• Chronology

    by  • April 2, 2013

    Time is always an important point in writing – especially if you’re building towards a denouement. What does this character know? How will that influence their actions? How will that play out? How does that affect their relationships with the other characters? Even where a novel is linear in its storytelling, the writer can’t...

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    Sense of place

    by  • March 24, 2013

    In the next few days, I’ll finish reading Graham Swift’s Waterland, a book I first read more than ten years ago while at university. It’s a novel about history and place as much as it’s a story about a history teacher dealing with the fallout of his wife taking a child from their local...

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    Less than a fanfare

    by  • March 14, 2013

    So, after several years of abortive attempts to write the story, months of sustained (at times feverish) writing, and months of editing and refining, Wraith has finally published on Amazon. In fact, it published in mid-January. Like a good publicist, I should have barged into a frenzy of self-promotion – daily Facebook updates, hourly tweets,...

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    To abandon or plough on?

    by  • December 31, 2012

    It was a couple of days before Christmas and I had just finished the very enjoyable Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovich. I wanted something else to read, so scoured through my bookshelves for something I hadn’t yet read. I stumbled across A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz, which appeared untouched, and...

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    Plot points

    by  • October 19, 2012

    A coherent and believable plot is a basic minimum for a successful genre novel. Great writing, draped over the malformed skeleton of a poorly thought-through plot, doesn’t make a story work. I say ‘genre’ because this is of particular concern for stories that  rely heavily on plot devices and set pieces, such as thrillers,...

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    Prices post-agency

    by  • September 24, 2012

    The era of agency pricing is coming to an end. The DOJ’s verdict on ebook pricing was designed to improve ebook prices for readers, but as Mike Shatzkin has pointed out, seems to have had some unintended consequences. Discounting by Amazon appears to be manual, and not as deep as expected. Indeed, one of...

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    The evolution of a cover design

    by  • September 19, 2012

    In the world of electronic publishing, the cover image is more important than it has ever been. Walk into a bookshop and your eye is most likely to be caught by books placed face-out on display tables. Go to Amazon, Smashwords, the iBook Store or any other online ebook repository, and faced with such...

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    How to use reading habits to structure a novel more effectively

    by  • September 17, 2012

    The practice of applying user-centred design to websites and applications is well-established. Top-loading information in an article, using an F layout, increasing the amount of information above ‘the fold’ – all designed to engage customers earlier and more effectively. Yet no one is really applying these principles to creative writing. Yet. Hiptype is a...

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    Top 5 novels about writers

    by  • September 12, 2012

    The first novel from 5th Black, Wraith, is a supernatural thriller about a writer. Evan has returned to his old university town to launch his debut novel, which may be more than a little autobiographical. The morning after a heavy-drinking reunion with friends he hasn’t seen for more than a decade, he finds himself dead...

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    Pricing ebooks

    by  • September 10, 2012

    The debate around ebook pricing has raged for years, and will continue to divide opinion. While many indie authors have found success at ultra-low price points ($0.99 for a full-length novel, for example), others have tried pricing considerably higher because they do not want to devalue their writing. This has all been to the...

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    4 simple steps to increase the value of your readers

    by  • September 3, 2012

    The business of banking is built around the lifetime value of a customer. Cheap current accounts with bells and whistles are used to attract new customers, and once a customer is with the bank they will rarely switch and will often use that bank for other – more profitable – products and services. Banking,...

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    Honesty in online promotion

    by  • August 28, 2012

    The advent of digital book-selling has leveled the playing field between indie presses and big publishers. Where once discoverability meant a book appearing on one of the table displays in a national chain, now the majority of electronic fiction titles need to organically work their way into the bestselling charts in order to be...

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