Saturday Spotlight: Publisher, Ian Skillicorn on Standing Out from the Crowd

Our guest blogger today is Ian Skillicorn from Corazon Books.  As the first publisher we’ve had on the blog we’re thrilled to have his advice on how to get noticed and impress prospective publishers. 

Ian Skillicorn

This is an exciting time to be a writer. There are more opportunities to have your work published than ever before. It’s easier than in the past to build a profile and have direct contact with readers. But these possibilities bring their own challenges. So many writers are taking advantage of the latest developments in publishing that it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.

Here are three strategies for improving your chances of success and impressing a prospective publisher.

The School Run 2013 cover Treat writing as a job

Successful authors understand that writing is their job, and that is how they approach it. If you are currently writing in your spare-time, consider that you actually now have two jobs! This requires discipline. It is important to set yourself a writing schedule and/or word count and to stick to it. We all have days when we don’t want to work but have to plod on regardless ‒ so write every day, even when you don’t feel like it.

Enter your work in competitions and awards

Entering your work for competitions or awards has a number of benefits. It’s an ideal way to practice writing to guidelines, and meeting word counts and deadlines. If you win, you’ve had a public endorsement of your writing and a great confidence boost into the bargain. Even if you don’t win, your short-listed work could get noticed by an influential judge who may mention your name and writing to others in the industry.

The Property of a Gentleman cover artwork

Make sure your work fits the entry requirements. Don’t be tempted to send the same piece of writing to different competitions without re-reading, adapting and polishing it first. Read the guidelines carefully ‒ you’d be surprised just how many writers don’t do this. If you haven’t followed the guidelines your entry probably won’t be read, and your efforts will have been wasted. Likewise, give yourself plenty of time to submit before the deadline. Excuses about why you didn’t get your entry in on time really don’t wash with judges! Choose your competitions and awards carefully. The calibre of the judges and the competition’s reputation are much more important than any prize on offer. Consult the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and search online for listings.

Decide on your social media presence

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram … the choice of social media tools can feel overwhelming. The first step is to be honest with yourself. Are you on social media because you want to be or because you think you ought to be? How much time do you really have to devote to tweeting, posting Facebook updates and uploading photos? Having just one online presence and using it well is preferable to half-hearted attempts at doing everything. Trying to juggle a host of social media profiles will probably lead to disillusionment and exhaustion!

It’s also vital to understand what you want to get out of social media. Is your goal to connect with other authors for advice and support, or to increase your profile and readership? Perhaps it’s both. Once you acknowledge why you are using social media, you can decide how best to utilise it. Some authors I know swear by Facebook and never tweet, others love Twitter but don’t do any other social media. Choose what works for you in terms of your personality, workload and objectives.

Join a network

The Country Doctor cover artworkWhile writers can cope with (or even prefer) solitude more than most people, there comes a time when we all need the company of others. More precisely, we need the company of other writers. Joining a network of writers, whether it is a local writing group or a national organisation, is vital for morale and keeps you up to date with the latest news. Check if you meet the membership criteria for a body like the Society of Authors or the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Even if you don’t, many writing organisations hold events that are open to all writers. Not only are these enjoyable social occasions, they are also essential for networking. Writer events are often where writers make close friendships and meet their future agents and publishers, so they can be truly life-changing.

Finally, always remember that the successful writers are the ones that didn’t give up.

Corazon logo 2014 Ian Skillicorn worked as a writer, translator and audio producer in Italy and the UK, before establishing Corazon Books in 2012. Corazon Books publishes bestselling fiction in a number of genres, including new editions of works by acclaimed authors such as Catherine Gaskin, Sophie King and Naomi Jacob. The imprint also supports new writing, with publishing competitions such as The Sophie King Prize and The Write Time competition. Titles by two début novelists will be published in early 2015. More at 


9 thoughts on “Saturday Spotlight: Publisher, Ian Skillicorn on Standing Out from the Crowd

  1. Excellent advice there. I’ve never entered a writing competition before. Maybe it’s something to think about. I think the advice about social media is spot on. It’s very easy to try to spread yourself too thinly and end up completely exhausted. Far better to focus on one or two sites and master those!
    I’ve realised that I really do have two jobs and I’m treating my writing just as seriously as I do my day job. In fact, given the amount of time spent actually writing, thinking, researching, connecting with other writers, blogging, tweeting, Facebooking and goodness knows what else, I probably spend more time on my writing career than I do on the job that pays my wages, so it’s only fair I treat it with due respect.
    The advice about seeking out other writers to connect with is really important. I’ve gained so much from being part of the RNA and I really don’t know where I’d be without the Write Romantics. I’ve found such a lot of help and support online from so many authors and it’s essential to make those connections and forge those relationships. Great post, Ian!

  2. Hi Ian,

    Lovely to have you as our guest on the blog today and thank you for all the advice especially regarding social media which can sometimes take over. I agree that using one, or more, tools well is the key.
    Social media is overwhelming especially when you’re not used to it…If I tried to use everything, I’m not sure I’d have any time to write!

    We really do have to think of writing as a job too…what works for me is making sure I do a certain number of hours each week.

    Helen R 🙂

  3. Great post Ian and your point about social media really resonated with me. I work best to deadlines, too, so having a word count to hit by a certain date is a big motivator for me. Being part of The Write Romantics has kept me going on many an occasion when I have wanted to give up, so I think all writers should definitely aim to be part of a similar group!


  4. Thanks for visiting, Ian. I heard you speak at the RNA Conference this year and it was great to know that The Write Romantics are doing all the right things. I also went to a social media masterclass a couple of months ago and your point about social media was echoed there; don’t try to do everything if you hate it or don’t have time. I personally love Facebook, blogging and Pinterest. I dabble in Twitter and I don’t have the energy to explore the others.

    I have a question: Do you still write now? What sort of things?


  5. A great post Ian with some very sound advice. I’m really pleased to be part of The Write Romantics and they’ve kept me going through all sorts. As for having two jobs, that’s so true and I try really hard to hit my daily word count – and not get distracted by social media!

  6. Thanks very much for your kind comments everyone. Looks like we all agree on those points! Jessica, I do still write – non-fiction. As some of the novels I publish are by authors who are sadly no longer with us, I often write articles for magazines and websites about their work and careers. Look out for my article on Catherine Gaskin in the next issue of Romance Matters!

  7. That is an excellent post, the advice about not taking on too much social media activity is very true. I’ve been trying to understand twitter whilst preferring facebook and getting more and more frustrated with it. It just looks like a load of gobbledy gook to me. As from now I’m going to give it up and stick to facebook!!
    Thanks so much for helping me think it through Ian!!

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