Who’s coming to Words on Waves?

Words On Waves is a series of monthly spoken word evenings at Harbour Books in Whitstable and it’s the highlight of my month, not least because I get to host it. Writers bring magnificent words from all over the south east and beyond, and are encouraged to include work in progress so that sometimes we get exciting previews of projects that have not yet hit bookshop shelves. Writers of all genres are welcome and have ten minutes each to amuse and amaze you, with a break at half time to refresh glasses. Tickets at only £3 each include wine and you can book your seat by phoning 01227264011 or calling into the shop.

Our next Words on Waves is on THURSDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2019 @ 6.45pm and I’ll be thrilled to welcome Sam Rapp, Clair Meyrick, Callum Beesley, and our first publisher’s showcase, of writers published by Cultured Llama in Rochester:

Maria C. McCarthy, the herdswoman of her Cultured Llamas, has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Kent and won the Society of Authors’ Tom-Gallon Trust Award in 2015. After living for several years in Teynham, where she wrote in a shed looking out on boats on an orchard, she now lives in the Medway Towns, and looks out on boats on the river. Maria will be reading poetry from strange fruits (Cultured Llama, 2011) and There are Boats on the Orchard (Cultured Llama, 2017); and stories from As Long as it Takes (Cultured Llama, 2014)

Anna Maconochieis a London writer whose stories have appeared in the Erotic Review, the Dublin Review and the Bitter Oleander. Anna will be reading from her short story collection, Only the Visible Can Vanish, (Cultured Llama, 2016)

Ben Barton has been nominated for the Canterbury Poet of the Year Award and the erbacce-prize, and will be reading from The Hospital (Cultured Llama, 2018). Also a film artist, Ben’s film Stella Erratica was funded by the late David Bowie, and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. He lives in Folkestone with his husband and son, beside the North Downs.

Mark Holihan is a former Californian, now settled in Kent. He returns to Words on Waves, after a very popular first appearance with The Scatterlings, to read again from his Cultured Llama collection, There Are No Foreign Lands.

img_0102THURSDAY 7 MARCH 2019 @ 6.45pm:

On the eve of International Women’s Day, Words on Waves is proud to bring you The Rockhoppers  – who are Maggie Harris, Mel Perry & Jackie Biggs – songwriter Jacqui Selby, Luigi Marchini, Sally Turner and Roger Tooth. A fascinating mix as ever!

THURSDAY 4 APRIL 2019 @ 6.45pm:

Our magnificent April line-up includes Jessica Taggart, Matt Chamberlain, Neelan Saredia Brayley, Rosemary McLeish, Sarah Jenkin, and Angela Dye.

img_e0074And on THURSDAY 2 MAY 2019 @ 6.45pm, publisher & performance company Live Canon comes down the Thames from Greenwich to Whitstable for our second publisher’s showcase, bringing us journalist & author Mark Huband, Nancy Hynes, Andrew George & Tessa Foley

See you there!

Words on Waves is back! Join us on 10 Jan at 6.45pm

Chase away the winter chills with beautiful writing at WORDS ON WAVES at Harbour Books in Whitstable, Kent. Our readers include Steve Kendall,  former life model Carol DeVaughan reading from her new poetry collection Life Class (Oversteps Books, 2018), Wordsmithery publisher and poet Barry Fentiman Hall, Christopher Hopkins, Angela Dye & Caroline Millar with something new, if there’s time, from Rosie herself.

Book your seat by phoning 01227264011 or calling into the shop.

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Words on Waves, Whitstable: next year’s dates

Words on Waves started in July this year in HARBOUR BOOKS, WHITSTABLE as a montly space for writers to read their work, published and in progress, to local literature fans. Writers come from far and wide and the combination of excellent words, a warm, relaxed atmosphere and Prosecco provided by the shop means it has a tendency to sell out fast.

On THURSDAY 10 JANUARY 2019 @ 6.45pm, our readers include Steve Kendall,  former life model Carol DeVaughan reading from her new poetry collection Life Class (Oversteps Books, 2018), Wordsmithery publisher and poet Barry Fentiman Hall, Christopher Hopkins, Angel Cakes Dye & Caroline Millar with something new, if there’s time, from me.

On THURSDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2019 @ 6.45pm, you can hear Callum Beesley, Clair Meyrick, Sam Rapp, and a showcase of these four writers published by Cultured Llama in Rochester:

Maria C. McCarthy, the herdswoman of her Llamas, has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Kent and won the Society of Authors’ Tom-Gallon Trust Award in 2015. After living for several years in Teynham, where she wrote in a shed looking out on boats on an orchard, she now lives in the Medway Towns, and looks out on boats on the river. Maria will be reading poetry from strange fruits (Cultured Llama, 2011) and There are Boats on the Orchard (Cultured Llama, 2017); and stories from As Long as it Takes (Cultured Llama, 2014)

Anna Maconochieis’ stories have appeared in the Erotic Review, the Dublin Review and the Bitter Oleander. Anna will be reading from her short story collection, Only the Visible Can Vanish, (Cultured Llama, 2016)

Ben Barton has been nominated for the Canterbury Poet of the Year Award and the erbacce-prize, and will be reading from The Hospital (Cultured Llama, 2018). Also a film artist, Ben’s film Stella Erratica was funded by the late David Bowie, and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Mark Holihan is a former Californian, now settled in Kent. He returns to Words on Waves after a very popular first appearance, to read again from his Cultured Llama collection, There Are No Foreign Lands.

STOP PRESS – The Rockhoppers are booked for Thursday 7 March, 2019 and Live Canon have offered to showcase four of their writers on Thursday 4 April 2019!

Book your seat by phoning 01227264011 or calling into the shop.

