Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A new guide to going digital from the Publishers Association

The Publishers Association has published a new guide on "going digital" which is aimed at publishers looking to exploit what is now a rapidly expanding market, albeit one that has become "crowded and complex".

Written by Linda Bennett, the PA Guide to Going Digital, is described as part guide, and part survey of the markets and models with a focus on e-books and e-content.  So, it should make interesting reading not only for publishers but also authors.

Linda Bennett says,'The advent of e-books has introduced some powerful big beasts to the publishing market, the largest of whom - Google, Amazon and Apple - are not competing with publishers on their own terms, since the supply of books constitutes only one facet of their wider agendas."

The guide is available for PA members priced at £14.99, and for non-members priced at £24.99.

Click here for further details or to purchase.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Who Needs Publishers?

This article is by Philip Goldberg and comes courtesy of the Huffington Post. It illustrates the importance of checking your work and highlights the valuable role played by editors, copy editors and proof readers in the production of a book, both fiction and non fiction.

"Recently, Newsweek ran an article about the brave new world of self-publishing. Its title asked the question 'Who Needs a Publisher?' Well, the short answer is, I do. The bigger answer is: we all do.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that self-publishing has evolved from stigma to respectability. I love that worthy authors who might be overlooked by the major houses can now be read. It's great that writers with a special niche, an established following or an entrepreneurial bent can make more money self-publishing than they would in royalties. But I'm also concerned about the future of books and the larger issue of assuring the flow of reliable information.

Here are just two reasons for that concern, based on my own recent experience.

1. Advances. I just finished a nonfiction book that will be released this fall. It consumed the better part of three years -- far more than I anticipated -- and the research entailed countless hours of reading, about three hundred interviews and some travel. My advance did not come close to covering the cost of all that information-gathering, but it helped. More importantly, the fact that a major publishing house was committed enough to write even a modest check was psychologically essential. Given my personal circumstances, I simply could not have sustained the effort to complete the project without that commitment.

Advances are a time-honored tradition that serve authors the way venture capital serves entrepreneurs. They're not only a vote of confidence, they make it practically possible to move an idea from conception to fruition. It should concern all of us that the writing of research-heavy, time-consuming books might in the future be limited to authors of independent means, academics with tenure and writers with support from foundations or -- beware! -- commercial or ideological organizations with a vested interest in promoting a point of view.

2. Quality control. After authoring and coauthoring more than twenty books, I was just reminded once again of the immense value of working with professionals. At each step of the way, from inception to restructuring to rewrites to finalizing the index, editors, copy editors and proofreaders made my book a better book.

I'm not just talking about spotting typos and grammatical errors, although they did plenty of that. At the onset, editorial discussions helped me to clarify the book's point of view and its focus. Later, when I turned in the manuscript after several drafts on my own, my editor spotted a structural weakness that slowed the narrative flow. He did not know how to solve the problem, but he diagnosed it, and that was enough. After a couple of sleepless, obsessive, anxiety-filled days, the pieces of the puzzle came together in my mind. I talked it over with my editor and got to work turning three long chapters into five shorter ones, moving chunks of the manuscript from one location to another, deleting some sections and adding new ones, rewriting transitions and otherwise reorganizing the middle of the book.

Later, aided by my editor's comments, I was able to reduce the length of the text from a bloated 400 pages to about 350 without losing much of substance. Then, in the copy editing phase, additional refinements were made. Going over the book in manuscript form and then in galley proofs, the copy editor spotted errors. Again, not just typos, poor word choices and other boo boos that I didn't notice because I was too close to the work, but factual errors. I take pride in being careful, even meticulous, about facts. But even obsessive authors are human, and we can screw up in the process of taking notes, transcribing interviews, cutting and pasting from computer documents and remembering -- or misremembering -- information we assume we know. I got dates wrong, once by mistyping a digit, another time because I was misinformed by an expert source. I spelled a couple of names wrong. And, horrors!, I got the name of a Beatles album wrong -- a laughable error perhaps, but one that reviewers would have jumped all over and friends would have teased me about the rest of my life.

