Why You Should Judge A Book By Its Cover

alan parkinsonAuthor Alan Parkinson on perfecting cover design, discovering & developing your visual brand, and the many mistakes along the way.

Get ready for “one of the most spectacular cock-ups in design history”.  Literally.

Continue reading “Why You Should Judge A Book By Its Cover”

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An Author’s Guide to Self-Publishing

alan parkinson

Alan Parkinson, self-published author

“Meeting people for the first time, the usual ice breaker is “What do you do?”  Since I gave up my full time job I can now proudly proclaim “Writer.”  But then the inevitable follow up comes; “Are you published?”  Instead of answering in the affirmative, I usually mumble “Self published” as if it’s something to be ashamed of.

“We’ve come a long way since the days of vanity publishing and being self published is something to be proud of, yet there is still that nagging doubt that you aren’t a writer until a ‘proper publisher’ has noticed you.”

Regular listeners to the 99% Perspiration Podcast might remember Alan Parkinson from episode 16 of season 1.  Back then, Sunderland-based novelist Alan was juggling writing around his full-time office job, filling his early morning and evenings to unleash his creativity in ways he couldn’t during the day.  Fast-forward to now, and with a third novel nearing completion, self-published author Alan has traded in his full-time managerial office job to write novels full time.  He’s taken the plunge a lot of people dream of doing.

If you’re an emerging writer or author, read on.  Alan’s sharing his advice on self-publishing.  The pitfalls, the triumphs, and everything in between.

Continue reading “An Author’s Guide to Self-Publishing”

99% Extra – Sheila Quigley, thriller author

Sheila’s an hilarious woman.  She’s the kind of person you could easily spend an afternoon with and wonder where the time went.  She’s a best selling crime/thriller author with an impressive 10 novels under her belt, and a fan-base which stretches from her works’ local setting in Hougton-Le-Spring, all the way to death threats from Down Under (from her fans in Australia, who apparently really don’t want her to hurt their favourite character.)

“There’s a lot of luck in getting your work published, but it all depends who you’ve got behind you.  There are some fabulous people who’ll do anything for you in this business, it’s beyond belief, but there are also some turds.”

We’re sat in the corner of the National Glass Centre’s cafe, in conversation with the Houghton-Le-Spring crime writer, and it actually feels like a conversation.  She’s on our level, we’re on her’s.  And it’s so humbling to meet someone who’s as down to Earth as the people gathered to meet her.

“I don’t plan,” says Sheila.  “I’ll have a title in mind, and a blank screen.  And I never know where it’s going to end up.”  But that’s what makes writing so exciting for Sheila.  “To me, writing a novel is like reading a novel.  I always get surprised, and I never know what will happen from chapter to chapter.”  No planning?  No structure?!  Stick that in your Writing 101!  “Because I want to know what happens, that’ll compel me to write.”

12539979_10153916875438552_676560072_nShe doesn’t even keep a log of events/characters.  “It’s all in my head.  I didn’t have an imaginary friend as a child, I had a dozen.”  But keeping such a rich world in her head at all times has its drawbacks too.  “I need to write one novel at a time.”

Whilst Sheila admits she doesn’t get chance to read as much as she’d like, she says it’s a very important part of being a novelist.  However – and here’s what really surprised me – she doesn’t read any crime novels.  “My favourite book is ‘The Strand’ by Stephen King.  I’d recommend it to everyone.”

“Don’t bother writing if you’re just chasing a path to fame and a big pay check,” says Sheila, “you need to be invested.  If you really, really want to do it, for the love of it, do it.”

Sheila still values the old system of publishing; getting on board with a publisher and having them (to some extent) promote the book for you.  But she advises you should “start by seeking an agent first.  Most publishers won’t look at anything without an agent’s backing.”  But she also values self-publishing.  “I know of many people who’ve become successful through publishing work themselves, and then being picked up by an agent.”  

“There’s more opportunity for emerging writers now than there’s ever been.”

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It’s been a whirlwind of a journey for Sheila, since she began writing novels in 2004.  12 years and 10 novels later, it’s fascinating to learn some advice from one of the local greats.  But there are still some twists and turns in store Sheila had one of her biggest dreams-come-true:  Her debut novel ‘Run for Home’ was adapted for the stage and showcased at the Greater Manchester Fringe last year.  Sheila says she’ll never forget the experience of her.  “Seeing my characters come to life in-front of me was truly amazing.”

