THE WRITERS BUREAU
"My first novel was published in early 2006. The book was published through Les Editions Le Manuscrit which is an Internet publisher. My second novel has just been sent off to a publisher, it will take 3-6 months for them to reply. My third novel is in development so I would say it's going ok for me. I also write movie reviews for a horror website and short stories from time to time.
I have put my stories on a French website www.e-monsite.com/zombigirl/ and that has allowed me to get in touch with some amateur filmmakers who have turned one of my short movie scripts into a film! It's almost ready to be shown and will be sent to a film festival which has a short movie competition. My short stories are being published in mags or fanzines from time to time – sometimes I get paid, other times I don't. But the pleasure of seeing something in print is always the same. Holding my book for the first time was kind of moving... My thanks go to my tutor for all her help and encouragement."
Marija Nielsen, France.
"I started the course with a wonderful tutor who encouraged me and was very helpful when I most needed it and soon I had letters of acceptance coming in. I had stories and short articles published in Take A Break, People's Friend, Land Rover Owners International, Anchor Trust News and Take A Break.
I have managed to recoup the fees I paid for the course, but I have earned so much in interest and new knowledge that, even if I hadn't, I feel the course is well worthwhile, if only for the challenges it has set me."
Patricia Williams, UK.
It's easy to share your success stories with others. Just send an email to email@example.com with 'Success Story' in the subject line.
FREELANCE MARKET NEWS
an essential guide for freelance writers
For up-to-date market information, Freelance Market News is invaluable.
Issued 11 times a year it's packed with information on markets in Britain and around the globe, plus you get all the latest news and views on the publishing world.
Every subscription comes with FREE membership of The Association of Freelance Writers. Your membership also entitles you to discounts on books and competitions, a free appraisal worth £18 and a Membership Card which confirms your status as a Freelance Writer. For full details and to subscribe visit the website at: www.freelancemarketnews.com
IN THIS MONTH'S ISSUE OF FMN:
WRITING FOR CHILDREN –
MORE THAN CHILD'S PLAY
How To Successfully Change
Direction In Your Writing
by Jackie Cosh
I remember when I first started writing, reading about a widely published writer whose work load had begun to dry up, and who had decided to change direction. This was a problem I considered him lucky to have. Simply getting published anywhere seemed far away to me.
But before long I became that person – widely published with a work load that was slowing down and a desire to change direction. I had been focusing on a few areas, most of which were not particularly well paid, with the result that I was finding that some editors were assuming I was not doing this for a living. Articles were being kept on hold long term or not being published at all.
After a few months of this, I decided to have a think about the type of writing I really wanted to do, rather than the type that I was able to get. A diminishing bank balance may have been the push, but it was the push I needed. It is very easy to get comfortable in your writing. Sometimes you need something or someone to encourage you to take a step back and decide if this is what you really want to be doing.
As a tutor for The Writers Bureau I often find myself suggesting that new writers use their experiences to get themselves published with the view to using these clippings and experience to move into another area if they so wish. So sometimes a change of direction has always been the plan.
It may also come about because a writer is bored with the area of writing they have been concentrating on. This variety is all part of what I love about being a writer. There is so much to choose from, and changing direction can be fun.
It can also be a bit daunting, like starting at the beginning again, and this is where you have to go back to your early days and remember the lessons you learnt.
You need to decide which path you are going to take, and what type of writing you would like to move into. Is there an area which you have written about occasionally which you would like to get more involved in? Has your experience changed enough to convince an editor that you have the know how to write about a different area? If you have ideas for different areas to concentrate on, will they provide enough of a challenge and will they be devoid of the negative aspects of the areas you are trying to get away from?
In my case there were two areas I wanted to concentrate on. I had written quite a few articles aimed at people who work with children, and wanted to do more of this type. I found it challenging, it paid well, and there were enough different kinds of publications covering everything from nursery work to youth work, that I wouldn't be confined to one or two magazines.
I also had an interest in writing health related articles. This was a subject which interested me, and which I found an increasing number of people were becoming interested in reading about.
