‘YouWriteOn’ Book of The Year Award Winners 2011

Congratulations to Robbie Smith, the winner of the 2011 Adult Fiction Award with his first novel ‘The Grower’. This apparently gentle trundle around the topic of allotments and the gentlefolk who dig for pleasure turns into nothing of the sort. Certainly not required reading for maiden aunts or elderly vicars!

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More good news. Peter Daughtrey’s explosive non-fiction work on ancient civilisations is soon to be published in the States. A leading London literary agent is actively seeking further deals

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How To Start A Book – Seven Tips For New Writers

How To Start A BookHow do I start a book? It’s an honest question, and one many seek answers to . . . and few find. Writers seem reluctant to divulge what drives them to write a specific book and, if the truth be told, frequently don’t know. But as a published book writer myself, I’ll cover below some dos and don’ts which should help you avoid the headaches I put up with when I first hit the keyboard in anger. (passion does help, in anything you do)

Let’s first deal in general terms. You would like to write a book, feel you have a facility with words, and enjoy writing. An excellent start. For the moment I’m assuming you haven’t decided what you wish to write about. The world’s your oyster!

Tip 1. Make some brutal decisions. The more the merrier. They will help you identify the kind of book to write. Plump for fiction or non-fiction. That’s a good beginning. Immediately you have eliminated thousands of categories. Continue this exercise until it bores you. Then move on.

Tip 2. Passion. Whatever book you end up writing, the more latent passion you have about the subject matter the better. It will come to the surface as you write and your book will be a better read as a result. Passion is hard to fake.

Tip 3. Having identified what you are passionate about, but before you give more thought to the book that might be informed by this passion, conjure up a theme that expresses your passion. An example. You are worried about the welfare of the elderly. A theme could be, how cruelly we ignore their needs. Another example. You like birds. You are passionate about robins. One theme could be, ‘Robins are not just for Christmas’. Play with these ideas and soon enough you will come up with themes to alight on.

Tip 4. Think about the people who are going to seek out and buy this book. Will they be reading it for thrills, entertainment, information, business purposes or something else entirely? Will they be academics, professionals, children or adults? What will be in your book that will make these people appreciative?

How to Start a BookTip 5. You now have focus. But the title escapes you. Your book’s contents are just too difficult to encapsulate. Of course they are. You haven’tstarted yet! Don’t get over excited. Just give your book a preliminary title – your best shot, even if it’s long and rambling – and when the first draft is completed, return and sort it out in an hour or two. By then your poor brain will know precisely how to summarise all the work you’ve put it through.

Tip 6. Have a skeleton structure in place for the entire book before you start. But don’t spend too long at this chore. A series of headings will do: death in the park – vicar finds body and accuses bishop, local reporter blackmails organist; or – slugs eat lettuces, the life cycle of slugs, things they hate, poisons that kill, ways to keep them at bay . . .. If you enjoy planning then you can spin out this stage. But a caution: it’s easy to become so devoted to the planning – and talking about it to the world at large – that you never get round to the actual writing of a book. This needs to start somewhere. So, let’s hit the keyboard.

Tip 7. The opening page. The first sentence or two. Critical to get these spot on . . . but not necessarily on day one of the project. Most successful writers are dissatisfied with their first attempts at giving their books a flying start and know that, once the first manuscript is completed, they can return and polish these inportant openings or rewrite them entirely. The reason is twofold: first, when the initial draft is completed the cake is baked; you know which ingredients you used, how the cake tastes and you can now tantalise in the opening paragraph about ‘joys to come’. At the outset, you are only guessing. The second point concerns getting into one’s stride. Starting any book means using different ‘mental muscles’ that have never been asked to perform these specific tricks before. But after a few thousand words you will find your writing becomes more fluent and readable. You are in harmony with your muse. So, by the end of the first draft, you can return to your early pages and write like the professional you’ve become.

