The Business of Writing

Simon Whaley's Resource For Writers

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DACS Change

It’s all change at DACS. There are two dates you need to put into your shiny new 2017 calendar:

  • 16th January 2017
  • 17th February 2017

The first date is when the DACS Payback Scheme opens for your 2016 claim, which is much earlier than usual (traditionally, it’s opened in August). The second deadline is the cut-off date for claims.

For those of you who don’t know, the DACS Payback scheme is the system photographers use for claiming money they’re entitled to for any secondary uses of their work (the most common example of which is photocopying: a magazine might pay you for using your photo in their publication, but if someone else then photocopies that magazine article you’r entitled to be paid for that use too). It’s similar to the ALCS system for words.

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So Were You On The List?

Have you been good this year? Were you on ‘the list’? No, I’m not talking about Santa’s list of good little children, but of Take A Break’s list of preferred good fiction writers?

Last Thursday some of us received an email advising us of changes being made at TAB Towers, where Fiction Feast is put together. There were two different emails issued, depending upon which list you were on: one to those who were lucky enough to be on TAB’s list of preferred fiction writers, and those, like me, who were not.

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Don’t Expect A Marriage Proposal

“When the bell rings, that’s the start of your ten minute time slot. You must go to where your booked agent is sitting. If the last person is still sitting in your seat you must evict them from it. Pull them off the chair, pull the chair from underneath them, or simply sit on their lap, the choice is yours. Whatever you do, do not let them finish their conversation, because they are eating into your ten-minute time slot. Got that?”

What had I let myself in for? I thought this was some civilised event at a writers’ conference where I would get the chance to chat to a top London agent and perhaps get some feedback or guidance on my novel. Instead, I seemed to have stumbled across some sort of writers’ Game of Thrones event. Were we expected to fight one another to the death?

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Products

Two weeks ago I mentioned that the follow up to my short story collection (Ten Teatime Tales) was in production, now that some of the stories I wanted to include in it are now out of their exclusivity period. Well, I’m pleased to say that Ten Teatime Tales 2 (it took me months to come up with that title) is now available. (Just in time for all of those new electronic reading devices that will be unwrapped in a couple of weeks time.)
As writers, we tend not to think of our scribblings as products. But if you’re hoping to generate an income from your creativity it’s important to think about the different formats you can exploit in your work.

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Curveballs

15203272_10154947985443968_6024464254901468638_nSometimes, things don’t always go to plan. Last week, having been on a press trip for a magazine on the Saturday, I had planned on spending the week writing up my notes and transcribing the audio interview, as well as processing the photos and creating the first draft of the article. But that’s not quite how things panned out …

My left eye didn’t feel quite right on Monday morning, so I saw my GP. He referred me to an optician, who I saw on Tuesday morning. The optician wasn’t sure if anything was wrong, but decided to send me to A&E that Tuesday evening to double-check.

I’m pleased he did.

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What’s Mine Is Mine

41i3axnkn9l-_sx311_bo1204203200_Sometimes, it’s not until you build up a body of work that you really appreciate what you have created. And that’s when the consequences of being a little slap dash with the rights you grant others in your work becomes apparent.

When you’re starting out, it’s easy to be swayed into granting more rights in a piece of your work than you’d like. You know you really ought not give a publisher copyright in your article, but they are going to publish it (which is what you really want) and, let’s face it, who is going to turn Ten Alternative Uses Of A Nose-Hair Clipper into a movie?

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Publishing Dilemmas

file-17-11-2016-16-07-01Last week I was approached by two different writers, each with their own publishing dilemma. I hope they found my comments useful, but what the queries demonstrated was that when it comes to publishing your book you need to be clear what your dream is. Only then can you decide what is right for you.

The first writer had made the decision to self-publish her novel, having spent many years writing it and then even more time trying to interest a traditional publisher. She’d come to accept that to get what she wanted – a print book she could encourage retailers to take – that self-publishing, or independent publishing, was the way forward for her. It would cost her money, but it was what she wanted.

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Press Trip Protocols

A greyhound relaxing on a sofa in the manager's house, Greyhound Rescue Wales, near Garnant, Carmarthenshire, WalesAbout ten days ago, I was on the outskirts of the small Welsh village of Garnant, at the foot of the Brecon Beacons, visiting the animal charity Greyhound Rescue Wales. The People’s Friend asked me to go out and pay them a visit.

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Submission Agreements

submission-agreementThere’s a new contract in town. One you have to sign BEFORE a publisher will even look at your submission. It’s called a submission agreement. But should you sign it?

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Be Explicit

copyright_symbol_9There’s an excellent article in the Autumn 2016 issue of The Author – the journal for members of the Society of Authors. Called Pulped, it is written by Guy Walters, a journalist and historian, who bravely recounts events that led to one of his books being pulped on the very weekend it was due to be published.

The reason for pulping? Copyright infringement.

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OctoWriMo?

crest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76Has anyone signed up for NaNoWriMo yet (National Novel Writing Month)? For those of you who don’t know, this is where writers set themselves the challenge of writing 50,000 words of their novel during the month of November. (That’s an average of 1,667 words a day.)

If you’re not used to writing big projects, this can be a great way to get started. Your aim is just to get 50,000 words written. They don’t have to be great words. They’re not perfect words. In fact, you’re not supposed to do any editing at this stage. Just write 50,000 words. At least.

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Irish Travel Competition T&Cs

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-17-07-17Alex Gazzola (http://mistakeswritersmake.blogspot.co.uk) has spotted that the Irish Times are running a travel writing competition (for writers based in Ireland – http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/travel/travel-writer/submit-your-story), and it’s another classic example of why writers should read the terms and conditions of every competition they enter, just so they know what they’re signing up to. I took a look at them and … well, I just started laughing.

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Avoiding Predictability

file-20-11-2015-11-20-40Caroline recently got in touch with me enquiring about how to improve the endings of her short stories. She says she often gets great comments about her stories, but her endings let her down. They are too predictable.

This is a common theme found in many rejection letters. In fact, it could be argued that editors need to come up with a less predictable way of saying our stories have predictable endings!

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Creative Hoarding

trashcanAre you a creative hoarder?

At this year’s Writers’ Holiday, in Fishguard, novelist Marina Oliver gave an interesting talk about why writers shouldn’t throw anything away. She explained how she’s developed ideas for certain markets, only for them to disappear, for one reason or another, leaving her with a piece of writing she’d created but nowhere to place it. But then, several years later, often when she least expected it, an opportunity arose and she was able to dust it down, rejig it slightly, and sell her work.

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Festival Fever

Most of us love a good writing workshop, and for an hour or two we’re in heaven. But why go to one when we could have a whole weekend or even a week of them? Three key writers’ conferences take place between the end of July through to the beginning of September, giving delegates a plethora of workshops and talks in which to immerse themselves.

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