Here’s a new way of getting your book published. Pitch your idea to a group of readers and ask them to stump up the cash to get it into print. The Unbound website goes into more detail saying:
“If you back a project before it reaches its funding target, you get your name printed in the back of every copy and immediate behind-the-scenes access to the author’s shed. If any project fails to hit its funding target, you get refunded in full.”
The ‘author’s shed’ includes access to interviews, draft chapters and progress reports on the book, amongst other things.
Readers can pledge differing amounts from £10 to £250 and earn similarly varying rewards from an e-book edition of the book to lunch with the author, invites to the launch party and goodie bags. Details are here.
The website has details of the authors and books currently looking for publication funding.
But the pitching is not all virtual. Unbound Live! events allow the authors to stand up and pitch directly to an audience (I can’t imagine anything more nerve-wracking than trying to explain my idea for a book to a room full of people!). Birmingham is to host the first library Unbound Live! event. It’s on July 10th 7pm at the Library Theatre. I’m disappointed that I can’t make it but for anybody that can, the details are here. (And thanks to Frances for alerting me to this event).
Publishing is a gamble so it makes sense to ensure that there is an audience willing to pay for your work in advance.
What do you think? Could you be tempted to fund a book in this way? Would you like to pitch in this way?
- Unbound Live: Readers decide which books get written (theculturecut.wordpress.com)
Yesterday I went to hear Annie Murray speak at my local library. Annie writes regional sagas set in Birmingham, each one covering various segments of the 20th century up until the 1980s. I had expected her to be an older lady who had lived in the city all her life, with a family tree connected to the area for generations. How wrong can you be?
Annie is around my own age (which to my daughters does probably mean ‘an older lady’!) and she only lived in Birmingham for around 5 years during the 1980s. But this brief stay in the city was enough to ignite her passion for the city and it’s heritage. She has been producing novels set in the area for 20 years.
Annie describes her books as being like a ‘family album’ – charting the ups and downs of ordinary people. It is people who interest her rather than history and she adds just enough of her research to the books to give a flavour of the time.
“I’m often told how vivid my novels are,” she says, “but local people subconsciously imprint their own memories of the area on to the story – thus adding to what I’ve written without realising it.”
I asked Annie if she plans her books in great detail. “No,” she explains. “I know the beginning, the end and how many years it will span. I write a half page synopsis for my publisher but then my writing is like driving in the dark. My view forward of what’s going to happen is limited like the distance illuminated by a car’s headlights.”
Like most writers, Annie has had to combine her writing with bringing up a family and it’s often put on the back burner as she deals with her other responsibilities. But that doesn’t mean her work is completely stalled. Annie thinks that writers unconsciously dwell on their work all the time and that we should all learn to work with this.
As always, it was inspiring to listen to an author who has ‘made it’ and if Annie can write sagas spanning generations without a detailed plan maybe there’s hope for the rest of us that struggle to outline everything in advance!
70 years ago, in 1942, Enid Blyton’s ‘Five On A Treasure Island’ was first published and, to mark the occasion, some of today’s celebrated
children’s illustrators have been redesigning the covers of these adventure books. Quentin Blake has started the ball rolling with the Treasure Island cover which can be seen by clicking here. Compare Blake’s illustration with that of the first edition, which I’ve used to illustrate this post. I think I prefer the original but that maybe because it’s more the style I associate with the books from my own childhood. Other illustrators who’ve been commissioned for the new covers include Helen Oxenbury, Chris Riddell, Oliver Jeffers and Emma Chichester Clark.
It was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five that gave me the reading bug many years ago. I devoured her tales of Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy the dog. How I wished I could join them as they swigged ginger beer, shared their ice creams with Timmy and slept on deserted islands on beds of springy heather.
I tried reading the Secret Seven but they just didn’t hit the mark in the same way as The Five.
Malory Towers was another of Blyton’s series’ that had me hooked. I read them over and over again. Even now the names Darrell, Gwendoline, Sally and Mary Lou immediately conjure up those characters that I loved as a girl. Boarding school sounded like a fantastic place to be.
And did anyone else read The Magic Faraway Tree? The story centred around a huge tree which had different lands at the top each day. It might be The Land of Dreams, The Land of Tempers or The Land of Presents. A group of children climbed the tree and, needless to say, had adventures in the different lands alongside the inhabitants of the tree, Silky and Moonface. My favourite thing in these books was the Slippery Slip – a helter-skelter type slide which allowed the children to whizz down the centre of the tree. I reread these books aloud to my daughters when they were young and enjoyed them just as much the second time around.