How hard is it to complete a book? Not hard at all. Get on with it, I say. Don’t be too distressed if your first book isn’t a world beater. Few are. But by completing it you can say you have written a book, can have enormous fun self-editing it, and in so doing you will learn even more about the craft of book writing. Come what may, your next book will be even better. And, if you are anxious to become a published writer, then ebooks could be your first route to fame. It’s an economic one nowadays and your book could be available online in days for the world to enjoy. Make it a good one!

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Book Editors – The Fast Route To Getting Published

How book editors can help by assessing your early progress

New writers often overlook the one person who could make their lives easier, and their books more marketable – a book editor. Understandable, perhaps, because, traditionally, writers’ first encounters with an editor often came after they had aroused the interest of a literary agent or publisher. But ask bestselling authors whose advice they seek before, during and after they complete their manuscript and you would hear a chorus of – my editor, and often my friend and co-conspirator. Writing is by its very nature a lonely business, and the knowledge there’s a professional to turn to for disinterested yet sound advice when sticky times arrive is a great comfort.
Publishers and literary agents employ staff who know exactly what their employers are seeking in a new work. And these people have to plough through thousands of manuscripts a year in their quest for the next JK Rowling, Dick Francis or John Grisham. But here’s the rub: few aspiring writers have a clue how to submit material, and as a result make elementary mistakes that scupper their chances, often without a word of their book being read. An editor can ensure your writing reflects you at your best, is laid out professionally, and accompanied by businesslike letters and synopses that includes information that will excite interest. This will all but guarantee extracts of your work will be read or requested. It is at this point that your writing will have to do the talking for you!
Personally, I always advise new writers to seek such support early on in a project. This ensures focus is brought to bear on whatever is being written – after a few thousand words are completed – and that the mistakes and pursuit of blind alleys that bedevil novice authors can be spotted and dealt with. Good book editors won’t come up with themes or plots, put words into your mouth, or claim ownership of your creative masterpiece. But they will bring discipline and structure to the task. Constructive help at this stage is easy to give, and take on board. These few hours of editorial expertise will save you countless hours of remedial work later. And I mean a few hours only. If an editor attempts to sell you a course of editing assistance involving more than a couple of hours of general guidance – take cover. Your interests have taken second place to your potential for making them money, lots of it.
General writing and editing advice is easy to find – from books, magazines and the internet – and are well worth devouring . . . up to a point. But until you have your own editor behind you, studying your quirks and idiosyncrasies, using examples of your output to highlight good and not so good aspects of your writing, you’ll never appreciate or experience the benefits that can accrue in just a few sessions. Book editors are not, or shouldn’t be, in the business of teaching you how to write. Their role is clear: to show you how to self-edit your work, to structure your book so that it has maximum appeal, and to submit it to publishers and agents so that you and your book are seen in the best light. It works because these simple steps will place you ahead of the unedited majority.

(This article is taken from Jonathan Veale’s latest ebook (December2011) now available on the Amazon Kindle Store – ‘How To Write A Book Or Novel – An Insider’s Guide To Getting Published’. Jonathan is Managing Editor of WriteAway Editing Services, an online service for aspiring writers.)

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Ebooks – the new opportunity for aspiring writers to get published

