Monday, 21 December 2009

Writers' Courses in Norfolk for 2010

Below is a list of courses from the Writers Centre Norwich

Poetry & Prose Workshops: Spring Programme

Developing your writing skills has always been at the top of our agenda, and we’re pleased to announce new workshops led by poetry and prose heavyweights Alan Jenkins and Henry Sutton to keep you inspired throughout 2010. We’re also launching two short courses led by TS Eliot Prize shortlisted poet Michael Laskey and esteemed novelist Rachel Hore, so if you feel your writing could do with some weekly care and attention, these are for you!

Places will be snapped up quickly, so to avoid disappointment please don’t hesitate to get your workshop booked by calling: 01603 877177 or email:


One day workshop: Sat 27 February 2010│10am – 5pm│£50 / £40 conc

Discover how to play with ‘truth’ in order to make poetry with Bloodaxe poet Helen Ivory.


One day workshop: Sat 24 April 2010│10am – 4pm│£60 / £40 conc

A chance to look at the principles of poetry and workshop your poems with TLS deputy editor and poet, Alan Jenkins.


28 April – 2 June 2010│Wednesdays │6 Weekly sessions │7pm – 9pm│£110 / £95 conc

Tone up your work with close readings, exercises and work-shopping in a 6 week course with the poetic maestro Michael Laskey.

To book email or call 01603 877177.

Prose Workshops


Workshop and One-2-One: Sat 6 March 2010│10am – 1pm, then half hour 1-1 in pm│£50 / £40 conc.

Find out how to write about the great contemporary themes of our age, then see how you’re doing with one-two-one feedback from Henry.


27 April – 1 June 2010│Tuesdays│6 Weekly sessions │7pm – 9pm│£110 / £95 conc

Gain motivation and feedback in a supportive creative environment led by three times published author Rachel Hore.


Saturday 8th May 2010 │10am – 5pm│Writers’ Centre Norwich, 14 Princes Street, Norwich│£60 / £50 conc.

Learn how to make your characters and settings come to life with an Asham Award winning writer who will lead a day full of writing exercises, readings and discussion.

To book email or call 01603 877177.

Writers' Centre Norwich
14 Princes Street
Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1AE

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

New guidance on ebooks

Below is a link to an article giving sound advice to authors on royalties and rights regarding e books. Anyone who is about to negotiate a contract with a publisher, (or thinking of doing so in the near future) which includes digital rights would be advised to check this out.

The Society of Authors also provides free advice to its members.

New guidance on ebooks published in the latest issue of The Author:

"Members will be aware that sales of ebooks in the UK are said to be increasing rapidly, although they still account for only a small proportion of publishers’ turnover. The launch of Amazon’s Kindle, already the dominant ebook reader in the USA, is expected to expand the market considerably.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

An opportunity for writers seeking publication

A new independent publisher has launched, producing books only on a print-on-demand basis to create more "opportunities" for previously unpublished authors. Punked Books was launched by Kevin Mahoney in November.

Punked will publish six titles a year, across both adult and children's titles.

The books are signed without advances, but authors are given a standard royalty rate of 50%, after unit costs and retail discount. Mr Mahoney said he would use his website, AuthorTrek, to attract other submissions, but that so far it was a "mixture" of agented and unsolicited works.

Authors interested in submitting material to Punked Books can find out more details via the FAQ page:

Monday, 7 December 2009

Book Buying Habits

Some interesting data supplied by Book Marketing Limited (BML).

57% of British consumers purchased one or more books last year, compared to only 50% of Americans;

Mystery and Romance books accounted for a whopping 57% of all fiction books purchased by Americans last year, versus just 31% in Britain;

Men were less important to the adult fiction market in the U.S. (29% of purchases) than in Britain (40%) in 2008;

While the leading GB channel continues to be retail bookstore chains (34%), the internet is now the #1 channel for books in the U.S.

Data supplied by BML the premier source of information and research on the book industry, undertaking a wide range of private and syndicated research projects, and publishing a variety of market reports.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Lightning Source in Deal with CreateSpace

Another move in the self-publishing market. Click on the link below to read the full article.

Lightning Source in Deal with CreateSpace: "Ingram and Amazon seemed to have buried their difference over a decision made in early 2008 by Amazon to make authors and publishers who want to sell their titles directly through Amazon use its print-on-demand division BookSurge (now being rebranded CreateSpace) rather than Ingram’s Lightning Source unit."

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Christmas Vouchers for Writers

The Perfect Writers' Stocking Filler from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy

If someone wants to know what's on your wish list, ask them to call 020 8968 0777 for Christmas Voucher options. Vouchers can be specially tailored to suit and they make an invaluable gift.

Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. Scouts for Leading Literary Agents.

Workshops 2010

Classic workshop

'How to be a savvy author: learn from industry insiders on how to edit your writing, submit, and get results.' Friday, 7th May - one-day workshop for adult and children's writers (max. 30), at the Art Workers Guild, London. £79 plus VAT. We'll show you self-edit techniques including how to plot your work and see it through to the end; and in the afternoon guest agent and publisher speakers will share their insights.

Tailor-made workshops (using authors' material)

'How to write and submit a picture book' - Friday 18th June - one-day workshop at the Society of Authors, London, £319 plus VAT. To be run by Julie Sykes, plus guest speaker.

'How to self-edit and submit women's commercial fiction' - 27-29 September - two-day workshop at Charney Manor, near Oxford. £570 plus VAT. To be run by Julie Cohen and Helen Corner, plus guest speaker.

'How to self-edit and submit adult and children's fiction' - 15-17 November - two-day workshop at Charney Manor, nr Oxford. £570 plus VAT. To be run by Lee Weatherly and Helen Corner, plus guest speaker.

If you book in advance you get 10% discount and if it's before Christmas you catch the 15% VAT rate. For our 2-day workshops you only need to put down 20% deposit; the rest is payable two months prior to the workshop.

Contact: Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. Scouts for Leading Literary Agents.
Milk Studios
34 Southern Row
London W10 5AN
Tel: 020 8968 0777

Listed by The Society of Authors.

Announcements: BEA to Focus on Spain, and More

Announcements: BEA to Focus on Spain, and More: "Spain and Spanish publishing will be the focus of BEA's Global Market Forum program in 2010. Programs will include a day of educational sessions, and BEA is 'seeking cooperation with numerous literary and cultural institutions in New York City to provide programming which extends beyond the convention center and will be open to the public.' They say they are in discussions with the 92nd St. Y, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, and others. The Ministry of Culture of Spain, the Federation of Spanish Publishers and the Spanish Trade Commission are partners in the Spanish exhibition.

Separately, Oxford University Press has announced an agreement with Mayo Clinic Scientific Press to publish medical reference and textbooks authored by Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers. (Kaplan has a general trade publishing agreement with Mayo.)

Vook's latest initiative is a line of enhanced classic 'designed to motivate young readers to engage with the classics that have transformed literature over time.' To promote the first release, The Sherlock Holmes Experience (priced at $ 2.99), they are offering a free copy to educators and any accredited school or public library in the US and UK.
Sign up

In People news, Paul Kozlowski will join the Other Press as director of marketing and sales on January 1. He has worked as a bookseller, a retail manager, a sales rep, a marketing director and, most recently, director of Sales marketing at Random House.

In the UK, Octopus has hired Stephanie Jackson as publishing director for Hamlyn, where she will commission "across a range of areas including business, wellbeing, brands and new business development, and acquire US-focused titles and authors." She was previously publisher at DK, responsible for special projects, sex, business, TV and UK custom publishing. "

Useful contacts and information for authors

Announcements: BEA to Focus on Spain, and More: "Spain and Spanish publishing will be the focus of BEA's Global Market Forum program in 2010. Programs will include a day of educational sessions, and BEA is 'seeking cooperation with numerous literary and cultural institutions in New York City to provide programming which extends beyond the convention center and will be open to the public.' They say they are in discussions with the 92nd St. Y, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, and others. The Ministry of Culture of Spain, the Federation of Spanish Publishers and the Spanish Trade Commission are partners in the Spanish exhibition.