There were other factual mistakes too. For example, I wrote that an organization opened its offices a block from the Empire State Building, when I meant to say a block from where the Empire State Building would be built thirty-six years later. The copy editor, probably an underpaid English major who loves books, was savvy enough to spot that bit of carelessness and others, and concerned enough to look things up.

The point is, I'm a professional writer who takes great care with his work and has been at the business of books for over thirty years. And I still need editors. It pains me to think of what kind of errors -- not to mention amateurish prose -- will creep into books that are self-published by writers who don't care enough to get editorial help or simply can't afford to pay for it. Spell-check and grammar-check are great inventions, but they'll never do what professional editors can do. Until someone invents a foolproof Factcheck program, we'll need human beings.

My bottom line is this: when it comes to serious nonfiction especially, readers, libraries, reporters and everyone else concerned about accuracy and readability should rely only on books that have been competently edited. And long live advances: may they grow and may authors and their readers prosper. "

Friday, 27 August 2010

The importance of getting a professional critique of your work before submitting it to agents and publishers

Geraldine Evans is a British author. She has written 18 novels (16 crime, 1 historical and 1 romance) as well as articles on a variety of subjects. But she didn’t really get into her writing stride until she hit thirty. That concentrated her mind wonderfully. During the next six years, she wrote a book a year and received nothing but rejections until Robert Hale bought that sixth romance, Land of Dreams, a romance set in the Canadian Arctic. She then turned to crime and penned Dead Before Morning, the first novel in her Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series. This was taken from Macmillan’s slush pile and published in hardback and paperback both here and in the US, as was Down Among the Dead Men, the next in the series. 

She is now published by Severn House, who brought out Death Dance, her 13th Rafferty crime novel on 26 August 2010. They also publish her second crime series, Casey & Catt.

Geraldine's historical novel, Reluctant Queen, (written under the name Geraldine Hartnett), was published by Hale in 2004. It is the story of Henry VIII’s little sister, Mary Rose Tudor.

Start Counting the Money, Honey  by  Geraldine Evans

Del Boy of Only Fools and Horses fame, always said: ‘By this time next year, we’ll be millionaires’. Perhaps that’s your belief, too – if only you could get someone to read your book. Maybe it’ll happen, too. After all, you’ve done all the usual things. You’ve penned the Letters to the Editor, subscribed to writers’ magazines, joned the local Writers’ Circle and received your first rejection letter. Or maybe more than one…

Perhaps it’s time to consider having your work professionally criticized?  Yes, I know it’s expensive. I know the critique might be wounding to your ego, but so are are those rejections. It could well be the step forward you need. I doubt if I would have got published but for the advice I received after finishing Dead Before Morning, the first novel in what went on to become a series (Rafferty & Llewelyn). I’m currently fourteen books into the series, having just finished Deadly Reunion. It’s possible I would still be that forlorn and struggling wannabe without their help.

Unfortunately, the criticism service I used seems to have vanished off the radar, but if you check the Links Page on my website, http://www.geraldineevans.com/, you’ll find the names of two reputable firms. And if you buy the writers’ bibles (Writers’ Handbook and Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook), you’ll find a lot more.

Yes, I know, you can get a critique from your friends at your writing circle, but I don’t think that’s the most suitable area for a book critique. Think about it. It could take a year (or two) for you to read out the entire book and by the time the last monthly critique meeting comes by, the other members will have forgotten most of the first half of it.

So, if you’re frustrated and yearn to have your book read in pretty quick fashion by someone in the know, think about having that professional critique. As Del Boy would say: ‘You know it makes sense’.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Getting fiction published - approaching agents and publishers

While it has never been easy for an unknown author to get published by a traditional publishing house it seems to be even more difficult in the present day.  Most books that get published don’t come from the slush pile but agents and publishers prefer writers they know, i.e. writers with a proven track record, and even they can find it incredibly difficult to continue to be published. How you get a track record when no one will publish you in the first place is the classic chicken and egg scenario. Self publishing could help you to get your work out there, followed by creative and persistent marketing to stiumlate sales and raise your profile.

