Wannabe a Writer?

Wannabe a Writer?

Contributors

Penny Alexander Writer

Raymond Allan Script writer, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

Jeffery Archer Novelist

Teresa Ashby Short-story Writer

Judy Astley Novelist

Suzanne Baboneau Publishing Director, Simon & Schuster

Keith Barker-Main Author

Lynne Barrett-Lee Novelist

Jane Bidder (Sophie King) Novelist

Daniel Blythe Novelist

Amanda Brookfield Novelist

Elizabeth Buchan Novelist

Michael Buerk Writer, Journalist and Broadcaster

Michael Bywater Author and Journalist

Caroline Caughey Publisher

Mavis Cheek Novelist

Tracy Chevalier Novelist

Teresa Chris Literary agent

Jilly Cooper Novelist

Robert Crampton Journalist

Cari Crook Writer, Creative Writing Tutor

Chris d'Lacey Children's Author

Merric Davidson Literary Agent

Gaynor Davies Fiction Editor, Woman's Weekly

Joanne Dickinson Editorial Director, Sphere

Broo Doherty Literary Agent

Emily Dubberley Writer and journalist

Sarah Duncan Novelist

Barbara Erskine Novelist

Flic Everett Writer and journalist

Barbara Ewing Novelist and Actor

Katie Fforde Novelist

Frederick Forsyth Novelist

Grainne Fox Literary Agent

Jonny Geller Literary Agent and Author

Mel Giedroyc Writer and Performer

Lesley Gleeson Writer & jeweller

Caroline Graham Novelist and Playwright. Author of Midsomer Murders.

Jane Gregory Literary Agent

Lynne Hackles Writer and Creative Writing Tutor

Jenny Haddon Novelist

Maeve Haran Novelist and Journalist

Kate Harrison Novelist, Script Writer and Journalist

Sarah Harrison Novelist and Author of How to Write a Blockbuster

Jan Henley Freelance Writer

Sherise Hobbs Editor, Headline

Wendy Holden Novelist

Lesley Horton Novelist

Sue Houghton Freelance Writer

Karen Howeld Journalist and Writer

Mick Hume Journalist

Lisa Jewell Novelist

Alice Jolly Novelist and Creative Writing Tutor

Catherine Jones Novelist

Jane Judd Literary Agent

Margaret Kaine Author

Bernardine Kennedy Novelist

Miles Kington Writer, Broadcaster and Columnist

Bernard Knight Novelist

Dorothy Koomson Novelist and Journalist

Helen Lederer Actress and Author

Judith Lennox Novelist

Ariel Leve Journalist

P.D.R. Lindsay Short Story Writer

Francesca Liversidge Ex Publishing Director, Transworld Publishers

Hilary Lloyd Novelist and Short Story Writer

Jonathan Lloyd Literary Agent

Kate Long Novelist

Jill Mansell Novelist

Carole Matthews Novelist

Tamara McKinley Novelist

Catherine Merriman Novelist and Creative Writing Tutor

Mil Millington Author

Santa Montefiore Novelist

Sue Moorcroft Novelist and Creative Writing Tutor

Richard Morrison Journalist & columnist

Biddy Nelson Short-Story Writer

Freya North Novelist

Marina O'Loughlin Restaurant Critic

Susan Opie Publisher

Adele Parks Novelist

Lesley Pearse Novelist

Margaret Penfold Novelist

Judy Piatkus Publisher

Sara-Jade Piper Book-buyer

Hugh C. Rae/Jessica Stirling Novelist

Eileen Ramsey Novelist

Ian Rankin Novelist

Kim Rooney

Amanda Ross TV Producer, founder of Richard & Judy Book Club

Alan Samson Publisher, Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Zoë Sharp Photojournalist and Author

Liz Smith Fiction Editor, My Weekly

Carole Stone Author and Networker

June Tate Novelist

Bill Tidy Writer and Cartoonist

Rebecca Tope Novelist

Simon Trewin Literary Agent

Fiona Walker Novelist and Journalist

Kate Walker Novelist

Pam Weaver Short Story Writer

Melanie Whitehouse Journalist, Writer and Editor

Laura Wilkinson

Julia Williams Novelist

Jacqueline Wilson Children's author and Children's Laureate 2005-2007

Isabel Wolff Journalist and Author

Irene Yates Author, educational books

What Jane Says

I vowed, when I was a much-rejected wannabe, that when I was published I would tell the truth about how long it took and how difficult it was…

Nobody fought over my manuscript. Rather, they unplugged their phones, switched email addresses, took long sabbaticals on the other side of the world and instructed their assistants to tell me they'd died of a rare and sudden tropical disease.

My file marked: "AGENTS – those who've said sod off" – bulged and broke its seams. Publishers cowed from my offers of sexual favours, and remained unmoved when I chained myself to their railings.

I wept, wailed, got horribly drunk and spent £156.98 on postage. I did strange spells, took up chanting, consulted psychics, threatened to hang myself from the shower-rail if I didn't get a book-deal and took to stalking.

What I didn't do was give up. I was determined to get that novel published, even if it meant rolling up to my launch party with no teeth and a colostomy bag. I think we can safely say I was obsessed.

And published it was. I did sell it in the end, on a gloriously ecstatic, champagne-soaked day in August 2000 but it was by a long, circuitous and torturous route.

I kept going because after all the joy, elation, tears and liver damage I'd suffered writing an entire manuscript – don't believe anyone who says it's easy – I didn't want it wasted. Many have seen this attitude as a strength but it is also one of my failings. Sometimes you do have to waste things. As a writer you need a built-in crap-o-meter and an iron nerve to discard all the stuff that doesn't work.

But first and foremost you need determination. If faint heart never won fair lady it certainly didn't get a book deal either. If you too, are on the point of cutting your throat because nobody wants to publish you, hold off until you've read this book. It might change your life.

Or if you've always wanted to write, but have never quite got round to it, this could be just the spur you need.

And if you've no interest in writing at all and have only read this far because it's raining outside the bookshop and you've got twenty minutes to kill before the bus comes, don't be such a skinflint.

Buy it anyway and give it to someone for Christmas. I could do with the sales.

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