Thursday, 14 July 2011

Foyle Young Poets Awards

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2011 DEADLINE is fast approaching. The closing date for a chance to be discovered is 31st July 2011.

The Foyle Young Poets Awards is open to writers worldwide aged 11-17. Last year they had over 20,000 entries (a huge increase from 2009 where there were around 14,000 - which was itself an increase from previous years) and a number of international winners from such places as Athens, Mauritius and the US, who managed to attend the prize giving ceremony in October 2010 as part of National Poetry Day.

This year's judges, following previous ones including Lemn Sissay, Luke Kennard and Jane Draycott, are Glyn Maxwell and Imtiaz Dharker.

Last year's judges, Luke and Jane, commented on the winning poems that there was a distinctly musical, rhythmic element perpetuating their work, a theme strengthened by the fact that the survey carried out recently by the Poetry Society revealed an intrinsic relationship between the young poet's musical tastes and their poetic style. Bob Dylan was named by far and away as the most influential musician in terms of their poetry. And as one of this year's judges, Glyn Maxwell, says: "The best young poets remind me how to have no fear, how to make awe seem cool, how to know nothing again, like the best poets do. I simply know that we will find some born writers."

Individuals can enter online or download an individual postal entry form while Teachers can download a class set entry form.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

World Book Day Writing Competition

Today is World Book Day, and we're marking the occasion by unveiling our first ever writing competition. It's for children, it's free to enter and we're planning not only on awarding a prize for the winner (plus two runners up) but to publish all the best submissions in a special World Book Day anthology.

There are any number of events this year from performances by Welsh schoolchildren of Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes at the Millennium Centre to a 'Human Library' day at Birmingham Central Library. And the dressing up of primary school children as various book characters seems to have become an annual event up and down the country, all in the cause of getting children reading. And if your children are inspired by reading, why not encourage them to have a go at writing? Children are often natural story-tellers; part of play involves the creation of imaginary worlds with accompanying narratives and we're trying to capture the spirit by providing an incentive to get writing.

There's no limit - other than your child's imagination - to the subjects he or she can write about, but we are limiting the number of entries to three per child. And by child, we're taking entries from everyone up to (and including) the age of 16.The closing date is 1st September 2011, and we're asking for submissions by email ( with 'World Book Day Writing Competition' in the subject line at any time up to that date. Please include your child's story either in the body of the email or as an attachment, and include their name and date of birth, plus the name of the school they attend.

And finally, please help spread the word. We want as many children as possible to be able to take part, to have a chance of winning a prize and be published in the conmpetition anthology. There's no entry fee, and proceeds from the sale of the anthology will help support future World Book Day events and giveaways.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Now available on the Kindle!

Small publishers like ours can never hope to compete with the 'big boys' in terms of paperback and hardback sales. We can't afford the discounts, the distribution fees or the 'sweeteners' to get our books into the likes of Waterstones. (Did you know it can cost several thousand pounds to get a major bricks-and-mortar bookstore to sell your book? And then, it has to be so heavily discounted that costs are barely covered.)

The problem is, unless readers see your book, they can't buy it. And they buy books they see. And here's a question posed recently by Joe Konrath: is a book a bestseller because it's good, or because people can buy it? What makes a bestseller? And who decides? As Joe puts it, 'I don't believe an author becomes a bestseller, and then becomes available everywhere. I believe an author is available everywhere, and that's why they're a bestseller.' It's a chicken-and-egg situation, and one that's been determined by the traditional gatekeeper - the publisher.

But with the advent of the e-book, the playing field is starting to level out quite nicely. Ebooks ARE available everywhere - at least to those with a suitable ebook reader - and on the biggest online bookstore in the world - Amazon. And - as recently reported with varying degrees of trepidation recently - sales of ebooks on Amazon outstripped those of paperbacks for the first time ever.

So we're pleased to announce that our first two titles are now available in ebook format - which means, of course, everywhere and on the same terms as those applied to everybody. Click the links below if you're interested in having a look - you can try before you buy, too. And if you haven't got a Kindle, don't worry: the books are formatted for the Kindle app on the iPad, iPod and iPhone too.

Monday, 7 February 2011

An exciting opportunity!

Are you an aspiring author? Would you like some help polishing your writing? Do you want to find out more about the Holy Grail of getting published? Maybe you'd like to receive some mentoring from a published author, someone with experience both as a teacher and as a writer, someone who could give you the benefit of supportive criticism to help your development as a writer?

