Monthly Archives: October 2009

How Racist Are You? Not the Lesson Intended

Last night I watched Channel 4’s documentary in which American school teacher Jane Elliot conducted a demonstration of how racism feels by dividing a group of volunteers along lines of eye colour and discriminating against the blue-eyed group. From the outset the blue-eyed group were treated badly by Ms Elliot, being put down and ridiculed by the fierce moderator herself, segregated into an uncomfortable room for two hours, before being put with the brown-eyed group who she had attempted to prime to treat the blue-eyed group as inferior. Her original aim had been to demonstrate to her own class of all white children how it felt to be discrminated against for something as arbitrary as eye-colour is unfair and illogical.  She described that in her original exercise… “I watched how what had been marvelous, wonderful, thoughtful, co-operative children turn into nasty, viscous, discriminating little third-graders.”  Leaving aside how unethical her experiment […]

Getting a Book Published: The Ultimate Submission Letter

OK, I’ve used a little hyperbole in the title of this blog, I’ll admit.  There is no perfect submission letter because each submission you send is going in front of a different pair of eyes. But I think there are some very important points to consider and at the end I’ll tell you my own idea of what might help tip the balance when you send your dream off to a publisher. Firstly, and most importantly, check whether the publisher you are writing to has a preference for what a submission contains.  Many of them do.  Of course, you don’t have to follow it slavishly, but you need to work within their parameters and find a way to stand out without appearing to have ignored their wishes.  When you get published you’ll be working with your publisher and demonstrating you can’t pay attention to their needs isn’t a recipe for […]

Getting a Book Published: Friends in a Hostile Environment

Make no mistake, getting a book published is tough.  Some of that is for the right reasons; after all there are a zillion people who would like the idea of having a book published and there isn’t a market for that many books – it’s no bad thing that the publishers and literary agents of this world act as something of a buffer between all the prospective junk and the ones that make it into print.  And, of course, lots of those won’t sell particularly well. But some of the reasons getting your book published is tough aren’t good ones. One publisher that I sent my book to took twelve weeks to reply (and only then after I had called to enquire about its progress, which is something they say you shouldn’t do). In fact, I would agree that you shouldn’t do it.  I happen to know that the rejection […]