Separately, Oxford University Press has announced an agreement with Mayo Clinic Scientific Press to publish medical reference and textbooks authored by Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers. (Kaplan has a general trade publishing agreement with Mayo.)

Vook's latest initiative is a line of enhanced classic 'designed to motivate young readers to engage with the classics that have transformed literature over time.' To promote the first release, The Sherlock Holmes Experience (priced at $ 2.99), they are offering a free copy to educators and any accredited school or public library in the US and UK.
Sign up

In People news, Paul Kozlowski will join the Other Press as director of marketing and sales on January 1. He has worked as a bookseller, a retail manager, a sales rep, a marketing director and, most recently, director of Sales marketing at Random House.

In the UK - Editorial Commissioning Contact

In the UK, Octopus has hired Stephanie Jackson as publishing director for Hamlyn, where she will commission "across a range of areas including business, wellbeing, brands and new business development, and acquire US-focused titles and authors." She was previously publisher at DK, responsible for special projects, sex, business, TV and UK custom publishing. "

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Cactus TV to the Rescue of Book Publishing

Written by Andrew Crofts. You can visit his blog by clicking on the link above and below.

Cactus TV to the Rescue of Book Publishing: "Cactus, the television company that brought us Richard and Judy, have devised a new book programme in which celebrities will talk about books - Thank God for that!

If there is one thing the publishing world needs it is spokespeople who will help the general public to discover what a joy books can be and to give them some guidance through the maze.

We have seen how effective this can be with Oprah and Richard and Judy, both of whom are apparently retiring from their roles as ambassadors to the publishing world- we desperately need a renewed sprinkling of stardust. Let's all pray that Cactus continue to choose their celebrities and anointed books as wisely as they have in the past.

Celebrities are possibly the most powerful marketing tools ever invented - let's recruit as many of them as possible to the great cause! "

Monday, 23 November 2009

Problems for Borders means problems for authors

The news about Borders UK being up for sale and struggling to find a buyer, which could result in them going into administration this week, is bad news for the staff, authors, publishers and readers.  Unfortunately it is a sign of the times both economic and the way the entire publishing and bookselling industry is changing.

Borders UK hopes to sell about 36 of its 45 bookshops and if it does then at least there will still  be a book chain on the high street along with Waterstones and W.H. Smiths, although I tend not to think of the latter as a bookshop and can't recall the last time I actually bought a book there.

Books etc, is holding closing-down sales at its remaining eight stores, which are due to shut their doors early in 2010.

It is reported in the media that Borders is talking to HMV, which owns rival Waterstone's, who are only interested in buying a handful of stores, and probably then to cherry pick the locations.

If Borders goes into administration this sounds like Woolworth's all over again and publishers will receive a high level of returns therefore denting their blance sheets, which in turn will mean reductions in commissioning new titles and author cutbacks.

The growth of cheaper books and the rise of online book stores has hit all bookshops. It's also affected publishers and authors.  There is one silver lining in this cloud though and that is online bookshops offer readers a far greater choice than any bricks and mortar shop can (always given that the reader has access to the Internet) and it also means that many more authors can have their books show cased.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Good Samaritan Wins Publishing Deal

Good Samaritan Wins Publishing Deal: "Here’s a story to bring hope to the hearts of everyone struggling to win a publishing deal.

Ex-soldier and international banker, Mark Powell, had written an action thriller, “Quantum Breach”, and was suffering the long agony that we are all familiar with, having racked up over a 100 rejections.

One evening he was driving home from work in Singapore when he spotted a damsel in distress attempting to heave a spare wheel out of the boot of her car. He stopped to help and once the wheel had been changed they got talking. She asked what he did. He told her he was an author and she told him she was a managing partner in a law firm that acted for the publisher Marshall Cavendish.

A few days later the Good Samaritan found he had a publishing deal for “Quantum Breach” and his second book, “Deep Six” is now close to completion.

The moral of this story? Never give up trying and never pass up a chance to do a stranger a favour.

Heart-warming tale, no? "

Something for Crime Fiction Fans and Writers

National Crime Fiction Week

National Crime Fiction Week will take place in 2010 for the first time. The Crime Writers' Association of Great Britain (CWA), (of which I am a member) is organising a celebration of crime writing during the week of 14-20 June 2010.

During the week members of the CWA will take part in readings, discussions, readers' group events and workshops all over the country. So keep an eye out here for events. Or you can see my events on my official web site at or my blog

The crime genre is very broad so there should be something for every crime fiction fan, and for those who write crime and who are seeking publication.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Harlequin Adds Self-Publishing Line

Harlequin Adds Self-Publishing Line: "Following the same model as Thomas Nelson's recently-announced WestBow Press, Harlequin has started a self-publishing line. Like Nelson, they are outsourcing most of the work to Author Solutions as their partner. Unlike Nelson, they aren't afraid to use their own name for the line, which is called Harlequin Horizons.

As they say on the site: 'The intent behind creating Harlequin Horizons is to give more aspiring romance writers and women's fiction writers the opportunity to publish their books and achieve their dreams without going through the submission process with a traditional publishing house.

'However, we understand you may aspire to be published with a traditional house - a noble aspiration. While there is no guarantee that if you publish with Harlequin Horizons you will picked up for traditional publishing, Harlequin will monitor sales of books published through Harlequin Horizons for possible pick-up by its traditional imprints.'
Harlequin Horizons site"

Monday, 16 November 2009

Writing Workshop with James Scudamore: Character and Setting

Writers Centre Norwich
Saturday 5th December 2009 │10:00am – 16:00pm│£50 / £40

“The writing is exemplary: you feel the hand of a natural at work....” Praise for James Scudamore’s Heliopolis – The Guardian, 2009

Keen to avoid the Christmas madness and get some writing done? A creative writing workshop from Booker longlisted author James Scudamore, examines the two key components of fiction - Character and Setting.

James will work with you on exercises that examine the decisions involved when placing a character in a particular place and time; how to evoke that place and time without signposting too much, and whether or not there are settings that are out of bounds for certain writers.

Learn from a novelist who has won the 2007 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award with The Amnesia Clinic, and has had continuing success with his second, Heliopolis, recently longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize.

For more information or to book email or phone 01603 877177

Friday, 13 November 2009

The International Market for Books

I attended a conference yesterday on the International markets for books organised by the Independent Publishers Guild of Great Britain and held in London. While it didn’t cover every single market in the world – how could it, I’d probably have been there for days – it examined North America, China, India, Ireland, Africa and the Caribbean, and Australia. Here is a digest of some of the key points I picked up.

The recession hit America hard. OK, so we all know that. As a result many publishers cut back their lists or put a freeze on new titles, but the feeling now is they have gaps in their lists and are starting to look at buying again, which is good news for authors and publishers. Key areas are crafts, leisure and hobbies, and children books. The other good news is that fiction sales are steady and USA publishers are still buying fiction.

The Australian market is growing both in volume and value. Australians are keen readers and heavy book buyers and have a thriving literary festival culture which is financially supported by the government. Wish I could say the same for the UK! There are festivals in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane with a huge writing festival in Sydney each year with over 80,000 attending. That is truly amazing. The festivals attract authors from all around the World. Print on Demand has just arrived in Australia and Australians are keen early adopters of technology so that, and the advent of e books, should make for some interesting developments in the years to come. There are lots of thriving independent bookshops in Australia which makes for a vibrant book market and publishers are interested in adult non fiction, children’s books and fiction, so a pretty comprehensive list.

