Author website essentials: a 9 part writer toolkit

You’re an author. You need a storefront. You could put a sign up in your front garden or (better idea) you could build a website. Here’s everything you need to know. 1. The book comes first Do you have a … Continue reading

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Writing a book? 12 easy steps that anyone can follow

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I’ve written a lot of books. I’ve been on bestseller lists, sold all over the world, had my work shortlisted for major awards and been adapted for TV. But you know what? Writing a book still feels like a daunting … Continue reading

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Glorious Quick Reads: an interview with Fanny Blake

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HB: Hi Fanny, you’ve had a pretty mighty career in publishing. Can you tell us a bit about that? What did you do – what did you love – and what most got you down? Fanny Blake: Hi there. I … Continue reading

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How does Instafreebie work? (And how to make it work for YOU)

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So, what is Instafreebie? Instafreebie (here) is a site that gives e-books away free to anyone who wants them. That sounds nice for readers, but not great for authors . . . except that the giveaway comes with a sweet … Continue reading

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On never giving up (aka I Have An Agent!) by Mandy Berriman

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I went to a family wedding earlier this year. At our places at dinner, we each had a name card with a quote on the back. Mine read: I have one talent; I never give up. We laughed at the … Continue reading

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How to self publish a book on Amazon Kindle (KDP)

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How to Self Publish Your Book on Amazon – the Ultimate Guide Self-Publishing – How to Make a Living From It An Overview of Effective Self-Publishing Write a Good Book Create a Strong Cover Prepare Your ‘Look Inside’ Material Prepare … Continue reading

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Austin Macauley: our opinion

In our previous post on Austin Macauley, we asked some serious questions about the firm in an attempt to understand whether this is a good and innovative firm adding value to its authors or whether, in effect, it’s just an … Continue reading

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Austin Macauley: some questions

If the Writers’ Workshop has a defining philosophy, then it’s this: We are always on the side of the book. We are always on the side of the writer. With books, we want them to be as good as they … Continue reading

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The Whole World – in a Box

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We at the Writers’ Workshop want lots of things. We want to have some fun, to organise superfabulous events, to see people get agented and published – but most of all, the thing we love best in the world is … Continue reading

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The Rule of Law: an open letter to Liz Truss

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***Looking for a post about writing and getting published? Sorry! This post is on a different subject altogether. Normal service will be resumed soon. *** Dear Lord Chancellor, I’m Harry Bingham, a crime novelist and the eldest son of the … Continue reading

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How to design an ebook (or: a letter to a ghost)

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We were recently haunted by a ghost that smelled of copy-ink and tweed and pipe-smoke. We noticed that the poor dear felt a bit forlorn because it wasn’t too sure how to lay out its ebooks, so we thought we … Continue reading

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Defending the value of the book (aka: Don’t piss on Shakespeare)

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Just back from a glorious, glorious Festival of Writing. Still in recovery today, so here’s a short post summarising one particular theme of the event. When publishers deliberately injure authors A lot of traditionally published authors I spoke to at … Continue reading

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THE GOAT BURSARY launched on 1st August 2016: a bursary for an unpublished writer in need of financial support to attend the Festival of Writing. An overwhelming 250 writers applied. Joanna Cannon, along with her agent Sue Armstrong, judged the … Continue reading

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FoWMainPgHaving published in science fiction, I wanted to write a thriller with a scuba diving context, as it’s my other passion. As usual, I took my manuscript to the Writers Workshop Festival o f Writing at York in September 2015. It had already been favourably reviewed by both WW and Cornerstones, so I was really hoping for a breakthrough.
Didn’t happen.
I had three 9 minute one-to-ones with two agents and an editor all, on the same day. One was brutal, told me to go read more thrillers and start again. The second said the first chapter really didn’t do it for her, not enough engagement with the heroine, and why was it set in Penzance and not somewhere more exotic like London or Tokyo? The third also said chapter one wasn’t working: not exciting enough for a thriller, needs to be higher-octane.
That evening I had rather a lot to drink, and my York writing buddies (Craig, Jeremy, Helen and others) consoled me. The next day I skipped the lectures and sat down to forge a rescue plan. On the way home to France, I rewrote chapter one and set it in London, added a helicopter ditching in the Thames and a cyber-attack. Okay for higher octane, but not for heroine engagement. So I took a scene, a flashback from chapter 15 that everyone had said was hard-hitting, and made it into a prologue.

BK head shot (2)
Back in Paris my writers group said chapter one was now too Jason Bourne-ish. I reminded them it was a thriller. They liked the new prologue. I worked for another few months, and then started sending it to agents in November. By April I’d sent it to twenty agents and five publishers. Half responded within a week, a quarter within a month, the rest never. The feedback was generally pretty good, but no takers. Then a publisher asked for the whole MS, liked it, but said they had decided to stop doing thrillers. I found myself logging onto CreateSpace, staring at the options, and seriously wondering about finding a new way to spend hundreds of hours.
Then I got an offer from a medium-sized American publisher, a 3 Ebook deal with an option to go to paperback if it sold well. I pondered. Shortly afterwards, I got a letter from Carina UK, aka HarperCollins, again for a 3 Ebook deal. I signed with Carina. It was still Ebook (maybe paperback later), but it was HarperCollins!
Since then, things have moved pretty fast. I met my editor at HarperCollins at their offices in London next to the Shard. During my tour of one of the Big 5 publishers, I felt like Harry Potter arriving at Hogwarts. I met the woman who picked my submission pack out of the slush pile (she said she loved it right off), and I met the cover designer, too (her cover design blew me away!). My editor had a lot of comments, but over the next few months and intensive editing rounds, she helped me raise my game by asking tough questions about the plot, the characters, pacing, setting, and the protagonist’s emotions during a couple of particularly harrowing scenes. We didn’t agree on everything, but the book has really improved. It’s under a slight pseudonym (JF Kirwan) as Carina wanted to keep some distance between my Scifi books and the thriller series, as they are different genres. 66 Metres launches on August 25, available on Amazon and elsewhere. I’m now writing the sequel.

I want to say a big thank you to The York FESTIVAL OF WRITING  (The Writers’ Workshop) and the agents/editor who gave me hard-to-hear feedback. My advice to others trying to get published is to use these venues, and listen to what the professionals say, and try out their suggestions. If you don’t like the result, go back to what you had before. But like me, in trying to prove them wrong, you just might prove them right.


Barry’s book will be on sale from August 25th  on Amazon
Visit Barry’s Facebook page

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WRITING WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING – A guest post from Jon Appleton, ex Editorial Director of Hodder and now author

As a writer, you know that readers are out there. You know what keeps the pages turning, because you’re a reader yourself, so the success that others enjoy should be within reach. But sometimes, when publication feels elusive, readers can … Continue reading

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