Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Checklist for writing a good crime story, writing tips and National Crime Writing Month 2012

I've got a new page on my official website entitled 'Writing Tips'. At the moment it comprises of a checklist for writing a good crime story, but this might be added to in due course. There are also interviews and further tips on the blog on my website.

I drafted this checklist to help those entering the CWA's ( Crime Writers' Association) Young Crime Writers' Competition 2011 so it is angled slightly towards writing a short story rather than a crime novel. Sadly the Young Crime Writers' Competition is not continuing for 2012, which is a shame because I felt it was just gaining momentum.

However there is going to be a National Crime Writing Month in June 2012 with lots of author and writing events taking place across the UK. I'll post more details here and on my website in due course but you can check this out and other events by visiting the CWA website

How to write a good crime story by Pauline Rowson

There are many different types of crime stories and many different types of crime novels from gritty gruesome, cosy comfortable to cops, robbers and gangsters, racy, action-packed thrillers, historical or contemporary, detective or private eye…

Then there is the setting: the city, the sea, countryside, mountains, home or abroad, and the theme – what message are you trying to get across? And whose story is it anyway?

So -
Choose your location
Choose your type of crime story
Think about a good theme or message you want to get across in your story
Choose who is going to be your main character or characters

Checklist for a good crime story

  • It should be well written with a truly surprising ending.
  • You need to plant clues throughout the crime story – not too many but just enough to get the reader thinking.
  • One critical piece of information is usually held back until just before the ending.
  • The best stories are those that have a theme/message and are firmly based on character.
  • Beginning: the main character is introduced immediately, so is the tone and setting and the problem
  • Middle: Build the motivation and tension.
  • The climax – this is the worst possible moment of the story.
  • The ending
  • If you are writing a short story then there should be unities of time, place and action which means that the story should take place over a very short space of time, in the same place and ideally through the main character’s eyes. This results in tight construction and a successful short story.
Read More

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Bloomsbury Institute enters reader events market and Tindall Street Press launch Creative Writing Programme

Bloomsbury Publishing has set up a literary events arm called Bloomsbury Institute, hosting literary salons, lectures and book clubs, as well as providing sessions for unpublished writers.

Claire Daly, previously festival co-ordinator for the Soho Literary Festival, has been appointed as Bloomsbury Institute events manager, with upwards of 30 events planned a year, in addition to new events and masterclasses expanding the established programme for unpublished writers offered under the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook brand.

The events will largely be hosted at the publisher's offices in Bedford Square, central London.

Man Booker-shortlisted Stephen Kelman will be among the first to speak at a Bloomsbury Salon event. He will be interviewed, alongside In Darkness author Nick Lake, by Julia Eccleshare on 31st January.

The first Bloomsbury Institute Lecture will be given in  February by Slow Finance author Gervais Williams.

The Bloomsbury Book Club will begin with a William Boyd event on 29th February, held in partnership with debating forum Intelligence Squared.

Salon events and lectures will cost £8 to attend, with the Book Club charging £30, sending readers signed, first edition copies of the relevant book ahead of the meeting.

The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook events, offering guidance to unpublished authors, will include a one-to-one "Beat the Rejection Clinic", priced £199, and a "How to Hook an Agent" lunch, price yet to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, Birmingham independent Tindal Street Press has launched its own creative writing programme, Tindal Street Masterclasses, with Beginners Level and Academy Level courses, priced £400 and £450 respectively for the first 10-week term, led by author Josie Barnard.

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Crime Writers' Association to launch exciting new initiatives for crime fiction fans in 2012

The Crime Writers’ Association (CWA),  is to launch a new initiative, the Crime Readers’ Association (CRA) in 2012 and is expanding the Crime Writing Week to an entire month in June.

The CRA will launch in February 2012 with a new website, the url is yet to be confirmed. The site will offer readers information about forthcoming crime books, interviews with crime authors and features by CWA member authors. An e-newsletter is also lined up, with plans to organise events for readers to meet authors.

National Crime Writing Week is also set to expand to a month of activities in bookshops, libraries and arts centres. Last year I was delighted to run a Crime Writing Workshop at the Quay Arts Centre in Newport on the Isle of Wight.

