Monday, 29 April 2013

Meet the Editors - John Hudspith

John Hudspith

Let’s start with you – how did you become an editor?

Many years ago I got involved with two peer review sites and became addicted to critiquing the work of others. I found the review process: dissecting, analysing and being forced to explain my analysis with intelligible written words, both illuminating and strangely satisfying. So much can be learned about the writing craft by practising the objective review process, by writing it down. My reviews were well-received, one writer asked if I could apply the same to the whole novel and there was my first client. Word of mouth brought more writers my way and within a year I was a full-time freelancer.

What kind of editing do you do?

Some might describe what I do as `heavy` editing. But see, that depends on the level of understanding of the craft the individual writer is at; some needing more help than others. `Help` being the key word here, because when you employ an editor, you must realise he is not a machine or robot programmed to exactness and thereby guaranteeing perfection with your work. No, your editor is a hired help, a fellow of the craft, a writer himself, and what you are in fact doing by employing this chap or chappess is handing a fellow artist a chisel and inviting him to give you a hand. And that is exactly what I do; examine structure, pace, characterisation, dialogue, mood, tone, props, production values and camera angles and give a hand with getting these things into shape – ensuring all the while that the writer’s voice/style receives the most important enhancement of all and that `story` works.

How do you approach working with a client on a manuscript?

I ask for three chapters, synopsis, what the inspiration is for the work and a little information about the writer. I read the chapters, study the synopsis, then provide an appraisal along with the first chapter edited and a quotation for completing the work. There is no charge for the appraisal and sample edits. Before any writer engages with me I want them to see what I can bring to their work. Before parting with your hard-earned, always ask for a free sample and ensure the editor engages with your work, your voice, and can bring something delicious to your table. If your editor doesn’t make you drool, find one that does.

How would you describe a successful author/editor relationship?

A successful editor will be aware of the conventions and reader perceptions of every genre in which he works. A successful editor, with in-depth knowledge of the craft, will teach his writer these things of reader perceptions and camera angles and voice and the nuance of words. To edit the work of another and watch them learn as the process moves along is to watch a writer evolve and I’m privileged to have experienced this many times upon reading the work of returning writers and finding they have taken on board all I said about narrative POV values and mood creators, and their word choice is now so picky I could cry. And so it goes on. A successful author/editor relationship is one of passionate teacher and hungry pupil.

How does the situation differ when you’re editing non-fiction?

Non-fiction covers only a small area of my work; author bios, CVs, web pages, that kind of thing. However, I was recently approached by a woman who had written a memoir, secured an agent, but had had no bites. The writer felt sure she had a book worth reading and asked if I could take a look. This was a challenge; the subject matter was harrowing and real: coping with the death of a child. Geves Lafosse and her family had lost Juliette to leukaemia at the age of five. Could I do this writer, this mother, this family, and most of all Juliette – justice? I investigated with trepidation, applying the elements of good storytelling which meant considering restructuring, de-fluffing, and looking closely at word choice and I discovered that `story` could be enhanced without changing the reality of it. Structural changes, de-fluffing, word choice, camera angles, all went to improving reader’s experience. 

Look out for `Watching Petals Fall` by Geves Lafosse. A beautiful memoir.

What kind of genres do you prefer to work on?

Something excites me in reading any genre and that is the author’s mark; the heart of his voice; his tricks and trademarks, those natural in-built mechanisms employed subconsciously as writer’s slit wrists soak his soul into the page. It is this that makes each writer, and so it matters not genre but voice. However, I’d never say no to a dirty weekend in a haunted house.

I’m intrigued to know how you get into the writer’s voice, how you know what kind of words might work, what sort of sentence rhythm will fit and how you know it will still sound like the author, not the editor.

A writer’s voice is the storytelling voice. I imagine I’m sitting across from my writer, staring over the campfire flames, listening to story being voiced out loud, and watching every inflection. Those nuances I mentioned earlier; how the writer subconsciously employs the various tricks, connectors, scene-setting techniques, tension pulls – those are the roads to unique voice and rhythm – writer’s DNA.

Robert Gottlieb says the editor’s relationship to a book should be an invisible one. Do you agree?

Invisible in that writer’s style/voice remains intact, yes.

In the age of independent publishing and authors doing it for themselves, does the future look rosy for editors such as yourself?

If you mean busy – yes. However, as in any trade, there are cowboys. Be sure to ask for that free analysis/sample and that your prospective editor connects with you and your work before scooting off to Paypal.

Writers often agonise over blurbs and synopses. Would you be the kind of person who could help a writer distil the essence of a story?

Distilling a five page synopsis to a one page synopsis is a favourite undertaking; almost akin to editing a short, or stripping back flash fiction for word count. I adore the process of peeling away the unnecessary and leaving the necessary. And the same goes for blurbs; knowing how to punch with minimum effort, how to grab with words, while understanding reader’s perception requirements; this is the key to successful brevity.

What do you write?

I’ve published two books in the Kimi series so far; paranormal sci-fantasy with aliens and crows. I’ve tried my hand at many short stories which I’m publishing as an anthology, and the WIP is an adult fantasy horror.

John’s editing services:

Kimi’s blog and books:

Friday, 26 April 2013

The Paperwork: ISBNs, Tax and Legal Deposit

The sexiest blogpost title ever?
You need to know this stuff. So stop fiddling with that thing and pay attention.

ISBN - International Standard Book Number

An ISBN identifies your book, like a fingerprint. If you want your own ISBNs, you need to buy them. In the UK, this means going to Nielsen.

In order to buy your first batch of ISBNs, you will need to be able to enter the following information for at least one book. Unless you have already completely formatted your print book, this will usually mean entering info about an eBook edition, as for a print book you have to enter number and size of pages WHICH CANNOT BE CHANGED LATER.

Publisher, Imprint etc: as an independent author/publisher, then you retain the rights to your book, so use your own name or the name of the publishing company you have created for yourself. They will also ask you for the draft title page and title verso. Don’t panic about how this is going to be laid out in the final version. What matters is:

- the title page shows the exact title and the author’s name and nothing else

- the title verso shows the copyright and publisher contact info – example below

Copyright page

Copyright © 2012 by JJ Marsh

The moral rights of the author have been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the email address below.

Cover design: JD Smith

Published by Prewett Publishing.

