Blog for sale!

Blog for Sale!

I wanted to let you know today that I have decided to put Entrepreneur Writer up for sale.

I have various reasons for this. One is that I’m now 62 and semi-retired (partly for health reasons), so trying to reduce my workload.

In addition, I have been blogging about writing – on Entrepreneur Writer and my old blog – for over twelve years now, and am running out of things to say! I’m not doing nearly as much freelance writing myself these days, and have to accept that I am no longer at the cutting edge as regards what’s going on in the writing world.

In addition, as some of you may know, Entrepreneur Writer was hacked last month, and I had to spend quite a lot of time and money having it cleaned and secured. Anyone running a self-hosted WordPress blog will know that you are constantly under siege from spammers and others of evil intent. Frankly, I can do without the stress and hassle.

Finally, I still have my UK personal finance blog Pounds and Sense, which is where I want to devote most of my energies now.

So it seems appropriate to offer Entrepreneur Writer for sale, in the hope it may be taken over by someone who can bring fresh impetus and enthusiasm to it. I am not looking for a huge fee, and will of course be available to assist and advise with the transfer (and afterwards).

Entrepreneur Writer has been going for around 3 years now and has a Mozilla Domain Authority of 25. If you are seriously interested in buying Entrepreneur Writer (the domain and/or WordPress files) please do get in touch and I will send you more information.

In the meantime, I will continue to update Entrepreneur Writer on an occasional basis when I believe I have something of value to share.

My deepest thanks to all of you who have followed my ramblings over the years.

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Kindle Direct Publishing Improves Print Publishing Service

Kindle Direct Publishing Improves Print Publishing Service

A while ago in this post I mentioned that it is now possible to publish paperback books using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Previously, Amazon’s only option for self-publishing print books was CreateSpace. I commented then:

The KDP paperback creator is still in beta and additional features are promised in due course. One major thing lacking at the moment is any way of purchasing a sample print copy of your book so you can see for yourself what buyers will receive. This is clearly a drawback compared with CreateSpace. Neither do KDP published print books currently receive the extended distribution of CreateSpace titles.

I heard recently that the first of these drawbacks has been eliminated and the second is no longer as big an issue as it was.

With KDP you can now order proof copies to check how your book will look in finished form. And you can also order author’s copies that you can sign and give away at readings, book launches, and so on.

At a stroke, this eliminates what was the biggest drawback of publishing print books on KDP. A further advantage for UK and European authors is that they can now be printed and sent from Europe rather than the US, with obvious savings in time and cost.

The distribution of KDP print books has also improved, although it’s still not as good as CreateSpace. Somewhat oddly, KDP offers distribution in Japan but not Canada or Mexico. CreateSpace also offers expanded distribution to bookstores and non-Amazon websites, which is not (yet) an option with KDP.

Nonetheless, most self-publishing Amazon authors generate most of their sales through Amazon.com. If that applies to you (or you are new to Amazon self-publishing) then KDP is now looking a better choice for print books than CreateSpace.

Also, KDP has been adding features recently, whereas CreateSpace has remained basically the same. In future, it seems most likely that these two Amazon-owned services will be amalgamated, probably under the KDP banner. That will have the additional advantage of allowing authors to manage (and monitor) all their Amazon self-publishing activities – ebooks and print – via one website.

I hope you find this article helpful. You might also like to check out this blog post by my colleague Sally Jenkins and this more in-depth one from Chris McMullen, both of which I referred to when researching this post.

You can also find more information about publishing print books via KDP on this page of the KDP website.

As always, if you have any comments or questions about this post, please do leave them below.

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Companion Publishing profits

Companion Publishing Profits – Special Offer!

I mentioned Companion Publishing Profits by my colleague Amy Harrop in this blog post last year.

Companion Publishing Profits is a guide to making money by publishing books that are intended to accompany or supplement existing content. An example would be a study guide.

Of course, this type of product only really works in print format. So Companion Publishing Profits focuses mainly on using Amazon’s CreateSpace (print on demand) service. Kindle is mentioned as well, though, and there is also a bonus guide to self-publishing on Lulu.com.

I wanted to let you know that Amy is offering my readers a $10 discount on this popular product until the end of February. To get it, all you have to do is enter the coupon code tenoff when ordering. The $10 discount will then be applied automatically.

