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You Can Submit a Better Manuscript

Posted by on Mar 11, 2016 in Creative Writers | Comments Off on You Can Submit a Better Manuscript

Ulrike Hill, Writer's Support CEO

Ulrike Hill, Writer’s Support CEO

Becoming a best-selling author is the driving force behind every aspiring writer. Only the most determined make it.

Writer’s Support offers an advisory service to help bring your manuscript to the required standard for submission to a literary agent or publisher.  Once you have completed your book, company CEO, Ulrike Hill advises you to follow these three steps.


Step 1: Manuscript Appraisals

The first step is getting advice. Many writers feel feedback from family and friends is enough. It isn’t. Neither is the opinion of another published author. Writers should engage the services of a writing professional who is experienced in appraisals.

A comprehensive 9 to 15-page report highlights the best parts of your manuscript. It also draws attention to weaknesses. The appraiser assesses quality. This saves you time and money. Writers, whether experienced or novice, can benefit from a critical reading of their work.

  magnifyin glass

Step 2: Editing

Editing is about looking at the bigger picture. It is about reviewing your manuscript as a whole. There are two levels of editing:

The first level will focus merely on the content, structure, language and style of the manuscript.

The next level of editing is more complicated and requires skill and diplomacy. The editor advises on storyline and character development and makes recommendations. Often these recommendations include deleting characters, part of a story or even changing the story. The insecure writer may not understand the recommendations and see this as a sign of weakness. You, the writer, reserve the right to listen to these recommendations.

Another dimension of the editing process is the manuscript restructure. The editor will organise your storyline and important story points in a logical sequence. Chapters will be structured in a way to grab the reader’s attention.

 Step 3: Proof reading

The proof-reader scans and highlights spelling, sentence structure and grammar. The proof-reader looks at the correctness of the text with a magnifying glass. This should be the final step once editing, formatting and manuscript layout is complete.

Typos and misplaced punctuation creep into manuscripts. Submitting a polished, error-free manuscript puts you one-step ahead of the pack. It shows publishers you respect them. It also shows you are serious about becoming a writer.

Ulrike Hill Writing Projects

Tackling the Brickwall, Overcoming Adversity in Schoolboy Rugby (Crink)

Debbie Calitz: 20 Years of Hostage Hell (Penguin)

Against All Odds with Wayne and Rebecka Smith (Austin Macauley Publishers)

Ulrike has ghost-written for celebrities who have chosen to write under a pseudonym.

Need help with your manuscript? Email your manuscript to

Do you need to believe in love to be able to write romance?

Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 in Creative Writers | Comments Off on Do you need to believe in love to be able to write romance?

Guest Blog by Suzanne Jefferies

You can write romance source:

You can write romance

Love is a many splendoured thing. All you need is love. Love to love you baby. All the great lyricists know that there’s no more abused word in the entire lexicon than ‘love’. Not only can it heal wounds, but it can also perpetuate them, “But I love him/her, even though he treats me badly, kicked my dog, ran off with my best friend/mother/extraterrestrial neighbour.” Love bites. Why don’t you love me? Love me, love me, say that you love me. See, any good writer knows that the fortunes of love can run from overflowing then end up in the red within moments. And any great writer knows that ‘love’ can and does happen to everyone – it’s our universal glue.

I know what you’re thinking though…you’re thinking boy/girl, girl/girl, boy/boy lurve. Wrong, wrong, absolutely wrong.

All protagonists have some sort of love affair that moves them to do the things they do. To go on an adventure across a shire, to solve a crime that seems impossible, to protect their family, to get that date with the hot chick, to make the soccer team, whatever. Are you going to tell me that your hero/heroine is kinda lukewarm about their romance? Nu-uh. They’re usually fiercely passionate about it, even if they seem reluctant to move at first. Of course, they’re reluctant, who wouldn’t be reluctant? Embarking on any kind of romance runs the risk of having your precious heart absolutely shattered against the rocks of fate, fortune and chance. Hands up to the writer who has not experienced this kind of romance, the kind that has you slaving away, year after year, rejection after rejection, as you refine your craft? Is it love? Abso-frigging-lutely. Do you need to believe in it? Hell, no. It just is.

