The Business of Writing

Simon Whaley's Resource For Writers

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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Adapt & Change

It’s been a busy week in the writing world on two different fronts: one which fiction writers may already be aware of, and another that probably won’t have registered with writers using Windows computers.

The first event concerned Woman’s Weekly magazine, whose staff issued an email, out of the blue, last week to advise that following a restructure at Time Inc (owners of the Woman’s Weekly brand), the entire fiction team was moving on.

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Publishing Is Not Binary

Last week, I shared a post on Facebook (dating from March 2016, so it wasn’t new) from the Guardian’s Books Blog by Ros Barber who explained why she doesn’t want to self-publish. It was in response to the many comments she received on her own blog following a post she’d made about the derisory incomes authors earn these days, even those who are traditionally published. She was making the point that we’re not all offered the six-figure advances that many readers think we are. (Heck, we’re not always offered an advance at all these days!)

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All You Need Is A Seat And A Lap

Enid Blyton … writing

When you wake up on 11th August, raise a toast to Enid Blyton, who was born that day 120 years ago.

I recently re-read her first Famous Five novel, Five On A Treasure Island, which in itself brought back many happy childhood memories.

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Readly Offer

If you haven’t come across it before, Readly is a fantastic resource for writers. It’s an online magazine store. For £7.99 a month you can access thousands of magazines (and their back issues) and view them on several devices at the same time.

Most of the magazines are the full issues that you might buy at the newsagents. I’ve only come across one that was a ‘scaled down’ or ‘lite’ version, and basically that meant there were no adverts. There are no limits to the number of magazines you can look at/read each month, or store on your device (except any limitations caused by the amount of memory on your device). Downloaded issues are accessible while you have a subscription.

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In The Beginning

It is a truth universally acknowledged that over 98.276% of all first draft beginnings could be improved dramatically. Okay, I made that up, but whether you’re writing an article, short story or a novel, the beginning has to hook your reader and draw them into your piece. If you don’t do it at the beginning, the reader won’t be bothered to find out what happens next. And don’t forget, the first reader who sees your work is an editor or publisher. So if your writing doesn’t grab them by the scruff of the neck, then it won’t even get the opportunity to do so with any other readers. Here are five ways to strengthen your beginnings:

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Spot The Difference

Something in this photo has not stood the test of time. And I’m not referring to the 13th century castle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four years separate the photo on the right from the one of the left. The one of the right was taken last weekend. It’s for an article I’m writing, and it’s a great example of how things can change. Things that you least expect.

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Ride The Waves: Beware of the Pirates!

‘I don’t want to worry you, but have you seen this website?’ Those were the words from a concerned fellow author who’d found all her books were being offered for free, as PDF downloads, via an unscrupulous website. I searched for my name and found nine of my books listed. My immediate reaction was “Shiver Me Timbers,” or words to that affect. Then I wondered what I should do about it.

In this business of writing, copyright allows us to licence others to reproduce our work in a variety of agreed formats, hopefully for some financial reward. My first book, One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human, published by Hodder & Stoughton, is available in print and ebook format, because that’s what the contract agreed. The only other businesses who can publish my words in these formats are the four foreign publishers who’ve negotiated the right to do so.

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