1) Get an agent. Their knowledge and support is invaluable and will give you much more confidence when navigating the publishing industry.
2) The more you write the better you’ll get.
3) The first draft is only the beginning. Be prepared to cut, rewrite, reshape – then repeat. Make your story the very best it can be. The more time you spend polishing it, the better your chances of getting your book on the shelf.
4) Switch off your inner critic. Although some writers prefer to edit as they write, I find it helpful to get the words on the page before redrafting.
5) Take regular breaks. Go for a walk. Bake a cake. Your mind will be stewing on ideas whilst you’re distracted. Hopefully when you get back to your desk you’ll be ready to continue.
6) Write what you want to write. Publishing is a slow process and trends can change dramatically from year to year. If you’re passionate about what you’ve written it will come through in your work.
7) Read! My initial idea for The Jungle came from an article I read last year about the discovery of a body on the Norwegian coast. Subsequent investigation found that it belonged to a young man who had started his journey from “The Jungle”. In a bid to leave the refugee camp, he had tried to swim across the Channel but his efforts tragically resulted in the loss of his own life. The thought of someone risking everything for a second chance really stayed with me. After further research, I realised how many of those living in the camp were, in fact, teenagers and children. These two ideas fused together to form the central concept of The Jungle.
8) Getting started is half the battle. A blank page is more intimidating than it looks!
9) You can never have enough tea or biscuits.
10) Most importantly, don’t give up. Like so many authors, I received plenty of rejections before landing a breakthrough. When you start writing, the publishing world can often seem like a closed door. But as long as you keep knocking, someone’s bound to open it.