Author Archive for Fiona Veitch Smith Page 2 of 21

Performance poetry: a novice dips his toes

This week’s guest post is from poet Paul Canon Harris who has recently hit the performance poetry circuit. So pour yourself a drink, find yourself a seat, and let’s get on with the show …

I am something of a novice and a Johnny-come-lately to writing and performing poetry. When you are a keen sportsman and most of your pals are alpha-male beer drinkers it takes a bit of courage to come out as a poet! In the last year I have done that, my first collection of poems, Best Before, is now published and I am reading or performing poems in a wide range of venues. Continue reading ‘Performance poetry: a novice dips his toes’

Novel ideas: the chemistry of creativity

Today’s guest post is by Tony Glover, the latest ‘signing’ for the Crafty Writer’s publishing wing, Crafty Publishing. Tony who has written extensively for theatre and screen has just released the first in a series of crime novels and tells us where he gets his ideas in the first place. It’s all a matter of chemistry, apparently …

‘Where did you get the idea?’ It’s the most banal question – yet the hardest to answer. Creativity is a mysterious affair. Where do ideas come from?  How do we access the part of our mind which produces them? Continue reading ‘Novel ideas: the chemistry of creativity’

How to make money as a full-time writer

Do you want to make a full-time career of writing? Your Crafty host Fiona Veitch Smith talks to publisher John Koehler about how to make a career out of writing while waiting for that big break to come along

Letter writing competition

chris-russell-ten-lettersIf you could write a letter to someone just before you died, what would you say? Darton, Longman and Todd are hosting a letter writing competition to celebrate the release of Chris Russell’s Ten Letters: to be delivered in the event of my death.
The top three letters, as judged by author Chris Russell and a representative of DLT Publishers, will receive a signed copy of the book and have their letter published on the DLT website.

Competition Guidelines:

  • Read the first letter in Chris Russell’s book on the DLT website
  • Write a letter in fewer than 500 words to a real person.
  • You may change the name of the person to protect their identity.
  • The letter should address an individual but have a wider scope dealing with issues pertinent to society at large.
  • Submit your letter as an attachment with ’10 letters comp’ in the subject line to CarolanneM @
  • Closing date for submission is Friday 19 October 2012.
  • Entrance is free.

For more information and to read the extract from Ten Letters visit the DLT website.

Please note, this is not a Crafty Writer competition. We are simply letting you know about it so please don’t contact us asking for more information than is already here. If you want to know more, contact DLT Publishing through their website.

The energy crisis, the e-book revolution and the publishing industry: will print books survive?

andy-mellen-neil-hollow-no-oil-in-the-lampI’ve recently read an incredibly eye-opening book about the energy crisis and its impact on everyday life: No Oil in the Lamp. I met the publisher of this book at a conference lately and asked to interview him on the impact of the energy crisis on publishing. This is what he had to say …

1. Could you briefly summarise the premise of No Oil in the Lamp and why you decided to publish it?
No Oil in the Lamp addresses the issue of Peak Oil. Essentially Peak Oil is the term given to a point in time when the earth’s known oil resources will begin to start to run out. We decided to publish Andy and Neil’s book because we share their view that we need to think seriously about our energy consumption and the nature of our day to day living in the light of impending energy shortages.

2. What did the authors do right in their approach to you?

We have a very open submissions policy at DLT, and accept and read plenty of unsolicited manuscripts – i.e. from those authors without an agent. Andy and Neil put a strong case for the importance of their book, and found an editor (me) who believed the issue needs to be more widely addressed in print, read about and understood.

3. The predicted depletion of unrenewable energy over the next 30 years will have a profound impact on us all. What particular challenges will it present to the publishing industry?

The publishing industry is already beginning to gravitate towards electronic media to create and provide content for readers. This is largely in reponse to the new technologies available as opposed to a concern about an energy constrained future. While electronic publishing improves the publishing industry’s carbon footprint, and will mean less energy is used in the future to warehouse and deliver content to bookstores and readers, it’s difficult to say how much declining oil reserves will impact on the manufacture of electronic devices to support an electronic system of publishing. The electricity will have to come from somewhere, not to mention the various plastics used which are today largely made of oil. As for print books, I hope they will continue to survive alongside electronic books, and I believe reading habits won’t change as fast as some people believe or hope (if indeed you are one of the people that has invested a lot in eBooks), but evidently the manufacture of pr int books and the energy used in sustaining their life may be greater.

