#DigitalOriginals #OneDay Tips and Tricks from Rebecca Farrell by
2019/05/02  |  By:   |  Features  |  

We are just TWO MONTHS away from the sixth annual #DigitalOriginals #OneDay open submissions here at Books and the City, and as it’s my first year wielding the editorial red pen I wanted to share with you my tips and tricks to make your novel stand out amongst the crowd!

1. Have a hook and make it clear

hookThere are a lot of books out there and we want to know what makes yours different – i.e. The Hook. This is usually a copy-led line that speaks clearly to readers, letting them know exactly what the concept of your novel is. This is different than a marketing pitch-line because it’s more direct, engaging purposefully with the reader straight from the moment they see the book. Books and the City’s very own Milly Johnson has a cracking example of this on her latest book The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew:

Behind every successful man is a woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

2. Know your audience

SO-WHATS-YOURELEVATOR-PITCH-300x251We read a lot of submissions and so time is of the essence. If we can get an immediate sense of what makes your book special and who it is marketed towards in the first few lines of your pitch/synopsis, then you will instantly have us engaged – and, most importantly, it helps us to figure out where your novel would sit on our own list and the wider market. Here’s an example from the pitch for Books and the City author Alice Peterson’s new novel, If You Were Here:

An emotional, inspiring and uplifting novel, IF YOU WERE HERE will break your heart and put it back together again. The brand new novel from the acclaimed author of A Song for Tomorrow, perfect for fans of Hannah Beckerman, Dani Atkins and Jill Mansell

3. Tell your story in an original way

tell-your-story-ring-600x6001There are tons of stories out there and chances are you aren’t going to think of an idea that nobody in the history of the world has ever thought about, but you can tell it in your own way. Utilise your own voice – we’ll be able to tell if you’re trying to mimic your favourite writer – and let your originality shine through.



4. Start off strong

put-your-best-foot-forwardWe’re only asking for the first chapter of your novel, no more than 5,000 words, so make sure they’re as strong and engaging here as they are three-quarters of the way through at your story’s climax. Nobody continues reading a book on the promise of ‘stick with it and it gets better’ – show us what you can do from the start and put your best foot forward.



5. Create engaging characters

I-get-you-and-I-care-super-customer-service-guy3We want to fall in love with your story and the only way we can do that is by loving (or not loving, if that’s what you’re aiming for) your characters too. Give them a certain warmth or heart or sparkle that makes us connect with them; make them realistic so that we can relate, give them flaws so we know they’re human. The worst thing a writer can do to a character is make them inauthentic – we want to love them and root for them, and in order to do that, we have to get them.

Love Bec x


BECRebecca Farrell joined Simon & Schuster UK in January 2018, and acquires female-driven commercial fiction for our list and looks after the editorial side of Books and the City. In her role, she works with a range of wonderful authors, including Paige Toon, Santa Montefiore, Claire Frost, Alice Peterson, Christina Pishiris, and many, many more. In the submissions she receives, she’s looking for a story with heart; a narrative she can engage with, feel the warmth of and a character she can root for. She loves anything that can makes her laugh and she’s dying to find a book that fills her with excitement, which she can really champion.  She loves finding the best new voices in fiction and is actively searching for the next great debut!



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