Tuesday 29 December 2015

Book cover reveal

So here it is: the cover reveal of my debut novel. 

It will be released in the UK on 11 February 2016 in paperback and as an ebook.

Time to Say Goodbye is already available to pre-order from booksellers including Amazon, Waterstones, and WHSmith.

I’m chuffed to bits with how the cover looks. My publisher, Avon HarperCollins, has done an amazing job. Hope you like it too.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish all my friends, fellow writers and readers a very merry Christmas.

Only 50 days to go now until the publication of my debut novel, Time to Say Goodbye.

Next week I’ll be able to officially reveal the cover, which I think looks absolutely superb. The hard-working folk at my publisher, Avon HarperCollins, have done me proud and I can’t wait for everyone to see the result.

Watch this space next Tuesday evening (29 December).

In the meantime, I hope you all have a fantastic festive season.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

News and views

I visited the central London offices of my publisher, Avon HarperCollins, yesterday to chat to the team about the run up to publication.

They’re based in The News Building, a fantastic 17-storey block next to iconic skyscraper The Shard, so it’s always a treat to call in and admire the amazing views.

I’m pictured with Avon editor Kate Ellis (left) and Pat Lomax, my literary agent, at the impressive book wall in the HarperCollins offices.
It was wonderful to see how enthusiastic they all are about Time to Say Goodbye and how many great ideas they have about spreading the word once my debut novel is on sale. 

There are just over 11 weeks to go now and my levels of excitement are through the roof. I’ve waited a long time for this. So many people have been kind enough to show an interest. I’m craving for everyone to be able to read it at last.

It makes me think of my main character, Will. He dies right at the start of the book and is bemused to find himself watching paramedics fighting in vain to revive his lifeless body. He has so much to say to people – especially Ella, his six-year-old daughter – but no one can see or hear him. Having to look on as his family grieves is incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking. 

Obviously my situation is nothing compared to that. But I’ve got a story to tell and I’m desperate to get it out there.

Patience is a virtue, so they say . . .

Anyway, that’s where things are up to at the moment. Watch this space for further updates as we creep ever closer to the big day, Thursday 11 February 2016.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Nearly there now

Not long to go, folks.

The publication date of my debut novel is less than four months away.

Time to Say Goodbye will be published by Avon HarperCollins on Thursday 11 February.

It’s been a long old journey and I thought it would be nice to mark this final stage by adding a countdown timer to my website. You should be able to see it at the top of the page.

Will Curtis, the book’s main character, also faces an important countdown. He’s given a deadline to make an impossible choice. And as that day draws closer, the burden of his decision grows heavier. This dilemma lies at the heart of the novel, which is why the timer feels particularly appropriate.

So exactly how long is left? Well, as I write this, the countdown to publication stands at 120 days, five hours and 18 minutes.

Eek. That’s just around the corner. I can’t wait.

Sunday 23 August 2015

How to present your manuscript

Are you a budding writer hoping to get your novel published? Make sure you don’t fall at the first hurdle by messing up your manuscript.

Literary agents and publishers like submissions to arrive in a particular way. Not adhering to their rules is a big mistake. Remember that first sentence you spent ages perfecting? You don’t want to get rejected before anyone has even read it. So make sure your manuscript is properly formatted. This is not where you try to stand out from the crowd. Leave your writing to do that. They’re looking for a reason to say no – don’t give them ammunition. 

The exact requirements can vary from one place to another. You should look at the website of wherever you’re sending it and ensure you adhere to any specific guidelines. That said, the basics are the same across the board, so I thought I’d share a few of them here with you.

This isn’t a comprehensive list but rather a few key pointers, based on my experience. It should get you on the right track. It worked for me.

  • Double space the entire text. It might use more paper when you’re printing it out, but it’s much easier to read that way. And if you are printing it out, only use one side of the paper, which should be plain A4.
  • Use single – NOT double – quotation marks. This is the standard in UK publishing, although lots of people get it wrong, most likely because newspapers and magazines often use double quotes, as do books published in the United States. 
  • Steer clear of fancy fonts. Stick to 12pt Times New Roman.
  • Start each chapter on a new page, with the number or title in capital letters  (e.g. CHAPTER 12) around one third of the way down.
  • Use a one inch (2.54cm) margin on all sides.
  • Include a title page with a word count set right at the top, the title and your name centred in the middle, and your contact details set right at the bottom. Do NOT number this page.
  • Number the rest of the pages using a header that also incorporates your name and the book title (e.g.  Robertson / TIME TO SAY GOODBYE / 211). Set this right.
  • Each new paragraph should be indented by 1.27cm, apart from the first one of each chapter/new section, which shouldn’t be indented. Don’t include a space line in between paragraphs as you might do in a letter or blog post. That’s why you have the indent.
  • Feel free to write The End beneath the last line of your text. Although this doesn’t appear in published books, it’s normal in manuscripts. Including your contact details again after this is a good idea in case the title page has gone missing.
  • If you’re sending a hard copy of your manuscript or some part of it, don’t attempt to bind the pages together in any way. Agents and publishers hate that. Just pop it in a suitable envelope with (at most) an elastic band around the middle.
And there we have it. Follow my 10 top tips to sharpen up your manuscript and boost its chances of being published. Good luck!

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Stuart’s super summer reads

Summer is a great time to catch up on some reading. Whether that’s on the beach, next to the pool or just in the garden at home, the one key ingredient is a fantastic book.

So what to choose? You don’t want to waste time on a dud now, do you?

That in mind, I’ve come up with a list of 10 great novels you may not have read but I recommend you should try. There’s no order to the list and they’re all very different. However, in my humble opinion, each one of them is a fantastic read. So you can find out more, I’ve included links to Goodreads, Amazon or Waterstones in the titles.

You’ll probably have heard of some of my choices, most of which are from the past few years. But I’ve tried to steer clear of anything too obvious, so hopefully there will be at least one or two you don’t recognise.

Anyway, here’s the list:
Happy reading.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Trip to London

I went down to London last week for the first time in several years. There was a Demystifying Digital event on at my publisher’s impressive new offices near London Bridge.

What a fantastic day out. The function, organised by the Avon team and featuring an array of knowledgeable HarperCollins staff, was really informative. I learned all sorts of useful information about publishing and promoting a novel in the digital age, so a big thank-you to everyone involved.

Here’s me (centre) enjoying a drink after the event with fellow Avon author Tim Lebbon and Sam Missingham, head of audience development at HarperCollins UK. Thanks to Avon author Michele Gorman for the photo.
Of course it was also rather special to visit the HarperCollins HQ for the first time. I was whisked 17 floors up from the Thames and then, against a panoramic backdrop of the capital, got to meet face to face all the lovely people who’ll be helping me bring my debut novel to life early next year. 

And I don’t think I’ve ever been in a room with so many other authors before. What a wealth of experience to draw upon for a first-timer like myself. 

The whole thing was superb and I still haven’t quite got my breath back. It’s made me more excited than ever about publication day. Roll on next March.

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