I have a shelf of my own books in my house, and it always intrigues me to see how the presentation styles have changed over the last 25 years or so. There have been a big shifts even in the last ten years. And the stuff my publishers of the day were doing in the… More Lamenting the loss of design and style in e-books
I was stopped in the street a little while ago by someone who said he’d recognised me from the TV documentary series I appeared in a few years ago. I presume from the re-run just finished. It turned out he’d bought some of my books and was quite a fan. He liked the idea of… More Why, as a writer, I am wary of strangers bearing smiles
I got involved in a discussion the other day about book pricing, covers and marketing profile. In the process it seemed clear to me that there are many misconceptions about how books actually sell. The idea being argued was that if a particular book got a better cover and the price was dropped – maybe… More ‘Free’ doesn’t sell books – and here’s what does
I sometimes get asked about the risks of putting the names of real people into books. It’s something I have a lot of experience with because virtually all my published books use the names of real people. I’ve written a lot of historical non-fiction, and that’s all about real people who did real things. Sometimes… More How to put the names of real people into your book
Legend has it that J R R Tolkien – famous for his ability to coin character names from his own invented languages – once fielded a letter from someone named Sam Gamgee. It wasn’t too surprising in a way: he was a philologist and while his Elvish was largely built around Welsh and Finnish, his… More When somebody turns up with your literary character’s name
Book titles are funny things. They have to distil the essence of the book into just a few words – words that are instantly captivating to a potential buyer. And therein lies the challenge for anybody trying to create one. Commercial publishers are adept at getting the ‘captivating’ side right, which is why commercial publishing… More How to find the best book titles ever!
One of the problems writers face early in the learning curve is the sheer scale of the basic skill-set needed to be any good. Once they’ve got past the Dunning-Kruger problem – the illusion of competence because they’re totally ignorant of what has to be learned – the whole vista of writing explodes out across… More Getting ahead in writing, one step at a time