Bookselling in Ireland sounds fascinating and fun. Again, like Australia there is a flourishing independent book selling culture with many small chains and small individual booksellers. All Irish children need to buy their school books from shops, rather than the state buying and providing them as in Britain, which means that people go into bookshops from a very young age (4) and therefore are not intimidated by entering them in adult life, which is often the case in the UK. Irish publishers favour Irish authors and so too do Irish readers, but there is still the chance for both fiction writers and children’s authors to sell their books in Ireland. If you have any past or present connections with Ireland then you should exploit it to promote your books and to get publicity. There are many radio stations, local and national, and as the Irish listen to a great deal of radio this is an excellent medium to spread the word about your book/s.

The Indian economy, like China’s, is still growing, so can present opportunities, although the markets in both these countries and Africa are fraught with piracy issues. In India there is increasing interest in buying fiction along with an insatiable appetite for business books, educational and children’s books. The major UK publishers, and some independents, all have a presence in the publishing capital of Delhi.

With regards to the Chinese market, rights deals was discussed rather than exporting British titles to China, which is understandable given the uniqueness of this market. I sold rights to two of my communication books and a business book by one of the authors I used to publish.  The transaction, though not worth a great deal of money, went very smoothly.

Here is the finished product - it's called Be a Champion and was taken from my books: Being Positive & Staying Positive and Communicating with more Confidence' and Brian Lomas's book Stress and Time Management

In China the print runs are modest, the prices are low and piracy happens. It takes time to build up relationships and breaking into this market should be viewed as a long term strategy. China likes fiction, especially best-sellers and those novels that have been turned into films. They also like business and personal development books, lifestyle and children’s books.

Finally Africa and the Caribbean. Africa is a vast and diverse country with infrastructure problems and civil unrest in many countries. However, there are some hidden gems in the book market if one searches for them. Markets vary enormously depending on the economic climate. Sales to Botswana are almost ninety percent down for one publisher because of diamond mine closures while markets in Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda are coming up, as is Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Senegal. In the Caribbean the book market is heavily influenced by America with American titles preferred over British. Both Trinidad and Belize with their oil are growing countries and potential markets for the future.

All in all it was an interesting day and a fascinating insight into the book buying culture of these different countries.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Publishing Industry and the X Factor

Publishing Industry like the X Factor by Andrew Crofts

This is a really good article by an experienced ghost writer and a 'must read' for all writers who aspire to be published.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Writing events in Portsmouth

Monday 2 November

The WriteInvite short story evening is at Rosies Bar in Portsmouth, England. Ten writers will be reading their pre-written short stories to around 40 other people in cabaret style. 7.30 for 8 pm start. Great for listeners and writers. Plus the wonderful female singing duo fresh from The Havant Literary Festival, THE FAKE AUNTS.

Winners will be listed in Kudos bi-monthly. If you haven't been before but fancy an evening with a difference it's £3 entry for listeners and £4 for readers. Bar available plus complimentary nibbles.

Monday 14 December

The WriteInvite Christmas night (uncompetitive story evening).

For more information check

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The end is really the beginning

I was asked the other day how I feel when I tap out the immortal words THE END at the completion of a novel. The question hints that the novel is perfect first time round, when in reality this is far from the truth.  The first draft is simply that, a first attempt to get all your thoughts, ideas, plots, characters and dialogue on paper or on to your computer.  It is by no means THE END but only the BEGINNING.

The timing of the question was quite eerie because I was just reaching the final pages of the copy edits of my latest DI Horton marine mystery crime novel Blood on the Sand which is being published by Severn House in February 2010. It is the fifth in the Inspector Horton series. Reaching the end of this my feelings were relief mixed with anxiety: is it good enough? Should I re-write one more time? Could I have changed anything? Too late…I’ve pressed the send button and it’s gone to my editor. The next time I’ll get to review this will be at proof reading stage and all the anxieties over what, if anything, I should have changed will return. But by then it really is too late to make changes.

So how do I feel when I tap out the immortal words THE END at the completion of a novel? (Although I don’t actually tap out THE END).

It really depends on which draft I am writing. After the first draft there is a feeling of elation - I have finally managed to reach THE END after bashing out, as quickly as I can, somewhere between 80,000 to 100,000 words. With the second draft comes a greater sense of satisfaction that all the ends are beginning to tie up neatly. The third and fourth drafts fine tune the novel and by the time I’ve reached the fifth and sixth I’m beginning to know it backwards, upside down and inside out and can no longer see where the glaring holes are – time to get a second opinion. But always, no matter how many drafts it takes to get to the final version, when I reach THE END I feel a shiver up (or should that be down?) my spine. This can be a shiver of satisfaction or excitement or both, and if I feel that then hopefully my readers will feel it too. And I’m pleased that Inspector Andy Horton has survived another case and will live to solve a new one in the next novel.
Taking time over the revisions and revising again and again until you are happy with your work is essential for any author seeking publication. So don't skimp on it. And if you need to get a second opinion then it could be worthwhile sending your MS to a literary consultancy or manuscript consultancy service  for an unbiased opinion and suggestions where you can improve your work.  It will cost you but it could be money well spent.

Monday, 5 October 2009

The inspiration behind a novel

A while ago I posted an article on this blog about Michael Dean's novel The Crooked Cross.  He also wrote a guest blog on 3 May 2009.  You can search for it by using the search function on the right.   Below is a very interesting article written by Michael, which also gives an insight into the inspiration behind his novel.

Friday, 25 September 2009

BBC launches 'real-life' writing competition

"The BBC has launched a competition to find "the greatest real-life stories never told", with the prize of "a publishing deal with a prestigious UK publishing house", as yet undisclosed. The prize, which could go to a maximum of five of the finalists, also includes an advance and royalties based on sales."

Could this be the X Factor for wannabe writers? More details on the link below:

BBC launches 'real-life' writing competition:

Google Books deal postponed after avalanche of criticism

Google Books deal postponed after avalanche of criticism: "

The Google digital library row explained
The judge overseeing Google's controversial agreement with American publishers to digitise millions of books has delayed a hearing into the $125m deal - effectively shutting down the settlement and sending it back to the drawing board.

Instead of proceeding with the internet giant's plans to make millions of in-copyright books available online and take a slice of the proceeds - a deal first announced last year - the groups will now go back and renegotiate the settlement in way that satisfies critics including the US Department of Justice.

A hearing into the existing deal had originally been scheduled for early October, as the court prepared to rule on whether the settlement was fair or not. However, following objections posed by Washington, the groups involved in the deal had said they needed more time to re-work the agreement.

New York district judge Denny Chin, who is overseeing the case, said on Thursday that the parties would be granted their request to return to the negotiating table to work out more details.

'The current settlement agreement raises significant issues, as demonstrated not only by the number of objections, but also by the fact that the objectors include countries, states, non-profit organisations and prominent authors and law professors. Clearly fair concerns have been raised,' he wrote in a two-page order.

He added, however, that there was substantial public benefit to be gained from the deal and that future tweaks would be dealt with as quickly as possible.

'The proposed settlement would offer many benefits to society, as recognised by supporters of the settlement as well as the Department of Justice. It would appear that if a fair and reasonable settlement can be struck, the public would benefit.'

The case had proved one of the most controversial in recent memory, creating a tidal wave of criticism from a wide variety of groups, including authors, publishers, advocacy groups and Amazon and Microsoft opposing the deal as 'susceptible to abuse'.

In Europe, concerns were raised since the deal could have significant global implications, despite only theoretically applying to the US.

Google had tried to head off those criticisms by assembling its own alliance of supporters, including Japanese electronics giant Sony and a number of groups who backed the wider availability of information promised by the book scanning project.

The Californian internet company said that it intended to continue pursuing a deal, while the Authors Guild - which was one of the groups that agreed to the settlement - said the details would eventually be thrashed out.
'We'll continue to work on amending the settlement to address the Justice Department's concerns,' it said in a statement on its website. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize 2009 in association with The Daily Telegraph

Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize 2009 in association with The Daily Telegraph: "

The Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize 2009 is endowed by Benjamin Franklin House

Chairman John Studzinski, Senior Managing Director, The Blackstone Group International.

The 2009 Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize asks professional and young writers in 1000-1500 words to interpret the Franklin quote:

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

The winner of the Young Writers Prize will receive £500 while the winner of the Professional Writers Prize will receive £1000. Winning essays will be published by Britain's leading newspaper the Daily Telegraph at

Entries for 2009 must be received by 30 September."

Freelance Transcriptionist

Helen Kirby is an experienced freelance transcriptionist who is currently seeking copy or audio typing work, helping authors or publishers.

She has over fifteen years experience in administration and over five years experience in audio transcription with qualifications in word processing and typing (all passed with distinction) and a touch typing speed of 95 w.p.m.

She is  keen to work for authors (or publishers) on a regular basis typing novels or short stories. References can be supplied.  You can contact her at

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Peculiar World of Book Selling

Authors whether published or not need to have an awareness of how the industry in which they operate works. In our case this is the bookselling and publishing industry. This latest article from The Bookseller briefly examines the market today and gives a prognosis for the year to come.  The comment made at the end of the article also demonstrates how heavy discounting to some retailers can cause problems not only for the publishers but also for booksellers and, I might add, authors who in turn get less for their product. With books being a low value, slow moving consumer good (except in the case of Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling) and consumers expecting low prices for books you can see how margins will be squeezed!

Juden: publishers can 'drive themselves out of recession': "The longer-term outlook for the book..."

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Publishers cutting marketing budgets for books

With many publishers cutting their marketing budgets where does that leave authors?  The simple answer is undertaking a lot of marketing themselves. But then that's nothing new for the majority of writers.  The article below provides an insight into how some publishers are trimming their budgets, their attitudes and approaches to book marketing.  It could  also provide some tips for authors who want to promote their books.

With Marketing Budgets Slashed, Co-op and Web Take Priority

"With the recent economic downturn, book advertising — in the traditional sense at least — is on the decline. The majority of US publishers have cut their marketing budgets by 50-70% over the last year. What’s more, while some ad prices have been depressed, prices have not dropped far enough to make them a viable way to advertise most books: a full-page color ad in a leading national publication still costs somewhere in the range of $100,000, while a single 30-second spot on a network television morning talk show goes for a cool $50,000 price tag — prices steep enough to blow even the most generous book marketing budget in a single shot."

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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Are Writing Classes A Waste Of Time? Joseph Finder

Some extremely useful information in the article below for writers, written by Internationally acclaimed  author Joseph Finder. 

For Writers | Joseph Finder

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Short Story Prize

Here is a chance for all short story writers to make a name for themselves and win some BIG bucks! Good luck.

Sunday Times launches £25k short story prize: "Writers Lynn Barber, A S Byatt, Nick Hornby..."

Monday, 14 September 2009

DJ Taylor: Dan Brown is going to be the ruin of us all

A good article that has some valid points for authors about the crazy world of publishing and book selling.

DJ Taylor: Dan Brown is going to be the ruin of us all: "

Over the next few days an extraordinary farce will start to be enacted in bookshops and supermarkets the length and breadth of the UK. I refer, of course, to the long-awaited publication of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, officially released tomorrow, but already available (apparently) in fragmented form on the net. The element of farce attaches itself not to the contents of the novel but the way in which it is being brought to the punter.


Friday, 11 September 2009

Kilgarriff blames Boyars closure on 'discounts'

Below is an interesting article on the demise of one independent publisher, which is to cease trading next year. It explains how the book trade affects independent publishers who cannot afford to pay the fee the large retailers require to promote their titles. Many people don't realise that when they see a book promoted in one of the major high street retailers such as W.H. Smiths, Borders or Waterstones the publisher is paying for that promotion. I was at a meeting of publishers last year where a publisher relayed that he had been asked to pay £70,000 to Smiths for them to promote one title in their stores. Of course, the independent publisher couldn't afford this. Many independent publishers rely on creating word of mouth for their titles and on-line promotions to stimulate demand, and authors today need to do a considerable amount of marketing to raise their profile and generate book sales.

The titles that the public see continually promoted and available on supermarket shelves are there because the publisher has paid to get them there. This doesn't mean they aren't good books-many are. The publisher will pay for the promotion because he or she is pretty confident they will get a return on their investment. This is business after all. Sometime they get a return and sometimes they don't!

Kilgarriff blames Boyars closure on 'discounts': "Marion Boyars is being wound down because of..."

Publisher Marion Boyars driven out of business

Publisher Marion Boyars driven out of business: "

Pioneering independent is to be wound up, with many back catalogue titles to be licensed to Penguin
One of the UK's most adventurous independent publishers, Marion Boyars, is being forced out of business after more than 40 years by the adverse climate of today's book trade.

The publisher of authors including Ken Kesey, Georges Bataille, Nobel prize winner Kenzaburo Oe, Ivan Illich and Shel Silverstein, Marion Boyars said this morning that it had sold licences in 38 literary titles to Penguin Classics, and that it would be winding down its operations once it has completed its autumn programme.

'I didn't go bust but I would have, maybe by March,' said publisher Catheryn Kilgarriff, daughter of Marion Boyars, who started the firm in the 1960s as Calder and Boyars, running it jointly with John Calder. When the firm split in 1975, it became Marion Boyars, and when Boyars herself died in 1999, Kilgarriff took over as managing director.

'As an independent with no backers, we don't have any resources, so I owe it to my family to stay in the black,' said Kilgarriff. She blamed the closure on the changed structure of the book trade, which is now 'all about discounting', on the lessening influence of press exposure, and on the proliferation of literary prizes, diluting the effect which a shortlisting can have. 'Even if I get a book on a shortlist I couldn't afford the fee, so I no longer wanted to win prizes,' she added.

Having been in profit since 2002, she 'wasn't willing to lose what I'd built up – and I would have,' so she decided to wind down operations, and was pleased to find a home for 38 books with Penguin. These include a host of Bataille, Silverstein and Heinrich Böll titles, Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Hubert Selby's Last Exit to Brooklyn and Henri-Pierre Roche's Jules et Jim, as well as two books by bestselling Turkish author Elif Shafak.

'I feel like it's a good solution,' said Penguin Classics publisher Adam Freudenheim. 'I've been aware that some small publishers have been finding it a difficult market, particularly over the last 18 months. A lot are thriving, like Canongate, but the next tier down are in a difficult place. This is a wonderful list, and I'm glad we're able to publish so many in Penguin ... I feel really excited about it – it's a great opportunity for us. It's sad for Catheryn and Marion Boyars, but they had a good run.'

He will be publishing the majority of the titles under the Penguin Modern Classics imprint, with the intention to bring them all out by the end of 2011.

Kilgarriff said that the rest of the Marion Boyars backlist is now available for acquisition, in particular its drama and social science titles. The independent press will continue to operate throughout the autumn, for which it has a full line-up of titles, including the Spanish prize-winning author Luis Leante, who is coming to London in September to promote See How Much I Love You. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions More Feeds

Tough times for Authors

I've put two links below to informative articles for authors, both published and those seeking publication. The comments others have made about the articles listed also make interesting reading.

It is very tough for many businesses and individuals at the moment and extremely tough for most authors with the exception of the BIG sellers. It's not just because of the recession though, and although the economic climate is responsible for cut backs in the publishing world the book industry is continuing to change at a very fast rate and will continue to do so with the advent of new technology and readers habits.

Authors taking pay cuts of up to 50%: "Authors have seen their advances drop over..."

Publishers cancelling books to cut costs: "Authors are being told their books are not..."

Monday, 7 September 2009

A useful web site for writers

WriteInvite is an initiative to invite absolutely anyone to write. Everyone likes to hear a story, and tell one too. WriteInvite welcomes writers of all ages, experiences and styles to get involved in their short story writing competitions.

"The relaxed, informal vibe we try to create is intended to encourage you to be free in your writing, to enjoy competing against others and ultimately to have fun!! WriteOnSite takes our popular WriteInvite competition format and throws it open to the world!"

