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The Hard Sell

August 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Last Saturday I went to my second book signing. Sadly, it was not as successful as the first one. The first time I had a signing, I sold six copies. This time I only sold one. The bookstore where I was signing is a charming, small store owned by a couple who are supportive of local authors. It was also National Bookshop Day, so there were a good number of people in the shop, but this shop does have some good children’s picture books, and to celebrate the day they had in face painters and children’s performers … which meant […]

We all have stories inside us … but will people listen to them?

August 7, 2013 at 9:12 am

In addition to being an author, I also work as an editor. This can be both rewarding and frustrating. It’s rewarding because I can discover new books and marvel at the ingenuity of the writer. It’s frustrating because, even in the cases of those new discoveries, I usually read books when they’re at their worst – in need of a professional edit. One of the more frustrating things is having to tell some people that finding a market for their book will be difficult. This is usually the case with biographies and memoirs. Many people feel, deservedly in many cases, […]

Jumping through Hoops

July 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm

The modern writer has plenty of hoops to jump through if they want their novel to be successful. Writing it is the easy part. After that there’s editing, both by yourself and by someone else (preferably a professional editor). Then, once your book has been accepted for publication, there’s all the preparations, rewrites, adjustments, etc. Then there’s promotions. Even if your book is being published traditionally (i.e. by a publisher who pays the costs upfront and pays you royalties on sales) it’s a good idea to be actively promoting. These days, that includes activity on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and writing […]

Why is it easier to ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’?

July 23, 2013 at 11:48 am

I don’t know if other writers struggle with this, but sometimes I struggle to write in the ‘showing’ style, rather than the ‘telling’ style. For those of you who don’t know, this is ‘telling’: John and Mary were married in a beautiful ceremony. Gary was John’s best man for the day, and everyone thought Mary looked beautiful. This is showing: As John stood at the end of the aisle, he saw a vision of radiance beginning to move towards him. It was Mary. He had never seen her look so amazing. Gary, his best man, gave him a nudge, but […]

I hate the word ‘very’ very much!

July 16, 2013 at 12:41 pm

It may be a hangover from my journalism days, but I’m no fan of the word ‘very’. No, I don’t think it is a hangover from that. I know other editors who frown on words like ‘very’ as well. While some might have a bugbear about words that end in ‘ly’, ‘very’ is my pet peeve. Admittedly, I still use it sometimes, especially when writing dialogue, because a lot of people use it when they’re talking. However, when I did journalism I was told that if I needed to use the word ‘very’ then the word after it was the […]

Talking Writing with Writers

July 11, 2013 at 11:12 am

Yesterday I spoke to a writers’ group. It was great fun. There were about eight of them, and we sat around chatting for a couple of hours. Well, if I’m honest, I did most of the talking, but that’s why they asked me to go. I talked about how to get a book published. Because I work for a publisher and am a professional editor, I do have a bit of experience in the kind of things that see new writers knocked back. This group seemed to know a lot about that sort of thing already, but they still had […]

To outline or not to outline

July 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Do authors need to write an outline when they are about to write a novel? I’d be interested to know whether or not my author friends do this. As far as my own writing goes, I have never bothered to do an outline, not even when I was at school. I always considered them a boring waste of time. Why write an outline when you can write the story itself? I deliberately steered clear of them, even in exams. I never understood why the teachers pushed the idea of an outline so much. Maybe they needed something that showed there […]

Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

June 25, 2013 at 8:32 am

I agree with this. Some writers put in a lot of scientific terms or words from other languages, but I find that it becomes annoying pretty quickly, especially if you need to look it up every time to work out what the author’s talking about. Most people don’t enjoy doing that anyway. Are they going to put down their book (or, to think in modern terms, open a browser on their tablet) when they’re in the middle of reading a story? Maybe if it’s a non-fiction book they might be more prepared to do that, but if I’m in the […]

My first book signing

June 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Last Thursday I went to my first ever book signing as an author. The bookstore where I was scheduled to do the signing was a good 50 minutes’ drive from my home and in an area I wasn’t too familiar with, but with the help of a friendly policeman, I was soon seated in A Lot of Books, a small bookstore in the Ipswich City Mall. They had set up a table and chair for me in the only available space – the doorway! While this certainly had its plus side – everyone who walked in the door couldn’t help […]

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

June 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Why is this so easy to do when I’m editing but not when I’m writing in the first place? In fact, it can even be difficult to find problem words when editing my own work. It’s amazing how many times I can go through my own novel and still, after read-through 624, I say to myself, ‘Ew! Why did I put it that way?’ or ‘Why did I use that word? That’s dumb!’. I guess that’s why having your book edited by someone else is so important, although they can miss stuff too. An edit of book two in my […]