4. In No Oil in the Lamp the authors play prophet and look forward to the year 2030. They give three scenarios of what the world might look like if the world’s governments respond in particular ways to the energy crisis. These range from optimistic to apocalypic. Could you do the same thing for the publishing industry?

Not with any great certainty. If the contention is that energy constraints will make things more difficult in the publishing industry then the answer is perhaps, but not on an apocalyptic scale. If the contention is that the newer forms of technologies that enable a great deal of self-publishing, and free information sharing will undermine the content being produced and sold by publishers, again, I believe publishers can and will still be able to offer expertise a self-publisher often doesn’t have recourse to (editorial skills, marketing, sales and distribution). If, I’m wrong I’ve always got my golf handicap to work on.

5. How will DLT specfically adapt?

DLT has the advantage of being small, and therefore being flexible. We will make sure we keep abreast of the changes in the publishing industry and continue to evaluate the changing climate beyond.

6. Over the last five years a major talking point in the publishing industry is whether or not e-books will replace print books as the main way of consuming books. What is your view on this?

As aforementioned I do believe electronic books will catch up with print books in terms of numbers being produced and sold; it stands to reason when so much is being invested in their development by the industry leaders, not to mention in the technologies that enable the eReader and increasingly complex forms of audio and visual display. However, I don’t see the tactile value of a print book, as well as the romance – the giving and receiving of a print book as a gift – as being lost. It’s perhaps too simple to say, my parents were brought up during the advent of television and they still prefer listening to the radio and so on, but people won’t lose their nostalgia, appreciation of aesthetics or a desire to engage all the five senses any time soon. Then again, as a publisher needing to make money, eBooks offer another revenue stream, and a potentially lucrative one so they are worth concentrating on.

7. Authors are very concerned that with e-books selling so cheaply, they will simply not be able to make a living out of writing. Do you think these fears are justified?

I think perhaps they are. I suppose a parallel is in the record industry where songwriters have to embark on exhaustive eighteen month tours to make up for mediocre record sales. Then again if an author has a following and is able to produce something worthwhile and a publisher is able to market the book in the right manner to the right groups, people will want it even if the price is higher (but not too much higher!) than normal, I feel. As an editor I don’t feel too comfortable with having a list of books dictated by the sales and marketing department, because there would be a danger of a publisher providing uniform content, and I don’t believe this is a publisher’s raison d’etre, rather it is to provide a good balance and range, still marketing books and publicising them in difficult market conditions is hugely important, and will become increasingly so I would imagine.

8. Looking beyond the simple preference of readers, what are some of the environmental issues in the e-book versus print book debate? For instance, looking at the big picture, do e-books pose a greater recycling challenge than print books? What percentage of print books are printed on paper from sustainable forests, for instance?

This is ground that has been well trodden in recent years, but for good reason. Publishers like any business have an ethical responsibility, especially when our products are made from trees (although this amounts to something like less than 1% of the world’s timber). I touched on this earlier, and publishers are increasingly looking to print books on paper from sustainable forests or even recycled paper; with regard to a percentage, I’m afraid I don’t know: it will still be fairly small I would think.

9. Any final points?

If you’re a writer with an interesting agenda with a secular or faith background, do get in touch with Darton Longman and Todd. And, meanwhile, consider walking or cycling to work (you’re saving energy, if not your own, the planet’s)!

Will Parkes is a Commissioning Editor at DLT Books, publishers of non-fiction, including religion and spirituality, based in South London. Will works with a variety of authors from a range of faith backgrounds to create books which provide sustenance for the heart, mind and soul. No Oil in the Lamp with Andy Mellen and Neil Hollow is DLT’s first book on Peak Oil, and the implications of an energy constrained future. For more information on the book and the issues surrounding it visit the No Oil in the Lamp website. You can also link up with the authors on their Facebook page.

