Writers Worth Listening To

by James Batchelor

Sharing ideas at Writebulb meetings is all well and good, but sometimes you just want to hear things from the professionals. Or at least those closer to professionalism than us.

For this, I subscribe to writer’s podcasts. These shows are free, easily accessible via iTunes or their respective websites, and make for great listening when you’re journeying to work, waiting for a train/bus, working out at the gym or just taking a walk (guess which of the four I’ve long since given up on).

I have tried several over the years, but there’s two that remain essential pillars of my weekly listening regime. Check them out for yourselves…

Writing Excuses

www.writingexcuses.com

Hosted by several published authors – including Brandon Sanderson, author of the most recent Wheel of Time novels and the Mistborn series – this show is fantastic for giving you an insight into both the writing process and the business of publishing your work. Given that episodes are only fifteen(ish) minutes long, it’s incredible how much the team crams into each weekly discussion as they cover everything from how to write certain genres, common grammatical mistakes and whether or not you need an editor or traditional publisher. More often than not, they have expert guests on to help them discuss the topic at hand. They even give you a writing prompt at the end of each episode if you’re stuck for ideas, and their Book of the Week promotion with Audible gives you some good recommendations for future reads.

Dead Robots’ Society

www.deadrobotssociety.com

While this show is considerably longer than Writing Excuses, clocking in at between one and two hours, it’s possibly been the most helpful to me. Hosted by three self-published authors (although the trio has changed over time), this show discusses topics in-depth each week, really getting into the nitty gritty of whatever aspect of the writing process they’re focusing on – it’s very rare to come away from an episode of DRS and feel like the conversation is unfinished. Occasionally the discussion goes on unexpected but no less useful tangents, and the friendly rivalry between the three hosts makes it all the more welcoming. Perhaps my favourite aspect of this show is the opening icebreaker: “how’s your writing been this week?” While listening to the trio grill and motivate each other, I find myself feeling smug if I’ve accomplished something since the previous episode or guilty if I haven’t.

Both shows have their full archives available at their websites, so you can go back and listen to the lot or pick and choose episodes that would be most relevant to you. Let me know if you find any more – there’s always room in my routine for more writing podcasts.

 

Magic, Mystery and Mayhem

Writebulb Book-Signing Event

by Beverly Townsend

On Saturday 5th July the Writebulb Writers Group held their third book signing event at Chelmsford Library. Our latest tome worthy of a signing is called ‘Magic, Mystery and Mayhem’ – an anthology of eighteen stories written by members of the group. After months of writing, editing and proofreading our latest, much anticipated book, has finally been published.

The signing was well attended by the authors who were all in place at 10am, at desks arranged in a U-shape formation with notices on boards positioned behind us stating who we were and encouraging the library patrons to come across, say ‘Hello’, and with any luck buy a copy.

Carlie and Maria organised the event and Sarah-Jane made delicious cup cakes which were much appreciated by everyone.  Kerry acted as cashier for each book purchased and Carol handed out advertising leaflets in the City Centre with her new baby boy in tow.

There was much anticipation by the authors, all poised with pens in hands waiting for the hoards to arrive, buy a book and come across for our signatures. Alas it was a bit of a slow start; most of the Saturday morning regulars just looked across in our direction, then carried on with the task of choosing their favourite reads, but others approached us curious to know why we were there.

Some of the authors circulated, speaking to staff and public encouraging them to come over and take a look at our latest work together with a choice of other published works by the group.

Friends and families of the authors arrived and purchased books and chatted to us and said they were looking forward to a good read; it was also the first opportunity for the authors to purchase a copy.

Trade improved as time went on, and as far as I could see quite a few books were sold towards the end of the session which were all enthusiastically signed by the authors. Everyone was in good spirits and at 1pm when the event ended I lost count of the number of books I had signed.

 

One of our group members did a Vlog of the event:

 

If you were there, let us know what you thought in the comments below!

The book can be purchased here, and all profit goes to Farleigh Hospice in Chelmsford.

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Why I Prefer Traditional Publishing

by Anna Buttimore

 

The ebook revolution is upon us, and with free publishing now available to everyone the landscape for writers has changed dramatically over the last ten years. Anyone, anywhere, with any level of skill can now write a book and publish it, at no cost to themselves, and it will be indistinguishable from a book published by a large, established publisher, like Penguin, HarperCollins or Macmillan.

Many authors, including established authors with traditional publishers, are celebrating and embracing self-publishing. Some are putting out their out-of-print back catalogue in ebook format, while others are eschewing traditional publishing altogether and going for the bigger royalties percentage promised by self-publishing.

And yet I continue to send my work out to agent after agent, publisher after publisher, again and again. I have now clocked up fifty-seven rejections for my sci-fi magnum opus, Emon and the Emperor, and despite the regular assurances (often on the rejection slips) that publishing is a very subjective business and someone else may love my work, it’s hard not to become disheartened and lose confidence in my own abilities.

So the obvious question is why? Why do I continue to chase that elusive publishing contract, or enthusiastic agent, when I could just spend an hour on Kindle Direct Publishing and have Emon and the Emperor for sale around the world by this evening?

I have experience of both types of publishing. My first five books were traditionally published by small presses primarily serving the American midwest. My first two were very successful and even made me a nice bit of money. The next three, not so much. By that time the number of available books had grown considerably (partly due to the self-publishing revolution), but the number of readers hadn’t, and the amount of promotion the publishers did had dropped to almost zero, so the royalties didn’t break the £1,000 mark.

My sixth book, co-written with Hellen Riebold, was self-published because of its controversial subject matter. Royalties from that, so far, are zero. Well, not quite zero, but Amazon only send you a cheque once your royalties reach a certain level, and we’re not there yet.

So if I make no money from either my traditionally published or self-published books, again the question has to be why am I still holding out to get my next effort traditionally published? Why not just self-publish it?

I’d like to say it’s because I like getting my book professionally edited multiple times as part of the package. I like having professional cover designers, typesetters, etc., make my book look as good as it possibly can. With my first two books I really liked seeing them in catalogues, end-of-aisle displays, and on posters in bookstore windows. I like not having to do any complicated stuff, and having a team of professionals make my book as good as it can be, then send me twenty free copies. I like having my book actually appear on real shelves in real bookstores where people can browse through it and maybe even take it to the cash desk. (And that aspect shouldn’t be underestimated – my books have all sold far more copies in stores in paperback than they have as ebooks online.)

Those things are all very nice. But actually the reason I like traditional publishing best is because of the validation. I like knowing that someone believes in my work enough to invest in it. I like imagining that industry professionals think I’m good at what I do. I like being taken seriously as an author: when anyone with any level of talent (or none) can put out a book, I like being set apart from them and recognised as someone whose work was actually put into print based on its own merits.

I love this book. Ultimately I believe it is good enough to be traditionally published and to be a success. But I really need someone in the business to agree with me. So I will keep on sending Emon and the Emperor to agent after agent, publisher after publisher, until I run out of agents and publishers to send it to. With fifty-seven rejections already, that might be quite soon.