Since the summer of 2019, I’ve been making a podcast called Prepublished with my brother, Christopher. He’s been the editor, producer and general tech guy, and I’ve been the voice at the mic.
We wanted to shed some light on what writers and editors are thinking when they look for great writing – their own or someone else’s. I’m lucky to know some fantastic people in publishing who are not only very good at what they do, but very thoughtful about how they do it, what works, what doesn’t, and how they navigate their way through a messy process.
And writing is messy. It should be. If you’re not in a mess at least some of the time, you’re probably not doing it right.
At the time of writing, I’ve recorded six episodes with guests and a short trailer – with 3 more to record in January and more stacking up beyond that. We talk about plotting, character, getting started, getting your manuscript ready for submission, how to impress an editor and lots more besides.
These are all the questions I cover in my teaching course of Writing for Children, and when I’m teaching I always think how much more useful it is if students can hear two writers talking, and occasionally disagreeing, coming at it from different angles, mentioning different writing gurus and sources of inspiration … There’s no one perfect way to do anything, and as soon as you get two publishing industry professionals together, you quickly work that out!
I’ve loved having guests such as Annie Eaton, Karen Ball, Caroline Green, Cliff McNish, Caroline Lawrence and Candy Gourlay at my dining table, discussing writing techniques and processes over wine or coffee (see if you can tell which is which) and giving me lots of tips and inspiration too. I can’t wait to do more.
Christopher and I set out to make something without any clear idea of how to do it, what it took, or what it would look like when it was done. We just sat down and had a go (it was terrible) learned a few lessons, tried again (also terrible), learned a few more lessons, got some more kit and kept going until it was good. Very much like the process of making a book.
We called it Prepublished because that’s how the brilliant editor Karen Ball (of Beast Quest fame – look her up on speckledpen.com) described writers who haven’t got their first deal yet. I like the word. It’s full of hope. I think that if you’re writing and finishing things on a regular basis, you are a writer, regardless of whether you’ve signed a contract or not.
I hope you enjoy our conversations. You can listen to them via Spotify, iTunes, Acast or wherever you get your podcasts, and sign up for our newsletter with details of upcoming guests and further resources at prepublished.net. Have fun, and let me know who else you’d like me to talk to, and what else you’d like me to talk about.