Ebooks have arrived. Of that there’s little doubt. Over the past decade many companies have tried to launch ereaders that would bring the book reading habit to millions, but it took Amazon and its Kindle reader to set the market alight. I believe it’s a splendid innovation that can only spread the reading habit. I’d go as far as saying that print publishers with their wits about them – and there are a few – will find that ebooks will increase the total market for books to such an extent that print versions will prosper on the back of the digital intruder. Competition often results in better performances from all players.
But ebooks also open up undreamed of opportunities for new writers. At last they can become published authors for a fraction of the cost that prevailed only a few years ago. I’m not saying this route will prove commercially profitable for most. That’s by no means the case. Success will be no easier, and the competition will be that much stronger, but the costs involved in converting a printer-ready computer file into an ebook listed for worldwide sale on Amazon dwarf the costs of printing, distributing, stocking and selling its printed cousin. Print on demand is the nearest equivalent, but the costs there, whilst manageable, aren’t comparable with those of ebook retailing. Print one book to order and your margin for profit is slim, . . . very slim.
The important thing to remember is that a lousy book will still be a lousy book, no matter how it’s dressed up or marketed. As the old adage has it – you can sell anything once. But turning out dross will inevitably come back to haunt you. Prudent new writers should embrace ebooks but pay the same attention to preparing a professional manuscript as they would if it were destined to be printed.
The benefits of ebook publication can, therefore, be anticipated from an early stage in a writing project, but the button to produce such a version needn’t be pressed until the last moment. And it won’t add much to your self-publishing budget, or take more than a week or two extra to see your name proudly on screen as a listing in the Kindle Store worldwide. Now that’s something to look forward to.
How do traditional publishers view the arrival of digital publications? Who knows, many are keeping their heads down, but they are all faced with the most dynamic retailing innovation to hit publishing in centuries and are having to come to terms with it fast. Some are finding it a step too far and may well go out of business. Others will grasp the opportunity and make even more hay with these new rays of sunshine as they explore their backlists and bring out digital editions.
For new writers, I see no reason why they shouldn’t take the plunge and publish digitally, with their first offering. No intelligent publisher will penalise new writers for proving the worth of their offering by backing it and personally publishing it online. And if, subsequently, a traditional publisher decides you should be offered a deal to join their list, your book can be withdrawn from sale in seconds, only to reappear ‘under new management’ a short while later, but this time with a powerful marketing budget to boost sales. Withdrawing a printed version just can’t be done like that.
If I were starting out tomorrow as an unpublished author my ambition would still be to obtain a deal for my book with a traditional publishing house, with or without the aid of a literary agent. But, and here’s the difference, the moment I submitted my draft to the trade I would prepare an ebook version of the book and list it on Amazon. This is not underhand. I would say I was testing the market. And it would be true. Once the publisher expressed an interest in my book I would withdraw the ebook version in an instant. Nothing lost. The rights for my book would be available in their entirety for the publisher to weigh up in the usual manner.
The change is a subtle one, however. That dreadful lengthy period when you are waiting to hear from agents and publishers no longer need trouble you. You can even be making a little, or even a lot if you’re lucky, on the side. Go for it, I say.

(This article is taken from Jonathan Veale’s latest ebook (December2011) now available on the Amazon Kindle Store – ‘How To Write A Book Or Novel – An Insider’s Guide To Getting Published’. Jonathan is Managing Editor of WriteAway Editing Services, an online service for aspiring writers.)

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How to Find A Book Editor To Help You Write And Publish A Book

Easier said than done! I write books, and help others do the same and then get published, so it may be helpful if I describe how I first found an editor.

It was pure luck! I bumped into her at a party. But there are other ways of tracking down such people, as I’ve discovered over the past seven years as WriteAway has added specialist professionals to its team.

Once you’ve exhausted your friends and contacts – personal recommendations are invariably the best source – you can Google and Yahoo away using search terms that fit the bill, and you should find a number of organisations worth contacting. Editors often work alone, at home, or in small teams, so don’t be put off by size or disregard individual ‘sole prop.’ outfits. These can be excellent. Do avoid the vanity publishers, however, who are always advertising for ‘new writers’ work. They are elaborate marketing scams that seek to empty your wallet. Use the term ‘vanity publishers’ when searching to understand just how dangerous these people are.

Some tips for finding an editor you can trust for lifelong support. Don’t plunge into a relationship until you’ve seen samples of their expertise deployed on extracts of your writing. Some agents will do such work for free, or at minimal cost; they appreciate that writers are rarely their bank manager’s favourite customers. And whatever you do, don’t set an initial budget for editing that entails more than a couple of hours of editing work. I assure you that that’s more than enough to enable a professional editor to gauge both how well you write and how further editing might improve your chances of getting a publishing deal. They will also encourage you to self-edit.

