The recent Cambridge Analatica and Facebook controversy has highlighted the importance of knowing exactly to whom we’re giving our precious data, and then what they can do with it.
Next month, new European legislation, known as GDPR, comes into force, designed to give individuals more power over what companies can and can’t do with our data. However, these new regulations don’t apply just to large multi-national companies like facebook. They also apply to us – the self-employed or budding writer.
It’s that time of year again. A new tax year. (Well, it is for me, as I follow HMRC’s tax year, which I like to think keeps things simpler.)
While it’s also a good time to review your work over the last year, I also tend took look back a bit further … ten years, to be precise.
One of the most exciting things about writing, is that you never know how far your ideas will fly. Fifteen years ago, on 10th April 2003, I submitted the full manuscript of One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human to a publishing director at Hodder & Stoughton. Two weeks later I had my first book contract.
Last week, I received my latest royalty statement, for sales up to 31st December 2017. Lifetime sales, in all formats (print and digital) now exceed some 266,500 copies. Who’d have thought that, 15 years ago?
The pressure’s on. You have a deadline (either external, or self-imposed) and you need to come up with an idea. You cogitate for a while, and nothing jumps to mind. You start to panic. Come on! Where is it? I just need an idea for my article/story/novel …
Suddenly, you have one! Great! And so you get to work.
But stop. Just consider your idea for a moment. This is your first idea. First ideas generally tend to be weak, ill-thought out affairs. Sometimes the reason may not become apparent until you’re too far along the writing process. Then, with ever-closer deadline looming, you’re forced to do whatever you can to rectify things, even if the solution doesn’t quite work.
If you’ve self-published some work and uploaded it to distributors like Amazon (and Createspace) or Smashwords, you may recently have received an email from them advising you that your 1042-S form is available to download. But what is a Form 1042-S?
Last week I posted a copy of my article from Writing Magazine about how to interpret and understand your ALCS statement. Payments are due soon – 21st March – which means that over the coming weeks, if you’ve registered eligible published work with the ALCS and are due a payment, you’ll receive an email notifying you that your statement is ready to download.
Understanding Your ALCS Statement – published in the March 2018 issue of Writing Magazine
I love this time of year. March is when we get our free money from the ALCS. Free money? Oh, yes! However, from the many comments I’ve seen on social media, not everyone understands their ALCS statement. Many simply look at how much they’re getting and then file it ready for their tax return. But having a clearer understanding of what you’re receiving the money for may help ensure you claim everything to which you’re entitled.
What is ALCS?
The Authors Licensing and Collecting Society collects money generated by secondary rights from various sources and then distributes it to writers. When you sell an article or a short story to a magazine, you sell a primary right – a right to publish your work, for which you should be paid. But once a piece of your writing has been published, there are legitimate ways in which it can be scanned or photocopied. Organisations and business pay for this legitimate right to copy your work.
The results of the Flash 500 short story competition have just been announced, and I’ve been waiting to see who’s won … not because I entered, but because I was the judge.
When you judge a competition you judge it blind, which means you have no idea who wrote each entry. You judge the entry, and assess its impact upon you as a reader, out of the batch you’ve been sent to adjudicate. So it’s always with excitement that I look to see who the writers are, when the results are finally published.
I thought I’d take the opportunity to repeat my judge’s report here, because you might find it useful to see why I chose the stories I selected as my top three (along with a Highly Commended). Writing something of 500 words is not easy. Not when it needs to be a complete story in its own right – not just an anecdotal observation. Writing a 500-word story is a brilliant exercise in writing succinctly, but effectively. And, as these entrants have learned, if you do it well it can earn you some nice money!
The latest issue of The People’s Friend magazine carries a short story I’ve written, called Blackcurrant Jelly. It’s about a father wondering how his young daughter will cope on her first day back at school, after spending several months off school recovering from meningitis. In particular, he’s worried how she’ll cope now she’s lost all of her fingers and thumbs, through the illness.
This year, 22,108 writers are receiving a PLR payment next month. I’m one of them.
I always find PLR statements fascinating documents because, although it’s just a snapshot from a handful of libraries across the UK, they reveal interesting information about which of your books were most popular.
Writing Can Seriously Damage Your Health
Yes. Writing can seriously damage your health. And it doesn’t take long. Hunched up over a keyboard all day, or staring at a computer screen for hours on end (without blinking) can have some devastating consequences.
And then there’s the diet. The constant grazing (usually chocolate) and the copious amounts of tea, coffee or wine. No wonder Jane Wenham-Jones spoke of Writer’s Bottom in her book Wannabe A Writer?
There’s a technique for book writers (both fiction and non-fiction) called book journalling. David Hewson calls it a book diary in his Writing A Book in Ulysses. The idea is simple: any thoughts relating to your book are entered into one journal for that book. That could be a physical notebook, or it could be a file on your computer. (I create a file in my Research folder in Scrivener.)
One of the most common resolutions writers make is: to write more. Actually, if you’re seeking publication, a better resolution would be: to submit more, or to ship more.
It’s easy to seek perfection. (Attaining it is another matter.) However, that search for perfection meets the resolution of doing more writing. But does it actually achieve anything?