National Crime Writing Month will begin at the Bristol-based Crimefest event, where I will be appearing on a panel. Crimefest runs from May 24th-27th 2012. National Crime Writing Month will conclude with the CWA Dagger awards. The date for the event is to be confirmed. I was also very proud to have been longlisted for the Dagger in the Library Award.

Pauline Rowson centre on the panel at Crimefest 2011

I'm looking forward to both these initiatives and will certainly be posting further details here and on my web site as soon as I have them.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Sales and profit drop at book wholesaler Gardners

Sales and profit have fallen in the last year at book wholesaler Gardners but the company said it was "pleased" to maintain its profitability in an "increasingly competitive and challenging market".

In the year to 28th February 2011, the Eastbourne-based business reported a turnover of £176.5m, down 12% on last year’s reported sales of £200m and an operating profit of £5.7m, down 28% on last year’s figure of £7.8m.

Gardners said despite the reduction in total figures for the year, underlying sales and profit have increased. It said: "The exceptional increase in turnover in the previous year was due to a major competitor (Bertrams) going into temporary administration, which has now been resolved."

The company added: "The directors are also pleased to report that the company’s profitability has once more been maintained in an increasingly competitive and challenging market."

Thursday, 15 December 2011 expands publishing arm by acquiring children's books list from Marshall Cavendish has acquired 450 titles from publisher Marshall Cavendish, marking the retailer's publishing arm's expansion into children's books, with the company's vice-president saying this deal could pave the way for similar agreements in other categories.

The online giant will continue to publish the titles from Marshall Cavendish Children's Books in print editions, as well as making them available digitally under an imprint of its New York publishing unit, providing further content for its colour e-reader the Kindle Fire.

Amazon Publishing vice-president Jeff Belle said: "We're excited to acquire the Marshall Cavendish Children's Books titles and expand our publishing business in this area. We believe the children's book market segment presents a unique opportunity to innovate in both print and digital formats.

"And since many of these titles are not readily available as e-books, we see a chance to connect a terrific group of authors and illustrators with more readers. We also see the potential for similar deals across other categories in future."

Larry Kirschbaum, vice-president and publisher at Amazon Publishing said: "We will continue to publish these books in their handsome print editions and we think customers will love reading these books—most of them never available before digitally—with their families, using the brilliant colour touchscreen of the Kindle Fire."

Amazon Publishing is made up of six imprints: AmazonEncore, AmazonCrossing, Powered by Amazon, Montlake Romance, Thomas & Mercer, 47North, as well as the New York-based division under which MCCB will be housed.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Choosing a title for a crime novel - Pauline Rowson, crime author discusses

How do you come up with titles for your crime novels?

Dead Man's Wharf by Pauline RowsonWith great difficulty or considerable ease is the answer. Some titles can come instantly, almost the moment the novel hits the page (or rather the computer screen) Dead Man's Wharf was one such case. Others are like pregnancy, taking months to develop and even when the novel is finished I might still have no idea for a suitable title. A bit like the Horton novel I'm currently working on, number eight in the series. I'm on third revisions and stil no idea what the title of the novel will be.

It doesn’t matter when the title comes to me though, what does is that it must suit the novel, and if possible be memorable, although in my experience people rarely remember the title of a novel unless it's been made into a film or a television series.

Deadly Waters by Pauline RowsonOccasionally the publisher will help with the title, or can suggest changing it to one they think more appealing or suitable. And titles are often changed in translation to suit the country, and sometimes even when it is an English speaking country but with different spellings of a word. For example, Deadly Waters started out as Deadly Harbour but was changed because of publication in America where 'harbour' is spelt 'harbor.'

There are many different types of crime novel so equally there are many different types of crime novel titles. The title needs to reflect the mood of the book, as well as its structure and tone.

The Suffocating Sea by Pauline RowsonThe Suffocating Sea conjures up the body on the burning boat in a marina on a foggy November night and how Horton feels as the novel progresses and he begins to discover some uncomfortable things about his mother's past.

Tide of Death represents the body washed up on the tide and how one death triggers a series as the killer gets more and more desperate to cover his tracks. Blood on the Sand, reflects the bloody body found in the sand of a bunker on an abandoned golf course on the Isle of Wight and Footsteps on the Shore the fact that Horton is being stalked.