If you are a new writer, without an agent, then it is almost impossible to get a mainstream publisher interested in your work, unless you have connections. Instead it might be better to focus on agents and smaller publishers who are much more approachable and who you might be able to meet at writers' conferences and book festivals. You will also find that many agents and smaller publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts. I have named a few such publishers here on this web site.

Before submitting your work though here are a few basic tips:

1. Check the publishers and agents web sites for submission guidelines and make sure you follow these to the letter.

2. Ensure that your work is the best you can make it before submitting it anywhere. This is where many new writers fall down.

3. If your work is a novel then have a clear idea of its genre and typical readership, i.e. who would buy and read your book.

4. Check the titles on the publisher's web site to ensure that your work fits their list and demonstrate this to them in your approach.

5. Include a brief biography, containing any relevant information such as previous published titles.

6. Make sure that your synopsis or outline is concise and to the point and contains the storyline, beginning, middle and end.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

People in publishing - moves and appointments

Molly Stern is to join the Crown Publishing Group as svp, publisher of the Crown and Broadway imprints, reporting to president Maya Mavjee. Stern will oversee two lines, which span a variety of 'narrative nonfiction areas,' but with a personal focus on fiction she will also work to 'grow and to provide a new vision and director for [their] fiction publishing program.'

Anjali Singh will join the Simon & Schuster imprint as a senior editor on September 20, "casting a wide net for all kinds of nonfiction and fiction - literary, graphic, and commercial" according to publisher Jonathan Karp. She had been at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt most recently, leaving there in 2008.

Chronicle has hired Kelli Chipponeri as executive editor, children's. She was previously children's editorial director at Running Press. Other recent hires include Leigh Saffold as associate managing editor, custom publishing. In promotions, Kim Romero and Laura Lee Mattingly have both moved up to associate editor.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

New Book Web Site Launched by National Magazine Company

A new book web site has been launched by the National Magazine Company which publishes magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Country Living and Prima. http://www.allaboutyoubookshop.com/  Orders are being fulfilled by the book wholesaler,  Bertrams.

Features on the site include author of the month, book of the week, great reads, signed copies, competitions and magazine-branded books such as the Good Housekeeping Cookbook. Pricing on the site is generally in line with recommended retail price.

Next month the site will feature author interviews and book extracts. Regular email newsletters and direct marketing will be sent to the magazines' subscribers.

Emma Dally, group director of books at the National Magazine Company said: "We know our readers love reading books and trust the recommendations in their favourite magazines.We are delighted to be working with Bertrams to guide our readers to great books which they can buy with ease."

Monday, 23 August 2010

Authors band together to launch new Book Club website

Chichester author Isabel Ashdown has launched an innovative new website called the Chichester Book Club, dedicated to introducing local readers to books and authors in their region.

Isabel created the site in response to the large number of enquiries she was receiving from book clubs and reading groups in the Chichester area, West Sussex, in England. Many were looking for a comprehensive reading guide to her novel, Glasshopper, whilst others just wanted to make contact and ask a few questions.

She says, “Like all the best parties, we like to keep it small; all our authors have a local connection, either living in or having grown up in the area, and many have links to the University of Chichester and associated groups. It’s now easier than ever for inquisitive readers to access books, book club guides and event news from emerging and established authors in our region.”

The Chichester Book Club Autumn selection has something to suit every taste and mood, with page-turning novels from award-winning writers, ranging from gritty realism to suspense-filled crime, from intriguing historical fiction to exhilarating fantasy.

Isabel is joined by fellow writers Jane Borodale, Gabrielle Kimm, Peter Lovesey, Alison MacLeod, Bethan Roberts, Pauline Rowson, Jane Rusbridge and Tim Stretton, all authors with a local connection.

“We are very fortunate to have so many talented and interesting authors in the Chichester area,” says Isabel. “It’s exciting to be part of such a creative community.”

You can follow the Chichester Book Club at:

• Official website: http://www.chichesterbookclub.com/

Official Facebook page


Friday, 20 August 2010

The reason for rejections from a Literary Agent

In 2009, Literary Agent Janet Reid decided to make public the reason why she had rejected or accepted 124 manuscripts. The results make interesting reading, so too do the comments after the post.

