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E-books - the writing on the wall

E-books - the writing on the wall
Video didn't seem to kill the radio star, nor did it seem fatal to reading or the movies, as some feared. DVDs may have put an end to video cassettes but increased revenue for the film industry and the boxed sets gave uplift to many old and not-so-old television series.
So what do we expect from e-books. Music is the analogy often suggested as an indicator. CD sales did drop, music publishing companies suffered, perhaps because they could not forsee the impact of the changes in the delivery of music to consumers afforded by handheld devices and the always on world wide web. Musicians took to the road and concerts have increased as has the revenue from live performances. Top of the Pops might come back sooner than feared.
Publishers have no excuse. There are models like the music industry that they can extrapolate from. Movie downloads are part of the future of the film industry. 
For every example of an author self-publishing an e-book at 99 pence or cents and selling 100,000 there are 100,000 examples of authors selling one or two copies.
Transmedia is seen as part of the solution. What that really means is utilising all available and appropriate platforms to draw attention to your book (or game or poetry or bot sale).
SEO and a well-designed website are also important, but if what you are offering is badly written and uninteresting it will not gain the WOM (word of mouth) momentum it needs.
To do this you need followers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter at the very least. Getting those requires work and nurturing. I estimate that web-savvy self-published writers should be spending at least 20% of their working time promoting themselves online.
If commercially published there will be festivals and readings organised by their publishers. Every genre has a society, whether the CWA for crime or the RNA for romance. Membership and a pro-active engagement with peers is desirable.
Those who fail to learn from history fail. So embracing the web and it's constituent parts is one way of making sure that more people hear about your book and not your competitors'. The web offers book writers an opportunity to become the video stars of the future.

Writing a new book

By Julian Friedmann and Christopher Walker

Do you want to write for TV?

Want advice from TV industry experts on how to sell a script?

Whether you understand beats and through lines or are still trying to figure out your A
story from your B story, The Insider’s Guide to Writing for TV supports you through the whole process of writing a television script - from working out a premise to getting your script on screen.

Co-authored by a successful scriptwriter and script editor, and the co-founder of one of the UK’s most prestigious scriptwriting agencies, you can be confident of definitive guidance on how to write a television script as well as the best professional advice on how to make money from scriptwriting.

The television industry continues to expand and producers are always on the lookout for new writing talent. If you’re an aspiring scriptwriter, you can make sure you write a winning screenplay - and get it made - with the help of The Insider’s Guide to Writing for TV.

Inside The Insider’s Guide to Writing for TV, you’ll find out:

What sort of scripts producers are looking for – and which they aren’t

What practical things - such as production costs - need to be considered

What you can – and can’t - do on television.

Beginning with the basics of scriptwriting and how to develop your script premise and generate story ideas, The Insider’s Guide to Writing for TV gives tips from television industry experts on understanding the structure of a television script, creating believable characters and ensuring your script has a compelling storyline. Once you’re happy with your television screenplay, there’s essential advice on pitching your script and approaching agencies or production companies.

Whether you want to write soaps, a TV drama or a sitcom, The Insider’s Guide to Writing for TV is your toolkit to making sure your dream of writing for TV becomes a reality.

Insider’s Guides are comprehensive handbooks written by industry experts with many years of practical experience – so you can be sure you’re getting unrivalled advice on how to break into the profession. Also available in the series: The Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book Published.


Making a good script greater – the answer is Linda Seger

It has been an interesting few months (you know the Chinese curse – may you live in interesting times?) in which INNOCENT, the film I exec produced, was completed against the clock (accepted for the National Arts Festival in SA) and without the money to pay for it. The Festival was amazing! Don’t ask but do check the website

Having decided that the scope for new writers, especially writing television drama, was contracting I started taking on book writers at about the same time as the sub-prime mortgage fiasco, which caused publishers to cut back on their lists just as the broadcasters had cut back on the number of soap and series slots that were available (Brookside, Family Affairs, Crossroads, The Bill). So like others in the industry, we are all having to run in order to keep walking.

Then the WGGB had the drama luminaries from the BBC for a session and while the BBC does produce some outstanding drama, it would appear that more of it is being written by fewer writers.

