author tips

Tip 1
For authors and would-be self-publishers who wish to gain an insight into the detail of publishing – and even smaller publishers – we recommend a browse through The White Ladder Diaries (£9.99 – ISBN 0-9543914-1-1). This book charts the day-to-day progress of launching a new publishing company and the pleasures and pitfalls along the way. Lots of tips and phone numbers too. Log onto the White Ladder Press website.

Tip 2
From chess master Bruce Pandolfini: ‘If you see a good idea, look for a better one… Good thinking is a matter of making comparisons.’

Tip 3
‘You don’t win an Olympic gold medal with a few weeks of intensive training. There’s no such thing as an overnight opera sensation…

Every great company, every great brand, and every great career has been built in exactly the same way: bit by bit, step by step, little by little.’ (From Seth Godin’s article in ‘First Impression’ 22 September 2003.)

Tip 4
Polish your press release writing skills with help from this site:

Tip 5
On How to Keep New Year’s Resolutions (adapted from ClickZ, a US marketing ezine). Don’t overreach. Accomplishing even one goal is something of which you can be proud. Set realistic goals, and you’ll make success a habit. You can always raise the bar later on.

Tip 6
Courtesy of the Grok (US marketing ezine), the eight-second Grok rule. The Grok is Future Now’s Martian mascot. If he arrived from Mars and had never heard of your company or visited your Web site before, would he know what your site is about in eight seconds (no matter which page he landed on)?

Tip 7
LABELS Need to access a specific category or geographic area of UK bookshops? Try the Bookseller’s Association labels service where for a relatively low cost (£11 per 100 named labels + VAT) you can target bookshop buyers in a variety of ways.

Average size of mailings is 300-400. Telephone 0207 834 5477 or email [email protected] for details.

But remember JIJO (junk in, junk out).

Tip 8
This is a blindingly obvious tip yet can do wonders for your book. When dealing with your publisher/salesforce/booksellers/the press, be courteous and helpful to everyone, not just senior staff. Never treat an assistant – or the receptionist – as an irritating species of cockroach. You would be surprised by how the word gets around…

Tip 9
For unpublished authors, try – the association of writers’ groups’ site – and

Tip 10
Nobody would run the marathon from scratch. Apply this to writing…

Tip 11
ENTHUSIASM IS INFECTIOUS – ‘the first way a campaign begins is with enthusiasm in-house: you just bang on and bang on about it until that enthusiasm spreads out of the company’ – Marketing Director Nadya Kooznetzoff in Publishing News (10 May 2002).

Tip 12
‘New writers assume that if publishers buy books, they will promote them, a reasonable assumption that is usually wrong. Publishers will promote a book if ….’ READ ON…page 27 of Guerrilla Marketing for Writers. See our ‘We Recommend’ section (which includes Amazon link).

Tip 13
Follow George Orwell’s rules for writing clear effective prose:

 Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. (So avoid phrases like ‘clear as mud’; ‘at the end of the day’.)

 Never use a long word where a short word will do.

 Never use the passive where you can use the active. (So replace ‘It was thought that…’ with ‘x thought’.)

 Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

 Break any of these rules rather than say anything outright barbarous.

Tip 14
Subscribe to the Spectator. Whatever your politics (it is a right-of-centre publication), the magazine has a consistently high standard of writing. And the anarchic/high Tory writings of columnist Rod Liddle are worth buying the magazine for alone.

Tip 15
If in doubt, leave it out.

Tip 16
Never rely on your memory. Write things down – a notebook is the writer’s equivalent of an artist’s sketchpad.

Tip 17
Exclamation marks are the calling card of the amateur.

Get your tip published and win a free book – submit your tip here.