  • Just plain not good enough: 21 (a novel needs to be in the 99th percentile-these were closer to 90%–not bad, but not good enough)
  • Good premise, but the rest of the novel didn’t hold up: 11
  • Not compelling or vivid, or focused; no plot/tension: 10
  • Slow start or the pace was too slow: 9
  • I didn’t believe the narrative voice: 5
  •  Structural problems with the novel: 8
  • Interesting premise, but not a fresh or new take on familiar plots/tropes: 7
  • Had caricatures rather than characters: 2
  • Boring: 3
  • Grossed me out: 2
  • Major plot problems: 2
  • Needed more polish and editorial input than I wanted to do: 2
  • Good books but I couldn’t figure out where to sell them: 7
  • Got offer elsewhere; I withdrew from scrum: 2
  • Great writing, just not right for me: 2
  • Not right for me, refer to other agents: 9
  • Not quite there/send me the next one: 1
  • Sent back for revisions with editorial suggestions and I expect to see them again in 2010: 9
  • Getting second read at FPLM: 1
  • Got offer from me: 2
You can read her post here.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

A novel idea for marketing your book

Ever thought of hiring an actor or actress to read your book (or an extract of it) in public?  For the public shy this could be the answer, or might just help bring your book to life in a way the author can't.

In an unusual marketing move, writer Jennifer Belle recently hired dozens of actresses to read her book around New York City and laugh hysterically. What a great idea.  I've thought about employing actors to sit on the train on the commute to London, or on the underground, a couple or few  people per carriage, all reading copies of my novels, different novels that is and then perhaps engaging the person sitting next to them or opposite in conversation raving about the book they're reading.

Belle decided to take publicity for 'The Seven Year Bitch' into her own hands after receiving unsatisfying advice from her publisher. After receiving applications from approximately 600 actresses, Belle picked candidates who had particularly infectious laughs. The stunt was covered by blogging authors, the New York Times and Judith Regan Sirius's radio show. In an article for Publishing Perspectives, Belle said that the campaign had an element of self-indulgence, admitting to the thrill of spotting strangers reading her book.

Great idea, Jennifer, and well done.  I might even imitate you!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Good Book Guide goes into liquidation

Another sorry tale from the book industry with the news that The Good Book Guide has called in the insolvency practitioners to deal with the liquidation of the company.

A meeting of shareholders is to be held on 1st September, followed by a creditors' meeting later the same day. It is understood that reviewers for the monthly book recommendations magazine are among those owed money. The company also sells books online although the spokesperson would not comment on whether there were any publishers among the creditors.

Two members of staff, editor Fiona Lafferty and assistant editor Rosemary Cardus, have been made redundant.

The insolvency practitioner, Begbies Traynor, is "speaking to interested parties who want to buy the goodwill and trading name of the Guide."  I wonder who that will be.

No issue of the Guide has been published since April.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Doom and gloom from the book industry

The Edinburgh International Book Festival has announced it is to trim its number of author events in the face of budget cuts. Nick Barley, the book festival director, said he expected cuts of at least 3.5% next year and expected to cut the number of events. But he added: "The festivals are economic powerhouses, not just for Edinburgh but Scotland and the UK as a whole. For relatively small investments, they generate huge returns."

According to the Guardian, the city's 15 festivals have all had unprecedented levels of public funding during the recession, although along with the fringe, the book festival is one of the most economic. It received £255,705 in core funding, but 80% of its income comes from ticket sales, book sales and sponsors.

All of Edinburgh’s 15 festivals including the international festival, book festival and the fringe are facing sharp falls in their government subsidies.

And from across the Pond comes the news that US book sales have fallen although the market is not experiencing as difficult sales performance as the UK. Publishers Weekly quotes figures from the US Census Bureau which reports that sales fell 0.8% to $1.10bn in June.

Despite a slight uplift in sales during the first quarter, the market slumped in Q2. Overall, sales were down 0.5% to $7.42bn compared to the first half of 2009. When the figures are placed alongside those of 2008, before the recession dug in in earnest, sales are down 3.6%.

