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Writing Books/My first novel


I am currently writing my first novel, and hopefully not my last. I would consider it to be a thriller or suspence novel. but the point of this question is that I am only nineteen years old, and left highschool halfway through grade eleven. But i love writing, my family says I'm good at it, but they are family. not exactly the top pick for a good opinion. I would like to know waht publishers usualy look for in a writer and if someone like me would even stand a chance at getting published. I'd hate to get all this hard work done and in the end it'l just be sitting on my desk in a printed copy collecting dust.

Hi, Justin!

Well, your age isn't a problem. You're over 18, so I believe that even in Canada you'd be able to sign contracts with publisher.

What publishers want in authors is one who can put out a good quality product that doesn't require a lot of work to get in shelf-ready shape. With the economic problems in the world, editors have to wear more hats and don't have as much time as they'd like to actually "edit." So, your grammar, composition, spelling and punctuation need to be top notch.

Now, just because you didn't graduate doesn't mean you can't still learn. Nobody will ask your background if the book is good, but it will take some work on your part to bring the quality of the book up to standards. I'd recommend picking up a book called "Strunk & White" that's a grammar guide. Another good one to look up is "The Chicago Manual of Style" which is pretty much the publishing industry bible (at least in the U.S.)

You're actually fairly lucky, because Canadian publishers really work hard to publish those who live there. There are a lot of incentives available to you. Once you have the book written, you'll need to learn how to write a query letter and then a synopsis. It'll take work on your part to learn the process, but it's worth the effort. We all have to pay that price and while it's sometimes frustrating, it's worthwhile in the long run. Hope that helps a little. Good luck!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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