Nick Daw's Writing Blog - Inside the writing world of Nick Daws
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Monday, October 30, 2006

Review - The Writer's Secret Weapon

I recently heard from Mywriterscircle.com member Louise Dop, who has produced an e-book by the above title. Louise kindly sent me a review copy.

The Writer's Secret Weapon is essentially a collection of tips and advice for writers on making the most from the Internet (the 'Secret Weapon' of the title). Louise is a successful freelance writer and technical author, and in her new e-book she describes some of the tools and strategies she uses every day in her work.

The Writer's Secret Weapon is supplied as a downloadable PDF file. It is well written, and attractively illustrated with screengrabs showing some of the resources referred to (no doubt Louise's background in technical writing came in useful here!). There are six chapters. The first one concerns searching on the Internet, which is of course a fundamental skill for writers today. Louise doesn't waste too much time on search engine basics. Rather, she talks about a range of free, personalized tools you can use to save time on searches and make them more efficient. There are some strategies here I will certainly be trying myself in the coming weeks.

Subsequent chapters cover online communities (I'm pleased to say Mywriterscircle.com gets a mention!), and how to save, share and back-up your writing on the net. Another chapter covers blogging and other methods for raising your online profile, e.g. submitting your work to free article websites. The chapter titled 'A Window on the World' focuses on news sites and online radio - the BBC comes in for a good plug here! Finally, 'Harnessing the Power of Time Wasting' features a broad selection of websites and services of interest to writers. In fact, calling them time wasters is a little unfair, as many of the resources discussed in this chapter could be of great practical benefit to most writers.

The Writer's Secret Weapon is a quick, easy read, and most writers will find something here they can use. A nice feature is that at the end of each chapter Louise lists all the URLs she has referred to in the chapter concerned. These are all clickable, so you can go directly to the website in question. It isn't really aimed at complete beginners, but if you have at least a basic degree of competence with a web browser, this e-book should take you up to the next level.

Louise is a British writer, and the guide does have a certain UK bias, e.g. the section on news sites focuses on the BBC and does not mention US news sites such as CNN. This chapter in particular could be a candidate for expansion in the next edition. However, all of the resources discussed are of course available to anyone in the world via the Internet.

The Writer's Secret Weapon is priced at a very modest $5.99 (about 4 UK pounds). It's available via Louise's website at www.clearlywrite.co.uk and if you're a writer looking to make the most of your Internet connection, it's well worth the small investment. Incidentally, Louise has self-published using the popular online service Lulu, and her e-book is an interesting example of how any writer could potentially publish their work in this way.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Edwina Currie Interview on WritersFM

The latest writer to be interviewed on WritersFM has the highest profile yet (in the UK at least). Edwina Currie is best known as a former politician; she was health minister in John Major's government, till a controversial comment about salmonella in eggs forced her to resign. These days she makes her living as a writer and broadcaster.

In her 85-minute interview on WritersFM - which you can download as a separate podcast if you wish - Edwina talks about her life in politics and how she came to write her 10 books. These include novels, diaries, non-fiction and even (I learned through this interview) a joke book. Whether or not you agree with Mrs Currie's politics, she is undoubtedly a confident and engaging speaker. The interview makes fascinating listening, and there are some great tips here for writers as well. Edwina also tells some very funny stories, including the day she had to pretend to be Joan Collins...

If you haven't tuned in to WritersFM for a while (or ever) you may be surprised by the number of interviews now on the station. As well as Edwina Currie, you can listen to copywriting guru Joe Vitale, biographer Lucinda Hawksley, first-time novelist Jeff Phelps, and many more (including yours truly). You can either just tune in to the station and listen to whatever happens to be playing at the time, or download individual interviews as podcasts. Note, however, that you will need to have a broadband Internet connection in order to listen to WritersFM.

Finally, just a reminder that WritersFM is always on the lookout for more writers to interview. You don't have to be famous, just have enjoyed some success in the writing field, e.g. a book published or a script performed. If you're interested, send the station manager (and interviewer) Karl an e-mail at karl-at-myhelphub.com (change the -at- to the usual @ sign). Tell him a bit about yourself and your publishing history. If Karl feels you would make a suitable interviewee, he will get back to you to arrange a time. Interviews can take place over the telephone, on Skype or in person, so it doesn't matter where in the world you live.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Britain's Biggest Blog

No, I'm not referring to Mywritingblog.com! Rather, a project called One Day In History, which is being run by Britain's National Trust as part of its History Matters initiative.

For One Day In History, people from all over Britain are being invited to submit a diary of what they did today - Tuesday 17 October - in anything from 100 to 650 words. You can then upload your diary to the National Trust History Matters website at any time up until Tuesday 31 October.

The website says: "'One Day in History' is a one-off opportunity for you to join in a mass blog for the national record. We want as many people as possible to record a 'blog' diary which will be stored by the British Library as a historical record of our national life. Write your diary here reflecting on how history itself impacted on your day - whether in just commuting through an historic environment, discussing family history or watching repeats on TV."

