Traditional Publishing

Six Things I've Learned About Writing In My Sixties – Wednesday August 31, 2022

I’ve been writing all my life but for most of it, it was a secret indulgence, like swimming naked in the sea at night or eating chocolate belonging to my children. Most people who knew me didn’t realise that I wrote, and wouldn’t have been interested if they had. I wrote snippets here and there, short stories and even shorter things that didn’t even warrant the title ‘story’. Observations, notes for characters, there was no pattern to it and no discipline. I had five children and when they were little they slept in a crib on wheels. I could rock the crib with my foot while I lay on the bed propped on my elbow, scribbling in an exercise book.

Guess what, those children grew up! They didn’t fit in the crib any more and I had a bit more space in my life, so I joined a writing class and we formed a group. This was so important to me in those early writing years. Actually reading my work out, getting a response, knowing I’d made someone laugh or cry – they were the best feelings ever. My stories started to get longer and longer in response. Somewhere along the way I gained a Master’s degree in creative writing. I made some good friends but got distracted from writing novels, which was what I really wanted to do.

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How Woke Put Paid to Publishing – Monday August 29, 2022

News that Salman Rushdie had been stabbed on stage at a New York literary festival shocked the world. It prompted an outpouring of sympathy for the author, who has spent more than 30 years with a fatwa placed on his life. Amid concern for Rushdie’s health, some have begun to ask whether The Satanic Verses, his 1988 novel accused of blasphemy against Islam, could even be published today.

It’s not an unreasonable question. Attitudes toward free speech, blasphemy, and Islam have all changed considerably over the last three decades. Horrific crimes such as the murder of journalists at the French publication Charlie Hebdo in 2015 still prompt support for press freedom. But it took precisely two days for some to suggest that #JeSuisCharlie solidarity would “play into the hands of the racists and fascists.” Rare is the defense of free speech that comes without caveats: free speech, but not for racists or Islamophobes; but not without consequences; but not the liberty to say things that I, personally, find offensive.

The upshot is that many who work in journalism, universities, or publishing are now more concerned to avoid offending than to test the limits of what can be said. In this context, arguing for free speech often arouses suspicion. Defenders are said to be aligned with racists, transphobes, deplorables. And no one wants that. Rather than publish and be damned, the message is to self-censor in line with fashionable woke values, or risk being cancelled. How has this happened?

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The Write Stuff: Tips On Self-Publishing A Book – Sunday August 28, 2022

Cindy Kibbe, writing under her pen name C.K. Donnelly, is the author of "The Kinderra Series," an award-winning set of young adult fantasy novels. Like many authors, she self-publishes her work — in her case after she received more than 100 rejections from traditional publishers.

It is increasingly common for authors to publish their own work, thanks to technology that enables them to print as few as single copies only after receiving an order — and payment. Sales of self-published books rose 264% in the last five years to 300 million copies annually on average, generating $1.25 billion in revenue, according to recent statistics from WordsRated, a non-commercial data analysis group.

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10 Books for a Thriving Freelance Writing Career – Saturday August 27, 2022

Working for yourself isn't consistently easy, so it's a good idea to have a collection of handy resources to look to when the freelancing journey gets tough. As a freelance writer, turning to professionals who understand the craft can reduce the workload and the stress that comes with it.

This is a list of a resource bank of informative texts, creative memoirs, financial help guides, business essentials, and advice from those who have been on the same road.

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Five dos and five don’ts of writing (or how to get ahead in the literary world) – Thursday August 25, 2022

Do think about your legacy A great many female writers have been ‘reclaimed’ in the past few years, but God forbid that ever happens to me. Reclamation is like having your corpse exhumed by an academic for forensic purposes. To avoid this, I plan to keep publishing in perpetuity. I’ve already given the Linenhall Library a novel to be released after my death on January 1st, 2070 – save the date!

Don’t fall prey to those sombre enemies of art that can distract you at every turn These days, it’s not the pram in the hall that will prevent you, but the phone in the pocket, the Google on the PC, the beeping text or Twitter. To paraphrase the Timothy Leary sixties anthem, ‘Turn off, tune out, log out’. Don’t waste your time tweeting because it’s not like a literary letter and no one’s going to publish your Collected Tweets Vols I and II. Twitter is more ephemeral than a mayfly’s breath. Instead, live the literary dream and exude writing: breathe it, bleed it, breed it, even eat it. For instance, if you come to my house tonight, I’ll be serving Flan O’Brien for starters, followed by Irish Stew-art Parker, topped off with Donna Tartt and custard.