According to figures from Nielsen BookScan, UK book sales for the first 26 weeks of the year were down 5.5% to £699.6m; a four-year low.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Infinite Ideas to start publishing children’s books

Infinite Ideas is to move into children’s publishing according to the Bookseller Magazine. The company, which publishes business and lifestyle books, plans to publish ten children’s titles a year for the next two years, which may increase depending on its success. Joint c.e.o. Richard Burton said they had already experienced a "flood" of children’s submissions from writers.

Burton has also called for a new relationship to be forged between publishers and writers. He doesn't believe increasing royalties paid to authors is realistic but said, "there is also a growing demand from this community [publishing world]  for authors to become more a part of the process in publishing a book, for them to be seen as a creative talent rather than an annoying supplier, and that resonates with us".

Not sure I like that last remark, being called an 'annoying supplier' but this prompted me to look at their web site in more detail and I see that they are into 'partnership publishing'  and 'self-publishing.'  They have a no punches page on getting published then link you to a self-publishing page, where presumably they make money out of  'annoying suppliers.'

I'm not sure what kind of book they are talking about on their partnership publishing progamme but if you look at what they are charging for publishing your book, the unit price works out  at £99.98! I'll leave you to decide if it's worth it but you might want to search this web site for articles on self publishing and vanity publishing before you do so.

Friday, 13 August 2010

People in publishing and bookselling

Julie Crisp has been promoted to the position of editorial director for Tor UK, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Pan Macmillan.

Previously the senior commissioning editor for the imprint, a role she held for two years, Crisp will report to fiction publisher Jeremy Trevathan. Previously she was a commissioning editor on the crime list at Pan Macmillan.

Crisp’s list of authors includes China Mièville, Neal Asher, Mark Charan Newton, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Peter F Hamilton among others

Meanwhile in bookselling Asda's book buying manager Stephanie Bateson is stepping down on 13 August to go on maternity leave. Len Barker, will assume overall control of the books category, with the book buyers Mat Watterson and Tom Waiting reporting directly to him while a direct replacement for Bateson is found.  Watterson will now also be buying adult paperback and hardback chart and new releases.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Jeff Rivera: Lit Agent Lucy Childs Thinks Authors Need To Know Their Success is Not "Guaranteed"

From the Huffington Post - an interesting insight into the mind of a Literary Agent.

Jeff Rivera: Lit Agent Lucy Childs Thinks Authors Need To Know Their Success is Not "Guaranteed"

Literary Agent Lucy Childs likes literary fiction, not werewolves and vampires. In this interview, she suggests that authors keep their query letters brief and to the point, and explains that you shouldn't quit your day job right away.

Lucy, tell us a little about your agency and what makes it so different than other agencies.

Our agency prides itself on not taking on too many clients, thereby being able to devote a substantial amount of time to each author. We only represent manuscripts we truly believe in.

Do you think that ebooks and digital publishing is a good thing or a bad thing?

I wish ebooks would go away. I know. I'm old school, antiquated, behind the times.

Has your agency made any changes to help them prepare for the changes in your industry? And is their any special advice that you give your authors about that?

I'm not sure that there can possibly be any preparation for the changes in the industry. We are literally taking this one day at a time and trying to adapt accordingly. It's my personal belief that authors - as well as any artist - should never assume their financial success will be guaranteed. Depend on another career to make money while you're writing. Actors have known this forever. Get real. If you do happen to 'make it' in the publishing world, it's gravy and you should be forever grateful.

What kinds of books are most editors happy to see? And what do you wish that you got a little more of?

Vampires and werewolves, apparently. Always good thrillers. My niche - literary fiction - is hard to come by. And when the good ones do cross my desk, they're tough to sell.

How should an interested writer approach you?

An intelligently written query letter. Don't be cute, don't go on and on and on. Make it brief and to the point. Make it intriguing. Don't use hyperbole and don't compare yourself to John Updike or any other specific novel.

Finally, what is a 'secret' fact about yourself?

I love hip hop."

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Positive book sales in July and the genres which are selling well

As reported in the Bookseller Magazine, July saw the UK's first positive month of sales since September 2009. Prior to September, the market had taken a sales hit every month as far back as May 2009, when it saw a growth of 2.6% to £105m. 

