New Look Blog

I hope you like the new look I have given to my blog. They say that a change is as good as a rest, and who knows, maybe the new colours will inspire me a little.

Check out the menu bar down the left hand side; from there you can follow my Twitter Feed and also Like my Facebook page to keep up to date with what’s going on in my writing world.

More changes will be coming soon. Some features I hope to have on here are:

Regular book reviews
Links to great writing sites
Posts from blogs I read and admire
Poetry
Serialised stories
News about my competition entries and their progress
List of upcoming writing competitions

And much more…. watch this space. 🙂

#randomlonglistfacts

So went the hashtag tweeted by @bathstoryaward today on my Twitter feed. This hashtag excited me, because of course I have been constantly refreshing my feed all week waiting for the “teasers” they promised about who made the longlist etc.

This Saturday (27th April) at 10am, everyone will get to know the 46 story titles on the longlist. Facts that we know (of the random nature previously stated) are that stories being starred for the list included one set in Africa, one Sci Fi, one very dark theme and two written very convincingly from a child’s point of view. And today, the news from the finalised list is that one writer has TWO stories on the list, and two stories have exactly the same title.

#randomlonglistfacts indeed!

The fact that I sent in two stories should not get me excited (because at least a hundred writers may have sent in two or more) but of course it does get my heart pumping.

Hats of to the wonderful people of @bathstoryaward who – being writers themselves, and thoroughly nice human beings, not automatons – totally respect the writers entering the contest and understand how it feels to send your heart and soul out for scrutiny.

To find out which stories made the first cut, go to the Bath Short Story Award website on Saturday at 10am.

And if you entered, good luck!

Getting Out There – Vanity v Traditional

2013 is, for me, competition year.

It’s the year I finally decided to get serious and put my money where my mouth is. I realised that in this current climate, publishers and agents are less and less likely to take a punt on an unknown author. Their client lists are harder to break into than a sweat at the North Pole, so the only way to establish myself is by entering – and hopefully winning – as many competitions as I can.

It’s true to say that many frustrated authors these days go the route of self-publishing, either digitally (through Amazon Createspace, for example) or through a publisher who expects you to pay some, if not all, of the cost of producing your book.

I am not knocking anyone who does this. Each to their own. Sometimes the need to have something you have written published is overwhelming and I get that. Of course I do. Many of us spend most of our lives chasing the dream, and working damned hard to do so. Why shouldn’t other people read it?

But it’s not for me for a few reasons.

One: paying a publisher to produce your book means that, since they made no financial commitment, they don’t have to work at promoting it. They have no money to lose; it’s cost them nothing, so they don’t care how many you sell. They often offer, as part of the package you bought, marketing help and guidance and maybe some of the tools and materials you need. But the hoofing and the legwork are down to you. I’m not against self-promotion (aren’t I doing it with my blog?) but I quite simply don’t have the time to contact bookstores and send out flyers. I’m not a full time writer. I have a day to day job that pays my bills, and I simply can’t afford the time.

Other subsidy publishers may well market it for you, but expect a hefty fee. I am in this game to be a payee, not a payer! Call me old fashioned….

Two: This is an easy one. I don’t have the money to pay a vanity or subsidy publisher. Most run into the low thousands. It’s a no brainer and a non-starter. True, if you self-publish digitally it costs you nothing, but that brings me to…

Three: The digital book world is crammed to bursting with sub-standard works by delusional people. The danger of being able to so easily publish a book at the click of a button, is that no one gets to edit it. No one gets to tell you that your head must be firmly stuck up your arse if you think that attempt at writing is any good! Because we all write crap. Wasn’t it Ernest Hemingway who said: “The first draft of anything is s**t.”?

The second, third and fourth drafts are usually the same. But when we are preparing to send to a conventional publisher or agent, we take the time to rework and perfect. Being able to publish without that voice of reason leads to the temptation to just go with the crap.

And vanity publishers too play to your vanity (see where that comes from?!) and praise your work over-enthusiastically. They want you to shell your money out.

So really, I need to know my work is good enough to be seen. I think it is, and I am proud of it, but I want a professional who really cares about their investment to work with me to make my books as good as they can be before I subject them to the world.

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In my next blog post, I will be talking about some of the competitions I am entering this year and pleading the case for more book competitions for unpublished writers. They are few and far between.

I would be interested if any of you have entered competitions, either currently or in the past. What has your experience of them been like?

I’ll also be posting some links to my favourite writing sites and blogs, and talking about the many great ways that the internet and social media can help you.

Any comments on my post are welcome. Please use the comment box below.