And we haven’t even got on to the topic of the ‘love interest’. What do they do? Provide complications? Naturally. The course of…, and so on and so forth.

All novels are romance novels at their heart (oy vey, bad pun). They’re a romance between writer and novel, reader and novel, reader and writer, protagonist and goal, protagonist and love interest. You don’t need to believe in love to write it, you just have to need to know how to keep someone hooked. Isn’t that what romance is all about?

About the Author

Suzanne Jefferies is the author of The Joy of Comfort Eating, a contemporary romance novel set in cosmopolitan Johannesburg. The book is currently available at Amazon. Check out Writer’s Support 5-minute interview: Suzanne Jefferies Interview .

Photo credit: U Hill

Photo credit: U Hill

Connect with Suzanne

Twitter:  @suzannejefferies


Facebook:  suzanne.jefferies7

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

Posted by on Feb 5, 2016 in Creative Writers | Comments Off on The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

image source:

image source:

“I am writing a story about my ex-husband who was a real bastard,” the attractive read-head tells me. I am facilitating a memoirs workshop and I ask each delegate why they are writing their story. “Really?” I respond to the redhead. I am curious about her story especially as this is nothing new to me. I tell her that many divorced people think their exes are bastards.

“Well not many people have gone through the traumatic experience of the husband sleeping with her best friend on their wedding day,” she tells me. I can see the memory is still painful.

I suggest she rather turns her story into fiction. Not only could it cause problems for people in the story but she faces the probability of legal actions if she publishes the book. Unfortunately, the scorned red-head is not interested in my advice and proceeds to write the story. A few months later I receive her manuscript for a critique. I turned her down. The book displayed the names of her ex-husband (who incidentally is now married with kids) as well as her ex-best friend.  Obviously, publishers will never accept this book (unless she was a famous person).

I see the reason for this type of story as narcissistic.

The narcissistic writer’s reason for writing is a selfish one; she wants the world to know how she was rejected, despite the fact that innocent people may be affected by the story. It has nothing to do with the desire to become a published writer.

Narcissism is a personality disorder, loosely defined as ‘extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration’.

If a pre-published writer has this personality disorder it can spell disaster in the current self-publishing trend that is sweeping through the book-world. No longer does this type of manuscript need to go through a gatekeeping process. Just write your story, upload it onto any e-book platform and the world has access to your world.

image source:

image source:

The breaking up of a long term relationship or a messy divorce are painful life events. Many published romance

writers incorporate this as themes into their fiction. Obviously the story will have a happy ending and is far more beneficial for the reader who may have experienced similar life experiences as the protagonist.

Don’t misunderstand. Writing about the experience can be a cathartic experience for the wounded soul. In fact, I encourage it.

Here is one piece of advice I give out free of charge to any person writing about an ex. When you type in the words THE END, the manuscript should be shelved in a dark place – never to see daylight again. Hopefully by writing your story, you will gain some perspective about the break-up and will be ready to face the world and open yourself to new relationships. Perhaps one day you can use your story as inspiration for a scene or character if you are serious about becoming a published writer. You could adapt it as a work of fiction, something based on real life events but changed enough so that details and characters are not recognisable should someone from your past read the story.

The sword inflicts a wound that heals quickly and may leave a superficial scar. The pen creates a wound that is much deeper. Although it is not visible it does manifest itself through intentions and behaviour.

Self-publishing provides the stage for the narcissistic writer to make a statement to the world. The problem is that the only people who will read the book are the people connected to the narcissist. The rest will avoid this type of writer like the plague.

Serious about becoming a published writer? Send in your manuscript for an appraisal. Contact: or call 071 636 8026.

Are you author or writer?

Posted by on Dec 4, 2015 in Creative Writers | 1 comment

Author? Writer? Which would the pre-published person be? Is JK Rowling an author or a writer? Why is a ghost-writer not an author? People think that the words mean one and the same. After all, if you are writing, you can be both?


