Q and A

Q I would like to be a published writer. Can I send my manuscript to Cecilia so that she can review it and give me some writing tips?

A I like to encourage aspiring authors, and to this end I have posted the advice below. There is plenty of other information available on the Internet at addresses including the wonderful SFWA site. (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America).

I ask aspiring writers to please refrain from sending me your manuscripts to review, or asking for further advice. I have already posted everything that I consider to be helpful. While I feel flattered that you value my opinion, I cannot read your manuscripts for legal and copyright reasons, besides which my time is very limited.

To quote from my fellow author, Kate Forsyth, ” As a writer, my ideas are my livelihood; if I review a manuscript, it contains that author’s ideas and if the ideas should appear in a subsequent book of mine, it is possible to be sued for breach of copyright. This is not a nice situation for all concerned, so to avoid it, I must refuse to review your manuscript. My advice would be to first find yourself a good editor…”

My very best wishes to all those who love to write as much as I do – may you profit from the advice given, and enjoy a successful career.

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Q I am an unpublished writer. Can you give me any information on how to get published?

A Step 1: Read only the best work, by the best writers. Whatever you read sinks into your subconscious, so read the best, analyse it, think it, write it.

Step 2: Always remember to write from your heart, write what fires your passion, not necessarily what you believe the market wants to read. Be true to yourself.
Read the interviews on my website for further insights.

Step 3: Many publishers will not look at manuscripts from unpublished authors unless they are submitted by literary agents. Find a reputable literary agent and send them a query letter.
The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America website provides warnings about certain unscrupulous operators in the field.
The Association of Authors’ Representatives can be helpful, as can the publication The Literary Marketplace.
If your reputable agent responds positively, send him/her your neatly typed manuscript formatted according to a set of professional guidelines (e.g. from “The Literary Marketplace”).

Step 4: Never give up. If all else fails, you can always self-publish. Many famous writers began that way.

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Q Where can I find information about literary agents?

There are many sources, of varying degrees of reliability. The best is to ask a published writer about her agent. If the writer likes the agent, ask if the agent is taking clients. If so, contact the agent. Writer’s Market and Literary Market Place list agents in their yearly edition. Check out the agent entries, looking for people who represent authors in your field of writing. Look for names of clients and recent sales. You can find ads for agents in Writer’s Digest. Be aware, however, that some of these are posted by sham agents who take money and do little to advance your career. I would strongly urge you to look elsewhere. Good agents don’t take out ads to find clients. Note also that your agent does not necessarily have to reside in the same country as you.

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Q How do I write a synopsis and format a manuscript?

A A synopsis is a brief narrative summary of your novel. It has to entice the editor enough to want to read your whole novel. This it is a sales pitch for your book. Format the synopsis the same way as the manuscript (see links below).

1. Write the synopsis in the present tense.
2. The synopsis tells the novel’s ENTIRE story.
3. The synopsis should not run too long. Approx 1 page of synopsis for every 25 pages of manuscript is a good rule of thumb.
4 To achieve conciseness, write as cleanly and tightly as you can. Focus on the story’s essential details.
5. Don’t divide the synopsis by chapters. Write one unified account of the story.

Helpful software for writers includes Scrivener for novels, short stories and research papers, and Final Draft or Montage for screenplays.



SFFWA Author Information Center

The Australian Society of Authors

National Novel Writing Month

50 free resources that will improve your writing skills


Romance Writers of Australia

New Zealand Society of Authors

Victorian Writers’ Centre

Tasmanian Writers’ Centre

NSW Writers’ Centre

Queensland Writers’ Centre

South Australian Writers’ Centre

Northern Territory Writers’ Centre

ACT Writers

Romance Writers of America

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BBC World Service ‘How to Write a Screenplay’

Send the BBC Your Script

BBC Writers’ Room Prizes, Challenges and Opportunities

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