All enquiries to

First printing, 2012

ISBN 978-3-9523970-1-5

The form will also ask you for the short description of the book – which here is NOT the blurb, but closer to what elsewhere might be called the keywords and something called the BIC code.

BIC codes are the way that traditional publishers have been classifying books for years. (See Metadata in the Wish You Were Here chapter for more information).

When you are ready to attach ISBNs to further titles/editions of title, you can download the new title form from


In Britain, you have to buy a batch of ten ISBNs. The US, Australia and Switzerland allow you to buy individual ISBNs but do remember that you will need a different number for each format, paperback, Kindle eBook, Smashwords eBook.

UK site:

US site:

Australian site:

If you come from somewhere other than the above, find your site here:

Do I need an ISBN?

No, not necessarily. Amazon offers a free ASIN (an Amazon identifier), which identifies Amazon as the publisher. Smashwords and Lulu likewise. You receive all your royalties, naturally, but will be ‘published’ by those organisations.

If I have an ASIN, can I get listed in the Nielsen catalogue?

A spokesperson for Nielsen Bookdata UK says: “For Nielsen, an Amazon identifier is not sufficient. Most international bookdata handlers require an ISBN.”

And finally, does the ISBN have a future?

The Economist says it’s questionable, Laura Dawson (Bowker) says yes.


US Tax Exemption

If you are publishing in the US and are not a US resident, you will need to send US tax exemption forms to Kindle and Smashwords. Smashwords is the only one that will warn you about this.

The link below gives an excellent step by step guide to exactly what you need to do. Read it and follow it to the letter:

In summary, the key things you need to know are:

Before anything else, you need to telephone the IRS in the US and obtain an EIN number. Once you have this, keep it somewhere safe.

For each company with which you are publishing in the US, get a copy of the form W8-BEN.

Fill that in (in Blue Ink), ticking ‘individual’, and EIN and entering that all-important number.

Send ORIGINAL copies of the form (not scans or photocopies) to each of the companies. The addresses are given in the link above. Do it ASAP.

Legal Deposit
The Laws on Sending a Copy to National Libraries


Publishers are obliged to send one copy of each of their publications to the British Library, free of charge, within one month of the date of publication. The other five libraries (see below) have the right to request the deposit of publications, free of charge, within a year of the date of publication.

Legal Deposit creates many advantages for the author and publisher, including the preservation of their work for future generations, recording the publication by online catalogue and listing on the BNB (British National Bibliography) a system used by librarians and the book trade for stock selection.

National Libraries: The British Library , Bodleian Library (Oxford), University Library (Cambridge), National Library of Scotland, Library of Trinity College (Dublin) & National Library of Wales

More information here:


Rules vary regarding legal deposit from canton to canton, but the ISBN Office advises you to send a copy to the Swiss National Library and send you the forms to do so with your ISBNs.

Swiss National Library
ISSN Centre Switzerland
Hallwylstrasse 15
3003 Bern


Legal deposit by the publisher

(The term "publisher" is deemed to cover any professional publisher or any natural or legal person acting as such (printer, association, trade union, civil society, self-publishing author, main depositary of imported works, or public administration).

One copy must be sent to the BNU (Bibliothèque Nationale Universitaire) at the address below.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Dépôt légal des livres
Quai François-Mauriac
75706 Paris cedex 13
Tel: 01 53 79 43 37
Fax: 01 53 79 46 00
POST FREE! The items may be sent post-free on condition that they clearly bear the following indication: "Franchise postale - Dépôt légal - Code du patrimoine art. L132-1"


All works under copyright protection that are published in the United States are subject to the mandatory deposit provision of the copyright law (17 USC section 407). This law requires that two copies of the best edition of every copyrightable work published in the United States be sent to the Copyright Office within three months of publication. Works deposited under this law are for the use of the Library of Congress. Mandatory deposit applies to works first published in a foreign country at the point at which they are distributed in the United States.

Find out more here:


Legal Deposit is a requirement under the Copyright Act 1968 for publishers and self publishing authors to deposit a copy of any print work published in Australia with the National Library and when applicable, the deposit libraries in your home state. Legal Deposit ensures that Australian publications are preserved for use now and in the future. Please send a copy of your work to the National Library of Australia as soon as it is published:

Legal Deposit Unit
National Library of Australia
Canberra ACT 2600

Telephone: 02 6262 1312
Fax: 02 6273 4492

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Reaching Your Readers

Lessons in Marketing from London Book Fair 2013

By Catriona Troth

I think most of us here at Triskele would agree the toughest thing we have had to take on for ourselves since going Indie is the dreaded marketing. And these days, it’s not just Indie authors that have to deal with it. Unless you are one of the tip-of-the-iceberg authors that the big publishers reserve nearly all of their marketing budget for, chances are, at some point, you are going to have to come out of your garret and do some self promotion.

Not all authors fit the stereotype of the shy, retiring type who would rather deal with characters on paper than readers in person. But even for those who relish a chance get out there and perform, it can be tough to switch from those familiar, introspective creative/editing modes into something a whole lot louder. So believe me, anything help we can get is more than welcome. And in these last couple of weeks we’ve found some diamonds.

First of all, there was the Booksellers’ webinar Metadata: Get It Right First Time.

Then, two of the highlights of the London Book Fair 2013, and the two events from which we brought home copious notes and a headful of ideas to try, were:

Joanna Penn – The Creative Penn – Advanced Online Marketing for Authors, and

Patrick Brown, Director of Community, Goodreads: Helping Readers Discover Your Books

All three of these have kindly made their presentation available on the web, and we have no intention of trying to duplicate them. But we thought we would share a few of the ideas that made us think, “we really have to do that!” And those basically split into two main areas – talking to your readers and (gulp!) metadata.

Talking to Your Readers

Let there be no misunderstanding, building the sort of author platform that has hundreds, or even thousands, of fans clamouring for your next book is a long, slow process. It’s not going to happen overnight. But you have to start somewhere, and there are ways to make the foundations for that platform more secure and longer lasting.

One of Joanna Penn’s key tips is not to let your potential readers slip from your grasp for lack of preparation. Make sure you have an email sign-up on your website / blog etc so that you have a way of contacting readers who have, say, shown an interest in your first book when you are about to release your second. (And if you write two different types of books, make sure that you keep two separate email lists, so that you are not telling the readers of your book on the banking industry all about your latest erotic novel!)

