A REVIEW OF THE 2008 WRITERS’ AND ARTISTS’ YEARBOOK
Being a published author means that there are a fair few questions you should expect to be asked (to which the same answers can be used over and over), questions that can come from anybody and at anytime. Where do you get your ideas from? (answer: me); where do you write? (answer: in my office – in longhand with a fountain pen and on a computer – yellow background in 12 pt Courier New); what advice would you give to someone wanting to get published? (answer (usually): write a lot and read a lot). Et al.
Reading books, good and bad, fiction and none, can have untold benefits to a writer learning their craft (even ones who’ve had plenty published; we’re always learning). You can absorb and admire styles and techniques, gasp at the glory of a great story told well and even learn from another writer’s mistakes or differing styles (the I wouldn’t have written it like that moments!). I try not to make a habit of recommending books I’ve enjoyed to people I don’t know, because one man’s meat is another’s poison. People enjoy what they enjoy. End of. And just because I like something doesn’t mean anyone else will. (And, by the by, the reason I like it probably has little to do with the fact that I’m an author.)
There is one book I recommend to everyone who wants to be a writer though – without exception. And that’s the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.
I have been buying it (as well as, occasionally, the Children’s Version) ever since a better and more experienced writer told me I ought to have a copy. As every August approaches, without fail, I eagerly place my order for the next edition.
Because it’s pretty much impossible to be a working writer and not have one.
It has everything one could ever want (except ideas – maybe they’ll be in another A & C Black book one day – for now I’m happy with the ones I make up). It lists the details (submission requirements, contact details, names, contacts) of publishers, agents, magazines, small presses, newspapers and societies. There are even sections on film and TV, festivals, theatre, creative writing courses and production companies.
And the articles. You can’t ignore the articles. Articles about publishing and writing by people who work in the industry. Good people. Successful people. Knowledgeable people who are happy to share what they know. There’s stuff on copyright and libel by a barrister; how to get an agent by Philippa Milnes-Smith who works for LAW (the agents) and was previously MD of Puffin Books. There’s stuff in there by Joanna Trollope, Terry Pratchett and J K Rowling. I don’t think I need to go on, do I? I’ll bet you’re getting the point.
And you know what the best bit about the whole thing is? Well, I’ve received my 2008 edition – all new and not creased and very, very red (and flicked through it when I really should have been completing draft 6 of my WIP) and I have to tell you – it’s got better.
There are six excellent new articles addressing things such as keeping blogs and audio publishing. Whitbread winner Claire Tomlin writes about being a biographer; Suzy Lucas talks about being a literary scout (which, it turns out, is a much different job than one might think).
The list goes on.
And there’s more. As of September there’ll be a brand new website (http://www.writersandartists.co.uk/), on which there will be thousands of searchable listings, expert features, book and writing news and updates including tips on better writing and getting published by those in the know. There’s even a blog writing competition (with a £500 prize). The password you need to access the site and all the wonders it will hold comes free with the book.
I realise Isabella Pereira knows what she’s talking about when, in her article on blogging (page 619), she advises bloggers to “keep posts short” but I’m sure she’ll forgive me if this one’s a little long.
I will end my post here though, with this: if you’re serious about writing, in any way, shape or form, you really should have a copy of this book. To be able to have such a wealth of information, sound advice and inspiration for less than fifteen quid is a true bargain. If you’re serious about writing: buy it.