What’s been going on in my writing life recently?
At the end of June I completed the second round of agent edits on my current WIP and submitted the manuscript again. Over the last few weeks I’ve been biting my nails while I wait to hear if more work is needed or whether the novel has reached the standard for submission to publishers. You may remember that a previous manuscript went out to publishers a couple of years ago but failed to sell.
While I wait for the verdict I’ve found it difficult to get back into fiction (a new novel or short stories), so I’ve been doing bits and pieces of non-fiction writing.
I’ve taken the opportunity to update Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. The book was first published back in 2014 and has consistently been one of my best-sellers. Every year or so, I’ve re-read it and made changes/additions/deletions to reflect the ever changing landscape of self-publishing on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format. It contains lots of useful information if you’re thinking of self-publishing for the first time.
I’ve also written a few articles for The People’s Friend. The hardest part of this (like any writing, I think) is generating ideas that are appropriate to the readership and haven’t already been covered in the magazine before. The magazine holds weekly editorial meetings and so I usually get a ‘yes’ or, more likely, a ‘no’ on ideas quickly. The downside is it’s no longer possible to earn any ALCS money on articles or short stories published in the magazine.
In June I had my first post-lockdown holiday. My husband and I walked the first five stages of the Cost to Coast. We started at St Bees and finished at Kirkby Stephen five days later. Physically it was much more difficult than we’d envisaged but great to finally get away. I took notes along the way and am currently turning those notes into a short e-book. It will be partly a personal experience narrative and partly resources for those planning to do the walk themselves. If you enjoy walking (or are just nosy about what other people get up to on their holidays) watch this space!
Finally I’ve recently got into the crime novels of Jane Harper. Jane was born in the UK but now lives in Australia. Her novels are set in the Australian outback which gives them quite a different feel to more urban murder stories. I started with The Lost Man and am now half-way through The Dry. In 2014 a short story submitted by Jane was included in the Big Issue’s annual Fiction Edition. This inspired her to pursue creative writing more seriously. Big things from little acorns grow!
ALCS, Coast to Coast Walk, Jane Harper, Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners, People's Friend, The Dry, The Lost Man
Steve Hanson from Senior Travel Expert has been in touch to tell me about their ‘Off the Beaten Track’ travel writing competition. It’s free to enter and has a prize of £100.
Entries should be “about a fascinating, relatively unknown place near to where you live or that you came across by chance when travelling around, or it may be a totally fictional place”. The winner should “persuade readers of the Senior Travel Expert website that the place you describe is somewhere they would very much like to visit”. The closing date is September 30th 2016.
Often when you’re on holiday the things you stumble across by chance turn out to be the most interesting. I’m just back from a holiday in Madrid and Barcelona. One evening we sat in the window of a cafe in Madrid and above me was hung a display of books (see picture on the right). The next day we spotted a grand building that turned out to be The Society of Authors building – which I think is something like ALCS but please correct me if I’m wrong.
And remember, you don’t have to travel to enter this competition – your destination can be purely fictional.
Sociedad General de Autores de Espana
ALCS, Madrid, Senior Travel Expert Writing Competition, Sociedad General de Autores de Espana
More from the world of my PTLLS course …
My fellow learners and I each had to choose a piece of legislation affecting adult education tutors and give a short presentation to a small group. I decided to look at copyright law because of its direct impact on creative writing tutors, who may use extracts from other people’s work as examples in a class. This is a brief summary of what I came up with:
It is an infringement of copyright to do any of the following in relation to a substantial part of a work protected by copyright without the consent of the copyright owner:
- copy it
- issue copies of it to the public
- rent or lend it to the public
- perform or show it in public
- communicate it to the public
The important word here is substantial. It is subjective and the quality, importance or significance of the extract are as important as the quantity of words – using just four lines of a poem or even a four word extract have been found to be substantial.
Tutors working in colleges or similar places will probably be covered by the institution’s CLA (Copyright Licensing Agency) licence. In brief, this allows tutors to copy up to 5% of a published item e.g. one chapter of a book, a single article from a magazine, a ‘reasonable’ amount of text from a website. The source should always be cited on the copy and copies can only be given to students and members of staff.
The money collected from the sale of these licences is distributed back to writers via ALCS (Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society), PLS (Publishers Licensing Society) and DACS (Design and Artists’ Copyright Society). If you’ve ever had an article or story published in a magazine make sure you register with ALCS to get your share of this money.
However, tutors who work independently in the private sector have to purchase their own CLA license or obtain the permission of the author or publisher each time they want to use an excerpt.
Alternatively it may be best to avoid using other people’s work and make up examples instead.
With all the cuts in local council spending, I guess more tutors may be forced to teach privately so the above is just something to be aware of.
ALCS, Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society, CLA, copyright, copyright law, Copyright Licensing Agency, DACS, infringement of copyright, PLS, PTLLS, Publishers Licensing Society
I’ve finally got around to joining the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and registering my short stories and articles that have been published over the last three years.
Being a member of ALCS ensures that you get paid any secondary royalties earned by your works, for example if an article is photocopied by an organisation like a school.
Life membership of ALCS costs £25 but this is deducted from the writer’s first royalty payment – so there is no upfront charge and therefore no risk of being out of pocket by joining ALCS.
I have to admit to not totally understanding how ALCS knows what has been photocopied and how payments to writers are calculated. And I don’t imagine that at this very moment zillions of people are photocopying my work and handing it out to all and sundry. So will I actually ever see any money from ALCS? I have absolutely no idea, but you’ve got to be in it to win it, as they say.
Registering work published in magazines (newspaper articles are not accepted) is easy and can be done on-line. But only things published in the last three years are eligible – so it’s better to do this sooner rather than later and then keep it up to date.
The only problem that I encountered was finding the ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) for some publications. The ISSN is an identification number for periodicals but not all magazines have them. I’ve had several articles published in Freelance Market News which I discovered had no ISSN. However, when I contacted the magazine’s lovely editor, Angela Cox, she went to the trouble of obtaining an ISSN for Freelance Market News (thank you, Angela!) So I’ve now been able to register those articles, although I’m not sure of the implications if the ISSN wasn’t in existence when the article was first published.
Has anyone else got any experience/knowledge of ALCS?
ALCS, Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society, Freelance Market News, International Standard Serial Number, ISSN