Friday, 6 December 2013

An Autumn Meeting - Writing Buddies 1 November 2013

14 Writing Buddies were gathered for the afternoon's get together at the Mercure Dolphin Hotel. 

New Writing Buddies discovered our group discovered in various ways, including the new Writing Buddies page on Facebook:  We're still looking for a long term administrator for this important means of Buddies exchanging information, sharing and promoting and, for those who administrate it, gaining valuable experience.

SHABNEEZE, who started writing as a school project in Mauritius, (from which she relocated to Southampton just three weeks prior to our meeting!) found Buddies thanks to Penny's invaluable blog: . Shabneeze's writing project was born as part of a project at Dr Maurice CurĂ© High School, and it involves working on 10 stories, with illustrations by Shabneeze herself, and her mother.  Shabneeze feels nervous about completing this first writing project, and would appreciate support, tips and advice from Buddies.

DEBORAH has recently self published her first book - Mouse and the Dragon Crystal, published in July, available here: and here:  The Print-on-Demand edition was produced by, a company Debbie found via the Writers and Artists Yearbook. She found the cover artist on Twitter. Setting up a Kindle edition was costly. Debbie has hit a "brick wall" as to how to market further.  Responses to this focussed on social media, with discussion of the advantages, pitfalls and demands on writing time of such an approach.

JILL inherited her father's work and correspondence, and now hopes to edit this and trace the people who wrote to him during the 2nd World War years, as youngsters and teens; fascinating material! As individuals and a group, the Buddies will no doubt have many suggestions and more to help Jill with this quest.

LINDA has travelled, written poetry, humorous articles and life writing.  Now she is considering her future career as a writer and poet. Perhaps she will venture into the world of spoken word artistry!

A warm welcome to these new Buddies, and please let us know if any of their contact details and linked pages have been left out or recorded erroneously!

JAMES MARSH chaired the meeting. His next book, A 1940's Childhood - From Bomb-sites to Children's Hour is scheduled for publication in May, with illustrations including photos sourced via Kent's War and Peace Archives. He is still on the look out for photos featuring

LISA received warm congratulations, as she has completed her latest manuscript (at 2am!) ready for further consideration by Harper Collins' Commissioning Editor, who may accept it or pass it to their Harlequin or Carina Presses, the latter being an ebook platform. Now she's waiting for a phone call to discuss the next stage, or rejection by email, which HC can at least be relied upon to furnish with good feedback. In the latter case Lisa, whose skills we know and admire, is ready to publish herself!

JIM (whose The Illustrated History of Southampton's Suburbs is still available) told us about his outside broadcast with Radio Solent, relating the fascinating information that the Great Train Robbers first thought of having a go at the gold stored regularly in Southampton by the Bank of England at that time. One sight of Jim and they no doubt decided that a train would be easier to "turn over"! The branch of Waterstones located in Above Bar Street should not feel "railroaded" into accepting ten copies of Jim's latest book - Southampton's Lucky Jim   - for Sale or Return, but grateful for the opportunity!
Many thought Waterstones had given up on local authors altogether, but Jim's success shows that it's always worth trying locally.

MARKET STANDS: Only recently explored by the group, with appearances by Writing Buddies themed stalls at several local markets, have achieved sales and good publicity for the group already. There was only one real wash out (apologies have already been received from those who organised but did not adequately equip a day in Winchester) and James and Penny enjoyed a really good day at St Mark's Church Hall in Archers Road. 

Future chances to represent the Buddies as a whole and sell the work of those involved include
NOV 17TH (Sunday) LYNDHURST - Penny, Jacqueline, Eileen and James will be venturing to this and would love it if any Buddies showed up on the day to support their effort.  This market will appear next on December 15th, and the group look forward to meeting local readers there once again.
DEC 6  LEE ON SOLENT No word back from the organisers of this event yet, but keep a look out!
DEC 16, 17, 19, 20 and 21 MARLANDS SHOPPING CENTRE Plenty of chances to meet the public here, and this has been a lucky venue for our group so far, so please contact Penny if you'd like one of the places still available on Dec 16 and/or 17.

EGG HEADS Yes, it's the BBC TV quiz show we're talking about here. James is a great fan and would love to lead a Writing Buddies team to victory over the brainy panel, whose defeat could mean a big cash prize! James knows the panel's weak spots, so the chances look good. Penny, James and Lisa are in our team already, with two more needed plus one reserve.

