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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Secret of Successful E-book Formatting


Today's post is by UK author and e-book self-publisher David Robinson, and it concerns a subject more and more writers want to know about - how to format an e-book for the Amazon Kindle and other e-book readers.

Stories such as that of Kindle self-publishing phenomenon Amanda Hocking illustrate the huge potential for writers of publishing their work in e-book form - and it really isn't as hard as you might think.

But I'll let David explain...

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Are you thinking of publishing your own e-book, but uncertain how to format it? Here are a few tips that will set you on the right track to preparing your Microsoft Word file for the Kindle and other e-readers.

But first, the title of this post. The secret is that a well-formatted e-book starts with your initial document. This will usually be created in Microsoft Word or similar. If you don't prepare this correctly from the beginning, your title will look a mess when it appears on Kindle or Epub readers (such as the Sony Reader).

Forget about the manuscript requirements of publishers and agents. E-books are not double line spaced, and they don't need your name, title and page numbers in the header. They don't need headers or footers at all - and because so much of the appearance is user-controlled, page numbers are redundant.

Right from the outset, throw out the multiple spaces or tabs you've used to create first line indents. Dispense with the serial returns used to create blank lines. It's true that some e-readers will support them, but there are many that don't.

If your book needs a table of contents, DON'T use Word's automatic TOC generator. Use bookmarks set up as internal links. Another couple of no-no's are text boxes and tables. If your title requires tables, insert them as images, and whatever you do, DON'T import an Excel spreadsheet into your doc. Microsoft Office uses exclusive field codes which e-readers cannot interpret.

For routine text formatting, learn how to use Word's style menu. Set up your styles, and implement them where appropriate.

Adapting any style in Word is simple. You right-click the style in question, click on "modify" and first set up the font (colour, position, typeface and size). At the bottom of the dialogue box, you'll find a "format" button, which will bring up several options, including the familiar paragraph-formatting box. Here you can change indents, line spacing and "before" and "after" settings. So if you want your chapter headings centred, emboldened, with a clear line of space after them, then set up a heading style to produce that font; and in the paragraph dialogue, set it to single line spaced, then move on to the "after" value. If you're working in a 12pt font, set the "after" value to 12. If you're working in a 14 pt font, set it to 14. This will produce one clear line of space between the chapter heading and what follows.

Finally, move to the second tab in the paragraph box and switch off widows and orphans. This irritating option is set to "on" by default, but it is largely redundant on e-readers.

I'm essentially a novelist, and it's rare that I need bulleted or numbered lists. You may produce non-fiction and you may make extensive use of them, but that doesn't mean the e-reader will support them, so you should minimise their use and find other ways of emphasising your points. My experiments have shown that Epub doesn't do too badly with them, but bullets don't show up well on the Kindle.

Images should present no problem. They're automatically embedded in Word files when inserted, and you can resize them within the document. Even images set up as hyperlinks will translate to the Kindle and other e-readers.

It's tempting just to upload the Word doc, but I convert it to a prc (Amazon Kindle) file first. This allows me see the finished product and ensure that everything is as it should be before uploading to the Kindle. In order to create the prc file, you will first need to save your document as a FILTERED web page. Word will complain about this, but ignore the message.

With the HTML doc saved, you should then use a simple converter, like Mobipocket Creator, to create and check the file. Amazon Kindle has a support page which goes into greater detail about this. And you can download Mobipocket Creator free by clicking here.

For Smashwords (which provides a self-publishing platform to Epub and various other e-book formats) you can download the Style Guide at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52.

The acronym to bear in mind when formatting your document is KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid - where "Stupid" is you and me. The cleaner your formatting, the better your final document will appear, and the fewer problems you will have with the Kindle and Smashwords vetting systems.

Good luck, and I look forward to seeing your new and perfectly formatted e-book on sale soon!

Byline: David Robinson is a UK freelance writer, novelist and blogger who has published eight titles (six fiction, one humour and one non-fiction) on the Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. For more information, visit his website at www.dwrob.com. David has produced two guides to formatting and publishing e-books: E-book Formatting & Publishing on the Kindle and E-book Formatting & Publishing on Smashwords

* * *

Many thanks to David for an interesting and useful article. Please do check out his website and his e-book formatting and publishing guides (linked above).