If you've answered 'yes' to any of the above questions, then you might be interested in our special offer. You'll have heard, no doubt, of Tiny Acorns, the course anthology of new writing that was generated by the e-course offered by Tim Atkinson last year. What you might not realise is that the entire course - all ten lessons - in printed in the book as an Appendix. Now when the course first ran, students were allocated to on-line peer mentoring groups where they could submit their work and receive feedback from their fellow students. But although the course includes all the writing exercises that the would-be authors did, there isn't really any way of getting the same kind of feedback on them. Until now. Because Tim has generously offered to take ten lucky authors under his wing and provide e-coaching to them as they work their way through his writing course. This offer is open to anyone who buys a copy of Tiny Acorns direct from us (and not through Amazon or Lulu) during the month of February. In addition to making your purchase here, you'll need to send us an email ( informing us that you'd like to participate. Clearly not everyone who buys the anthology in February will want or need such free tuition. But if you do, then simply buy a copy of the book, and let us know. It's as simple as that. And if you know somebody who you think would appreciate such help, then let them know. Or maybe even buy them a copy of the book!

Good luck!

*Offer open to ten purchasers of the anthology 'Tiny Acorns' when bought direct from Dotterel Press during February 2011 and who follow the creative writing course as printed in the book's Appendix. This offer includes personal feedback on each on the course units (one per unit) plus general advice and support on various aspects of the student's writing. At the end of the sessions, the student will receive a report based on the progress they've made together with an action-plan detailing the steps the student should consider taking following the successful completion of the study programme. If more than ten qualifying entries are received, the offer will be available to the first ten purchasers drawn at random on March 1st 2011.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Have you been published?

If you were one of the lucky writers included in the 'Tiny Acorns' anthology, here's a badge you might like for your blog. It's simple: grab the code and paste it as an html gadget in your side-bar and everyone will know that you're a published author.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Me and my big mouth...

Yes, that's where Tim was earlier this week - guest-posting on Scott Pack's blog. And this is what he wrote...

So you want to be an author. Who doesn't? And once you are, you'll want to be published won't you? Who wouldn't? I did. And I know a lot of others in the same position. Which is why - with a friend - I decided to do a bit about it last year.

First up came a bit of author training. Everyone does creative writing courses these days; someone I knew signed up for one, but it was cancelled. She was devastated. Hastily I promised to write her a set of online lessons and, well, the rest is history. Over 100 people formally registered and completed my creative writing e-course. Most were allocated to one of several online peer support tutorial groups, but many hundreds more followed the lessons informally week-by-week, or downloaded them direct from my Bringing up Charlie blog.

The next problem was what to do with all the top-quality writing the students had produced. We decided to publish an anthology, and at the same time start a tiny publishing venture that might just help bring new authors to the attention of a small group of discerning readers. So Dotterel Press was born and our first publication was the charity anthology ‘Tiny Acorns’. Featuring the work of several new, unpublished authors and covering genres as diverse as flash-fiction, more traditional short stories as well as life-writing, humour, poetry and autobiography, it's an inspiring read. And if you are, the book contains the entire ten part creative writing course so you can have a go yourself.

We're not going to make anyone any money. In fact, what we do make we're going to give to charity. But we are going to get the best new writing into print. And we're looking for something different, something big publishers in the current climate couldn't hope to take a punt on, something good that nobody else could've written.

It's a bit like the theory of evolution, as applied to publishing. Not all our literary mutations will survive; but those that do will change the world! Which is another way of saying that we're doing what 'big' publishers used to have the time and cash to do - to gently 'grow' new authors and, perhaps, start new careers.


Tuesday, 4 January 2011

First, let me wish you all a Happy New Year. 2010 was exciting, what with the publication of our anthology and the launch of what we think is the only charity fundraising publishing initiative in the UK. But we want to make 2011 even better, and we've got some exciting news to reveal later in the year.

But first, we still have several dozen copies of the initial print-run of Tiny Acorns in stock and we've decided to extend our offer of free UK post and packing. We'd really like to be able to say we've sold out of the books soon, not least so we can donate a healthy sum to Children in Need. If you watch BBC's Countryfile you'll know that they're still selling their 2011 calendar and making a virtue of the fact that £4 of the proceeds from every sale goes to Children in Need. Well, £5 from the sale of every copy of Tiny Acorns bought direct from us will go to Children in Need. And although donations can be made throughout the year, we'd really like to make ours soon.

So here's the challenge. If you are a contributor you'll obviously want your work to be read as widely as possible; as a student of creative writing you might want a reminder of the e-course that ran on Tim's blog last summer; and as a writer you'll want to support the work of your fellow scribblers and spread the word far and wide. So we'd like each one of you to try and secure just one more sale during January. If you know a keen reader, tell them what a feast awaits them; or if you know a budding writer, persuade them how the book and course might inspire and direct them. Use your powers of persuasion to try and sell just one more copy; if you can sell more, so much the better. But if everyone thought long and hard about a bit of gentle arm-twisting we'd soon be able to get that cheque written.

Finally, a word about international sales. These are available through POD publication via Lulu all over the world. Our stock - and our offer of free postage - is intended for UK customers. But thanks to Lulu nobody need miss out on an opportunity to support a worthy charity as well as read some top quality writing.