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What Five Years with a Predatory Vanity Press Taught Me About Art and Success – Tuesday August 23, 2022

Every few months, I receive an email or phone call from someone who claims to work for a literary agency or publishing entity. In the lengthy messages variegated with bold-faced sentences, or voicemails in which the speaker mispronounces my maiden name, I’m promised six-figure book deals with Simon & Schuster or Penguin Random House (“Yes, mmhmm that’s correct, Penguin,” one woman repeated in her message). I’m told that I will be represented to their network of mainstream filmmakers and that authors who have “partnered” with these publishers or agents have been New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers.

But these messages have nothing to do with the novel I’m actively querying. Instead, I’m told that a book I wrote as a teenager, self-published through an extinct vanity press and now buried in the library of obscure titles on Amazon, is the reason for their interest.

When I was seventeen, I sent the first book of a YA fantasy series to a publishing company I found through a Google search. The website had an ad video from Miss Oklahoma, vouching for the integrity and Christian principles of the press. My mom answered the phone when they called one afternoon of my senior year. The acquisitions editor told her my book had great potential and promised a full-scale publishing deal and marketing campaign. She failed to mention any expenses on our part, instead dropping the sum of $30,000, the amount the publisher would commit to me. She guaranteed my book’s success. When my mom rushed to tell me, we could barely contain our disbelief and excitement until my dad got home.

I remember his words for it: “It almost seems too good to be true.”

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Colette Dartford on writing believable characters – Saturday August 20, 2022

As a reader I have a hundred-page rule, which means that if I’m indifferent to the main characters and what may become of them at that point, I don’t read any further. Some people find this heretical (two members of my book club, for example) but honestly, what’s the point? There are so many wonderful novels out there, and with so little free time, I feel entirely justified cutting my losses and moving on.

It’s quite a different matter, however, when I look at it from the other side, as a writer. Then I am acutely aware that the characters I create must be complex but believable, flawed but likeable, unpredictable but relatable. Not so easy now, I tell myself, staring at my laptop screen, longing for inspiration. The namesake of my latest novel, The Mortification Of Grace Wheeler, is a case in point. Grace is conventional, undemanding, not one to make a fuss. The danger in writing such a character is that initially they may come across as dull and uninteresting. My task is to peel back the layers of her apparent ordinariness and expose the contradictions that swirl beneath. For example, Grace’s husband, Cal, is much older than her and the age gap has become a gaping chasm. A lifelong Tory who voted for Brexit, she considers him staid and old-fashioned, yet when their son introduces his first girlfriend, an exotic creature with multi-coloured hair, a nose stud and tattoos, it is Grace who is quietly shocked and disapproving. Cal finds her an absolute hoot. Similarly, having been raised by a devoted single mother who often struggled to make ends meet, Grace prizes the stability of her twenty-year marriage and the security of her modest but comfortable home.

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Writing a Romance versus Writing a Mystery – Wednesday August 17, 2022

Is there that big a difference between falling in love and solving a murder? 

Um, yes, there is, especially when writing about love and murder. For me, it’s not just about content but about the craft and process of writing in those separate genres. I find it fascinating that although I’ve been writing for over twenty years, my beginning process for writing cozy mysteries is vastly different than it is for writing in the romance genre. 

I started writing romances because I love to read them. It’s not a billion dollar industry for nothing! Comprised of formulaic and original plots, as well as a guaranteed happily ever after (HEA,) the genre breeds voracious readers who want engaging lead characters, a romantic main plot, and that all-important HEA (or HFN—happily for now, which has become accepted in the genre.) 

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Self-Publishing Versus Traditional Publishing: Pros And Cons For Leaders To Consider – Tuesday August 16, 2022

Whether you’re a storyteller looking to share the next great work of fiction or a businessperson sharing advice in a book, publishing can unlock many doors.

But the tides are changing in the publishing industry—no longer do traditional publishers have a chokehold on publication. Leveraging my experience as a USA Today bestselling author, I'd like to weigh in on both avenues to publishing your book.

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Unwritten — The crisis in creative writing – Monday August 15, 2022

When she sat down to craft her debut novel in 2020’s lockdown, months after finishing her undergraduate degree, Diana Reid had never considered a career in writing before. An incisive debut about the interplay of sexuality, feminism, and power at an Australian university campus, Love and Virtue (2021) surfaced to overflowing critical acclaim and was named Book of the Year by the Australian publishing industry in June. 

But, in hindsight, it very well might not have been written.

“It kind of terrifies me, actually,” Reid says. “I was so dependent on this very freak circumstance [lockdown] before I actually sat down and opened a blank word document.”

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