As a matter of interest, I have a new guide to writing and publishing e-books for the Amazon Kindle coming out soon myself from WCCL. Please sign up here for advance notification and my exclusive launch special offer!

If you have any comments on this article, queries for David, or comments about e-book writing and publishing generally, please do leave them below.

Photo Credit: Amazon Kindle & Sony eBook by John Blyberg on Flickr.


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Monday, June 27, 2011

Win a Signed Copy of Start Your Own Home-Based Business!


As regular readers will know, Start Your Own Home-Based Business is my new (print) book aimed at all aspiring home-based businessmen and women.

It takes the reader step by step through starting a business from home, beginning with assessing your suitability and evaluating business ideas, through to raising finance, marketing and deciding when to expand. The book also includes over 50 home-based business profiles.

Start Your Own Home-Based Business is written primarily for a UK audience, but much of the content would be relevant world-wide. You can read more about the book - and find a link to a free sample - in this recent blog post. I've also included an image link to the book's Amazon sales page below.


To celebrate the launch of the new Facebook Fan Page for Start Your Own Home-Based Business, I'm giving away a rare signed copy of the book. And yes, I'm willing to send it anywhere in the world!

To enter the giveaway, you just have to visit the book's Facebook Fan Page and click on the Giveaway link in the left-hand menu, then follow the on-screen instructions. Note that to be eligible you will be asked to 'Like' my Page, and not 'Unlike' it till the giveaway is over at the end of July!

To run this giveaway, I am using the Giveaways app created by HooplaSoft.com. This is to ensure that the promotion adheres to Facebook's very strict rules about giveaways. You will therefore be asked to allow the app access to certain information from your Facebook account when you sign up for the giveaway.

I know some people are (rightly) concerned about this, so I'd like to explain that this is perfectly legitimate. The app will place a small "Giveaways" link in the left-hand menu of your Facebook profile. Clicking on this will show you which giveaways you have entered and which you have won, as well as providing access to other giveaways (should you be interested). The app will also allow me to obtain the email address of the winner (and nobody else), so I can arrange to send them their prize. (Facebook does not allow promoters to contact the winners of giveaways by Facebook messaging.) If you would like to find out more about the Giveaways app, you can visit their Facebook Page here.

I do hope you will want to enter this giveaway and mention it to your friends as well. The app optionally allows you to share a link to the giveaway on Facebook. As an added incentive, if the winner is referred by a friend in this way, the referrer will receive a free signed copy of my book as well!

Quick Summary: To enter my giveaway for Start Your Own Home-Based Business, visit the book's Facebook Fan Page, click on the Giveaway link, and follow the on-screen instructions. Good luck!

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Amazon Tagging - Is the Party Over?


I've written about tagging on Amazon a few times - this post on my blog and this guest post on Tony Eldridge's blog, for example.

I'm a big fan of tagging to help publicize your book - or Kindle e-book - on Amazon, but a recent post on the CreateSpace forums (the print self-publishing service owned by Amazon) suggested matters may be about to change. I've copied the relevant part of the post by "CreateSpaceKate" below:

“We’d like to provide a little more information about the Tag feature on Amazon.com. Tags are not intended to be used as a method to promote your titles. The tagging activity occurring in this thread does not follow the terms of use for the Tag feature on Amazon.com and could be considered abusive. You can learn more about the Tags feature by visiting Amazon.com.

For this reason, we are locking this and all threads that organize this type of tagging, and future threads of this nature will be deleted from our Community. We encourage you to share your work with each other and discuss marketing and promotion ideas, but organized manipulation of any feature is not something we will permit on our boards. Website features and tools should be used as intended.

We understand that you have put a lot of time and effort into this thread and that it can be quite a challenge to increase the visibility of your work. We hope you will check out the tips we provided which may help improve your titles’ searchability on Amazon.com and continue to support each other’s success.”

This announcement has caused shock waves across the writing and self-publishing community. Services that facilitate reciprocal tagging are having to consider their positions, and I heard today that Tag My Book on Amazon - a well-established service that promoted the responsible use of tagging - has decided to cease operations.

My first reaction, I admit, was deep disappointment that an easy, free and ethical method for authors to help publicize their titles on Amazon was coming to an end. However, on further consideration, I'm not sure it's quite as cut-and-dried as that.