Want to compete? Find out more...

Friday, 4 September 2009

Google Books: Authors Guild comes out swinging at Amazon

Google Books: Authors Guild comes out swinging at Amazon: "

With the deadline drawing closer in the dispute over the Google Books settlement (representations to the New York court overseeing the case have to be made by the end of this week) the battle between the two sides is growing more fierce by the day.

Yesterday Amazon took a pop at its rival, while today Google held its own press conference with organisations that support its deal with US authors and publishers - which I reported earlier as an attempt to sidestep the substantial issue of whether they have the right to act on behalf of all authors and publishers in the states.

Now, however, one of the groups that proposed the settlement in question - the Authors Guild - has come out with both arms swinging, as well as a couple of feet too. On its website, the guild took a shot at Amazon in an angry post entitled 'Amazon accused someone else of monopolizing bookselling'.
Amazon's hypocrisy is breathtaking. It dominates online bookselling and the fledgling e-book industry. At this moment it's trying to cement its control of the e-book industry by routinely selling e-books at a loss. It won't do that forever, of course. Eventually, when enough readers are locked in to its Kindle, everyone in the industry expects Amazon to squeeze publishers and authors. The results could be devastating for the economics of authorship.
Amazon apparently fears that Google could upend its plans. Amazon needn't worry, really: this agreement is about out-of-print books. Its lock on the online distribution of in-print books, unfortunately, seems secure
Fierce words. With a seething rant like that, perhaps the AG is even prepared to get its teeth in on the action as well as its limbs.
And it's fair to question Amazon's motives. I can't imagine they're acting from entirely pure motives. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're wrong, does it? And although Amazon does dominate the book selling market almost entirely, we have yet to see that there is any legislative or contractual monopoly that makes it so - just a rapacious and scarily effective business.
There is also the question of whether this case is worth worrying about, since it only applies to American organisations. The German government certainly thinks so, objecting to Google's $125m deal when it offered its own representation to the court. But why? For a start, once something's on the internet in one country, we all know that it's everywhere.
And the settlement covers all books published in the US, wherever the author is based. In fact, I think it also applies to books about the US - at least on this morning's conference call one of the speakers pointed out that Google has already started scanning lots of books in Latin America (and it's been scanning books at the Bodleian in Oxford for years).
If you want a view from the front line, you could do an awful lot worse than this post by British author Nick Harkaway, who points out why he's concerned.
I think that this deal is a mistake. I'm not comfortable with being in a standardised bundle which can't be negotiated, and I'm not happy being in a long-term relationship with Google without ever having dealt with them directly.
I'm troubled by the Book Registry, the business of the secret clause and the lack of control over ads. I'm not happy with the monopolistic aspect of the Settlement.
But above all else, I think the way this has been done – by bypassing standard practice and arranging an opt-out situation, by cutting a private deal rather than legislating, by linking a fight over past infringement to the creation of an information/literary powerhouse (not that Google wasn't already a powerhouse) is alarming. It's not how this stuff should happen, and it shouldn't stand. We should not endorse it.
Worth reading in full. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions More Feeds

Friday, 28 August 2009

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Suffocating Sea

Pauline Rowson discusses the outline of the third Inspector Andy Horton Marine Mystery Crime Novel and reads an excerpt from Chapter One. The Suffocating Sea was chosen as one of the top ten 'Best of British Crime Fiction' by The Book Depository. 'An entertaining read in an engaging series' Booklist. This series of British crime and thriller novels are set in the Solent on the south coast of England.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Hardback Publisher Seeks Out New Writers

This item was taken from The Bookseller Magazine 19.08.09 written by Victoria Gallagher. I thought it might be of interest to writers seeking a publisher in the UK.

"A new publisher specialising in hardback titles has been set up to seek out and invest in new writers. Sparkling Books is aiming for the gift market, producing titles with "quality binding and beautiful design".

Anna Cuffaro, founded of Sparkling Books, says: "There are many talented writers out there whose books are rejected simply because they have had no previous titles published... We welcome first time authors and we promise to read every proposal we receive."

In October Sparkling Books will release its lead Christmas title, Gatwick Bear and the Secret Plans by Cuffaro herself. The book is a children's adventure story about a homeless bear who lives at Gatwick Airport and gets caught up in the world of top secret agents.

Next year, it plans to launch The Greatest Crash by David Kauders, "exposing why government policies are driving the global economy into a deeper crisis, why an austerity alternative will be of little help, and what really needs to be done".

Cuffaro said: "We have already commissioned several exciting titles and we are confident that we will continue to unearth talented people with unique and saleable books." "

Monday, 17 August 2009

Government seeking ways to expand PLR to audio and e books

The Government is seeking ways to extend the public lending rights (PLR) programme so it can include non-print publications such as audio books and ebooks. This, to me, is excellent news for authors. Many of my works are available as e books and audio books and are loaned out in libraries.

The PLR programme compensates authors for the potential loss of sales from their works being available in public libraries. The amounts paid varies from country to country. Some pay based on how many times a book has been taken out of a library, others use a simpler system of payment based simply on whether a library owns a book or not. But it only applies to printed publications.

The PLR on printed books is a lifeline for many authors and although does not provide huge amounts of money (the maximum pay out to any author no matter how many times a book is loaned is £6,000) it is very welcome indeed.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that there were more than 11 million loans of audio books in 2007/08 and with new technologies being developed, public libraries are facing increasing demand for ebooks. A consultation has been launched to get responses to its proposals.

The Digital Britain final report, published in June 2009, also recommended looking at extending PLR.

The DCMS is urging rights holders and other interested parties to participate in a public consultation to discuss ways to extend PLR to non-print publications. If you are a member of a writers' organisation such as the The Society of Authors you can voice your views via them. Alternatively you can respond to the DCMS individually.

The consultation ends on 16 October. So get your views in and take some time to vote on my online poll.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Tom Matlack: Book Publishing: Death or Rebirth?

I came across this interesting article which is appropriate reading for both published and unpublished writers, and indeed for anyone working within the book trade. Just click on the link below to read the full story.

Tom Matlack: Book Publishing: Death or Rebirth?

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Thursday, 13 August 2009

Women's Commercial Fiction Workshop

There are still some spaces left on the women's commercial workshop run by Cornerstones, and you have until next week to sign up! Cornerstones only run this course once a year so it's a great opportunity to learn from a star of the genre, Julie Cohen.

The workshop is intimate and inclusive with only 14 authors and the exercises are tailored to your material. It includes one-on-one sessions, you'll also get to meet agent Broo Doherty.

The course takes place on 21-23 Sept at Charney Manor, Oxon.

E mail or visit for more details.

Monday, 10 August 2009

News from the Writers' Centre August 2009

Poetry Workshops
Writers’ Centre Norwich Offices, 14 Princes Street, Norwich, NR3 1AE

Below are details of four poetry workshops in collaboration with the Poetry School. The workshops look at key processes of writing poetry, and include a session with Neil Astley on getting published, and a masterclass with Sean O’ Brien on how to prevent habit or anxiety from obstructing your work.

Sat 10 October 2009 11am – 5pm £50 / £40 conc

Aldeburgh Poetry Festival founder and TS Eliot Prize shortlisted poet Michael Laskey examines the process of writing one’s self into poetry. Including close readings of contemporary poetry and writing exercises for poets looking to develop in their field.

Mon 9 November 2009 4pm – 7pm £50 / £40 conc

This workshop offers a nuts-and-bolts examination of the whys and wherefores of getting poetry published in books and magazines, led by Bloodaxe’s editor, Neil Astley. He has published hundreds of poets but has also had to reject the rest by the skipload and so can offer an informed, insider’s view of poetry publishing and bookselling. The session involves a general reality check as well as individual attention to particular concerns and questions. Not to be missed. Participants also receive free entry to the evening’s Cafe Writers event, see

Sat 27 February 2010│10am – 5pm│£50 / £40 conc

How important are facts in a poem? How far can you take an idea before it’s fully realised? This workshop explores the process of changing fact into art. Bloodaxe published and Eric Gregory award winning poet Helen Ivory will lead participants, looking at aspects of the self, the metaphorical truth and how facts can be manipulated creatively to make poems.