For any emerging novelists reading this, I’d thoroughly recommend you meet as many writers as you can.  If there’s a meeting, or a book signing, go and say “hi”.  Ask questions.  Make connections.  Because they may turn out to be thoroughly lovely people, like Sheila, and they may well start you on the right path.  “There’s a lot of luck in getting your work published, but it all depends who you’ve got behind you.”

nyf-gold-award-jay-sykes-circle-crop1
And, as always,
Stay productive, stay awesome!

Jay Sykes
Executive Producer, 99% Perspiration

Blogging 101 – Sophie Dishman

Photo: made on Canva.

Sophie Dishman, a young blogger based in Sunderland, is perhaps one of the most persistent, engaged online writers I’ve ever met.  You’ve seen how irregular the posts on the 99% blog are to date, right?  I envy Sophie Dishman.  She is to me as a tommy gun is to a cannon.

Photo: Sophie Dishman’s Instagram, @MusingsOfAJournalismStudent.

But fear not – Sophie’s been kind enough to share some of her insight with us; a veritable “Blogging 101”, which walks you through from idea germination, some of the must-dos and the must-not-dos which I wish someone had taught me, all the way to how to best utilise the features on your blog, and promote it effectively.

Just follow the link below to find her genius how-to.

Source: How I create my blog posts.

NYF Gold Award Jay Sykes - circle cropAnd, as always,
Stay productive, stay awesome!

Jay Sykes
Executive Producer, 99% Perspiration

Introduction of a Journalism Student

– Words by Sophie Dishman

Sophie DishmanHello Creatives, I thought I would introduce myself as an official 99% Perspiration blogger.  There’s only a few for now, but alas I’m here and ready to share news and events from the creative industries, as well as some opinion posts and reviews here and there!
So, I’m Sophie Dishman. I’m 21-years-old and a mature student at the University of Sunderland. No really…  I’m classed as a “mature student” at the grand age of 21.  I don’t feel old…

Besides that, I’ve recently embarked on the journey of becoming a journalist.  I haven’t always wanted to be a journalist, but I’ve always loved writing.  It sounds cliché but it’s true.  I wouldn’t say I’m entirely creative but I’m learning, and I’m only a first year student right?

The Musings of a Journalism StudentWho am I outside of being a boffin at university?  Well, I’m also a blogger, with my own blog called “The Musings of a Journalism Student”.  I blog about being being a journalism student first and foremost, as the name suggests.  But I’ve got other interests and passions – from politics and culture, to fashion and beauty.  And I YouTube from time to time too.  Because YouTubing is a verb now.  You can check out my channel here.

Sophie DishmanI present and produce Northern Lights’ podcast, that airs on a Monday (cheeky plug there, go check it out) on the community radio station Spark FM.  I’m also Culture Coordinator for Northern Lights, an online magazine dedicated to covering culture in the North East.  Being Culture Coordinator sees me go to lots of different creative events in Sunderland, the North East, and the surrounding area.

All of this takes place in the Media Hub – it’s is a friendly, open place on the top floor of the David Puttnam Media Centre on St Peters’ Campus, where many journalism and media students go to have a giggle or two.  Actually, no, we work all the time.  Promise.

Media HUB

So that’s me.  An introduction to me, the person behind the words.  Enough of blowing my own trumpet, I’m here to blog for 99% Perspiration.  This year, I’ll be bringing you updates from all kinds of events and creative happenings in the North East, as well as writing about issues which affect creative people.

Stay productive, stay awesome!

– Words by Sophie Dishman –

Episode 16 – Recognising Your Value

On Episode 16 of 99% Perspiration:

Laura Lucas is a leadership and business coach, who “specialises in helping ambitious business owners, leaders and professionals set and achieve their goals.”

 

Laura Lucas

Click here to listen to Laura Lucas

 

Living in Dundee, Scotland, Laura launched inspirential.com in 2014, which provides training and guidance to help business flourish. They say “time is money”, but in Episode 16, you can hear Laura’s take on the value of both time & money.

Laura shares with us her specific guidance for creative types, and talks about her upcoming 7-day course on Periscope for graphic designers, and how they can make the most of their creative work.

Alan Parkinson is a self-published writer living in Sunderland, who manages to find time to write alongside a full-time job. His first novel, Leg It, is available on Amazon, and his second novel, Idle Threats, is due for release in the next couple months.

Click it to hear from Alan Parkinson, author of Leg It

Click it to hear from Alan Parkinson, author of Leg It

 

He’ll be the first to admit he’s not a natural with self-promotion, but over time Alan has learned key lessons about how to promote yourself as a writer, and has strong advice for people who are looking to take the plunge with releasing a novel.

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Until next time,

Stay productive, stay awesome!