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Can writers make a living from writing short stories?

June 25th, 2010

It’s hot, and although I love summer weather I can’t help feeling it’s largely a waste of time for those of us cooped-up in a city-centre office.  You don’t get to enjoy the benefits and when you go home you have to face the tedium of filling and re-filling a degging can, just to keep those precious plants you bought alive and perky.

But let’s not be negative.  Apparently if you think happy, positive thoughts, your whole life will be happier and more successful – well that’s the theory, anyway!  So let’s be positive, instead.  According to the Press Gazette over a billion consumer magazines were sold in 2009 and sales dropped just 1.3% in the second half of the year – despite the recession.  So, if you’re a writer there’s still a huge market out there for your work.

I suspect the reason for the buoyancy is that magazines are still considered comparatively cheap – a small indulgence that can be justified even when times are hard and finances tight.

If you’re interested in writing fiction you could do worse than check out Fiction Factor where there are hundreds of useful articles on all aspects of the craft and links on book promotions and marketing.

Or, you might like to see what Ty Johnston has to say at Local Misanthropy, his blog on writing.  A recent post considers whether writers really can make a living from writing only short stories.

So, now that we’re all feeling much more up-beat, I’m off to watch England’s third World Cup match, against Slovenia.  But I’m wondering whether I’ll still be feeling as optimistic in a couple of hours’ time!




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Enter the Writers Bureau Poetry and Short Story Competition and win up to £1000 in cash!

June 18th, 2010

First, thanks to Sue for last week’s guest blog.  I was away for a few days walking in Pembrokeshire.  The weather was great and the combination of sweeping headlands, masses of wild flowers and some of the best beaches in Europe was unbeatable.  Still a bit cold for swimming but I got plenty of paddling in!  I have a love/hate relationship with seagulls (predominantly hate) after one nearly ripped my finger off attempting to steal my hard-earned sandwich.  As my husband pointed out, only the very brave – or foolhardy – would attempt to get food away from me after a seven-mile hike.

Writers Bureau Poetry and Short Story Competition

It’s surprising how much more up-beat you feel when you’ve had a break.  And, as I’ve said before, one of the most optimistic freelancers that I know is Nick Daws.  His  blog is always full of interesting and useful information, plus he’s an excellent example of someone ‘juggling plates’ to ensure that he has enough projects on the go to provide a healthy living as a freelance writer.

Two things to remind you of this week.  First, this month’s Writers Bureau 21st Birthday competition.  You could win a copy of our Novel and Short Story Course by sending in the first sentence of your novel.  Sounds easy!  But remember, it has to grab the reader’s attention whilst still giving some indication of the genre and content of the novel.

And finally, don’t forget our annual Novel and Short Story Competition closes on 30th June.  So you’ve still time to enter and win up to £1000 in cash.




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Keep those Plates Spinning!

June 11th, 2010

Sue WilkesIn the days of my youth, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, ‘plate spinning’ was a favourite task on game shows. An expert juggler kept several plates spinning all at once at the end of long, bendy poles. The hapless contestants tried to copy him, and soon found it wasn’t easy! Their plates fell to earth with a crash! There was broken crockery everywhere, but they had lots of fun.

A writing career is rather like spinning those plates merrily along. When you first begin writing stories or articles for magazines, you quickly find it isn’t enough to keep one writing ‘plate’ in motion. If you want regular work, as soon as one piece is accepted, send out more queries, then maintain the momentum while waiting for replies from editors. The same principle is true when (fingers crossed) you’ve had your first book accepted by a publisher.

After my book ‘Narrow Windows, Narrow Lives’ was published by the History Press, I did some more proposals and had another book accepted. After ‘Narrow Windows’ appeared (one plate spinning!) I promoted it by writing articles for magazines while writing ‘Regency Cheshire’ for Robert Hale. And after that book was published (another plate spinning!), I was lucky enough to sign two book contracts: I’m currently writing ‘Stolen Childhoods’ and ‘Tracing Your Canal Ancestors’ while promoting my latest book.

Keeping all your plates spinning means being as organised as possible: use a planner, or large calendar, or set up a spreadsheet on your PC: whatever suits you best. You may have some smashed crockery at first. An idea might not work out as you imagined, but don’t throw away those fragments: you could sell your idea to someone else. You can check out my progress ‘plate-spinning’ on my blog: http://suewilkes.blogspot.com/.




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Writers’ summer networking events!

June 4th, 2010

Well, here it comes – not many more days before the World Cup starts.  My husband and I have struck a truce.  He can watch as much football as he likes provided he doesn’t moan if I decide to take myself off somewhere exotic, leaving him to cook his own meals. (Come on folks, can you think of anywhere exotic in the environs of Rochdale?)

Joking apart, it is a perfect opportunity for all you women writers to spend some time networking (unless, of course, you’re a keen football fan).  It doesn’t matter whether it’s virtual networking on the many writing-related sites or face-to-face, but it’s becoming increasingly important for writers to get out there and meet people if they’re to promote their talent.

For traditionalists, summer is a particularly good time with a variety of residential and day courses around the country including The Writers Workshop, The Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick  from 7 to 13 August and Caerleon Summer Writers’ Holiday from 25 to 30 July.  You may even meet some Writers Bureau tutors at the latter two as they tend to lead the odd seminar or course.

I spent last weekend doing the final proofreading on our new ‘Effective Time Management’ course.  It contains lots of great advice that really got me thinking about how much time I currently waste and how I could organise myself better.  As soon as it’s on sale I’ll let you know.  I suspect it will be a boon for many part-time writers who can have difficulty fitting their writing around their other commitments and persuading friends and relatives that what they’re doing is a serious occupation that needs concentration.

Next week Writers Bureau tutor Sue Wilkes is my guest blogger and she’ll be talking about ‘plate spinning’ – very apt in view of my comments in the previous paragraph!




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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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