Catherine Johnson

Being a full time writer: Catherine Johnson interview

Catherine Johnson has published 17 books and writes for Holby City too. Here Stephanie Cox interviews Catherine about her career so far, how she first got published and other tips for writers.

1. Please can you tell me a little bit about yourself and an overview of your career so far?

Gosh that’s hard. It’s been a long and not quite illustrious career although I have managed to be a full time writer since about 2007. I’ve worked around writing, as well as written, for most of the last twenty years. I’ve published 17 books, written one feature film (that got made- Bullet Boy – I have one in development), worked as a writer in residence in a prison and several schools, worked in local bookshops and in literature development, written for radio and TV and feel that I am amazingly lucky still to be published.

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Amazon announces Prime Day for 15 July

As part of its continuing efforts to sign up shoppers to its premium Prime subscription service, Amazon has announced Prime Day, a ‘one day shopping event’ that promises ‘more deals than Black Friday’. Happening across Amazon stores globally on Wednesday 15 July, the event allows new and existing members of Amazon Prime to shop for ‘thousands’ of lightning deals throughout the day, starting on Amazon.co.uk at midnight BST.

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work not done

Is this the Crisis of Non-Fiction?

This is a guest post from Alison Jones. Alison is a business and executive coach, content consultant and publisher. After a 23-year career in trade and scholarly publishing working with major publishers such as Oxford University Press and Macmillan, during which she pioneered digital publishing, she set up Alison Jones Business Services and the Practical Inspiration Publishing imprint in 2014.

Sam Leith, literary editor of The Spectator, wrote a cracking piece in The Guardian last week entitled ‘The Crisis in Non-fiction Publishing’, his main point being that it’s no longer economically viable for mainstream publishers to publish high-quality non-fiction and instead we’re being swamped by a tide of formulaic, me-too titles with ‘a flavour of self-help or how-to’. He makes an interesting distinction between the books he’d like to see more of, which ‘make our understanding of the world deeper and more complex’, and those he sees dominating the market, which ‘can be summed up in a dinner party one-liner’.

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Monika

How to quit your job to blog for a living

This is a guest post from Monika Lee. Monika is a Senior Commissioning Editor at Open University Press, McGraw-Hill Education, executive coach and published author. You can follow her on Twitter @Lee_Monika

Have you ever wondered how long it takes before you can make a living from your blog? Charly Lester, who writes the 30datesblog.com, has done it just in two years. Incredible, given that the amount of online content doubles every 9 to 24 months. Keen to learn how to become a pro, last week I went to Charly’s Guardian Masterclass on ‘How to turn your blog into a brand’ to find out what it takes.

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How do you design the cover for the biggest book of the year?

Toby Hopkins of Getty Images talks to Glenn O’Neill, Deputy Art Director of Cornerstone publishing, a division within Penguin Random House, about his design for this summer’s blockbuster “Go Set a Watchman”.

1. There has been a lot of talk about this book – and quite a lot of talk about its cover too. How did you come to be involved in the design?

The whole briefing and design process for the jacket was unusual. Given the high profile of the book, and its importance to our list, it was decided that all six designers in the department would have the opportunity to submit proposals. It was a very open brief. For reasons of security, access to the text was extremely restricted. None of us would be able to read it until publication day. But we were made aware by the publisher of the essential outline of the story, that covers Scout Finch’s return home to Maycomb from New York, and would feature many of the same characters of To Kill A Mockingbird, though now older, and Go Set A Watchman’s historic context, in that the manuscript had been recently rediscovered after so many years. We all wanted one of our designs to be chosen. It was like going back to university – there would be a range of designers’ responses to this instantly classic book.

Watchman

2. You arrived at a unique typographical solution for your cover design. The lettering of “Go Set a Watchman” is shadowed by similar sized letters of Harper Lee’s previous title “To Kill a Mockingbird.” How did that come about?

In the initial focus meeting, whilst in discussion regarding the company’s plans for the book involving all of editorial, sales, marketing and publicity, I was doodling on a pad. I noticed the similarities in the wording of the two titles, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Go Set A Watchman: the four words, each of a similar length, and of a similar rhythm. One title could be a reflection of the other, both historically and typographically. This lettering featured in the first design produced, and stayed the same through every version: similar sized letters sitting in bars across the page to give structure. The autumnal textured orange background was also an early decision.

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literary agent

To have or not to have a literary agent: an author’s perspective

This is a guest blog post from Lucy Beresford. Lucy is a writer, broadcaster and psychotherapist. She’s the Radio Shrink on BBC London 94.9 on Friday nights, the Agony Aunt for the women’s glossy Healthy and forms part of the press panel reviewing the newspapers on Sky News. Lucy’s latest novel Invisible Threads, set in New Delhi, is a tale of love and survival.

This question didn’t arise for me until recently. My first two books (fiction and non-fiction) and their translation rights (Brazilian and Chinese) were sold by agents and I was thrilled. I liked who I was working with, and they knew way more about the publishing industry than I ever could.

However, authors need to remember that publishing is a commercial enterprise. Agents and agencies earn money by negotiating decent advances for their authors. If your books are too niche or your manuscript can’t command a decent advance, an agent will find it hard to justify taking you on or keeping you on. That’s the brutal truth: they only get paid when you get paid.

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Writers & Artists launches 2016 yearbook with #istartedhere

Today (2 July) sees the launch of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2016, the latest instalment of the annual directory for writers, designers, illustrators and photographers. Published by Bloomsbury, the book contains 4,500 key industry listings, alongside information on copyright, finance, submitting a manuscript, e-publishing, self-publishing, agents, publishers, prizes and awards. New additions this year include articles on writing historical fiction, writing about food, travel writing, becoming a published poet and electronic publishing.

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Rosalind Moody

Working in book publishing and magazine publishing: Rosalind Moody interview

Rosalind Moody is Editorial Assistant at Colchester-based publishing company Aceville Publications. Here Stephanie Cox interviews Rosalind about her career so far, and the differences between working in book publishing and magazine publishing,

1. Please introduce yourself and describe your background and your career.

I’m a graduate from the University of Hull and since my second year of university, I’ve completed unpaid internships at Endeavour Press, Simon & Schuster UK, Hodder and Stoughton and Just Imagine, a specialist children’s bookseller in Chelmsford. Last Christmas I was offered a job as Editorial Assistant at Colchester-based publishing company Aceville Publications who own a lot of major craft magazines, as well as other well-known titles such as Great British Food, Your Fitness and Natural Health. Make it Today is a new title I’m helping to develop but actually I’ve just been transferred to a more established magazine called Homemaker. I’m really enjoying myself and I’m constantly learning!

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Mills & Boon teams with WHSmith and Kobo for competition

Doyenne of all romance publishers Mills & Boon has teamed with WHSmith and Kobo for Romance Writing Life, a competition that aims to find new romance authors (have I used the word ‘romance’ enough yet? Romance romance romance). Interested authors should submit a synopsis of no more than 500 words of their unpublished or self-published novel, in any genre of romantic novel (supernatural, historical, comedy etc.), alongside a first chapter of no more than 5,000 words. The winner will receive a print and digital contract with Mills & Boon. Second and third prize will each receive a Kobo Glo HD on which they’ll be able to read the winner’s much better book.

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