If you want to see the diaries other people have submitted, clicking here should take you to a selection of entries. It's fascinating to browse these snapshots of other people's lives. And yes, I'll be putting my diary of 17 October up there soon!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Publisher Offers Free Shares in a Goldmine!

Authors and publishers have come up with some creative ways to sell their books in the past. However, the method chosen by author Dorian Amos and his publisher is probably unique. An article in yesterday's Observer newspaper explained:

Now a small publishing house has uncovered the secret of how to turn paper into gold and is offering to share it with the world. Everyone who buys a copy of The Good Life Gets Better, one man's tale of how gold fever drove him to uproot his family from their comfortable Cornish life and move to the harsh Canadian wilderness, can own their own personal share in a real goldmine.
Source: The Observer archive, Sunday 15 October

Apparently Mr Amos invested his family's life savings in a group of ten 'claims', or mines, in the remote Klondike area, after learning that the previous owner's rights were about to lapse. He offered his story to small independent publishing house Eye Books. Their Managing Director, Dan Hiscocks, bought one of the claims himself, in order to offer it to buyers of the book.

Everyone buying The Good Life Gets Better will be entitled to one share, and decisions about how to proceed (e.g. whether to mine the claim industrially or keep it for panning) will be taken democratically by a vote of all shareholders.

If you're interested in 'staking your claim' to a copy of this book, the link below should take you to the relevant page of Amazon.co.uk.


Even if you're not tempted by this offer, it's a good example of how creative marketing can be used to attract media attention and boost sales. If you're currently writing a book, it's worth thinking whether your subject matter might lend itself to some unusual promotions as well. And if you have any good ideas for marketing your book, do mention them in the accompanying letter when you submit your work. It could make all the difference between getting your book accepted or rejected.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Quick Cash Writing

As promised, for the benefit of those who haven't heard of it before, in this post I'd like to say a few words about Quick Cash Writing, my other course for writers published by WCCL.

Quick Cash Writing was written to complement Write Any Book in Under 28 Days. While the latter covers books and other book-length projects such as screenplays, Quick Cash Writing is for people who want to start earning money from writing as soon as possible.

It's a huge course (even bigger than "28 Days") and covers a very wide range of shorter writing outlets. Perhaps the best way of demonstrating this is to list the modules it contains:

1. Introduction
2. Readers' letters
3. Fillers
4. Greeting card ideas
5. Competition (contest) slogans
6. Photography
7. Articles
8. Short stories
9. Comedy
10. Quizzes and puzzles
11. Selling ideas for TV shows and movies
12. Taking it further

Quick Cash Writing is very much a hands-on, practical course. It's packed with hints and tips from my own experience to help get you earning as soon as possible, and each module concludes with exercises to help you to apply what you have learned. The course is written for people anywhere in the world, and it includes hard-to-find market information and links.

My publishers, WCCL, are making an astonishing guarantee with Quick Cash Writing. They say that if you have not earned thirty times the price of the course from your writing within three months of buying it, they will refund the entire purchase price to you. Yes, you did read that correctly: THIRTY TIMES the (admittedly modest) purchase price. As yet, however, nobody has been in touch to claim their money back!

Quick Cash Writing is available as an instant download, so you can literally get it today. Just follow any of the links from this post and they will take you to a page of my website with more information about the course and an extract from it.

Not only that, you will find details of a unique, time-limited special offer I am making to anyone who orders Quick Cash Writing via my site. Simply click on Quick Cash Writing and read all about the course and my offer, then click on the banner on that page to go to my publisher's sales site and complete your order. Remember to email a copy of your receipt to me so that I can send you your bonus items!

From Blog to Book

Here's an interesting snippet I read in UK newspaper The Guardian recently. It's taken from their Bookseller column, compiled by Joel Rickett.

If you want a book deal, write a blog. In a closely fought auction Penguin has paid a six-figure sum for a memoir from Paris-dwelling Catherine Sanderson, otherwise known as La Petite Anglaise. Her blog documents the break-up of her relationship, her new love and her struggles to raise her young "Frenglish" daughter, known as "Tadpole". This summer she was sacked by accounting firm Dixon Wilson, allegedly for writing the blog, and the news was picked up across the world. Whether or not people remember that furore when her book comes out in 2008, her style is compelling and many readers will be only too happy to buy it, even if they've read much of its content online. That is proved by two recent blogger bestsellers: the explicit Girl With a One-Track Mind by Abby Lee (whose real name is Zoe Margolis), and Blood, Sweat and Tea by London ambulanceman Tom Reynolds.
Source: Guardian Online Archive, September 30 2006

Blogging is one of the biggest trends on the Internet right now, and the examples of the authors mentioned show that in some cases blogs can pave the way to a publishing contract. Of course, it helps considerably if you have an interest or lifestyle others would like to read about.