Here I must issue a warning: amongst those offering book editing services are some who delight in offering detailed reports on entire manuscripts at prices that make the eyes water. Avoid these like the plague. Anyone who needs this much support should be enrolling in a writing college where expertise from professionals can be absorbed over a period of years – at a fraction of the cost. All you need initially from a book editor is guidance and advice – and that should be obtainable for a couple of hours work. No more. Of course, if you are tied for time, and want outside editors to work through your entire manuscript, editing and polishing, then seek quotes from three or four editors, and take your pick. But if you already have a facility with words, don’t waste your money on hours of editors’ time, and then have to wade through ludicrously long reports on your manuscript. You’ll end up confused, short of money, and dispirited.

At WriteAway we help those who help themselves – once we hear from them! Contact us today, by clicking here on WriteAway Book Editing Services, and you will soon be in touch with one of our editors. It might even be me.

All the best with your writing project.

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An Editor’s Role in the Book Writing Process

Writers write and editors edit. Editors who attempt to muscle-in on the writer’s function need shooting – or deleting – at birth. But the temptation to suggest a word here, or a phrase there, is always present and hard not to succumb to. And this last sentence, a wonderful example of convoluted syntax, could be expressed lucidly with more appropriate words in a different order – but then, it wouldn’t be me talking, would it?

Everyone talks, and most of us write, after a fashion, so writers are faced with an enormous canvas when setting out to write a book. And book editing is my speciality. Forget the rest; I focus on books. And focus is what it’s all about.

One person in a million is able to bring focus to all he or she does in a day, without thinking. The rest of us muddle through on autopilot, putting the milk back in the fridge, spreading marmalade on our toast while hissing at the cat pawing the goldfish bowl. Our everyday muddling through is fine – in the home – but try writing a book that way, and you’ll come a cropper. But that’s precisely how many aspiring writers set about their task!

Bill Bryson was an editor with The Times for years before hitting the big time with his wonderful books. As a sub-editor it was his job to tidy up and condense copy sent in by journalists. What a training! And the finest way to learn. It’s only when you’ve worked on hundreds of other people’s drafts that you appreciate what works and what doesn’t – in commercial terms. I’m not talking about writing styles; they’ll always reflect the unique individual who learnt to write and express him or herself as a child. No – what I’m talking about are the ticks, habits and trivial errors that can muddy the waters when clarity is called for, at all times.

Bestsellers seldom achieve true success by accident. And more books than you imagine are designated as such when they are nothing of the sort. Hype and obfuscation are the tools that publishers wield as they seek profits in what is a dreadfully competitive marketplace.

A profitable book presses all the right buttons, appeals to a set readership and delivers the goods: a good read. Press a few wrong buttons, fail to focus on your likely reader, and disappoint or confuse, and your book will fail.

In my role as editor I help writers focus on the needs of readers. This is easier said than done. I’m not saying to writers, don’t write for your own entertainment, enlightenment or pleasure. What I’m trying to do is ensure that writers empathise with the needs of readers. Punctuation matters little to writers; they know what they mean, . . . what they wish to say. It’s in their heads. But readers haven’t a clue what’s in the mind of a writer – until it’s expressed on paper, in a logical manner.

Writers, even experienced writers, are so close to their work, and often so enthusiastic about the story they wish to tell that they become incapable of standing back from their drafts and taking a forensic interest in every word, phrase or line. That’s where an editor can step in, ensuring the final book does justice both to the writer’s wishes and the reader’s intelligence.

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Writing That First Book

Not everyone has a book in them, believe you me! But with a little teasing out, most of us have the ability to write a book, and here at WriteAway we pass on the tips that can make it happen – for you.

The first thing to say is that writing a book really isn’t difficult. Horror of horrors, I hear the literary establishment screaming, this man needs shooting. Don’t listen to them; they have a vested interest in talking ‘literary’; of making magical and out-of-of reach what is simply a trade that, if worked upon, can deliver the goods, time after time.

