‘It takes a village to write a book’ – Magdalena McGuire on getting published

In 2021 Magdalena McGuire won a scholarship place in ‘Writing a Novel’ in Melbourne and it changed everything.

Over the eight or so years it’s taken me to write Born for You, one thing has become clear: it really does take a village to write a book.

People think of writing as a solitary act, and in a lot of ways this is true, but I’d wager to say that no one can put together a book on their own. This includes – and indeed, especially applies to – those solitary male ‘geniuses’ we still hear so much about. Because, behind every author is a host of people whose labour, visible and invisible, makes the book happen.

And this is one of the most amazing things about my experience with the Faber course: it’s given me a writing village.  

I did the Faber Writing a Novel course during lockdown, and the wisdom and support of my teachers and my new writing buddies gave me the energy and motivation to keep going during a difficult time. My teachers, Sophie Cunningham and Emily Bitto, shared honest and personal insights about writing and publishing. They also helped us prepare and polish a sample of our work for publication in the Faber Anthology. This anthology gets sent to key people in the publishing industry and – here’s the thing – they actually read it! It turns out that the anthology really is a big deal. I discovered this when, shortly after the anthology went out, I got an email from a publisher at Ultimo Press asking to see my work. I, very nervously, sent her my writing and she offered me a book contract. So after years of hard work, of highs and lows and a spreadsheet full of rejections, I landed my dream publisher.  

Recently, I spoke at the launch of my book (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say!) and when I looked out into the crowd of very smiley and supportive faces, I saw my Faber village there, cheering me on. And soon it will be my turn to do the same for them.

Applications for the 2024 Faber Writing Scholarships for Writing a Novel are now open.