The value of your words
By Anne Jones
She’s one of
Britain’s best-selling authors and a respected
complimentary healer, but Anne Jones’ journey into the
literary world has not been easy. In the second of a
series of articles for firstwriter.com, she looks
at making money from the value of your words.
“I’m very sorry Mrs Jones, but your book is currently in the possession of Arthur Anderson, the auditors, and you have no right of access.” “So how can I get it to a new publisher?” I asked. “Well, unfortunately you can’t. You see you are not the owner of your book anymore”.
There are many excuses why your book may not yet be in print but this was a new one for me. It was my book, I wrote it but it was no longer my book! It had been seized as an asset by the accountants when Elements my publisher were liquidated and so I had no legal right to it. Fabulous!
There are many hurdles to overcome when you step forward and decide to write your first book. I doubt if you are likely to match that one but don’t worry, there are many more to test your durability, persistence and patience.
Time – Once you have the inspiration for the subject, plot and purpose of your book your first challenge will be finding the time to write it. Unless you’re retired, you will, like most of us, have a full life, either caring for a family or holding down a full time job, holidays spoken for and weekends committed to family and home. I am fortunate as I work for myself and, although I juggle family, work and travel, I can block off time in advance. I block out weeks of my diary, then force myself to write a scheduled number of words each day. At times it feels tight and tedious but it gets me there. Khaled Hosseini was a medical practitioner when he wrote
The Kite Runner, he wrote for two hours every morning before work. Only when his book succeeded as a best seller could he give up his day job. You will need patience and a long suffering partner for it can take months if not years to break through into publishing and success doesn’t necessarily come with the first book, Stephen King, Ian Rankin and Dan Brown all wrote a number of books before one took off and brought in good money.
Blocks and Dead ends – Of course, occasionally the words do not flow or your plot takes you to a dead end. In a novel I am writing I had my heroine pinned down by the bad guys in a harbour with nowhere to go. I planned to get her out by helicopter till I read a creative writing guide which listed the ten worst mistakes a novelist can make, number one rescuing your heroine by helicopter! Duh! I just couldn’t get my head around a rescue plan so after taking a long walk I sloughed off my frustration and anxiety (panic can easily take over) and decided to re-write the entire second half of the book! Rewrites are normal and you cannot afford to be attached to anything you have written no matter how good you think it is.
Re-writes and major edits
– Most agents or publishers will assist with editing you book and, unless you are lucky enough to know a good creative writer, be led by them alone. Friends and family may think they are helpful giving you their advice and input but leave it to the experts. After Elements were liquidated I eventually recovered my book and Piatkus signed a contract, however, my new editor had different views on the flow of the book and so I went through a major rewrite before it actually came into print. There is no room for ego, you just have to swallow your pride and make the changes.
Finding an agent – These days publishers rarely take books directly from first time authors, so you need an agent to act on your behalf, selling your book to a publisher, negotiating a contract and collecting your royalties. Some agents will assist you in editing your book and also help you with promoting it once it’s in print, but don’t be surprised if they don’t do either of these. Publishers will often pay an advance but don’t get too excited, this will be quite modest unless you are a celebrity or a bestselling author already. The internet is your best source for agents, meet with them if you can and before you sign a contract check their commission rates, normally around
12 per cent of your royalty payments.
Promotion – Once your book is published it will need publicising. Your publisher will distribute the book for you and sell overseas rights to other publishers and they will do a certain amount of promotional work for you, e.g. sending out copies to the press for reviews. Don’t hold your breath for a book launch or TV and radio interviews as you may need to be proactive in these areas yourself. It will help if you can give talks at bookstores or book clubs and take any opportunity to promote your books personally although, I think book signings are a waste of time as you may sit staring at a pile of your books with pen poised for some time before a fickle public finds you! One of my worst moments was standing in the middle of Borders bookstore in a mega mall in Kuala Lumpur, in front of me six rows of chairs with one lone woman sitting in anticipation of my talk. The store manager shrugged and suggested I started regardless. This had to be good for my soul and definitely a lesson in ego. I picked up the microphone and felt like a roadside evangelist! Fortunately, by the end of my allotted time the seats were full and a few more dragged in from the cupboard, but it was scary and not something I would recommend for the faint hearted!
