My guest today is Phoebe Morgan. Phoebe Morgan is both an editor at HarperCollins and an author, so she understands both sides of the publishing equation. Her debut psychological thriller, The Doll House, is coming out on the 14th September, and it’s an excellent dark and creepy read. I love the way Phoebe has created a sense of foreboding in the book so I definitely recommend you check it out.
We talk about self-doubt and pre-publication nerves, but Phoebe also give insights as to what grabs her as commissioning editor when she is reading submissions and, conversely, the common mistakes she sees authors making.
Even if you aren’t looking to submit to an agent or publisher, I do think her advice is spot-on as you will always need to grab your reader.
You can pre-order The Doll House for just 99p here.
In the introduction:
I give a small writing update and talk about my great excitement at being a guest on The Creative Penn podcast.
Being invited on the show which started my podcast-obsession (and inspired me to start The Worried Writer) was a big moment for me and I talk about some lessons learned from the experience.
I also mention the time I interviewed Joanna on The Worried Writer. Head here for that episode.
- Stop Worrying; Start Writing audiobook. I said last month that I would try to get it recorded during August, but I didn’t manage to fit it in – sorry! I am hoping to book the studio time during September and get it finished.
- Thank you for all your replies re. possible funding for the show. Most folk have voted for Patreon and I’m considering ideas for ‘subscriber-only’ perks such as a private Facebook group for writerly support. Let me know what you think!
In the interview:
On working in publishing as an editor as well as being an author:
‘There isn’t a switch off button because everything I’m doing is in the same field. At the same time I do really love what I do.’
‘It can be quite tricky, sometimes. It’s a lot of characters in my head!’
‘It’s hard to have a full-time job and have the energy to do the thing on the side. I think it comes down to trying to enjoy it… You also need to be kind to yourself.
On writing process:
‘I do best during the day on a Saturday and Sunday.’
‘It’s about finding the time which works best for you.’
‘When I’m not actually physically writing, I’m always thinking about it… Stuff takes time to form.’
‘I’ve spent ages wishing I could be a planner and I’ve tried to be a planner… But it just doesn’t work. It kind of blocks something in my brain.’
On creative block:
‘I get quite paralysed by thinking about the industry… Because of my job I know how many submissions we get and how many get published and it’s not many.’
‘There will be times when I’m writing and I’ll think ‘this is never going to sell’ and that’s quite paralysing.’
On working as an editor for Harper Collins:
‘Everyone in publishing is so nice.’
‘Getting a deal is often about timing.’
‘We have a lot to get through so the opening of a book is really important…’
‘I find a lot of writers think they need to start a chapter quite softly and they’ll talk about the weather or do a recap on the previous chapter… Cut that out and go straight to the action.’
‘I always say to my authors that what I’m saying is a suggestion rather than an order. At the end of the day, an author is the one in charge of their book.’
On getting a book deal:
‘The key is to carry on.’
On Writing by Stephen King
Writing A Bestseller by Jacq Burns
How To Become A Writer (short story)by Lorrie Moore – New York Times
Thanks for listening!
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