Goodreads has been – and I hope will remain, even after its controversial takeover by Amazon – one of the best ways of connecting with a community of potential readers.

One of the first things you should do is to set up an author profile page on Goodreads – and make that page as engaging as possible. Put a picture on there. Include a bio. Link to your website, Facebook and Twitter feeds. Include an RSS feed to your blog, so readers can see you latest posts.

And then get out there and talk! Talk about the books that matter to you. If star ratings make you uncomfortable, just leave a review. Engage in conversations with other readers – but not about your own books. The aim is to be the guest at a cocktail party that people want to talk to - not the double-glazing salesman that they slam the phone down on.

The right place to let people know about things like book launches, giveaways, book signings, etc, is the status update on your own page.

Goodreads Giveaways are a well-known marketing tool. Most people hope that they will lead to a spike in sales, or at least in reviews. In truth, it is probably more realistic to expect a spike in people putting your book on their ‘to read’ shelves, and to treat anything else as a bonus.

Currently, you can only give away physical books on Goodreads, not ebooks. You’ll need to decide on how many books to give away, and which territories you are prepared to ship to (so you don’t suddenly find yourself with a massive bill for postage and packing). You can, however, give away books from your backlist – say, as a way of drumming up interest for a new release – simply by leaving the publication date blank when you are setting up the giveaway.

Patrick Brown, in his talk at the London Book Fair, suggested that a month was the ideal time for a giveaway. Other indie authors have said this is much too long and that you only get people participating in the last few days, so I guess this is a matter of trial and error.

Listopia is the area of Goodreads that has ‘public’ list (as opposed to private lists set up by individual readers). Bear in mind that it’s okay to add your book to a list of ‘Historical Novels set in Revolutionary France’ – but not to a list of ‘The Fifty Best Fantasy Novels of 2013’.

And of course, you can always ‘talk’ to your readers directly. Technology these days makes it very easy to record podcasts and upload them to your website. These could be audio-samples from your book, or they could be you interviewing other writers. If this is your thing, then the potential is endless.


Say the word ‘metadata’ and watch a roomful of people screw up their faces as if you’d asked them to make sense of the General Theory of Relativity. But really it’s something most of us make use of every day of our lives.

You may all be writers, but first you were readers. Chances are you buy, or at least search for books online. If you go into a library or a bookshop and ask for a specific book, the librarian or bookseller searches for it in a catalogue. So what ensures that you find the book you are looking for?


Whatever catalogue you are searching, you need the title to be accurate and the author’s name to be consistently given (not J.K. Rowling in one place, Joanna Rowling in another and Jo Rowling in yet another). And that’s if you know specifically the book you are looking for.

Suppose you have written a crime novel about a female serial killer going on the rampage through the Norfolk Broads. What you would like to happen is that your novel comes up as a suggestion when a reader searches for, say:

Crime novels with female serial killers

Crime novels set in Norfolk

And maybe also, crime novels set in rural England, or crime novels set around boats or... Well, it’s up to you, really.

So this is where two things become very important.

First of all, there is the ‘short description’ of your book. This is NOT the place to put your blurb, but rather to put all information that will allow people to categorise your book.

Secondly, there are the key words. There will be various places to put this information, depending on where you are uploading to, be it Amazon, Nielsen or wherever. The important thing is to make sure that it is

Relevant to the way that a reader might search for your book

Accurate (you’re not pretending that the book is something it’s not), and

Consistent across all the places you are entering it

There are basically two types of keywords – the ordinary sort, which are one or two words in length (e.g. novella, crime fiction, young adult etc) and long-tail keywords, which are whole phrases like the ones I used above (crime novels with a female serial killer).

Joanna Penn has some great tips for finding the most effective keywords for your book.

Her first step is simply to brainstorm all the keywords / long-tail keywords that could possibly relate to your book. Next you use those keywords in two places to find out what people have actually been searching for - Google Ads and Amazon itself. Google Ads will tell you specifically about numbers of recent searches. Amazon doesn’t – but you can deduce the highest frequency searches by what appears via the ‘automatic fill-in’ when you start typing in their search field.

Once you have done that, you compare the results from the two sources and pick the TOP FIVE long-tail key words to include in your metadata. Joanna has plenty of evidence from authors who have followed her advice that this can have a direct and immediate effect on your sales.

Okay, that was probably the easy bit. There is another side to metadata that is slightly more arcane, because here you have to stop thinking like a reader and think instead about the publishing industry and how they have been classifying books over many many years. Like any big industry, they have standards and codes that can make it sound as if they are part of a secret society. But it’s really not that difficult, and all the information is publically available.

First of all there is the BIC Basic Required Information. This is simply the list of basic information about a book that a traditional publisher would be expected to supply. If you’ve filled in the form to obtain ISBNs from Nielsen, a lot of it will look familiar. The more of this information you can supply, and the earlier you can supply it, the easier it will be for all forms of search mechanism to find your books.

Secondly, and I suspect that this is something that a lot of Indie Authors may be missing out on, there are the BIC standard subject categories. These are simple codes which computers can recognise and that will identify whether a book is say,

Crime and Mystery [FF], or Erotic Fiction [FP]

Beyond these two letter codes, there may be further subdivisions. (Under thriller and suspense [FH], for example, there are spy thrillers [FHD] and legal/political thrillers [FHP]). You can identify short stories, or fiction in translation. You can indicate if your books is of gay/lesbian interest. You can add geographical codes to show that your book is set in a particular region or country, or a code to show what time period your historical novel is set in.

None of this mandatory, but using the codes wisely and well could increase your book’s visibility, which is what this is all about. I would suggest you take a look at the User Guidelines before you plunge into anything, but for fiction in particular, it is really not that complicated.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Meet the Editors - Charles Blass

Charles Blass

How did you become an editor?

I always loved to write and had great English teachers, but the trade of editing started from proofreading. I‘m from New York but also grew up in California. In NY, my profession was legal proofreading and paralegal editing in the corporate legal environment, document production, working long hours and often through the night.

What kind of editing do you do?

Still legal editing and proofing, some fiction, some non. It’s whatever is needed for the author – that might be radical surgery and always within the proper context of voice. Context is everything. Fine details and bigger picture, adjusting as needed within the tolerance of the situation.

Let’s talk about fiction. When working with a client where do you begin?

