John Safran on writing true crime

‘Freaking hell, just lay out the facts simply at the start,’ says John Safran, writer and celebrated documentary maker. He’s not talking to me so much as to himself. We’re discussing approaches to long form – what he’s learned while writing Murder in Mississippi. And we’re talking on the phone – a fact that will […]

Are the hills alive with the sound of writing?

Reading my work out aloud is a mantra I take quite seriously. Verily I have spoken the sentences you’re reading many times. I’ve shaped them from prior versions where they sounded wrong. I’ve listened for clumsy transitions and poor grammar. I speak, I read and write – cutting, pasting and retyping all along the way. […]

How stories come to be

I draw a line on a sheet of paper. On one side I write the heading ‘Fiction’, the other ‘Non-fiction’. I conjure up elements of writing to categorise into each. But I find that most of the elements are transferable. A poem, for example, can cross both categories, an essay need not be entirely linear. […]

Nuance and new media: the challenge of e-books

If a writer sends a message in the new media galaxy, can it be heard? It’s not as if (like the tree in the proverbial forest) there isn’t anyone listening. It’s a highly populated and active space. It’s a space that readers frequent and a space where they spend money. It’s a space, it seems, […]

Filling up the well

This year on Future of Long Form (FLF) I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing over 20 different experts. Across 21,000 words in 2013 (include 2012 and it’s over 42,000!). I’ve written and researched on the challenges and practicalities of publishing and promoting long form non-fiction. And I’ve shared with you some of the pitfalls in […]

Sinking independents into libraries

There’s a quote on the Internet that is attributed to Virginia Woolf. ‘I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure,’ it reads. In order to find its source I paste the full quote into a search box, held together by inverted commas. ‘Did you mean: “I ransack public libraries, and find them […]

Molecular verticality: trends in book marketing

‘I think molecular specialisation is the only way that book publishers are going to survive in something that resembles their traditional format,’ says Anne Treasure, a digital marketing enthusiast. This molecular specialisation is spawning vertical marketing – or customer / reader focused marketing. In the context of publishing vertical marketing recognises, as Mike Shatzkin writes […]

On being underrated (the MUBA)

For Christmas last year Wayne Macauley’s partner gave him a t-shirt printed with the words Most Underrated 2012. ‘I don’t wear it out that often but it’s a beautiful thing,’ Macauley quips. The t-shirt is a reference to last year’s inaugural Most Underrated Book Award (MUBA) which Macauley won for his novel The Cook. ‘[The […]

Exploding the margins

There was a time some years ago when I burned with annoyance when, upon opening a library book, I would discover that a previous reader – or readers – had marked up all of the salient points, underlining key words and phrases with scribbles in pen. Little did I know that I was experiencing ‘social […]

Big things and humble beginnings: The 2013 Independent Publishing Conference

Anyone in publishing knows the wonderful things that can happen in small spaces. Award winning manuscripts have been produced in back yard huts, burgeoning publishing empires started on kitchen tables and literary classics typed out clack-by-clack at lonely desks. So too this year’s Independent Publishing Conference (14 to 16 November) – for the past few […]