For one thing, there is no mention of any third-party sites that facilitate mutual tagging - only topics on Amazon's own forums are referred to. None of the third-party sites have been asked by Amazon to stop operating, as far as I know. Tag My Book on Amazon, according to this post by its owner, Todd Fonseca, has closed solely in response to the forum message copied above.

Neither has there been any "official" announcement about this from Amazon - just that single, low-key post in a self-publishing forum. And finally, there is no mention in the post of any sanctions being taken against authors using this method to promote their titles - it's just the forum topics promoting mutual tagging they want to see the back of.

So what can we conclude? It seems to me that Amazon has been embarrassed by some of the "tagging parties" that have gone on via its own forums. These have resulted in some self-published books getting literally hundreds of tags, not all of them strictly relevant to the title in question. This has pushed them above best-selling authors with traditional publishers for the tags concerned - thus skewing Amazon's own search results, and potentially resulting in reduced profits for the company when lesser-known titles pop up first in searches.

For these reasons, it's understandable that Amazon doesn't want to be seen condoning such activities on its own forums. But that doesn't mean tagging is going to end any time soon. It's a popular feature with both authors and readers - and Amazon in any event have no control over third-party sites, or even individual authors who encourage their friends and colleagues to tag their books.

And, in any event, I'm not at all sure they would want to interfere in such matters. Self-publishing (and self-promoting) authors contribute a substantial amount to Amazon's income. It doesn't seem to me that it would be in Amazon's best interests to make their job any harder.

For now, my view is that tagging remains a useful and legitimate promotional tool for Amazon authors, whether published or self-published. It's a good way to help potential readers find your titles, and to boost their visibility. But this is perhaps a warning to authors from Amazon that it shouldn't be used excessively or inappropriately.

Incidentally, although Tag My Book on Amazon has closed, other services that promote reciprocal tagging are still running. This topic on the popular Kindleboards forum for Kindle authors is one example. There is no indication that this will be closing down, although it's always possible in future, of course.

I'd be very interested to hear your views about all this. Will you (still) use tagging to help promote your titles on Amazon in future? And what about reciprocal tagging services - would you still use them, or do you regard this now as too risky or unethical? Please post any comments below!

Photo Credit: End of Party by Juliana Coutinho on Flickr.


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Monday, June 20, 2011

Time to Register for JulNoWriMo!


Regular readers of this blog will know all about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.

This event takes place every November, and I've mentioned it most years on my blog.

JulNoWriMo is a more recent innovation, started in 2006. Aimed at people for whom November isn't such a good month for writing - or for whom one monthly writing marathon a year just isn't enough - JulNoWriMo is a challenge to write a complete 50,000 word novel in July.

JulNoWriMo isn't (yet) nearly as big as NaNoWriMo, but it's getting more popular every year. This FAQ page is a good place to find out more. To sign up for JulNoWriMo, you simply have to visit their forum and register a username.

If you're looking for a challenge to kick-start your novel - and don't have too much else planned for July - JulNoWriMo could provide just the incentive you need. It is also, by the way, a great opportunity to apply the techniques taught in WCCL's Novel in a Month course, or indeed my own Write Any Book in Under 28 Days (see banner ad below).

I wish you every success if you do decide to register for JulNoWriMo and write a novel in July. Please do leave a comment below if you succeed in completing the challenge!


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Friday, June 17, 2011

When It Pays to Ignore Copyright Theft


I saw an interesting article in last weekend's Guardian newspaper (UK) by Nick Duerden. It was about the latest best-selling book for parents of young children, which isn't even available in the shops yet.

The book in question is by Adam Mansbach, and it's called Go the F*** to Sleep. And yes, I've redacted the title to avoid causing unnecessary offence here or getting the email version of this post blocked by spam filters!

Not surprisingly, the book has generated quite a bit of controversy, but - as the Guardian article explains - it has also become a pre-publication best-seller on both sides of the Atlantic, mainly through word of mouth.

Apparently, it all started when the author, driven to distraction by his baby daughter's reluctance to sleep, wrote a few poems and posted them on internet forums. The poems took the form of traditional nursery rhymes, but - as the title indicates - with a very adult twist in the language used. The poems attracted a lot of interest, and Mansbach posted a Facebook update saying people should be on the lookout for his forthcoming children's book. As the Guardian article explains...

"It was a joke, of course, because I certainly had no intention of actually writing it," he [Mansbach] says. But those poems he put up online began to circulate, prompting some ecstatic reader feedback. "Suddenly everybody was demanding to know when the book was coming out," he recalls, shaking his head in disbelief. "That took me by surprise, to say the least."

