On the Giving of Advice

Today I have another guest blogger, Phillipa Fioretti , author of The Book of Love and The Fragment of Dreams. Phillipa gives us her views on the various publishing options available to authors.

Over to you Phillipa!

Advice is rarely heeded, but as I emerge into the ‘emerging author’ category, people ask me what advice do I have for aspiring writers. Tough question if you take it seriously and pretend people will take any notice. My experiences during my fledgling writing career are particular to me, with a few universals one can pick up anywhere with a bit of research. However there is one nugget I would like to share, one I heard from the lips of a commissioning editor at a forum and one that has stuck with me.

As a writer, think carefully about whether you want to be published by a mainstream commercial publishing house or not. It’s really good advice. Get it clear in your mind before you even start and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief. I know some brilliant writers who are very realistic about the size of their readership and prefer to pursue the independent route, and I know others who spend every moment banging on the publisher’s door pleading to be let in. That door is never going to open for them because what they have written will not sell in today’s market – and this is before you get to issues of talent or quality. The history of milk bottles told in verse is never going to cut it.

Do your research. This is imperative. Find out what is on the shelves, find out what people are reading and why. Then take this knowledge and think about it. Is it the direction you want to take? Would your book easily stand with those already in the bookshops, is it better, does it take the genre and shift it slightly? Taking a professional, commercial approach does not mean leaving your soul or your imagination out. It means thinking about your readers, it means having a thorough understanding of the conventions of the genre you choose to write in – not being a slave to them, maybe even subtly undermining them – but knowing how the classics in your area have been crafted is vital.

If you just want to write what you want to write and expect readers will clamour to read it, you could be in for disappointment. You can’t blame the agents or publishers for this. Publishing is a business, not a charity, not a subsidised outlet for experimental writing and not a storehouse for oral history.

This is my advice. Go forth and ignore it.

Thanks Phillipa. For more information about Phillipa’s books you can check them out on her website at


“an adventurous debut from an Australian author with a knack for
turning the minutia of life into something delicious.” Cosmopolitan magazine

“A marvellous mix of mayhem, action, charm and love.’ Womans Day

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