CREAM TEA CELEBRATION This is for the Buddies to exchange seasons greetings and enjoy a friendly teatime treat together (non dairy alternatives will be available on the day) 13th December, 2pm in the Mercure Dolphin. Tickets for this event are £5.95 per person. 

Notes by JP Goodman

Monday, 7 October 2013

Full Steam Ahead for Southampton Writing Buddies

The group met again on Friday October 4th at The Dolphin/Mercure Hotel to exchange news, discuss matters of interest, and tackle any writing problems raised.

Good News
Pat has started up a small press with two of her own publications, and she will produce small runs for other poets or writers of short books. It is called Silverfinger Press.

Josephine has an article in Everton News, and there is to be another about eight men aged seventy-plus who went around the world in two Suzuki Jimney vehicles. She also has a short article in the newsletter The Voice published by Wessex Writers, and others are planned.

Mo gave a reading from her book A Blues for Shindig at The Wool House in Southampton, which went well and was enjoyable. She has a monologue in which the actress Celia Imrie has shown interest, and they are meeting soon to discuss possbilities.

Jacqueline passed round the proof copy of her short story collection, Bottles and Pots; she is hoping to sell copies at some of the fairs at which Writing Buddies will have stands. It was pointed out that buying a physical proof copy is more expensive than proofing digitally, but she felt the need to check the complete product before publication, as it's her first with CreateSpace.

Ray's memoir From War to an Iron Fighter is still doing well, and will be featured shortly in a local magazine. He has volume 2 ready and will be launching it soon.

New member Simon has just left university, and is features editor for a magazine showcasing students' writing. 3000 copies are distributed among the students.

Ann has entered a short novel competition and awaits results and a critique.

Penny has arranged stalls for Writing Buddies at various markets in the area, and would like members to let her know of any in which they are interested. So far these have been at Winchester and Hedge End; the latter was especially successful, and the event may be repeated. The day was organised by Tudor Roses Ladies' Barbershop ChorusApparently there are regular craft fairs at Hedge End Village Hall.

Although Richard was not able to be at the meeting, we were told that he and his wife are exhibiting their artwork with the Nomansland Art Group at the Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton until November 1st.

Mailchimp was discussed as a way of sending email messages to people on address lists. It's free, and once learned it's easy to use and reliable. The programme will also reveal who opened the information and who did not!

Lisa reminded us that she mentioned the Rubery short story competition on our information loop. Also, the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition is open - the first 10-12k words of a novel, which need not be finished. Closes January, free to enter.

Penny and Lisa had been to a Bizpedia breakfast networking meeting near the airport. The meetings are free and attract business people of all kinds. They also hire out a working/meeting room for £10 per hour, including reception facilities (special offer via gift card in Staples).

A possible additional page for our blog was mentioned, relating to reviews of our books by others. Josephine and Penny will discuss.

Our hosts at The Dolphin told us about an afternoon concert and cream tea they are holding on October 20th at 3.30. £5 including the cream tea - more details are on this blog below.

As it will be the Writing Buddies' fifth anniversary in May, we are still thinking of ways to celebrate. The group came up with a number of suggestions including an evening of book and/or poetry readings, some performance, appearances on local radio, and a second anthology competition. Any further thoughts can be sent to Penny.

Next Meeting
Friday November 1st at The Dolphin/Mercure Hotel, High Street, Southampton, 2-4pm. We are a mixed bunch where writing is concerned, and anyone with an interest in writing is very welcome to join us.

Blog notes by Jacqueline Pye.

Afternoon Concert and Cream Tea

We don't usually put advertisements on this blog but we felt that this event was worthy of wider attention, so here goes:

The Dolphin Hotel, our venue for Writing Buddies meetings, and St Michael's Church in Southampton are holding an Afternoon Concert and Cream Tea on Sunday 20 October at 3.30pm in the Jane Austin suite at the Dolphin Hotel.  Cantores Michaelis, the Choir of St Michael's Church and Choral Scholars of the university of Southampton, will be the star attraction.

Tickets, which include both the concert and the cream tea, cost £5.  The event is being held in aid of the Friends of St Michael's Church and the Hampshire Autistic Association.

Tickets are available from the Dolphin Hotel, from Tim Daykin at St Michael's Church or via:


Friday, 27 September 2013

Writing Buddies September 2013

The Writing Buddies met at the Mercure Dolphin Hotel as usual. This venue is proving to be a success as the group are well looked after when we visit. The meeting was chaired by Jimmy, in Penny's absence.  