Sat 13 March 2010│10am – 4pm│£60 / £40 conc

This masterclass will concentrate on those points at which a poem comes into its own during the process of revision. TS Eliot prize winner Sean O’Brien will look at ways of preventing habit or anxiety from obstructing the range and development of our work, and the overall emphasis will be on the sense of possibility. Those booking onto the masterclass will be asked to submit poems in advance.

To book email or call 01603 877177.

Performance with Luke Kennard

Nurture your inspiration by experiencing the poetry of Luke Kennard, whose first collection of poetry, The Solex Brothers, was given an Eric Gregory Award in 2005. His second collection, The Harbour Beyond the Movie was shortlisted for the Forward Prize in 2007, making him the youngest writer ever to be nominated, and a talent not to be missed. Further details can be found on the WCN website.

The Writers’ Centre Norwich (WCN) is spreading itself around the internet to help keep you up to date with all of its goings on. You can become a fan on their Facebook page, or subscribe to WCN online on Youtube

Competitons and submissions

John Betjeman Young People's Poetry Competition
Open to 11-14 year olds, deadline 31st August
Entrants are invited to send one poem about any aspect of their local surroundings. First prize: £1,000 shared between the winning entrant and the school or theatre to which they belong. Go to or mail for more info / entry form.

YH485 Press invites you to contribute material to a publication on the theme of periphery. Each contributor will be allocated a two-page spread: for an image of their own choosing and 500 words of text. *periphery is launched to coincide with the opening of a four-day programme of moving image works by local artists to be broadcast on the giant televisions along Great Yarmouth seafront. Deadline: August 25th 2009 at 5pm. Send submissions, text in word doc. format and image as a hi-res JPEG to the Editor at

For more information, news and events contact:
Writers’ Centre Norwich
14 Princes Street
Tel: 01603 877177
Fax: 01603 625452

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Vote for the People's Book Prize

I'm delighted to announce that Michael Dean's moving novel of German resistance to Hitler, The Crooked Cross (Quaestor200), which was featured recently on this blog, has been nominated for The People’s Book Prize.

The People's Book Prize is a national competition aimed at discovering talented authors showcased exclusively at local libraries and on the People's Book Prize website. There is no panel of judges except the public!

Readers can vote for The Crooked Cross during August and September at

‘Forget Dan Brown. This is real art history, real conspiracy and really relevant. Glaser is a great figure, for whom one feels enormous empathy.’ - Alan Posener, The World on Sunday, Berlin

The Crooked Cross paints a portrait of Germany in 1933, just as Hitler comes to power. Against the backdrop of German political resistance and the Nazi assault on German Expressionist art, it tells the story of Gerhard Glaser, lawyer and art lover - a good man in bad times.

Glaser was the Public Prosecutor in the case of Geli Raubal, Hitler’s half-niece. Then and now the world believes that Geli committed suicide, but Glaser had evidence that Hitler murdered her - evidence he was unable to make stick. Then a Jewish art dealer, a friend of Glaser’s, is murdered because he bought some drawings Hitler did of Geli.

Glaser investigates the murder, hoping he has one last chance to bring Hitler within the law. But when that last chance fails, he is forced to abandon legality and risk his family’s lives, in a final despairing throw of the dice.

Michael Dean studied history at Worcester College, Oxford and Applied Linguistics at Edinburgh University. He was written over thirty non-fiction books for OUP, Penguin, Pearson and Hodder in England, Klett In Germany and Walters Noordhoff in Holland. He has had one play on television. This is his first novel.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Self-Publishing by Tracy Falbe

This article has been reproduced here with the kind permission of Tracy Falbe and first appeared on her blog Tracy Falbe is the author of The Rys Chronicles epic fantasy series available at where the first novel Union of Renegades is a free fantasy ebook. Download it today and see what the publishers missed out on.

Self publishing is not an easy road for book authors, but it has the great advantage of being an open road instead of a closed road. Self publishing is a toll road because you will have to pay to produce your own work. Whether self publishing leads an author to disappointment or satisfaction depends on the person and the works being produced.

Like most authors, I started self publishing with grandiose dreams of success. I still have those dreams but operate within modest realities. Since I began producing my writing in 2005, I have earned between $900 to $2,000 a year from sales. Although that is hardly going to finance champagne wishes or caviar dreams, it does indicate that my writing has value, and, over the long term, I will actually enjoy a return on investment. Because my novels and nonfiction are not dependent on current events, the content will not lose value. If I sustain my modest marketing efforts, I can expect to maintain my current sales, which will add up nicely over the years. Even at this lowly level, I enjoy the satisfaction of reaching readers and earning some supplemental income from my creative pursuits.

The satisfaction from being published is what most self publishers are looking for. They just want to be recognized even on a small scale. Self publishing allows blossoming writers to achieve a final product instead of a stack of paper in a closet or a computer file hunkered in the ultimate obscurity of a single hard drive. Achieving a final form is easier to accomplish for other artists. A musician can play his or her music and be heard, even if it is on a street corner or a small local stage. An artist can paint a picture and hang it on a wall for others to see. But a writer has to find a way to bundle his or her text into a form in which it can be distributed to potential readers. This form can be paper books or ebooks. Self publishing is essentially the finishing stage for writers who feel that their work is ready to be read.

Of course getting someone to actually read your self published book or ebook is the ultimate challenge. Readers have hundreds of thousands of books to choose from, and simply getting noticed is a great hurdle. Self published authors are typically out of the book distribution loop, except on very limited circumstances that rarely translate into substantial sales.

Because distribution channels are generally closed to me or only available if I give up a large percentage of the sale, I focus on selling through my websites. This is ideal for self published authors because affordable web hosting and ecommerce services are readily available, and the writer can enjoy true independence. Actually getting people to my website is a challenge, but it happens with the aids of continual promotion and advertising. I enjoy regular sales of my ebooks and books. I even enjoy providing customer service to my readers, who often appreciate the personal attention from the actual creator of the works they are reading. Through my website, I've reached people all over the world and I regularly get positive feedback from readers. None of this would have been possible if I had not pursued self publishing.

The greatest enjoyment I derive from self publishing is the fact that it gives me a public outlet for my creative endeavors. I can pursue my craft of writing and slowly gain a reputation as a writer. Because I have been writing novels for years, I originally pursued traditional routes to publishing in which I queried agents and publishers. As a fantasy writer, I had written a four-part epic, but I soon learned that this is a tremendously difficult concept to market. Although the majority of commercial fantasy is built around the series format, it does not mean that a publisher is the least bit interested in signing a four-book contract with an unknown author. No matter how cleverly I wrote a query letter, the business person reading it would have to see: "Hi, I'm nobody who has published nothing and would like you to publish four of my novels." That is never going to happen. After numerous inevitable rejections, I at least had the spiteful vindication of knowing that no one rejected me based on my novels. I was rejected based on query letters. So, who needs the rejection squad? Self publishing to the rescue.

Admittedly self publishing is an imperfect solution for authors. I have to invest in myself and suffer the consequences of obscurity and limited channels of distribution. But at least I'm out there. People do read my novels. Maybe the day will come when I have significant sales and can enjoy greater financial rewards from my writing. I would certainly enjoy that too.

I do not hesitate to recommend self publishing to writers. My advice is to be realistic, understand the significant barriers to actual success, watch your budget because self publishing investments vary wildly, and tell yourself that you have every right to put your creations in the public arena.

