Events

Time to Start Planning for NaNoWriMo 2017!

Time to Start Planning for NaNoWriMo 2017!

The nights are drawing in now and that can only mean one thing. It’s time to start planning for NaNoWriMo 😀

For anyone who may not know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in a month, and it comes around every November.

From humble beginnings in 1999, when there were just 21 participants, NaNoWriMo has grown into a world-wide phenomenon. In 2016 384,126 people took part, and the numbers this year are likely to be even greater.

There is no entry fee for NaNoWriMo (though donations are always welcome), and no prizes either. Essentially, it’s a challenge to help you write that novel you had always meant to write but keep putting off.

By registering with NaNoWriMo, you are joining a world-wide community of writers who are all seeking to achieve the same end, and are thus able to encourage and support one another.

Although there are no prizes for completing a novel for NaNoWriMo, if you do (and you have to prove it by uploading your work to the NaNoWriMo site), you will be able to download an official ‘Winner’ web badge and a PDF Winner’s Certificate, which you can print out.

And, of course, you will have the first draft of a novel you should be able to polish and submit for possible publication (or publish yourself).

There are lots of useful resources on the NaNoWriMo website, including wordcount widgets, web badges, flyers for downloading, motivational articles, and much more. There is also a busy forum where you can compare notes with other participants.

NaNoWriMo is also, by the way, a great opportunity to apply the techniques taught in my publisher WCCL’s Novel in a Month course, or indeed my own Write Any Book in Under 28 Days.

I’d like to wish you the very best of luck if you do decide to register for NaNoWriMo. Please do post a note below if you succeed in completing the challenge!

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Start Writing Fiction

Free Fiction Writing Course Starting Soon

I have 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 25 September 2017. 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 £39 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 (including a video trailer) and to register, visit the Start Writing Fiction information page of the Futurelearn website.

FutureLearn have lots of other interesting free courses, incidentally. I recently took one called Secrets of Successful Ageing from Trinity College, Dublin, which was informative and thought-provoking. 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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Writing for Newsjack

Sketches and One-Liners Wanted for Newsjack (BBC)

If you’re an aspiring comedy writer, here’s a market opportunity you should definitely check out.

The BBC’s satirical radio comedy show Newsjack is returning for a new run, and inviting submissions of short topical sketches and one-liners from freelance writers. This is primarily an opportunity for UK writers, though if you live outside the UK (and understand the British sense of humour!) there is nothing to stop you submitting work as well.

Submissions are open now, with a weekly deadline of 12.00 pm on Mondays from 11 September (last submissions for this series Monday 16 October 2017).

More information, including the format for submitting work and downloadable templates you can use, can be found on the BBC Newsjack website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1hDdvFLfWClPHW7zT3sq01S/submit-a-sketch. You can also view example sketches and one-liners on this page.

And there are more tips on writing for Newsjack in this BBC Blog post from 2015.

This is, of course, a paying opportunity. Payments are as follows:

£43.00 per minute for sketches
£21.50 per 30 seconds for sketches
£21.50 per one-liner

They say this fee will take in all rights for the work on a non-exclusive basis (so no repeat fees, unfortunately!).

This is a great entry-level opportunity for anyone hoping to get into radio comedy writing. If you consistently submit work that gets noticed, you may be invited to join the show’s team of commissioned writers, which in turn will present all sorts of further networking opportunities.

It’s also a market I have a soft spot for, as some years ago I had a number of sketches and one-liners accepted by the long-running predecessor of Newsjack, Weekending. I was invited to meet the show’s producer and was sounded out about joining the writing team, but in the end decided against as it would have meant relocating to be nearer London.

Good luck if you decide to try submitting work to Newsjack. Please do leave a comment below if you are successful!

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Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2018 Now Open for Entries

Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2018 Now Open for Entries

Here’s a writing competition with a prize worth winning!

The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2018, with a £30,000 first prize, is now open for entries.

The contest is open world-wide, though you do have to have had work published professionally in the UK or Ireland. More information from the contest website is copied below…

The prize, worth £30,000 to the winner, is an international award, founded in 2010, that is open to any story of up to 6,000 words written in English. Stories need to have been either previously unpublished or only published after 31 December 2016. Five other authors shortlisted for the award will each receive £1,000. The prize is administered by the Society of Authors. To be eligible, the author must simply have a record of prior publication in creative writing in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

Full terms and conditions for the prize can be found here (PDF) and you can access the entry form via the Short Story Award website

The winning story from last year’s contest by American Bret Anthony Johnston, along with the other five works shortlisted for the 2017 prize, can be read in this low-priced Kindle e-book. The closing date for entering this year’s contest is Thursday 28 September 2017.

