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Comment from the book world in June 2019

June 2019

The first draft

24 June 2019

The toughest part of the whole process is going from the outline to the first draft.

When you are writing the outline you can do anything from changing the gender of a character to reseting the whole thing in Egypt. You are all-powerful. After you have made those decisions, you come to the stage where each sentence in our outline has to be turned into four or five pages of prose. This is where the real imaginative work comes in. You have to take your ideas and you have to walk people in and out of the room, you have to describe the room and the clothes they are wearing and you have to make the reader share their anxieties, hopes, triumphs and their romantic feelings.

Ken Follett, author of The Kingsbridge Series and The Century Trilogy from the Masterclass on his website.

'Starving for publication'

17 June 2019

'I think I am starving for publication: I love to get published; it maddens me not to get published. I feel at times like getting every publisher in the world by the scruff of the neck, forcing his jaws open, and cramming the Mss down his throat - 'God-damn you, here it is - I will and must be published.

You know what it means - you're a writer and you understand it. It's not just 'the satisfaction of being published.' Great God! It's the satisfaction of getting it out, or having that, so far as you're concerned, gone through with it! That good or ill, for better or for worse, it's over, done with, finished, out of your life forever and that, come what may, you can at least, as far as this thing is concerned, get the merciful damned easement of oblivion and forgetfulness.'

Tom Wolfe, journalist and author of several novels and works of non-fiction, including The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, the Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities.


Writing your first non-fiction book

10 June 2019

‘First the length. In an age of ever-shortening attention spans, you have to have a pretty powerful message to keep anyone's interest for much over 75,000 words (about 300 pages). In fact, if you can't present your proposition in 300 pages, then you may have a problem with excessive verbiage you should deal with.

Then structure: as my background was working as a management consultant running organisational efficiency projects, I approached my first book like I would a project. I broke the book down into easily manageable pieces of work. If I was going to write about 75,000 words, then that meant around fourteen or fifteen chapters of around 5,000 words each. This hugely simplified the task of writing a book because now all I had to do was write fourteen or fifteen 5,000-word essays. By splitting the book into these fourteen or fifteen easily digestible chapters, the task of writing a book somehow seemed easier than when being faced with the need to produce 75,000 words. Moreover, to make the book even more digestible for readers, I split these fourteen or fifteen chapters into three to four sections of just a few chapters each...'

David Craig, management consultant and author of The Great Charity Scandal and Don't Buy It! in an article on the Andrew Lownie Agency website


'A massive world for our books'

3 June 2019

‘When...I started, there was the hardback and the paperback. Then there was the hardback, the trade paperback, and the paperback. Then there was the hardback, the trade paperback, the paperback, and the ebook. Then there was all that plus audio. Then all that plus podcasts; and, with the likes of Apple and Amazon involved, more places than ever before for serialisations and dramatisations; and more places than ever before for film and TV adaptations; and more markets than ever before opening up for deals.

The book is the perfect starting place for any kind of platform for a story. And the literary agency should be the place where all these deals begin...

There is a massive world for our books. China has opened up, just in the last 10 years: we've sold 14 million books by Bear Grylls there. Jeanette's [Winterson's] Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal sold 50,000 copies in China in two months. Regularly, Lynda Gratton's books sell over 350,000 copies in Japan. And we're doing deals in new countries all the time. Vietnam is starting to buy books. We did a deal in Azerbaijan the other day.'

Caroline Michel, literary agent and CEO at London literary agency Peters, Fraser & Dunlop, in Bookbrunch