Tracy Falbe is the author of The Rys Chronicles epic fantasy series available at where the first novel Union of Renegades is a free fantasy ebook.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Writers and artists competition

Aesthetica, is a bi-monthly arts and culture magazine with sections dedicated to visual art, literature, theatre, film and music. The magazine is currently seeking short fiction and poetry entries for the Aesthetica Creative Works Competition.

The competition attracts entries from around the globe which are showcased in the Aesthetica Creative Works Annual, available through Borders from December. Last year the magazine featured up and comers including Leni Kae, who will be representing Australia in the Florence Biennale; Neale Howells, who has go on to exhibit alongside Tracey Emin and Peter Blake at the Kowalsky Gallery, DACS's examination of Orwellian themes in the 1984 exhibition; and Kate Rudkins, who has been commissioned by Channel 4 to make a Three Minute Wonder.

The Aesthetica Creative Works Competition seeks entries of Artwork, Photography & Sculpture, Fiction and Poetry

Three winners will be awarded £500 each
Additional prizes include an Olympus E-420 SLR camera and a boutique holiday for two
All finalists will be published in the Aesthetica Creative Works Annual, in stores December 2009
Entry to the 2009 Aesthetica Creative Works Competition is £10. This allows you to submit up to 5 images, 5 poems or 2 short stories

Closing date to receive Creative Works is 31 August 2009
For full details please visit

Monday, 6 July 2009

Are Writing Courses Worth it?

Many people ask me if I've ever been on a writing course and if so whether or not it was worth it. The answer to both questions is yes. I have also run writing courses and have found that delegates enjoy them and get huge benefits from them.

The courses I have attended in the past were one day seminars, because working and running a business meant I couldn't afford to spend more than a day away from work and that might be the same for you. Not everyone can afford the time and money to go away for several days on a course, or to pack in their day job and undergo a degree in creative writing!

Writing workshops, courses and conferences can provide an excellent opportunity to network with other writers, to share experiences and pick up lots of tips and techniques. I believe that even if you come away with just one point to help you develop and improve your writing then it's worth it. There is also the huge benefit of motivating you to keep going with your writing especially when faced with rejection letters or writer's block.

There are many courses and conferences advertised on the Internet, and you need to choose the right one for you and your type of writing. In addition, check out what is being run in your local area, at your community centre or college.

Go with an open mind and the desire to pick up whatever tips you can. At some of these events you might even get the chance to pitch your work to a literary agent or publisher. If this is the case then be prepared. Make sure your synopsis is the best you can make it (there are some tips on this web site to help you with this) and that you can summarise what your book is about in a couple of simple sentences.

If you decide that self publishing is the best option for your book then writing courses will also help you to improve your skills and polish your work.

If you are serious about your writing you will invest a great deal of your time in the activity not to mention energy and emotion. Yes, you will need to pay to attend a course, conference or seminar but if you've already put all that efffort into your work then parting with some money to take it that little bit further could be one of the best investments you make.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Survey into reading and buying habits

For those of you who are interested there is a survey just published into the reading and buying habits in the UK.

The survey, commissioned by the Bookseller magazine and conducted by The Next Big Thing throws up some interesting data and although should not be taken as gospel it provides a snapshot into the reading and buying habits in the UK. You can read about the findings at

"3,159 people responded (just over 1,000 were surveyed in 2008 and all in face-to-face street interviews). They came from across all regions of the country, included a broad spread of adult age groups, a representative spread of all socio-economic groups, and an equal number of men and women."

In 2009 interviews were conducted on line, which of course could slew some of the findings.

"The overall favoured genres and the most popular genre in the downturn is the same as in the better economic climate: crime/thriller novels. "

"Crime/thrillers and science-fiction fans are the two categories that are more likely than average to continue to buy books at the same rate, at 45.5% and 41% respectively."

The survey also highlights the shift to online buying over other channels such as bookshops and supermarkets, which probably comes as no surprise to most of us. (This answer could be slewed because the survey was conducted on line.).

And although crime novels came out tops that doesn't mean writers of other genres or readers need despair. Sci fi was also a popular choice and the popularity of literary fiction appears to have risen. "In 2008 it was behind romance but in 2009 it is on a par."

To read more visit

Monday, 15 June 2009

Pauline Rowson discusses how she started writing

In this new video I discuss how I started writing and the difficult road to publication.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

How to get a book deal

Tim Clare spent years trying to be published. Now he's written about the secret of his success.
This article is a must read for everyone struggling to get published. Follow the link below to read the full item.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Inspiration behind In Cold Daylight

People often ask me where my ideas come from. Well in this video I discuss the inspiration behind my action-packed thriller, In Cold Daylight. I also read the prologue of the novel.

About In Cold Daylight
Was fire fighter, Jack Bartholomew's death an accident or arson? Who is determined to stop him from discovering the truth behind the cancer deaths of so many fire fighters from one watch? His closest friend, marine artist, Adam Greene, is forced to take up the quest. His mission to get to the truth no matter what the cost, even if it means his life.

This novel was shortlisted for the World Book Day Prize 2008.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Making submissions to an agent or publisher

Fiction Submissions

Your chances of getting published, or accepted by a literary agent, can be ruined by a poor submission so here are some tips to help you get it right.

Your work should be typed using double spacing and wide margins in Times New Roman point 12.

An outline is different from a synopsis.

The Outline

An outline is usually a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of your work. For fiction it usually comprises a few sentences for each chapter, showing key developments in that chapter, introducing characters and showing character development as well as any sub plots that impact or interact on the novel.

The outline can be anything up to four pages of A4, broken down by chapter headings and 1.5 spacing.

The Synopsis

Most publishers and agents ask for the first three chapters of your novel and a synopsis. Your synopsis therefore should start where your third chapter leaves off, do not waste words by repeating in the synopsis what has already taken place in chapters one to three.

It should follow the progression of the book, showing the introduction of the main characters and the development of the plot.

It should never say things like and ‘guess what happens next? Read the book to find out.’ This is guaranteed to get you a rejection.

Write the synopsis in the same style as your book, light and chatty if your novel is chatty but make it a factual development.

Ensure that your synopsis is laid out with at least 1.5 spacing. Check your spelling and punctuation and ensure the presentation is as professional as possible.

Comply with the publisher/agents’ request when submitting your work, if they say they want only two chapters then send them two chapters not four. Also always send the first two chapters and not two chapters picked out at random. If they say they want a two-page outline then send only this.

For more on writing a synopsis you can read an earlier item on this blog written by Amy Myers.

Good luck.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

History As Fiction

This article, 'History as Fiction,' has been written by Michael Dean. He is the author of The Crooked Cross (Quaestor2000) published on May 29th. The novel is set in Munich in 1933 and is about Hitler, the German resistance to Hitler and German Expressionist painters. There is more about his novel on his website:

Late in the afternoon of April 20th , I was standing in the spring sunshine in the beautiful courtyard of Somerset House, talking to Beryl Bainbridge. It was just before she and Hilary Mantel were due to speak on History as Fiction, sponsored by the Royal Society of Literature. We were talking about Hitler.

One of Beryl Bainbridge’s seventeen novels, as you probably know, was Young Adolf. My debut novel, The Crooked Cross (Quaestor2000), published on May 29 this year, also features Hitler. Set in Munich in 1933, it centres on the German resistance and German Expressionist painters, who the Nazis declared ‘degenerate.’

April 20th was Hitler’s birthday. On the same day (coincidentally?) President Ahmedinedzad of Iran made remarks about Israel at the UN in Geneva which the Times next day described as ‘Orwellian.’ ‘Hitlerian’ would have done just as well. Not a bad day, then, to look at the present’s relationship to the past.

The speakers were asked about their way into the past - research: Beryl Bainbridge said she read contemporary sources only, steering clearing of any modern work. Hilary Mantel said she ‘read everything.’

For me, the research is an end in itself. I knew from early on that I would write polemical essays about Hitler, as well as the novel. They are on my website: Hitler as Artist develops the theory that Hitler was an autistic artist-savant and Did Hitler Kill Geli Raubal? puts a dent in the received wisdom that Hitler had an alibi when his half-niece, Geli Raubal, was killed.