According to figures from Nielsen Bookscan data, the market was up 0.1% year-on-year in July, not a great deal but at least into positive rather than negative figures. Nielsen report that book spend reached £121.2m, which compared favourably to the 5.5% decline for the first 26 weeks of the year.

Major contributors to this are Dan Brown and  Stieg Larsson who contributed 0.8%, of total sales and 1.4% of books sold respectively.

Other genres that enjoyed strong sales in July include economics, history, humour and art. The popularity of dark romance, by authors such as L J Smith, has also driven young adult fiction sales year on year.

Travel guides and travel literature genres continue to struggle in 2010, while sales within the true crime, popular science, and children’s non-fiction sectors were also down year on year over the four-week period.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A round up of results from Publishers - who said they've got it bad?

The Bookseller Magazine has recently reported a string of successes from UK publishers with increased turnover and profits.

Sales at Simon & Schuster UK increased by 18% year on year for the three months to end of June with a "substantial" increase in profits, m.d. Ian Chapman has said.

Group chief executive Carolyn Reidy also revealed that adult e-book sales "right now" accounted for approximately 8% of the total.

Chapman refused to disclose sales figures or the profit increase but said turnover had been driven by paperback performance. He said: ""Our profit is also looking very strong. The increase has been substantial."

Meanwhile HarperCollins UK has said it has made "significant operating profit growth" for its latest financial year due to digital sales, rights, export sales and savings from a restructure in 2009.

HarperCollins UK chief executive. and publisher Victoria Barnsley said: "In a tough trading year when the market dropped and home sales were down, HarperCollins UK managed to deliver significant operating profit growth on the back of a strong export market, exceptional rights income, higher digital revenues and cost savings related to prior year restructuring."

Quercus has also seen revenue almost triple to £15m for the first six months of the year, making a profit of £3.4m compared with a loss of £100,000 compared with the same period in 2009. The publisher's board said performance for the six months ended 30 June 2010. "across all sectors [has] continued to be well ahead of management forecasts. As a result, full year performance is now expected to "significantly exceed market expectations", the company statement said.

Although much of the sales and profit growth can be put down to Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy - which last month accounted for £1.57m of sales, Quercus highlighted other current bestsellers such as The Battle of Britain by Patrick Bishop, Truth by Peter Temple and Jungle Soldier by Brian Moynahan.

Casemate, publisher and distributor of military history and art books, has also had a good year and reported a sales increase of 105% to £900,000 for the year ending 31st December 2009.

The company refused to disclose profit figures. It has been trading for three years since Greenhill Books was taken over by Casemate US and rebranded as its UK wing. It now distributes titles for 35 publishers.

Mark Wray, Casemate UK managing director, said: "I’m extremely pleased with the way we are growing. We have a highly professional sales and marketing team, who between them boast an invaluable 40 years’ worth of selling both military and art history books and are probably the leading experts in our field in the country, which is reflected in such rapid growth for the company despite a very difficult economic climate."

Monday, 9 August 2010

From new words and newspaper articles come ideas for filmscripts, stories, novels and characters

I first posted this article on my personal blog but thought it might be helpful to post it here too in order to show where and how writers can get ideas for stories and characters. http://www.paulinerowson.com/

I've just come across a word I've never heard or read before, which isn't all that surprising because there are hundreds of words I don't know. This one came from today's edition of the Daily Telegraph in an article covering the release of the files by the Ministry of Defence to the National Archives about the suspected UFO seen over England by reconnaissance aircraft during the war, and which prime minister Winston Churchill ordered to be kept secret to prevent "mass panic". At first I thought the article in the Telegraph contained a misprint (never!) then the word appeared a second time. Curious, I asked my husband, a Telegraph cryptic crossword buff, what it meant and even he was puzzled. So out came the dictionary and I was amazed to discover it's something I've been doing for twenty years without realizing it. Intrigued?

Maybe not. The word is 'redacted.' Of course you might be rolling your eyes and scoffing at me, 'everyone knows what that word means,' but I didn't. The Pocket Oxford Dictionary in my office says 'redaction' means ' Putting into literary or publishable form, editing or re-editing.' And editing and re-editing is, as I said above, what I've been doing for years.