A Killing Coast by Pauline RowsonA Killing Coast, the seventh in the DI Horton series, is published on 26 January. This title reflects the fact that the novel is set partly in Portsmouth and partly on the coast of the Isle of Wight across the Solent from the city of Portsmouth, where Horton is based in CID.

All the DI Horton marine mystery crime novels have a ‘sea’ element to the title to reflect their setting and reinforce their branding as marine mysteries. The stand alone thrillers are slightly different. Even though these too are set against the backdrop of the sea it wasn't so essential to reflect this in the title.

In for the Kill by Pauline RowsonIn For The Kill
was a title that sprang instantly to mind as Alex Albury will fight to the bitter end to discover the identity of the man who stole his identity, framed him and destroyed his comfortable life and reputation. He is out to kill or be killed.

In Cold Daylight started out as The Cold Light of Day. The title represents the fact that Adam Greene, the reluctant hero, emerges from the story a different man than when he started. His journey forces him to relive past traumas and face up to the shame of his mental breakdown on a quest that was forced upon him to discover the truth behind the death of his friend, fire-fighter Jack Bartholomew and several of his colleagues of cancer.

Titles do matter because people can choose a book because of its title, and the look of the cover, especially if it is a new author for them, and one that hasn't necessarily been recommended by someone. And if the book becomes a treasured one then the title will stick, even if the name of the author has been forgotten.

Now it's time to get back to DI Andy Horton number eight and hope that soon a title will come to me.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Publisher Bloomsbury launches online service for unpublished authors

Bloomsbury is to offer online services to help unpublished authors learn about the publishing process, as well as access to advice from editors and agents.

The services are an extension of the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, published by Bloomsbury, and are online at The scheme breaks the process down into four stages:

Starting Out;
Developing Your Talent and Growing as a Writer;
Emerging and Selling Your Stories;
Promoting and Publishing.

The 'How Strong is Your Book Idea?' service features in stage one, and is priced £99.99. The agents and editors who will be giving the feedback will be freelance.

Product director Eela Devani described the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook as an "independent and impartial brand", adding: "We've responded to the needs of the market by creating simple bespoke services to help and support creative spirits from the early stages of the writing process through to the publishing and promoting phase."We have spent over 100 years supporting writers and artists with our Yearbook and so this is a natural step for us."

Monday, 12 December 2011

Constable and Robinson to launch a new commercial fiction imprint

Publisher Constable & Robinson is to launch Canvas, a new commercial fiction list headed by commissioning editor Victoria Hughes-Williams.

The Canvas list will initially publish 12 new titles a year, in print and digital, with its first title to be published in May 2012.

Fiction publisher James Gurbutt said: "Victoria's role and the launch of Canvas form part of a long-term objective to grow the business and to diversify our fiction offerings. The new list will be predominantly women's fiction—focusing on the mass market—an area in which, until now, we have not had a presence."

Hughes-Williams added that Canvas will be experimenting with how they engage directly with readers, saying: "It's an incredibly exciting time to be acquiring, as we develop new ways to shape the form of the books we bring to market."

Constable and Robinson accept unsolicited manuscripts. Please check their guidelines on their web site for full submission details.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Ebury Press appoint editorial director for science fiction and fantasy

Ebury Press has appointed Michael Rowley, previously a Waterstone's buyer, as editorial director for science fiction and fantasy.

Rowley was previously a sci-fi and fantasy specialist buyer at Waterstone's head office for seven years, having graduated from the University of Liverpool with an MA in science fiction studies. He initially worked for Waterstone's at the Manchester Deansgate branch, running the sci fi and fantasy section and co-editing the in-house genre magazine, Enigma.

Ebury Publishing m.d. Fiona MacIntyre said: "Michael is recognised as being one of the best in the business and it is a real pleasure to provide a home for him to develop a subject he so clearly loves. His astute understanding of the sf and fantasy audience will help shape an exciting, innovative and profitable list."

Rowley added: "Joining Ebury is a dream job for me, the high point of a long career specialising in genre fiction. To be part of such a wonderful and passionate team is hugely exciting, and I can't wait to get started."

