Sunday, 19 February 2017

That Special Business of Writing - Guest Post Simon Whaley


My guest today is Simon Whaley. I've known Simon for a few years now via social media and his articles in Writing Magazine are the ones I turn to first. Simon is also a short story writer, tutor and a terrific photographer. One thing about Simon is he's never been too busy to answer any questions I've had regarding the business of writing. Likewise, I've always been very happy to contribute to his articles when asked which is why I'm pleased he's brought out a new book on this very subject. 

I'll let Simon tell you about 'The Business of Writing' himself!

Writers are special. Well, the ones I know are. Because whenever you ask for help they will always provide it, if they can.

It’s something I learned as a budding writer in my early teens (gosh, we’re talking more than three decades now). At the time, I wrote to several famous writers (Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bleasdale, John Sullivan, and David Crofts) asking for advice. And guess what? Every single one of them wrote back. (I still have the letters.)

Some of the advice was general. John Sullivan suggested that as I was 14, there was no need to panic just yet. I had plenty of time to experience life, because that’s what writers draw upon. Alan Bleasdale hinted that other careers were far easier and more rewarding financially. He based his argument on the assumption that it takes seven years to become a brain surgeon, and therefore it was probably quicker, and easier, to become a brain surgeon than a published writer. Looking back, he was spot on.

Alan Ayckbourn wrote three sides of A4 paper. I’m sure it was a ‘stock’ reply, but the fact that he’d sat down at some point to create a ‘stock’ reply still suggested a keenness to help other writers, even though he was pressed for time.

Perhaps, strangely, even though writers are often competing with one another, we still take pleasure from other writers’ successes, which is why, I think, we’re willing to help out. In particular, when it comes to a competitive market such as writing fiction for the women’s magazines, where we are all in competition with one another, we’ll still offer our thoughts and advice when a fellow womag writer asks for them.

In my Business of Writing column in Writing Magazine, I frequently ask other writers for help. When discussing a topic such as earning money from secondary rights like PLR or ALCS, I think it’s important to get comments from real writers who are out there, doing the job, and dealing with these aspects of the writing life on a daily basis.

Whenever ALCS is mentioned on Facebook groups, someone asks what it’s all about, and then everyone piles in explaining what the writer needs to do to register to get access to this money. This is despite the fact that those helping out may get less money in the future, because the pot of money has to be distributed between a greater number of writers. If you want to know more about ALCS, check out this post on my blog: http://www.thebusinessofwriting.co.uk/up-and-down, or buy a copy of my book ;-)

All writers are busy people. We earn our money by writing, not by helping out. Yet every writer I’ve ever approached for help when writing my column has always kindly done so. (Including Wendy, thank you!)

It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to gather some of my Business of Writing articles together into a book. When writers have helped out like this, I feel their generosity of advice should be available for a lot longer than the month of the issue the article appeared in.

So to all the writers who’ve helped me with my column since it began in 2014, thank you. (And thank you in advance to the writers I’ve yet to knock on their door asking for assistance.)


If you’re looking for advice from fellow writers about how they improve their productivity, determine which rights they sell in their stories, deal with crises of confidence (yes, we all have them), stay within the law of libel, create a business-like workspace, cope with rejection, and much, much more, then do check out my book, The Business of Writing.

And if you’re always looking for hints, tips and advice about the business of being a writer, then please visit my blog: www.thebusinessofwriting.co.uk. It’s free. Because as writers, we know how important it is to help each other.

Thank you!

Simon

24 comments:

  1. An interesting post, Simon. I agree with you that writing is a hugely supportive community. That has certainly been my experience. I'm sure Wendy will agree that the teaching profession is similar.

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    1. It is, absolutely (well, in the school I was in anyway)

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  2. Thanks, Susanna. Lovely to read you've experienced similar support too. And thanks to Wendy for giving me her latest guest spot.

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    1. You're very welcome, Simon. It's been lovely to have you as a guest.

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  3. You're right, Simon. In general writers are a very helpful and supportive group of people.

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    1. I've certainly always found that to be true, Patsy.

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    2. I really do think we are, in light of the fact we're all in competition with one another too! Can't be many other industries like that!

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  4. What a lovely man. I've always found writers to be a supportive lot, too, although I've never written to such illustrious folk as Simon. We should all take the time to help those following us into the tricky profession and remember how it feels to be the one with your nose pressed up against the window looking in.

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    1. Yes, Julia. Every writer has been at the start of their writing career, and they know how it feel, even writers like JK Rowling! but if they can do it ... so can we!

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  5. I love the writing community and definitely find it very supportive, as is my writing group, and I enjoy giving back now as much as possible. Great to see you received replies to your teenage letters, Simon! I only remember writing to Malcolm Saville when quite young as I loved his books. He did reply but I don't have the letter, unfortunately. I was writing only as a reader though - hadn't thought of being a writer at that stage!

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    1. Simon's teenage letters and the answers are brilliant aren't they, Rosemary. I rather think Alan Bleasdale was right!

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    2. Malcolm Saville wrote books in my neck of the woods. I really must read them. My local independent bookshop (Burway Books) has several letters from Malcolm. And they stock all of his books. They often get visited by Malcolm Saville fans, so they letters come out then!

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  6. Nice to see Simon here. I agree, I've generally found other writers a very helpful friendly bunch.

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    1. I find that if I ask a writing-related question on Facebook, I get a whole lot of answers. People are so supportive.

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    2. Hi Amanda. I get about ;-). Yes, I think we're all happy to help, because we all benefit from the mutual support.

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  7. Writers are always helpful and willing to help.

    Can recommend Simon's book too, it's certainly explained a few things I was unsure of.

    Thank you Wendy, and Simon.

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    1. Glad you found Simon's book helpful, Carol.

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    2. Thanks for the support, Carol. Glad you found the books helpful. Always nice to know!

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  8. Uplifting post.Thanks. I don't contact many other writers for advice but when I have they have always come back to me. That includes, you Simon and Wendy, too. The writing world is a lot different than the workplace - or the ones I've worked in anyway!

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    1. Always happy to help (although I'm not sure who you are!)

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    2. Glad to have been of help. And uplifted you too!

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