Wednesday 21 February 2018

Two Poems by Lauren Foster

Lauren Foster is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. Her work has appeared in The New Luciad and other anthologies, and she has performed her work at poetry events such as Word! and Lyric Lounge

Of You, with Flowers

Of you, with flowers
in your hands

scabious, harebell, gypsy rose
campion, burnet, Bradda weed.

You skip down Micklow Lane
alone, even then,

in meadows
or observing tadpoles

in the glassy water
of the spring fed 

limestone trough
next to the barn 

where you found
the dead sheep,

birthing no joy 
for this ewe.

Chubby, glasses,
friends few

but you knew 
all the names

of the flowers
back then.


Pass the Clock Tower 
to hip hop rap 
about how we know.   
Someone offers the Big Issue
decline, walk on.  
Clarinet soars 
over squawk of traffic.  
Not quite blue skies 
speak of things to come.  
In a shop window: 
everything must go.

Monday 19 February 2018

So You Want to Self-Publish?

By Alicia Christina Saccoh

I am a self-published author. 

I won’t tell you how that came about, because it’s a very long and dramatic story. Kind of like a superhero origin story, except both of my parents are alive, my first love has not betrayed me, and my superpower is making characters kiss—as opposed to super-strength or whatever.

What I will tell you is what it means to self-publish. This isn’t a how-to guide or anything like that; I just want to share the basics of this lesser-known career path. 

So, first things first: what am I actually publishing?

I write romance novels. Of course, romance is a vast genre that includes countless sub-genres and niches—but I won’t go into that, because you either know already or couldn’t care less. 

The important part here is the practical connection between my work’s genre and my actual job. See, when you’re self-published, you’re not just responsible for writing down whatever story is camping out in your head.

You’re also responsible for all the things a traditional publisher would take care of, such as covers, editing, marketing and promotion, distribution, pricing, and so on. 

You have to be a businessperson as well as a writer, from watching the chequebook to deciding if your story is even worth being published.

That’s right. Self-publishing means rejecting yourself.

It also means learning your market. To self-publish successfully, you must know your genre and ideal audience inside out. You must learn which reviewers your readers trust, what kind of cover catches their eye, and how many lines of promotional text they can read before getting bored. 

You have to know which semantic fields elicit an emotional response in your readers, and which bore or even disgust them. 

Will your reader come over all hot and bothered at the phrase ‘dirty, dominant and demanding’—or will it remind them of the over-familiar creep at their local coffee shop who doesn’t understand the word ‘no’? 

Somehow, you have to figure out the answer to that question. If you don’t, no-one will read your books. And if you don’t receive regular praise and attention, you will shrivel up and die. 

(Only joking. But you will shrivel up and die without food, which costs money, so if you’re interested in self-publishing, pay attention).

As well as marketing, self-published authors handle the technical side of production. I publish my books digitally, via a single store. That keeps things simple; I don’t have to worry about physical copies, or about dealing with multiple websites. 

But I do have to format my books, and use the appropriate metadata, and all that rubbish. I am not a technical sort of person, and that’s putting things mildly. 

For example, I only recently found out that the ‘.doc’ or ‘.jpeg’ written after a file name affects the kind of file it is. Or shows what kind of file it is. Or something. 

Whatever. I never claimed to be an expert.

Despite my ignorance, I get by—because I know what I need to know. And with a career like self-publishing, that is the ultimate key.

Know what you need to know.

Self-publishing demands a diverse range of abilities. A self-published author must be a writer, editor, designer, marketer, publicist, accountant and businessperson all at once. For those of us who enjoy a challenge, that’s fantastic—but it’s still hard. 

So knowing exactly what you need to know—and therefore, what you needn’t bother with—is vital. In fact, you’re interested in self-publishing, that should be your starting point.

That’s right: I wrote a blog post on self-publishing, just to conclude with the fact that you guys need to research self-publishing.

I may be a professional author, but trolling is my passion. 

About the author
Alicia Christina Saccoh is a final year student at the University of Leicester. She is a full-time romance novelist, writing under a pseudonym, as well as a beauty blogger, social media influencer, and public speaker.

Thursday 8 February 2018

3 Guest Speakers in Week 3

By Charis Buckingham

Leicester University welcomed three guest speakers this week to discuss various applications of Creating Writing: journalism, authorship and publishing.

On Monday, we heard from campaigning journalist Emma Howard. A previous graduate of the university, Emma has worked for The Guardian and currently writes for Unearthed, an investigative news platform launched by Greenpeace. Emma directed her talk primarily to those considering journalism, with the aim of providing information she wished she’d known. Topics ranging from on-the-desk stresses, her goal as a journalist and how influential the media can be; she held nothing back. She discussed not only her successes, but her mistakes along the way. It was open, honest, and utterly compelling.

On Tuesday, novelist Mahsuda Snaith gave a guest talk and reading. Mahsuda is a Leicester-based author, whose debut novel, The Things We Thought We Knew, was published in June 2017. She discussed her writing processes, her experience with editors, and, excitingly, read from her novel. Her advice was fascinating – she highlighted the importance of feedback, both online and from writers’ clubs, the necessity of being critical of your work, and assorted editing tips. For anyone looking to write or complete a novel, this talk was a must-see.

Cecilia Bennett from Sweet Cherry Publishing provided a very different insight into the creative world. Rather than being a writer herself, she edits others' books; and as Managing Editor of the company, she helps to decide which books are selected to be published. Much of the talk, therefore, focused on what Sweet Cherry Publishing looks for in books, the roles of the different publishing departments, and the things that authors should think about before submitting their work. Cecilia Bennett did a fantastic job of addressing the many different aspects and stages of publishing, and her passion for working with authors and putting their work into the world really shone through. The talk was a fitting end to a superb week. 

About the writer
Charis Buckingham is an aspiring novelist, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester.