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Matthew Smith, MD of Urbane Publications, has had more than 25 years’ experience in the publishing industry. Here, he offers some down-to-earth advice for writers hoping to net a deal.

• Just because you’ve written it, it doesn’t mean it’ll be read – not even by your friends and family. Be prepared for that!

• There’s never only one route to publishing success, it’s different – or should be – for every author. For many an agent may be what they need, but for others self-publishing can be a brilliantly successful and rewarding route for their work. Set your goals, then find the route that helps you meet them.

• Be patient and wait for the route that’s right for you. I’m always amazed when authors spend five years writing a book and then immediately publish on Createspace because agents/publishers didn’t offer them a £50k advance within 3 weeks.

• Don’t believe the hype – we often hear tales of huge advances, mega sales, film deals and runaway success. But they are very few and far between. Focus on what’s right for your book, success will come.

• There’s nothing wrong with writing for the love of writing. If you can find joy in your work and working with the right partner, be it agent, publisher, publishing platform, then consider that your success – you’ve already achieved what thousands of others never will.

• Please, please, please don’t chase or badger agents or publishers for a decision. Yes, to you it is the most important and vital treasure and everyone should treat it with reverence – but even a small independent like Urbane receives up to 50 submissions a week. Chances are if it’s taking time to get a response it’s because your work is genuinely being considered rather than rejected out of hand.

• Use social media to build a profile for you – not to just sell your work. We’re all people, and people are far more interested in other people than just being sold something. It’s tough for many authors but you have to be willing to engage if you want to build a strong and loyal readership. If you want readers to invest in your writing, then it helps to invest a little in getting to know them.

•Finally, don’t give up! Sounds ridiculous I know, but some of the greatest authors hung in there, committed to those that showed faith in them, and they’re now reaping the benefits.

For more details on submitting to Urbane Publications, see the September issue of Writing Magazine. For more details about Urbane Publications, see the website.

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