Monday, 25 February 2008

Margaret Dickinson- Advice from a Pro

Well loved novelist Margaret Dickinson was kind enough to speak with me yesterday while signing copies of her book Sing As We Go, which is out now in paperback from Pan Macmillan. I picked one up as a mother’s day gift and talked with the author. With such a rich and lengthy career in writing, I asked her how she started out as a writer.

Margaret: Well I had always wanted to write ever since I was fourteen years old. It wasn’t until 1968, when I was 26, that I had a novel published. Then between 1968 and 1984 I had nine novels published before taking a break due to family matters.

It was my agent, Davis Anderson, that suggested I try my hand at a regional saga. I did so, and out of the five publishers it was sent to, I was lucky enough to get four offers. I signed up with Pan Macmillan and have written a book a year for them since 1994.

What advice would you give aspiring writers who would like to get their work published?

Oh it always hard. You must always work hard, and be very thick skinned, as you will get knocked back a great deal. The agent route is the best way to do it today I’d say. Publishers don’t like unsolicited work, so it is best to find a good agent first.

It is best to make initial contact by supplying sample chapters of a book along with a synopsis. This helps the agents and publishers see whether you can actually write for one thing, and if you can progress the story satisfactorily.

Some agents, if they see potential in the writing, will work with an author to see if there are particular genres that the author would suit, be it sagas, romance, fantasy, children’s books and so on. There’s certainly a desire for children’s books in the post J.K. Rowling market.

Work very hard, and stick at it. Study the market- you always need to know what is out there and what is selling. The most important thing is; Don’t get disheartened. If something doesn’t work, write something new. I have seven novels in the loft that will never see the light of day. Just stick at it and don’t give up.

Thanks for your time and your advice Margaret. Good luck with the new release.

You’re welcome. I hope your mother enjoys the book.

With such a quality track record in general fiction, and Margaret’s grasp of characters and setting, I’m sure she will.

-Andrew Hawnt

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