Siobhan McKenna is the author of The Lingerie Designer and The Other Woman. Read our full interview here.
Just Do It. My partner wrote those words on a piece of paper and I taped them to
the wall beside my computer screen. When I was inclined to wander off or get
distracted, his words would get me back on track. It worked for me; I believe I
finished my first manuscript because of it.
Invest in a professional editorial service before you submit to agents or publishers. I know it
is hard to hand over money when you aren’t earning a living from writing yet,
but look at it as an investment. A good editor will whip your manuscript into
shape and be able to give advice on what publishers want. Ideally, get a
recommendation or a list of accredited editors in your country.
Read, read and keep reading. Note what you like, dislike and what works in a book
for you. That said, I never read while I’m writing. I find it too distracting
and I don’t want to be influenced by another author’s voice. That means I have
approximately a ten week window to read a year’s worth of books! On more than
one occasion people have said to me they’d like to write a book, but they don’t
read themselves. That always strikes me as odd. To be a writer you have to be
passionate about books – yours and other peoples. It’s never to late to start a
Get an agent. This will take time and perseverance and may require you going to
conferences or workshops to have a chance of meeting them face to face. Having
a good agent, who believes in your work, will make all the difference in
negotiating the publishing minefield. Also, publishers are more likely to take
your manuscript seriously if a respected agent presents it to them. Do your
research on the right agent for you and follow their submission guidelines and
remember to follow up. They’re busy people, don’t make a nuisance of yourself,
but do show your dedication.
your creativity flow. I got this tip from Stephen King’s book On Writing –
a must read for every aspiring author. You can tidy up the details later but
for the first draft just let your imagination loose. I keep this draft private.
That means I can write freely but I do think of my ‘ideal reader’ in the back
of my mind. They act as a subconscious voice when I’m writing – like a muse. I
try not to think about Auntie Mary in Cork when I’m writing sex scenes (sorry,
auntie Mary!) Or I end up scrapping them. So use your discretion on this tip –
keep your reader in mind, let that act as a guide but try don’t let it inhibit
you. By the second draft do get feedback
on your manuscript from someone you trust and who you know will be honest with
you (so probably not your mother, if she’s anything like mine she’ll be your
biggest fan no matter what you write.) The creative process is a fantastic
experience, relish it.