Depends on the relationship, the situation, the material and always respectful of their needs and their audience. The heart of it is the message, what the author’s trying to convey. And obviously, deadline, rate, focus.

So you start with a lot of questions.

If it’s not already clear, it has to be. I need to know the main message, purpose, theme, and who’s receiving it. We need to be on the same page. Methodology, mode of communication, specific about details such as working in WORD with Track Changes. I offer comments and suggestions more than making decisions, other than clear corrections. There’s a kind of intimacy between an author and an editor – the author has invited the editor inside their mind, with the aim of perfecting their message. Perfection is a funny term, but I do strive for excellence. This includes, form, content, rhythm, tone, language, texture and so forth. I’m interested in a wide range of composition and creativity and I bring this to my editing work as well. I shift between the micro and the macro – the big picture and each pixel.

What’s a successful author/editor relationship?

It comes down to communication in both directions. If it’s positive and clear, the work has the best chance of being useful and efficient. If the author is clear about what they need from you, and secure enough to open themselves to criticism, and ideally, trusting and respecting my experience. Feedback is a dialogue and can be delicate, so sometimes a phone call works better than email.

Does the process differ much when editing non-fiction?

Not really. It’s back to the author and the nature of their work. Context, format and timing tend to be more of a consideration in the business environment, but supporting the author in terms of message and voice and audience, my approach is pretty similar. Maybe there are particular practice areas including precise terminology that I need to become familiar with. Especially at the beginning, there’s a learning curve.

Do you have a preferred genre?

I’d say I’m genre-agnostic, with the caveat that if it’s offensive, I don’t want to deal with it. I’ve only had one case where I turned a manuscript down because it was offensive.

Because it was poor writing or offensive subject matter?

Both. I prefer to work with writers that I like, either for craft or ability, but that’s not essential.

How do you immerse yourself in the writer’s voice?

I love this question. I have no magic formula, I have many years’ experience and I love language, art and science. I’m continually growing as a human being and this comes into who we are as human beings. I feel I’ve lived enough to have some terms of reference in both knowledge and language, cultures, characters, situations, attitudes, motivations and mentalities. It’s about tuning in and drawing on experience. Talent is a part of it, and I give great credit to my parents and teachers. Voice, words, rhythm, they’re all essential and work together in a grand choreography. Punctuation ... I’m a huge fan. It’s microsurgery, but the slightest fixes can do wonders.

Keeping the author’s voice is fundamental, but it’s back to the dance. It can be quite a fine line, but if you’re tuned in, it happens. As soon as the ego comes in, you’ve crossed the line. Maintain a sense of perspective as to why you’re doing the work and for whom.

Robert Gottlieb said the role of an editor should be invisible.

Yes, on the face of it, in the final product. But in terms of collections and compilations, the editor does have a presence and in a way, a voice. For example, one of my favourite projects I’ve worked on was a collection of the writings of Jimi Hendrix, and my editorial presence was a part of that.

Will the rise of indie publishing benefit people like you?

I hope so. I’m a fan of self-publishing. A similar kind of explosion has been happening in the music world. So the answer is yes, surely, but how can we make the connections? All authors need an editor, if only for a second opinion, so I’m interested in the framework which brings the two together. I’m a teacher and a cheerleader for good language so I encourage any author to seek an experienced editor. Excellence is closer than you think.

Writers agonise over blurbs and synopses. Could you help with that?

Yes, I like that process. It’s not easy and can be quite painstaking. My main tool in terms of technique is mind-mapping, and that’s how I approach it.

Do you write?

Yes. A wide range of things, but probably the most consistent would be poetry and lyrics. I’ve done a lot of business-related writing, and also liner notes for music projects. I also come up with titles – for example, I have a huge collection of band names, but I have no idea what to do with them.

What’s your view on editors appropriate to nationality? Is it better for an American to edit a US author’s book? Would you feel confident about tackling a British writer’s work?

I think it depends on the editor. Personally I would feel confident − due to my experience with England and the range of patois and cultures I encountered for decades in New York − in tackling most material, but I think the most important thing is that the author feels comfortable.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Joni Rodgers on The Hurricane Lover

Questions by Catriona Troth

Joni, when I first mentioned doing this interview, you described The Hurricane Lover as ‘a soul project’. Can you tell us more about why it means so much to you? 

At the end of summer 2005, in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of thousands of evacuees poured into Houston, and thousands of Houstonians (including my husband and me) volunteered with massive relief efforts. I witnessed great suffering, strength and compassion and heard scores of stories, some heart-wrenching, some hilarious, all intensely personal. But what I saw and heard was not at all reflected in the news coverage seen by the world, and that troubled me terribly.

The week after the storm, as I carried water to people waiting outside in the oppressive heat, I heard a New Orleans police officer remark that this situation was “great for media people and con artists”. The concept struck me like a hammer. Characters and plot took root as I continued to schlep water outside the stadium. A month later, Hurricane Rita left us without power for several days; I finished the first draft in the dark, charging my laptop from my car battery, and the story became a true “tale of two cities” as response to Hurricane Rita spun out of control.

When I excitedly called to tell my editor at HarperCollins, she flatly said, “Everyone’s sick of this hurricane thing, and you should stick with women’s fiction.” My agent agreed and said, “Maybe in five years. But why bother? Ghostwriting pays much better than fiction.” I’m so grateful for that rejection! For six years, the story simmered. Research rabbit holes opened. In 2008, Hurricane Ike tore through Houston. I couldn’t resist going outside to experience this awesome force of nature. (NOT recommending that!) Left without power for a month, I tethered my laptop to a neighbor’s generator and did a major rewrite.

Every time I returned to the story, it became stronger and more personal; my heart felt crowded with the voices I’d heard that summer. Nibbles of interest from editors and agents always came with their ideas of how the book might be refocused to be more marketable. I couldn’t bring myself to make those compromises. I was so deeply invested, no way was I giving up creative control. I waited until the time was right and published THE HURRICANE LOVER as an indie.

It’s not the most money I’ve ever made for a book, nor the least, but it’s the book that most clearly says what I set out to say, breathes the best dialogue I’ve ever written, took me on the most exciting research journey and captured the genuine intention of my heart.

Wow! That answer got a bit long-winded! (No pun intended.)

