Friday, 19 November 2010

Copyright Day

Any regular visitor to Jane Smith’s website – How Publishing Works – will be familiar with the Cooks Source furore and the fact that Jane suggested November 19 be dedicated to the subject of copyright.

Throughout the week, I’ve been thinking up all sorts of things to write – not least a good rant in response to the recent statements by Cooks Source editor Judith Griggs, which I have to admit have riled me good and proper in recent weeks.

However, after reading Nicola Morgan’s blog entry at Help! I Need a Publisher this morning, I realised making this a personal issue on my blog would be a waste of cyberspace. After all, we all know that this editor and her publication were in the wrong – that much is irrefutable. And as Nicola points out, education seems to be a better – and far more constructive – way to mark the occasion.

As a journalist, I have been on the receiving end of this type of copyright infringement – and downright plagiarism, in fact – many times. I cannot describe the feeling you get when you’ve gone the extra mile to seek out those all-important (and exclusive) quotes that will really make a story and then see all your efforts appearing under somebody else’s byline.

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are different things, of course – but in the end it all boils down to having respect for an author’s hard work. I would urge anyone unsure of the rules to read Nicola’s very useful post so that instances like this can be avoided in future. 

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Day – and night – jobs…

If there’s one thing that I hate about being a freelance journalist – it’s pitching ideas. You work on polishing a punchy letter… outline what you hope is a corker of a story…  click ‘send’… and then, very often, never hear back from the publication in question.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have regular clients – and believe me, they are a rare commodity in this recession-hit age when magazines are closing left, right and centre – it seems you don’t even warrant the courtesy of a response.

Sound familiar?

It hit me today that I really must be a glutton for punishment. Not content with enduring such treatment in my day job – I’m planning to put myself through the same ringer with literary agents too!

But then I thought this: pitching – whether it be in the form of a feature proposal or your manuscript – is essentially much the same thing. You’re selling yourself and your idea in both.

So I’m now telling myself that writing pitches in whatever form is invaluable experience – rather than a chore. No, I’m not convinced either…

Monday, 1 November 2010

Revisions, revisions...

Having given myself a stern talking to and knuckled back down to the day job, it’s been a struggle to get around to anything other than writing fiction in my spare time – so apologies for not making any posts of late. I consider that to be pretty bad form, so aim to make up for it this month!

I’m working on what I hope are the final revisions of my MS – although chances are I’m not even close. I read somewhere recently that an author will spend at least the same amount of time revising their book as they will writing it… something that actually made me feel a bit better about mine, because the constant polishing feels like it’s taking forever. 

Strangely enough, while I’m really looking forward to turning my attention to a different story, I’m not sick of my characters. If anything, their motivations are becoming increasingly clearer to me – which I’m taking as a good sign. 

Hopefully, my constant tweaking will make the finished product stronger, but I’d love to hear any tips from you all about how you tackle this stage of the process. For instance, is there such a thing as too much tinkering? 

It occurred to me that much like self-diagnosis of a minor ailment, too much attention to the details could   easily diminish what would otherwise be a good story. It suddenly feels as though I'm walking a very thin line... 

Best regards,