Tessa started by telling the group about her book Somerset Scenes. It is an enchanting book of paintings from the county of Somerset and all of the Writing Buddies looking at the copy Tessa had brought with her.  She also told us all about the methods of colour printing used in the book.

Mo is giving an evening talk from 8 pm at the Woolhouse on September 25 on her book A Blues for Shindig.  

Ray has sold over three hundred copies of his book From War to an Iron Fighter and the Writing Buddies agreed that this was very good for a first book, particularly as the average total sales for a book is just 500 copies.  Ray now fits kitchens nationwide and he decided to write to his many customers to tell them about his book. He wrote 800 letters in all and posted them all off but the Post Office lost the whole batch. He has, of course, taken this up with them and they have accepted responsibility. But they told Ray he now needs to fill out a separate form for each of the letters he posted in order to have anything done about it. Ray sensibly turned to the daily Echo about this and they have taken up the case. He feels that this alone will give publicity for his book.

Janet has entered another poetry competition.

JPF told the group about the forthcoming poetry contest in Titchfield with a Shakespeare theme.  Entry for this is free and the deadline is 8th September. The contest takes place at a gala evening on 29 September at the Barn, Titchfield.  

Lisa told us she is working with her friend Sophie and helping her with her memoirs. She has also met the actress Susana Hamilton and now wants to get back into writing for films.

Jim Brown told the group he is enjoying life as an ebook writer because he gets royalties from this without the hassle of public appearances. Jim told us all about It’s A Hard Knock: Childhood Reminiscences of Southampton, Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst By Shiela Hansford Nee Souch that is published by the Bitterne Local History Society.  He also showed us the information on his latest book Southampton’s Lucky Jim.  He describes this as a look at policing in Southampton in the 1950s with nothing held back, or as Jim put it 'Warts and all'. 

Jimmy then told the group of his plans to visit his family. While there, he plans to work with is son to publish, under his own publishing name of Aloejimmy Publishing (AJP) the first two titles, Davie Collins and the Sundance Gang Vol 1 and Jayden the Naughty Goldfish Vol 1. He will also take advantage of the opportunity to cross over into Yorkshire and visit the oldest sweepshop in England, in Pately Bridge. The photos and information he gets there will complete his next project for the History Press, a look at the 1940s, which is due out in May 2014.

There was then a lively discussion around the table, centring on assistance with computing problems during the self-publishing process and Royalty payments from ebooks. Blogs, a regular discussion point, also featured, as it is felt important to have an internet presence.  A blog is free and easy to set up and use.

The next meeting of Writing Buddies will take place at the Mercure Dolphin Hotel on Friday 4th October.  All writers are welcome, published and unpublished, in all genres.

Blog notes by James Marsh.

Good News and Lively Discussion from the Writing Buddies

Southampton Writing Buddies met at The Mercure Dolphin Hotel on Friday August 2nd, again with a good attendance. We began with any news members wanted to share.

Pat is elated to have won first place in the Winchester Writers Conference/Hampshire Chronicle murder story competition, and a round of applause was in order. She received a hugely complimentary critique from the judge, a creative writing tutor.

Mo will be giving a reading of her book, A Blues for Shindig, at The Art House, Southampton in September.

Annette has two articles coming out in The People's Friend soon. The first is about her parachute jump and the other describes a microlight flight. She is also still calling for anecdotes about people's early school history for a work in progress.

Christine D mentioned New Writing South, which offers a mentoring scheme which seems really helpful. Meetings take place in London.

Jimmy is about to publish (Aloejimmy publishing) the first novel in his Sundance series, after editing is completed. This will be followed by his picture story book for preschool children. 

Penny and Jimmy attended the War and Peace Revival Show at the old Folkestone racecourse. Both were booksigning and Penny met up with people who had contributed to her books.

Jacqueline received critiques for the two stories she submitted for the Winchester competition. One was Commended and the other was awarded third place. A piece of her flash fiction is currently longlisted in a competition run from Australia by Ether Books, and she entered the Southampton Library short story competition.

