The Business of Writing

Simon Whaley's Resource For Writers

Talking The Talk

 Last Saturday, archaeologist and historian (and author and TV presenter) Dr Alex Langlands, came to my home town and spoke about his new book Cræft. It’s his own view about what craft means, and how the word has come to represent what it does today. And he also asks the question, does it still mean what it originally meant when the word was first used in Old English? 

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Scrivener 3

Many of you will know that I’m a fan of the Scrivener software. I use it for all of my writing (articles, short stories, novels, non-fiction books and even for recording my pitches).

Last week saw the launch of the updated version (for Apple Macs). Scrivener 3 is an amazing piece of software, although regular users will spot many changes. Some of the tool options have changed locations. To help with this, Gwen Hernandez, author of Scrivener for Dummies, has produced a free online course that quickly reviews the changes. It can be accessed via her website here: https://scrivenerclasses.com/course/jump-into-scrivener-3-your-transition-guide-for-mac/

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Don’t Be Afraid of Moving On

Last week I read a blog post from Frances Garrood (http://francesgarrood.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/farewell-womags_15.html) about her decision to stop writing short stories. It was a short, interesting piece about how she’d arrived at this decision. And it struck me that, when it comes to the business of writing, sometimes you need to accept that it’s time to move on.

There are many reasons why a writer stops writing in a particular genre or for a specific market. Frances wrote about how she used to write lots of short stories for the women’s magazines, but now finds her time is spent focussing on her novels. As a result, she said she now finds writing short stories harder, because she’s more used to writing novels. She’s evolved as a writer.

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Vlad the Self-Published

Last week’s post (What To Do With My Business After I’m Dead) looked at a book that fellow Writing Magazine columnist Tarja Moles has published. This week, another fellow Writing Magazine columnist, Lorraine Mace, explains why she’s bitten the bullet and self-published her children’ novel, even though it was something she swore she’d never do.

Vlad the Inhaler was the first book I wrote,” Lorraine explains, “and so it has always had a special place in my heart. In 2007 I was taken on by one of the UK’s top children’s agents. She loved Vlad and was certain she could find a home for him in one of the big five. We came close, but it wasn’t to be.”

“In 2012 Vlad was picked up by a US publisher and looked set to do very well. I wrote the second in the trilogy and that was also published by the same company but it wasn’t a marriage made in heaven. I was able to take back my rights just over a year ago and, sadly, believed that was the end of Vlad’s publishing lifespan.”

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What To Do With My Business After I’m Dead

Nobody likes to think about dying, but have you considered what might happen to your writing business after you’re dead? Don’t forget, everything you write is protected by copyright for another 70 years after your demise. That’s 70 years when others could make use of your intellectual property rights.

But would they know that? Where would they go to look for information about your writing business? I keep all of my information in a database in my computer … which is password protected. Which is no use to anyone when I’m dead.

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Have You Got It Covered?

 Covers. They are hugely important but, generally-speaking, not where a writer’s skills lie. Yes, we often know what we like, but that doesn’t mean to say we have the right ideas. Nor does it mean we shouldn’t think about them.

If you write a book that is traditionally published, then your contract will usually contain a clause stating that you will be consulted on the cover. That does not mean you will have the final say. Far from it. It just means that the publisher might approach you and say, “Here are three ideas, which do you prefer: A, B or C?” You might reply that you love B, detest A and are indifferent with C. Your publisher will probably go with A. But it doesn’t matter because you were consulted. They have met their contractual obligations.

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Hybrid Authors

Last Saturday I was assisting with a workshop on self-publishing run by Wrekin Writers, as part of the Wellington Festival, and the topic of Hybrid Authors was briefly discussed. So I thought I’d take the opportunity of posting my recent Writing Magazine feature where I chatted to two writers about being a hybrid author.

HYBRID AUTHORS

Traditionally-published or self-published? Simon Whaley chats to two writers with a foot in both camps.

A few years ago, a writer’s life was binary: either you sought a traditional publishing contract for your book, or you self-published it. Traditionally-published authors liked someone else picking up the costs of editing, proofreading, jacket design and production (in return for a reduced royalty rate), while independent authors were proud that they were in complete control of the whole process, despite having to finance it, in return for a higher royalty rate. 