Enid Blyton comes in for a lot of bad press but in my opinion she did nothing but good for children’s literature. Her captivating stories enticed generations of youngsters to enjoy reading and books – and children who read for pleasure grow into adults who buy books and continue to read for pleasure.
Does anyone else have good memories of Enid Blyton’s books – or was I the only Blyton junkie in the early ’70s?
Iain Pattison is a prolific short story writer and has been widely published in magazines and anthologies. Twist endings are one of his specialities. He is also the author of Cracking the Short Story Market which covers all aspects of short story writing.
So it is fair to assume that Iain’s work and advice is worth reading if you are writing short fiction. Iain is currently one of the featured writers at The Word Hut. There’s an interesting interview with him here in which he reveals his background, views on the growing ease of self-publishing plus a bit of sensible advice for budding writers. The site is also showcasing one of his winning stories An Ugly Way To Go - have a read, it will make you smile.
If Iain’s writing and advice inspire you to pick up a pen or put fingers to keyboard, then The Word Hut are running a short story competition for stories up to 1000 words, closing date 13th May 2012.
Or you might like to try writing a piece of flash fiction including the words knit, blunder, perform and tingle. Helen Yendall is running this competition on her blog and full details can be found here. The prize is a copy of Linda Lewis’ brand new book ‘The Writer’s Treasury of Ideas’ and the closing date is 9th May 2012.
Good Luck and, in the wise words of Iain Pattison, “Keep churning out work. Be a word factory. Soon as you’ve finished one story, start another.”
P.S. Iain is judging the Writers’ Bureau Short Story Competition this year (first prize £500 and closing date 30th June 2012).
The aim of World Book Night is to encourage people who don’t usually read to pick up a book and get into the reading habit. As writers this is something that we should support – because if there are no readers what’s the point of writing?
I started in the A & E department of the hospital. I explained to the receptionist what I was doing and gave her a book. She was delighted and promised to pass it around her colleagues, adding that they often swapped books. So that was one book given away but unfortunately not to a non-reader. This was a trend that continued for the rest of my ‘giving’ session.
I only approached women (because Sophie Kinsella writes chick-lit) and I avoided people who were actually reading a book as they waited to see a doctor but it is very difficult to tell by a person’s appearance whether or not they are a reader. So inevitably I unknowingly spoke to keen readers and they almost bit my hand off at the offer of a free book. The non-readers I came across were simply not interested in giving the book a try – no matter how much I tried to sell it as a ‘light, easy read’. The exception to this was a lovely, chatty cleaner who was very grateful for the book and said she didn’t normally read but once bought a 48 hardback book set of Agatha Christie novels – they look lovely on her shelf but she’s never opened one of them!
One person turned down the book because she didn’t like Sophie Kinsella and another because she had already read the book. Three people knew about World Book Night and a paramedic told me she’d recently seen a book left on a park bench in a polythene bag, labelled ‘Read Me’.
I enjoyed being a ‘giver’ and intend to apply again next year but I’m not sure that World Book Night is achieving its aims. I’m sure that most of the books must end up with people who are already hooked on reading. It’s very difficult to persuade a complete stranger, who says they’re not interested in reading, to take a book. I got the feeling that some of them thought there was some ulterior motive or catch to it. Similarly, once you discover someone is a reader, it’s awkward to withdraw the offer of a book – plus if I’d restricted myself to non-readers I would have been at the hospital all day trying to find enough of them willing to give reading a try.
How did anyone else get on?
I’ve just collected my World Book Night 2012 books from the library. I have 24 copies of The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella to distribute on Monday 23rd April. In my application to be a ‘giver’ I said that I would distribute them in the casualty department of my local hospital – so that’s where I’ll be on Monday.
The purpose of World Book Night is to give away books to those who don’t regularly read, and thus spread the love of reading. According to the World Book Night website, ”the aim is to reach and inspire those who have never discovered the value of reading”.
So I’m hoping to find lots of bored ladies waiting in casualty who might be persuaded to give reading a try. I need females because Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series is essentially a chick-lit novel that I can’t see many men enjoying – but maybe they’ll take a copy home for their wife or girlfriend.
But before I can get stuck into the giving I have to write in the front of each book – my name, where I collected the books from and the book’s unique identifying number (this is logged via the World Book Night website each time the book is passed on so that its journey can be traced). I’ve written in 8 books so far and its becoming a bit of a chore – but maybe I should look upon it as practice for that book-signing that I might do one day far in the future!
Next week I’ll let you know how I got on with the giving – and if there are any other ‘givers’ (or ‘receivers’) out there, do let me know how you get on.