It's great to learn a new word, or indeed to learn anything new like the possible sightings of a UFO over Britain during the tail end of the Second World War. Wouldn't it make a great film script, set against the backdrop of war torn Britain, no one believing the reconnaissance crew at first, then the fear that it might be a new deadly weapon, before the realisation that it is a UFO...and what happens next??? Oh, I can feel a story coming on. Not an Inspector Andy Horton crime novel, of course, but a historical/sci-fi drama. Any film producers reading this who would like to discuss my idea or commission me to write a film script I'd be only too happy to oblige.

But from one new word and one fascinating article you can see how an idea for a novel, short story, or script can develop. You would then need to take that idea and work it up, build in a cast of characters whose motivations will again drive the story. And that brings me back to where I started, what kind of character would actually use the word redacted? Your creative exercise for today is to build a picture of said character.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Discount on editorial reports for August

If you need some help editing your work then Cornerstones are offering a 10% discount on all editorial reports until the end of August.

They also have a few spaces left on their self-editing workshop (15th-17th November) for adult and children's writers. And offer one-to-one brainstorm sessions.

Call or email to find out more.
Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.

Milk Studios
34 Southern Row
London W10 5AN
Tel: 020 8968 0777
email: helen@cornerstones.co.uk

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Persistence and personal experience pay off for one writer, graduating from writer to published author

Laura Munson is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, This is Not the Story You Think It Is. Laura shares her story of graduating from Writer to Published Author.

Most writers allow themselves fantasies, unless they're truly in it for bloodsport. For the last twenty years I've tried to tame mine. Fourteen books completed (not fourteen good ones) and a few that almost went all the way didn't make much fodder for fantasy. But 'tis true I'd catch myself dreaming of young writers raising their hands like kids at a birthday party eager for you to open their present, 'Tell me about your process!' 'What's it feel like to have a Pulitzer?' 'Tis true.

Last year I wrote an essay based on an unpublished memoir I'd written a few years prior. The essay was published in the New York Times and there began the ride of my life thus far. Suddenly I had a book deal with one of the hottest editors in New York. Suddenly I was on a successful book tour from coast to coast. Suddenly I was being interviewed by a former presidential press secretary on national television.

I didn't write my book with any intention of it becoming an international bestseller, landing on the New York Times Bestseller list. I wrote my way through a crisis because as a writer, that's how I process life. It's my prayer, my meditation, my practice. My way of life. And sometimes, in this case, my way to life. The message simply struck a chord. Tapped into a need to hear that we don't have to suffer. Even and especially when the person we love tells us they don't love us. It is possible not to take that personally. It is possible to be responsible for our well-being even when hurtful words are flung our way. It is possible to practice non-reaction even when the world tells us we have to fight to win.

I offered a different solution. I offered the freedom that lies in surrender. The power of the present moment in which we can create our lives and choose not to be victims. I was ready to live like that. After touring all over the country it is my belief that many people are ready to live like that.

So what was it like, having those eager hands lift upward? What was it like to hold a mic and say, after 20 years of pining away for these words to exit my heart and mouth, 'Thank you to the Tattered Cover Bookstore for hosting this event and to all of you for being here?' What was it like to have the trajectory finally met?

Of course it felt wonderful. But it also felt natural. When we are ready for something, and it comes (perhaps because we are ready for it), it feels natural. Even though it means so much to achieve my author's statement: I write to provide relief for myself and others, I know that the relationship is between the reader and the book. I created something that people are relating to. Maybe that's the definition of success. Maybe that's the 'there': creating something. And giving it away.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Book Festivals and Literary Festivals in the UK

I've added a new link which might be helpful to writers and readers, in fact anyone interested in books and the arts. The link is to a web site giving details of the Book and Literary Festivals in the UK.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

People in publishing

Editor-in-chief Susan Kamil has been promoted to publisher of both the Random House and Dial Press imprints. Most editorial staff will report to Kamil, who will 'continue to edit a select number of books a year.' While Tom Perry is relinquishing his responsibilities for the entire Random House publishing group to return to Little Random as deputy publisher. He will also act as publisher of The Modern Library.

