Tag Archive | London Book Fair

The Fatal Step

This  is the working title of my new novel and so far I am about half way through the first draft. Some how the summer has not been conducive to writing – who wants to be stuck in front of a computer when the sun is shining outside. I think too, I am rather daunted by the task I have set myself. I didn’t think about it with Crucial Evidence. I’d started that as part of my dissertation for my MA and I just kept going until  I’d finished. Then I drafted and redrafted without thinking, each time telling myself that this time it would work and when I sent it to agents someone would love. They didn’t and I began to realize that it wasn’t my writing that was the real problem but the type of book I wanted to write. Also talking to agents at places like Winchester Writers’ Conference and at The London Book Fair I knew any publisher would want a series of novels and I didn’t want to be tied to writing a book a year. In the end I decided to publish  the book myself. In the process I’ve learnt at lot about writing and publishing, but that makes the mountain I have to climb much higher and harder than the first.  I know how long it takes and how difficult it can be.Old Bailey

But you have to begin somewhere so this is the first page of my second novel. It follows the career of barrister Cassie Hardman as she gets her first leading brief in a murder case.

As Cassie hurried along the driveway from Snaresbrook Crown Court towards the tube station, she turned on her mobile phone. Amongst the emails from fashion houses, department stores and restaurants, there was a message showing the subject matter as Paul Sadler. He had been the defendant in a rape trial, who she had successfully defended at the Old Bailey the week before last. She didn’t recognise the name of the sender, Malcolm Delaney. Normally she was very careful about opening emails from unknown people but it was from someone who knew about her involvement in the Sadler case. She clicked the message open and read, ‘Miss Hardman, I wanted to congratulate you on your representation of Mr Sadler. Your cross examination was very effective and your closing remarks were obviously persuasive. Clearly they carried the jury along, as you know from the verdict. I would like the opportunity of congratulating you in person, and would like to invite you to have lunch or dinner with me. We can arrange a time and place later. I look forward to hearing from you. Malcolm’

The email gave no clue as to how Malcolm Delaney, knew she had represented Paul Sadler or what Delaney’s connection to the case was. Was he a police officer, a member of the court staff or just a spectator from the public gallery? She knew there were a number who came regularly to watch the proceedings at the Bailey; the staff  described them as ‘groupies’ and she had been told by one of the ushers that some of them would ask which barristers were appearing in which court and make a point of watching their favourites’ cases. The wording of the message was a little old fashioned so perhaps it was one of them. The thought that one of the men from the gallery wanted to invite her to dinner amused her, but nothing more. 

Back in Chambers, the senior clerk, Jack, summoned her into his room and closed the door behind her. On his desk were four lever arch files, tied with pink tape, the front sheet bore the title R v David Winston Montgomery. Jack beamed at her. ‘I’ve managed to get you a leading brief in a murder at the Bailey. I assume you’ll want to apply for silk in a couple of years. This is a good one; you’re ready for it, even though it’s a murder. None of the silks want this. Scared they’ll get tarred with a racist brush, I dare say. A woman won’t of course. Judge Crabtree is in a bit of a panic thinking the defendant might want to represent himself. I said, to Colin in the list office, my Miss Hardman can handle it. Spoke to Tim. Didn’t take long to persuade him you could do it. So there you are a leading brief in a murder.’

Any comments to make about that so important first page.

 

 

 

London Book Fair 2014

After listening to the talks in the Author HQ at LBF and hearing the questions people ask the commercial aspect of writing is very much to the fore- I suppose that’s not really surprising.Print

A successful writer of commercial fiction needs to write at least two books a year. I don’t think I can do that. I know if one writes a thousand words a day, in theory, one could finish a book in about three months, but then there is the redrafting and the editing and I suspect I am quite hard on myself during that process. Certainly Crucial Evidence took me over two years to write and eight drafts before I felt ready to publish it, and before the feedback I was getting from other writers, agents and publishers suggested it was well written enough. What they were unsure of was if there was a market for a courtroom drama/ legal mystery. I think what I want is to write something that other people enjoy reading. So far my novel is getting 4 and 5 star reviews and I do find that very satisfying, so perhaps that will do for me.

 

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.

The London Book Fair

I have spent the last two days in The Authors Room at the London Book Fair listening to presentations from the various companies who offer services to authors who wish to self-publish. These included Matador who provide a

Author room

Author room (Photo credit: Rrrrred)

complete suite of services, the various e-book platforms Kobo and Kindle. Also a number of authors who have done both traditional publishing and also self-publishing. They provided a lot to think about, with the various options available. They emphasised the importance of marketing, including the design of the cover. It has to be something that looks good the size of a postage book, as well as on the book, because that’s what appears on Amazon. Get it done by a professional if possible. Similarly if you can get a professional edit, certainly a copy edit/proof read (although I’m not sure what the difference is, except that one happen before the book is in galley form and the other after). I’ll come back to this when I’ve had more time to think about it, but it did confirm for me my decision to take the self publishing route. Thank you to Authoright for organising this event.