Esther | Marketing Executive | Jericho Writers

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From Sarah: Oh, how I wish I had some first-person experience to share with you on this one! Like ma…
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  •  · I started off writing as a screenwriter. I wrote some short screenplays, had some small successes, b…
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From Sarah: Oh, how I wish I had some first-person experience to share with you on this one! Like ma…
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First line: “The first time it happened, I was sitting under the table.”A couple are on their honeym…
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  •  · prompt: When Shadows Walk and Talk. some others include: NIGHT FALLS, HOLE IN THE SOUL, THEY COULDN’…
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One of the biggest joys of teaching writing is discovering the differences and quirks we all have wh…
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  •  · About the blank page and writer's block:I haven't had this problem yet, maybe because I don't write …
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What's making you feel empowered this week?So much of the publishing process can feel outside an aut…
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  •  · Georgina. For my first self-published book, 'A Year of Change' I found someone on line by using the …
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What do all successful writers have in common? A number of answers may spring to mind, but you’ll find that ‘resilience’ is one you’d struggle to argue against. Jack Jordan, bestselling author of five thrillers, knows as well as anyone that a career in writing is a constant rollercoaster. Today he’s sharing his career journey with us – from the biggest knockbacks to the greatest successes.


How to Stay Resilient | Jack Jordan Takeover


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle   


Throughout my twelve years of writing and seven years of being a published author, I have come to learn that there is one key ingredient to success. Some might think this is talent or luck – and of course, these do play a part (the latter particularly so). But in fact, the key trait of a successful writer can be summed up with a single word: resilience.  


Meet a published author, and you’ll see this trait in them right from the off: it’s the fire in their eyes, glimmering with their long-worn history of knockbacks and false starts. You’ll see the successes too, however small they might have been; the fuel that keeps the fire going. Some might mistake this for ambition, but the truth is, ambition and resilience are two sides of the same coin – one cannot prevail without the other. 


My career has not been straightforward in any sense of the word. I began writing at the age of seventeen whilst I was locked inside my house for a year due to agoraphobia, and spent the next three years submitting to agents to no avail – three consecutive years of nos, of hearing ‘not quite there’, of doors remaining shut. It was my resilience that kept me knocking at the door and sent me off in a different direction to find another way into the industry. In 2015 I self-published my debut novel, Anything for Her (which was actually my fifth novel), followed by my second novel, My Girl, in 2016. With that double-sided coin of ambition and resilience held tightly in my grip, I treated their publications as a business, researching the ins and outs of the industry and wearing multiple hats: writer, project manager, marketeer, accountant. Within six months of my second novel’s publication, the two titles had sold over 100,000 copies. This led to me acquiring my first literary agent and traditional publisher.  


Some might think that this is the end of the story, but alas, the resilience in me still had some work to do. In 2018, my traditional debut, Before Her Eyes, was published alongside a digital novella titled A Woman Scorned. My fifth published book, Night by Night, made its way onto the shelves the following year. My books sold well, but certainly not astronomically, and each acquired sale seemed like an uphill battle. I thought I had made it once I crossed the threshold into publishing, only to be met with another marathon ahead. Many elements out of my control were working against me: supermarket and retailer selections, a small publishing budget, my books being passed from editor to editor as people moved jobs or went on leave, to name a few. The success I had acquired on my own seemed like a long-forgotten dream as I watched the years I had put into my career slowly fade away. 


At the start of 2020, I was at a crossroads in my career. I had parted ways with my publisher and agent and feared that my career was essentially over before it had fully begun. Then the pandemic arrived, followed by lockdown one, and then two, and I was locked inside my house just as I had been a decade before when I was battling agoraphobia. So, I did the only thing I knew: I wrote.  


The book I wrote in 2020 was Do No Harm. In the April of that year, I signed with my dream agent Madeleine Milburn, and in the autumn of that year, I signed a two-book deal at auction with Simon & Schuster. The journey since then has been everything I have ever dreamed of, and after twelve years of clawing my way to the top of the mountain, I finally feel like I can draw breath.  


There had been a point before I began writing Do No Harm where my resilience wavered. There had just been too many knocks – a decade of them, in fact. But that resilience was still there, whispering away, telling me not to give up the fight just yet. Just one more. Write one more.  


From the outside looking in, it is easy to assume success has been stumbled upon or gifted to those with the right connections. But I promise you, the majority of the published authors I know have fought tooth and nail to achieve their dreams. What do they all have in common? Resilience. So, when times feel tough or impossible, remember: you never know what is just around the corner... 


Jack Jordan  


Jack Jordan is the bestselling author of five novels, with his sixth, Do No Harm, is one of the most anticipated books of the year and is set for publication on 26th May. Do No Harm is the story of an organised crime ring abducting the child of a leading heart surgeon, Dr Anna Jones, and giving her an ultimatum: kill a patient on the operating table or never see her son again. Do No Harm is published on 26th May in hardback, ebook and audio. 


Preorder the hardback (UK)  

Preorder the hardback (US)  


Follow Jack on:  


Instagram: jackjordan_author  

TikTok: jackjordan_author  

Twitter: JackJordanBooks 

Facebook: JackJordanOfficial  

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Author and Jericho Writers member Ailya Ali-Afzal hadn’t touched social media before her debut, but she quickly found it an engaging and creative way to promote her writing. If you’re new to the world of social media as an author, here’s how you can use it to have more control over what your readers know about your book - and it’s very likely that you’ll have fun along the way.