Not so. Consider this. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series put her in the top 10 of greatest authors according to Topten dot com. She is also one of the top earning authors in the world according to Forbes magazine. So why did she go on to write The Casual Vacancy under a pseudonym? Before it leaked out that the book was written by Rowling, it sold a measly 1 500 copies. Why bother? The reason why she wrote under a pseudonym is because Rowling is an author. She writes because she loves the art, because she has characters to develop and because she has stories to tell the world. That is her priority. That she earned fame and fortune along the way is incidental.

Ghost-writers and copywriters are not authors. They are producing someone else’s stories and ideas. They write to earn money. The art of writing does not make you an author.

There are a number of reasons why people are writers. Writers are paid irrespective how well the book does. It is the responsibility of the person paying the writer to publish the book once the book has been completed. Being a writer is at times easier than being an author.

According to Difference Between dot net, a person is considered a writer until they are published. This means that even if the idea is your own and you have written the book, you still remain a writer. It does not matter how often you write and what you have written . The difference is that when you become published, your work will be copyrighted under the copyright laws. This ensures that nobody else can steal or use your idea. It is all yours.

To be an author, one must have the capability to think and express ideas. A writer must have the capability to understand and convey an idea correctly to the readers. Their skill is suited to the job required. Authors write because they have stories to tell, writers write because they want to earn money.

Now decide: which one are you?

5 tips to market your book

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 in Creative Writers | Comments Off on 5 tips to market your book

Although this article is aimed at indie authors, authors pursuing the traditional publishing route can benefit from the advice. Publishing is changing and many blame the digital era. If anything, this offers more opportunities to pursue a writing business without enormous capital outlay.


Writing is a business, like any other business. If you are a start-up, you have to earn credibility and a reputation. You have to invest time and money marketing your business.

The same goes for pre-published author. Readers gravitate towards authors they know and trust. It take time and many books to establish yourself and to ensure your book fids it way to the front shelf of the bookstore. Jodi Picoult famously quipped, “It took me ten years to become an overnight success.” If ten years is too long for you then best you pack your laptop away and do something else. As a pre-published author, you will need to invest in the business side of your book.

 Here are my top five marketing tips for authors:


  1. Establish a social media presence.

Social media is the quickest and cost-effective way to market. Many authors like EL James and Amanda Hocking promoted their books through their blogs and were then snatched up by publishers. Create your online presence before you start writing. The sooner the better. Many of the bigger publishers are including this as a contractual obligation.

  1. Create a database.

While you are researching and writing your book, create a database of people who have expressed an interest in your book. Keep their interest by emailing interesting facts about your book. Link your database to your blog.

  1. Get book reviews.

Book reviews are an important part of marketing. Ensure that you approach a reputable reviewer. Reviewers do not charge for their reviews but you will need to provide a copy of your book either as a hard copy or as an e-book.

  1. Create a pitch.

Create a 10-second pitch that provides the essence of the book and captures the reader’s attention. Ensure that when someone asks what your book is about, you can deliver the pitch faultlessly. Ensure that you have a 30-second pitch ready if they want to know more.

  1. Write articles.

This is one way to practice your business writing skills and to establish yourself as knowledgeable about your book’s subject matter. For example, if a character in your book has cancer, write articles about your research. Post your articles on your blog, submit them to magazines and newspapers or ask to be a guest writer on a popular writing blog.


The above list is not exhaustive but it does provide some ideas for you. Remember, marketing is the business part of your book and it takes careful planning and enormous commitment.

The Ghost on the Bookshelf

Posted by on Nov 13, 2015 in Creative Writers | Comments Off on The Ghost on the Bookshelf

The Ghost on the Bookshelf

By Ulrike Hill

The ghost-writer provides an interesting service to the world of stories. A book is written by the ghost writer but someone else gets the credit. ‘The book just seemed to write itself,’ the author will tell the press and adoring fans. The ghost writer will sit in the wings, the Cinderella of the literary world.

What does it take to become a ghost writer?

Obviously, the ability to write is crucial, but these three things are just as important:

  1. The ghost-writer requires oodles of patience, empathy and the ability to actually listen to the author’s story and then translate it into a publishable book.
  2. The ghost-writer requires a special talent to write the story in the author’s voice. Discipline and an understanding of storytelling techniques are crucial tools for the aspiring ghost-writer.
  3. Ghost-writers need to deal with big egos but should not succumb to their own. Why? Because it is really difficult to sit back after giving birth to a story that hits the best seller list and the name on the cover gets all the credit.