Although you have to go back to the beginning, you also have to remember that you are not a new writer and should approach editors as an experienced writer would. By this I mean highlight your experience, and show the editor that you know what you are doing.
For some time I had been writing for one childcare magazine, so I simply upped the amount of queries I sent the editor. I also decided to look more closely at other childcare/education publications, similar to this one. Some didn't pay quite as well, but I found that their style required less work, and I could reuse ideas which other magazines had rejected by changing them slightly so that they were tailored to the new publication.
Reading through Freelance Market News I discovered another relevant magazine and contacted the editor. I now receive commissions from the editor regularly, and get paid substantially more than I had been for articles a year previous.
In order to help me get published in the health market I looked out clippings of articles I had written on children's health and sent these to editors with queries. I carefully chose publications which were similar to the type of work I had written before and with which I thought I stood a good chance of being accepted.
So this is how I went about things, but what about what not to do? The main thing I would avoid is trying to convince an editor that you have experience when you don't. There are health magazines I am interested in which I have not approached yet because I believe I stand a better chance with them once I have more experience. This day is coming very shortly and I want to ensure that when I do approach the editor she will be sufficiently impressed by my CV to commission my work.
Secondly I would avoid stepping back into the comfort zone. Once you have made the decision to move on, stick with it. Do write the occasional piece to keep the wolf from the door, but your main focus should be on your new areas of writing.
Two years on I am earning between two and four times the fees per article I once did. Things were tight for the first few months before I had established regular contacts but I am now earning much more. At the moment I have had to reduce the amount of hours I work, but this has not been followed by a reduction in earnings.
I am more inspired to write now than I was before as I feel I have stepped up the writing ladder a bit and this has motivated me. The variety has been good for me and I can see my writing ambitions for the future coming closer all the time. The change was definitely worth it.
Jackie Cosh, a Writers Bureau tutor, writes mostly non-fiction and has been published widely in the UK and Australia. Her specialist subjects include local history, childcare and dogs, although she also covers health, religion and business-related articles.
I am pleased to share the winner of our Book Review competition below. I chose Ted's entry because it did everything that I look for in a book review. I understood clearly the author's intentions whilst at the same time getting a vivid picture of the reader's experience of the book. This is a fine line to balance as a reviewer, ensuring that the review does not swing round too heavily to be all about YOUR thoughts and opinions, whilst still needing to represent your experince in relation to the book. As Ted managed to balance so skillfully on this tightrope I am pleased to declare him as my winner. Congratulations!
Book Review Competition Winner – Ted Nealon
Richard Dawkins’ recent book, “The God Delusion” is an expansive and entertaining rebuttal of God’s existence. After the first three chapters, there is little room left in our world for any God to exist. In fact the idea seems ridiculous. Dawkins shows us the apparent total lack of substance for our religious beliefs and we are left with little or no choice but to laugh along with him at our deistic delusions. Dawkins, the evangelistic atheist, is proving most persuasive as we try to imagine how the barbaric, sexually oppressive and conceited God of early scripture could have evolved into the modern God of today’s Europe. At that stage, not only was I confirming my atheism to myself, but I was preparing to come out and join Dawkins anti-crusade.
And then, just as I was almost irrevocably convinced of the absence of God, the book seemed to fade away. Dawkins’ arguments lost their credibility and their entertainment value and seemed to become more and more contrived. I began to think that if this was the best Dawkins could do, then maybe there was a God after all. It became increasingly easier to think of counter arguments to his theories. Many so-called Religious Wars had, in fact, other causes and objectives, with religion merely introduced as a rallying excuse.
As I revisited the early chapters, I realised that my laughter had dimmed my scrutiny and led me to abandon any critical assessment of what I was reading. In this book, Dawkins’ raises very many significant issues relating to our belief in God and in God’s very existence. However, to suggest that if science cannot prove God's existence, then God cannot exist, ultimately seems a poor argument. By the end, I thought that maybe Dawkins protests too much.
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"I was very interested to see the link to the British Fantasy Society website but how useful is a site whose "What's New" page is dated June 2005? I have found this with other sites too, Jaqui Bennett's site for example, which at first looked very interesting but also has a lot of very out of date information on it. If no one is updating them then are they worth pursuing?"
