Marking time

The pantomime has been put on hold as I realised that, although when I wrote it the references were topical, things change so quickly that the world could seem a very different place by Christmas. No matter, I have had a great response from folk who want to participate and I have noted their contact numbers for when I have updated the script.

The poetry anthology is nearly ready. I don’t know how many pages it will be until we get the layout right but there is a fine mix of thoughtful and funny verses.

I am about to revamp my website to emphasise the fact that I am happy to give talks. At the moment the books take centre stage but only the most recent one seems to be selling and the others deserve a look, especially “Never Run Away.” Every time we go to Morrisons I think of the action on the railway line in the story. Morrisons have changed the road layout and a lot of people are getting confused by the new one way system. Time will tell if it is an improvement.

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Poetry anthology

Being an editor/publisher as well as a novelist means I get the opportunity to select and revise as well as create. At the moment I am choosing poems for the second anthology by four local writers and they have come up with some very good work that is more serious than the rest of the verses I had selected.

I think, maybe , that this book will turn out very different from ‘Honey and Humbug’ our first anthology, which made people chuckle and is now out of print as all 100 copies were snapped up in a few months. I did not ISBN it as I was warned that not many people bought poetry books and, actually, a lot of them were given away as presents. It did prove that our efforts were appreciated and hence the new book.I do sometimes include a poem or two in my talks to the WI so my copy is very precious.

I am now researching local printers to find the most reasonable way of producing the anthology as I do not want to use Print on Demand.

Preparation

This is almost as difficult as research. I have a bunch of poems to make up an anthology and need to find a linking theme, a title and then sort them so there aren’t two poems on the same subject next to each other. Then I need to find the ones that need illustrations, a good font and decide how many pages we can afford.

I have already decided we can do without an ISBN and it can be stapled rather than glued. We easily sold and gave away 100 copies of the last book we did like this “Honey and Humbug” and I don’t anticipate having any trouble doing the same again.

All the poets included write verses that are easy to recite, although I do put in a few that do not rhyme and Joan, in particular, writes poems that contain humour as well as a perceptive insight into the past.

Being an editor as well as an author has its benefits as, at the moment, my creative juices have dried up. I’m back to selling one book a week if I’m lucky so I need this anthology to keep me positive.

Tips for Novice Writers 3.

There are a few books I have found helpful in my writing journey, the first of which is “The Writers’ and Artist’s Yearbook,” which not only has writing advice but names and addresses of publishers and agents.

One writer who is most helpful to new authors is Jane Wenham Jones who has written two books that are both practical and easy to read. They are “Wanna be a Writer?” and  “Wanna be a Writer we’ve heard of?”

Once you have written your story or article you could find helpful hints in Mary Cavanagh’s book “Marketing and Publicising Books.”

I also liked Andrew Crofts’ “The Freelance Writer’s Handbook.”

Finally, two regular publications, “The Writers’ Forum” and ” Writing” magazine have articles, competitions and contacts which encourage the new writer and demonstrate what a varied and exciting life we lead.

Of course, there are many more and lots of advice on line but it is good to have something to use as a reference book.

Tips for Novice Writers 2.

It is often said that writers must be introverts and that writing is a lonely occupation. Maybe for some it is, especially when members of their family sneer at their efforts – but there are plenty of extroverts who love to write. For them it is another means of communication.

If you find writing alone is less than satisfying I suggest you try to find a writing group, or start one. It can meet in a member’s house, you don’t need a hall, or in the local library. Each group is managed differently but most need a leader who has some idea of the format of each meeting.

Most informal groups meet to discuss the writing they are doing at the time and to read out loud. If this is overwhelming someone else can read your work or you can just participate by commenting on other contributions. Sometimes groups can organise events such as book launches or sales at fetes and fairs.

A more formal writing group usually has an experienced writer as a leader who will give advice and use the time for writing exercises with homework for those who wish to do it. Groups can be made up of writers of all genres or one. You might find a story-writing  group or one that writes poetry or produces plays.

Local colleges sometimes have groups led by a professional writer and lecturer but these can be expensive. A flourishing group can help with book design, self publishing, marketing and promotion but often the greatest pleasure a writer gets from a group is just mixing with fellow writers.

Larger groups run competitions, invite speakers and are probably members of the National Association of Writers Groups (UK) NAWG has an annual conference which is well worth attending.

Writers can be sociable!

Tips for Novice writers 1.

Writing a book.

Most people who want to write a book would like to write an autobiography. Not only is it a way to remember what happened, it is also a record to pass down to future generations.

Once you have written your book you must proof read it, using the computer spellcheck and letting someone else look over it for spelling, punctuation and spacing errors. It is also helpful to read it out loud. If you use an editor they will tell you if you have correct dates and reasonable continuity and, in the case of fiction, if you have made your characters believable and if there are any holes in the plot. If you are writing a novel it should be written in scenes, as if it was a film.

To find an agent you could use the Writers’and Artists’ Yearbook or meet them face to face at somewhere like the Winchester Festival. If you cannot get a publisher interested it is probably because they don’t think they could make a profit. If you know there is a niche market you could opt for self publishing.

For a few copies for family members a local printer may be your best bet but if you want copies in bookshops or the library you need to find a publishing partner or buy 10 ISBN numbers which cost over £100. Writers’ Forum or Writing Magazine have advertisements for publishing partners. Costs vary and the more copies you order the cheaper the books. Also, Feedaread or Createspace will take over the publication of your book on a Print on Demand basis.

If you wish to be your own publisher you can find experts to do what you are unable to do. Cover images can be found on line or you can provide your own.  A good book designer will format your book and send proofs for you to check.When it comes to selling  bookshops and wholesalers want a discount of 40-50% so you are unlikely to make a profit. Marketing is the most difficult part of being an author but the computer helps as does having a website and going on social media.

If you write fiction you are at the mercy of fashion and it is luck, fame or notoriety that will see your book a best seller.