Your anger at the government’s wholly inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina is palpable. You volunteered at the Houston Reliant Center, so you saw some of the consequences at first hand. As well, you use, as chapter headings, the published emails that show how ill-prepared and (shockingly) flippant the officials in charge were. When did those first become public? How much digging did you have to do to find out the truth of what had happened? 

The Center for Public integrity fought to have email to and from FEMA director Michael Brown released via the Freedom of Information Act in 2006. I waded through about 1000 pages, sifting and categorizing messages that started the week before the storm and went through mid-September. I was really blown away by what I found. (Oy! Another pun!)

I remember at last year’s LBF, you said that the reason the traditional publishing houses turned down the book was that had ‘too much sex and politics.’ Can you say any more about that? I’d have thought sex and politics were great selling points! 

One would assume! I think (sadly) if this book had been written by a man, it would have gotten a very different reception, which is why I submitted it to only a few people and ultimately decided to bide my time and keep it close to the vest. In 2008, I didn’t know what the wild world of publishing was about to become, but I was starting to suspect. Patience is not usually one of my virtues, but it definitely paid off here.

The tricky thing with writing a political novel is to avoid it becoming a polemic (something I think you have managed very well, by the way). Part of the trick is sympathetically embodying different points of view. How hard did you find that? Did you enjoy writing characters that you might violently disagree with in real life? 

Thank you! I’m glad you see it that way. It wasn’t hard at all, because so many people I respect and love live by belief systems very different from my own. In my family, there’s a broad spectrum of political and religious persuasions, and my dad loves to stir up animated conversations. My favorite scene in the book is the Sunday dinner where Shay’s conservative father provokes Corbin into a knock-down-drag-out argument about Iraq, global warming and the election of George W. Bush. Shay’s mother points out the real difference between them: “Liberals care about humanity, and conservatives care about people. Seems like it shouldn’t be so hard to build a bridge between the two.” That, in a nutshell, is how I feel.

The other documents you use as chapter headings are the weather forecasts that chart the development of Katrina. How much did you have to learn about the science of hurricane forecasting? How did you go about the research? 

As I constructed an hour-by-hour timeline for each hurricane, I became totally fascinated by those elegant, all-caps forecasts. I made an ongoing hobby of watching storms and storm forecasting and enlisted the help of a brilliant meteorologist, Dr. Jack Beven, senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center. Most astonishing was the climate change research. Just two weeks before Hurricane Katrina, a scientist at MIT published compelling evidence that linked increasing hurricane intensity and rising ocean temperatures, which he predicted would spawn powerful megastorms. The hurricane season that followed was a record-smasher that cost billions and killed thousands of people. Now we’re seeing freakish winter storms too. We simply cannot continue to ignore the real and devastating effects of climate change.

You’re a Texan, aren’t you? How well did you know New Orleans before writing the book? How did you get to know the city – before and after Katrina? 

I lived on Gulf of Mexico in Florida when I was a child, and my sister lives in central Florida now, so I’ve driven back and forth along the Gulf Coast many, many times since we moved to Houston in 1994. I’d passed through New Orleans and loved it, but really didn’t know the city that well. Mostly I relied on research, interviews, a lovely immersion in the local jazz and Cajun music and long conversations with elderly evacuees. A year before Hurricane Katrina, a computer simulation called “Hurricane Pam” calculated very accurately exactly what the water depth would be in each part of the city if (when) the levees failed, so I was able to use that and Google Street Views as a sort of chess board as I moved characters through the plot points.

You’re a member of the League of Extraordinary Authors – a collective that’s been around a lot longer than Triskele. Can you tell us a bit more about how it works? How did you guys get together? What makes the group tick? 

As indie publishing opportunities heated up in 2011, I kept thinking that midlist authors – critically acclaimed and bestselling authors who’d been disenfranchised or creatively outgrew the corporate publishing realm – were in position to reap the most benefit. We already had traditional book biz chops and credibility; now we could add to that the agility and creative control of indie publishing. Most of us have backlist rights, a cultivated a fan base and ongoing agents/publisher relationships. Others are small/micro-press authors who find themselves facing the same marketing challenges faced by indies. I thought it made sense for us to come together as a branded coalition and as a community of friends, so I formed a private discussion group, then a Facebook page (, and Twitter ( to supplement our blog (, which functions as a digest of member blogs.

So far it’s been pretty informal; membership is invitation only, and we operate by the credo “In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” In May, my daughter and I are launching Stella’s Umbrella, an upmarket online “booktique” that will prominently feature League XA members, along with other indie, small and micro-press authors. The benefits of belonging will be exponentially greater, so I suppose we’ll have to be a bit more structured, but for now, I’m happy being a doting hippie mama who encourages everyone be as they feel. It’s an incredibly talented group of artists. I’m so proud to be part of it.

You have been published traditionally and through the indie route, so you have a foot in both worlds. What, for you, are the biggest positives and negatives of the two routes? 

For me, there is really just one world; I think the imaginary lines between indie and corporate publishing are obsolete. Positives of the indie business model are creative control and marketing agility, which far outweigh the downsides: lingering prejudices and an annoying glut of carpetbaggers who drove prices down with a gold rush mentality. Positives of corporate publishing are financial backing, marketing help and (with certain publishers) prestige. On the downside: the agonizingly constipated process and the fakakta notion that agents and editors know more about writing books than writers do. Heresy Alert! Skilled authors (even we silly women scribblers!) are plenty capable of creating great stories without in-house formula being shoved down our throats, and readers are waking up to the fact that more and more high quality, creatively risky, organically grown fiction is coming from the indie, small and micro-press world.

We recently asked several Indie authors what they’d learnt since publishing their own books. What would your key lessons be (about publishing, about the Indie community...or anything that strikes you)? 

The Bard said it best: To thine own self be true. Be true. In writing and in life. At the end of the day, come what may, you’ll know that you stubbornly held on to your joy, generously gave your love and enjoyed a hell of a run.

See also:  our review of The Hurricane Lover

Review of The Hurricane Lover by Joni Rodgers

by Catriona Troth

The Hurricane Lover is the story of two former lovers from polar ends of the deep political divide who collide – sexually, emotionally and in every other way – as Hurricane Katrina rolls over New Orleans and a predatory serial killer called Queen Mab takes advantage the ensuing chaos.