Discussions followed on various topics raised. A new site, newsmodo, was mentioned where freelance professional journalists and photographers can link up with, and sell content, to media organisations - and it's free to use. One member wondered if the cover of a 1980s magazine could be used as a book cover; the group felt this was risky as it included a photograph of a person, and that it would be better to find images usable under creative commons licence such as those on flickr

For marketing, Jimmy is using the Neilson site which has helpful advice as well as selling ISBNs. They can also apparently help with getting books into Waterstone's stores. We also discussed possible group marketing opportunities, including a stall on Above Bar on 'arts and crafts' day, next year's New Forest Show, Titchfield Festival Theatre or The Dolphin hotel itself. The Titchfield Festival Theatre's poetry contest is now open, with a cash prize, for poems on a theme related to one of four particular Shakespeare plays. 

Writing Buddies' fifth birthday is not far away now, and a celebration of some sort might be appropriate. A possible second anthology was discussed, perhaps as an ebook, with no need for financial issues. The merits and otherwise of the programme Publisher were discussed.

Writing Buddies will meet again on Friday September 6th, 2-4pm at The Dolphin Hotel, High Street, Southampton. If you have an interest in writing - at any level - we'd love to see you there.

Blog notes by Jacqueline Pye

Friday, 2 August 2013

Writing Buddies March Onwards and Upwards

Southampton Writing Buddies met at the Mercure Dolphin Hotel on July 5th, with a good attendance.

We began with Good News, whatever members wanted to mention.

Jimmy is editing his first Sundance Gang novel which will then be published as an ebook along with his first preschool childlren's book. He is also working on the manuscript for a book about 1940s childhood. 

Janet was pleased to say that she has had a poem accepted for an anthology to be published by Forward Poetry.

Eileen reported sales of her ebook about a serial killer, Blood on God's Carpet. It's available also in paperback.

Lisa's book Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum is free until the end of July via Smashwords. May need code SW100.

Tessa is hoping for more reviews of her book Spellbinder - it has four 5-star reviews so far. A copy was available for Buddies to look over.

Penny reported on the recent launch of her and Jimmy's book A 1950s Southampton Childhood which involved a large number of people travelling in 1950s red buses to Victoria Country Park for a picnic then back to the Dolphin for a reception. The book is available as paperback or on kindle, or from Penny or Jimmy. They gave a talk together about the book at Bitterne library. 

Penny also mentioned that Jim Brown's book Southampton's Lucky Jim will be published by Mayfield Books in September - it's a memoir of his time in the local police force. She also reported back about Ray's recent very successful launch of Vol 1 of his memoir, From War to an Iron Fighter; the room was crowded and over 100 books were sold.

As well as the Southampton Childhood book, Penny has recently published Bloody British History: Southampton. Waterstone's currently has a large display of her books, which reminded her that her latest is the tenth that she's published. Not only that - she is currently working on three further books.

Jacqueline showed the latest printed issue of The Great War magazine which includes her article based on a family WW1 diary. She has been reading winning flash fiction pieces recently, and entered a flash fiction contest run by international site Writers' Carnival. Her piece was placed fourth with honourable mention. She also had a piece of flash fiction chosen to be featured on the online flashflood journal on National Flash Fiction Day.

Silma reminded the group about an online magazine for music and other arts, parkCulture published by Cultura Press; she has written an article for them and is working on another. The Christmas edition may be published in print. 

We then discussed points of interest. It's noted that many writers have uncertain confidence in their work, and praise from friends or family is pleasing but cannot be considered objective. Novellas were mentioned, as some publishers are beginning to accept this shorter form of the novel. An example is Harper(Collins) Impulse, inviting submissions of any length from short reads to sagas. It was agreed that writers need a significant internet presence with website and blog; potential publishers expect a digital presence so that they can easily check history and so on. 

One member mentioned a writing competition with a £25 fee; while the group thought this was very high, if the fee includes a sufficiently detailed critique then it can be worth while. Press releases were also discussed; members thought the information should be sent out to the appropriate magazines or press with details of the item, offers of pictures, and an accompanying letter with contact details and links to the writer's sites.

The next meeting will be at the Mercure Dolphin Hotel, High Street, Southampton on Friday August 2nd, 2pm to approx 4pm. Anyone with an interest in writing will be very welcome; although the blog mentions a good number of writing successes, many members have not yet published and may be just starting out, so wherever you are with your writing, do join us!

Blog notes by Jacqueline Pye.

Writing Buddies Meeting 7 June 2013

The group had lots of good news this month.

Tessa showed the group two new books published by her company The Thorn Press that we were delighted to see. The first is by Richard Warburg entitled Brush Strokes to Sponges and the second by Emma Lorant entitled Cloner. Both of these books are beautifully produced and the group congratulated Tessa.  

