Frequently Asked Questions
Why Writing Clinic?
Over the years I've worked with many writers at the Universities of Sussex and Brighton and elsewhere. Many of them began projects on the course - a novel, autobiography or memoir, or a collection of short stories - and wanted support to continue with it after the course ended. Students began to approach me for feedback and advice and so Writing Clinic was born. Many of my clients have gone on to win competitions, be published or have stories on radio. See at my Testimonials page for feedback from previous clients.
What makes Writing Clinic different?
There are many manuscript appraisal services that provide a written report on your work, without giving you the chance to discuss or explain your intentions, or get advice on how to realise them. Some mentors offer face to face meetings but at a hefty price. I offer a flexible, competitively priced service that is tailored to your needs. YOU decide how often we meet (or talk on Skype) and how many words you send, and are charged accordingly. You are free to withdraw at any time. If you need the support of regular deadlines we can agree a schedule that suits you and that can be extended if necessary. For those who want something with firmer deadlines, I also offer a mentoring package over a year.
How would I benefit from Writing Clinic's services?
I work with anyone from complete beginners to experienced writers of prose fiction including novels, short stories, memoir/autobiography and non-fiction. I believe that people learn more from recognising what they do well and building on their strengths, but also that people want to know what doesn't work so well. Because of the personal contact involved, I am able to gear my feedback to the level of the writer and to the most effective way to get the best from each person. Individual relationship is key.
How does it work?
We speak on Skype or on the telephone so that we have a sense of whether we can fruitfully work together. You send me your writing together with any specific questions you may have. I read it carefully, always keeping in mind the big picture: theme, structure, plot and pace. I make notes as I go on larger problems of plot, pace or structure, and also make detailed comments on the manuscript. Then we meet and talk face to face, on Skype, or on the telephone.
How often do we talk?
This is entirely up to you. It depends on how much support you need and whether you find deadlines helpful. You can have a single or a series of one-off sessions or, if you are working on a longer project like a book, a collection of stories, or an autobiography, you could book a mentoring package; or you could wait till you have a complete draft and book an appraisal of the whole manuscript. You can also use the one to one sessions to send me redrafted sections to read and discuss before you go on.
Can you help me find an agent or publisher?
The short answer is "No". I don't actually believe any consultancy can help every client to find an agent or publisher. Apart from the unpredictability of the market and the changing nature of the publishing industry, no consultant would recommend an author to an agent unless they felt his or her writing was of a sufficiently high standard, and no agent or publisher would take on a book on someone's recommendation unless it fitted their criteria. If your book is good enough, an agent or publisher will consider it anyway.
Can you help me prepare my manuscript for submission to an agent or publisher?
Yes. What I can do is help you to make your book as good as we can in the time we are working together. I can advise you how to present your manuscript, and help you write a synopsis and a cover letter, which I am happy to do for no charge if I have worked with you on your whole book. I also offer copy-editing so that your manuscript arrives in the best possible shape. See the Writing Clinic page for rates for these services.
What if I want to self publish?
If you are going to self-publish it is important that you make the book as good as you can get it before it goes out into the world. I can help do this by offering structural feedback, and copy-editing if required. See Writing Clinic for more details about these services.