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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Review: Jane Wenham-Jones - "Wannabe a Writer?" and "Wannabe a Writer We've Heard Of?"


Today I'm reviewing two non-fiction books by the remarkable Jane Wenham-Jones and will also be hosting an excerpt, which will be up shortly.

As a new writer I spent a lot of time reading help guides, many of which were distinctly unhelpful, so my expectations for Wannabe a Writer? and Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of? were not high. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. Jane Wenham-Jones has managed to find a funny, entertaining way to present all the do’s and don’ts of getting published, staying published, and building an author platform in an age where writers can no longer get away with hiding out at home – more’s the pity.

Ms Wenham-Jones covers all the bases in her guide for the aspiring writer, such as selecting a genre, doing research, honing writing style for different media such as novels, magazines and plays, and achieves this while maintaining a fresh, warm voice I could imagine coming from a knowledgeable friend in a bar. Indeed, her frequently-mentioned enjoyment of a drink was one of the many points I could identify with, others being the dreaded Writer’s Bottom, the over-full handbag and that heart-stopping moment when your husband notices an error in your book (hopefully before it hits the shelves!)

Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of? moves on to cover the necessities of self-promotion, including how to get a decent promotional photograph (a section that was especially useful for me, speaking as someone who photographers run to avoid), how to do your own publicity, and building readership by way of websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The chapter on publicity in magazines and bookshops was probably the least applicable to me as an erotica writer, but its point was still valid – in order to promote your book, you need to do your own breaking down of doors, because very few first-time writers will have anyone breaking down theirs.

In short, I found both books entertaining, understanding and helpful in its advice for every aspiring writer, social butterfly and nervous debut author whose secret wish is to avoid media parties and become a hermit. I’ll be keeping these around for those times when I need the guidance of a successful friend who won’t make me feel guilty about writing with a glass of wine.


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