Tuesday, 23 November 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PEN2PUBLICATION & NEWS FOR WRITERS

Today is the first birthday of Pen2Publication, my writing consultancy. I have a few observations. And two things that surprised me. If you get to the end of the post, I even have some NEWS for you...

During the year I've taken on 29 clients, turned down some others, and delivered over 170,000 words in reports. Almost two novels' worth! (Crikey, think how pleased my agent would have been, if only...) I've had one client who didn't get back to me after receiving her report, but every one of the others has been effusive in acceptance of my often tough words. In fact, the first thing that surprised me was the courage and positivity with which they have all received their reports. A full P2P manuscript report is usually around 7,000 words, and most of those words focus on what's wrong. I skip with unseemly haste through the positive stuff and linger ouchingly on the negative so that the client understands fully what he or she needs to do. It's very, very tough to receive such feedback and I would like to say how much I admire them for being able to take it and, more importantly, act on it so keenly. I prepare all clients very carefully beforehand and don't take anyone who I think is going to be resistant or ignorant about the hard work involved in good writing. For my clients' dedication and courage, I salute them.

Comments have included:
"Thanks so much for your insightful, thorough and hugely helpful report. I thought I'd better check in so that you know I haven't killed myself!"
"Thanks so much again for what seems like an entire course in creative writing's worth in one report!"
"To be honest, Nicola, I cried. I cried with relief that now, at last, I know what's wrong. And you've shown me how to deal with it."
"I have re-read many websites, blogs, covering the points your critique made. I had read most of them before, but seeing your pointed comments placed alongside my own work had a marked effect. It was as if I was reading the previously studied advice for the first time."
"I am deeply impressed by the detail of your report and annotations."
"You don't hold back!"
No, I don't. There wouldn't be any point, would there? You don't pay for someone to pat you on the back, say how marvellous you are and then to shy away from saying why you aren't published and won't be if you don't find and rectify the faults. On the other hand, I don't have to try very hard to find the faults and let me tell you the second thing that surprised me about this work:
Pretty much everyone is making the same few mistakes.
So, one might think, why don't I just list those mistakes, here and now, for everyone to see? Then, surely, writers can save themselves a whole load of money by not having to go to consultancies like P2P?

Actually, I've written about them all already on this blog. But I'll say it again: you make mistakes with voice, structure, narrative thrust, over-writing, believability and pace. I've done posts on them all. But being told these things in the abstract is not enough. What I do within a P2P consultation is highlighted by one of the comments above:
"...seeing your pointed comments placed alongside my own work, had a marked effect. It was as if I was reading the previously studied advice for the first time."
Because if I tell you what to do in a blog post, doling out the theory, it simply is not as pointful and useful as if I show you, by taking your work and showing how it falls short of what you can and must do. What I do with a P2P report is annotate the MS, so that the writer's own writing reveals clear examples of the points I make in the report itself.

See, showing is better than telling.

Here comes the news...
I haven't written this post because I'm looking for more clients - far from it, actually. As you'll see if you hop over to P2P, I'm not taking new clients at the moment. (That's not the news.) At best, I only take on 2-3 a month and will take fewer from now on, as I am getting behind on my own writing. (No, that's not news either.) Next year, I'll be doing lots of Write to be Published workshops. I'll be announcing this properly soon, when I launch the brand new website, but I am inviting you over there now, as special preview guests.That's part of the news. (Oh, and do tell me about any typos - it's not fully ready yet.)

But the main news is that on the events section of the WTBP site you will see that the very first Write to be Published event actually aims to answer the very question that a P2P manuscript appraisal does:

WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY MANUSCRIPT? 

Do you want to know what's wrong with yours? Well, if you can get to Edinburgh on March 22nd and spend the evening with me at this event in a luxury hotel, refreshments (including wine) and chocolate included, as well as a goody bag and free book, I aim to try to show you. You are being told before anyone else, so sign up now before the rush!

There's also another event you'll see, on April 4th: Get Ready to be Published. Everything except the writing. With those two events, you're pretty much set.

But I do realise that many of you can't get to Edinburgh or afford the fees for a private consultancy, so the blog goes on, unabated. Just try to stop me...

20 comments:

Queenie said...

Many happy returns! I couldn't find any typos - not an exhaustive search, but I did try quite hard.

karen ball said...