Eileen De Lisle’s book Blood on God’s Carpet is now out on Kindle.

Ray Dumper showed the Writing Buddies his new book From War to Iron Fighter The group were delighted to see this as Ray joined writing Buddies in order to gain advice about this book, which is his own life story. His progress through to having the book published has been remarkable. Ray will be having a launch for it at the Bridge Inn Woolston on 28th June.

Janet is writing a ghost story and was able to gain advice about this from the group members. We all look forward to seeing how this progresses.

Ann told the group she entered a poetry competition run by the Great Barn Titchfield Theatre Group. Out of a huge amount of entries Ann’s gained a highly recommended, which the Writing Buddies congratulated her on.

JPF is busy building content on his blog.  

New member John joined the group looking for advice on how to write the book that he has had in mind for some time. A bus company owner, John ferried a number of pop groups around and has many tales to tell about this. The advice from the group was to write it all down first then edit it afterwards. So far John has yet to start writing.

A lively discussion on marketing followed.  This is an issue we all find difficult and Ray in particular stated he would like to know a lot more. It was suggested that this topic could become the main subject of a meeting soon.
 The next meeting of Writing Buddies is on Friday 5th July.  Everyone is welcome.

Blog notes by James Marsh.

Glen Jayson

The Writing Buddies were sad to hear of the death of one of our most popular members, Glen Jayson.  It was not so long ago that Glen's book, Voices of Eastleigh, was published to great acclaim by The History Press.

Glen was an enthusiastic member of Writing Buddies, having acted as Competition Secretary when we ran our Anthology Competition.  She contributed regularly to meetings until illness forced her to slow down.

Several Writing Buddies attended her funeral and the group sent a donation to her chosen charity in her memory.

We will miss you, Glen.

Writing Buddies - 05 April 2013

Several new members were welcomed to the Writing Buddies meeting at the Mercure Dolphin:

JAMES - Has been going to writing classes in Woolston and has had short stories and poems printed in The Echo’s ‘creative corner’ spot.

JEZ - Poet and photographer, watercolour artist who has printed four different books to share with friends and family over the last few years, using Southampton Design & Print on London Road.

BILLY - Has been writing short dystopian/sci-fi stories of around 5-6k words and is now working on longer stories.

Good News announced at this meeting:

MONICA was sent a contract by an Austrian company ‘United Publishing Company’ ( who were interested in publishing her children’s book ‘Welsh Yeti’, but was unsure about the details and the terms as they stated ‘free to publish first novel’ and asked for advice.

JACQUELINE had attended a talk at Southampton Writer’s Circle and will be judging an article-writing contest next season. She had pitched a teddy-bear themed article to a magazine, which had accepted the idea, but only then revealed that they don’t pay for articles.

TESSA has released her new book ‘Spellbinder’ and is keen to get some reviews online to raise interest.

EILEEN has published a book on Smashwords ‘Blood on God’s Carpet’

JEZ has just printed his latest book of poetry ‘Lazy Days’

CHRISTINE tried out speed-pitching to agents at North London Literary Festival, where an agent said yes, and asked to see the first three chapters of her latest novel ‘Spectacular Times’

ANN currently has 3 pictures (2 prints and a painting) and a poem in Central Gallery

LISA has had an honourable mention in the Jeffrey Archer/Kobo/Curtis Brown short story contest and is being published in the free Kobo anthology along with Jeffrey Archer and the twenty semifinalists, the finalists announced at the London Book Fair.

Selma emailed with apologies as she is busy rehearsing the musical show ‘Ragtime’ at the Regents Centre in Christchurch.

The discussion around the table ranged over many subjects:

LONDON BOOK FAIR held on 15th-17th April at Earl’s Court. Very focused on indie and self-publishing this year, with a burgeoning Author Lounge and opportunities to meet editors, agents, and directors of Kobo, Amazon’s Kindle/Createspace, and Goodreads among others.

CHAOS Creatives in Southampton are based at Central Gallery.

PRINTING - George Mann outside Winchester will print books from £300 per 100 copies, and can provide ISBNs.

