Thursday night saw me heading out at 6pm; a heady experience for someone who is normally Doing Bathtime at that time. Destination: Blackwell’s, Edinburgh; Purpose: to hear Nicola Morgan speak about her latest book. And have some free wine.
I’ve pretty much inhaled the book already; it shines a light on areas of publishing that are impossible to know unless you work in the industry and it’s written in a clear, accessible style. The book grew out of NM’s very successful blog, Help! I need a publisher! which is well-worth checking out. Being slightly (ahem) addicted to books about writing, I feel well-qualified to say that this one is definitely worth buying.
As well as information on what publishers actually want (very interesting reading), I liked the practical writing advice. For example, NM’s version of the character questionnaire. You’ve probably come across these in writing books – What does your character eat for breakfast? What star sign are they? Do they own a car, if so, what type? Etc etc etc ad nauseam). I generally feel either irritated or faintly overwhelmed by these questionnaires, but this one is great, particularly as the author provides a reason for why each question is helpful. Really, it’s all excellent stuff.
The book finishes with NM’s personal story of how she came to be published (now with over 90 books to her name) after, as she puts it, ‘twenty-one years of failure to have a novel published.’ Its a generous gift, this personal story, because I suspect that nearly everyone who writes and wants to be published, has had their own dark night of the soul.