It is set on a tiny uninhabited Australian island, Janus, in the years after the first World War. Tom is the lighthouse keeper on Janus and lives there in solitude until his wife, Isabel, joins him. Isabel longs for a child but suffers 3 miscarriages. Then a baby is washed up on the island, in a boat with a dead man and a decision has to be made. Isabel wants to keep the baby and pass it off as the one she has just lost. Tom knows this isn’t the right thing to do but can’t bear to upset his grieving wife.
The rest of the novel deals with the fall-out from the decision that is made.
M. L. Stedman was born in Australia but now lives in London. Incredibly, this is her first novel. According to an interview in the Sydney Morning Herald the book was subject to a bidding war and went for ‘a high six-figure sum’. Stedman has given few interviews which may also explain why I can’t find a website for her.
The book is full of detail about lighthouse keeping at the time and must have required an incredible amount of research. But Stedman has such a light touch, so it doesn’t feel like the reader is being force-fed facts. Instead Stedman makes it easy for the reader to be there on Janus with Tom and Isabel, experiencing their roller-coaster emotions.
The novel will be published in the UK on 26th April 2012 (I was lucky enough to have a review copy from Waterstone’s) – don’t miss it!
Patsy Collins’ debut novel, Escape to the Country, will be published on 30th March 2012 and I am honoured to have Patsy visiting my blog today. I asked her a question I’m desperate to know the answer to. This is what she had to say:
I’ve mentioned before my intention to enter the Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition and I’ve been beavering away at my entry since January. I wrote 20,000 words and then paused to take stock and prepare my entry which had to consist of the first 5,000 words plus a full synopsis. The synopsis was a challenge because until then I’d been writing without a detailed plan but after some thought I managed it.
Then I decided to send the 5,000 words and synopsis to novelist Patricia McAughey (who writes as Patricia Fawcett) for a critique. Patricia reads for the RNA New Writers’ Scheme and also runs a reasonably priced private critique service for all types of fiction except fantasy, sci-fi or children’s. She can be contacted through her website for a quote.
Patricia sent me a detailed report which very tactfully told me that my story didn’t work because I was still in ‘short story’ mode. She said, “Slow down. You are rushing things. I know it is tempting to try to get all the ideas down but you are writing a longer piece and there is no rush. Relax.”
She went on to explain that I was giving the reader no idea about the setting. One of the scenes was in a Derbyshire cafe but I didn’t describe the interior, the waitress, the view or even indicate whether the place was full or empty. Patricia suggested painting a broad picture of the scene and then honing in on small details such as a woman trying to get a pushchair through the gap in the chairs.
There was a similar problem with my characters. Patricia said, “… I don’t have any great affection as yet for either of the two central characters simply because I don’t know enough about them…”. I had omitted rather obvious details like what the heroine did for a living or what she looked like!
It wasn’t all doom and gloom. I did get words of praise for my dialogue (which I love writing) and my synopsis.
So if you’re trying to move from short stories to longer fiction, take a moment to check that you’ve added depth to your writing. Make sure you haven’t skimmed over the setting or the characters’ backgrounds. Have you described what it smells like in the kitchen? Have you mentioned what your hero is wearing as he meets the heroine for the first time?
Later this week Patsy Collins, a successful short story writer and debut novelist, will be guesting on this blog and attempting to explain how she made the leap from short stories to seeing her first novel published.
I’ve been reading Della Galton‘s new book – Moving On from Short Story to Novel.
It’s written in an easy to read friendly tone and does what it says on the tin - it explains the different techniques required for writing full length fiction compared to short stories.
When I attempted NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago I fell into the trap of thinking that to fill the pages of a novel it was necessary to pack it with action. I had something new happening all the time. Della explains that this is not the case, what is needed is more depth – i.e. more characterisation, detail of setting etc. She uses examples from her own novels and stories, including a synopsis (great to see a successful synopsis ‘in the flesh’!) and a chart showing how to keep track of what’s happening in each chapter (one of those things that you see and then say – that’s obvious so why didn’t I think of it? Sometimes we just need these things pointing out).
Della also explains the concept of a theme within a novel. Something that I’ve always thought sounds very literary and highbrow but in fact it’s something that many writers do unconsciously. Theme boils down to the focus of your novel and, according to Della, if you can identify that theme then both plotting and editing become easier.
The only downside to this book is that it’s not available on Kindle and incidentally, it’s written in such a way that a novelist could use it as an aid to moving to shorter fiction.
Now all I have to do is put all this brilliant advice into practice…