Tag Archive | book

Writing a Blurb

In between telling the various authorities, banks etc where I now live, I have finished the first set of amendments to the Printers Proof copy of Crucial Evidence. The next stage is to write a blurb for the back cover. Trying to condense a 90,000 word novel into 120 is really difficult. Which bit to include, which to leave out. Are the bits I think important the true turning points in the story? This is my first attempt;

English: The word "blurb" was coined...

English: The word “blurb” was coined by Burgess, in attributing the cover copy of his book, Are You a Bromide?, to a Miss Belinda Blurb. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lenny Barker pleads not guilty to a charge of murdering prostitute Shelley Paulson. Cassie Hardman, junior barrister for the defence, believes he is just another defendant trying to avoid responsibility for his crime. Then, just before the trial begins, she discovers he has an alibi. Cassie is determined he will have a fair trial and risks her career to locate the crucial witness.

Will he be found before the jury retire to consider their verdict and will his evidence establish Barker’s innocence? If Barker is not the killer then who is? Can Cassie help Detective Constable Alexis Seymour in her efforts to solve the crime?

Is this enough? I don’t say where the novel is set or that the story follows Barker’s trial at the Old Bailey, which is an important part of the book. I could do to look at the blurb on other books, but all mine are in store at the moment until we get some bookshelves built.

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Power to Authors

This was my second year on a row at the Winchester Writers’ Conference, and what fun it was? A course on writing conflict in your novel, by Adrienne Dines and a course on Social Media Marketing for Authors by Eden Sharp. (www.wordshaker.co.uk should find her)

English: Amazon Kindle e-book reader being hel...

English: Amazon Kindle e-book reader being held by my girlfriend. The color and scale of the device are accurate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both interesting but I think I learnt most from the Marketing course. The message I took away from that was, I need to get on Twitter. That’s going to be a big step as every time I’ve looked at Twitter I find my self totally confused by the site. But I have added it to my do to list.

Although a few of the direct publishing companies have had a presence at the Conference in the past, this year Amazon had a tabletop. They were doing presentations on how to publish for Kindle and on CreateSpace. They were so popular that the venue was moved from the rather cramped conditions in the Book Fair into the large lecture theatre. Which takes me to the theme of this post.

To explain – one of the attractions at the conference are the One to One’s. This opportunity to place your work in front of authors, agents and publishing representatives is an important use of the writer’s time. Because I have decided to publish my book directly I only went to see two agents and the rest were publishing experts. There was a difference in the approach between the agents and the others. The agents were very critical of my novel. One of them was rather infantile in her approach, demonstrated by her failing to realise that a barrister needs time to qualify and therefore the date she left home might be different from the date she began to work. The two publishing consultants, one the editor of the Writers and Authors Year Book, were complimentary about my writing and suggested ways of improving my synopsis and pitch letter. Which led me to think that agents who have acted as the gatekeepers for the publishing industry, and were the power brokers, need to realise that they have to offer something to the writer or she will publish their work directly to the reader. And that’s goodbye to their 15%.

Decision Time

Kindle 3 moved all major operates to the botto...

Kindle 3 moved all major operates to the bottom. No comments on this point. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have made the decision to engage Authoright to provide a publishing package for my book Crucial Evidence. Gareth Howard, the CEO, has experience of both self publishing and of traditional publishing deals and he is passionate about authors having the choice of how to publish and indeed,making the right choice; something that suits them rather than the agent or publisher. Indeed the message I took away from the Author Lounge at the London Book Fair is that if a writer wants to keep control of the publication and marketing process then direct publishing is a good alternative. When I saw a publisher last year at the Winchester Writers’ Conference she said the publisher would want a series of five books, while I though three would be sufficient to take my main character Cassie Hardman from successful junior barrister to QC. Indeed I’m not sure I want to write so many books based on the same character or to write books to someone else’s timetable.

I am aware of some authors who have written amazing books getting very little marketing support from their publishers and having to do so much themselves. Paying for those front tables or window displays in well-known bookstore

is costly, only the books publishers think will be best-sellers get that kind of treatment, otherwise it’s do it yourself.