Good luck if you enter this contest. Even being long-listed would be a considerable feather in any writer’s cap. And if you win the top prize, remember who told you about it!

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Read more From Me in the Creating Wealth Newsletter!

Read More From Me in the Creating Wealth Newsletter!

Just a quickie today to let you know that I am back in harness with my former clients Agora (also known as Fleet Street Publishing). As some of you will know, I worked for several years on their More Money Review membership site.

I am now working again with my old editor, Michelle Roberts, on the Creating Wealth newsletter. This is a free, UK-based email newsletter featuring a huge range of strategies for making money and building your personal wealth.

I shall be writing about ways of making, saving and investing money for CW, together with business and self-development topics, e.g. how to boost your productivity.

You can sign up to Creating Wealth here. As well as the newsletter, you will receive a free report titled Secrets of a Self-Made Millionaire (and no, that’s not me!).

I highly recommend subscribing to CW, not only because it is putting bread on my table, but because I genuinely believe you will enjoy reading the tips, advice and information it contains from me and my fellow contributors.

And of course, you can unsubscribe at any time if you decide it’s not for you.

I shall continue to publish on Entrepreneur Writer (and my new Pounds & Sense blog too), but perhaps not quite as frequently. I am meant to be semi-retired, after all!

If you have any comments or questions about Creating Wealth, as always, please do post them below.

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Daily Mail Penguin Random House New Crime Novel Contest Now Open

If you’re an aspiring crime/thriller novelist – and you live in the UK or Republic of Ireland – here’s a contest you should definitely consider entering.

The Daily Mail Random House New Crime Novel Competition is free to enter. The winner will receive a £20,000 advance fee, the services of a top literary agent, and guaranteed publication by Penguin Random House UK.

Your story can be detective novel, crime or spy thriller, or psychological chiller. Entrants must never have had a novel published before (in any format, including ebook or self-published) and must be 16 or over.

You don’t need to submit the finished novel, just the first 5,000 words plus a 600-word synopsis of the complete work. The deadline is 5 May 2017, so at the time of writing you have just over a fortnight to get your entry written, polished and submitted.

All entries have to be typed and printed on A4 paper with double spacing in font size 12 point, Times New Roman. They must be posted or couriered to Daily Mail First Crime Novel Competition, c/o Penguin Random House Group, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA. All entries must include the entrant’s full name and contact details (including their home and email address) and confirmation they have agreed to the full terms and conditions.

For more information about the contest, including tips for would-be authors, visit this page of the Daily Mail website. For the full terms and conditions and details of how to enter in PDF format, click on this link.

Good luck, and happy crime writing!

 

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Sign up now for this free screenwriting course

Sign Up Now For This Free Screenwriting Course

If screenwriting is something that interests you, you might like to sign up for the free introductory course currently on offer via FutureLearn (a UK-based educational initiative that advertises short online courses from British and international universities).

The course title is An Introduction to Screenwriting and it comes from the University of East Anglia. It starts on 8 May 2017 and runs for two weeks with an estimated time commitment of three hours per week.

An Introduction to Screenwriting is an online course for anyone new to scriptwriting and for more experienced writers who wish to raise their scriptwriting to a professional level. It does not require any previous experience of studying the subject.

On the website, it says:

You’ll learn from a mixture of basic theory, script analysis and practical exercises. We will explore key principles as they’re expressed in great films, then immediately apply these concepts. Videos, articles and discussion steps will offer you the opportunity to learn and engage with other learners on key concepts and ideas.

By the end of the course, you will understand the key concepts necessary to write an effective screenplay and be fluent in the language used to discuss the form.

The course is run by screenwriter Michael Lengsfield and his colleagues at UEA’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing.

An Introduction to Screenwriting is free of charge and open to anyone anywhere in the world. There is, though, a paid-for upgrade as well (costing 49 UKP) with a few extra features. In particular, you get a certificate at the end and can continue to access all the course materials indefinitely. With the free version you only get access for up to a fortnight after the end of the course – so if you don’t want to pay the fee you may need to do a bit of copying and pasting to keep all the materials for future reference!

For more information about the course (including a video trailer) and to register, visit the Introduction to Screenwriting information page of the FutureLearn website.

FutureLearn have lots of other interesting free courses, incidentally, on subjects ranging from anatomy to physical theatre, cyber-security to discovering dentistry!

I have taken a number of Futurelearn courses myself and always find them stimulating and thought-provoking. Another big attraction is that you get to interact with fellow students from all over the world.

