How to write a book and get it published when you’re working full-time

Do you have an itch to be a published author? Find out how to write a book and get it published when you’re working full-time.

The saying goes ‘Everybody has a book inside of them,’ and many of us dream about getting it out into the world, ideally in published form.

I know – I was one of those people.

Writing a book is easy, right?

For me it started out as a challenge. ‘I wonder if I’m good enough to stand out from the hundreds of submissions that land on the slush pile every week?’ And if that wasn’t hard enough, I decided to tackle the already oversaturated children’s picture book market. I mean, how hard could it be? Drawing pictures and stringing a few sentences together? Easy!

Except it wasn’t.

My social life suffered, because like many others starting off on a writing career, the only spare time I had was evenings and weekends. Giving up work entirely is not an option when pursuing a writer’s life. There’s no funding, so unless you want to end up eating beans out of the tin, then you need to be earning.

Research the best person to submit your book to

It took a year or so to turn my ideas into a something that wasn’t a complete load of twaddle. Then I had to decide who to submit to. I’ve been approached by lots of budding writers over the years, and my best piece of advice to them is always  to buy the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. (If you’re specifically interested in children’s books then buy the Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.)

This guide is updated every year and is packed with absolute gems of information including: publishers and agents contacts details, submission specs, tips from established authors, financial and legal advice and everything in between. If you’re serious about writing/illustrating, this is your must-go-to reference.

Make sure you know what your genre is; fiction, non-fiction, poetry, picture books etc. and who your audience is. It’s worth getting right at this stage as responses can sometimes take up to a year, and even then it’s normal to get a blank compliment slip back.

It isn’t a publisher’s place to send you constructive comments. If you want pre-submission advice, there are manuscript editing companies you can pay to check your work.

Don’t wait for a response – keep writing!

So, you’ve sent off your lovingly crafted book. Now what?

Write the next one! There’s no point in sitting around twiddling your thumbs. It took three years before I was finally approached by an agent offering to represent me. It’s not all sitting around in a sun-drenched studio while gazing out into fields of swaying poppies.

Nope. Not even close. The reality is often loneliness, the occasional mini- breakdown and a shedload of self-doubt. Sometimes only blind faith and perseverance are the things that keep you going.

Don’t burn out

In order to fit in writing, I had to juggle full-time jobs, freelance and now I’m contracting. It took a while to get right but the trick is to strike a healthy balance, while making sure you can still pay the bills! With the rise of the gig economy, it’s getting easier to create a work situation that’s tailor-made for you, so don’t be afraid to try different combinations.

If you work and write, you’re essentially doing two jobs, so don’t push yourself too hard – remember:

  • It’s very easy to feel isolated – so create a schedule that suits you and take time out to see friends now and then.
  • Don’t impose strict deadlines – writing is a slow, creative process so be patient and end up with a book you can be proud of.
  • Look after your mental and physical health – you’re not productive if you’re constantly frazzled.

Remember that it’s worth it!

My first teen novel comes out next year. It took me two and a half years to complete. I did it because it gives me immense satisfaction to share my story with others, in the hope it will even help some.

If you want your story to be told, then I can unequivocally say that all the hard work is worth it. Good luck, enjoy the process and we look forward to seeing your book out in the world!

Read more advice on becoming an author

You can read more advice and inspiration on becoming an author in these articles:

Sue Pickford works for Intouch Accounting, the expert contractor accountancy firm for Limited Company contractors.

Photo by Tom Holmes