So I thought I'd do a quick blog update about the kind of things you tend to get asked by email when you are a professional writer. My email address is quite easily accessible, so it's not surprising that I tend to get all kinds of random queries from people I don't know! Here's just a selection of some of the things I have been asked over the last couple of weeks - and how I tried to answer them. (All the offers of millions of pounds from Nigerian banks, etc., are dealt with by my spam filter.)
A request to do an event for the Forest Arts Centre in New Milton, Hampshire! The other end of the country, but they are paying a fee and travel, so of course I say yes! This means I need to sort out my train travel and book accommodation.
An update from my agent on how Emerald Greene is selling. Not spectacular, but slow and steady!
Advice for a first-time writer who wants to know how to get into publishing. I try to find out a bit more information from her: what kind of thing is she writing, how long, what audience (children, teen, adult?), and has she finished it, and has she tried it anywhere already? I hope I am able to be helpful. I usually dread getting the whole manuscript sent to me as an attachment - thankfully, that doesn't happen on this occasion.
Some updates from my editor at Badger Learning about cover proofs. I'm happy with everything so just OK it all!
Several school requests: mostly in the Yorkshire and Derbyshire area. The week of World Book Day is now full, apart from the Friday! I'm now taking bookings for the Summer term, and already filling up June and July... Plus various updates from schools I am seeing in the near future, sorting out details etc.
A request from a 'Vintage' magazine to use extracts from my book on 80s music. This is an unusual one, and a bit naughty. They want to use my material without paying me anything for it. Well, at least they have asked so I can say no! To do this would cause my agent - and the publisher of that book - an enormous rights headache, so I ask if instead they can give me a regular monthly column and pay me the going rate for it. I don't hear any more from them.
A friend of a former colleague wants to get a children's book published. She says she has been 'quoted £5,500', and do I think this is reasonable? ... Alarm bells sound! I send her what is, I hope, a very nice but firm email telling her not to go anywhere near any 'publisher' which wants her to pay to get published. These are called 'vanity presses' and are very bad people - they trade on people's desperation to get published and they don't provide a professional service. My good deed for the week! I also gave her what I hoped was some useful information on self-publishing and e-books...
A request from a fellow writer and member of the Society of Authors committee to fill in her questionnaire about events, to help with her forthcoming presentation to writers. Very happy to do this - I consider this writer a friend even though we've never met, and she's given me lots of good advice in the past. And this presentation will be a useful service.
So, that's the kind of thing I get in my Inbox in a typical week! It's amazing I manage to get any writing done...