Tag Archives: writing

Welcome to 2015!

Welcome to 2015 – happy new year! I’m quite keen to get on with 2015.

I have a book that is about to be launched imminently. I have a second edition of my Brazil book almost ready to launch, so that will probably also come out in January, and I have a sketched out plan for another book that I want to be ready by around Easter.

I also have some plans to get back into my daily running routine again and to improve my Portuguese – possibly with some intensive immersion lessons. These are not really like resolutions – I’m not going to drop these plans next week.

I need to improve my Portuguese to integrate further in Brazil. I need to stay healthy and fit and I was always running before, but over the past few months the combination of a lot of travel and the holiday season meant I just let it slide for a while.

I’m fortunate that I like my work and I’m always excited about creating something new. I see many people on my FourSquare app checking into their workplace and counting down the days to Friday – literally wishing their life away and happy to tell the world how bored they are with their life. But I love where I am right now and I have a lot of exciting plans for 2015, so let’s go 🙂

Nascer do sol #serranegra #nascerdosol #sol #sunrise #saopaulo

Letters to Father Christmas

I was walking past the central post office in São Paulo with my wife yesterday when we noticed a lot of people sitting around at tables reading letters. Wondering what was going on, we went in and asked.

It turned out that every time a child in Brazil writes a letter to Santa Claus or Father Christmas and puts it in a post box, it ends up at the central post office. The staff there assign a code number to each letter and make sure the address is not visible, then they allow the general public to read the letters.

If you find a letter you like, you can fill in a form that says you will buy the gift the child requested in their letter to Santa. All you need to do is go out and buy the gift then drop it off at any post office with the code number of the child’s letter. The post office will then make sure the gift is delivered.

So a child can write to Santa and the post office will deliver exactly what the child asked for! The post office staff told us that over half of all requests are answered – which I expect means that almost all ‘reasonable’ requests from children are actually answered.

Santa letters - Correios

We went through the letters and picked out five we said we would support… of course the kids asking for a new Playstation go to the bottom of the pile. We found kids asking for a toy train and one even asked for some clothes because she had not had any new clothes since the previous Christmas. It’s quite easy to spot the kids who actually deserve to be answered and those who are just asking for yet another video game.

What a great idea and how thrilling for a kid who drops a letter in the post box to ‘Santa’ to find that the postie comes a few weeks later with exactly what they wanted – and a Happy Christmas note directly from Santa!


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