Here are another couple of questions from my Dear Della page in Writers’ Forum that I get asked quite frequently – and the answers.
Q I believe I have a good plot and idea for a short philosophical story. However, I am not sure how good or captivating my writing is. I don’t know how I can get in touch with anyone who can critique my writing and give me tips on how to improve. Also, I am worried about another issue. If I send part/all of my manuscript to someone so they can analyse it with me, what stops them from trying to publish it themselves? What legal protection do I have over my work?
A With regard to finding someone to critique your work, I would advise you to contact a good and reputable critique service. The Hilary Johnson Authors’ Advisory Service and Cornerstones both have good reputations. No reputable critique service would copy your work or try to pass it off as their own. This would be both unprofessional and unethical.
However, it sounds to me as if you may not have a finished piece of work to critique currently. If this is the case and at the moment you just want to learn more about the craft of writing, why don’t you try an adult education class in creative writing, or a college or university run writing course? The best way to start is to find one of the above that is near you. Alternatively there are many on line creative writing courses. Look for long established ones, but I recommend your first port of call might be to join a writing group or class and get personal recommendations from their members.
Q I have read a lot about marketing for self publishers: Headlines such as Top Five Tactics for increasing sales/profile. There is so much one COULD do but it all takes time that could be better spent writing. Is there a promotion fairy you could just hand everything over to?
A Yes, there are promotion and PR services who work with authors with a view to increasing their profile and book sales. If you employ a good one it could be a very good investment. Some PR Services charge by the hour but it’s more usual for them to charge by the project, for example, if you’re launching a new book and you need someone to send out press releases, arrange reviews, maybe organize a guest blog tour or even your book launch. Some ‘promotion fairies’ also offer a social media package which might include things like setting up a Facebook and Twitter account and posting updates on your behalf.
I would recommend that first, you decide what you want a promotion fairy to do and then decide how much you can afford to pay them. I know from my own experience that visibility is crucial for an author. If no one knows about your books they can’t buy them. So promotion is essential, whether you do it or whether you employ someone else.
It doesn’t have to be as time consuming as you think though. It’s regularity and frequency that counts. Just half an hour a day spent on social media, e.g. Twitter can be very effective.
If you are not ‘social media literate’ then maybe someone in your family is. I know one writer whose husband does all her social media and another whose teenage son does it. Thinking laterally may be the perfect solution.
Talking of courses – I’m teaching How To Write and Sell Short Stories on 14 March 2015 at Kinson Community Centre, Bournemouth. Very small group, so lots of individual attention, £45 for the day. Please email me or comment on this blog for further details 🙂
And as for self promotion – my top tip is to be creative. See picture, tee hee.
Everyone’s Trying To Get Their Paws on This Book!
You can get your paws on The Morning After here.