Make your book as good as it can be

If you are writing a book, it can be so much easier if you do it with somebody who really understands what you are trying to do.

Without that, you can feel uncertain about the quality of what you have done already – and confused about what needs to be done next.

I know what that can feel like. Horrible!

How do I know? Well…

If you’ve not come across my work, you won’t have read the
- five books I’ve published,
- in 16 languages –
- both fiction and non-fiction.

The late Nobel-prize winner, Harold Pinter, was very kind about my writing. “Very good, very funny… in fact, it made me laugh,” he said.

Other people have described my books as variously wonderful, amazing, funny, moving and inspiring (and more).

For 15 years, I worked as a feature writer on The Financial Times magazine, The Sunday Times magazine, and many other leading English-language publications.

I only mention this because I learned a huge amount about writing fast; compelling stories that changed government policy and moved readers around the world.

As an associate editor, I learned a lot editing other people’s work, from first commission to finished page. Including some pretty hot-stuff writers.

I also wrote a fair bit ABOUT writers, books and publishing.

Now, when not working on my own projects, I often teach writing, on residential courses.

I work with groups that include beginners and others who are more advanced.

In fact, I just got back from running a course for people writing memoirs, a week ago, at the Arvon centre based in Ted Hughes’s old house in Yorkshire. Here’s the man himself, in the dining room:

The course went very well. Here’s what the centre manager wrote afterwards:

“Thank you for curating a genuinely bespoke experience for the participants, responding to need and providing stimulus in turn. The feedback was great; all feeling more confident, better able to understand the needs of their readers, possessed of an arsenal of strategies to tackle problems and a sense of genuine forward momentum. You’ve set the bar high.” – Helen Meller

You may be interested to know how I handled that course, because it gives a sense of how I approach any collaboration.

Rather than turn up cold, I recorded a welcome video some time in advance, and sent it to participants, inviting them to share a bit about themselves with me and each other.

Most replied quickly, using Facebook to comment at the bottom of my post. Others, not on Facebook or perhaps a little more reserved, sent emails to say thank you.

But I didn’t stop there. Throughout the week, I took care to shape the work towards the particular needs of the group, and individuals within it.

I don’t like to just plonk a load of pre-designed work in front of them.

After the residential course ended, I sent audio recordings of the work we had done together to individual participants.

Plus another message exactly a week later, asking how they were getting on.

(Because I genuinely want them to do well.)

Here are some replies to my messages:

“I have just listened to the recording. It is a wonderful reminder of the ideas we generated together and it has made me feel even more excited about the scenes we discussed and the whole project. The week at Lumb Bank has been a tremendous inspiration. Many, many thanks for all your inspiring help.” – Polly W

“Am I allowed to say that I thought that you were wonderful, funny, conscientious, caring and light-hearted, creating an environment where people were allowed to grow. Not an easy thing to do.” – Ilma S

“I really just wanted to say what an extremely good week that was and to express how much I appreciate what the two of you put in to make it that. I came away feeling seriously encouraged, engaged and more dextrous. Though the structure of what I’m doing is a bit unwieldy – or at least a little un-pinable down at the moment – I feel like that’s ok. I feel that I’ve got a project that I want to get on with and that’s a great feeling. I’m determined to keep at it.” – Rachel K

“I profited colossally from the course and feel that I might in fact be on the Right Track! I will not hesitate to keep you up-to-date. With appreciation for your kind concern” – Barbara F

I hope this helps you to decide if you would to work with me, and make your own writing as powerful and effective as possible.

Thanks for reading!


PS. Don’t hesitate to let me know. You can email me by clicking HERE.