Self-publishing platforms offer an exciting opportunity to writers who don’t want to wait for agents and publishers to notice their work, and can be a way of raising your profile to the mainstream. Createspace offer free ISBNs, matte colour interiors if required, and no special requirements such as editing or formatting by a professional before making your book available. are slightly more strict in that area if you want an ISBN distribution, but you can publish a book and make it available as Print-on-Demand direct to customers through Lulu only (dispatching worldwide) without an ISBN or any paid-for upfront services, and link it to your website or blog for direct sales, including as ebooks in PDF or epub format (for which they also distribute for free to Nook and the Apple iBookstore). Lulu also pays more regularly via Paypal, even if your Royalty is less than £3.50 for that quarter! For LIGHTNING SOURCE, research suggests you need to set up a publisher name and official bank account in that name, and the file must be formatted by a professional, and then you pay at every stage of the title and upload process. Uploading a revised version also costs, if you then find typos in your proof. They have good distribution reach on all online stores as selected, can do matte covers for paperback, and cover prices are lower for the customer, but they do not market or promote your work to street bookstores for you - customers can order them in any bookstore, but it is up to the individual shops what they order in as regular stock.

Some publishers are folding and leaving their authors unpaid and unrepresented - DB Publishing, which went under in December 2012, was recently bought by JMD Media. JMDMedia can be contacted via their Managing Director, Steve Caron, at He will look at any book submitted (in digital format, "Word" files are OK) and consider turning them into Ebooks.

JIM BROWN - Writing for local history societies, which can have their own publishers e.g. Bitterne. They also publish as ebooks and take the first £50, thereafter pay 25%. No publishing cost to the authors. (Reviewed in the Echo)

SELF-PUBLISHING via blogs and websites: A blog is a good way of ‘copyrighting’ your work as it shows up with an exact date and time when you publish a post, which will always be searchable via Google etc and visible as your own work first, on the date you published it.

MONETISING YOUR BLOG - You can sell books directly on your blog, either by having print books that you package and mail yourself, or by offering PDF downloads that can be read on tablets and smartphones. Automatic downloads have to be set up using an automated ‘storefront’ code to set up your blog, of which there is a mind-boggling choice, and some are expensive to set up (just google ‘ebook sales storefront for blogs’ - e.g. storefronts start at £19 per month) - and if you are managing an open source-style code yourself from your site, you have to have the time available to deal with glitches, customer enquiries, file download problems, payment problems, and to manage your own Paypal or other online payment/receipt method. You also have no ranking or visibility on other online stores using this method. The alternative is to publish via a third party as above, and link to your Lulu, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony, Apple, Diesel or Amazon products via a ’Books’ page, and not worry about the customer services angle, although you do have to wait for your (smaller) Royalties via your publishing platforms.

WRITING FOR FREE? Is there ever a time when it is OK to write for free?  The group was generally scathing about the increasing expectation that writers would be happy to spend time and energy writing for nothing, particularly if the market is large and expensive to readers.  However, it was recognized that there are several legitimate reasons for writing for free:
For charity
To get your name known
To test the market
For fun

Magazines and newspapers often don’t pay but there is a market for the determined and those who have done their homework. E-publishers give books away, often for reviews.  For more detailed advice about writing for magazines and newspapers, see the Help and Advice page on this blog site.

AMAZON REVIEWS: Amazon has blocked some established authors from leaving book reviews, or is working to remove them. However, they have just bought Goodreads (, which is free to join as a reader or an author. Just set up an account, search for your books already on the site (if they are on Amazon and other mainstream sales sites, they will usually appear already), send an email to admin and apply for an author profile. You will then be able to customise it rather like a Facebook profile page, and add your own books if they aren‘t already listed. It is likely that most of the reviews left on Goodreads will soon be migrated to Amazon, and Amazon will lose the ‘review mafia’ who have been complaining of too much ‘author activity’ in the Amazon forums, and reporting mutual reviews between authors.

LITERARY FESTIVALS & READING GROUPS are hugely popular. Reading groups are often quite welcoming of authors, especially if there are free books in it for them. Be prepared that comments will be honest, and reviews are given face-to-face in the group discussions, not on Amazon!

HarperCollins have set up a rolling (ongoing) direct submissions route for Romance authors (details on the loop). It is for a new digital-first imprint called HarperImpulse, and accepts unsolicited, unagented Romance novels in any genre or style, and of any length. Send full Word.doc mss and other details as on the Facebook ‘About’ page for HarperImpulse (not partial, proposals or incomplete works) to

Southampton Library is going to run a short story (up to 5,000 words) contest about Southampton (TBA).

Notes by Lisa Scullard