Tag Archives: Writing

Selling your book?

In Business, is a weekly programme of thirty minutes duration, on BBC Radio 4, produced by Kent DePinto and presented by Peter Day. This weeks programme was broadcast on Thursday 17 April 2014, with a repeat tomorrow, Sunday 20 April 2014 at 21:30 hrs. The topic for this week: Has the book a future?

The scene was the London Book Fair where Peter Day asked the question:

Can books survive, and if so, how?

The group of people proving answers were:

  • Philip Jones, Editor, The Bookseller
  • Tom Weldon, Chief Executive, Penguin Random House UK
  • Jon Fine, Director of Author and Publisher Relations at Amazon.
  • Jonny Geller, Joint CEO, Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency
  • C. J. Daugherty, Author, The Night School series
  • Nigel Newton, Co-founder and Chief Executive, Bloomsbury Publishing
  • James Daunt, Managing Director, Waterstones
  • Dan Kieran, Co-founder and CEO, Unbound

I found this weeks topic very interesting for several reasons.

To begin with, I want to divert you on a short tangent.

Over the years of my blogging life, I have written some blog posts in story form, normally picturing just one commenter sitting in front of me, and typing my tale as if speaking just to them. Somehow it works. The comments have been kind, some suggesting I join a writer’s group, others saying I should write a book. All very flattering. To me they may be stories, some might prefer to call them micro blog posts, while others will see them as drivel. Such is life.

800 words is not a book!

Some weeks back, I tried an experiment: A story that began life with an actual event. I was involved very much in the peripheral background, but actually only met two of the minor players, all I knew about the main participants was second hand and short in detail. Over a glass of wine one evening, I decided it was the kernel of an idea for a story, so I let my imagination take over and thus began:- The End is never the End

  1. Part one contained 1,668 words – Not a book.
  2. Part Two dried up after 800 words.
  3. Parts 3&4 and the as yet unpublished Part 5 are back on par with the first attempt.
  4. Total word count so far: 7,007. Still not a book. At this rate it might take until my dying day to finish it.

Back to the programme and I will mention just a couple of points.
Every week on Amazon, of the top 100 digital books, twenty one are self published. In the USA it is 30 and in India, it is 20%.

James Daunt, Managing Director, Waterstones said that pricing was important, depending on where you are. In a mass market shopping mall selling ordinary fiction of the John Grisham genre, they needed a really good offer, because the supermarkets are fighting for the same customers at greatly reduced prices.

C. J. Daugherty, Author of The Night School series, spoke of earning €17 per book in Germany, €18 in France and between £2.99- £5.99 in the UK. £2.99 for a book that she spent six months writing and four months editing? There would not be many parsnips buttered with that!

Now for the shocker: Huge amounts of the piled up best sellers are sent back to the publishers for pulping. Two and a half years ago, in January, Waterstones sent back £120 million worth of books not sold – FOR PULPING! This year it was down to £7 million. They are working on bringing that figure down to between 10 and 5%.

With the modern digital means of printing, it is possible to publish on a Monday and sell one million books to someone in Africa on Tuesday – if, and it is a big IF, you get your marketing right.

So, I’ll stick with my hobby and not worry about all that stress for a couple of pennies.

No longer all at sea.

Book Club on BBC Radio 4, presented by James Naughtie, is a once a month programme that I like to listen to, when at home.

On Sunday 06 April 2014, Irish writer John Banville discussed his novel The Sea which won the Man Booker prize in 2005.

In this episode which will be repeated on Thursday at 15.30, I was more taken by the way the author spoke about his process of writing, than about the book itself.

John Banville explained how he painstakingly writes his novels over many years, creating sentence after sentence. He trusts the sentence. He writes by the sentence. He does not write by the paragraph or the chapter. If he gets one sentence right it will lead on to the next one.

He said “The sentence is the greatest invention of humankind. The sentence is what makes us human, it is what we think with, what we devise with, what we declare love with, what we declare war with, it is the essence of us”.

He is pleased with the way he handles time, He does it without trying, it happens and it works, he trusts his instincts.

Those two points struck a chord with me.

Everything I have read up until now, about writing, spoke of structures, outlines, beginnings, middles and ends. Never before had I come across a mention of working sentence by sentence.

It is the way I have always worked, be it a letter, an email, a blog post or a story.

I wanted to re-listen to the programme to make sure I had heard correctly on Sunday. Tonight was the first opportunity I had to do so, and it was as if someone had given me the winning lottery numbers…..

Thank you John Banville for the boost in confidence to keep plugging on.

No Voice

Her voice disappeared. Gone. Not one croak, could she manage.

She had not been shouting or angry. No. Time with Granny was full of fun and once the school year ended on the last Friday in June, it was off to Granny for the week. They arrived on Friday and left on Friday, so Thursday was always their 4th of July.

In Ireland, the 4th July celebrations were not on the normal calendar of events, but granny had travelled over the ocean to visit a distant cousin, many a long year before and never forgot the excitement of the holiday. So here she was re-living the fun with her grandchildren.

They made a flag with coloured fabric and tied it to the yard brush. Jimmy had a feadóg stain, Joey played the washboard, Johnny was master of the spoons and Mary Kate provided the singing.

Who mentioned singing? Mary Kate lost her voice. Not a peep all day long  and the sucky sweets were no help.

Granny made warm drinks with honey and told her not to try talking, but use sign language instead. The boys, typical brothers, asked her questions all the time, but Mary Kate just shook her head and went to sit in a quiet corner with her new book.

The boys sat in a circle to practice the tunes they would play. Granny joined them with a large saucepan. Inside, stood glasses of juice. Once everyone had their juice Granny turned the saucepan upside down and began playing it like a drum.

Mary Kate, finished the mystery story and walking back through the trees she suddenly stopped. There in front of her on the narrow sun dappled path was a colourful tiny bird.

It was exactly like the one mentioned in her book: A kingfisher. The short rounded wings were whirring rapidly, it had green-blue upper parts with pale azure-blue back and a black bill. Mary Kate had never seen one in real life before and this was almost magical. The bird hovered for a few minutes before flying off in the direction of the lake.

Suddenly, finding her feet she ran to share this exciting news with Granny and her brothers.

“Granny, Granny, guess what I saw?” she shouted as she rounded the last bend.

Everyone turned in surprise.

“You found your Voice!” they chorused.

Tomorrow would be the best 4th of July, EVER!


This little story is my effort as part of The Fourth of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest  hosted by children’s author – Susanna Leonard Hill.

Write a children’s story, in poetry or prose, maximum 400 words about the 4th of July in which a secret is revealed or a mystery is solved!

If you wish to join in the fun, there is still plenty of time to take part.

Your entry should be posted on your blog between Monday July 1 at 12:01 AM EDT and Friday July 5 at 11:59 PM EDT, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official Fourth Of July Secret Mystery Contest post on Susanna’s blog from Monday July 1st. The post will remain there until Sunday to give everyone plenty of time to read, but the entry list will be closed at midnight Friday so Susanna has time to judge.

May the best one win!