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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > April 2017 > What the librarian saw…

What the librarian saw…

Novelist, producer and screenwriter…librarian. Few people understand readers’ and market demands as well as Chris Paling

I’ve seen the writer’s life from both sides now. In fact I’ve seen it now from three sides: author, librarian and, for many years, Radio 4 producer with responsibility for filling hours of airtime for shows like Woman’s Hour, Midweek, The Afternoon Shift. You know the kind. So what does all of that experience add up to? Well, chances are you don’t know my name so you could argue ‘not much’. I mean I’ve published nine novels with two very good publishers – Cape and Portobello. I’ve been reviewed (generally positively) in most of the nationals and I’ve written a play which toured the UK a couple of years back. But still I’m sure you’ll say, ‘Chris who?’

You’re reading this so you’re a writer. So I’m going to try and distil what I do know and maybe offer it to a younger version of myself: the naive twenty-something who sold a ‘Morning Story’ to Radio 4 and went on to write his first novel, and then his second and then his third in fairly quick succession. Perhaps that should be lesson one: don’t write too much too quickly. Writers write because they need to be heard. Being heard is an addiction that needs feeding with regular publications. But too much product not only tries the patience of your editor, it bores literary editors. ‘Writer writes a new book’ is not a story – however good that novel is. And even if it is good – possibly a work of genius (most debuts are), you’re going to find it hard to get noticed. You’ll already have recognised that the newspaper review column inches are shrinking and those lucky enough to have earned a reputation will always get the lion’s share, be stocked, Amazon front-paged, blogged about, noticed and invited onto Andrew Marr or Start the Week.

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WIN!! More than £500,000 of writing prizes in your free Competition Supplement, with information about hundreds of writing competitions for you to enter in 2017 Find out how you can apply the winning formula to your writing: • How to win writing competitions • Short story structure made simple • Reach 'The End' of your novel Also in this issue, read our star interview with bestselling 'Me Before You' author Jojo Moyes on writing romance the modern way, and find out if crowdfunding might be the smart new way to publish your book. • Writers News is 20 packed pages of news you can use, including 30 paying markets and 51 opportunities to get your writing into print. asasaasasasass

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