However, the business of writing is changing. No longer is it necessary to be one or the other. Some writers are choosing the hybrid route: having a mixture of traditionally-published and self-published projects. Why be pigeon-holed into one, or the other, when you can have your cake and eat it?

Leah Mercer (https://www.leahmercer.com/books), whose latest novel The Man I Thought You Were, published by Amazon imprint Lake Union Publishing, believes being a hybrid author offers many benefits. ‘Hybrid authors really have the best of both worlds,’ she explains. ‘By self-publishing, they have the freedom to publish what they want at a price they choose, and they can plug the gaps that often occur when publishing with major houses.’

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Revealing Your Self Through Journalling

Do your journal? I do, and it’s something I’m doing more regularly. Is there a business case for journalling? I think so, because it’s an opportunity to mine your brain for ideas and thoughts. Sometimes journalling helps me to identify a theme, or a connection between ideas, and hone them into shape.

Fellow writer and friend Stephen Wade is celebrating the publication of his latest book: Write Your Self. It’s a guide to making the most of journalling, and explores various themes and techniques for exploring your self, through journalling. By asking the right questions, we can learn more about ourselves generally, as well as ourselves as writers. The contents of those journals then become a huge resource for our creativity.

So this week, I thought I’d offer Stephen an opportunity to tell you more about his book:

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Trumbo

Last weekend I watched Trumbo. So this is a film review … sort of.

Dalton Trumbo was one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters, but in 1947, he, along with several other writers, were imprisoned for their political beliefs. (They faced court hearings where they were asked if they were members of the Communist Party.) Refusing to answer, they went to jail, where Trumbo served 11 months for contempt of Congress. When he was released, he found he and his other imprisoned writer-friends had been blacklisted by Hollywood Studios.

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The Great Agent / Synopsis Debate

When I was at NAWGFest17 last month, I attended a Q&A panel session where two agents (Kate Nash and Hattie Grunewald) spoke freely about their work, what they could do as agents for authors, what prospective authors can do to increase their chances of securing an agent, and general chat about the book industry at the moment. Actually, I should probably also confess that I was there in a semi-official capacity as cameraman … for NAWG wanted to record the event and share it on their website (all camera wobbles are, therefore, my fault).

You can watch the event here: (it’s about an hour, so make yourself comfortable).

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Free Money

It’s that time of year when writers might see some ‘free’ money pop into their bank accounts, but not everyone will be lucky. The secondary rights organisations (ALCS and DACS) are making distributions, as follows:

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Scrivener for Pitching

Many of you will know that I’m a Scrivener fan. I understand that Scrivener isn’t for everyone, in the same way that Word isn’t for me. But for those of you who are using the software, have you ever thought of using it for keeping track of your writing projects, in addition to creating your writing projects with it? Let me explain …

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Five Mistakes Rookie Writers Make

Last week, I mentioned that I went to NAWGFest17, the great writers’ conference run by the National Association of Writers’ Groups. While there, I went to a series of workshops run by Cressida Downing, the Book Analyst. At the first workshop she went through five common mistakes that rookie writers make (with their fiction), which I thought I’d share with you here, as I, too, can own up to having made a couple of these.

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And The Winner Is …

Last weekend was the annual NAWGFest writers’ weekend, full of fantastic workshops and talks. The highlight is the Gala Dinner on Saturday night when the women dress up and look absolutely stunning, and the men dig out an old shirt they once wore for work a few years ago.

It’s at this dinner that the winners of NAWG’s writing competitions are announced. Judges, like myself, have read all of the entries, cogitated, considered and then picked a winner and some runners up. However, none of the entrants knows which of them is the winner. All they know is that they’ve been shortlisted.

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Spacebar Trampolining

A couple of days ago I shared a post on facebook that said:

“Dear friends older than 37: You don’t have to put two spaces after the period anymore. That was for the typewriter era. You’re free.”

It resulted in a raft of comments ranging from:

– “I never do.”

– “Why not?”

– “But I use at least three.”

The post was a tongue-in-cheek way of saying to those writers who were taught to type on a typewriter (including myself), that we should have broken this habit by now. I must admit, it took me many years. 

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