So good luck if you feel the urge to write. It can be demanding, hard work and sometimes frustrating but if you stick it out to the end it will most definitely be one of the most rewarding pursuits. There is nothing like holding a published book in your hand – you did it!
Anne Jones is the author of five bestselling books including
Heal Yourself, Healing Negative Energies, The Ripple
Effect, Opening Your Heart, and The Soul
Connection. For more information about Anne and her titles, go to
Get involved in National Short Story Week
If you write short stories then you'll want to get involved in the UK's first National Short Story Week (NSSW), which will be from November
22–28. It may seem some time off, but now is the time to get thinking about how you can celebrate the week, and use it to promote your writing.
The aims of NSSW are:
1) to get more people reading and listening to short stories;
2) to get more people writing short stories;
3) to develop creative and commercial opportunities for individuals and organisations involved in the short story.
The idea for NSSW came from producer Ian Skillicorn. As the founder of Short Story Radio, Ian has been producing and broadcasting work by new and established short story writers for many years.
NSSW is a grass roots event and it will enable individuals and groups to organise their own events on a national, regional or local level. Why not contact your local bookshop or library and offer to give a reading or a talk for National Short Story Week? Perhaps your local newspaper or radio station would be interested in doing an item about your short stories to mark the Week. Don't forget hospital and community radio too. Could you link up with other local writers to hold an event? If you belong to a writers' group, you could run a short story competition among your members or challenge each other to write a modern take on a classic short story (there are examples on our website).
A website is already up and running and more content will be added over the next few months, including a national events calendar. Go online now for advice and ideas for events. Subscribe to the newsletter at
to receive more free information, updates and support. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook too. National Short Story Week –
celebrating the short story and short story writers.
Tennessee Williams Festival launches poetry contest
The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival is running its first ever poetry competition. The competition will be judged by Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque and prizes include $1000, public reading and VIP Festival pass ($500 value) at 25th anniversary Festival (March 23-27, 2011), and publication in Louisiana Cultural Vistas.
Poets may submit 2–4 unpublished poems of any theme with a combined length of up to 400 lines along with an entry fee of $20. Entries
must be received by August 15, 2010, and should be sent to: Poetry Contest, 938 Lafayette Street, Suite 514, New Orleans, LA
70113. For more details go to www.tennessewilliams.net/contest
For over 170 other current contests, click here
Stories sought for SF / fantasy / speculative fiction magazines
Clarkesworld Magazine is an online science fiction and fantasy magazine that publishes short fiction, interviews, articles and audio fiction on a monthly schedule.
1,000–8,000 words (preferred length is
4,000) Pay Rate: 10¢ per word up to 4,000 words, 5¢ per word after.
Also looking for nonfiction –
a wide range of types of article including, but not limited to: discussions of the genre publishing business, essays on the writing process and the reading experience, scientific material that might be of use in SF stories, and so on. For more information
click here or go to the website
Brain Harvest is looking for short fiction, 100–750 words. They are looking for well-crafted, interesting stories that do not fall back on old, well-worn
tropes – unless they have "an interesting, bad-ass take" on an old, well-worn trope.
Brain Harvest is a speculative fiction magazine, and while your submission should have speculative aspects they are not looking for any particular genre
– substance and execution are more important than subject matter. Payment is 5¢ per word up to max $37.50 USD. For more information
click here or go to the website
Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine
Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine is looking for stories that will appeal to science fiction and fantasy readers. The SF element may be slight, but it should be present. Character-oriented stories are preferred. A lot of fantasy fiction is received, but never enough science fiction or humour. Do not query for fiction; send the entire manuscript. Fiction up to 25,000 words in length will be considered. Potential contributors are requested to read the magazine before submitting. A sample copy is available for $6.00 in the US and $8.50 elsewhere. Payment is 6-9¢ per word. For more details
click here of visit the website
For over 1,250 other
Private Photo Review invites submissions of sensual poetry
The Winter 2010 issue of Private Photo Review will be themed Eroticism: bodies prone to fusion, and will therefore include pictures and poems concerning eroticism, sensuality, the human body and bodily fusion.
The poetry editor is interested in receiving works related to the above subject matter for possible publication in the magazine.
