Judy Astley Novelist
Teresa Chris Literary agent
Robert Crampton Journalist
Sarah Duncan Novelist
Katie Fforde Novelist
Lisa Jewell Novelist
Helen Lederer Actress and Author
Jill Mansell Novelist
Carole Matthews Novelist
Tamara McKinley Novelist
Sue Moorcroft Novelist and Creative Writing Tutor
Marina O'Loughlin Restaurant Critic
Carole Stone Author and Networker
Kate Walker Novelist
Melanie Whitehouse Journalist, Writer and Editor
— Jill Mansell – Best-selling novelist
Moved on to this after my copy of Wannabe a Writer fell apart… must get a replacement.
These two books are my bibles… not only informative but encouraging too. Type of book that you need to refer to and re-read whenever you've been parted from your writing for a while; find your characters are becoming wayward – or you have simply lost the plot.
Wannabe a Writer We've Heard Of is the next logical step. If you're truly penniless, put it on your letter to Santa… early posting to all family members highly recommended.
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What Jane Says
Some writers are shy, retiring creatures who like nothing better than to remain in their dusty attics hunched over their latest masterpiece, shunning the limelight. Forced to stumble, blinking, into the real, commercial world, they mumble in self-effacing fashion when interviewed about their literary endeavours and scuttle back to their desks the moment all that nasty centre-of-attention stuff is over.
I am not one of those.
And if you've just got your first book deal, are working at getting a book deal one day, are thinking of self-publishing and want to shift a few of the books when you do, or have been published for a while but aren't selling as many books as you'd like to, then it would be as well if you weren't either.
Some books fly off shelves and websites all on their own, just by word-of-mouth, without a single bit of advertising, marketing or the author ever being interviewed anywhere. But it's unusual.
Someone knocking on your front door and saying: Have you got any short stories to sell? Or: Would you like to have your own newspaper column? is extremely unlikely. Being chosen at random to appear on television to plug your latest novel only happens in the sort of dreams one gets after too much garlic bread (the cheese business is a myth – it's overdosing on bruschetta that gets me every time).
The difficult truth is that there are thousands of new books published every month and tens of thousands more writers wanting their own work to get recognition too. Competition for shelf space and readers is fierce. And, sadly, writing a damn good book, while still essential of course, may not be enough. We live in an age of celebrity and X Factor, publicists and five minutes of fame. If you want to get anywhere these days, staying in your garret is no longer an option.
If you hanker after writing jobs, need better sales figures, or long to be noticed among a veritable sea of new scribes, you need to Get Yourself Out There. Your publisher will encourage this, your readers will like it, you might be downright terrified by the very thought but, hey, it's got to be done.
Actually, you know, it can be a lot of fun. And, thankfully, it's never been easier.
There are more radio stations, TV channels, magazines, websites and online stores out there than you can shake a stick at and more opportunities to thrust yourself forward and grab an audience than ever before. Don't worry about a lack of contacts or the fact that nobody's ever heard of you or that you're 'shy'. These are trifles.
When I started writing, I was the somewhat knackered, washed-out mother of a toddler who'd lost the art of conversation and whose only brush with fame was when Reg Varney from On the Buses came to open the school fete.
I had never been in a newspaper save being photographed in the local rag clutching a riding cup, aged 11. I knew no journalists, had never met a TV producer, and wouldn't have recognised a PR opportunity if it had got up and made me an egg sandwich.
All I had was a publishing ambition and a gob on me. Since then, I have, in my quest to sell books, been on radio and TV, appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, held dozens of signings, given hundreds of talks, offered myself for auction and even stood on a box at Speakers' Corner (not for the faint-hearted).
I have met Terry Wogan, kissed Michael Parkinson (I have to say this was unsolicited and he looked fairly revolted throughout) and spent an hour on stage with Julian Clary (plus Valerie the dog – bless).
If I can do it, so can you. Don't worry that you don't yet know what to say on the radio, or how you'd go about setting up a book-signing, what to wear when you give a talk or how to deal with the legions of fans camping outside your front door (we can but dream). You soon will if you read on.
I know what you're thinking. Huh, you're saying, as you're flicking through this in the bookshop, wondering if you really want to spend a tenner to listen to me witter on about self-publicity or whether you'd be better off with the latest Jilly Cooper or Ian Rankin, which is what you came in for.
Jane Wenham-Jones? I hear you snort. I haven't heard of her.
Maybe not. But, dear reader, look at it this way: You have now...