Self-publishing: the good, the bad and the ugly

Self-publishing: everyone and their second cousin are into it these days. But is it as easy as it sounds? Self-published author Sam Lenton tells The Crafty Writer about his experience so far … Continue reading ‘Self-publishing: the good, the bad and the ugly’

How to write for comics

On The Crafty Writer we like to feature as wide a range of writing styles as possible. However, we’ve never featured writing for comics. That perhaps is because I’ve never met a niche comic writer only cartoonists and artists who dabbled in a bit of writing. Then along came Daniel Clifford and everything changed … Continue reading ‘How to write for comics’

What a publisher does – part 3:marketing

In this final post in the series, publisher John Koehler discusses the role that publishers and authors play in marketing their books. John mentioned to me that in his experience, generally non-fiction authors adapt to the idea that they need to participate in the marketing of their books more easily than fiction authors. But both must do it. I’ll let John tell you how and why … Continue reading ‘What a publisher does – part 3:marketing’

What a publisher does – part 2: design

In this second guest post from publisher John Köehler he explains the book design process and the author’s role in it.

Co-operative design

A publisher has the right to essentially do as they please with regards to the creative development of the editing and the design of any given book. But as we established in the previous article about co-operative editing, it is advantageous to the publisher to have the author involved with all stages of the creative process of preparing the book for publication.

The cover

The cover is typically the first design element considered. We want to know exactly what the author is thinking about their cover. True enough they are usually not award-winning designers as we have on our team, but they know their book. Often an author will have a very specific idea of what they want and in many cases come to the table with a design in hand.

Of the 50 or so books we’ve published, we have never used a design offered by an author. Which sounds like it contradicts my point about keeping the author involved, but it doesn’t. The original thoughts and desires of the author may play into a design the publisher comes up with, and for us, it usually does.

We ask authors to not only tell us their written thoughts and share any sketches they have, we ask them to show us 3-4 book covers they like and why they like them. Once again, this is not intended to get the author to do the publisher’s job, but to establish a criteria and general consensus on style and look. For our designers, this gives us much more to work with, and also increases the likelihood we are going to ding the bell and create a cover that is perfect for the manuscript, and gives the author buy-in.

This does not mean that we limit ourselves to the covers we are shown or the written concepts that are shared – on the contrary. They are all a jumping-off point. Sometimes the winning cover comes directly from that process. Sometimes the design team will diverge completely away and try something new and decidedly different than what the author is thinking. Whatever it takes, we do.

We tell our authors that they will be a part of the process, but that when it comes to making creative decisions, it is no longer about them, or us, but it is all about the work of art that we are creating. The cover, like the editing, must be the best cover for the book we are producing. Period. That is a good way of reminding them that while we insist on working collaboratively, it is not their call; if in fact a creative call must be made due to lack of consensus, the publisher will make the call. Regardless of the collaboration and cooperative spirit of the endeavor, there can only be one boss! Surprisingly we rarely have an issue with covers and usually achieve consensus with the author.

Text layout

Design co-operation extends into the layout of the text. The author will review the layout top to bottom, including title page, legal page, acknowledgements, etc. There are usually fewer issues or decisions on the text. Lastly comes the cover spread, showing the back cover, spine and front cover.

Design co-operation extends into other items such as tip sheets, author signing posters and the like. Regardless of the design element, if it is related to the book, we want the author’s eyes on it. Because, like editing, the more eyes the better, and the more likely the author will get behind the book, own it completely and engage readers through promotions and marketing.

In my next guest post for The Crafty Writer I will be discussing marketing and distribution.

John KoehlerJohn Köehler is the author of five books, including his latest, Billy Blue Sky. He is the founder and publisher of Köehler Books. Köehler Books offers conventional and co-publishing book deals. See here for a discussion of how co-publishing differs from conventional publishing, and here for some tips on how to identify the different kinds of publishing deals.

The benefits of writing a series

Your Crafty host Fiona Veitch Smith is talking about the benefits of writing a series over at Martin Willoughby’s Sand and Glass blog. She gives her opinion on why readers, publishers and booksellers like series and why authors should consider writing them. She is also available online to answer any questions you may have. Drop by and join in the conversation!