Thursday 30 April 2015

Authors for Nepal - Auction Coming Up...

I doubt many will have missed the news reports of the devastation left by the 7.8 magnitude  earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday, resulting in the death and homelessness of huge numbers of  citizens.

As with previous natural disasters authors are rallying together to raise funds by donating to a charity auction; items donated range from signed books, to critiques, and an author visit, plus many more.

There's still time for other donations to be added with a deadline of 6 pm this Sunday, May 3rd.

For details of where and how, pop over to the Authors for Nepal Facebook page.

At the moment the auction is scheduled to begin Tuesday 5th May at midnight on ebay. The organiser, writer Julia Williams, has said that although they may not have loaded all the items by the start time, they will carry on until they're complete.

So even if the earlier ones have finished there will still be later ones running.

The money raised by the auction will go to Earthquake Relief for Nepal set-up by a New Zealand based charity, First Steps Himalaya, who are involved with providing early years education for rural Nepali children, and are already based within one of the villages.

You can find out more from this item in the Bookseller.

The charity's page.

The Facebook page for Authors for Nepal.

So keep an eye on the Facebook page for more updates over the weekend.

AUCTION RUNNING so pop over to ebay and take a look at their all listings- there are a few still to be added, so keep checking.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Catching Up...

After weeks of not adding to my work in progress due to lack of time, quiet, a stuffed up head and a second chest infection, I was really worried that I would find it difficult to get back into writing my contemporary romance, especially as I'd left off writing mid-chapter, with my heroine having to make decisions that could be good or bad, dependent on what she discovers...

I was surprised how quickly I got back into the flow.

Going with the 'write it and see' method has not suited me, and the contemporary romance will certainly need much more work in the second draft.

Even when I plan I'm flexible. Sometimes ideas expand or new ones emerge as I'm writing my historical romances, and they seem to fit in easier, whereas at the moment with the contemporary these additional bits seem to stick up like nails that haven't been hammered in properly!

I'm also anxious to get back to the Nottinghamshire novella too- the characters have started reminding me they are still waiting for the rewrite, and when will I start?

Along with a few ideas for shorter pieces- inspirations that have been percolating, and now keep popping up when I'm not expecting them to- usually when I'm meant to be cooking dinner, are distracting.

It's great there are all these ideas, but it doesn't help me get anything finished!

So I'm going to put some serious time in during the next couple of months, and try to be more organised.

There are short, mid and long term plans that I can dip into as and when needed.

I'm determined...

Monday 20 April 2015

Writers' Earnings - Not Good News...

Still not quite over the recent late spring bug, but my head is now clear enough to put some thoughts together on the news reports about writers' earnings that came out today.

You may remember that last summer the initial findings of the ALCS's survey on author earnings revealed that for professional authors- those who earn their income from writing rather than another job- their 2013 income was just £11,000. (In 2005 this figure was £12,330.)

The full research has now detailed how the income is spread, and for the average writer it is not good news.

The top 10% of professional authors (defined as those who spend more than 50% of their time self-employed writing) earn 58% of all the money that's earned by professional authors.

Now I'm not going to begrudge any writer for all the years of hard work they've put in, they've earned it. But would they be able to get to that same level of income if they were just making that leap into full-time writing now? In the current climate facing writers I very much doubt it.

One of the panels I attended at the recent Writers Conference was about earning a living as a writer. While few of the audience were shocked at how difficult it was to do so, it was probably the insights into how varied the other means of earning an income have become: teaching, mentoring, workshops, and other creative writing opportunities were sited as other income sources.

Back to the results:
As for the bottom 50% of writers (professional and those for whom writing is not their primary occupation- which will be most) they only earn 7% of all the money earned by writers put together...

The worrying figure is that 17% of all writers did not earn anything during 2013. Also 90% needed to earn money from other sources. Bills still need to be paid and food bought...

While these headline figures are worrying, there's a lot more to be concerned about for many writers who are emerging in the current world.

  • Too many expect writers to work for nothing, whilst claiming it will help your profile (!!!! I stopped believing that a long time ago. It's not that I wouldn't do something for free, but that would be my choice because I supported a cause or was happy to help in some way, or a particular writing credit would be useful...)

  • Contracts that demand more, or all rights (including moral rights) in any media with no additional recompense- an issue with a number of magazines. 

  • No reversion clauses. Admittedly many publishers will have them, but others won't, and how can any contract be fair if all the advantages are on one side? Yes, you can turn the contract down, but regrettably you lose out.

It will be interesting to read the full report, as it also looked at copyright, contracts and the authors' bargaining positions.

To read the various articles here are a few links you might like: Bookseller; and the Guardian.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Kobo, Mills and Boon and W H Smith Romance Writing Life Competition...

April seems to be the month for competition announcements.

Following on from my Sunday post, about Choc Lit, there's now another opportunity for writers of romance in the UK, Canada, and the United States, announced today.

The winning writer receives a publishing contract with Mills and Boon, which includes print and digital release; plus it will be "jointly promoted" by all three names: Kobo, Mills&Boon, and W H Smith.

There's a prize for second and third place- a Kobo Glo HD.

Now to take part, you must have an active Kobo Writing Life account to enter, and they do give you a helpful link.

The first of many?
Their link takes you to a page, but you need the create an account via the link on the bottom left (in light blue/green) and you can then proceed to sign up to Kobo Writing Life as an author.

Now that bit is the off-putting part of the process- I'd assume they class signing up as being the active bit...

So what do you need to submit?