Social Media for Authors | Aliya Ali-Afzal Takeover 


In December 2020, my daughter taught me how to do my first post on Instagram. I had no idea how to post or even how to load a photo. In March 2022, just fifteen months later, my US publishers Grand Central Publishing, asked me to do a 24-hour takeover of their Instagram to talk about my debut novel Would I Lie To You, because I was ‘so great on Instagram’, according to them. My posts went out to their 44.4k followers.  


My experience of social media as a debut author has been a steep learning curve and an unexpected and enjoyable part of publication journey.  


My debut novel, ‘Would I Lie To You’, is the first book I have written and was published in 2021 and 2022, in the UK and North America. Both publishers had detailed marketing and PR strategies in place, but I soon realised that my own social media posts, added a personal element to their marketing plans, and was also a key way to connect with readers.  


I have no training in marketing or social media, so my entry into this arena has been intuitive and self-taught - and I have a lot more to learn! Here are some top tips: 


  • I have made so many wonderful friends by engaging with others: reply to tweets, have conversations. Support others by retweeting, or sharing experiences that may help fellow writers. Become part of a community and develop a support network for yourself as well. 
  • Be yourself. Whether you’re on social media to be part of a community or to publicise your book, let people discover who you are, how you write, what you enjoy. Your publishers can’t give that sort of direct connection to readers through ads or marketing campaigns alone. 
  • Don’t just shout about your book! Take care that you’re not ‘all work and no play’.    
  • Take a break if you need it. Some people limit social media use to set hours or perhaps twice a week. Don’t feel you need to be ‘on’ constantly. 


My Twitter followers grew by 3k in the months since publication and I have a great set of followers on Instagram, starting from zero around a year ago. Some practical steps to get the most out of your social media: 


  • Use social media as a resource: I followed agents, researched submission wish lists, and found out about writing competition and opportunities. Two bestselling authors saw my tweets about my debut and asked for proofs! 
  • Don’t feel shy about posting successes- everyone loves happy news! I shared reviews in newspapers and glossy magazines and, praise and quotes given to me from authors I adored. 
  • I set competitions and giveaways of my book to celebrate various milestones such as paperback publication, and this always boosted my number of followers. 
  • Repost assets designed by your publishers, such as quotes from authors, covers or reader reviews. 

At the end of the day, enjoy yourself! If you make genuine connections, are authentic, and share updates about your book and publication journey, you will make friends and make sales! It will also feel great. Good luck!  


Aliya Ali-Afzal 


Aliya Ali-Afzal is a writer living in London. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway and has a degree in Russian and German from UCL. She is currently writing her second book. 


You can follow her on Twitter @AAAiswriting, Instagram @aliyalaiafzalauthor, and visit her website. 

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Today, we’ve brought in the delightful Emma Cooper to share some tips with you. An author of acclaimed book club fiction novels, as well as an editor, mentor, UNWC tutor, and mother of four – Emma is no stranger to juggling tasks and writing in small windows of time between other commitments. Here’s how you can make your schedule work for you, too. 


How to write when life gets busy | Emma Cooper Takeover 


I’m thrilled to be taking over the newsletter this week! I’m Emma Cooper, mother of four and writer of book club fiction. My debut, ‘The Songs of Us’, was published after I turned forty and my life has since changed in so many ways! I now have four books published with Headline. I’m also an editor and a mentor, and I’m incredibly excited to be a tutor on Jericho’s Ultimate Novel Writing Course, Summer 2022/23


When I started writing, I worked full-time as a teaching assistant; as I have a large family, finding the time to write was hard, but I was at a stage in my life where I wanted to give my dream of being an author one last shot. 


The idea of writing a novel around 100k words was dauting to say the least and so I learnt to approach this seemingly insurmountable goal by setting myself a realistic goal: 500 words a day. To achieve this, I set myself the task of writing 250 words in my lunchtime and another 250 words later in the day when the dinner was cooking or when my kids were quiet! It sounds like nothing - but at the end of each week, I would have a chapter and then after nine months I had the bones of a novel. The following year, after many, many rejections, I had an agent and my debut – which started off as half an hour writing in a small school office – was sold here in the UK as well as in seven different territories and I was able to accept voluntary redundancy in a job that I thought I would be doing until retirement.  


As I now work for Jericho too, I have changed the way I approach my work. It can be very easy to lose yourself in a project, so I tackle this in two ways; firstly, I begin the day writing my own novels on my laptop on the sofa; I’m usually under a snugly blanket with classical music playing. At lunchtime, I switch places and approach my editing work at my desk, on my ‘big’ computer. This switch really helps split the day and re-sets my brain from one job to the other. I also try very hard to keep my weekends ‘work’ free. Being creative means you need to give yourself and your story space and time to unwind. Many successful authors will tell you that their best ideas come when they’re relaxed or that the answer to a plot hole they’ve been trying to fix suddenly reveals itself when they’re in the shower or taking a stroll. It’s happened to me more than once and so I can’t stress enough the importance of time away from the laptop.  


Writers are all different. A friend of mine loves writing late in the evening right up until deadline time; that doesn’t work for me as that is my time to crack open the biscuit tin and lose myself in a boxset! That’s one of the things I love about the way that the UNWC is structured - it’s flexible so that anyone on the course can write at any time of the day at a pace that suits them. 


I’m often asked for words of wisdom from writers struggling with time management and I will always go back to one key action: setting myself realistic goals. If you’re working full-time and have a family, you probably aren’t going to be able to bash out a few thousand words a day and that’s fine. Look at your schedule, treat your writing time as your time, wear comfy clothes, light a scented candle, play your favourite music, whatever works for you. Five hundred words a day split into two sessions was achievable for me - but work out what is achievable for you. 


