C’mon down to Indie Recon 2015!

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If you’re a writer or editor involved with self-publishing, set aside April 15-17, 2015 to attend Indie Recon online.

Indie Recon is a global conference providing the best advice and education for independent-minded authors across the world, particularly those with an interest in self-publishing.

The conference will feature a mix of online educational seminars, workshops discussions and masterclasses; culminating in a reader-centred Indie Author Fringe Fest live from The London Book Fair’s Book and Screen Week, on Friday 17th April.

Held at Foyles Bookshop, Charing Cross, the largest independent bookstore in London, the Fringe Fest will offer exciting ways for readers to meet indie authors and discover great reads.

This year the Alliance for Independent Authors (ALLi) has joined forces with the organisers of Indie Recon to present an even bigger and better conference experience, leveraging off its highly experienced membership.

In line with ALLi’s mission to be a global organisation for authors everywhere, the event will be live streamed, so authors and readers who can’t be in London can take part online.

That means you and I can tune in and take part.

See you there!

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Working holidays, writing myths, and patrons

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Has it really been more than a month since I posted on this dear old blog? What the hell have I been up to? Well, dear reader, I’ve been enjoying a bit of a working holiday.

I spent a good three weeks undertaking some firsthand research for a long-term non-fic book project, which entailed camping out in the wilderness of Tasmania.

And I’ve been busy pulling together some anthology projects, the first of which is an M.R. James inspired collection of creepy tales authored by some very exciting (several of which are very well known) authors.

It’s going to be a cracking collection, and I’m sure old Montague, if he were about, would certainly approve!

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I’ve also engaged in a bit of crime – watching it on the box, that is – enjoying Murdoch Mysteries (S1 – there’s another 7 to watch, apparently!), and some tense, nail-biting drama in the form of Broadchurch (S2), and Fortitude. All highly recommended.

The latter two series do a good trade in red herrings – more potential suspects than you can poke a stick at, but at least the plots keep you coming back for more.

Of course there have been other casualties during this fallow writing period – most tellingly the garden and the housework. It’s hard to get your work ethic back after several weeks of communing with nature, but one does have to pay the bills.

Speaking of the bills (of which there are many, I think they were breeding under the fridge!) I stumbled across a series of interesting posts about how writers *really* financially support themselves. There is a prevailing belief that most writers just write all day, miraculously making ends meet while churning out moderate to excellent prose.

Well, some do. While others can, largely thanks to inheritances or wealthy patrons (read: spouses or family trusts), plod along and write whenever they please. But most of us work other jobs. I’d urge you to read the many comments and links, and enjoy the honest revelations.

Here’s the post that kicked it all off, Ann Bauer’s “Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from. It’s refreshing, and it’s raw. And we’re all green with envy, Ann! Your bloke sounds like he needs cloning 🙂

Today, I am essentially “sponsored” by this very loving man who shows up at the end of the day, asks me how the writing went, pours me a glass of wine, then takes me out to eat. He accompanies me when I travel 500 miles to do a 75-minute reading, manages my finances, and never complains that my dark, heady little books have resulted in low advances and rather modest sales.

As for me – yes I do work full-time as a writer, but not for myself. My own writing is largely done on the train each day early in the morning or evening, or on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes it’s churned out during fits of insomnia. But it’s rarely if ever penned between the hours of 9-5. That time, friends, belongs to The Day Job, without which I would not be able to fund much of what I do, including living and eating.

At the moment my independently-published books break even and pay for themselves production-wise with a bit more besides, and I have a trade-published book that presents me with a nice combined ELR-PLR payment each June, equating to slightly less than a week’s pay. Icing on the passive income that is the book royalty.

I write for pleasure, and for interest.

I don’t write for profit – yet – but I’m getting there.

Almost anyone can be an author…the business of writing

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It was author Alan Alexander Milne (aka A.A. Milne of Winnie the Pooh fame) who said ‘almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being’.

Milne was savvy enough to know that visibility and sales go hand in hand for successful authors. You can write it, but that doesn’t mean anyone is going to read it.

For me, this comment very much sorts the career writers from the hobbyists. Anyone can write a book and sell it with varying degrees of success. But career writers who are dedicated to writing, and selling, multiple books must view their own publishing ambitions as an enterprise if they want to succeed and reach their potential. These writers are in the business of writing. And people are in business to make money.

The business side of writing includes marketing your work with a view to increasing your profile in the hope it will interest people in your books and lead to sales. Marketing plays a big role, a HUGE role, in an author’s business. When you’re an author, you’re always marketing your books.

Fortunately for Milne, he had a head start in the way many moderately successful journalists and humorists do, in that he already had a highly visible platform with his employer Punch magazine. It wasn’t the Internet, but Punch was ubiquitous at the time and incredibly popular.

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Milne’s name is now synonymous with his Winnie the Pooh books, but his breadth and talent as a writer was by no means confined to children’s literature. He also carved out a name as a writer of screenplays, adult novels, poetry, humour, and military books. That his name would for perpetuity be tied to a sweet little yellow bear who loved honey might seem a disservice to a man who wrote so well and so widely, but to be remembered beyond your own lifetime is a feat in itself.

At the end of his writing career, Milne had achieved wealth and fame, and enduring appeal: “I suppose that every one of us hopes secretly for immortality; to leave, I mean, a name behind him which will live forever in this world, whatever he may be doing, himself, in the next.”

A.A. Milne was in the business of writing.

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