Companion publishing can be a great way to capitalize on the popularity of existing products. The types of product discussed include workbooks, journals, study guides, planners, and so on. A big attraction of producing this type of book is that the reader typically provides much of the content him/herself. In effect, you are simply providing an attractively formatted product for them to write in.

Anyway, if you’d like more info about Companion Publishing Profits, please read my full, updated review here. And if you have any comments or questions, of course, please do post them as usual.

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UK PLR Statements for 2016/17 Now Available

UK PLR Statements for 2016/17 Now Available

If you’re a UK author registered for PLR, you can now check your earnings for 2016/17 on the UK PLR website. Just log in here and click on Statements.

This year (covering July 2016 to June 2017) they are paying 8.20 pence per library loan, a slight increase on last year. Payment will be made between 12 and 21 February 2018, in accordance with your payment instructions.

For those who don’t know, PLR (in this context) stands for Public Lending Right. The UK PLR Office distributes money to UK authors based on the number of times their books have been borrowed from public libraries in Britain (and now also the Republic of Ireland) in the last year. This money is paid to authors as compensation for their presumed lost royalties on sales.

All UK authors are eligible for PLR (even if they don’t currently live in Britain), but you do have to register with the UK PLR Office first. If you’re a UK author with at least one published book to your name, therefore, you should sign up immediately to get what is due to you.

Non-UK nationals cannot claim from the UK PLR Office, but many other countries (though not the USA) have schemes in place to compensate writers for library lending. Australia, for example, has what appears to be quite a generous program, though payments are based on the estimated number of copies of an author’s book in libraries, not total loans. For more information on PLR schemes worldwide, visit the PLR International website.

In many countries there are also reciprocal arrangements to compensate non-nationals for lending in the country concerned. In Britain this is co-ordinated by ALCS (the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society), and UK authors should also register separately with them. ALCS also collect and pay photocopying fees due to UK authors, incidentally.

Over the years I have made thousands of pounds from PLR and ALCS payments – in the case of some books I have earned more from these sources than I have in publisher fees or royalties. So if you’re a UK author, it is definitely worth taking the few minutes needed to register yourself and your book/s with UK PLR and ALCS.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, or PLR in general, please do post them below.

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Start Writing Fiction

Start Writing Fiction: A Free Online Course Starting Soon

I’ve mentioned FutureLearn on this blog before. It’s a UK-based platform for short online courses from British and international universities. All FutureLearn courses are free and open to anyone in the world.

Anyway, I thought you might like to know that a course titled Start Writing Fiction begins on Monday 5 March 2018. It comes from The Open University, a well-respected UK distance learning institution. It will run for eight weeks and you can enrol now if you wish. It is also usually possible to register for a few days after a course has started.

This particular course runs regularly via FutureLearn and I have mentioned it on this blog before. If you can’t fit it in this time, you can put your name down on the website to be notified the next time it is scheduled.

Start Writing Fiction is intended for anyone with an interest in starting to write fiction or improving their fiction writing. There is a particular focus on creating interesting, believable characters. The course does not require any previous experience of studying the subject.

On the website, it says:

Start Writing Fiction focuses on a skill which is central to the writing of all stories and novels – creating characters.

You will listen to established writers, such as Louis de Bernières, Patricia Duncker, Alex Garland, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tim Pears, Michèle Roberts and Monique Roffey, talk about how they started writing. You’ll consider the rituals of writing and the importance of keeping a journal.

You’ll learn how to develop your ideas and the importance of reflecting on writing and editing, and you’ll hear other writers talking about their approaches to research and consider ways of turning events into a plot.

You’ll also have the opportunity to review and comment on the work of fellow writers, and receive peer feedback on your own story, learning the importance of reading as a writer and how to receive and respond to feedback.

The course is run by short-story writer and novelist Dr Derek Neale. It requires a commitment of around three hours a week.

The course itself is free, but optionally you can pay £42 to upgrade. Upgrading entitles you to receive a Statement of Participation when you complete over half the course. In addition, you get unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, and quizzes). With the free version, your access ends 14 days after the end of the course. You can, of course, sign up for free and upgrade later if you choose.

For more information, and to register, visit the Start Writing Fiction information page of the Futurelearn website.

FutureLearn have lots of other interesting free courses, incidentally. I am currently taking one called In the Night Sky: Orion, also from the Open University, which I am really enjoying.

As well as the teaching itself, another big attraction of FutureLearn courses is the opportunity they provide to interact with fellow students all over the world. You can see all upcoming courses on this web page.