Oh, and one final piece of advice from me: don’t compare yourself to others. They might be able to go to the gym, make a healthy lunch and burn the midnight oil. You might be better writing before the kids get up, mainlining coffee and scoffing cold toast for breakfast, it doesn’t mean that either one of you will be more or less successful. You can both write your novels - just do it in the way that suits you, not anyone else. 


Happy writing!


Emma Cooper


Emma is the author of highly acclaimed book club fiction novels and is known for mixing humour with darker emotional themes. Her debut, The Songs of Us, was snapped up in multiple pre-empts and auctions and was short-listed for the RNA contemporary novel of the year award. Visit Emma’s website here. 


Emma could be your personal mentor for a whole year as you write your novel. Find out more about the Ultimate Novel Writing Course. 

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We’re well into Self-Publishing Month here at Jericho Writers. So, in the spirit of celebrating all parts of the process, we're closing the book and taking a look at the cover. Today, experienced book cover designer Patrick Knowles gives you some great tips on working with a designer to get the best possible result.   


What to expect when working with a cover designer | Patrick Knowles Takeover  


So you’ve completed your book and now you're considering commissioning a cover designer. But what sort of designer do you look for and what is the best way to brief them? 


I've been working in the industry for over thirty years - I’ve worked in major publishing houses as well as freelancing, and have worked in many different genres. So I have a pretty good idea how creating a commercially strong cover works. Yet each new cover has its own unique challenges.  


Excellent designers can be found on sites like Reedsy, and there are agencies who specialise in complete book production, including cover design. But generally the latter won't have the same cutting-edge experience as individuals who are working with major publishers, though they may cost less. My advice would be to find someone who has good experience with publishing houses, works in the genre you're publishing into, and whose work you admire – even if that means paying a little more. 


A good brief can make all the difference. A book cover is primarily a sales tool, not an explanation of the narrative. That might seem obvious, but as an author it's sometimes hard to stand back from the book and see it from the angle of sales and as a product that needs to appeal to a target audience. 


A good start in briefing is to provide a short outline of the plot – most designers don't have time to read a manuscript – bringing out the most important aspects. It's helpful to pull out events, images, or even metaphors from the narrative that might be useful. You can also be more general, and sometimes creating a 'mood board' that has inspirational images, colours and other references can be helpful.  


It is important to show examples of book covers that you think have the sort of feel you're looking for. Our first response to a book cover is always visceral, so it's important to brief the designer by showing them covers in that genre and that appeal to you. The designer may choose to take it in a different direction, but it's very helpful to have a strong initial focus to narrow the options down at the beginning.  


This is particularly important if you want an illustration as part of the cover as that can increase the costs and influence the style of image. A designer should be happy to discuss budget with you, and many, like myself, also create the illustrations for the cover. But if you want something that's highly illustrated – a fantasy fight scene for example – then that will probably involve commissioning an illustrator separately which can be expensive. 


As the author you'll have your expectations for the cover, but by far the best approach is to be as hands-off as possible. Let the designer come to you with ideas and concepts rather than trying to pre-design the cover for them. They'll have ideas that feel unexpected because they will be thinking about the cover from a design/sales standpoint, and experience will show them how to best present your product within the market. It's important not to put too much weight on a cover design though – they do help sell a book, but if the actual product is not good then no amount of design will improve sales. 


Very rarely things don't work out – and this can happen for a variety of reasons - perhaps the author doesn't really know what they want, or the designer just doesn't hit the right tone. But make sure you're clear at the outset what would happen if you come to a point where you feel it's not working for you – most designers will have a clause that covers this so that in the event of having to cancel you're both happy with the outcome. Overall, you’ll achieve the best result by being as non-controlling as possible, but open to new ideas. 


Ultimately working with a designer should be a positive and creative experience for you and one where hopefully you'll see your book come to life in ways you probably couldn't have imagined and which will, hopefully, get the sales rolling. 


Patrick Knowles 


Patrick has worked as a cover designer for over thirty years working with the UK's top publishers and self-publishing authors. He is also an experienced speaker and workshop teacher. 


You can look at his website here and follow him on Instragram at @patrick_knowles_design 


Patrick will be running two workshops at this year's Festival of Writing - on Cover Design for Self-Published Authors, and Using Fonts and Photography when Designing Covers. Come along and say hi, and join your fellow writers for over 70 other workshops across an action-packed weekend in York, England. Tickets are going fast - book yours here.

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It must always start with the first draft. For many, that’s the hardest part. Whether it’s the reams of white space or the knowledge that you’ll have to go back and edit later, the starting draft of your novel can be a huge mental hurdle. Today Sophie Flynn - writer and Jericho Writers Head of Marketing – kindly shares her top tips to help you get through it with minimal stress. 


Your First Draft, the First Time | Sophie Flynn Takeover


I’ve just finished the first draft of my third book. Usually, I write an entire draft then ditch it and write another one from scratch, where the characters remain but nothing else stays. But this time, I only had time for the one draft – no throwing away. So, this is both my quickest and most polished first draft I’ve ever written (I wonder if I’ll laugh at that delightfully hopeful sentence when my editor reads it next week and tells me it needs a complete rewrite? Please pray for me.) 


Here are some tips that could help you finish a draft well before the end of 2022: 


1) Use Scrivener


I like to post updates on Twitter of my wordcount to force me into writing. Every time I do, someone asks ‘what’s the software you’re using to track your progress?’ and every time I say ‘Scrivener - it’s the best tool ever I couldn’t write a novel without it’.  Among its many tools is the ability to set a wordcount goal and target date. Each time you open Scrivener, it will then tell you how many words you need to write each day to reach your goal. And when you do, you get a satisfying DING and ‘target hit’ message. Delightful. 