I would LOVE to go to the Get Ready To Be Published event, but it's the CWIG conference on the Saturday and I have another event on the Tuesday. Eek! I just don't think I can squeeze a trip up to Edinburgh in between. I do hope you host another one of these! Great stuff. I'd love an excuse to visit Edinburgh again.

catdownunder said...

Miaou - Happy New Website Day. I would love to purrowl into an event but, sadly, it is unlikely to happen - as is help from P2P. Never mind...thanks for your other support during the year!

Dan Holloway said...

Very best with the new site - excellent choice of WP theme. I love the little anti-stalker note that your assistant also reads e-mails at the address given!

Sally Zigmond said...

Gosh. Is it really a year since you started Pen2Pen? Congratulations. I fine service to all us needy writers. I would love to come to Edinburgh (but can't) but you'll be at York later, won't you? So I'll be able to catch up with you there.

I'll pop over to your brand new website now and maybe scribble on it in purple spray paint. Nice things, of course!

Then I'll go through my own latest script with a Morgan eye to all its faults.

Nicola Morgan said...

Thanks, Queenie!

Karen - :(

Cat - :)

Dan - that's funny that you read it as an anti-stalker note! It's actually because I feel there's a possible confidentiality issue if someone emails me thinking it's only going to be me who reads it and then finds it's read by someone else!

Thanks, Sally. Actually, i've set it so you can't spray anything at all, even in purple paint!

adele said...

Love the new website and very happy birthday to you in Pen 2Pub. Excellent work all round....I still have some Pen2Pub cards which I distribute and will need a few more for a workshop next June! Will also recommend the book then, too.

Jesse Owen said...

Wow, I can't believe it's been a year since the launch of Pen2Publication (of course for me it's only been almost 11 months - then again I can't believe it's been almost 11 months since I found your blog!)

Love your new site - nice to see you using Wordpress :D

JO said...

Wish I could get to Edinburgh, but it looks as if I'll have to make the best of your website, and book. I'm sure you blog the event anyway - you are fab at sharing ideas and experiences with everyone.

JaneF said...

I don't know how you find the time! Great new website - the black and red colour scheme is very striking. (And I do love your turn of phrase - 'unappealingly proud' made me laugh!)

DanielB said...

Interesting - I tell my novel students that I see the same mistakes over and over too.

womagwriter said...

Happy Birthday! Hope you tour with your events, come south, Bournemouth's nice in the Spring...

Didn't spot any typos but the bit about having had 90 books published including 6 novels and 9 non-fiction might read oddly to someone who doesn't know you, who might think, well other than fiction and non-fiction what other types of books are there?


Website looks good!

Clare said...

Happy Birthday, P2P - it's been a quick year.

I like the look of the new website and like, even better, the look of the workshops. With a bit of work / date juggling, I hope to sign up for one in the next few days.

Sophie Playle said...

The new site looks good, and the events look great! I'll keep them in mind...

Congrats on a successful year :)

Spider Griffin said...

Yes, happy birthday P2P; onward and upwards as they say! It's excellent to hear that you've helped so many people already. :-)

The Wicked Lady said...

Congrats! I wish I could get across the pond and see you in Edinburgh.

No typos per se, but there's a "specialising" which I think would look better as "specializing". (Call me old-fashioned, but the OED lists the "ize" ending first).

Penny Dolan said...

Happy P2P Birthday, Nicola, and good luck with all your many projects. Really practical Tell-it-like-it-is information for all kinds of writers.

sheilamcperry said...

Woohoo! A writing event in Edinburgh with chocolate. It sounds really good, and I will let my NaNoWriMo group know in case any of them think they are nearly ready for publication (not sure if they do - many are students and have just started writing).

Nicola Morgan said...

Thanks, Adele, Jesse, Jane, DanB, Clare, Sophie, SpiderG, Penny, Sheila. (Hpe haven't missed someone). Sheila, good idea to mention to your group - I think the first one would be good for writers even at that early stage. Adele, careful or I'll send you some glorious WTBP cards!

Jo - am most unlikely to blog anything useful from the event - wouldn't be fair when people have paid and also I need to earn ;(. So, people coming to events will get a level of help that's much more than the blog. Sorry!

Womagwriter - very good point. Thanks.

Wickedlady - I take your point but I'm sticking to British spellings, as this is a British site. The book may well have Americanised (-zed!) spellings - we haven't decided yet.

womagwriter said...

Thumbs up to the new wording!