Input Needed: Your Future from Clarendon House
I wanted to get your input on a number of projects that are being worked on behind the scenes at Clarendon House, with a few to ascertaining from you which one or ones might be of most interest.
Since 2016, Clarendon House has developed a reputation, through its anthologies, its social media profile the Inner Circle Writers’ Group and its monthly magazine, for not only laying out opportunities for writers but also providing them with tools and learning environments, including the ground-breaking book How Stories Really Work. The following projects are all aligned with greatly extending Clarendon House’s purpose and thus massively strengthening its foundations, and with that, your potential as writers.
Let’s see what you think…
1. The Big Book of Writing Prompts
This upcoming publication is going to be workbook-style, a large format thick volume packed with prompts for writers seeking starting points. But it will be totally unlike any other book of writing prompts that you have ever seen. That’s because it will be based on combinations of options which will effectively mean that a writer using it will have thousands upon thousands of choices for stories that will all be based on the firm foundations of fiction, as outlined in How Stories Really Work.
For example, you might start out with a simple prompt like ‘Someone refuses something and turns out to be right.’ But then the writer will be presented with Four Basic Genres into which to fit this scenario: should this refusal be a Tragedy? Or somehow Ironic? Or should it be Comic? Or is it an Epic tale? Each one of those four choices brings with it certain story templates which give the tale a basic shape.
In addition, though, the writer will be provided with the Seven Character Archetypes through which to view the incident — is the ‘refusal’ from the viewpoint of an Antagonist? A Shadow Protagonist? A Submerged Companion? Or is it told through a standard Protagonist, an Emerging Companion, a Comic Companion or a Wise Old Figure?
Furthermore, what setting does the writer want to place this tale in? A legendary fantasy/mythic environment? A historic setting? Is it to be a ‘down-to-earth’ realistic scene? Or some kind of science fiction future? And so on.
Other options will be provided too, including Style and Format.
So you can calculate already that, out of an original prompt of ‘Someone refuses something and turns out to be right’, the writer has a huge number of possibilities. He or she might want to have the piece be Comic in nature, but told from the viewpoint of a Shadow Protagonist, but in a Victorian setting; or they might want to create a Tragedy, told from the Submerged Companion angle, but set in contemporary New York.
The possibilities are almost endless, just from one initial scenario.
Things get even more interesting when one realises that any of the initial prompts and their chosen paths can be combined into longer tales.
So The Big Book of Writing Prompts becomes a kind of encyclopaedia of story potential, with everything based on tried, true and tangible foundations of fiction. It will also include tips on reinvigorating existing work and much more.
Please let me know if this catches your eye.
2. A book about developing your fiction so that it stands out in a crowded marketplace and in the eyes of editors, publishers and also readers.
This will be based on the ongoing blog series ‘A Vital Point to Consider If You Want to Get Published’, which many of you may have been following, plus a whole earlier series about marketing.
The idea of this book is to extend the basic principles given in How Stories Really Work into various practical examples so that you can take a piece of your own work and develop within it the elements which are guaranteed to make it stand out in the crowd, both when you submit it for possible publication but also when it is sitting in the shelves in bookshops around the world. With millions of books being published every year, the current market for readers is saturated, to say the least. This book will give you a procedure for boosting your own work’s chances of being not only noticed but also admired and sought after in that wider marketplace.
3. A series of graduated anthologies.
Over the last couple of years, Clarendon House has published almost 30 short story anthologies of one kind or another, open to all authors anywhere on the planet. Each anthology has had its own contest, whereby the story which has won the most votes from readers has resulted in that author being given the chance to publish his or her own collection — upon which royalties have been paid. It’s been a successful model in one sense: over 200 authors have had their fiction published, many for the first time, and several have indeed gone on to receive royalties as a result of winning votes and publishing their own books.
I’d like to fine-tune that model. I would like to give new writers — i.e. those who have either never been published before or who are just starting out down the road — more opportunities, but I would also like the authors already published to have a chance to move on to the next phase of their careers, where they start getting paid for their writing. With that in mind, I am playing with the notion of having a tier of anthologies over the next year or so: some will be open only to as-yet-unpublished or perhaps those with very few published works, with the same potential pathway — i.e. vote-winning stories will yield the chance to get paid royalties on individual collections — while some will be available only to those whose work Clarendon House has already released in some form.
I’m looking at different economic models here: the first tier for virtually unknown authors won’t pay any cash but will present that chance to win votes, while another tier might be based on a ‘profit-share’ arrangement of some mind — i.e. once the book reaches a certain point in terms of sales, and has covered its costs, included authors will get a portion of revenue per copy sold.
Further to that, I’m looking at a ‘deluxe’ line of hardcover anthologies, in which included authors get paid royalties because the price per copy is higher.
The concept is based on my firm belief that YOU, the writer, should be the centre of the publishing universe, not the publisher. In other words, work that you create should be fairly paid for based on its merit and appeal. YOU should be the ‘go to’ point, not the printer or distributor of your book (i.e. the publisher). The difficulty is to build a publishing model which covers costs while rewarding authors. So far no Clarendon House book has covered its production costs — a fact which may startle you, but which is only to be expected in the early years of a fledgling venture such as this. The reason for contemplating these further projects and ‘streamed’ anthologies is to develop things to the next level so that we can all be rewarded proportionately.
What are your thoughts/preferences with regard to all of that?
I welcome your suggestions.
4. The Clarendon House Master Author Programme
You may have seen this advertised in various places over the last year or so. A huge amount of work has been done — over two million written words — out of your sight to prepare something which I think and hope will be a game changer for you — an online school for writers, which will consist of modular courses beginning right at the start of someone’s entry into the field of writing, educating and enlightening them through the stages of composing and editing successful fiction, all the way through to publication and marketing.
Courses will be downloadable and will vary in price according to the depth and nature of their content. Many will include personal tutoring from me. They will all be based on extensive study of, and experience with, the worlds of fiction and marketing.
It will be possible for an individual writer to sign up for an entire programme of courses, which may take years to complete and which will necessarily be costly in financial terms, but I will offer generous scholarships based on the quality of the author’s work.
I am also contemplating a ‘live’ element to this — meaning an offline, live workshop or series of workshops to be delivered here in the UK with me and perhaps other guest speakers — but that remains only a potential plan at present.
The culmination of the whole programme of courses will be guaranteed publication opportunities with Clarendon House, on top of a special certificate and graduation festivities.
Please let me know if you’re interested. 'Early birds’ — meaning anyone expressing an early desire to sign up — will be offered very substantial savings.
So there you have it — or at least, all of it that I am prepared to reveal at present!
Please let me know by email if any of this excites you, or if you have any other thoughts or input: firstname.lastname@example.org. I very much look forward to hearing from you!