Yesterday I released my new Guide to Products and Services from Clarendon House which includes many brand-new services designed especially for new writers or those struggling to find the kind of editing and marketing help which will gain them a foothold in the fiction field.
But in order to understand what the Guide is all about, I’d like you to picture, if you will, a writer who has just begun his or her journey into the game of fiction writing. By far the majority of those who wish to write run into the paraphernalia of the lives that they have been leading up to that point — work, family, routines, habits — and the decision to ‘be a writer’ finds itself battling against a thousand decisions already made, around which a life has been structured. Writing has a difficult time fitting into this existing scenario, usually.
So I began the Guide with some free items: firstly, my 20,000 word book Your Biggest Challenge as a Writer — and What To Do About It specifically addresses the initial struggle of the writer beginning his or her career. It describes a ‘ladder’ or hierarchical progression from drowning in Life’s random and not-so-random activities and not being able to get any writing done at all, all the way up to living a writing-centred life, and tackles many of the issues which lie in wait for us in between, including the monstrous urge to procrastinate even when the pressure on us to write is the greatest. The book is designed for those who have made a serious decision to be a writer but who have then fallen prey to the traps which that decision seems to activate. I wanted it to be free because, to be frank, placing a price on the priceless information within would just have formed another barrier. By downloading it at no cost, the would-be writer has a chance of finding a way through from wherever he or she is at the moment to a more liberated writing life.
Coupled with that are two other free gifts: one is a short e-book on blogging, which outlines how to set up a blog in such a way that it is possible to post a blog article every day on an ongoing basis. Why is this important? Well, it may not be important at all if you don’t feel inclined to blog about anything — but, as the book describes, there are may spin-off benefits to disciplining oneself into writing a daily blog, not the least of which is a slowly amassing amount of material which may be converted easily later into further books. For example, at this writing I have composed over a thousand articles for my blog, which equates to over a million words — which is about ten or eleven books’ worth of material. And some of them, like Myth & the ‘Now’ and How to Get Children to Enjoy Reading More, started off as a series of blog items. It all depends on your own plans and inclinations.
The other free gift is a short e-booklet about how I do my drawings — this may not be of interest to everyone, but it might encourage those who want to pursue illustration as well as authoring fiction.
Next in the Guide come the key books. I wrote How Stories Really Work some years ago now, and the plan was that Clarendon House would become a publishing vehicle for that book. I know much, much more about marketing now, and Clarendon House has evolved beyond its original dream, but How Stories Really Work remains a central and important tome. Why is it so important? Because for writers who are starting out in the craft, or for established writers who want to know what makes some stories more effective than others, or for those already successful writers who want to know what it is exactly that they are doing, How Stories Really Work gives you the underlying mechanisms. These mechanisms are not at all what you are probably thinking — you can read all about three-act structures and ‘hero’s journeys’ and things like that elsewhere. This book strips away the layers of complexity and vagueness associated with existing advice about story telling and gives you the ultimate building blocks of fiction, the handful of key principles which form the nucleus of any successful story, whether that be a novel, a screenplay, a short story or even a poem.
How Stories Really Work is intentionally kept cheap at only £10.00 so that it remains within most people’s reach. You can get an e-version for even less. The point is not that it will make me the vast fortune that I dreamed of years ago, but that it will help you to build the kind of bridges that you want to build as writers. Don’t write fiction without knowing about its foundations: those foundations are not complex, but they are not (like the foundations of a well-built house) always easily seen — until you read this book.
The next book, 7 Secrets of Successful Stories, is a much shorter e-book which goes a little more into the character archetypes which most master authors use. It also includes ways of revitalising a work of fiction, many of which you may well find useful if you are labouring over an overworked manuscript or trying to find a way of refreshing your work. And, at £2.99, it is again within your reach.
The final part of the introductory section in the Guide explains what the Inner Circle Writers’ Magazine is. This is both intended as a bright and exciting addition to any writers’ life, filled as it is with articles, stories, artwork and much more in every issue, and as a channel for you to use to gain further exposure for your fiction and your ideas. Again, its cost at only £2.00 per issue (and even less if you subscribe) is kept low so that it cannot possible be a barrier for you or anyone.
This initial section of the Guide is an establishment section. Using the books and magazine described therein, anyone should be able to get themselves up and running as a writer, tackling Life’s issues which try to get in the way, learning the fundamentals of writing, and then gaining some exposure through, as well as being entertained by the magazine.
The next section, which we will look at tomorrow, contains the Initial Editing Services for writers who are further along the road to a successful published work.
Stay tuned — or read about those services in the Guide now.