Starting your own blog (basically an online diary) isn't difficult. Just go to www.blogger.com and you can be up-and-running with a free blog inside 15 minutes. However, it's likely to take a bit longer than that before publishers start clamouring to turn your blog into a book!

And finally, if anyone would be interested in publishing a hard-copy version of Mywritingblog.com, I am open to all offers...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Write Any Book In Under 28 Days

Someone asked me the other day why I never mention my own writing courses on this blog.

Well, part of it is my own natural modesty, of course... But aside from that, I know that many visitors to this blog are aware of them already, and quite a few have bought either Quick Cash Writing or Write Any Book in Under 28 Days, or both.

Still, I'm getting more and more people visiting this blog via links from other sites, and quite a few as a result of search engine queries (one recent visitor searched for "Is Stoupa full of old people?" and was directed here!). So I thought I should say a bit more about my writing courses for those who haven't heard about them before. In this post I'll be discussing Write Any Book in Under 28 Days - Quick Cash Writing will be covered soon in another post, or you can of course follow the links from this one.

Write Any Book in Under 28 Days was my original course written for my publishers WCCL, who also sponsor this blog and my forum. As the name indicates, this course (also known as the "Nick Daws Course") is intended for anyone who wants to write a book in the shortest possible time. The course has received excellent reviews (see this one, for example) and has sold thousands of copies since it was launched. I regularly check and update it, so it is always up to the minute with the very latest hints and tips.

At the core of Write Any Book in Under 28 Days is my unique five-step method for outlining and writing a book, which makes the whole process as quick and painless as possible. The method can be used equally with fiction books (novels) and non-fiction. It is also easily adapted to screenplay writing, though the course does not cover the actual formatting of screenplays. This info is, of course, available from plenty of other sources if you're interested.

Apart from the five-step method, Write Any Book in Under 28 Days is crammed with hints and tips on book writing, based on my 25-year career (16 of them full-time) to date. Among other things, you'll learn how to come up with great ideas for books (and book titles), how to devise your own "technology" to give your book a big extra boost, how to cut research time to the bone, the easiest way to edit your work, how to use the Internet to get your book written twice as fast, where to find an endless supply of plots for novels and screenplays, and much, much more. Still, I mustn't go on too much here or it'll start to look like a sales letter. I'd just say, if you're in any doubt about the benefits of the course, take a look at this page of unsolicited testimonials hosted by my publisher.

Write Any Book in Under 28 Days is provided on CD-ROM and can be used on any Windows (or Windows-compatible) PC. If you follow any of the links in this article, they will take you to a page on my website which has more information on the course, including a sample extract from it. If you'd like to order, just click on the link near the bottom of the page and this will take you through to my publisher's sales page.

One other query that sometimes arises. Write Any Book in Under 28 Days is also available in printed (book) form and audio versions for those that prefer them (some of my best customers have bought all three!). These versions are not promoted as actively as the CD version by my publishers, so if you are interested in them, can I ask that you go to WCCL's customer support site at www.myhelphub.com and raise a ticket there? One of their trained support staff will then be able to tell you everything you need to know to place an order, including price, availability, ordering procedure, and so on. Myhelphub.com is also the place to go if you have any problems installing or operating the CD.

Happy book writing!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

National Poetry Day

Yes, indeed, October 5 is National Poetry Day here in Britain. You can read more about it on this page of the the Poetry Society website.

At one time I wrote quite a bit of poetry, and even belonged to a small group of writers and musicians who toured round pubs and arts centres, performing our work to anyone who was prepared to listen. You'll no doubt be glad to hear that I resisted the urge to post one of my poems from those days here...

Although I don't write poetry nowadays - having come to terms with the fact that I'll never be the next Poet Laureate - I still love a good poem. Even the prose writers whose work I most enjoy write poetically, using (in moderation) devices such as rhythm, metaphor and assonance to give their writing additional depth and impact. I do believe anyone who wants to write should read poetry regularly, and probably try their hand at writing it as well.

So I thought I would take this opportunity to mention that my forum at www.mywriterscircle.com has a board devoted to poetry writing. You can post up to three of your poems there per day, and get constructive feedback on them from other members. And, of course, you can (and should) read other members' poems and give your comments on them. Many people find that reading and criticising other people's poetry has benefits for their own work as well.

Enjoy reading and writing poetry, and have a great National Poetry Day!

Monday, October 02, 2006

New e-mail newsletter for writers launched

Just a quickie to let you know that my friend and fellow writer Dr Suzanne (Suzie) Harris has launched her new e-mail newsletter for writers. The first issue includes a feature about a new software tool to help children develop their creative writing skills, an update on some interesting projects Suzie is currently working on, and a list of useful resources for writers, including two of my writing courses (thanks, Suzie!).

If you missed the first issue of the S-Files Newsletter, you can view it at http://www.ymlp.com/pubarchive.php?suzie69. And if you'd like to subscribe, you can do so via Suzie's homepage at www.suzanne-harris.com. Just click on Newsletter in the left hand menu, and follow the on-screen instructions.