2) Write in the gaps


As well as publishing two books this year, I also work for Jericho Writers. So, I don’t get vast stretches of uninterrupted time to write. Because of that, I’m good at fitting it in whenever I need to. My favourite ten-minute stretch is the time is takes my husband to put on his shoes. Whip out your phone and write on the Notes app every time a family member says they’re ready to go, and in fact, are not. You’ll be amazed at your progress. 


3) Take time to think


The main reason I’ve been able to write a first draft that doesn’t need to go in the bin is because I’ve given myself space to consider the plot before ploughing on. My recent routine has been to wake up an hour early, give myself 10-15 minutes lying in bed to decide what I’m writing that morning (what scene, what action, the resolution) before I open my laptop. I then find that my 500 words can be done very quickly (and, also, from bed).  


4) Go forward, not back


Sometimes you just need the words down even if they’re the wrong ones. Don’t get stuck on fixing old mistakes – just move on! Changed a character’s name half-way through or killed them off? Add a note *WRITING AS IF TIM IS CALLED FRED / FRED IS DEAD* and carry on as if those changes are already made, freeing your mind to go forward. (You do have to go back and kill Fred eventually though.) 


I could talk on this topic forever, and if you do want to hear more, I’d love to see you at my workshop ‘The Quick and Dirty First Draft’ at York Festival of Writing in September. In the meantime, do you have any of your own tips you’d like to share? Or tell me why mine would never work for you! Share your thoughts and tips below. 


Sophie Flynn 

Sophie lives in the Cotswolds and has an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes. She is the Head of Marketing for Jericho Writers and is represented by Kate Nash of Kate Nash Literary Agency.

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You might have found yourself shrinking away from this topic. Maybe you’re already skimming, wondering if there’s really anything for you here. Yet, author marketing is a key tool in your arsenal and – dare we say it? - it can even be quite fun. But don’t take it from us. Take it from Anna Caig, who offers media training for creatives and is here today to teach you how to take the cringe out of author branding.

 

Author Branding the Cringe-Free Way | Anna Caig Takeover  


‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.’ So goes the famous quote from Oscar Wilde. He may not have been talking about author branding when he wrote this - but he could’ve been. This sentiment certainly sums up the approach I take with writers who want to create an author brand that will help them build connections with readers who’ll love their work.  


I’ve worked in communications and marketing for nearly 20 years across a number of sectors - I’ve been the Head of Comms at a large organisation and taught on the MA Journalism course at The University of Sheffield. But I am also a writer. So I’m passionate about giving writers a practical understanding of marketing techniques - demystifying the language and principles - and supporting you to manage some or all of your branding and book marketing yourself.  


Many writers, initially at least, don’t want to think of themselves as a brand. It can feel fake or even like selling out - a word that comes up often is ‘cringe’. But a good author brand acts as the foundation for everything you’ll do to market and promote your work. It is the version of you - authentic, real but not ‘warts and all’ - that the public gets to share. And, perhaps counterintuitively, when you’ve gone through this process, the cringe factor is reduced because you’re drawing on your interests and passions to connect with readers. 


An author brand is how you present yourself and your work - it encompasses everything from the colours and typefaces you use, to the subject matter you include in emails, social media posts and features. More than anything, it is how you make people feel - the impression you create of the world they’ll step into if they read your work.  


One of the biggest mistakes authors make in their marketing is to try and appeal to as wide an audience as possible. If you try to appeal to everyone, your content will be so bland that you’ll appeal to no one. It is more effective to be clear about who your target audiences are, get in front of these people and tell them the reason why they’ll love your book. It is through standing out from the crowd that you’ll find readers who’ll sit up and see your book is their cup of tea - then go out and buy it! 


Building authentic connections with readers is equally important for traditionally and self-published authors. We all know the ‘Here’s my book; Buy my book’ approach doesn’t work unless you have a well-established existing following - and it’s not great even then. By exploring the inspirations and motivations behind your work - the impact you want to have on readers, which themes you return to again and again, what part of the creative process you enjoy the most - you can uncover a rich seam of ideas for content to use in book promotion. 


It is also important to consider what you don’t want to include in the public-facing version of yourself. Many of us draw on difficult or private experiences in our writing - but you’re under no obligation to explicitly share these with the public in your marketing. An author brand can be a useful way of protecting yourself from being drawn into subject matter you’d rather keep to yourself.  


One nice tip for exploring your author brand is to consider how you’d introduce yourself if you were a character in one of your books. You wouldn’t talk about where you were born, where you went to school… you’d bring in a lovely image or engaging nugget of information to make this person vivid in the mind of your reader. Your storytelling skills are your secret weapon - use them wisely. 


In my session on branding and self-marketing for Self-Publishing Month, we’ll be looking at practical exercises you can do to delve deeply into your own author brand and explore how to use this as an invitation to potential readers. We’ll also look at how to use your brand as the foundation of an effective marketing strategy. It’s an empowering process which shows you how to be yourself in your book marketing - and banish the cringe forever! 


Anna Caig  


A marketing professional with over 18 years' experience, Anna Caig trains writers to build their brand and find readers. A former Head of Communications and MA Journalism tutor, Anna now works with traditionally, indie and self-published authors, as well as helping creatives in any discipline find a wider audience. She also writes historical crime fiction. You can look at her website here and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AnnaCaig  


Anna will be running her workshop, ‘Branding and Self-Marketing for Self-Published Authors’, on 11 April as part of Self-Publishing Month. Find out more.

