Saturday, 19 November 2011

Writing To Order by Karen King


I often run writing classes and one of the first things I ask my students is why they are writing, is it for pleasure or do they want to get published. Most of them say they want to get published. I ask them this because I think it's vitally important, especially when writing for children. If you're writing for pleasure then you can write what you want, you don't have to fit in with the current market or obey any rules. So all I need to show them is how to hone their work, to make it more concise, to cut out the clichés, the repeated phrases, the unnecessary words and ensure they have the language level right for the age group.


If you're writing because you want to get published it's a different matter. Especially for children's books. Then you have to think about lots of different things before your book even gets to your target reader. Things like the length of your story (many publishers have set word lengths for different age groups), where it will fit in the publishers list (if they’ve already got a series of books about a doggy detective they won’t want another one), current market trends (vampire books are so 2010) to name just a few. A well-written, gripping space adventure story can be rejected simply because the publisher feels there are enough space stories about. This is what happened to my children’s fantasy, novel Firstborn. Despite glowing comments from several publishers this was rejected time and time again because, I was told, there were too many dragons stories about. So I decided to e-publish it.




Now, I’m a traditional author at heart and think that there’s nothing better than curling up in your favourite armchair with a bar of chocolate and reading a book. I love the feel of a book in my hands, looking at the cover, reading the blurb, turning the pages. But sometimes there’s a story bursting in you that you simply have to write and the beauty of e-publishing is that now you can write it, and publish it even if it isn’t what traditional book publishers are looking for at the moment. Which is brilliant, because as authors we want our stories to be read and enjoyed and now we have another way of doing that.




7 comments:

madwippitt said...

So true! Good luck with Firstborn!

Karen said...

Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to getting a Kindle and as they get more popular authors may be able to bypass publishers entirely. And non-published authors will be able to have a go too. I wonder what this will mean for the market! Maybe authors will need to resort to great self-promotion techniques in order to stand out from the crowd. Intead of a publisher, you'd have a marketer?

Karen said...

Maybe, but I really hope that traditional books never die out. Ebook readers are great for storing lots of copies of books when travelling, or for publishing books outside the normal publishing criteria but for me you can't beat a 'real' book. Especially for children. I don't see ebooks are replacing printed books, but rather as another publishing platform.

Dan Holloway said...

It was that burning need to tell the stories I wanted to tell that made my mind up to self-publish about 3 years ago. It was possible back then to bring my work to people through blogs and live readings, but e-publishing has given a vital extra dimension that makes it easier for people who want to read what I've written to do so.

epublishabook said...

Best of luck with your new book. However, luck is a fickle friend... So better get down the marketing lane.
Here is a series of posts about marketing tactics for ebooks http://www.epublishabook.com/2011/11/14/promoting-vs-marketing-a-book-%E2%80%93-the-promotion-stages-%E2%80%93-pre-publishing-%E2%80%93-part-1/.
Some of them might keep luck on your side and turn your book into a best seller :-)

Karen said...

Thanks a lot, I'll check them out. I'm not used to marketing so any help gratefully received. :)