My first novel, a wonderful work that totally failed to excite agents, was completed in a month. Looking back, I still remember the excitement of writing it, and of handing the first draft to a friend. What a privilege! This person should have felt honoured. Her response was muted and our friendship has mysteriously refused to blossom since. My first novel was tosh; lazily planned, poorly edited, and so inadequately marketed it was guaranteed nobody who mattered would read it. In that regard, perhaps, I was lucky.

But writing this dreadful book did wonders for my ego. I’d actually laid an egg, created an entire book, completed a task. This put me ahead of all those promising writers who promise much but deliver little. I am a writer; they are still dreamers.

Your first book may hit the jackpot; next Saturday’s lottery ticket may also make you a millionaire! As a gamble, book writing is a better bet, and, the more you write, the better your chances become. Now that’s not true of playing the lottery. But your first book should be regarded as a maiden flight, not the first leg of a round-the-world trip: that comes later.

If you want to be a writer, then everything you do needs to be planned. Coherent spontaneity is a gift that settles on the blessed few. Simply putting fingers to a keyboard will not do. Here at WriteAway we help you structure your writing project at the embryo stage so that the writing is easier and the end product has the maximum opportunity of becoming a success. The chances of your first book attaining bestseller status may be slim, but by following the protocols of the business, all your efforts will be directed at turning out the finest product. If, like me, you find this initial effort doesn’t tempt a publisher you will have discovered so much as you get the work off your chest that your following book will be both easier to write, and read. You will be, like me, a true writer.

Join us at WriteAway and you can devil away in your garret – undisturbed, but whenever the need arises you can depend upon our help – from people who have been there and done it – big time. Simply follow the link below and become a Life member of WriteAway. Then the fun can start:

JOIN TODAY  FOR A GUARANTEED, PROFESSIONAL
ANALYSIS OF YOUR WRITING.

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How to publish a book

Interesting real publishers and legitimate literary agents

Of course, my title is a tease. And this article is all about submitting manuscripts to publishers and literary agents which they might find appealing – the kind that makes them a profit! But first let’s look at the words I’ve tacked on to these people: ‘real’ and ‘legitimate’; they matter.

Reputable publishers and agents are inundated with submissions from writers and don’t need to advertise their services. When they take on a writer, or publish a book, it’s because they believe they can exploit the commercial potential, in other words, make a profit. The writer receives a contract, and a percentage of sales revenue. The risk remains on their shoulders.

Writers Beware! Unscrupulous outfits, termed vanity publishers – or worse, are aware of the vulnerability of writers once praised, and promise to speed their gems into bookshops, but both praise and promises are invariably worthless. These people are after your money and they can be persuasive, persistent and ruthless. They never shoulder any risk, other than the enormous sums they spend on ensuring their names magically appear before unsuspecting victims – the aspiring writer. You!

Getting published the traditional way, submitting work to agents and publishers, should be your first objective. This will demand you focus on the likely market for your book . . . from the word go. And planning the book in such a focused manner will make your book both easier to read . . . and write. You will know where you’re heading, and so will your reader.

Writing can be rewarding and enjoyable, but it seldom pays the bills. Rich writers are a rare breed and should be regarded as worthy lottery winners. To achieve their riches they will have needed luck, perseverance and the backing of a professional publisher. By submitting your work in the traditional manner you are ensuring you have at least a ticket that might scoop a win, even if the odds against a jackpot coming up are slim.

Self publishing makes sense nowadays because, with care, a writer can obtain both printed and electronic (ebooks) versions of their manuscripts for an investment that needn’t shock your wallet or bank manager – if you can find one! But prudent writers should always regard this option as their fallback position unless they have no wish to market their book to the general public.

In recent years, a number of companies have emerged who offer ‘publishing packages’ for writers wishing to see their books in print; a few are worth considering, others offer promises that champion hope over experience, and the majority, I regret to say, trade on the fantasy of great riches and will take you for every penny. Before you go down these routes, take advice, from professionals. We will mark your card for free. We know what it takes to publish your book. And it can be done, should be done, economically.

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