If you have any comments or questions about FutureLearn, as ever, please do post them below.

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Literary agents - What you Need to Know

Literary Agents – What You Need To Know

Today I am pleased to bring you a guest post from my old friend (and sometime editor) Iain Maitland.

Iain is a highly experienced, UK-based freelance writer/editor, and now a novelist and playwright too!

In his post today, he reveals how finding an agent has helped him take his writing career to a new level..

Over to Iain then..


 

I’ve been a freelance writer for more than 30 years, writing all sorts of how-to books and articles. I earned a decent living but, as I moved into my 50’s, I really wanted to be a ‘proper’ writer with a literary agent.

Back in 2014, when I was 52, I started work on a memoir, Dear Michael, Love Dad, about my relationship with my eldest son, who’d suffered from depression for many years.

I wasn’t sure at that time if I wanted a literary agent or not. I’d knocked around publishing for a long time and was happy doing my own negotiations. I didn’t want to pay an agent 15 per cent either.

Then again, it would be nice to concentrate on writing – chasing and haggling is always stressful and time-consuming. And, getting ahead of myself, I had little knowledge of TV, films or stage plays.

So I pitched an outline and sample chapters from Dear Michael, Love Dad, to publisher after publisher. These days, with Twitter and Linkedin, it’s pretty easy to uncover commissioning editors and to email them.

Some – most actually – did not reply. A few sent me a standard, ‘thank you but no’ response. Not surprising really – they all receive hundreds of approaches every week. One or two engaged and encouraged but said it wasn’t for them. It wasn’t something they’d be able to market easily, they all said. But their words gave me hope. I tweaked the book and kept going.   

I tried agents too. The response was similar. One or two were encouraging. One seemed keen and we were going to meet. Then she was taken ill and the moment drifted away. A couple of others ummed and aahed and eventually said ‘no’. Again, I had enough encouragement to make changes to the book and have another go.   

And then – well, if I wrote this as a script, it would be rejected as being too unbelievable. An agent, Clare, expressed interest towards the end of 2015. We met in London for breakfast and she said she’d pitch it to publishers she knew. (A big plus of having an agent is that they act in a way as a screening service so commissioning editors know they’re going to be shown something that’s close to what they want).

The next morning, Clare phoned me at home. Hannah, a publisher at Hodder, had read my work on her way into the office and went straight to the MD to arrange an offer. Clare said we could auction the book but that Hannah was the best editor for it so we should stick with her. We did and, other than the paperwork, we had a deal that day. I was on my way.

Later, I looked at the contract in the cold light of day and, to be honest, Clare had got me a better deal than I could ever have negotiated. I wouldn’t have known where to start with half of it; overseas rights, and so on. She certainly earned more than the fees I’d be paying her.

After Dear Michael, I didn’t want to write the same type of book again. I wanted to go on and do all sorts of different books to prove to myself that I could write anything I fancied – a memoir, a thriller, a self-help book, and so on. And that’s what I have done since Dear Michael, Love Dad was published in mid-2016.

My thriller, Sweet William was published by Contraband in November 2017 and that’s the first of four dark literary thrillers I am doing. I have written a self-help book, Out Of The Madhouse, with my son Michael; that’s out this month. I also wrote a stage play of Dear Michael, Love Dad last year and am now in talks with a (small) London theatre to stage that next year.

The bottom line is that I’d like to think I could have done this on my own. The reality is I doubt I could have done it without my agent Clare – she helps me to plan ahead with a strategy (to write a commercial thriller in 2019). She matches my books with publishers. When my confidence wobbles, as it does from time to time, she encourages me onwards. And she takes all the negotiating and hassle away from me. I can just write, simple as that.  

With Sweet William for example, she sold Commonwealth rights to the publisher and retained other rights, including film and TV which she’s now selling. Thank goodness – where would I start with that!     

