Haleh Agar is the author of Out of Touch which is published by W&N in hardback, eBook and audio on 2 April 2020.
My Journey to Publication
Every person has a unique journey to publication. There’s no right way of doing it. Below I share my publication journey— what strategies helped me achieve my goal of becoming a published author. Hopefully, some of these points will resonate with you.
Read, Read and Read some More
I cannot emphasize this point enough! To improve your writing, it’s not enough to simply write. Reading is a crucial part of the process. When I find myself faced with a writing problem, I’ll often think back to short stories and books that I’ve read and how the authors navigated their way through a similar issue/topic. Reading other books can inspire solutions and new ideas, as the stories you read intertwine with your own unique life experiences, and writing style. Some people will finish a book, even if they’ve not taken to it. If I don’t connect to a novel, I’ll move on to the next. It’s imperative that something is drawing me back to the book, whether it’s the author’s writing style, the story, theme or character. Life’s too short to finish books that don’t inspire some form of passion in you.
Make Friends with Rejection
If you’ve received rejections in the past, celebrate! It means you’re putting your work out there. I’ve received my fair share of rejections for journal submissions and competitions, and of course it initially stung. It’s OK to feel rotten for a little while. But it’s important to acknowledge that the road to publication is paved with rejections. Often, it helped me when I was in those low moods to read stories about other authors who’d been rejected. It softens the blow because it shows that we all have to start somewhere.
A note—if the same work is being repeatedly rejected, it’s worth taking a closer look at it. One of the mistakes I used to make at the start of my writing journey was to rush my submissions. I was so excited to submit my work to a publication or competition, that after reading it over, I would send it in, and then realize I’d made a grammar error, or that something was missing in the story. Give yourself a cooling off period, where you look away from your work, then return to it with fresh eyes.
Social Media Can Help
There are many opportunities to submit your work to magazines, journals and competitions for publication, and Twitter has been incredibly helpful for me in identifying deadlines for upcoming submissions. Agents don’t always look for a publication history, but it can certainly help bulk up your query letter if you’ve already had a few pieces published or if you’ve placed in a writing competition. Social media is also very useful in connecting with other writers who could support you by flagging opportunities, cheering you on, and even offering to read your work as beta readers. It’s not necessary to be on social media to make it as a published writer, but it helped me a lot to connect with the writing community. If you’re on social media, be mindful about what you share. When you’re querying agents, for instance, most will be interested in looking up your online presence, as someone they are considering to take on and work closely with, so be sure that you’re happy with what you’re putting out there.
Dealing with Editorial Feedback
It’s very likely that once an agent takes you on, that she’ll make editorial suggestions before submitting your manuscript to editors at publishing houses. I strongly recommend that you take on their suggestions and make the recommended changes, as they are experts in their industry. With that being said, there will be disagreements—some aspects of your manuscript that are non-negotiable to you. So long as you communicate your reasons for keeping a part of your work as it is, then your agent or editor will likely respect your decision. You should also compromise—your agent might bring up an issue, and you could come up with a brand new solution that works for both of you.
The road to publication can feel daunting. The main thing is to focus on your work at present, to make it the best that it can be and to worry less about the future. Also, give yourself permission to think—‘wow this is so good’. Praise yourself when your writing shines, because that energy of self-appreciation goes a long way on this journey to publication and beyond.
About the book
A man hit Ava with his car, a few miles from her bungalow. He brings her flowers in hospital, and offers to do her laundry. He also brings her the letter she dropped that night on the road.
In New York, Ava’s brother Michael receives the same letter. He thinks about it as he steps out of the shower into his curtainless bedroom. A naked woman stares at him from the apartment across. They both laugh and cover up with their arms.
Brother and sister cannot avoid the letter: their estranged father is dying and wants to meet. Can they forgive their father, and face each other after all these years apart? Will new unexpected friends offer the advice and comfort they need?
With sharp wit and sensitivity, Out of Touch is a deeply absorbing story about love and vulnerability, sex and power, and the unbreakable bonds of family.
About the author