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Jericho Writers Member Takeover

How are you taking care of yourself? It’s hard to force creativity, so it’s important to create an environment where you can be the best writer you can be. Today we’re hearing from author and Jericho Writers member Sarah Dinan about how thinking of yourself as ‘the talent’ when writing – as you would in any other industry – can help you look after your own wellbeing and become a better writer.  

***

I’ve been a storyteller my entire life and fell in love with singing and writing at an early age. While I’m relatively new to the world of literary publishing, I have years of experience in the entertainment industry as a professional vocalist. In that world, the artist or performer is known as ‘the talent’ and I think the same can hold true in the literary world. Although editors and publishing teams play vital roles in shaping a finished book, without authors, there would be no story. 


Seeing yourself as ‘the talent’ might feel awkward. After all, you may not feel like the talent. Especially if you are new at some aspect of the craft, or comparing yourself or your work to people farther along in the publishing journey than you are. We can get mired in the details of the industry, the logistics of business, or the sage algorithmic advice that says, as authors, we should do this or that, and miss the whole point – the stories we craft. We are the talent, we are the creators. 


In the entertainment industry, ‘the talent’ is an easy distinction. Not just anyone can create the art, play the concerto, deliver the speech, or sing the aria. And if the talent can’t do their job, there is no show.  


Still struggling to see yourself as the talent? Try a little reframe. Drop the word ‘aspiring’. You are not an aspiring author. If you write, you are a writer. You may be aspiring to publish your writing, but just by doing the work and creating with words, you are an author.   


Treat yourself like ‘the talent’, because you are. This means you invest in yourself and hone your craft (which you are doing if you’re here at Jericho Writers). It means you value and stand for your art, and you ask for what you want and need to help you do it with aplomb. Self-care is not selfish. 


This doesn’t mean we are primadonnas or divas, it simply means we are the greatest advocate for ourselves and our art. Our job is to create, and no one but us can do our work. No one but us can tell our stories. It is our responsibility as authors to take care of ourselves. 


Everything we create comes through our bodies. Caring for the vessel through which the art is made is imperative. We are the conduit, and require regular maintenance. How are you caring for your conduit? Are you looking after yourself so you can do your best work? 


Performers often spend time in a green room, where they may have their own pre-show ritual, prior to taking the stage. Consider what might be beneficial to support you in showing up to the page. Perhaps a curated environment - maybe turning off Wi-Fi or using an app to block yourself from distractions while you write. Perhaps it’s lighting a candle, using a favorite notebook and pen, or having a favorite beverage. Make a ritual about your space and your habits that signals it is time to perform. 


Rest is vital. It encourages renewal and helps prevent burnout, and ideas can often flow in the in-between. Consider periodically taking time away from all aspects of your writing work, if even for an afternoon. Inspiration needs spaciousness in order to come through. Clear the space. 


Do something you love, something that fills your well. Literally, anything that brings you joy. Filling your own well helps keep, or refresh, the delight in and for your writing. 


In the entertainment industry, talent often has a rider that accompanies their contracts. It communicates to event organizers what the talent needs on and off stage to bring out their best performance. You are the talent. What can help you do your work? What do you need to facilitate your performance? Think about your tech needs, dietary preferences, and preferred atmosphere. What do you need before, during, and after your writing time? 


You, dear author, are the talent. The world needs your art, and no one can write your story but you. 


Take care of yourself. And keep writing. 

Sarah Dinan 

Sarah Dinan is a vocalist and author with a passion for storytelling and an abiding love for nature. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, and is an unofficial ambassador for hydration and a fierce advocate for following your dreams.

Sarah's website and Instagram 

Connect with Sarah in the Jericho Writers Community

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Jericho Writers Member Takeover

How are you taking care of yourself? It’s hard to force creativity, so it’s important to create an environment where you can be the best writer you can be. Today we’re hearing from author and Jericho Writers member Sarah Dinan about how thinking of yourself as ‘the talent’ when writing – as you would in any other industry – can help you look after your own wellbeing and become a better writer.  

***

I’ve been a storyteller my entire life and fell in love with singing and writing at an early age. While I’m relatively new to the world of literary publishing, I have years of experience in the entertainment industry as a professional vocalist. In that world, the artist or performer is known as ‘the talent’ and I think the same can hold true in the literary world. Although editors and publishing teams play vital roles in shaping a finished book, without authors, there would be no story. 


Seeing yourself as ‘the talent’ might feel awkward. After all, you may not feel like the talent. Especially if you are new at some aspect of the craft, or comparing yourself or your work to people farther along in the publishing journey than you are. We can get mired in the details of the industry, the logistics of business, or the sage algorithmic advice that says, as authors, we should do this or that, and miss the whole point – the stories we craft. We are the talent, we are the creators. 


In the entertainment industry, ‘the talent’ is an easy distinction. Not just anyone can create the art, play the concerto, deliver the speech, or sing the aria. And if the talent can’t do their job, there is no show.  


Still struggling to see yourself as the talent? Try a little reframe. Drop the word ‘aspiring’. You are not an aspiring author. If you write, you are a writer. You may be aspiring to publish your writing, but just by doing the work and creating with words, you are an author.   


Treat yourself like ‘the talent’, because you are. This means you invest in yourself and hone your craft (which you are doing if you’re here at Jericho Writers). It means you value and stand for your art, and you ask for what you want and need to help you do it with aplomb. Self-care is not selfish. 


