Tuesday, 27 May 2008

An interview with crime writer

Tonight on Express FM Pauline Rowson will be discussing with Rob Richardson how she writes her marine mystery crime and thriller novels. You can listen to the interview on http://www.expressfm.com/

Friday, 23 May 2008

Getting Into Print - The Publishing Climate

I have run a publishing company and am a published author. I have worked in the media and have run my own marketing and training company. Pulling together my experience and knowledge, I hope to build a series of articles on this web site to help authors, both published and unpublished on a range of topics from writing tips to getting a publisher and self publishing, with lots of information in between and guest articles from other writers. Here in this article I examine the publishing climate. You can also register for one of my seminars or workshops on getting a publisher, self publishing, marketing your book, promoting yourself as an author,or one of my fiction writing workshops.

We write because we enjoy it, because we have something to say, because we want to immerse ourselves in another time and place, because we wish to create, inform, educate or entertain; because it is a hobby that very often turns into an obsession. We do not write to become rich and famous, although that would be nice, but many of us know the financial rewards in pursuing a writing career are small to say the least.

For all of us who write, though, there is no greater reward, or sense of satisfaction, than seeing our work in print. Getting into print however is extremely difficult. Marketing your book is even harder. Publishing is a highly competitive business. Books are low value goods and you need to sell an awful lot of them to make any money. Profit margins are being squeezed by the increasing cost to produce books and by the ever higher discounts demanded by the large booksellers and the supermarket chains. The days when a publisher used to take a risk on an unknown author and let him build sales over a few titles are gone - or almost gone. Now, to get your work published you have to go BIG right from the start, or you need to have an established name in the eyes of readers and potential readers, (i.e. celebrity authors), which can generate sales pre-publication.

In response to a tightening market, many publishers are seeking economies of scale. This means they are merging to form bigger publishing houses creating even fewer opportunities for new writers to get their work published. But before you throw down your pen in despair, or switch off your computer, it’s not all bad news.

There are now many smaller independent publishers who are producing a wide range of interesting books and selling them. The market for selling books has expanded with the growth in specialist retail outlets, direct mail and the Internet. New technology has enabled books to be produced digitally allowing short print runs, thereby opening up the market to the self-publisher and small publisher. And the popularity of e books is increasing.

To boost your chances of finding a publisher you need to know your market. Publishing is about categories and some books simply do not fit into a category. That doesn’t mean to say that they won’t sell, they can and do, but it can be more difficult for you to pitch your book to a potential publisher or agent because of this.

So if you write fiction try and define the category of fiction. Visit a local bookshop and see the categories on offer. For example:

· crime
· romance
· historical
· literary
· fantasy
· sci fi
· erotic
· adventure
· thriller
· contemporary
· chick lit
· children’s fiction
· teenage fiction

And that’s just to name a few.

For non fiction there are specialist subjects, such as:

military history

And, of course, there are many other categories including poetry, anthologies, short stories…

Can you sum up in one phrase what type of book yours is? For example, I write crime novels and thrillers, which have a unique selling point (or USP) of being marketed as ‘Marine Mysteries’ because they are all set around the sea. This 'branding' places my crime novels in a crowded market place and helps the reader and potential reader to find, and hopefully buy them.

By defining your category and your market you are then in a better position to identify the type of publisher or their imprint, or the type of literary agent who is most likely to take a look at your work . Use the Internet to research them, or the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. You can also examine books in your local library and bookshop to see who publishes what. Visit the London or Frankfurt Book Fairs, not necessarily to pitch your work to potential publishers - they are usually too busy at these fairs with pre-arranged appointments - but to get contact details. Or you can attend some of the many great seminars that are held there.

The better your understanding of how the publishing industry works the more chance you have of writing the kind of book publishers want to publish, and of getting a publishing deal. And if you don't, then there is always the self-publishing route, which is getting more and more sophisticated every day and there are some great opportunities now for you to produce a very professional product indeed.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008


Well done to one of my writing students from the Sinah Warren course I held in April. Gail e-mailed me to say that she'd won her first ever writing competition. OK, so as she says, it was only a text long but it's an achievement nonetheless and a major one when you think that she had to write a Ghost story in "proper" English that fitted into one text!! Her winning entry is featured on the website of http://www.txtlit.co.uk/.

All writers should take encouragement from the small victories because you never know where they might lead... to the six figure book deal? Now that would be nice. Gail says, 'This has certainly inspired me to enter more competitions and to keep going on my novel.' Congratulations to Gail.