Don’t Be A (Disqualified) Dork!

Don’t Be A (Disqualified) Dork!

The annual short story competition run by one of the writers’ circles I go to has just closed, and once again I’m staggered by the number of entrants who failed to read the rules. I just don’t understand it. I deal with the administration of some of the entries before they are passed on to the judges, and part of that admin work involves checking that entrants have met all of the competition’s rules. The two most commonly broken rules…

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Selling Out, Or Surviving?

Selling Out, Or Surviving?

It was a moment of dichotomy. I’d just been offered a job. An employed job. It was my first job interview for twenty years and they offered me the position. (Clearly, they were desperate!) I was going back into the world of employment, albeit on a part-time basis. But the euphoria was tempered with guilt. After all this time working as a full-time self-employed writer, was I selling out on the dream? Would this make me less of a writer?…

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Not All Right(s) in Womagland

Not All Right(s) in Womagland

Writers in Womagland (those who write short stories or serials for the women’s magazine market) have been venting their anger and frustration on social media recently. Woman’s Weekly magazine has changed its contract terms and payment rates. Those who have received an acceptance email in the last week or so have been told that the magazine is now seeking All Rights (including copyright) in their short stories and the payments are being reduced.

Commissioning Conundrum

Commissioning Conundrum

When is a commission not a commission? Well, it all depends upon when in the writing process you make the sale. Patsy Collins of the Womagwriters blog asked me to write a guest post about the latest confusion concerning some of the fiction markets using the word commission when accepting (or rejecting) a story, and I thought I’d also publish it on my own Business of Writing blog here. Firstly, here’s the get-out clause: I’m not a solicitor, therefore this…

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The 0.01% Copyright Conundrum

The 0.01% Copyright Conundrum

Pretty much every book on writing urges writers NOT to sign away their copyright in a project. And I would agree that, in 99.99% of cases, that is definitely the right step to take. However, there are times when doing the unthinkable can work out useful.

The (Foreign) Cheque Is In The Post

The (Foreign) Cheque Is In The Post

I’ve just received a payment that I’ve been chasing since June 2017 (for a piece originally written in 2016). What made this slightly more challenging was that the publication was based overseas. Here in the UK we have the Late Payments Act that allows us to charge interest on overdue payments. And if the worst comes to the worst we always have the small claims court to fall back on. But when it comes to foreign customers, things are a…

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Media Kits

Media Kits

JK Rowling has one. Lee Child has one. You should have one too. Simon Whaley explains what to put in your Media Kit.   Eric James is a children’s author, word tickler and champion asparagus thrower. He’s sold over 2.5 million books in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. How do I know all of this? Because he’s put all this information, and more, in his Media Kit on his website (www.ericjames.co.uk). When it comes to the business of writing,…

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There’s Only One You

There’s Only One You

When it comes to the business of writing, it’s not necessarily our ideas that are important but the way we interpret them. As individuals, we are unique. We’ve all had different upbringings and influences upon our lives. We’ve all had different experiences. Even when we’re at the same event, our experience will influence how we interpret that event. That’s what makes us writers. Our interpretation.

POP Implications

POP Implications

Getting published is one thing, but getting paid can be an entirely different matter. Historically, many magazines have paid for items on publication. So if you write an article for the August issue of a magazine (back in March, and submit it in April) you will be paid for it in August. Some magazines pay 30 days after publication, which could mean payment may not arrive until September. There’s a growing trend for newspapers to do this, which is causing…

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RU GDPR OK?

RU GDPR OK?

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.

The Joy of Tax

The Joy of Tax

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.

How Far Will An Idea Fly?

How Far Will An Idea Fly?

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…

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Daydreaming is Good- Ditch the First Idea

Daydreaming is Good- Ditch the First Idea

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,…

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Smile for the Camera!

Smile for the Camera!

If you’ve read my Business of Writing column in Writing Magazine (and I hope you have), you’ll know that from time to time I chat to other writers to gather their thoughts and expertise on a subject. Right from the start of the column (and for those of you who are counting, I’m just putting the finishing touches to the 52nd article), the editor asked me to obtain head-and-shoulder photos of the writers from whom I obtained quotes. (Perhaps he…

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What To Do With Your Form 1042?

What To Do With Your Form 1042?

  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?