Tips for Getting an Agent

Here’s my ‘how-to’ advice on getting an agent, based on my own experience…

  • Be prepared to write the whole book. Non-fiction can be pitched with an outline and samples. With fiction, you need to have a complete script to show.     
  • Google for similar books – with Dear Michael, Love Dad it was Dear Lupin and Love Nina. Use Twitter and Linkedin to track authors and their agents. I found the actor who turned Dear Lupin into a stage play via Linkedin, contacted him and he worked with me on my play.      
  • Approach agents with a personal email that’s short and sweet. A bit about you. A little about the book. An outline and samples in attachment. Play it straight, don’t brag or beg.
  • Try every agent who works in your field. Blitz them all. Don’t sit and wait, one at a time, for a reply. It’s a numbers game. They get 100’s of requests every week. Just keep trying. Go back round again with something else six months later.
  • Take constructive criticism. Agents know their way around – if one suggests your book might work if you changed it this way or that, then do it. With Dear Michael, Love Dad, it was suggested I made it less funny and more bittersweet. I did and it got picked up soon after that.
  • Don’t automatically go with the first agent who offers to represent you. I did – like most authors I was desperate to succeed – and I was lucky. Clare’s very good. Some agents are not. If you can, talk to fellow authors to get a sense of how good the agent is. If your work is good, more than one agent will make an offer to you.          

I am happy to chat! You can email me at Imaitland@aol.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/iainmaitland


 

Many thanks to Iain for an inspiring and eye-opening post. As ever, if you have any comments or queries – for Iain or myself – please do post them below.

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Happy New Year 2018!

Happy New Year 2018!

Just wanted to wish every reader of Entrepreneur Writer a happy, creative and prosperous 2018!

I do hope this is the year when you achieve, or at least start to achieve, all of your writing ambitions.

I’m looking forward to sharing more writing tips, advice, resources, market information and more with you in the year ahead. So if you haven’t already done so, subscribe via the box in the right-hand column to ensure that you never miss a post 🙂

Don’t forget, too, that you can follow me on Twitter. I regularly use this to share details of useful websites and resources that I don’t always have time to post about here. And if you really want to stay connected, you can also sign up to follow me on my official Facebook Page and Google Plus.

Entrepreneur Writer is also on the popular Bloglovin platform. If you are a member of this free service you can get all my latest posts delivered to you with your updates (and any other blogs you follow on the platform as well, of course!). Just click through this link to sign up.

I also have a daily Paper.li newsletter you can subscribe to. This is semi-automated and curates links from a wide range of writing-related resources. I guarantee you will find something of interest in every issue!

A quick plug too for the brand new Best Writing Forum that has just been launched by my old friend Karl Moore. This should be an invaluable resource for getting feedback on your work, asking writing-related questions, checking out the latest markets for writers, and much more. Join now to be in from the start!

Finally, you haven’t yet seen it (and especially if you live in the UK and/or are over 50) do check out my personal finance and lifestyle blog Pounds and Sense. I have been running this for just over a year now and it has already picked up several awards and nominations. If you are looking to save money, make money or invest money in 2018, I promise you’ll find some eye-opening tips and information.

Once again, I wish you a very happy and creative new year.

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Merry Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas 2017!

Just wanted to take the opportunity to wish all my readers a Very Merry Christmas!

Even if you don’t celebrate the religious festival, I hope you enjoy the festive period. Thank you for reading at least some of my blog posts this year, and contributing to some interesting discussions.

Naturally, many people at this time are fully occupied with family celebrations. If you have any time on your hands over the holiday period, though – or you just need a break from the festivities – you might like to check out Best Writing Forum, the new writers forum open to everyone that was launched last week by my old friend Karl Moore. Already there are some great discussions going on about writing, and other subjects too in the BWF Bar and Grill!

It’s free and only takes a few moments to join Best Writing Forum, so why not register now to be sure of getting the username you want? Don’t forget to introduce yourself on the Welcome board as well. You will be sure to receive a warm welcome 🙂

If you feel like doing some reading – maybe on your new Kindle or tablet – you may like to check out my post “Nine Top Ebooks About Writing That Are Free Today“. As far as I know, all these e-books are still free.

In addition, my low-cost Kindle e-book Three Great Techniques for Plotting Your Novel or Screenplay sets out some great methods for plotting your next blockbuster, while my illustrated humorous science-fiction novella The Festival on Lyris Five (also on Kindle) will keep you entertained and amused as Christmas dinner goes down!

To get your writing career off to the best possible start in 2018, you might like to sign up to this free ‘Introduction to Screenwriting’ course from FutureLearn starting in January, or the Start Writing Fiction course (also free) in March.

And if Santa brings you a bit of extra cash, here are links to some posts spotlighting high-quality resources I recommend for any aspiring writer…

Planner Publishing Profits – The guide from the prolific Amy Harrop reveals how you can cash in on the huge (and growing) market for planners by publishing and selling your own.