This doesn’t mean we are primadonnas or divas, it simply means we are the greatest advocate for ourselves and our art. Our job is to create, and no one but us can do our work. No one but us can tell our stories. It is our responsibility as authors to take care of ourselves. 


Everything we create comes through our bodies. Caring for the vessel through which the art is made is imperative. We are the conduit, and require regular maintenance. How are you caring for your conduit? Are you looking after yourself so you can do your best work? 


Performers often spend time in a green room, where they may have their own pre-show ritual, prior to taking the stage. Consider what might be beneficial to support you in showing up to the page. Perhaps a curated environment - maybe turning off Wi-Fi or using an app to block yourself from distractions while you write. Perhaps it’s lighting a candle, using a favorite notebook and pen, or having a favorite beverage. Make a ritual about your space and your habits that signals it is time to perform. 


Rest is vital. It encourages renewal and helps prevent burnout, and ideas can often flow in the in-between. Consider periodically taking time away from all aspects of your writing work, if even for an afternoon. Inspiration needs spaciousness in order to come through. Clear the space. 


Do something you love, something that fills your well. Literally, anything that brings you joy. Filling your own well helps keep, or refresh, the delight in and for your writing. 


In the entertainment industry, talent often has a rider that accompanies their contracts. It communicates to event organizers what the talent needs on and off stage to bring out their best performance. You are the talent. What can help you do your work? What do you need to facilitate your performance? Think about your tech needs, dietary preferences, and preferred atmosphere. What do you need before, during, and after your writing time? 


You, dear author, are the talent. The world needs your art, and no one can write your story but you. 


Take care of yourself. And keep writing. 

Sarah Dinan 

Sarah Dinan is a vocalist and author with a passion for storytelling and an abiding love for nature. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, and is an unofficial ambassador for hydration and a fierce advocate for following your dreams.

Sarah's website and Instagram 

Connect with Sarah in the Jericho Writers Community

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A Summer of Festivals | Sarah Linley Takeover 



Some people go to concerts, I go to literary festivals.  


Authors are my rock stars and seeing them in person has always been a special experience. I am a regular attendee at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate and, until the pandemic hit, I attended Jericho Writer’s Festival of Writing in York most years. 


When I first got published, I was determined to go to as many events as possible. That was 2020. Great timing! Most of the festivals were cancelled or went digital. And for the first time, I started attending festivals online.  


What I love about in-person events  


The Festival of Writing was something I looked forward to every year – a full weekend to immerse myself in writing, surrounded by kindred spirits, and an opportunity to learn from the best in the business.    


There was always something new to discover – structure, plot, characters, psychic distance, improving my prose. The one-to-ones with agents and book doctors were incredibly helpful and it was good to meet people from the publishing industry in person.  


The festival was a very sociable occasion – there was a big dinner and opportunities to meet other writers at the bar, over coffee, waiting for an event, or on the train to and from the festival. Afterwards, I kept in touch with other attendees, mostly over Twitter, and we celebrated our successes, commiserated over rejections, and shared our work for peer review.  


Attending a festival in person is a chance to take a break from the demands of real life and devote time to learning your craft. It can be incredibly motivating and exciting.  


The drawbacks 


The disadvantage of in-person literary festivals is that they can be expensive, particularly when you add accommodation and travel to the cost of your ticket. I am fortunate enough to live near my two favourite festivals, in York and Harrogate, but the cost of attending others further afield can be prohibitive.  


It can also sometimes be overwhelming to try to cram everything into a single weekend. You can’t attend everything and if there are two sessions scheduled for the same time, you have to miss out on one of them. That’s when it can be good to know you have some online events planned, or that you can catch up on replay.  


What I love about online festivals 


If there has been one good thing arising from the last few years, it has been the growth of online literary festivals, like the Jericho Writers Summer Festival of Writing. It has been easy to attend all sorts of events that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to get to – and most sessions have been free or inexpensive.  


Writers, agents and editors from across the pond are now far easier to access and it has been great to watch interviews with big names such as Stephen King and Margaret Atwood who might otherwise have not attended events in the UK.  


Online festivals are so convenient. If you’re busy or can’t attend a session, they are usually available on replay. You can fit your learning around the day job and other domestic responsibilities. And you can wear your slippers! 


Online festivals are inclusive, particularly for people who have disabilities, and for those living in different countries. And for shy people, it can be easier to ask questions online – no one turns around to look at you! 


The drawbacks 


For me, the only issue with online festivals is that there is not the same level of engagement or socialising. You can ask questions but sometimes they get overlooked or lost in the chat. There is less of a sense of community, although of course there are some great online forums and groups that you can tap into.  


As someone who has benefited from both online and in-person festivals, I really hope the hybrid model is here to stay. It offers the best of both worlds – a chance to meet other writers and socialise if you can attend in person, but you can still benefit if you need or want to access the event from home.  


The Festival of Writing 


There are lots of literary festivals to choose from but what I particularly like about The Festival of Writing is that it is specifically aimed at writers, particularly those trying to get published. The focus is on craft, the publishing industry, and writing the best book you can (rather than authors promoting their books.)  


The festival is super friendly, inclusive, and provides a real launchpad for writers. Some of the people I have met over the years in York have gone on to become big names – Joanna Cannon, Will Dean, Roz Watkins and Jo Jakeman, to mention but a few.  


If you are thinking about attending a festival this year, whether online or in person- I would recommend giving both a go. You never know where it might lead! 


