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.
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.
‘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.
Regular followers will know that I often comment how small steps lead to bigger journeys. Write 500 words every day and in 200 days you have a 100,000-word novel. (Well, the first draft, anyway!)
Several years ago I had my first article published in Writing Magazine, and then another, and another, and then in 2014 the editor asked me to contribute on a regular basis. The Business of Writing column was born.
For these articles, I often chat to other writers about how they deal with various elements of their writing business, and it struck me that, over the course of the column so far, I’ve gathered a wealth of information from these people. It seemed right to gather together some of these pieces and put them in book format.
So, guess what?