Corbin is a meteorologist, one of the best hurricane forecasters around – a liberal, a Democrat and an alcoholic. Shay is a small-time TV presenter, fobbed off with stories about ice cream and Ziploc bags – a former beauty queen and daughter of a wealthy and influential Republican. He is on the trail of Katrina and she is on the trail of Queen Mab.

I have never been to Louisiana or to Texas (where part of the action takes place), nor have I ever lived through a hurricane. But there is a filmic quality to the writing that means that the book played out in my mind in a series of vivid images. Rodgers has an ear, too, for the rich language of the Louisiana: colourful, gutsy and laced with Old French.

Katrina, of course, provides a gift of a setting for any thriller. No one reading it can doubt that the jeopardy of the hurricane is real – no need here for writerly exaggeration. And Queen Mab is a frighteningly plausible killer – a modern take on an old nightmare, using the Internet to lure her victims into traps she baits with their own lusts.

Shay and Corbin have a chemistry that flies off the page. They are an impossible pairing, striking sparks off each other at every encounter, yet you find yourself rooting for them to find a way past their differences and be together, because they are also perfect for each other.

The book has an undoubted political edge. It’s hard to miss the deep underlying anger at the woefully inadequate response to the hurricane. It comes through in Corbin’s railing against head-in-the-sand attitude of the authorities, and also in the verbatim reproduction, as chapter headings, of published emails to and from the Head of FEMA – the organisation charged with preparing for and coping with the disaster. Yet Rodgers avoids polemic by giving the ‘opposition’ their own rounded, sympathetic characters.

This is a powerful book that deserves to be read both for the yarn it spins and for the real-life story it uncovers.

Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Gained in Translation

by Catriona Troth

“It is often said that something is lost in translation, but it is also true that something may be gained in translation.”
Elif Shafak, member of judging panel, The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is unique in that the award is shared equally between the writer and their English translator, in recognition of their symbiotic relationship.

The translation of fiction into other languages can be very much a one way street. In many countries around the world, a high proportion of the books published have been translated from English, yet in the English speaking world, the proportion of books translated from other languages remains tiny. To make matters worse, translation into English is often an essential bridge to translation into other languages – so for a book in Finnish to be available in Farsi, it must first pass through the impossibly narrow gateway of translation into English.

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize attempts to redress this balance by celebrating the very best of translation into English. This year’s shortlist includes writers from Africa, Spain, The Netherlands, Argentina, Croatia and Albania. (You can see the full shortlist and read the judge’s comments on each title here.)

Three of that judging panel for the award – Elif Shafak, Gabriel Josipovici and Boyd Tonkin were at the London Book Fair to discuss the short list and were asked about the general state of health for translation of fiction into English.

All spoke very highly of the standard of translation they had seen. “There is a kind of harmony, a dance between writer and translator,” Shafak said. “Reading these books made me aware of how much we owe our translators.”

Josipovici regretted that more truly courageous and experimental voices were not getting translated. Literature in translation should not be reduced to the literature of identity – a sort of fictional travelogue. (And indeed the shortlist bucks this trend by including a novel by a Dutch author set in Snowdonia and another by a Spanish author set in Ireland.)

“In terms of geographical spread there are still many areas that are still very sketchily filled in,” Tonkin said. He was particularly disappointed to see very few works translated from languages of the Indian subcontinent, despite the fact many such books are available in English in India.

Shafak commented on the gender imbalance of the shortlist, which is once again dominated by male. (Women translators, on the other hand, are well represented.) “Many women write fiction, and most readers of fiction are women. But when it comes to getting reviewed, when it comes to getting translated, what we see are male writers.”

One member of the audience noted that there were no writers in Arabic on the list and wondered how the Arab Spring was being reflected in fiction.

Tonkin quoted Doris Lessing – literature is analysis after the event. “To create fiction, you need time to acquire perspective. In the short run, it is perhaps better to turn to non-fiction. It could be a decade before we see the great novel of the Arab Spring.”

Another audience member asked whether the judging panel should be looking at the best of books in other languages – those that deserve to be translated.

“What an interesting suggestion,” Tonkin said. “In an ideal world, it would be great to be able to tell publishers, ‘here’s a list of what you’re missing.’ But I think it might be beyond our time and resources.”


Market Focus: Turkey

Another way in which the London Book Fair fosters an awareness of literature from other countries is through its Market Focus programme – or to use the term Kamila Shamsie would prefer, ‘Literature Focus’. LBF aims to raise awareness of writing from one selected country through a programme of events and author interviews. In previous years, India, China and Russia, among others, have been guest of honour at the Fair, and this year it was the turn of Turkey.

Elif Shafak, the Turkish author who was on the judging panel for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, was author of the day at the LBF on Tuesday, when I couldn’t be there. But I did catch another Turkish novelist, Oya Baydar, in conversation with Kamila Shamsie. Only one of Baydar’s novels, The Lost Word, has been translated into English, and the conversation is conducted through a translator.

After publishing her first novel, God Forgot His Children, when she was still in high school, Baydar was drawn into politics. “It was unavoidable to be involved in left wing politics in the 1960s. We saw ourselves as revolutionaries and you could not be a part-time revolutionary.”

In 1980, she was arrested for using the expression ‘the Turkish peoples’ rather than ‘the Turkish people’ and left Turkey with a seven year jail term hanging over her. For twelve years, she lived in Germany and while there, she began writing short stories about Turkish people in exile.

“Living in exile made me realise that your country is your language and your language is your country. Not being able to speak my own language affected my thought patterns. It affected my ability to think.

“Many people in Turkey – the Kurdish, the Armenians – feel like foreigners in their own country. My experience has given me great sympathy with them. Since my return, I have worked in support of the Kurds.”

Even though the situation in Turkey much more relaxed, serious issues of freedom of expression remain. Baydar noted that, while it is easier to discuss the Kurdish issue, there are still heavy restrictions around any mention of the Armenian genocide.

“Saying anything slightly outside the ideological lines can lead to trouble. You may not go to prison any more, but you may lose your job as a journalist.”

Indeed, as the LBF opened, news came that the Turkish composer, Fazal Say, had been given a 10 month suspended sentence for ‘insulting religion’ on Twitter.

Baydar is optimistic about the future, but also fearful. “We do not know if the democratisation of Turkey will continue, or whether our dreams will be broken.”

