Monday, 29 November 2010

Just out to prove me wrong 29th November 2010.

There was I happily droning, sorry, moaning, about the poor quality of submissions so far this month and lo and behold over the weekend we get three good ones in, as well as another one we’d seen previously and suggested the author rewrote parts of it.

All four, were not only submissions of a reasonable quality, but they also conformed to the revised, and some say draconian, submission guidelines, including the author’s ideas on marketing. I was really pleased to see that.

Maybe the message is actually getting out, you need to work on selling your book just as much, and possibly even more than the publisher is doing.

After all we can’t all be Jamie Oliver can we?

I was reading the paper (Ed – apparently he can read) this morning and I saw a list of the top celebrity chefs in the UK, ranked by how much they were worth. The aforementioned guru came top of the list with a fairly substantial pile, and a large portion of that pile was made from book sales.

Now, unlike ghost written celebrity autobiographies and kiss and tell books, at least these books have some kind of purpose that outlives the first few days after Xmas. Nevertheless over ONE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS STERLING of book sales in this country is a heck of a lot of cook books by this one guy alone.

Maybe we took the wrong turning, and we should be concentrating on the non-fiction market rather than publishing, mainly, fiction.

There again, maybe it’s sour grapes he didn’t come to use first. Wink. Sob!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

So you want to Write a Novel.

I was going to blog today about the naivety of so many would be authors who think actually turning out a novel is a piece of cake.

Then someone posted this link on Facebook.

It says it all, and better than I could, the animation may be basic, but stay with it.

(Ed - I hope the link works - not tried doing this before.)


Friday, 26 November 2010

Submissions Again 26th November 2010.

It doesn’t matter how often I write about submissions to us, something new always turns up.

We changed our submissions policy when we reopened this time, much tighter guidelines and we added the dreaded marketing plan clause. In other words, we asked the prospective author to tell us what they knew about book marketing, specifically of their own book. Some of our authors are very good at this, some not so good, some have reasons for keeping a low profile, others want the limelight.

If a prospective author submits and ignores that section then that’s going to quickly become a TS situation – otherwise known as thanks but no thanks. The free ride to riches happens to about one author in every generation, and sadly (for the rest of us) that was J.K. Rowling for the last generation and Stephanie Meyer for this. Everyone else, else to get involved in their own marketing, like it or not, if they want to sell their books. If they don’t want to get involved, why should we get involved with them?

We’ve been running like this for four weeks now, and the number of submissions has gone down, and the quality of submissions has gone up. Given so many authors were, like me, getting involved in NANOWRIMO means it would probably have dropped anyway.

We have had two oddball ones though, which goes to show it doesn’t matter how you set things out, people still don’t read.

The first one was sent to me direct, not via the submissions e-mail address, despite the two being on the same page of the website. We ask for the complete manuscript as an attachment. What we got was an excerpt in the body of the e-mail, no supporting information, no synopsis and no bio. No name or title. The sentence at the bottom of the e-mail was remarkable in itself; it was the closest thing to correct grammar in the whole e-mail.

“What’s it worth to me if send you the rest of my masterpiece? It’s great.”

Yes – the I is missing in the original.

The answer was short, terse and two words.

“Not interested”

Sorry for those of you who expected something more to do with a biological behaviour and an outing, but I don’t think its good practice to swear in an e-mail.

The second one was even more unreal.

An aspiring, but as yet unpublished author sent a query to the submissions address on the web site, asking what our submissions guidelines are. Hello, Earth calling -.... It’s on the website.

It just goes to show, like so many of the rest of the world, some authors don’t read.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

I can blog again 25th November 2010.

Finally – I can blog again. Sorry for being so negligent toward my blog but I’ve been busy tied up on my NANOWRIMO projects. That’s right – plural. I said I was going to really push myself this year by doing two projects. Try to write two 50,000 word novels from scratch during November. Well I did it, one I completed yesterday and the other this morning. So that’s something over 101,000 words in 24 and a half days. Given one was a contemporary romance and the other a Ninth century Alternative military history piece, that seriously took some doing.

Effectively I’m written out (Ed: then how come he’s writing this – hey?)

At the same time though, I’m energised in other ways too – other projects spinning round in my head like there’s no tomorrow, and I need to get them down onto disk as soon as possible. Not actually going to happen but they’re bubbling there.

Neither book is truly finished, only the draft is finished, indeed the historical one needs at least another chapter inserting between chapters five and seven in order to link what appear to be disparate halves of the story. That’s what revision and editing and rewriting is all about.

I haven’t been idle on other fronts during this time either, in fact we’ll have some exciting news for our authors very shortly, which I will announce to them via the newsletter.

Two more books have gone to the printer this month, including our first non-fiction title, and I have high hopes for that one in particular in terms of sales.

