A Simple Tip for Finding a Literary Agent

June 27, 2015 15 comments

Are you trawling through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook searching for suitable literary agents?

Here’s a simple tip that was given at a writers’ networking event I attended a few weeks ago:

Start at ‘Z’ and work backwards through the agents’ list in the Yearbook.

Apparently, agents at the end of the alphabet receive fewer submissions than those at the beginning, therefore you may have a better chance of being picked up by an agent with a name beginning with ‘X’, ‘Y’ or ‘Z’.

This is, of course, in addition to checking that the agent deals with your genre, is open to submissions etc. etc.

Maybe worth a try?

 

Two Competitions From Erewash Writers

June 19, 2015 2 comments

Debbie from Erewash Writers has been in touch with information about their latest short story competitions:

The first one is FREE to enter. It has a theme of ‘Summer Loving’  and there is a maximum of 1,200 words in which to tell the story. The closing date is 27th August 2015 and the judge is Andrew Campbell-Kearsey, author of more than 100 published short stories. The winner will receive Andrew’s book ‘Centurionman‘, one free entry to the Erewash Open Short Story Competition 2016 plus online publication of the story on their website and Facebook page. Full competition details can be found here.

The second competition is the Erewash Open Short Story Competition, closing September 24th 2015. Entry fees are a reasonable £3 per entry or £2.50 if entering two or more stories. The competition has an open theme and 2,000 words limit.  The judge is Simon Whaley. There are two categories to this competition: New Writer and Open.
Prizes are: £100 First, £50 Second, £25 Third, £25 Fourth plus two ‘Highly Commended’ each win 2016 comp free entry.
Full competition details can be found here.

So, no reason not to pick up your pen and get busy this weekend!

Midsummer Dreams

June 12, 2015 7 comments

Dreams are weird and wonderful things. They can disappear the moment we wake or linger in the mind for days. Sometimes we dream the same thing night after night. Other times we consciously try to re-dream something and it doesn’t happen. Midsummer Dreams by Alison May

I’ve had one dream recur intermittently for many years. I dream that exam time is looming but I’ve done absolutely no revision. However hard I try to find time to revise, it doesn’t happen and I go into the exam totally unprepared. But I always wake up before I turn the exam paper over and read the questions.

This probably says something deep and meaningful about my waking life.

A bit of internet surfing, brought up a list of the Top 10 Common Dreams and Their Meanings. Number 6, ‘Failing a Test’, correlates most closely to my dream and the meaning given is, “…you are feeling tested in some way in your real life. You may feel that you are unprepared for something or playing the wrong part in life.”

That does tie in with my waking life, I like to be in control and ready for whatever life might throw at me.

Unsurprisingly, the most common dream listed is ‘Falling or Sinking’ and I’ve had that one too, where you always wake up before hitting the bottom. The explanation is, “…  you are overwhelmed in life and feel ready to give up.” Maybe I need to get my life in order and then I can have some sweet dreams!

One person who’s put dreams to good use is romantic novelist, Alison May. Her latest novel, Midsummer Dreams, is published by Choc Lit today. Here’s the enticing blurb:

Four people. Four messy lives. One party that changes everything …
Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.
Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself.
Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.
Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach.
At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.

So Midsummer Dreams promises to be a sweet experience even if your own dream life (like mine) leaves something to be desired!

The Short Story Competition 2015

June 7, 2015 2 comments

The Short Story Competition 2015 is now open for entries. The competition has been running annually since 2011 and ‘… showcases the best short stories from around the world.’

First prize is £300, second prize is £150 and third prize is £50. The winners will be published on the website and may be included in a future anthology. The competition has an open theme and the word limit is 1,000 to 5,000.

Entry fee is £5 via PayPal and the closing date is 15th September 2015 – so it could be a nice project to work on over the summer.

Don’t forget to check the full submission guidelines.

Good Luck!

TV Presenter Training

May 26, 2015 12 comments

Ever wondered what it’s like to read from an autocue or how to stand when you’re talking to a camera or what the difficulties might be in co-presenting a program?