But reading for a novel is always incomplete and partial. ‘There is a point where the
facts run out,’ as Hilary Mantel put it. The novelist, they both said, completes the person in the historical character – thoughts, dreams, aspirations; speech, smells, sex. If the history isn’t seen through the mind – or voice – of a person, Beryl Bainbridge said, then it isn’t a novel: ‘A novel means a person is speaking to you.’ The facts are a sort of relief map of the terrain to be covered, not data to be entered into the SatNav.

However, the facts and the truth are not the same thing. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book programme, on April 26th , Hilary Mantel said ‘Thomas Cromwell had been marginalised and misunderstood.’ In her new novel, Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate), she wanted to put that right. I too had polemical purposes. Much of my novel is about real Germans in 1933 – journalists, politicians, lawyers - who opposed Hitler. History has forgotten them. I wanted to pay tribute, to honour them. I also wanted to examine the moral dilemmas posed by being brave. Do you put your family at risk? That sort of thing.

Sometimes the facts get in the way of the novelist’s truth. At the RSL event, Beryl Bainbridge told us that Young Adolf is based on information by Bridget Hitler, the wife of Hitler’s half-brother, Alois. Bridget said that she and Alois had sent money to the young Hitler to enable him to come to Liverpool. Bridget’s deposition is lodged in a distinguished New York library, but nobody today – including Beryl Bainbridge - believes a word of it. We can be pretty sure that Adolf Hitler remained a stranger to Lime Street. Nevertheless, Beryl Bainbridge’s novel offers insights – truths – into the awkward youth who became the adult whose damage to humanity was arguably unique.

I had, in a sense, the opposite problem. Part of The Crooked Cross is about a fictional attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1933. I was told, at first anyway, that nobody would read the novel because everybody knew Hitler was not assassinated in 1933. He wasn’t assassinated in 1944 either, but that didn’t affect the success of the film Valkyrie, about the Stauffenberg plot to kill him.
Fiction doesn’t depend on the reader’s knowledge, any more than it depends on fact. The novelist Michael Carson wrote this about The Crooked Cross: ‘… the reader is cheering the would-be assassins of Hitler. We know that history sees him surviving until 1945, but we willingly suspend our disbelief, hoping against hope that the just assassins will triumph and - forlorn hope - not come to harm themselves. Good fiction can pull off this ache for happy endings.’

Historical fiction goes to places where biography and history cannot go. It succeeds – when it succeeds – by other means. And I would say that if we are not to lose the past, and see today’s monsters prevail where those in the past failed – and it was a close-run thing, by the way, with Hitler - then we need historical fiction as part of truth’s weaponry.

At the end of the RSL event I passed on the wine and the company of literati, many toting London Book Fair bags – amiable though they all seemed. I know I will never belong there. I sank a bottle of wine and scoffed a pizza with the Significant Other; happy to have got this far, lifted by what I had heard.

What we took with us from the evening, in our hearts and minds, was Beryl Bainbridge reading from Every Man For Himself. A moment from the past had come into the present, because when she read we experienced another’s experience of what it had been like. And we kept it with us and we let it change us.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Pauline Rowson reads an extract from Dead Man's Wharf

Dead Man's Wharf is the new Marine Mystery crime novel, the fourth in this popular, entertaining and gripping series to feature the rugged and flawed Inspector Andy Horton. It is set in the Solent area on the South Coast of England and published in hardcover (27 April 2009).

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The London Book Fair 2009

The London Book Fair seemed as busy as ever, though there were fewer Americans and Australians about than usual. It was great to see so many authors and budding authors doing their research and connecting with people. If you are really serious about your writing then the London Book fair is a must. You can learn so much about the industry there and take advantage of a range of free seminars. It was where I first had a glimpse into the peculiar world of publishing back in 1998 before I set up my small publishing company, publishing business and motivational titles, starting with one of my own books, before taking on other authors, expanding the list and then selling it to Crimson Publishing in 2008. If you haven't been to the London Book Fair before then perhaps you can make a note to attend in 2010.

I was pleased to give advice to authors on the publishing business, how they can get their books distributed and how they can more successfully self-publish. It was great to meet many people I have connected with on LinkedIn and on Facebook.

I met with my agents from Brazil, Spain, Italy, the Middle East and the Far East and while on the stand had a surprise visit from Paul Daniels – yes, the magic man. It was great to see him and in no time at all he had a small audience enthralled by his magic tricks. He promised to follow my antics on Twitter! He was at the London Book Fair to promote his creation Wizbit, written by Justine Maynard and published by HandE Publishers.

There was considerable interest in e books, the publishing industry finally seems to be waking up to the fact that e books are here to stay and will continue to evolve and grow, as will Internet book sales. Self-publishing is another growth area and is becoming increasingly popular as a means for new authors to get their books out there.

It was also a good opportunity to meet with journalists and I had meetings with my e book and audio publisher, Summersdale Publishing, and my business book publisher, Crimson, who gave me a copy of the jacket cover of one of my new business titles due to be published in August 2009. They’re doing a big marketing push behind the launch of a major new series of business books including my titles: Successful Marketing, Successful Sales and Successful Customer Service. As soon as I have jpegs, I’ll post them here and put links where you can view details.

Today is the final day of the London Book Fair, and although I am not there, my marine mystery novels and thrillers are, so hopefully they will attract more interest from publishers, booksellers and readers around the world. Many people stopped by the stand to tell me how much they loved my rugged, edgy detective, Inspector Horton and to them I very grateful. I hope many more will enjoy reading my crime novels in the months and years ahead.

I hope to pass on more tips via this web site for authors who are self-publishing or who wish to self-publish so if you're interested, bookmark this site to learn more.

Monday, 13 April 2009

The London Book Fair 20-22 April 2009

The London Book Fair is just a week away and a great place to learn more about the publishing industry with free seminars and lots of publishers present. For published writers and those wishing to be published it's a good way to research the market and find out who is who. You can pick up new ideas at the fair, make new contacts, check out what kind of titles publishers are publishing and network with other authors, and those in the book business.

The Society of Authors has a reduction in entry tickets. Members can register online for the reduced price of £10, which is a saving of £30 on the usual entrance fee. To register, please visit the 'Membership benefits' page in the members area by clicking here.

My Marine Mystery crime novels and my thrillers will be on show at The London Book Fair on stand J205 so if you're going to the London Book Fair do take time to come and say 'hello'. I will be there on Monday 20 April and Tuesday 21 April. I've got some appointments lined up but if I'm not around you can always browse the books and pick up a leaflet or two. You can even pinch a sweet! My business book publisher, Crimson, will also be at the Fair on Stand J250.

I'm looking forward to meeting my overseas literary agents and my publishers and hopefully making many new contacts.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Pauline Rowson reads from Deadly Waters

Deadly Waters is available in paperback for £6.99 from 2 April 2009. Here I am reading an extract from chapter one.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Writing Exercise - Developing Characters

When thinking about characters for your novel you can gain ideas from examining personality types and leadership styles. Do a search on the Internet under these headings and see what it throws up.

Look at the different styles of leadership below, these could be applied to some of your characters.

1. The Little General - These lead by dominating and intimidating. They inspire fear and require obedience. They don't want any ideas or suggestions. Their organisations have a high turnover of staff and a lack of motivated staff.

2. The Wheeler/Dealer - These lead by manipulation. They require returns of favours and inspire mutual dependence. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. They are not trusted by their staff.

3. The Role Model - These lead by example. They inspire hope and require loyalty. They can believe in their own ego too readily.

4. The Wizard - These lead by including other people. They delegate and inspire commitment. They need help and support.


Under each of the headings flesh out a character that fits each of those styles. You can describe their body language, how they move and behave, the way they speak, the language they use, how they react with others.

Put your character into a fictitious situation and write how they handle it.