Tag Archives: media

How to get your book published

Friends and business associates often ask me how they can get their book idea into print. The assumption is always that because I have published a few books, I can offer some magical nuggets of advice on how to get into print. And I guess I do have insights from experience, but I have tended to stay on the non-fiction side of publishing. I haven’t published a novel or tried to get in a Booker shortlist.

But if you are thinking of writing a book then here are a few things to think about.

  1. You are unlikely to make a lot of money, despite what you see JK Rowling making. Business, management, and other non-fiction titles don’t sell in huge numbers so you need to consider publishing non-fiction for the joy of contributing to the pool of knowledge in that subject, plus it may become a valuable calling card that gives you work in other areas – such as consulting or speaking.
  2. You need to think commercially. Publishers are not in this for the love of it. They want a commercial product they can turn into real returns… so they are unlikely to be interested in uncle Tom’s memoirs of fishing on the river Thames – unless there is some way you can prove that the book-buying public really needs to see this title.
  3. You need to take advice from people who have published in the area you plan to publish. As mentioned, most of my work has been in non-fiction management titles, but I am straying outside this zone gradually. If you are thinking of fiction then I would recommend reading how horror author Stephen King started out in writing and also the views of literary agent Carole Blake. This kind of advice gives you a much better idea of how to balance the idea of what you are producing as art against what will actually sell. The Blacks guide is also essential reading.
  4. You need to think about marketing. Sure, the publisher has to do a lot of this, but the author can really help with networks, media contacts, social media… The author can make all the difference.
  5. You don’t always need to get an agent first. In fact without any track record it can be almost impossible to get an agent. If you can show samples of what you can write and you can show a good synopsis for an entire book then publishers will listen to you.
  6. If you can’t make progress quickly on much of the above then you may want to consider self-publishing and then using your published book to secure a deal at a major publisher. Sometimes it can help just to have it out there and available on sites such as Amazon. Lulu.com is a great site for this because they will publish your book with no upfront fees – just shared royalties on sales. It’s proper publishing, just the distribution is harder because it’s going to only be at online book stores.

My books

Election TV

Now that it’s all over, I thought I’d post a quick summary of what I think happened on TV last week.

It’s fairly simple in my view. The BBC went way over the top with their election studio. It was grand and impressive, but despite the lack of presentation, ITV in their little studio on the Grays Inn road were getting all the results first. Sometimes, ITV was 10 or more seats ahead of the BBC. The BBC also did that horrendous ‘ship of fools’ stunt where celebs were given alcohol on a Thames boat, so they could comment on the results to Andrew Neil. Neil does a good job of serious interviews, but here he was charged with trying to elicit content from the likes of Bruce Forsyth and Joan Collins. I cringed as I watched them offer their views on the election.

The saving grace for the BBC was David “the machine” Dimbleby. This election was possibly his finest hour – or 24 hours. He started presenting live on Thursday evening and then went straight through the night and into the chaos of the next day. I’m not sure when he stopped, but I estimated he had gone through to Friday lunchtime – others told me they saw him on air later. Yet he looked fresh and confident throughout. What a performance!

ITV’s set may have felt a bit cheap and cheerful, but they did get all the results first, they had some decent analysis that was not overwhelming (another BBC fault with Jeremy Vine and his green screen) and they really included the online community in the show. They were first to run the Youtube videos of people who could not vote, they had regular looks at Twitter to see what was being said, and they had Will Straw and Guido Fawkes blogging live from the ITV studios.

Sky was informative – they know how to get an immense amount of information on the screen at the same time. Watching Sky news is a bit like watching one of those financial news channels in Asia – three news tickers thundering across the screen with images and audio commentary that are not necessarily connected. But Sky did manage to put a good show together – their major failing in this election has been their partiality.

Everyone knows the Murdoch press favoured the Conservative party, but when it starts feeling like that on Sky News then it’s dangerous for a news channel that should be impartial and informative.

So, in my view, it was ITV news wot won it. Alastair Stewart may get something of a career resurgence from this as he was a decent host during the leader debates (suffering the disadvantage of being first and having to interpret all those debate rules) and a very strong host for the election evening itself.

Next time, I’ll just stay tuned to ITV. I never thought I would be saying that.
Big Ben and London bus

Stop press. Latest news on reality TV…

And so, one of the lead stories on the BBC news website today is the fact that Katie Price has quit her place in the jungle on ITV show ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here…’

This is quite a change in BBC editorial policy don’t you think? Not only are the exploits of Katie Price, ANA Jordan, now headline news for the BBC rather than celebrity gossip magazines, but also the events taking place in a reality TV show on a rival channel are also considered newsworthy.

Katie Price is one of those celebrities people tend to love or hate, rather like Big Brother winner Jade Goody before her early death from cancer at 27. What Price actually does to attract all the attention and money she earns is hard to define, yet she does it extremely well. It’s too simplistic to dismiss her as a moron when she constantly features in page after page of newspaper and magazine copy detailing every step of her life. How many wannabe stars would love the attention Price gets? She has redefined the concept of post-millenial celebrity and shown how even a scrap of celebrity (glamour modelling on Page 3) can be transformed into a career and industry.

It’s no longer clear if she defines the way the media present her, or if the media itself defines how they see her. What’s clear is that she never needed to win this game show anyway. It’s just an advert for the latest ghosted book (30+ now), perfume, lifestyle TV show… The Jordan industry will rumble on until the public finally tires of her life, or their own fascination for vicarious glamour.

Too many twats on twitter?

I was sitting on a train on Saturday browsing the latest tweets of my friends and I noticed the Stephen Fry row kicking off in real-time. It almost feels like a privilege to have been reading his depressed responses to being called boring, within a minute of him making those comments, given what happened next.

Fry shut down for a period of time while he was on a flight, blissfully unaware of what he had started by suggesting that he would quit Twitter because the debate has become too nasty and can no longer be enjoyed.

I sat there thinking, ‘here we go again, another big news story is going to come from this’… and so it happened. The press at the weekend was full of stories about how Fry got upset, apparently quit the site, and then returned all sheepish once he logged in after the flight and realised the world had discussed nothing else during his period of downtime.

The Guardian has a very good blog entry today on this story. I have to say I agree with just about all these comments.We have arrived in a very bizarre place where the newspapers are dominated by Jedward and Twitter.

Since when did discussions and arguments on Twitter, or any other social network or chat room, become mass media news stories?

Gag this and gag that

So what kind of country do we live in where a company involved in a toxic waste cover-up can instruct a firm of lawyers to gag a parliamentary question – and the media to the extent that they can only report that a question was gagged, but not by whom or even what it was about? I hope the truth comes out and it’s no surprise to see the law firm Carter Ruck involved. Private Eye’s favourite lawyers…