agents and publishers who work in the genre you are writing for.
  • Don’t forget the smaller agencies and publishing companies.
  • Think ahead. Agencies and publishers are more likely to take a new author on if they know that another book is coming.
  • Join writers associations for the genre that you are focusing on.
  • And if you do get published, enjoy it!

Thanks, Gary. It’s nice to know that sometimes the dream can become a reality!

2 thoughts on “Straight from the horse’s mouth…

  1. I too have had similar experiences. A few novels I’ve tried to get representation for without luck. I learned a ton about submitting from those experiences and developed realistic expectations. I’ve become a better writer as well. I think the biggest thing that helped me as a writer was the admission that I was in fact not an awesome writer and I had a lot to learn. Finding and listening to good readers and participating in writers groups has helped tremendously. I’m hoping soon to pitch to agents so we’ll see how it goes!

    • I have to admit that the thought of a writers group scares me, but you obviously found it worthwhile. I know that it is something I should probably do. Good luck with the pitches!

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