Kalah McCaffrey has joined Franklin & Siegal Associates as Young Adult/middle-grade book scout. She was previously a scout at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

At Yale University Press, Jennifer Banks has been promoted to senior editor.

Adam Friedstein has joined Anderson Literary Management as an agent primarily representing debut literary fiction, literary thrillers and suspense, young adult fiction, and narrative and serious nonfiction. He was previously at Trident Media Group.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Mirth - An author's approach to publication after decades of hard slog - Lisa Jones on Barbara Richardson

This article is by Lisa Jones author of  BROKEN: A Love Story

Fortitude is common among first-time authors on book tour. In fact it's required. Especially the kind you may have needed, say, last September, when a grand total of three people showed up for your reading in Oklahoma City. Stoicism: A must-have. Terror, which blooms at four in the morning and then again 10 minutes before you start to read. Vodka: Not a bad idea. Erratic behavior at home: Absolutely. I am president of that club. I could go on.

But I'm not here to talk about that. I'm here to talk about mirth. And about Barbara Richardson, who approached the publication of her first novel -- the estimable and deep Guest House -- like it was a big caper she'd let the rest of the world in on. She giggled her way through publication, appreciating her successes, blowing off her non-successes, enlisting an old boyfriend to help her design the cover, falling madly in love with him, and finally coming up with the world's most original book tour -- a self-designed trio of events held entirely in truck stops in Utah, Idaho and Oregon. (The characters in her book take a lot of road trips.) There she will read to patrons; they will gape with astonishment and accept CDs of her boyfriend reading the first chapter so they can listen as they drive their rigs into the sunset.

This will only take place in truck stops that have actual restaurants, because Barbara really likes green beans. She's 54 and can do what she wants.

This attitude didn't just happen. It was preceded by two decades of setbacks, including a 13-year slog through three unpublished novels. (She dedicates Guest House to 'late bloomers everywhere.')

'The first 13 years bled me nearly to death with suffering,' she wrote to me while swigging port from an open bottle and perusing bathing suits on-line. 'That, I think, is why I am pretty chilled about results. Still focused and driven and productive and open to successes and creating as much out of my small successes as I can. But I won't self-destruct over what the world does with my work. Not swallowing that poison bait ... I think I wore out the shoe of suffering with lots of my own walking.'

The Salt Lake Tribune's Ben Fulton calls Guest House 'the most rapid-fire novel of domestic hope and strife you're likely to read all summer.' But even better than knowing how to write, somewhere in there Barbara also learned how to free herself from the seriousness of being a writer. This is a crucial and often-overlooked step in the writer's life. As bestselling Wyoming author Alexandra Fuller once told me, 'you have to be really thin skinned to write a book, but then you have to grow a really thick skin in order to have written a book.'

So after I met Barbara through her boyfriend, who is a friend of mine, we became email pen pals. I followed her like a duckling, learning how to glide smoothly upon the waters of writerly vicissitude.

I should mention that while I and most of my other author friends are more or less making a living off our writing, Barbara -- whose career is in landscape design and whose book was published by Bay Tree, a small publishing house in California -- doesn't need to. This brings mirth a bit more within reach.

But still. 'Follow her around for a day and you're not quite sure what to make of her light-hearted tenderness towards -- and conversations with -- insects and plants and trees.' says Jeff. 'Especially when she's just cursed at Microsoft Word like a boozed-up sailor.'

I called Barbara and said, 'I'm writing a series of blogs on the theme of surrender, because I can't do it. But I think you do.'

'I was so obsessed with perfection and so afraid during my first three books; I was miserable,' she said. 'So, you're right, I surrendered. I let this novel be dark and black and ragged and raw. I didn't try to make it come out a perfect piece of literature. I surrendered every shred of literary dignity; let it come out black and molten. I opened up the flood gates.'

They're still open. Go get wet at one of these truck stops. (She already read at one in Salt Lake City. There's a You Tube of that reading here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDZmYtpXh3E&feature=channel)

For more on her tour and her book, visit http://www.barbarakrichardson.com/

Lisa Jones is the author of BROKEN: A Love Story. Her website is http://www.lisajoneswrites.com/

You can see a You Tube about BROKEN here.