I’ve just experienced all of these on a TV Presenter Taster Day with TV Training UK. Our tutor was Simon Davies who has a wealth of experience in children’s TV, shopping channel and acting. He was very informative and gave us the six rules of presenting:

  • Anchor yourself to the spot so you don’t wander out of shot.
  • Look directly into the lens of the camera.
  • Be ready for the countdown. The director will cue you in by counting backwards from five but only actually saying, ‘5, 4′ out loud. The presenter counts ‘3, 2, 1′ silently and then begins.
  • Arrange your thoughts in groups of three when preparing to speak – this stops you drying up.
  • Be yourself but increase your energy/animation levels by 30% to avoid coming over as ‘flat’.
  • Don’t gabble but also, don’t speak too slowly as this comes across as patronising.

The participants on the course were all ages from 17 to 60 and from varied backgrounds. Some wanted to make and present YouTube videos to promote their business, others were performers who wanted another string to their bow and some, like me, thought it would be an interesting experience. A handful of them had instant on-screen charisma and it was obvious they would make good presenters. Simon told me that I came across as ‘intelligent’, which I’m taking as a positive but I don’t expect to be hosting The One Show anytime soon!

My only criticism is that there wasn’t time for us to view our autocue or co-presenting footage during the course. But it was available to purchase as a ‘showreel’ (a showreel is an essential part of a presenter’s c.v.).

If you’re interested in having a go at being a TV presenter, the day cost me around £26 via Amazon Local.

Now, maybe I should go and make a video book trailer …

Book Reviews in Magazines

May 19, 2015 13 comments

There’s always something new to learn about the book promotion business.

Over the last bank holiday I went away for the weekend and picked up a lovely free glossy magazine in one of the cafes. It had lots of interesting pieces about the surrounding area, a page of readers’ poems and a book review page. On the review page was an interview with a local author who suggested that writers struggling to get traditionally published could, instead, make their work available on Kindle.

I saw this as an opportunity to contact the editor, agree with the local author’s advice, suggest that the aspiring writers in the magazine’s readership might be interested in Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners and ask if it could be included on the magazine’s book review page.

The editor replied and agreed that my book would be of interest to the readers … and that the cost of inclusion on the review page would be £100.

I was quite taken aback, not having realised that there was a charge to appear on magazine book review pages. But on reflection, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. A magazine book review is like an advert and we expect to pay for advertising. It’s common knowledge that publishers pay for display space in the major book shop chains – so they probably don’t mind paying for magazine review space.

I politely replied to the editor, confessed my ignorance and didn’t go ahead with the review because I wasn’t sure it would generate enough sales to pay for itself. The editor did explain that since it was a free publication they were reliant on generating income where they could – which I could understand.

Am I the only one that didn’t realise this was how things worked?

BookLinker

May 12, 2015 11 comments

A year ago I told you about GeoRiot, a service which creates universal Amazon and iTunes links. These universal links detect where visitors live and redirect them to their own national Amazon store. For example, a customer clicking on the link in the US will automatically get directed to Amazon.com and a customer in England will see the equivalent Amazon.co.uk page.

Using these universal links when promoting an e-book online gives both a professional image and a smoother customer journey in two ways:

  • There is no need to list different Amazon links for different countries
  • The customer always lands on the Amazon page where he or she can make an immediate purchase, without having to re-route themselves from Amazon.co.uk to Amazon.com or vice versa.

When GeoRiot first started it was essentially a free service, funded by taking a small percentage of Amazon affiliate earnings. However recently GeoRiot introduced a charge. The first 1,000 clicks per month are free and then the cost is $10 per 10,000 clicks. This charge doesn’t affect the very small user (I haven’t yet paid anything) but all users have to give their credit card details to GeoRiot.

But there is now an alternative which is always free and may suit indie authors better. BookLinker is also managed by GeoRiot but directed specifically at indie authors using Amazon (it will not convert iTunes links). Like GeoRiot, BookLinker provides statistics so that you can see how many clicks you are getting and from where in the world. BookLinker is more basic than GeoRiot but, for most writers, will do the job just as well. I intend to move over to it in the near future.

If you are an Amazon affiliate, both GeoRiot and BookLinker will allow you to include your affiliate code in the links.

There is more useful information about using BookLinker on Nick Daws’ blog, Entrepreneur Writer.

My original post, explaining how universal Amazon links work, is here.

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