Writing Success = Natural talent + Ambition + Strong work ethic + Perseverance + Patience + A dollop of luck
11. I’m finished, now what?
Assuming you’ve had your manuscript professionally edited and you can hand on your heart say that it is the best possible version that it can be, then it’s time to submit to an agent or publishing house.
A copy of the Writers and Authors Yearbook was my bible when I was querying agents. You can borrow one from your library, but for me, it was worth spending €20.00 so I could highlight and comment on agents as I ruled them out. Yes, reader, I got rejected by many, before one said yes.
If you want my advice, look for an agent first of all. They will know the best possible editor to send your work too. Find the right agent and they will remain a career-long adviser. My current agent has changed my writing career and it was only when I found her, that it all began to make sense. Rowan believed I could have a career as an internationally published author. She is invested in me for my writing lifetime, not just for one book. My wish for you, is that you find your own Rowan, someone who is passionate about your writing.
Just in case you don’t know this – agents only get paid when they sell your work. They receive a 15 percent commission on everything you get paid – both your advance and royalties. If an agency charges a fee to read your work, then I would suggest you should walk away.
Finding the right agent takes time but doesn’t everything that is worthwhile? You need to research the market. I started with a list of the authors I admired, then searched for their agents.
Top tip: check out the acknowledgments in authors’ books for gushing thanks to agents. You are welcome!
And I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question too – ‘do I need a literary agent?‘ It depends on what you’re selling I suppose and what your ambition for the future is. If you want to be published by one of the major houses – Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan – then you need one. Some of the digital publishers will accept submissions directly from an author. Weigh up the pros and cons. If you want a writing career, as I did and still do, then take my word for it – go find an agent. I’d rather pay 15% of something than retain 100% of nothing.
Every agency gives a clear outline of their submission process on their websites. Before you query your manuscript, read these guidelines. Adhere to them. Don’t defer because you believe you are special and should be the exception to their rules listed in black and white. Be prepared for rejection, but remember what I said earlier – you only need one person to say yes. Believe in yourself and your book. And find patience. Lord knows I’ve never been blessed with this. But I’ve learned that nothing happens with speed in the publishing industry.
I hope that the above tips help, but the very best advice I can give to any aspiring writer is simply this – just write. Stop making excuses, put your creative side first and write. And don’t stop until you type these two words – The End.
Irish Sunday Times Bestseller CARMEL HARRINGTON writes uplifting and inspiring books that have captured the hearts of readers worldwide. They have been translated into eight languages and published in eleven countries to date. Her most recent novel is the Irish Times and No. 1 Amazon bestseller, A Thousand Roads Home. Her next novel, will be published in April 2020. Carmel was shortlisted for an Irish Book Award in 2016 and 2017, and won theKindle Book of the Year and Romantic eBook of the Year in 2014. Carmel is also a regular onIrish TV as a panellist on Virgin Media’s Elaine. She lives with her family and rescue dog in a small village in Wexford. Carmel is represented by Rowan Lawton of The Soho Agency. You can with her on FB/TW/INST @HappyMrsH or on www.carmelharrington.com