Catriona Troth has been tweeting from the London Book Fair on behalf of @TriskeleBooks.  You will also be able to read more of her adventures on the Words with Jam blog.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Where Do I Belong? A Guide to Professional Organisations for Writers

by Catriona Troth

It can be hard for writers at the start of their career to figure out which of the bewildering array of writers’ organisations out there might be for them.  So here, to help you, is a brief guide to who? why? and how much? *
*Updated from an article first published in Words with Jam magazine

We’ve focused primarily on UK organisations, but we’ve noted which ones accept overseas members, and we’ve also taken a look at a few US and international organisations too.

The Membership criteria listed are generally those for Full Membership, but some organisations offer various forms of associate membership that admit a broader range of unpublished or self-published authors – or those such as editors or agents that are in related professions.

It’s worth noting that membership fees for professional organisations may be reclaimable against tax.

Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi):

Cost: Author Membership (International) $99 / £75 / €89pa (for other levels of membershipt - see website)


The Alliance of Independent Authors is a professional organisation of self-publishing writers and advisors.  Launched at the 2012 London Book Fair, it now has flourishing communities in countries including the US, the UK, Japan and Australia, as well as a very active and friendly members-only Facebook Group and a Self-Publishing Advice blog . Members can be listed on their ‘Find an Indie Author’ database.

  • Author Membership is open to those who have published independently, or to trade-published authors who are preparing to publish independently.
  • Professional Membership is for those who are earning their living from their independently published works
  • Partner Membership is for anyone offering service to independent authors whose service has been vetted by ALLi
  • Associate Membership is open (at reduced cost) to anyone interested in self-publishing
ALLi provides advice from experienced professionals on every aspect of independent publishing.  You get a member pack on joining, and there are help-lines and several guidebooks.  They can vet contracts, and connect writers with services for self-publishers (such as editors, designers and marketing agencies) that have been approved by their watchdog service.

ALLi engages with booksellers, literary agents, trade publishers, libraries, book clubs and media to advocate for self-publishers' interests. Through their Open Up To Indie Authors campaign, they are working with reading agencies to bring self-published work to reading groups and libraries and literary events.

They have also built relationships with rights agencies to allow their members to sell, for example, translation rights to their self-published books.

Society of Authors (SoA):

Cost: £95 pa (less if you are under 35, or for associate membership)


The biggest and best known writers’ association in the UK.

Full membership is open to:
  • Those who have had a full length work published or have been offered a contract; 
  • Those who have has at least a dozen short items published (with payment); 
  • Those who have self-published or have had a work published on a print-on-demand/ebook only basis and have sold over 300 copies of a single title in print form or 500 copies in ebook form within a 12-month period.
One of the most valuable benefits of membership is their free vetting service for contracts, and many authors will join when they are offered their first contract.  Other benefits include a Reader’s Tickets for the British Library and discount membership of affiliated organisations (including CWA, RNA and HWA). They organise some great talks, act as a market place where any members can advertise their skills and services, and even provides bursaries and financial help for professional writers in need.

Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ):


Cost: £45 pa (less for associate, student or overseas membership) + £25 initial joining fee

The SWWJ was founded in 1894.  Past Presidents have included Richmal Crompton, Margery Allingham, Vera Brittain and Joyce Grenfell.  The current President is Victoria Wood. Their aims include’ the encouragement of literary achievement, the upholding of professional standards, and social contact with fellow writers.’

Members must submit a CV and be sponsored by two professionals (agents, editors or existing SWWJ members) who vouch than they are bona fide professionals working in literature, journalism, or related spheres.  (Since 2004, published male writers can join as associate members.)

They provide a critique service for members that covers articles and non-fiction books, as well as poetry, short stories and novels.  If you are interested in writing for the stage, they have a drama group which periodically runs workshops with professional actors.  Members can submit a script in advance for a one act play needing fewer than a specified number of actors.  The script can then be thoroughly tested on the day, in preparation, say, for submission to a festival or other competition.

Since 2010, they have run a self-publishing service, Scriptora, which allows members to publish potentially difficult to place work such as poetry anthologies and out-of-print backlists.

They run a summer festival and maintain an overseas section. Full members become affiliates of the New Cavendish Club in London, which provided inexpensive accommodation in central London.

The SWWJ runs both open and members-only competitions. Recently, for example, they ran an open competition for a Life Writing piece of up to 700 words.

One of the more unusual benefits of membership is that you receive a Press Card. 

Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB):

Cost: 1.2 % of earnings from writing, subject to a minimum £180 pa and a maximum of £1,800 pa


Membership is open to writers who have accumulated at least 8 membership 'points', where a professional contract for writing in terms ‘at or above the Writers’ Guild minimum terms,’ earns 8 points, any other commercially produced work earns 4 points, and each self-published work earns 1 point.

Membership is open to authors of books, but the WGGB (like Writers’ Guilds in the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere) is first and foremost at union for writers working in film, television and radio.

Those who have not yet earned enough points for full membership can join as candidate members, at a cost of £100 pa.

They have a free contract-vetting service and they also offer a pension for writers in TV, film and radio, with mandatory employer contributions for writers who work for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or an independent production company.

The WGGB negotiate minimum rates with broadcasters and theatre companies. They campaign on behalf of writers - for example, when it was recently announced that BBC Radio 4 would cut the number of short stories broadcast, the WGGB immediately issued a statement to campaign against the cuts.

They do, however, have a Books Committee, and the annual Writers’ Guild Awards cover fiction and non-fiction books, as well as writing for stage, screen, television and radio.  Off The Shelf at Black's is a collaboration between the WGGB and Black's members club in Soho, offering a series of monthly one day residencies for fiction writers at Black’s.

Crime Writers’ Association (CWA):

Cost: £60 pa


The CWA promotes the crime genre and provides social and professional support for its members. 
Membership is open to published authors in the crime genre, in the UK or overseas – not to self-published authors or to those as yet under contract.  As well as novels and non-fiction books, screen plays, television scripts and plays with a crime theme count. 

CWA is well known for running the annual ‘Dagger’ awards, including the Debut Dagger, awarded each year to an unpublished writer based on the opening chapters and synopsis of their novel.  Many of the winners and short-listed entrants have gone on to be published as a result of the award.

Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA):

Cost: £50 pa (£57 outside EU)


The RNA was formed in 1960 ‘to promote romantic fiction and to encourage good writing.’  It now represents more than 700 writers, agents, editors and other publishing professionals. Membership is open to all published writers of romantic novels and full length serials of at least 30,000 words. Vanity and self-published works are explicitly excluded.

