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Putting the Emphasis on Non-fiction

June 9th, 2017

First, thanks to Sarah for last week’s blog.  I found it fascinating and very useful because, as you know, it’s becoming increasingly rare for small publishers to offer writers an advance. And if you do get one, it is often small (unless you’re one of those famous/infamous celebrities that can command a six figure deal). If you’re self-publishing, then you simply have to fund the full process yourself and in these cash-strapped times it’s not always easy. This is where crowdfunding can come in useful – but before you embark on anything like this make sure you take on board Sarah’s advice. It’s not easy, and you might find yourself spending more time raising funds than actually writing. You have been warned!

In the Writers Bureau Comprehensive Course we have a section on writing readers’ letters and fillers. Writing letters is pretty obvious, but some students struggle with the idea of ‘fillers’. At one time magazines needed very short articles that they could use to fill blank spaces on a page. Hence the name – ‘fillers’. This is no longer necessary, with electronic setting, as articles and photos can be re-shaped and re-sized so that they fill the appropriate space without any difficulty.

But there is still a lucrative market for ‘fillers’, although what classes as a filler is now slightly different.  I looked at a recent edition of ‘Take a Break’ magazine and discovered that they were offering £50 for a ‘Brainwave’ tip plus photo (£25 without the photo) and £75 for photographs of your ‘laughs, love and happiest times’. Other magazines pay money for jokes; money-saving tips; make-up tips; kitchen tips and funny things that children/pets do. As you can see, what’s required has altered but there’s still a paying market there and many of the ideas I’ve mentioned revolve around your own personal ideas and experiences, so they don’t take much in the way of time and research. So, it might be worth having a closer look to see if this could be a way of earning a little extra money from your writing.

Alex Gazzola, who tutored for Writers Bureau for many years, has just been in touch with me to let me know that he has a new e-book out. It’s called Writing Your Non-Fiction Book, it’s free on Amazon until Sunday and you can download a copy here if you are interested. If non-fiction is your forte then this is definitely one for you.

Another bonus for would-be non-fiction writers is the fact that we’re offering £25 off our Non-fiction Course  if you enrol before 18th June. It might not be as tempting as a free book – but don’t forget that as part of the course you get ten tutor-marked assignments. This means you get feedback on your work from a professional writer and it’s these personal ‘tutorials’ that make it such fantastic value for money.

I seem to be quite popular this week as I’ve also been contacted by Martin O’Collins who, with his wife, has organised a writing course in the stunning Gers countryside in the rural heart of South West France. The fully residential course will run from Sunday 3rd September until Saturday 9th September 2017 and will be tutored by Maria Barrett. It really does sound idyllic, so if you want to combine writing with a holiday why not have a look at what’s on offer at the Maison du Guit.

Finally, don’t forget that our Limerick Competition is now open for entries, giving you the chance to win £100 and a Writers Bureau course of your choice – and have some fun doing it!

My guest next week is Gillian Atack, a runner up in our Writer of the Year competition, and she’ll be explaining how her Biographies Memoirs and Family Histories Course helped her to get her first book up and running.

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