Letter to an Aspiring Author

We are delighted to welcome Samantha Tonge back to Romaniac HQ. With her latest novel, Mistletoe Mansion, looking like another fab read, here’s a letter Sam, the published author, penned to her unpublished self.

Mistletoe_Mansion

Dear Samantha Tonge (as she was, a few years ago!),

So… you want to be a published author? I applaud you for following your dreams – but not too loudly because, my lovely, you seem to think that you’ll soon be admiring your books in the local bookstore. Brace yourself… It could take around ten years  – during which time you will learn your craft. The publishing business is no X Factor game show, where the most unexpected contestants may shine. Without connections or celebrity to help you, there is only one way you reach the point of selling books and gaining a loyal readership, and that’s by writing, writing, writing, until you discover your voice and know which supposed literary “rules” to break or follow.

I think it was Hemingway who said you needed to put one million words to paper (or computer screen) before landing a deal – so that’s around ten novels away for you. Don’t set your goals so high – make your first resolution just to finish a book, not to land a top agent or contract with Penguin or Harper Collins or to become an overnight, self-published success. Don’t make the mistake of cloaking yourself with a sense of entitlement – yes, finishing a manuscript is a huge achievement, but one accomplished by thousands of other aspiring authors. You need to work hard enough, and persist, to make yourself stand out – take courses attend writing conferences, join online literary forums, read how-to books and read, read, read of course.

Plus set yourself up on Social Media NOW. Start networking and finding your way around Facebook and Twitter. That way it won’t be such a shedload of work when you do sign on the dotted line, because if your first deal is digital-first, or you decide to self-publish, you will have a huge amount of promotional work to plough through.

Plus listen to your writing friends, who will tell you to start writing short stories as well. This will make you focus more than ever on each word you write, and improve your chapter structure and ability to write in different voices.

Most importantly, try not to forget why you first went into this business – the reason you write is because you love to tell a story and craft words together. This is hard to remember when yet another rejection pops up in your email box. Just hold onto this: the main difference between an unpublished and published author is that the latter didn’t give up.

Easy to say, isn’t it? But rejections aren’t personal – publishers and agents aren’t waging a vendetta against you! Try to see each unpublished novel that gets slipped under the bed as one giant step closer to success. No writing is ever wasted.
Now, get to it! Oh, and a word of warning – all those writing snacks really won’t do you any good in the long run :-)

Mistletoe Mansion

Kimmy Jones has three loves: cupcakes, gossip magazines and dreaming of getting fit just by owning celeb workouts.

When Kimmy’s Sensible Boyfriend told her he didn’t approve of her longing for the high life or her dream of starting a cupcake company Kimmy thought she could compromise – after all, she did return those five-inch Paris Hilton heels! But asking her to trade in cake-making for a job sorting potatoes is a step too far.

So, newly single – and newly homeless – Kimmy needs a dusting of Christmas luck. And, masquerading as a professional house sitter, her new temporary home is the stunning Mistletoe Mansion. Soon she’s best buds with glamorous next door golf WAG Melissa, and orders are pouring in for her fabulous Merry Berry cupcakes! The only thorn in her side is handsome handyman Luke, a distraction she definitely doesn’t need. And talking of distractions, something very odd is going on at night…

Kimmy is finally living the life she’s always wanted. But will her glimpse into the glittering lifestyle of the rich and famous be as glamorous as she’s always imagined…?

About the Author

Picture_014Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Its fun standalone sequel is From Paris with Love. Mistletoe Mansion stars a new set of characters and is for fans of cupcakes and Christmas!

Links

Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SamTongeWriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaTongeAuthor

Website: http://samanthatonge.co.uk/

Doubting abbey Blog: http://doubtingabbey.blogspot.co.uk/

AmazonUK :  Here 

 AmazonUS : Here

Bio Bejazzled

Isn’t this just the best example, like EVER, of how to approach an agent?

Dear Agent       [I haven’t got time to find out your name but if you could just pass it on that would be great]

I have written a fabulous novel called ‘It’s All About Me’ which is about 90,000 words long (I haven’t bothered to check but that’s about the usual length, right?) anyway, I thought I would give you first refusal as you are first in the book and I’m going through it alphabetically.

My book is my own life story which is absolutely fascinating; my mum says so. My main reason for writing the book is because I want to make lots of money and as such I am sure you want to as well, which would be a really good reason not to miss out on the chance of signing me.  I would be looking for a three book deal with a large advance.  I’m not really into giving interviews and I don’t use social networks but to be honest, I can’t see that to be a problem, after all, my book is so great everyone will just want to read it. I don’t need the extra publicity personally, but I can see how it would benefit you and your agency.

I have a very impressive writing history. I had a poem published in the school newspaper when I was 12 and I wrote lots of stories, none were taken on by the magazines but my mum said they were really good and she couldn’t understand what the problem was.

I’ve enclosed the whole manuscript as I am sure you will want to read it all. If you could get back to me within the next three weeks that would be great – after that I cannot guarantee I would be able to accept your offer. I am approaching as many agents as possible and if necessary you can enter a bidding war for the publishing rights.

As my mum says, my book is fabulous so please don’t waste any time, I am a really busy person.

Yours sincerely

Jay Kay Roley

 

What do you mean, no?

Having recently been on a writing workshop run by the lovely Julie Cohen, we touched on the subject of approaching agents and what we should put in a letter.  I think it’s fair to say that the above example, is not the way to do it.

Everyone needs to be able to bejazzle their bio/letter but there are no doubt more subtle ways.
Has anyone got any tips for approaching an agent they could share?

Thanks, Sue x