Janet Foster, UK
Hello Janet: Even though a site may not be updated regularly you should still find a wealth of information that is relevant, including contact information to forward any specific queries to the site editor. However, you are right to tread carefully when using the Internet for research – too many people take the information at face value and forget to be rigorous in checking and double-checking information presented.
Contact us with any thoughts, questions or queries at: firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Feedback' in the subject line.
THE WRITING CLINIC
If you have a question you want answering then send it to: email@example.com with 'The Writing Clinic' in the subject line.
"I would like to ask for help in referencing information about real people that I pick up through magazines or newspapers. Is it copyright? How much can I use freely, do I need to quote my source, and if so is it in terms of 'Daily Mail 28th January 2007' etc?"
THE WRITING CLINIC'S ANSWER
When you talk about 'referencing' information, I assume you mean saving it so that you can re-work the facts in your own articles.
There is no copyright in facts – only the way they are expressed. So, providing you write-up the information in your own words there should not be a problem. However, there are one or two things to be wary of. If the original journalist has made a mistake you will repeat it and your readers may pick up on it (something that no editor is pleased about). And this becomes an even more important issue if anything in what you have used could be considered libellous. When you repeat it, you are in danger of being sued, too.
You do not usually need to quote your sources, but I did come across a magazine's guidelines recently that insisted on this. Plus, if an editor feels that you are simply doing a 'cut and paste' job rather than providing your own well-researched piece your work will have less chance of success.
So tread carefully. Use material that is already available to give you background and insight but always check the facts and make sure that you add enough 'fresh' material to really make the piece your own.
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"I would like to enquire – how does a first time writer for children's books best market her books?"
THE WRITING CLINIC'S ANSWER
As a writer of children's books you should do the same market research as you would for any other genre.
Go to your local library and browse the children's section. Look at which publishers are producing the type of book which you have written. Do the same in large book shops – their stock may be more up to date than your library.
When you have found a number of publishers that might be suitable, check out their websites – most of them will show all their current titles and may even give author/submission guidelines. If they do, then follow these.
When you have chosen which publisher to approach then send them a copy of your manuscript (if it is quite short) or the first three chapters (if it is a longer book, for older children) together with a covering letter saying why you feel your book will be suitable for their list... and wait for a reply. There is nothing wrong with sending out your work to a number of publishers at the same time.
Obviously, I can only give brief tips here but if you want detailed practical advice then consider enrolling on The Writers Bureau Writing for Children course. Visit www.writingforchildrencourse.com for more details.
Note: If you are a student of The Writers Bureau and have a question relating to your course please contact the Student Services Department directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the chart that champions the unpublished writer by sending in a chapter from an unpublished book. Readers rate the entries and the most popular receive a critique from industry professionals. This Arts Council sponsored site will then offer a publishing deal to the author whose work has proved most popular over the year. www.youwriteon.com
Scribble Pad is a new, not-for-profit site that has been set up to help people interested in creative writing. The site has excellent navigation making it easy to explore the growing number of articles that cover a variety of topics. www.scribblepad.co.uk
This is not so much a useful site as a useful article that I think will be of interest to many of you. It appeared in The Guardian newspaper and reports how there is a growing discontent about the 'closed shop' that is the modern publishing industry and how it affords very few opportunities for the majority of unknown writers. This discontent has driven some people to take matters into their own hands. Read the article here: http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,,2007744,00.html
As we continue to 'meet the tutors' I am pleased to introduce the site of Stephanie Baudet. Stephanie is an extremely successful children's author with a wealth of titles to her name and we are so pleased that she brings this experience to the Writing For Children course. Details of her published work can be found at: www.stephaniebaudet.co.uk
That brings us to the end of this month's issue. Next month, Phyllis Ring gives some excellent advice on how to break into newspaper writing.
As usual, if you've any suggestions or would like to comment on content then please contact Teresa at:
And don't forget if you've enjoyed this issue of E-zee Writer and found it useful, tell your friends about it so that they can subscribe too!
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