Mansbach began to think there might be some commercial potential in his idea, so he asked an artist friend to produce some illustrations, and contacted an independent publishing company in New York, Akashic, who cautiously agreed to publish the book. Meanwhile, the poems were going viral. To quote the Guardian article again:

"It was bizarre," says Mansbach. "They were generating so much online traffic, everyone forwarding the poems on to everyone else. Then, a couple of months ago, I gave a 10-minute reading of them in Philadelphia. The morning after, the book, which wasn't even out yet, went racing up Amazon's chart."

Indeed so. When I checked just now, Go the F*** to Sleep was actually number one in the Amazon.com best-seller list and number five at Amazon.co.uk - despite the fact that it isn't even published until next week!

Obviously, there are various conclusions we could draw from this story. But one thing that particularly struck me is that Go the F*** to Sleep would probably never have generated this level of interest if the author had tried to protect his poems' copyright and stop them being posted on other websites. Imagine he had called in the lawyers and slapped a "Cease and Desist" order on the first person to do so. The book would most likely never have seen the light of day.

Of course, I'm not saying that as authors we shouldn't fight to protect our copyright when the situation demands it. However, I do think this example demonstrates that, in this digital age, taking a more relaxed attitude to copyright infringement can sometimes pay big dividends. If your work - or extracts from it - goes viral on the internet, the chances are you will have publishers queuing up to publish it in print form.

In this case, of course, the book is much more than the sum of its parts. Even if someone had downloaded all the poems, it doesn't mean they wouldn't want to buy the book itself. This is partly because the book is illustrated, but also because many people will buy it as a (possibly ironic) gift for parents of young children.

Even so, this approach can still work with other types of book, even practical books, where you might think giving away the contents would hurt sales. UK-based How-To Books, for example, allow visitors to download the entire content of many of their books from their website for free. Presumably, this has not harmed their overall sales and revenues.

So I do think there is something to be said for allowing or even encouraging people to infringe your copyright in some circumstances, especially if you are an unknown or little-known author trying to break into the big time.

I'd love to hear your views. Do we all need to lighten up about copyright infringement, or is this something we should always contest vigorously? Please leave any comments below!

Photo Credit: Wanted: Charlie Brown by Kevin Dooley on Flickr.


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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Holiday in Corfu...

As some of you will know, I recently enjoyed a week's break on the Greek island of Corfu with my partner, Jayne. I thought I'd take this opportunity to tell you a bit about it, and share a few photos.

Although we love Greece and have visited various islands and the mainland, we had never been to Corfu before. We stayed in Arillas, a quiet resort in the north of the island - the south being reserved for the under-thirties ;-)

Arillas turned out to be an excellent choice for a relaxing holiday, with wonderful food and drink, beautiful scenery, a sandy beach next to a crystal-blue sea, friendly people, and perfect weather thrown in as well.

That would be more than enough in itself, of course, but another reason I like Greece is that - in the parts we visit anyway - every business is different. Many are family-owned and run, and each has its own unique style and atmosphere. Every time you visit a new taverna (for example) it is a voyage of discovery.

This is a sharp contrast with Britain and many other industrialized countries, where every town looks almost identical, with the same predictable range of 'brands', and customer service is based on a manual rather than any personal passion for the business. Despite the well-documented economic problems of Greece, I still think there's a lot those of us living in supposedly more advanced countries can learn from them.

Anyway, I promised you some photos, so here's one of the place we stayed. It's called the Rainbow Complex. Our apartment was at the top of the block pictured. Naturally, I started each day by diving into the swimming pool from our balcony ;-)

The apartments were set in beautiful gardens, with oranges, lemons, peaches and grapefruit growing in profusion. The owners didn't mind guests picking the fruit (within reason), so we had a fresh peach every morning with our breakfast cereal. The photo shows lemons growing above a traditional English rose.

Arillas enjoys some spectacular sunsets. Here's a typical one...

By night, the swimming pool at the Rainbow Complex was lit up by this colorful fountain. By day it was removed from the pool so swimmers could use it. We'd never seen anything like it!

There were various small bars and restaurants along the seafront, but this notice in particular caught my eye. I'm still wondering what Fruit Pants are...

