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Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Are professional writers set to become ‘an endangered species’?

As the Society of Authors starts a new campaign asking publishers to review how they treat and pay their authors as part of international calls for fairer wages for writers, Philip Pullman has warned that unless

“serious” changes are made by publishers, the professional author “will become an endangered species”.

See this article in The Guardian for more…
Philip Pullman: professional writers set to become ‘an endangered species’

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An alternative approach to earning a living as a writer

Those of us who still have aspirations to be published writers actually earning a living from the craft may need to tailor their approach away from writing what one wants to publish to writing what will pay you for writing…

An article on The Guardian newspaper’s website by ghost writer and author Andrew Crofts explores how he has become (over time) a successful and well-paid writer:

Struggling as an author? Stop writing only what you want to write

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Are writing careers harder now?

Is making a living and having a writing career harder now? That is the impression given by an article in The Observer newspaper yesterday (Sunday 2 March). Somewhat provocatively titled From bestseller to bust: is this the end of an author’s life? it explores the financial situation of several authors (non-fiction and fiction).
It does show that since the mid-eighties the life of a mid-list author with a mainstream publisher has become more difficult but, to some degree, I feel it is that publishing incomes seem to have come back more to pre-eighties levels making the period from 1980 to 2000 more an aberration.
The article does little to explore other side of the coin of the success many authors have found self-publishing and the disruption this has caused to the conventional market.
Scanning the reader comments (including a number of self-identified writers among them) below the article, there was a general sense that the authors interviewed were whinging rather! Certainly, I was surprised the first author interviewed, Rupert Thomson, had reached the point where he had to give up renting an office and commuting into London to write and now had to “make do” with an attic conversion in his house. Not exactly starving then!


EU consultation on reform of copyright

Anyone interested in reform of copyright, particularly those of you reading this who are also authors and bloggers, may want to respond to the current European Union consultation on the reform of copyright across the EU.
This might help get rid of some of the ambiguity. Examples include whether it is permissible to link to websites without the site owner’s prior agreement, the impact of different copyright laws and policies in different EU member countries or the ability to receive TV programmes broadcast in one member country in another.
Note that the consultation closes on 5 March, so there is little time to respond especially as the full consultation is 80 questions.
The Open Rights Group has selected four questions it considers most relevant around retaining openness and the ability to link to freelay available material without seeking prior permission. To quote ORG:

Unfortunately, the consultation could … put crucial functions of the Internet in jeopardy. It asks whether you should need the permission of the rights holder of a work before linking to that work or viewing it. If that happened, ordinary everyday web browsing would become a lot more complicated.Lobbyists from big rights holder groups are taking part in the conversation and telling the European Commission that we should have to get the authorisation of the rights holder before linking or viewing their work. If we don’t get involved, the Commission will just get the views of the large rights holder lobby.

The ORG’s four questions are here.

Authors and others interested in more than this around copyright reform in the EU but who don’t want to respond to all 80 questions will find this link useful. By using tick boxes to identify your areas of interest a selection of the most relevant questions – not all of which need be responded to – will be brought up. Note this is not the official EU site but (to quote the the site I have linked to) it…

…has been put together by a broad cross-section of interest groups from across Europe, from rights holders to public interest NGOs to large consumer representatives and everything in between.

They seem to have made the questionnaire more accessible and provide guidance on meaning of the questions. After completion the site generates a document you can forward to the EU consultation group. I’ve used it and found it effective.

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IndieReCon 2014 schedule

IndieReCon, the online convention cum workshop for anyone interested in indie publishing, returns for its second year this month. It runs from Tuesday 25 to Thursday 27 February.
The schedule is now available. (Note times quoted are US-based EST which is UTC / GMT -5 hours.)

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So now we have ‘book trailers’

I never thought I would see a book trailer but this one – brought to my attention courtesy of the OWW Forum – is a hoot. It publicises a collection of short stories by B J Novak, the American actor and comedian who co-produced and acted in the US version of “The Office”.

I love the way this short video pokes fun at the French literary scene. Living in France a lot of the time I have felt embarrassed by the looks I have have received when I have been asked what I do and have responded “I write science fiction”. (Imagine a somewhat similar stare to the look one might receive in the UK to saying “I write hardcore pornography”.)

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Sherlock meets Doctor Who

Having thoroughly enjoyed the start of the new Sherlock series on New year’s Day, I was intrigued by the article in the Guardian about how Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, writers for both Sherlock and Doctor Who, need to beware of catering too much for the obsessive fan base and not for the broader audience.

I certainly enjoyed the in-jokes about the fans of Sherlock, although for me it did border on going just a bit too far.

The delight of the article though was the link to the fan mash-up video of Sherlock meeting the Doctor. Very neatly done and worth watching if you like these series.

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First draft of novel completed in a month with NaNoWriMo

30 November and lunchtime today I wrote the final scene of the first draft of my second novel – tentatively titled “Nightspore’s Angel” – almost 55K words in one month.

Never though I could sustain 1k words a day, let alone average almost 2K and have occasional peaks of 3K and 4K. The spur, of course, was participating in NaNoWriMo.

My thanks to my NaNo buddies Jan Whitaker, Phillip McCollum and Caroline Norrington for encouragement and showing me I was regularly well behind their word count!

Caroline’s Scrivener template and the Snowflake Method it introduced me to were also invaluable.


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Query letters

Over the past few days I have been at an artists and writers retreat, held at the old Quaker Meeting House in Congénies in the South of France. A very pleasant location, it has given me an opportunity to continue the preparation to write my second novel during the up-coming NaNoWriMo and to work out how to edit and revise the mess that pretends to be my first novel. However, yesterday I spent some time with another writer at the retreat looking at how to tackle query letters.

Query letters are an art-form in themselves and, especially when we have spent a significant chunk of time writing a book, we should not skimp on the preparation of the approach to sell the idea to others. One resource that proved particularly useful is the blog by the writer, JM Tohline. (It is my source for the amusing ‘how not to write a novel’ video yesterday.)

He has collated the advice and thoughts of over fifty literary agents on query letters. Those we found especially useful are:


How to Write a Novel (not)

This gem of a YouTube video has apparently been doing the rounds of New York literary agents. If you are a serious writer it will make your toes curl.

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