Sarah Linley  

Author  


About Sarah

Sarah Linley lives in Yorkshire and works as a Communications Manager for a housing charity.  Her debut novel, The Trip, was published by One More Chapter (the digital imprint of HarperCollins) in February 2020.  

Her second novel, The Wedding Murders, was published in February 2022.  When she is not writing, she enjoys reading and walking in the Dales.  

Visit Sarah’s website.

Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @linleysarah1

View The Trip on Amazon.

View The Wedding Murders on Amazon.

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This week's newsletter takeover is from 2022 debut author, Laure Van Rensburg. Laure will be hosting a member's event with us on 10 March as part of Getting Published Month, where she'll be showing you that the ‘slushpile to publication’ pipeline does happen – and it could happen to you. 

Members - Register here 

Non-Members - Join us to register 

From Slushpile to Publication Deal

When I decided to take writing seriously and make a real go at it, I had no clue how people got published apart from the romanticised version they show you in Hollywood films - which, let’s face it, is wildly inaccurate. I knew you needed an agent to get a deal with a larger traditional publisher, so I did what most people in search of knowledge do these days and googled “how do you get a literary agent”. One of the results lead me to an advert for a Guardian Masterclass run by — I didn’t know this at the time — an upcoming agent. If I had to learn what to do (and not to do), then why not get it straight for the horse’s (agent’s) mouth? The workshop was a real eye-opener, and by the end, I realised I had a long, long way to go for a) my novel to be submission-ready, and b) to write a compelling blurb and synopsis. 

After that initial rush of information, I became addicted to ‘path to publication’ stories. I would consume any I could find, listening to what I felt were the elected few who made it. However, a lot of them took unusual paths — “my MA tutor gave my MS to an editor friend of theirs”; “I did a reading at an agent evening”; or, “I won a writing competition and was offered representation” — because exceptions often make for more interesting stories. I didn’t complete a MA or win a writing competition -  so I would have to gain representation the old-fashioned way.

Fast-forward to six years later - hundreds of thousands of words written, rewritten and, edited, several writing workshops completed, short stories published, and a failed novel later - and that same agent who ran the first workshop I went to is now my agent, and she has sold my debut psychological suspense in 16 territories, including the UK.

 ‘Nobody But Us’ is about a couple on their first weekend away. It should be a perfect romantic trip for two, except he’s not who he says he is. But then again, neither is she. It will be published in the UK on 14 April. And it all started with the slushpile. 

For my first event as a soon-to-be published author, I wanted to share my path to publication to show that you can get an agent – and, subsequently, a publishing deal - by going through the dreaded slushpile. Even though the odds are stacked against you (agents signing 3-4 authors a year while receiving thousands of submissions at the same time) it does happen. Someone has to be one of the 3-4 authors; it happened to me, so it can happen to other aspiring writers. It can happen to you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy. My top tip is to do your research and be as prepared as possible to stack the odds you can control on your side. And resilience -, you need buckets of it. During my session on 10th March I’m planning to share everything I’ve learned along the way and answer as many questions as possible (because if you are anything like me, you will have a lot of questions!)


About Laure

Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 & 2019 Bath Short Story Award.

Website: www.laurevanrensburg.com

Twitter: @Laure0901 

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Navigating the Publishing Maze | Anna Burtt 


In February 2020, I was brought in as a freelancer to organise the iconic (and, I hear, infamous) Festival of Writing in York*. Now, you might be able to guess that our in-person event didn't go ahead, but at Jericho we write our own stories, so we found a new way to tell them - online. What felt like a terrifying time to take on a role in events turned into an amazing opportunity to create an online and inclusive space for writers across the globe Since March 2020, we’ve organised 200+ events and have started a new, (at least) weekly, live programme of events for our members to enjoy. 


Of course, it’s not quite the same as sitting in a Waterstones basement with a warm wine or enjoying a weekend with your writer friends, but it does mean that we can offer you 90x more live content than we could if they were in-person. There’s no travel time, no extra costs and no geographical barriers. Plus, I don’t know about you, but when it’s as cold as it is in the UK at the moment, I’d rather get my writing events fix from the comfort of my flat with a blanket and a hot cup of tea… Pajamas are not only allowed but encouraged!  


As I’m sure you know, as well as our weekly online events, we host Self-Publishing Month, the Summer Festival of Writing, Build Your Book Month and Getting Published Month, which all include 12+ events. Getting Published Month is one of my favourite months to programme for – I've worked in publishing for a decade and I still relish the opportunity to speak to agents, coaches, industry experts, and of course to authors, all with the goal to empower and galvanise you and your writing.   


The publishing industry can feel like a maze to navigate; how do I get my manuscript off the slushpile? What size publishing house is best for me? How do I write a query letter that stands out? What is an author brand and how do I build one? What do debut novelists wish they knew before they started on the long road to publication? 


All these questions and more will be answered during Getting Published Month this year. We have another stellar lineup that will help you wade through the confusing fog of this strange industry and leave you clear-headed, empowered and excited for the next stage of your writing journey. We’ll be diving deep into how to construct query letters and what a synopsis is actually supposed to include. There’s a chance to have your query letter critiqued live on camera by two top agents, and you’ll hear from publishers about what they’re really looking for. If the truth-telling gets a bit much, worry not – we have resilience coaching to remind you writing success should only be defined on your own terms. The month will end with some of the most exciting debut authors of 2022 – reminding us all what we’re really here for.  


I really hope you enjoy these events as much as I know I’m going to! Register here.