A maximum 500 word synopsis, and the first chapter of your romance manuscript, no longer than 5,000 words. These will be "reviewed by a judging panel".

(I'm sure I don't need to remind you, but just in case, give the ending on the synopsis...)

They're including all romance genres, and while saying it's not limited to their existing categories, I do wonder how much that will play a part.

And for those who want to submit a title they've self-published - you're in luck.

The deadline for entries is the 14th July- but you might want to check whether that is UK time, or US.

As the successful writer will be announced a month later, 14th August, the winner will need their complete manuscript ready for submitting to Mills and Boon in September-with the release date of the winning entry in early 2016.

And the manuscript needs to be 70,000 words, or more...

For full details pop along to the Kobo Writing Life page. It has all the links you need, including the one for the application form- make a note of how they want your manuscript put together before you click submit...

If you enter, good luck.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti and

Sunday 12 April 2015

Choc Lit Search for a Star...

This opportunity, from book publisher Choc Lit, arrived in their regular e-newsletter today.

My head is full of cold, so this post is very short, so I'm going to suggest you read the details carefully for yourself.

If you have a full length manuscript of romantic fiction ready to submit, and you think they might be the publisher for you, then find out more, you may be the debut they're searching for.

It does cost to enter (£10 or $15), and social media activity is an important aspect for them, as well as having plenty of book ideas.

There are a few questions to answer, so you need to think about those before you submit. And for the full terms and conditions email them at the address they give on their page...

The deadline for entries is 31st May 2015, and your entry must be complete- they don't want part written entries, or first drafts.

To check-out the details, have a look at their page by going to Choc Lit.

Sunday 5 April 2015

My Day at The Writing Conference - Part 2...

Happy Easter to you all.

It's been a very busy week, which is why this post wasn't done on Thursday when it should have been.

It's hard to believe that a week has gone by since I attended the Conference.

So to part 2, the very interesting sessions after lunch...

I went along to The Nuts and Bolts of Earning a Living as a Writer. This was an intense session. It was chaired by Anne Caldwell who is the Deputy Director of the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE), and alongside her was Maureen Duffy, Tim Leech and Emteaz Hussain.

They all shared their experiences- both good and bad of making a living as a writer, and very few of the audience were surprised at the statement that it was more difficult nowadays.

A couple phrases that really struck home were Ann Caldwell's "cast-iron railings around writing time", and Tim Leech who said you need to " structure life around writing, not writing around life." That latter phrase definitely struck home for me.

There was a brief section on the value of organisations like ALCS, the Society of Authors and The Writers Guild- the latter had a representative there who spoke for a few minutes on what they do.

Making a living as a writer can't be done half-heartedly, the writer needs to be pro-active...

After that 45 minutes the next session- in the same room - was The Publishing Process: Why is Having an Agent Important?

This was another well-attended session, with a brilliant panel. Most writers will have heard of Carole Blake of the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency (she was wearing purple shoes which looked very comfortable).

 Younger literary agent, Ben Clark from Lucas Alexander Whitely, who was actually looking to take on writers in science-fiction, fantasy, and as he described it, "anything geeky". I'm sure he would probably have received manuscripts this past week!

They were joined by Editor Jane Commane of Nine Arches Press, and the Chair was the very amusing and engaging author, Alison McQueen.

Carol Blake suggested that the writer should choose their agent with the same care they'd use in choosing a partner, which is a good suggestion as hopefully, the writer and agent will be together a long time. As she mentioned one book is no use, you need a career future...

There was advice for what to do: research the agent, look at their profiles, websites, social media, what they're acquiring; the do not's were the standard: sending something they don't deal with, hand written manuscripts, or use social media to ask about sending submissions and so on.

A well set out, good synopsis (not a blurb) was important- including the ending. She explained that her process was reading the chapters first and if they didn't make an impact she didn't read the synopsis. There was no point having a brilliant synopsis if the chapters weren't good. But other agents might do something different.

As the session progressed with the other members of the panel,  it became clear that the writer should not be afraid to ask questions of a potential agent, and if the writer had a choice of agents, then there was nothing wrong in comparing what they were offering, and accepting the best one for them, but obviously mentioning that other agents were being seen...

Approaching younger agents seemed to be a good route. Many will have broken away from an agency after many years, and will actively be looking to take on clients - there are more opportunities available than an agent who has been in the business for many years, and already has a lot of clients.

Someone asked about agents not being AAA listed (Association of Authors' Agents) and it was explained that newer agents couldn't join until they had been carrying out the job for a couple of years, so the fact an agent wasn't a member of the AAA wouldn't necessarily be an issue, but it was a good thing to have because they had a code of practice to abide by as a member.

The session would have gone on longer if it wasn't that the final part of the conference was due. I think everyone went away from the session much enlightened.

There was a fun ending to the day when poet in residence, Joel Stickley read the poem he'd created from the comments attendees had pinned to a board, 'things you shouldn't say', and a few other starting points; while cartoonist 'Brick' produced a caricature of what writers looked like- a woman at the keyboard with a dream bubble above her head showing her as a success.

There were lots of photos taken during the day and you can see a few of the panel speakers on the Writing East Midlands, Twitter account, here.

It was reassuring that I already knew quite a few of the things that were mentioned during the day, but there were items I'd not thought about before, or something that made me think in another way.

Between sessions and during breaks there was the constant bubble of conversation, and amidst that there would be others sat reading, engrossed in a book and oblivious to the noise around them.

In the sessions the conversations continued until the sessions started and the noise level quickly dropped to murmurs and then respectful silence.

No one wanted to miss a single word, and it was worth it...