“How can I become an author?” How we can help…

This question is a lot harder to answer than it is to ask! However here is what I wrote in response to Amelia, who posted on the HTWB Facebook page asking “how can I become an author?”

What additional advice on becoming an author can we give her?

Agony Columns on How To Write BetterPlease share in the comments…and I will delete any that are facetious or rude! Here we go…

Hi Amelia,

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Your chance to write a horror story and get it published

Have you got a gruesome short horror story waiting, unpublished, in a drawer? Even the idea for a truly skin-crawling story, but no incentive to write it up yet? Here’s your chance to get that story published and your name out there as a horror writer…

UPDATE: submissions for this book has now reached the closing date 🙁 (This is as at June 9th, 2017) BUT, don’t despair; keep writing your stories, and keep your eye on Corona Books. There may well be the opportunity for a Volume Two one day. Whatever you do, don’t give up your hopes, or your talent.)

get your horror story publlished via HTWB

No, this is NOT another horror-able publishing scam

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How to find the writing help you need on #HTWB

With more than 1,200 articles and tutorials on writing here on #HTWB, you may start finding a bit tricky to find what you need. So FYI, here is a breakdown of the most popular categories and specifically how they can help you with your writing.

the writing help you need on HTWB

Not sure where to look for the writing help you need here on #HWTB? This article is a useful guide.

Below all that, you’ll find a selection of the most popular articles with links to them directly. But in the meantime, here are …

Our most popular categories here on #HTWB

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Write a book or write a blog – or both

Sometimes an idea for a book might work better as a blog – which eventually can become a book (or more) as well. The two can work symbiotically for a classic win-win exercise … here’s how.

I was working with a group of writers the other day and one of them was discussing his ideas for a nonfiction memoir (book.) After a short time it became obvious that his concept was not just one book, but potentially three or four. To try to shoehorn that many angles into one book would have created a rather messy mishmash, and both my fellow author-tutor and I agreed that it wouldn’t work.

The poor guy looked a bit disappointed until I told him that his material would be perfect for a blog. Being an older man he wasn’t familiar with how that could work, but once we had explained it he went away with the URL for WordPress and a gleam in his eyes.

This is nothing new, of course. I’m sure you’ve heard of a number of books that started out as blogs. In fact in the USA they now have an annual awards process for blogs that became books called “The Blooker Prize,” with “blooks” being the ensuing hybrid.

One such “blook” even went on to become a “flook” starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams – a movie of the journal called “Julie and Julia” by Julie Powell, the true story of how and why she made every single recipe in the late Julia Childs’ cook book.

However it’s not always a matter of lifting a selection of blog posts straight into book format. Editing obviously is needed, and you may want to adjust content, too, once you have seen how it works in your blog.

Although Julie Powell’s “blook”was mainly singular and linear in nature, where I think the blog-rather-than-book-to-begin-with approach is especially useful, is for anyone who – like the man at the writing workshop – has more than one stream to the message they want to share. Here are some examples:

Memoir/autobiography

**Your poverty-stricken childhood in India

**Your career as an engineer in daunting circumstances

**Your success at overcoming depression

How-to book

**Organic vegetables and green growing

**The best way to plan and run an organic vegetable plot

**Recipes for delicious organic vegetarian cuisine

Modern history

**The allied armed forces’ activities in northern Europe during WW2

**The effect of the Nazi occupation on the local population in northern Europe

**The “warbrides” who went to North America after WW2

**How the influence of WW2 affected the “baby boomer” generation

As you know, a blog offers you the option not only to publish chunks of information in short, easily digestible posts, but also it lets you choose between making those posts linear or non-linear in content. You can even post consecutively about utterly different aspects of your theme, if you want to, then file them into categories which a blog supports easily.

Print books certainly can’t offer that kind of versatility and even eBooks, Kindle and the others aren’t anything like as flexible.

The other useful aspect of a blog is that it’s interactive – readers can comment on your posts and your ultimate book text grows and evolves organically. You will learn much more about your target audience this way than with pretty well any other type of research.

Your blog and book, properly configured and promoted, not only complement each other, but also help sell each other.

Much as you may think people won’t want to buy your material in book form if they can read it (or similar) for free online, it doesn’t work that way. Once you develop your book it will reach a slightly different or at least adjacent audience, for starters, and in any case people who may only dip in and out of a blog now and again will appreciate having everything together in one print or electronic volume.

Then, of course, the fact that you have gone into more than one stream of your material on your blog, you effectively will have laid the foundations of more than one book. Whether you actually go on to create more than one book will depend on how each stream of information is received by readers; a blog is a superb market testing tool.

What are your views? What experience do you have of blogs versus books? Please comment!

Blog or book, get writing brilliantly:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“How To Write Winning Non-fiction”…all you need to know to write a good non-fiction book and get it published

Copyright? It’s still copywrong for writers, musicians, photographers and more

Probably the first time I got worried about the yawning gap between old-fashioned copyright law and modern business was when I asked my hairdresser why the radio wasn’t playing in her salon any more.

htwb-copyright-symbol-2016

Who needs to buy a consumable when you can download it for pennies or get it “under the table” for nothing?

It turned out that without paying for proper (and quite expensive) licensing, the law said you couldn’t play music on the radio in a “public place,” which includes anywhere with employees and/or customers. So Radio Two had to go. Thank you, BBC.

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Children’s books? Sooo hard to get a publisher. But wait – there’s hope

Hundreds if not thousands of people have great ideas for children’s books and many of them are absolutely brilliant.

Trouble is, there is so much good stuff around that in the first instance, children’s book publishers AND relevant literary agents have the pick of crop dropped into their laps and can afford only to take on what they think will be not just good, but utterly sensational.

Children's books? Sooo hard to get a publisher. But wait - there's hope

The books are all based on the adventures of her dogs

Plus, these publishers think, at least, that they know what’s fashionable where in the children’s books market and to an extent can influence that according to their own whims. It’s a tough, tough market to crack.

However in this exchange between me and a friend whose friend has written some amazing stories for 7-10 year-olds, there may be light at the end of the tunnel…

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