Anna Burtt, Head of Events
 

*Keep your eyes on your inboxes in the next few months to hear about the RETURN to York in 2022. I am chomping at the bit to tell you all about it…


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We’ll be your very own ‘literary’ dating agency this Valentines 


In the spirit of Valentine’s Day next week (and wishing a happy one to all who celebrate), we’d love to help you with your search for an important connection – that between author and agent. Here you’ll read some top tips on improving your chances of finding ‘the one’ - you’ll spy lots of inside information from the world of agenting on our social channels in the coming weeks, too.  


EVENTS: Getting Published Month


Completing your manuscript and finding an agent isn't easy – which is why in March 2022 we’re bringing you Getting Published Month! Join us for 12 live online events connecting you with leading agents, authors and publishers, with exclusive insider knowledge on how to get your book from an incomplete draft to bookshop shelves.  


FIND OUT MORE 


This week at Jericho Writers: 


MEMBER EVENTS: From Podcast to Published 


Our focus on community & outreach got off to a flying start with a talk on sales teams on 1 Feb. This week, join Francesca Specter on 10 Feb, discussing how her podcast allowed her to network and became an invaluable resource when seeking a book deal for ‘Alonement: How To Be Alone & Absolutely Own It’.   


REGISTER NOW 


AGENTS: Coming to an AgentMatch near you  


Canadian and Australian agencies. Yes, that’s right, you heard it here first. We have researched, interviewed and created bespoke profiles for Australian and Canadian agents. Check them out on AgentMatch now.   


FIND OUT MORE  


BLOG: How to Write a Great Query Letter (with Hints & Tips) 


A good query letter is the axis upon which your chance of getting an agent turns. We’ll give you everything you need to know to write a perfect one. More free resources for querying authors below!  


READ NOW  


SPOTLIGHT ON: Sam Hiyate, The Rights Factory

Our ‘Spotlight On’ features are a great way to get to know agents in more depth, and you may just discover something obscure you can connect with them about. Here’s a great one from Sam Hiyate at The Rights Factory. 

READ NOW



PLUS: Pitch Session Live on Twitter 


On Monday 14 Feb we’ll be doing some real-life matchmaking! Pitch your book to us in a tweet and we’ll match you with a literary agent with one-to-one sessions available in February and March. We can’t wait to see the power couples we create! 


FOLLOW US ON TWITTER   



Meet your Match 


Do you need help finding your significant other this Valentine’s Day? Well, Jericho Writers have got you covered…that’s if by ‘significant other’ you mean your agent, of course. 


Whether you have been writing for years or drafting a pitch for months, the submission process can be a turbulent path for anyone to travel. Like a literary form of internet dating, it can be high hopes one minute and radio silence the next. The good news is, however, you needn’t be ‘ghosted’ this Valentine’s because we offer the chance to speak directly to an agent. That’s right! Through our leading one-to-one service you can now escape the ghosts of submissions past...and take one step closer to finding your perfect match. 


What to expect? 


So, you’re considering booking a session with us, but you’re wondering what it all entails. The answer is: it’s really quite simple. Purchase your session here, then select your agent using the link emailed over to you. If your preferred agent is not currently available, email us at info@jerichowriters.com and you’ll be the first to know when they’re next available. 


On the day of the session, the agent will call you (using the number registered to your account) and you’ll have a fifteen-minute phone conversation. They will provide you with advice on your query letter, synopsis and first 5,000 words of your manuscript. Pretty snazzy, right? Beats being at the bottom of the slushpile any day of the week. 


How to Prepare


Fifteen minutes can fly by in an instant, so, we want to help you make the most of every second you’ve got.  Here are some tips to help you prepare for your hot date with destiny: 

  

  • Do Your Research 

You wouldn’t meet a tinder match without stalking their social media first. So, don’t do it with your agent either. Show them you can go the distance, and use AgentMatch to tailor your query letter to them. Everyone likes to feel special. 


  • Save the Date 

I think we can agree that no one likes to be stood up. Once you have booked your session (times will be in UK time), make a note of it in your calendar and set an alert on your phone. Sessions can occasionally run over, so, we advise leaving a 15-minute leeway for the agent. If you need to re-arrange kindly inform us as soon as possible. 

 

  • (Mentally) Dress for the Occasion 

  Not all agents will send notes, so, have a pen and paper at the ready to jot down some bullet points. If you have questions, ask away, but be wary that you only have 5 minutes to cover each document – it will be up to you to manage the time. So, 20 questions? I think not. 


  • Listen to your Heart 

  

To go the whole way, it is important to find someone you feel comfortable exchanging ideas with. They will be your cheerleader and critic for both this chapter and the next. So, if you don’t resonate with them or their comments, that’s okay – you don’t have to. Consider it an “It’s not you, it’s me” type situation, because tastes are like Richard Osman novels – everyone seems to have one.  


While we can’t guarantee you will be changing your relationship status from ‘querying’ to ‘signed’ this February, we can guarantee your chances will be improved. We offer sessions with more agents than anyone else out there and we’ve had many a full manuscript request (and deal) as a result.  


So, whether you have been out on submission for a while, or just dipping a toe into the slushpile literary pool, our agent one-to-ones are the perfect opportunity to reignite the spark in your pitch and find the answers you’ve been looking for. 


But remember, if the nerves come a’calling, like your oldest friend, we’ve got you!  


Polly 

Writers Support Manager & Bookstagrammer 


Resources for querying authors:


#JWSpotlightOnInterview on Community  


How to write a novel synopsis (with an example)


How to Write a Story Pitch 


Getting Rejected By Literary Agents? Here’s What To Do Next


New one-to-one sessions are available to book now!  

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