The submission guidelines are given below. Potential contributors are asked to read them carefully and submit accordingly:
- submit no more than 4 poems;
- poems must be submitted in ONE SINGLE doc (WORD) attachment (NOT in the body of the email);
- include in the same doc file (NOT in the body of the email) a short bio (max 80 words);
- include in the same doc file AND in the body of the email your full snail-mail and your email address;
- the subject line must include the author's full name and nationality; example: submission by John Denver - USA;
- each poem must not exceed 40 lines;
- poems must be original in English (or English translations: in case state the original language and provide the full name of the translator);
- poems previously unpublished are preferred; if submitting previously published poems please state where they have first appeared (name of magazine and country);
- send submissions to email@example.com;
- the submission deadline is September 15, 2010.
Submissions failing in any of the above requirements will not be considered.
Authors of the chosen works will be informed via email by the end of October 2010. Anyone not contacted by then can assume that their work has not been selected.
The authors whose work is accepted will receive two complimentary copies of the magazine (there is no money payment).
Potential contributors are invited to take a look at
www.privatephotoreview.com, in particular at issue 23 on the same theme, which
can be viewed at http://www.privatephotoreview.com/fr/revue/index.php/riv/2
For over 1,250 other
Skrev Press seeks anthology submissions
Skrev Press are looking for submissions for the second edition of their anthology,
Hanging Johnny, which aims to reflect the
diversity of verse written today. Submissions are accepted
between June and September and poets are invited to submit
up to ten poems or one long poem for consideration.
Anyone interested in contributing should contact Daithidh MacEochaidith at
or see http://www.skrevpress.com
for more details.
For over 1,300 other
One Act Play Competition
Katapult Productions are looking for submissions
of previously unperformed one act plays with a limit of five characters. The winning entry will be performed in September by a professional theatre company for four performances at Sarah Thorne Theatre Club,
Broadstairs, Kent. Deadline July 2, 2010. Plays should be sent to James Watts, Katapult Productions, 17 Priory Hill, Dover, Kent CT17 0AA. There is no entry fee, but please include contact details and an SAE if you need your script to be returned.
For over 170 other current contests,
Stride magazine seeks book reviewers
Stride magazine is short of reviewers! If you'd like to grab some freebies from the pile at
Stride HQ and tell the world your opinion then please contact
Stride at RML@stridebooks.co.uk. You keep full copyright of your writing, but there is no payment.
For more information on Stride magazine click
here, or visit the website here
For over 1,250 other
Sefton Celebrates Writing Festival
The Sefton Celebrates Writing Festival is now in its 4th successful year. The event, this year taking place at Crosby Civic Hall, has had some of Britain's best authors and poets appearing over the years, including Will Self, the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Andrew Motion, Michael Rosen, Germaine Greer, Sir Andrew Mortimer, Alexei Sayle and many more.
This year a North West Publishers book fair had been added to the programme. It will take place on Sunday November 7, 2010. The book fair will run from 11am - 4pm. For more information contact Emma Lloyd at
New eClass on getting published launched
A new eClass has been launched by bestselling author William Cane which aims to teach writers all they need to know about how to write a book proposal, how to write a query letter, and how to find a literary agent. For more info visit
Journal of Innovative Pharmacy Research launched
The Journal of Innovative Pharmacy Research (JIPHR) is a new quarterly, scientific and professional online journal emphasising quality and original pharmaceutical research. The journal publishes innovative research papers, reviews, mini-reviews, short communications and notes dealing with Pharmaceutical Sciences (Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutics, Biopharmaceutics, Pharmacokinetics, Pharmaceutical/Medicinal Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Molecular Drug Design, Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Analysis, Pharmacy Practice, Clinical and Hospital Pharmacy, Cell Biology, Genomics and Proteomics, Pharmacogenomics, Bioinformatics and Biotechnology of Pharmaceutical Interest).
Authors are invited to submit their research findings in the form of review articles, research articles and short communications. All articles submitted are subject to peer review and process of review will be completed within
2–3 weeks. Please visit the website at www.jiphr.com
for more details. Queries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
writers at firstwriter.com
for the following invaluable resources for writers:
on this newsletter for as little as $30 / £20 click