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Farewell to a Great Storyteller

September 29th, 2014

Minnie-the-Minx-blogAs far as I’m aware, British children’s comics are unique in the world. Without the glitz of their American counterparts, the depth of French Bandes Dessinés or the complexity of Japanese Manga, they’re a bit like Bread and Butter Pudding or ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hats – you just don’t find them anywhere else. From their pages have come characters like Desperate Dan, Beryl the Peril, and the Bash Street Kids. And where some of these have been going since the 1930s (with a few achieving world-wide fame) generally the artists and writers who made them have remained anonymous – unnamed and unknown. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s a Complicated Business

September 22nd, 2014

Self-Publish-blogThey used to call it ‘Vanity-Publishing,’ but that was back in the days of rotary telephones and four channel TV. These days it’s ‘Self-Publishing,’ and it’s quite the thing. There’s loads of ‘Book-Making’ websites out there, Amazon even has one of its own. But are they any good? What do they actually provide? Do you have to pay them up front? And do they take a cut of your profits? (should you ever make any). Read the rest of this entry »

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Seven Essential Tips for Selling Your Kindle Book

August 15th, 2014

I published my e-book, ‘The Dark Side – Real Life Accounts of an NHS Paramedic’ on Kindle 18 months ago. I’m proud to say that I’ve sold approximately 3,500-4,000 copies to date. Since publication, it has never been out of the top ten best sellers list in the Allied Health Professionals sub-genre, often taking the number one position.  It has remained in the top 40,000 in the UK Kindle charts for the majority of the past 18 months and continues to sell on a daily basis. I published ‘The Dark Side, Part 2’ a few weeks ago and that is already selling just as well.

So, how did I do it? These are my tips: Read the rest of this entry »

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First Impressions Count!

July 23rd, 2014

Whether it’s a short story or a novel you’re working on, your opening paragraph is what will set you apart from other writers. If you’re sending work to an editor, agent or a competition then it could well be the only part of your story they actually read!

A strong opening is the key to getting your reader interested enough to finish off the story; so don’t rush it. You’ll reap the benefits later on if you spend a little time and care crafting the perfect opening paragraph.

To really grab your reader’s attention, you might want to consider starting your story ‘in medias res’ or in the middle of the action. You don’t always have to set the scene before something exciting happens, and starting off in the middle of an action-packed scene will immediately make your reader ask questions. As far as action goes, the bigger the event the more likely it is to hook your readers’ attention – so don’t be afraid to go for something shocking!

Once your action scene is over, you can allow your main character to reflect on the events leading up to that scene, slowly telling the story and answering those questions. There’s nothing wrong with starting a story with a little mystery – just make sure you solve it at the end!

If your talents lie more in descriptive writing than action-heavy scenes then you might want to use your skills to draw your reader in right at the start. When setting the scene for your story, make sure to use all of your senses and try to come up with something a little out of the ordinary. We all know that you’ll be able to see trees in the middle of a forest, but what about the smells and sounds? Extra details like this will create a lasting image for your readers, and you can use your words to create a multi-sensory picture to grab their attention.

Finally, as we’ve mentioned before, a short story or a novel is nothing without a memorable main character, so opening with a thought or some dialogue can be a great way to introduce them. Doing this places your character as the most important thing about the story, and it’s also a handy way to sneak in a short physical description without having to dedicate a new paragraph to it. If you decide to do this, then choose your words carefully. Think about the kind of language your character would use, if they might use any slang words or if they have any kind of accent or dialect. Try, as much as possible, to give information about your character through their speech without having to explicitly state it – remember “show” don’t “tell”. In a short story especially, this will save you precious words to use on advancing the plot.

A good opening can take hours of time and effort to create, so try different things and keep making changes until you’re happy with it. Trust us, you’ll be glad you spent the time on it when you get your first acceptance letter!

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“But I don’t read magazines like that…”

July 16th, 2014

This is a sentence we hear a lot, and it’s not hard to understand why. When you first get started as a freelance writer, your first instinct is to pitch to the publications you already read regularly because you know a lot about them. There’s nothing wrong with this, and actually it makes a lot of sense. After all, everyone always says you should write what you know.

The problem comes when you realise that the publications you usually read only make up a very small part of the whole industry. Most of us will regularly read maybe three or four magazines or newspapers, but if you restrict yourself to writing for just these publications, you aren’t giving yourself the best chance of earning money for your work.

We find that a lot of our students have successes with women’s magazines like Take a Break, Pick Me Up and Chat! – and we can completely understand why magazines like this might not be your cup of tea. However, would it change your mind if you found out they were willing to pay you up to £50 for sending in a letter, photograph or short filler? It could be your first accepted piece of work, and it’s an easy start to your portfolio of published work. You don’t necessarily have to enjoy reading a magazine to be able to write for it – in fact, you don’t even have to believe what you’re writing. Just like any job, there are going to be parts of being a freelance writer that aren’t much fun, but they will help to pay the bills.

To help to kick-start your market research, we’re going to give you a bit of a challenge. We’d like you to look at the selection of publications available in your local newsagent or supermarket and pick up a copy of something you’d never dream of reading for fun. It could be anything from Your Cat to Yachting Monthly, the more obscure the better! Then, have a read through and start to think of a few ideas for articles you could write for the publication you have chosen. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything about the subject matter, because you’re going to do some research and find out. Use the internet, your local library and anything else at your disposal to find out what you need to know.

You could write the articles in full if you feel like you can, or just draft a few outlines before you start doing your research. When you’re confident that you could write up the article in full and do a good job of it, send off an email to the editor and see if they might be interested in printing your article. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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