The BBC Writers Academy is an excellent idea for the BBC and for the writers who are fast-tracked. But there is a problem rising rapidly that confronts all of us who write or work with writers: it is a question of supply and demand. The Academy writers get a significant number of episodes at the same time as the film schools and universities are turning out increasing numbers of graduate scriptwriters looking for works, fuelled by Skillset’s own Academies.

There are too many people trying to get work as writers; agencies are reeling under the weight of submissions; so I suppose are the broadcasters? What can writers do to overcome the problems (and the competition)? Five ideas come to mind:

1. Make sure you have some talent. This is boring but helpful since if you find that you do not you can ignore the next four points.

2. Choose the right genre and stories to write: too many writers either indulge in semi-autobiographical backstories or write in the genre they like reading or watching even if they have no real talent for it. What are you best at?

3. Do you need the discipline and networking camaraderie of a degree course? Not all writers do and some degree courses are better than others. But for many the right degree is a serious advantage if only you knew which course was right for you.

4. The wonderful Cheltenham Screenwriters’ Festivals will not take place this year so whether you went or not, don’t miss the new scriptwriting festival in London at the end of October. It will be three days of very intensive networking and expertise that should help you answer some of the questions above.

5. If you don’t want to wait that long you can do something about it this coming weekend. In a rare and very welcome visit, Linda Seger will be doing one workshop in London on Saturday. Linda has an extraordinary clarity in the way she enables writers to see how to make good scripts better or good characters great. Her approach tends to be more psychologically-based than structurally-based and when I first heard Linda teach and read her books it was as if much suddenly became clearer. You will get a great deal from a day with Linda and you could find the answers that will make a difference in the very competitive world we are all in. Even better news, the costs are far lower than usual for someone as significant as Linda!! Don’t miss it.

“I have failed so you are penalized.”

I had several long phone calls this week being leant on by a producer who wanted to pay far less than the going rate for a script by an established client because the producer had used much of his development budget on another writer who failed to deliver a usable script.

Most reasonably experienced writers get hired from time to time to fix failing scripts or to do a page-one rewrite. In some cases there is underlying material and the new writer does not even read the previous draft. If it is an adaptation then there will obviously be some similarities between the two scripts.

Producers tend to use this argument to scale down the fee to the new writer, after all, much of their previously planned budget has been spent, so clearly it is reasonable for the new writer to do the job for far less than the writer who failed? Not.

There are times that writers have to say No. The fee should be based on a percentage of the budget whether it is the first or second go at the script. The percentage should be based on the track record of the writer, perhaps shaved down marginally.

What sadly no longer surprises me is that producers seem to believe that they are entitled to get work done for a lower than normal rate after they (the producer) have failed: they selected the first writer, briefed the writer, presumably provided notes to the writer (one wonders how good or not those notes were and who was responsible for hiring the person who provided the notes)?

When do critics blame producers when they rubbish a film? Not often. But producers should take some responsibility for not coming up with a viable script the first time round and when they hire another writer to get them out of a hole, they should not penalize that writer by offering them less than their going rate.

Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted

Had our first industry screening for INNOCENT (, the low-budget film I executive produced, at Twentieth Century Fox today. It was more nerve-wracking than the cast and crew screening at the Odeon in Croydon, because there were serious industry people, journalists and potential investors there.

It went off very well and made me realise how important the big screen is to enhance the viewing experience. It also made me realise that planning the marketing of the film, the festival routes, the sales agent and distributor expectations, the TV sales route, the journalist angles, are all something we should have done well before we shot the film.

The fact that we didn’t but the screening went really well, has made me a happy executive producer because our band of enthusiasts is so committed to the film that we are carrying others with us. The NSPCC and Childline, as well as other childrens’ charities (Act Against Bullying for example) seem to be behind us. We – of course – are definitely behind them and will support them in whatever way we can.

Can a film about bullying have an effect on bullying? I believe that it can and that we will. We got the dramatic interplay of the story right – adults bully each other and also bully children who bully other children. The music in the film is reaching out to teenagers: they seem to respond so well to it. That is something else we got right.

Now to pin down the sales agents, newspapers, investors. The real work starts now!

A client of ours, Ted Allbeury, sadly passed away some years ago, said once that “Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted”. He was a counter-espionage officer. It applies so much to producers before they start shooting the film.
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