One Page Publishing Profits – This guide, also from Amy Harrop, reveals how to create one-page products that can be sold for profit or used for other purposes, e.g. getting people to sign up to your mailing list. Among other things, it covers cheat sheets, checklists and tip sheets.

Essential English for Authors – This is my downloadable course about bringing your writing up to a publishable standard in the shortest time possible.

Write Any Book in Under 28 Days – My top-selling writing course, which has been used by thousands of writers to plan and write a full-length book of their own.

Any of the above would be a great investment for your writing career in 2018.

Once again, I do hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and a happy and creative new year. Thank you for being a valued reader of Entrepreneur Writer.

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Best Writing Forum: A New Writers Forum Open to Everyone!

I wanted to let you know today about a brand new writing forum that has been launched in the last few days.

Best Writing Forum has been set up by my old friend and former publisher Karl Moore. It was created in response to requests from members of My Writers Circle, the online forum I helped set up with Karl and managed for almost ten years.

In recent years MWC has changed ownership several times and been rather neglected. In the last few months more problems have arisen, including an increase in spam posts that the volunteer moderator team have been struggling to keep on top of.

Best Writing Forum uses the popular SMF messageboard software. Anyone who has ever been a member of My Writers Circle will therefore find it quite familiar. Of course, the board names and overall design are a bit different (and still evolving in response to requests from members). It’s very early days at the moment, but already there are 673 posts and counting, many from former MWC members.

I am excited about the new forum and delighted that my old friend Karl is behind it, as I know he will provide the love and support the old forum was lacking. I do hope you will therefore check it out and, if you like what you see, sign up. It’s free of charge and only takes a few moments. You will then be able to:

Now is a great time to join Best Writing Forum, as you really can play a part in shaping the new forum and helping guide its future direction. I’ll hope to see you there soon!

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Some Thoughts on Turning Work Down...

Some Thoughts on Turning Work Down…

Last week I had to turn down a writing job I was offered.

I never enjoy doing this, but sometimes there is no alternative. So today I thought I would share a few thoughts about turning down work.

Of course, for those of you who are just setting off on your writing careers, turning down an offer of paid work might seem unimaginable. But soon enough you will find yourself in a position where you have to consider this.

One common scenario is when you already have lots of work on and another offer arrives. This has happened to me on various occasions, typically just after a period when work dried up! It’s frustrating, but there can be ways around it.

One thing I have sometimes done is subcontract the work (or part of it) to another writer. This is not something I do with any great enthusiasm, though.

For one thing, I know I will still have to edit that writer’s work carefully and possibly even rewrite it. Also, I will have to pay the writer out of the fee I am getting. By the time you allow for all the extra admin involved and the time spent editing their work, there will be very little money in it for me. If I do this nowadays, it is generally to avoid disappointing the client and try to ensure they don’t stop offering me work in future.

The other thing you can sometimes do is negotiate a longer timeframe. This is easier with regular clients who understand that as a solo freelance I have other jobs that need to be fitted in. With a new client a request for more time may not be so well received – but you can’t put a regular client on the back burner just to accommodate a new one.

The other situation that can occur is when you look at a job offer and realize it’s not something you feel confident or competent to take on. That was actually what happened last week. The job was for a regular client, although it came to me via a new contact there.

The clients in question are novelty publishers. While I can’t go into detail about what they wanted, essentially it involved coming up with a number of “challenges” for a book they were producing (pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time, and that sort of thing). I thought about it and my mind went totally blank. I tried a few online searches, but they produced very little I could use.

I quickly realized that this had the potential to be the job from hell. I might have been able to come up with some ideas eventually. But it would have taken me a long time and I couldn’t quote a fee that the client would have regarded as reasonable. So I had to reluctantly turn it down.

Since then I’ve heard nothing from the clients in question. That’s obviously disappointing and a bit worrying, as they have been good clients over the years. I just hope they found another writer who was able to take the job on. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they come back to me with something else eventually!

To sum up, turning down work is never something to do lightly, but sometimes as a professional writer you have no alternative. If you can’t do the job to a good standard and in a timely way, it is better to decline the work, and maybe suggest another writer if you happen to know someone who might be suitable.

* Have you ever found yourself in this situation and had to turn down work – or conversely taken on a job and wished you hadn’t? I’d love to hear your views and experiences!

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