Each year, tens of thousands of books are published in the UK. While some of these are the big-selling, headline-grabbers - the glossy cookbooks, racy thrillers or celebrity blockbusters - most are not.
As someone who writes on my commute to work, or while the kids are at school, I'm under no illusions that I can make a living from this. I'm never going to top the bestseller lists. But I have submitted two non-fiction books on two different topics to two different publishers, got publishing contracts for both, and gone on to see them both sell.
I'm not a professional author. I'm not a publisher or an agent. I don't have the insider knowledge of the industry. But I have made it work for me. Twice. And here's how it happened.
1. Visualise your readers. Why are they interested in what you are writing about? What's the benefit to them? Above all, what sort of person is going to pay money, money which they could be spending on cappuccinos or a cinema ticket or the latest JK Rowling, to buy and read your book?
A publisher puts their time, money and reputation behind every book they publish, you need to convince them that enough people out there want to read it.
Both my books had a very specific target audience in mind. In the case of the most recent, 'Pride and Joy', this was LGBT parents and their children. Not a huge group of readers, but one that I knew well from personal experience and spent time getting to know better in the course of writing the book.
2. Examine the market. Search Amazon for key words related to your book and see what comes up. Are there other books like yours out there? Read them. What does yours do differently? What does it do better? Is there really room for it in the market?
3. Catch the zeitgeist. Does your book relate to any topical issues or concerns? Nothing so fleeting that, by the time of publication, it will seem dated, but focusing on a topic that you know about where there is already public interest can help convince a publisher to invest.
Pitching 'Living It Out', a book about being LGB in the church, at a time when the Anglican Church was rarely out of the headlines for its stance on homosexuality, meant there was already widespread public interest in the theme.
4. Select the right publisher to approach. Think of it like looking for the perfect partner. For true and lasting love, you need to find someone whose interests and approach match your own. Look to see who has published books similar to yours. Scour the Writers and Artists Yearbook, which lists publishers, to find out who publishes books of a topic or style that matches yours.
5. Do what they say. If your chosen publisher wants two chapters and a synopsis, send them two chapters and a synopsis. If they want the whole manuscript, send them the whole manuscript. If they want submissions written in green ink on a scented paper on the first day of the month only, then, well, you know what to do. Show that you've done your research. Look carefully at exactly what they want, and then do it. To the letter.
It sounds obvious, but many, many people don't. Publishers' websites and the Writer and Artists' Yearbook include submission guidelines. First impressions count. Make it easy for them to see your book in the best possible light.
6. Write it. Well, of course. But it's very easy to get caught in planning your launch party, designing your cover or practising your signature for all those book-signings, instead of actually writing the darn thing. Resist the daydreams and get down to work.
Both my books were written in partnership, so we were able to encourage, nag and chivvy along each other. But even if you are writing alone, find someone who can keep you accountable, make you cups of tea and unstick you when you get stuck.
7. Have fun. It is very, very unlikely you are going to make your millions from publishing a book. So, whether it's the pure joy of spinning a story, the desire to share your passion with the wider world, or sharing an experience that you think could help someone else, enjoy it!