However, the RNA also runs a New Writers Scheme, which admits 250 unpublished authors annually.  For a fee of £120, they can take part in all RNA activities and also submit a typescript of a full-length novel for appraisal.

The RNA holds regular meetings, with expert speakers sharing their knowledge and experience, and runs an annual conference, where members discuss publishing trends and craft tips.  As their website says, ‘These gatherings are also social events, where members and their guests can enjoy the company of other writers, share the ups and downs of the writer’s life, offer and receive support and encouragement.’  They have an on-line forum for members and a quarterly magazine.

Their annual awards ceremony presents a total of six awards for romantic novels – plus the Harry Bowling Prize For New Writers.

 RNA has close ties with libraries, reflecting the popularity of the romance genre among library users. They issue an e-newsletter to librarians giving details of our members’ latest publications, information on talks and events that have taken place in libraries and the latest RNA news.

Historical Writers’ Association (HWA):

Cost: £65 pa for a standing order, £70 by Paypal or cheque


One of the newest professional writers’ associations, the HWA was founded in 2010 to sustain, promote and support writers in the historical field. Their first President is Michael Morpurgo.

Membership open to writers of historical fiction and non-fiction who have work published by recognised publishers in the last five years, where‘historical’ is defined as 35 years or more before date of application.

HWA held an inaugural Literary Festival in July 2011 at Kelmarsh Hall, in conjunction with English Heritage’s Festival of History.  Members have also taken part in a programme of Winter Activities held in conjunction with English Heritage at historical venues around the country.

The HWA awards the HWA Crown for Historical Debut Fiction for ‘the best historical novel by a first-time fictional author of any nationality, first published in the UK in English during the Judging Period.’

Historical Novel Society

Cost: $50pa / £30pa


Unlike the HWA, the Historical Novel Society is open to anyone who is interested in and passionate about Historical Novels. They started in 1997 as a campaigning organisation for a genre that was then in the doldrums. It is now an international organisation, active in both the US and the UK.

They run competitions to discover new authors, conferences bringing authors and readers together, and maintain internet groups and lists. They are supportive of self-published authors and have an active review section for indie-published historical novels.

They define historical novels as those whose main focus is more than fifty years in the past.

Society of Childrens’ Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI):

Cost: $85 pa for the first year, $70 thereafter


Founded in 1971, SCBWI is an international organisation ‘for those writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia.’
SCBWI lobbies on issues such as new copyright legislation, equitable treatment of authors and artists, and fair contract terms.

Full membership is open to those whose books, articles, poems, stories, illustrations, photographs, films, television or electronic media for children have been published or produced. SCBWI distinguishes between those books which have been 'Published and Listed' (ie published by traditional publishing houses). Those whose books have not been 'Published and Listed' are still eligible for membership, but are restricted from some member benefits.  

Associate Membership open to anyone with in an interest in children’s literature.

There is a British branch of SCBWI, but membership is through the international organisation. 
SCBWI in Britain run the biennial Undiscovered Voices competition, as well as regular ‘Slush Pile Challenges’ set by agents and editors.

They have a network of regional coordinators who run local critique groups and organise workshops, speakers and social events around the UK.

They run a series of talks by professional writers in London and Manchester/Chester, masterclasses for writers and illustrators, a retreat, and an annual two-day conference.

SCBWI International gives a number of grants and awards, including the Golden Kite award for excellence in children’s literature and ‘work in progress’ grants for both writers and illustrators.

Horror Writers Association

Cost:  $69 pa


An international organisation with an active UK chapter. 

Membership is open to published professional writers of horror or dark fantasy.  (Affiliate members need only to have published and been paid for a short story (or equivalent) in the genre.) They run a mentoring programme, produce market reports, list agents interested in the horror genre

The Horror Writers Association present the annual Bram Stoker Awards for horror writing (including screenplays, graphic novels and non-fiction).

English PEN / PEN International:

Cost: £50 pa (London and overseas) £45 (rest of UK) £15 (student)

Website:  /

English PEN is a campaigning organisation supporting the freedom to read and the freedom to write around the world.  They campaign on behalf of persecuted writers, editors and publishers.  In the UK they campaign to reform laws that curb free expression, and for greater access to literature.  They also promote and support literature in translation. Membership is open to anyone.

Their writer-led education programme, Readers & Writers, aims to give refugees, offenders, detainees and young people in schools experiences with reading and creative writing. They also award a number of prizes annually for excellence in literature. 

Membership open to anyone 'whether you’re a writer, a reader, an editor, a translator, a publisher, a literary agent… or just someone who is passionate about literature and freedom of expression.'


A Selection of Writers’ Organisations from the U.S.

Romance Writers of America (RWA):

Cost: $95pa (plus $25 new members fee)


Membership is open to ‘all persons seriously pursuing a romance fiction writing career.’ Others may join as associates.

They provide information and support from writing classes to information about the publishing industry. As well as several online chapters, they have many local ‘real world’ chapters around the US, allowing you to meet other romance writers face to face.

Mystery Writers of America (MWA):

Cost: $95 pa


Membership open to ‘professional writers in the crime/mystery/suspense field whose work has been published or produced in the U.S., who reside in the U.S.  Writers must have been paid for their work and must not be self-published.’

You can join initially as a ‘Fan’ and move on to ‘Active’ status when you become published. They provide a broad range of support for new writers, as well as an opportunity to meet editors and agents who specialize in buying and selling all variations of the mystery genre.

They have a monthly newsletter to keep the membership up to date on new mystery releases, breaking news in the publishing world, tips on innovations in self-publishing and eBooks, and articles specific to the craft of writing mystery. Local monthly meetings feature talks by experts in fields related to writing mystery like law enforcement and legal experts.

The MWA University offers full day seminars teaching writers new skills in craft and discussing topics regarding traditional and self publishing.  

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)

Cost:  $90 pa


Membership is open to writers with paid publications in ‘qualifying markets’ (which appear to be US only).

SFWA’ informs, supports, promotes, defends and advocates for’ Science Fiction and Fantasy writers. They assist members in legal disputes with publishers, and administer benevolent funds.

Through on-line forums, conventions and less formal gatherings, they provide information, education, support to their members.

The SFWA present the annual Nebula Awards.