One day we booked on a coach tour of the island. In the capital, we saw these horse-drawn carriages waiting to carry visitors around the park. Sadly, our itinerary didn't include enough time to try this ourselves.

Our tour also included a visit to the beautiful monastery at Palaeokastritsa, where I took this photograph.

Finally, I guess I can't get away without including a photo of myself, so here I am on our balcony, about to head off for another delicious evening meal!

Well, I hope you've enjoyed hearing a bit about my holiday and seeing a few of my photographs. Back to writing-related matters in my next post!


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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Review: Facebook Guide for Authors

Facebook Guide for Authors ReviewI was pleased to receive a review copy of the fully revised, third edition of Facebook Guide for Authors by Dana Lynn Smith, aka The Savvy Book Marketer. Here's what I thought of it...

The guide is provided in the form of a downloadable, 79-page PDF. My first impression was that it is exceptionally well written and presented. It's printed in a clean, sharp, sans serif font, with screengrab illustrations where appropriate.

I was also impressed that the table of contents is fully hyperlinked, not just to the main chapter headings but to the section headings as well.

Dana starts by talking about online networking in general. This is a sensible approach, as it puts Facebook into perspective with other social networking sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn. The guide doesn't go into great detail about these other networks, but there are nonetheless some good suggestions on developing an overall strategy for promoting yourself and your work. Dana also reveals common mistakes people new to social networking as a promotional tool make.

The next chapter, Get Started With Facebook, is aimed at complete newcomers to Facebook. Dana takes the reader through setting up their personal profile, adding a profile photograph (and other photos and videos), adjusting privacy and notifications settings, how to import blog posts into Facebook, and so on.

Following this, in Network With Facebook, Dana talks about actually using Facebook to build your network of contacts. She discusses making friends on Facebook and responding to friend requests. Personally, though, I found the latter part of this chapter most interesting. This covers the sorts of things authors can post about on Facebook, how to gain added visibility for your updates using "tagging", and steps you can take to ensure that your updates get maximum prominence in your friends' or followers' news feeds. There are some great ideas here that I will certainly be trying out myself in future.

The manual then goes on to discuss other methods of promoting yourself on Facebook, including Fan Pages, Groups (both "Old" and "New"), Events, Questions, and advertising. This is all invaluable, thought-provoking stuff, and bang up to date (I don't even have Facebook Questions on my own Facebook Page yet - Dana says this feature is being rolled out gradually). Again, there are lots of ideas I plan to try out here.

The guide concludes with a list of common mistakes users make, and suggested daily and weekly routines for getting the most from Facebook while not letting it take over your life!

Do I have any criticisms of Facebook Guide for Authors? Well, I might just like to have seen a bit more discussion about how to use Facebook strategically, e.g. whether it's a good idea to have a Fan Page for every title you write, or just have one main author Page instead. Still, I guess this is probably a decision every author needs to make for him- or herself.

Overall, if you want to get up to speed with using Facebook as a promotional tool (and you almost certainly should), I highly recommend Facebook Guide for Authors, especially with its modest $15 price tag. It's definitely going to be my "bible" where Facebook is concerned from now on.

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Facebook Guide for Authors from the author/publisher. In addition, the links in this review are affiliate links, so if you go on to make a purchase after clicking on them, I will receive a small commission. This has not affected my review of the guide in any way.
 

