All those who reply to this post will be entered into Nicola's synopsis competition - the winner [name pulled out of a hat] will have their synopsis critiqued by Nicola herself! Now, that's a pretty awesome prize.
Hi Nicola! It's a year since I interviewed you on here. What have you been up to since then?
Oh, well, in between buying boots and eating chocolate and such important things, I’ve been doing far too many talks and workshops for anyone’s good, writing and publicising Write to be Published (Snowbooks June 2011), writing and publishing Tweet Right and Write a Great Synopsis (WAGS), re-publishing my original debut, Mondays are Red, and writing but not yet publishing (it’s with a publisher) another YA novel.
That's a lot of things! Right, Nicola. Write a synopsis for 'Write a Great Synopsis'. Now, there's a challenge.
Ha! Actually, in the absence of instructions, a synopsis would be about two pages and you REALLY don’t want that, so I’ll do something much nippier: “WAGS has as its starting point the fact that writers hate writing synopses. It shows why they are not to be feared or hated and covers every aspect of how to tackle then, removing all stress or resistance. There are examples, critiques, quotes from agents and publishers, and the answers to every question I’ve ever been asked about synopses. There’s even a challenge involving champagne.” OK?
OK. If you could go back in time and give yourself a copy of 'Write a Great Synopsis', 'Write to Be Published' etc, would you do it?
I’m struggling with the existential aspects of that. Actually, I wouldn’t need WAGS because I’ve never had a problem with synopses. But gosh I did need WTBP. On the other hand, if I’d got published easily, I wouldn’t empathise so much with writers, so I wouldn’t be writing all this stuff to try to help them, and doing that makes me happy. Ergo, not being published more quickly has made me happy.
You're self-publishing and publishing the tradition way for different things. How do make the decision as to what should be published where?
I gather everything I know about publishing and writing, including my experience of what publishers do well and what they do badly, and what I do well and what I do badly, mix it up, add some bats’ wings, and see what answer I get. Then divide it by three and add some chocolate.
I saw in an interview that you said you feel you owe your agent morally, and so give her royalties for your self-published work. How important is your agent to you, and how important are agents in general?
My agent is very important to me. If she stopped agenting, I’d have to find another and it would have to be someone as good, which would be tricky. I know many writers who have had lots of books published and who know as much as an agent about how to read contracts (etc) but they still want to have an agent.
What's the most common mistake you've heard re. writers sending submissions to publishers/agents?
That’s like asking you what’s the most common weird things people say in bookshops! I do think sending toffee is right up there, though. “Together we can be rich” is another one – it may not be common in those exact words, but the underlying message of “Listen up, hotshot agent: this is seriously the best thing that’s ever crossed your desk” is quite common. [Jen: as a side note, folks, Slushpile Hell is worth a read]
What is the single most important piece of advice you could give to a budding writer?
What are you working on at the moment? And what do you hope for, for the future?
As usual, I’m working on lots of things. Preparing lots of new events; writing two new Crabbit Publishing titles – Dear Agent and How to Promote Your Book Without Bugging the Pants Off People; and a top secret possible project which, if it happens, you will SO know about! What do I hope for? Not to bug the pants off people.
Now, folks, listen up -
Any of your readers who are also writers might be interested in the Big WAGS Competition – all commenters below this post will be entered and prizes include synopsis critiques. (If you’d like to comment but don’t want to enter the competition, just say!) Details on my blog, where you’ll see details of the other blog tour stops – and the more participating posts you comment on, the greater your chances of winning.
Thanks again for letting me visit!
For details about the book, including buying options, go here.