Monday, 5 December 2011

Empty When Half Full

Some writing projects take a moment but are still worthwhile. Writing Magazine columnist, Patrick Forsyth explains:

Getting a new writing project is good, and most of us just want to crack into it; the sooner it’s done, the sooner we get paid. But sometimes … a while ago I saw a notice saying It is dangerous to cross this bridge when this notice is under water. We all see such things sometimes and smile. This time I saw several more examples before I had forgotten it, including a brand of crisps claiming to use Real Ingredients (what else?). I had a fancy that enough similar things might, linked together in the right way, make a book.

I collected examples for more than two years. Doing so took no great amount of time and was fun to do. Most were written by those either trying to sell us things or from government bodies and the like. Some were absurd: like a prescription sleeping pill marked: Caution: may cause drowsiness. Other were downright dangerous (imprecise dosage information) or, dare I say, designed to mislead people into buying something.

So I decided it should be written up in a way that, whilst maximising the humour, also mocked or castigated those involved. I approached four publishers with the idea. Three said no; one gave me a contract within a fortnight. I wrote the book and it is now published, as Empty When Half Full in time for Christmas (it would make a good present; indeed I have already received many orders for multiple copies). It seems to be off to a good start; one reviewer has called in “Hilarious!”

Now I knew when I started that file that it was not going to be a quick project; though examples abound (be careful!) and mounted up quite quickly. I had to collect sufficient material, but I was confident it could work out and pleased when a publisher took it up quickly when I was ready to write it. Now we will see how it goes. This morning I gave a talk (about another activity - my travel writing) and contrived to read out 3 pages of it. The whole room laughed out loud and I sold a reasonable quantity of books there and then.

Perhaps the moral is to be observant, look for – or create - ideas that will sell and not reject anything that might be profitable just because the return is not immediate. The trick after all is to have enough money coming in each month, regardless of just when the initiative that produced it took place. Some things cook quickly as it were, others need more time.

Then of course they need pushing. Copies of Empty When Half Full are available at £9.99 on Amazon, or you can order one at a lower price from me (and I’ll sign it, wow!) contact details on my website or send a cheque for £8.99 to 28, Saltcote Maltings, Maldon Essex CM9 4QP

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