So perhaps direct publishing is the way forward for me. Decision made, I sent off quite large sum of money (think of it as vet’s bills for that imaginary horse) a copy of my manuscript and a synopsis and wait for Authoright to copy edit the novel and produce a cover, just as if it was produced by a mainstream publisher. I may be self -publishing but that does not mean it is going to be anything less than professional.

On another front I have formatted my skinny volume of poems for Kindle, very difficult, and for a paperback on CreateSpace, much easier; the two Amazon platforms for self-publishing. The proof copy arrived on friday and I need to check it for errors and then continue with the publishing process. Although the book will be for sale, it’s really a memento of our time living in this sixteenth century farmhouse which comes to an end this summer.

Publish and be Damned

I recently heard from the major publisher who have been considering my novel Crucial Evidence that they are not going to publish it because they don’t think it will be a bestseller! Just a reasonable seller would be good enough for me. So it looks like its self publishing.
In furtherance of that route I had already send the book for a full edit and I have also received the editor’s comments on it. Her view is that in places the book lacks pace, and she suggests that I remove quite large sections which give my main character, a barrister called Cassie Hardman, a context. One aspect is her background, which I feel is quite important as she comes from a ‘working class’ family (hate these

An Oxbridge college seen from the outside

An Oxbridge college seen from the outside (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

descriptions but in the UK they still apply), state schools, red-brick university, whilst the Bar tends to be ‘upper middle class,’ private school and Oxbridge. She feels an outsider in her chosen profession and that is reflected in some of her decisions and attitudes. The other is a sub-plot about her Chambers’ politics, which again shows her reactions away from the courtroom, but still with her colleagues. Without those changes she thinks it is unlikely I will find an agent.
The publishing business uses agents as gatekeepers to monitor the manuscripts they receive and ensure only the best get through to the publishers for their consideration. When it comes to genre fiction, the formats are so fixed that anyone writing something that doesn’t fit precisely within the stereotype is not considered.
Another way of putting it is that for commercial fiction the author must write what the publisher wants, or rather what an agent thinks the publisher wants, and not what the writer wants to write.
So to amend that well known saying Self-publish and be damned.

Cathi Unsworth: women and noir | Books | The Guardian

Cathi Unsworth: women and noir | Books | The Guardian.

Cathi Unsworth writes about her novels which are described as noir. Unlike many crime novels she does not write series. In this article in The Guardian she writes about the difficulty of getting published and says her first manuscript was rejected by many editors who wanted her to turn it into a series. In the end she did get a publisher who told her she might have done better if she had used a man’s name as a pseudonym. Really that’s too much. She also says that to get published you must write what the agents say, ‘fit into the Christie corset’ are her words, and accept the compromise or do your own thing and take a chance with e-books. It seems to me she is saying what I said in my last post about making your novel fit an agent’s view of what you should write or you write what you want and self-publish. To use an overworked phrase, publish and be damned.

Winchester Writing Conference

As part of my campaign to find either an agent or a publisher for my book, Crucial Evidence, I am attending the Conference run by the University of Winchester. In addition to  workshops on ‘How to write a Page Turner,’ and ‘How to get to Know your Characters’ there is the opportunity to have a ‘One to One’ with a selection of literary agents, editors and authors. I had to choose up to six individuals of whom four could be agents or editors and two authors. I found making a selection from about fifty people difficult. Of course ruling out some-one who has no interest in my genre was the easy bit, it’s not much good sending a crime novel to a poet or an agent who only wants children’s books, but that still left a considerable list from which to choose.  Having made my choices I had to put together copies of a letter introducing myself and my novel, a synopsis and a section of the book. No two of the authors, agents or editors want the same thing. The number of pages of the book varies from two chapters, first ten pages, first 3000 words, first three chapters, first 500 words and first chapter. Making sure the right number of pages went with the right letter took me a whole day. Obviously one hopes that one of the agents or editors will love the book, and want to read the complete novel. I went to the same conference about three years ago and saw one agent who loved the sections I had sent her, but by the time I had finished writing the book, she was on maternity leave and her replacement was not so keen. They were very complimentary about my writing, but didn’t want to take it on. I hope I am more sucessful this time. Has anyone got some good advice on getting an agent or is there a problem with an industry in paralysis.

Perhaps the answer is self publishing.