  • If you are interested in screenwriting, you might also like to check out Movie in a Month, a high-quality CD-based course from my publishers WCCL. As well as in-depth advice on screenwriting, this also includes over 800 actual movie scripts and treatments you can learn from.
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ALCS March Distribution This Week!

ALCS March Distribution This Week!

If you’re a UK writer registered with the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), you may want to log in to your account this week to check whether you will be receiving a payment in their March distribution due around Friday 24 March 2017, and if so how much.

For those who don’t know, ALCS handles a range of fees and payments for writers, including photocopying fees and payments from various overseas PLR (public lending right) programmes. As long as you have one or more books, articles or stories published, you can register to receive your share. There are two distributions every year, in March and September, though for whatever reason I only ever seem to get a payment in the March one.

If you aren’t already registered with ALCS you will have to pay a one-off fee of £36, but this will be deducted from your first payment, so you shouldn’t have to pay anything up front. In any event, it is definitely worth it. My payment this year is over £120, and aside from a few novelty products most of my work is published on the internet these days!

I don’t entirely understand how ALCS payments are calculated, and gather I am not alone in this. You might therefore be interested to read this recent blog post by my near-neighbour Simon Whaley. He asked ALCS a number of questions about how the scheme works, and published the replies he received. These make interesting reading, although I still found myself somewhat confused at the end!

If you are a member of an authors’ organization such as the Society of Authors, you may find that your ALCS membership is already covered. In that case, all you need to do is register on the ALCS website, providing details of your books and so forth and a bank account into which your payments can be made.

These days I find I make more money from ALCS than from the UK PLR scheme, as for various reasons lending from public libraries has diminished considerably in recent years. It is, though, still well worth registering for PLR if you haven’t already. For more information about this, see my discussion of PLR in this recent blog post.

As ever, if you have any questions or comments about ALCS (or PLR), please do post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

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Next Great Horror Writer Contest

The Next Great Horror Writer Contest

If writing horror fiction is your thing, here’s a contest you won’t want to miss.

The Next Great Horror Writer Contest is open to any aspiring horror writer over the age of 18. The contest is for new writers, so you must not have had a story of over 10,000 words published by a publishing house already (although self-published authors are eligible).

The contest is being run by the HorrorAddicts.net website, and is free to enter. It is being judged by a panel of professional horror writers, publishers and editors.

The first prize is pretty impressive. The winner will receive:

  • a novel/book contract with leading indie publishers Crystal Lake Publishing
  • a free edit of a novel up to 50,000 words
  • a short story contract with the HorrorAddicts.net “Horror Bites” series
  • a horror writer gift box – ‘supplies and inspiration for the Next Great Horror Writer’

There are other prizes as well, including audio drama production, podcast interviews, more short story contracts, and so on. The contest will proceed through a series of ‘challenges’ designed to select the final winner, with prizes being awarded to the winners of each stage. The challenges will take place from March 2017 to October 2017.

The closing date for entering The Next Great Horror Writer is 1 March 2017. At this stage you simply have to submit the online entry form and a 100-word story. The rules say you must ‘have a full-length novel or novella ready to pitch to a publishing house’ but you aren’t required to submit this with your entry. Clearly, you should have a novel at least in progress so you will be in a position to benefit if you are lucky enough to win the first prize. However, definitely don’t be put off if you don’t have a full-length novel ready to submit now!

For more information about The Next Great Horror Writer Contest, click through any of the links in this post. You can also complete the online application form on the web page.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, as always, feel free to leave them below. I wish you the very best of luck if you decide to enter this contest. 🙂

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UK PLR Statements Now Available

2015/16 UK PLR Statements Now Available

If you’re a UK author registered for PLR, you can now check your earnings for 2015/16 on the UK PLR website. Just log in here and click on Statements.

This year (covering July 2015 to June 2016) they are paying 7.82 pence per library loan, a slight increase on last year. Payment will be made between 13 and 22 February 2017, 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.

I always find it interesting to study my PLR statement. I was pleased to see that, rather to my surprise, my payment has gone up this year. This is despite the fact that library lending generally is down due to the inexorable rise of the internet and cutbacks in the public library service.

My most borrowed books, Advertising for the Small Business and Start Your Own Home-Based Business, were published quite a few years ago and are undoubtedly out of date now, but they were still borrowed over 1000 times between them. By contrast, almost nobody is borrowing my Living and Working in books (e.g. Living and Working in Germany), perhaps because new editions of these books by other authors are now available. Or maybe it means that these days people are more interested in starting small businesses than going to work abroad!

Over the years I have made literally 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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