I’ll talk in more detail about our news and a few other things over the next few days and into next week. The important thing was to convince y’all that I’m still here and getting back into the swing of blogging.


Thursday, 18 November 2010

Competition winning entry

A couple of people have suggested I should post the winning competition entry.
The theme for entries was the phrase "When Darkness Came" and the maximum word count was 250.
The pieces are read out by a panel of readers and voted on by the group as a whole by secret ballot.
I wouldn't say it's perfectly edited, my stuff never is until someone else has been through it!
I wanted everyone to think a woman had written it, rather than a man. I think I succeeded - certainly there was a lot of surprise when I owned up to it.
Anyway here it is:

I came awake suddenly, instinctively knowing the sanctity of my bedroom had been violated, I was no longer alone.
Half sitting up, clutching the thin sheet to my naked breasts I peered into the near darkness. The intruder was easy to spot, sitting in the chair in the corner, eerily lit by the yellow light reflecting from the street lamp outside
My breath caught in my throat, the reflected light giving shadows to his chiselled handsome features.
“What... I mean... Who...?”
He chuckled, the warm tones resonating round the room, plucking my heart strings. Slowly he rose to his feet.
“You may call me Cameron.”
He was nude, magnificently naked, his perfectly muscled torso drawing my gaze down to his sculpted six pack and then lower. I gasped again, heat rising to my face, as I surveyed his eloquent manliness, his words hardly registering as he took a pace forward.
His perfection stunned me into near insensibility as he reached out and gently tugged at the bottom of the sheet, pulling my only covering from unresisting fingers.
I licked my lips, unable to cry out.
He stepped closer and flexed his shoulders, his huge black wings unfurling behind him, the feathered limbs almost spanning the room, brushing the ceiling.
“What... What are you?”
Once more he chuckled as he held my gaze with eyes that captured mine without a fight.
He stooped and his arms cradled me as his wings enfolded us, then darkness came.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Trumpet Blowing Again, 3rd November 2010.

I’m writing this a bit late tonight, with very good reason. I'm sitting in here with a bottle of Coors next to the keyboard and a huge beaming smile on my face.

Tonight was the annual competition night at the Nottingham Writers Club. “Manuscript of the Year”.

And I won it!

For the second time in three years, (the only three years I’ve been a member). You should have seen some of the faces when I admitted the anonymous entry was actually mine. They were all absolutely certain it was written by a woman, just shows how you can deceive your readers completely if you set your mind to it.

Unfortunately this time, it was a tied result, meaning the two of us only get to keep the cup for six months, but hey a win is a win is a win.

Since I’m also ahead on both NANO projects this makes it a good writing day today.

Roll on tomorrow, I’m fired up and ready to strut my stuff!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The BEN Form 2nd November 2010.

Yesterday I said, depends on what comes up and bites me. Guess what? It was the bloody IRS! And we’re not even an American company nor are we American citizens! I ask you! Aaarrgghhh!
One of our major retail customers just sent us their payment for quarter 3. When I received the notification one thing was blindingly obvious. The amount was around about 70% of the total expected.

With a sinking heart, I immediately recognised the problem. The dreaded American IRS had struck again. If your company is based outside of the US and you are trading with a commercial partner inside the US then they are expected to withhold a massive 30% of the payment in order replicate the tax revenue they would expect to take if we were American.

The fact that 30% is way over the top is in itself annoying.

This can be avoided by registering the company with the American IRS and getting g an EIN number. I know, I know, but they’re not my acronyms! Then with each trading partner you need to fill out what is referred to as a W8BEN form – the eponymous form from the title above.
A separate from has to be filled in for each trading partner, and must be sent in paper from, the IRS have not yet joined the 30th Century let alone the 21st! You cannot fax or e-mail a scanned from. It has to be paper!

Of course the paperwork has transit time, and then has to be processed at the other end. In the mean time we’ve had to refund the partial payment in order to get the full payment later.
Luckily we’ve already been through this process with another retailer so we already have our EIN number.

The IRS hasn’t caught up with all our retailers yet, just some of them, so we have no way of knowing when the dreaded Ben form will be required.

Pity these guys didn’t ask up front for it, isn’t it?


Monday, 1 November 2010

NANO 1st November 2010.

To those of you who have been following this blog, you will know I’m being a total masochist and attempting a double NANO this month. That’s right I’m trying to write two 50,000 word novels in one month, each completely different in style and genre from the other. One contemporary and the other ancient historical in nature.

As a result entries to this blog through this month will be possibly sporadic but definitely shorter than average.

I suppose it depends on what comes up to bite me over the next four weeks or so.

Anyway, to those who are also doing NANOWRIMO this year, good luck and happy writing. I’m going to keep my FB status updated about my progress not here, so you know where to find me.

Have fun.