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Win £500 in the Writers Bureau Annual Poetry Competition

November 25th, 2011

First, thanks to Emily for last week’s blog. I really admire all the hard work she’s putting in to get the first draft of her novel down on paper. Sometimes you need a deadline, or a bit of pressure, to force you to get on with a projected of this kind. But I suspect that the really hard work will start when she goes back and starts knocking her first draft into shape. I’ll make sure she lets you know how she’s getting on in six months’ time.

Advice for Aspiring Writers

I’ve just finished reading One Day by David Nicholls. It’s one of those books that according to the hype everyone has read – but nobody I know seemed to have read it. I do admire David Nicholls and I thoroughly enjoyed his earlier novel, Starter for Ten as I am, dare I admit it, a huge fan of University Challenge. One Day was fine – very readable, well observed and humorous, but it didn’t make me want to rush out and see the film. What did make me smile was a Question and Answer section at the back of the book with the author. One question was: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? His answer was:

“Read, read widely and constantly, and take in plays too, and movies and poetry and journalism. Don’t watch too much TV, read instead. And – I don’t say this lightly – stay off the Internet. You can’t write anything really good and tweet at the same time.” It was worth the price of the paperback just to get such a worthwhile quote from someone who knows what they’re talking about and has been successful enough to prove that their advice is worth taking.

How much of an advance can you expect?

You hear so much about the enormous six-figure advances that celebrities and politicians receive from publishers for their memoirs and novels but I was listening to Giles Brandreth on TV recently and he was saying that for the average literary novel you’ll be lucky to get £5000 from a mainstream publisher. It doesn’t sound a lot for all your blood, sweat and tears, but the lower your advance, the sooner you’ll have covered this with your royalties and start earning more money. So always look on the bright side!

Win a Journalism Course

Remember, you’ve still time to enter our free Caption Competition before it closes on 30th November. The winner will receive a Freelance Journalism course. And for the poets amongst you, the Writers Bureau Annual Poetry Competition is accepting entries until 31st December. There is an entry fee for this competition, but with a top prize of £500 it’s definitely worth polishing your pentameters or buffing your free verse.

Next week, my guest will be Lorraine Mace – Writers Bureau tutor, poet, humourist and competition judge. So sit back and wait to be educated and entertained.

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