Showing posts from September, 2013

Guest Post - David Barry

They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but I suspect this is not meant to be taken literally and is probably a metaphor for some greater truth, instructing us to admire another human being’s inner beauty rather than going on just looks. With books it’s a different kettle of fish.  Of course people judge them on their covers, because people in bookstores have to be attracted enough by the design to pick them up in the first place. Half the battle is getting a potential customer to pick up a book, turn it over and read the blurb on the back. 

My first novel, Each Man Kills, was published in 2002. It’s a thriller located in south Wales, and after many rejections with large publishing houses in London, I decided to approach a small Welsh publisher. They liked it, and a year later it was almost ready for the printers. I had had good experiences with this publisher, the editor was friendly and approachable, and everyone seemed enthusiastic about my book. I was asked for sugges…

AUTHORS ELECTRIC 'HOW-TO' DAY e-(asy) tips for electric authors by Cally Phillips

     This is the first of a new (hopefully regular) series which is loosely called 'A How-To Day' or 'Training Day' - the aim being that AE'ers share skills, tips and knowledge related to ebooks. With apologies to all the grannies I'm teaching to suck eggs. But someone out there will doubtless find this useful. [Cally.]

     Cally - I think it's a myth that 'everyone' knows how to do these things. When I was working in a university, I was astonished how many students never thought to take a quick look on Google for information - something which has become second nature to me. Many of them - and not just the older students - would say, 'Oh, I'm not really into computers.' And my young hairdresser, the other day, when I said, jokingly, that I would blog something, said, 'What's a blog?' I thought she was joking, but no, she really had no idea what a blog was.  So, thank you for going back to basics! - Sue Price.

Theatre, Creativity and Things Philosophical...

This week I went to the opening night of an intensely moving play, in which my grand-daughter, Anna Munden, was playing a leading role. Anna's been involved in theatre from babyhood (my daughter's a costume designer, and my son in law creates stage sets) and from the time she was a toddler, has always wanted to be an actress. Until recently, she's been involved in touring productions, mostly in the South West, so this Covent Garden debut, at the Tristan Bates Theatre, was her big moment. And incidentally, getting serious reviewers to go to a Fringe production is every bit as difficult as getting reviewers to read and comment on previously unknown authors.

     The play, TRANSPORTS, was written by Jon Welch, and it's very loosely based on the life story of Anna's other grandmother, who is a lot older than me. Her name is Liesl, and she's German-Jewish. As a fifteen year old, she was sent to the UK via the K…

Has anything really changed for writers? - Andrew Crofts

I am off to the Cheltenham Festival on October 5th to chat about self-publishing at a workshop organised by Alison Baverstock, who runs the publishing course at Kingston University and is author of the excellent “The Naked Author”. Details of the event can be found here
     I also attended an interesting workshop on digital publishing at the Groucho Club the other day, organised by the folk at The Literary Platform. It seems the whole world is searching for the secret key to the door of best sellerdom, but apart from the fact that we can now conjure our books into physical existence in a way we previously had to persuade publishers to do for us, nothing much has really changed in the 40 years that I have been earning my living as a scribe.
     We still have to write stuff that people want to give up their time to read, and we still have to find a way to get it to their attention. We are all of u…

Why I'll Never Get The Wise Monkey Badge

Authors Electric has decided to give me a regular slot on the 26th after my recent guest post about snake oil. They should have spoken to the schoolteacher who wrote on my homework "Ruby Barnes has a complex neurosis that makes him cry out for attention by not fulfilling his obligations." The subject was meteorology and I was writing about cloud formations. I guess he didn't like my blue sky thinking.

Back to the monkeys in the title. Last week I collected my first ever vari-focal spectacles from the opticians. Fooled by the 2 for 1 special offer, I over-invested in Tommy Hilfiger and Timberland frames and had to lie to Mrs R about the real cost. These are the first you have to wear them all the time glasses since I first donned John Lennons at school aged 9. I had managed to reach a venerable half-century without further deterioration, so I thought.

The Kindle is to blame. For the last two years I've done all my reading on my Kindle 3, adjusting the text size for co…

NEW (illustrations) .FOR OLD (book) - by Susan Price

My book, The Wolf's Footprint, has had quite a history.
It was first written, long ago, as a 300 word picture book text, for a conventional publisher. To be honest, I forget which one, I've worked with so many.
     The editor who asked for it was enthusiastic - but picture books are always a hard sell. They're expensive to produce as paper books, and have to be pre-sold to a large market to make them viable. This means producing a book where both story and illustrations appeal to either Europe or the US as well as the UK. In the end, The Wolf's Footprint didn't make it as a picture-book.
     Some time later, Hodder asked for a short story that would appeal to young children. So I expanded The Wolf's Footprint, and turned it into a longer story for rather older children. Hodder accepted it, found an artist, and produced a rather attractive book, (see above) with excellent illustrations by David Parkins.
      I frequently go into schools, and I regard a few o…

What do you do when you're not writing? by Jo Carroll

What do you do when you’re not writing (or travelling)? How often am I asked that!

It’s a strange life, being a travel writer. I’m officially retired, so I can’t claim it’s a ‘proper job’, even though it fills almost all my time – or it feels like that.
I had a proper job once. I worked in Child Protection – putting on special clothes to go to work, picking up my case and my files and heading for an office with a desk and secretary. I was, I was assured, an expert. Sometimes I had to appear in Court and give evidence, help to prove a child had suffered ‘significant harm’ (that’s jargon. I won’t elaborate.). I tied my hair back and wore stern clothes.
The only way to survive a job like that is to learn to turn it off. No phone calls after eight at night. At least one day off a week. If a child continued to run around in my head I knew I’d missed something, and so go back to the papers and notes till I’d worked out what it was. Then close the office door, sit back with my wine, and be a re…

Why I'm Not a Writer by Lev Butts

In a recent article on, Gladstone claims that the third most popular lie told on social media is listing hobbies (such as writing) as vocations. He claims this is a lie unless said hobby allows you to "feed [your] kids and pay [your] bills and pay down [your] student loans doing nothing but writing outside of an established organization." At first, I had to agree with him and almost went to my Twitter account to change my description before something occurred to me.

I found at least two problems with his reasoning:

1. By his definition, very few writers can describe themselves as writers.

Richard Monaco, who as I've mentioned before, was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, no longer supports himself primarily through his writing. He still writes, he still sells novels, and he still receives the occasional royalty check from Parsival. They just don't bring in the amount of money they did in the 1980's. According to Gladstone's article, he is no …