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Friday, June 10, 2011

How a CEO Found Time to Write a Book


Today's post is by Michael Alexis, a writer, podcaster, interviewer, investor and philanthropist. Michael discusses a recent author interview he conducted, and sets out some lessons other writers may be able to learn from this.
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David H. Fater is author of Essentials of Corporate and Capital Formation, an accountant in four US states, and CEO of Vicor Technologies.
I interviewed David to find out how a busy CEO found the time to write a book.
This post includes specific strategies David used to overcome writer's block, get published, and write a corporate finance book that is reviewed as "easy to read".
Avoid Writer's Block with a Break Down
Like many writers, David had trouble starting his writing. He remembers, "I started with a table of contents, and I'd say, 'I'm going to devote the next two hours to writing the book', and I'd sit there and stare at the computer, and try to get off the dime so to speak, and what I found was I was having severe writer's block".
So, David took a step back. He says, "What I had to do, really, was take the table of contents and break it up into pieces". He notes this simplistic approach hadn't occurred to him, because he felt that he knew what he wanted to say about a lot of things, "but found it impossible to get the first words written". By breaking up his table of contents into chapters, then stories that went into those chapters, David "could take an hour while eating lunch, or an hour or two at night" to work productively on his writing. Nine months later, David's book was written.
Decide to Get Published
It wasn't until David met author Cynthia Cooper at a book signing that he realized he wanted to write a book of his own. A representative from Cooper's publishing company, Wiley & Sons, was there too.
David remembers, "I got talking to the publisher and said, 'I have this idea for a book, it's the idiot's guide to whatever', and he said, 'Well, we don't do the idiot's guide', and I said, 'Well, that's nice, but I've got this wealth of knowledge... and I think it would make a great book".
After making this contact, David pursued Wiley & Sons for the next year. The publisher eventually requested an outline, so David "prepared the table of contents, and they sent me back a contract".
Why pursue one publisher for a year? David says, "I happened to like the guy, and he said it was an interesting concept. I had to pursue to put some meat on the bones. I needed to use that time to flesh out the concept".
Use the KISS Concept
David writes about corporate finance, and yet reviews of his book on Amazon still say "easy to read" and "very accessible". David says, "I believe in the KISS principle - Keep It Simple, Stupid - so I tried to articulate it in a way that would be understandable". David then supplemented that with sections like "In the Real World" and "Tips and Techniques", with specific examples to help his readers understand the concepts.
Another feature of the book is the inclusion of downloadable forms and documents, so that readers can "with minimal effort, form a company and raise capital legally". David says with this content, "it's all there, and to me that's something that really added value to the book".
These are just a few of the many strategies David shared in the interview. Have you used any of these tactics in your own writing?
Byline: Michael Alexis
* * *
Thank you to Michael for an interesting article.
It occurred to me that the approach David used to overcome writer's block and get his book written is very similar to the "outlining and blueprinting" method taught in my best-selling course Write Any Book in Under 28 Days. Just saying!
I agree as well that non-fiction books in particular can benefit from a linked website that includes additional materials, updates, and so on. This is particularly relevant when writing e-books, it seems to me. Because of the way such books are displayed, formatting has to be kept simple, so there is a good case for including links to web pages that include related videos, diagrams, quizzes, and other supplementary material. Even fiction writers could probably benefit from applying this approach.
As Michael says, if you have any other observations on the techniques used by David for writing his book, please do post them below!
Photo Credit: telmo32 on Flickr.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

BBC CBeebies Contest for New Children's Writers

Get a Squiggle On Contest
Apologies in advance to my non-UK readers, but the subject of today's post is only likely to be relevant to UK writers.

It is, however, such an interesting-looking opportunity, I wanted to make a special point of mentioning it here.

Get a Squiggle On offers new UK children's writers the opportunity to get a foot in the door with CBeebies, the BBC's digital channel for very young (pre-school) children.

They say they are seeking out fresh voices, giving promising writers from different backgrounds, communities and life experiences an opportunity to develop their professional skills.

As the BBC Writersroom website explains...

We are looking for 20-minute live action scripts. They can be written in any contemporary genre, including Drama, Comedy, Music, Dance, Puppets, Educational (with a light touch) or a combination of more than one. This opportunity is open to anyone interested in writing for CBeebies.

A shortlist of 20-25 writers will be invited to a masterclass and the final 8-10 shortlisted writers will spend an intensive residential week developing their work, bolstering their writer’s 'toolbox' and craft, and working with the CBeebies team.

To enter, you have to submit:

  • a script (one copy) for children’s television between 20-30 minutes in length (approximately 1 page per minute) suitable for children aged 3-6.
  • an outline for how the series would develop.
  • a completed entry form (which you can download here).

The submission deadline is Thursday 14 July. Those shortlisted will be notified by Friday 29 July 2011, and the Masterclass (for 20-25 writers) is scheduled for Tuesday 30 August. The residential for the final 8-10 writers will be held from 17 October to 21 October 2011.

To help prospective competitors, the BBC has put together this page of tips and resources on writing scripts for a pre-school audience.

See also this page of the BBC Writersroom website for full details of Get a Squiggle On and links to all relevant resources and info, including how and where to submit your entry.

This looks to me a great opportunity for any aspiring children's writer - the contacts alone you would make from being shortlisted would be invaluable. If you decide to give it a shot, I wish you every success.


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