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Bright Scarf at the Poetry Cafe

I risked taking my camera out in yesterday’s downpour to take a picture of our Bright Scarf name ‘in lights’ in Covent Garden, in case that was as good as it got. But people crowded into the Poetry Cafe’s event space downstairs in a wonderful mood with more chairs being found and drinks being bought in the refurbished Cafe bar. Poetry evenings are usually fun, especially for a poetry addict like me, but some events have a synergy which makes them more than usually exciting and this was one of them.IMG_E3719

Huge thanks to the fantastic audience who turned out, old friends and new, and to all the other Bright Scarf poets for their great readings: Dominic James, Colin Pink and Quentin Cowdry. Peter Pegnall, the founder and heart of Bright Scarf, is battling a chest infection and had to stay at home but special thanks to Colin for stepping in at the last minute. IMG_3726

Thanks too to Irena Hill for organising the event so seamlessly and to all the Cafe staff in that great venue. With the wind and rain beating down outside, we felt as if we were sheltering on the high seas so here is my encore from last night, something to take us back to warmer days…IMG_2914

Hurray for independent book shops

like Harbour Books in Whitable, one of my favourite places in all the world. It’s caught the attention of yesterday’s Observer newspaper here:

“We try to bring the community together with our events. We often host book launches and discussions with our wonderful local authors and they support us in turn. We also have a monthly poetry and prose night called Words on Waves,” says bookseller Olivia Rosenthal.

Congratulations to Keith and all his lovely staff – you do a wonderful job.

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An agent or publisher is interested – what happens next? #getpublished

Congratulations. An agent or publisher is showing enough interest to want to speak with you.

There is usually a slow process of meeting each other, to see if you will get along. The agent or publisher will shower your story with praise, then probably suggest changes to your script and see how you respond. Sometimes they are slight tweaks and can be fixed in a week or two. Other times, you can be asked to do substantial redrafts that take months. Throughout all this, they are looking to see how you handle the situation.

They want someone who responds quickly and takes advice well. If you let yourself be distracted by other pressures IMG_3442

or decide now is the time to close your laptop and take a gap year, IMG_3443you risk losing their attention.

Agents first

Do not expect a contract at an early stage although it can happen. Agents are more likely to be prompt about contracts than publishers and will send you a standard form of around a single page. In July we looked in detail at what agents do.

If a contract does come your way, keep breathing and think about it. You do not have to accept it straight away. You can ask for thinking time if there’s another agent/publisher you’re hoping to hear from. And it’s a good idea to consult the UK’s Society of Authors or a lawyer about the legal terms. There’s usually little you can renegotiate in standard provisions but it helps to be clear about what they mean.

As soon as the agent is happy with your script and has taken you on, your script goes out to chosen publishers. It came as a shock to me that agents get rejections too but it does happen. Maybe someone just pipped yours to the post or the heat has gone off a particular genre in the space of weeks. I have met an author whose agent was passionate about his thriller and spent five years hawking it around the world, but could not place it. There is a long history of classic novels being rejected many times. Rejection does not mean your agent is incompetent or that your novel is worthless. Stay calm, polite and positive – and keep writing the next thing.

The upside is that, at this level, you know your work will have been carefully read and that your agent will sift and report on feedback. If not, go elsewhere.

A publisher says yes

With undying thanks to your agent, you are sitting in the offices of a real, live, smiling publisher who has your work on the table. (In July, I posted detail about what publishers can do for us and when. My first post is here, and part 2 is here.) The publisher’s editor has put you through yet more rewrites and has satisfied the marketing and money people at the new acquisitions meeting that this deserves a chance. You’ve got a deal!

Congratulate yourself again – very few new writers reach this stage. Most publishers take at most one first-time novelist a year. A publication date is set and the cover’s agreed. You have more work to do now:

  • Your help will be vital with publicity and this starts before publication. Do not expect to get much of your next book written over the next weeks and months.
  • Prepare your own website if you have not already. Start blogging about your new book and how you came to write it. Podcasts go down well too.
  • It’s never too early to start your social media spinning.
  • Make friends with your local booksellers. They’re lovely and are usually delighted to meet local authors. Your publisher should provide you with some free publicity copies to hand out.
  • Contact local newspapers and blogs to ask for interviews and reviews.
  • Plan your book launch.
  • And try above all to keep writing the next thing. You’ll need it sooner than you think.

They’re asking you to buy some of your own books?

Here comes one of the hardest facts about today’s publishing world: your publisher may well require you to buy some copies of your book yourself, at discount. I first encountered it in 2009 when it was described as a contribution to printer’s costs. It’s very common now, the idea being that it encourages you to market it. The discount (paying 40% of the full price is not uncommon) also means that if you sell at 80%, you are still making more profit, more quickly, than waiting for royalties.

Fame and fortune at last?

Most first novels sell fewer than a thousand copies. That’s why the Booker prize was invented, to help literary novels reach a wider audience. Publishers and agents hope that by the time they publish your third or fourth, preferably in a series or the same genre, the public will have noticed you and the whole exercise will become financially worth their while. They are gamblers at heart. You may be one of the lucky ones who has a substantial advance from a big publisher who is going to flog your book with a great big publicity budget. I hope so. IMG_E1806Even if you’re not … You have become a strange new creature, a published author. That can lead you to other ways of making money (coaching, talks, radio and television appearances). It means too that people see you differently. Instead of the friend they are used to, the one who spends most of the time alone and gives a slightly dejected shrug when asked how the writing’s going, they see a confident, new you with a book in your hand. That book has your name printed on it and they are being asked to buy copies. After all the years of lonely scribbling, there is no finer sensation than welcoming friends to your book launch and watching them queue, smiling and laughing, for you to sign copies for them.

Congratulations, you’ve made it. It has all been worthwhile.

I wish you the very best of luck and happy writing!