Why do writers become ghost writers?

Writers need to eat and this is one way to make money. Ghost writers are paid a flat rate to write so if the book is a flop this will not affect the ghost writer’s pocket.
The ghost writer has access to different stories. The opportunity to work with celebrities and other interesting people is one of the perks of the job. Ghost writers get an open invitation to the lifestyles of the rich-and-famous.
Telling other people’s stories is exciting and creates a perspective on different styles of writing.

Seven Famous Ghost Writers and Authors

  1. Michael Robotham (Bleed for Me) was ghost-writer for ‘authors’ like Geri Halliwell and Rolf Harris.
  2. Carolyne Keen is as fictional as the teen sleuth, Nancy Drew that she was supposed to create.
  3. James Patterson credits his ghost-writers as co-authors on the covers of his books. Peter de Jongh (Shadows still Remain) and Andrew Gross (15 Seconds) were two of Patterson’s co-authors.
  4. John F Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage, was ghost-written by his speech writer, Theodore Sorenson.
  5. Ian Fleming died while writing The Man with the Golden Gunso Kinglsey Amis had to step in as writer.
  6. RL Stine, author of the Goosebumpsseries, turned to ghost-writers to help him churn out the popular chiller series faster.
  7. The Star Warsbook was credited to director George Lucas but was actually ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster.

The Publishing Game

Posted by on Jul 26, 2012 in Creative Writers | Comments Off on The Publishing Game

The Publishing Game

Publishing is changing. Technology, recession and social issues like saving the trees, are affecting the publishing industry. People who earn their living from producing and selling books are facing many challenges.

What does this mean to the pre-published writer? A lot, according to Trish Gentry who recently published a post on her blog, Chicklit. Her blog, ‘An Unpublished Author’s Perspective on Paying to be Published’ highlights the challenges she has faced trying to get her first book published.

Gentry has paid her publishing dues in money, time and tears. She has spent large chunks of time writing her book. No an easy feat as any first-time writer will attest to.

The next step was paying someone to edit her book. Gentry knew this would enhance her chances of becoming published. She admits she is an unknown, has no credibility. With edited book in hand, Gentry spent hours researching publishers who have accepted authors in the genre she has written. She submits her manuscript. And waits. And waits. Hopefully she will receive a request or rejection. She admits that she has more chance of winning the sweepstakes. Not because she is a bad writer. It is because she is a new writer.

The safe game

Publishers are playing the safety game. The safety catch is firmly in place before they will commit to a pre-published writer. Why? Because publishing is expensive. There are no guarantees. Recession has taught people to be cautious with their money. Readers will more than likely purchase a book written by a known author. The established author will have prime spot in the retailer. Where will the unknown’s book be positioned? Probably in the dusty recesses of the shop, next to the forgotten gems of yesteryear.

So why do people still feel it is important to go the traditional published route? Gentry admits that publishers and agents do have clout. They know the book game. And it is a status thing for a writer to say ‘I was published by [insert your choice of publisher here]’.

Consider this: once the production costs have been deducted, the agent has taken their commission and the publisher has sliced their pound of flesh; you the writer may get R12 per copy sold. Is it worth the effort?

Why self-publishing works for the pre-published author

Amanda Hocking, self-published writer of a supernatural series, earned her money from selling her books online. Hocking decided to self-publish after being continuously rejected and being told that the supernatural market was oversubscribed. An international publisher is now interested in her books. Why? Because her self-published ebooks have earned her a cool million dollars. She has credibility and is now considered a low risk.

There are many options for the newbie author to follow. The traditional publishing route is not the only way to get people to read your book. Research the market. Understand genres and their story-lines. Ensure that your book is as close to perfect as possible. Spend the money on attending writing courses and editing. Publish it online. Spend some more money promoting. Get a social media presence. Test the waters. See what readers and reviewers say about your book. Once you understand this process, you may realise why publishers are nervous about the future of publishing. You may also earn more money this way.


Ulrike Hill
First published on
23rd February 2012
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Tackling the Brickwall (Overcoming adversity in schoolboy rugby) is available from (eBook)