Mumsnet introduces...Lottie Moggach's top tips for debut authors
As part of a new feature, 'Mumsnet introduces...', we're delighted to present Lottie Moggach with her unique and bold debut novel Kiss Me First, about the trials and tribulations of living a life online.
As well as giving away copies of the book to review, Lottie has offered her top writing tips for budding authors.
1. Don't be disheartened if you find writing generally agonising. Thomas Mann said: "A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people."
2. Don't be disheartened if your first draft is unspeakably, fist-gnawingly terrible. Again, you are not alone. I've heard several famous authors say they have recurring nightmares about someone reading their first draft. Just get it down, clichés, banalities, one-dimensional characters and all; then the real work can begin.
3. Guard your writing time zealously and do not waste even a minute of it online. Save the Internet as a reward for reaching your target for the day.
4. You may find yourself spending your days in a semi-detached state, obsessively thinking about your story to the exclusion of real life. This is 'writing' too: warn those you live with, and ask that they don't bother you with petty demands and unnecessary chat. Admittedly, small children may not grant this request.
5. Try not to talk about what you're writing. Communicating your story verbally can weaken your desire to get it written down. The exception is if you're stuck with your plot; then, half an hour sparking ideas off a clever confidante can be more fruitful than a week thinking alone.
6. Finally, you think you might have finished. Well done! Some say that you should now garner as many opinions as possible on your manuscript, but this can lead to too much flustering, conflicting advice. A couple of carefully chosen readers are best.
7. To find an agent, look in the acknowledgments of a book you admire, where you'll usually find the name of the author's agent. Write and tell them you love the author they represent and that is why you are approaching them. Don't compare yourself to the author.
8. Your submission letter has just one job, and it's the same job as every page in your manuscript: to make the agent want to read on. So don't blather away. Say just enough about yourself and the novel to create enough energy to get the agent to turn the page.
9. Do send your manuscript to more than one agent at a time - unless they insist on an exclusive submission - but make this clear to each and say you'll notify them if you get interest elsewhere.
10. Some people won't like your novel: they may be agents, reviewers, friends or strangers on Twitter. Negative criticism isn't nice to hear but remember, no author is universally adored. Look at the Amazon reviews of your favourite book for proof.
Cheeky number 11
11. Self-publishing does not preclude a professional publishing deal. If you find a big enough market for your work, agents and editors will be interested in helping you achieve even greater success.
More about Lottie Moggach
A London native from a family of acclaimed writers, Lottie attended Sussex University before she began a career in journalism at the Times. There, she worked as a feature writer, book reviewer, and columnist, for several years. She currently publishes in a variety of newspapers and magazines including the Financial Times, Time Out, Elle and GQ. Kiss Me First is her debut novel.