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.
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 many journalists financial difficulties, making it harder to earn a living. Newspapers are news-led, which means their features are tightly linked to the news agenda too.
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.
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.)
If you’re toying with the idea of self-publishing a book, then I would encourage you to read Andrew Franklin’s blog post on the Society of Author’s website.
Andrew Franklin is the joint founder of Profile Books. Therefore, he understands the costs involved when it comes to publishing a book. In his blog post (which was also an article in the Society of Author’s Journal published back in the autumn) he candidly talks money. A lot of money. Particularly when you think that as a publisher he’s capable of exploiting economies of scale, something that self-published authors can’t necessarily access.
While he admits that the costs of publishing one book varies from book to book, he mentions some general figures:
Social media was buzzing with more contract queries last week, after one magazine began issuing fiction writers with a new contract.
I haven’t seen the entire contract because I am not one of those writers on their preferred supplier list, but many of the queries were around a clause that appeared to request the transfer of all intellectual property rights.
Clearly, without seeing the whole contract, it would be inappropriate for me to give advice. And, anyway, I’m not a legal expert, so I’m not trained to give such advice. But I did think it would be useful to remind writers of potential basic steps they can consider when faced with a situation like this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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:
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 …