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Orbit Short Fiction expands publishing programme from the USA to the UK

Orbit is launching its digital short fiction publishing programme internationally, expanding from its US base.
Orbit Short Fiction, which launched in the US in April, will release titles simultaneously in the US, UK and all other markets in which its e-books are regularly distributed from the start of 2012.

Editorial director Anne Clarke said: "The digital short fiction market is clearly gaining momentum, and I'm delighted that we'll now be able to make our authors' stories available internationally. The success of the programme in the US has been very encouraging, and we're very much looking forward to working with our authors and colleagues in the US on this next stage in its development."

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

What Do Writers Really Earn? A Survey by the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society

Bubblecow recently posted this interesting article.

In 2008 the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (UK) commissioned a survey to examine author’s earnings.

Here’s what they found:

  • The average (mean) annual earnings of a writer: £16,531
  • The typical (median) earnings of a writer: £4,000
  • 60% of people who saw themselves as ‘professional authors’ required a second source of income
  • The average (mean) annual earnings of a writer (25-34): £14,564
  • The typical (median) earnings of a writer (25-34): £5,000
  • The average (mean) annual earnings of a writer (35-44): £24,533
  • The typical (median) earnings of a writer (35-44): £18,000
  • The average (mean) annual earnings of a writer (45-54): £35,958
  • The typical (median) earnings of a writer (45-54): £14,250
  • The genres that earned the most money (highest to lowest): TV writing, Theatre/film writing, Audio, internet and other, Books – fiction, Books – academic/educational, Books – children’s fiction, Newspapers/magazines and Books – non-fiction.

Source: What are Words Worth? The ALCS commissioned research carried out by Bournemouth University.

BubbleCow was established in 2007 with the simple goal of ‘helping writers to get published’.You can read more about Bubblecow on their website.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Good Housekeeping launches writing a novel competition with the chance to get published and a £25,000 advance

Good Housekeeping Magazine has launched a writing competition for budding novelists in association with Orion and agent Luigi Bonomi.

The competition appears in the magazine's January issue, which is on sale now. Good Housekeeping is looking for previously unpublished writers in any genre apart from children's, with first prize a £25,000 advance, help from the Orion editorial team and Bonomi, and the chance to have the winning book published with coverage in the magazine.

The judges will include Kate Mosse, Bonomi, Orion fiction publishing director Kate Mills and Good Housekeeping editorial director Lindsay Nicholson.

Nicholson said the magazine was "looking forward to discovering the UK's next big literary talent". Mills commented: "I'm always meeting writers who are feverishly working away in isolation and this is a fantastic opportunity to get that hard work read and recognised, with a great prize."

Monday, 5 December 2011

Atlantic Books appoints new editorial director

Atlantic Books has appointed Sara O'Keeffe, currently a senior commissioning editor at Orion, as editorial director of Corvus.

O'Keeffe, who has worked at Orion for eight years, will take up her new role at Corvus in January, reporting to publishing director Margaret Stead. She succeeds Nicolas Cheetham, who is to join new publisher Head of Zeus in the New Year.

Atlantic Books do not take unsolicited manuscripts.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Waterstone's James Daunt to be keynote speaker at IPG's 50th conference March 2012

Waterstone's m.d. James Daunt will be the keynote speaker at next year's Independent Publishers Guild annual conference, the organisation's 50th.

The 2012 event, to be held from 7th to 9th March at Heythrop Park near Chipping Norton, will also host the sixth presentation of the IPG Independent Publishing Awards.

IPG executive director Bridget Shine said she was "thrilled" to have Daunt presenting the keynote speech. "Waterstone's is a vitally important customer for many of our members, and given James' vast experience we are sure that all independent publishers will be interested to hear his thoughts on the current state and future of our industry," she said.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Stationery retailer Viking moves into bookselling

Internet and catalogue stationery retailer Viking has opened an online bookstore selling a range of 3,500 titles.
The company is based in Leicester and said it had decided to begin selling books in a bid to further become “a one-stop-shop for businesses and consumers”.

Its range includes fiction, business and travel. The company said it hopes to expand into educational books to become a future resource for schools, as well as small businesses and consumers.

Viking, which employs 1,300 people in the UK, said: “Early indications show that customers have taken to the new offering and interestingly, the biggest sellers so far are health and safety-focused publications."