Writing support

 

What Brian Callison will, will not, and cannot do for you

 

He will help you to become a more confident; more able; more technically-competent writer. He will enable you to exploit to the full whatever degree of literary talent you possess. He'll do that by first electronically inserting proposed improvements to your MS in the Word attachment you email to him, then returning it for you to digest at leisure.

 

Once you've had time to mull over those revisions and, hopefully, learned much by example alone, Brian will follow up by talking you through the essentials of building on your strengths while rectifying what he perceives as your weaknesses. Personal telephone interaction between mentor and student is an immeasurably more effective means of helping to enhance a new author’s work than is remote email correspondence . You’ll pick up far more by asking questions and discussing your uncertainties than you will from reading some all-too-often off-the-shelf critique. Forty-odd years of working with, and constantly learning from, publishers’ editors, reinforced by experience gained from his tenure as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow, has confirmed for Callison that mentoring any aspiring writer iis predominantly about empathy. Empathy flourishes through dialogue and discussion. You work together, frown together, and feed off each other to further the creative process.

 

He will not deconstruct major parts of your work but he will, by using Strike-through and Replace technology which you'll be able to accept or reject at the click of a mouse, substitute his own suggestions for how a word, a sentence, a paragraph, even a page or two, can be uplifted to afford your MS that best-seller edge. Equally importantly he'll advise on what passages should be taken out. That's not cheating, it's a conventional part of your apprenticeship. Your work still remains your brainchild, and your copyright. Simultaneously he will have scrutinized it to correct spelling, punctuation, or overlooked grammatical errors before submission. That’s a crucial service in itself, and will be seen by publishers as a mark of your professionalism.

 

Brian can not make you a best-selling author. Not even a published author, come to that. No one can, no matter how skilfully they try to persuade you otherwise. Only you, backed by dogged determination plus a measure of good luck, will achieve that. You or, quite specifically, the quality of your work.

 

Nor will he say that work is promising if he feels it lacks some fundamental spark. It would be a purely subjective view: Callison could well criticise the next budding Tolstoy and be proved entirely wrong. He may, for that matter, simply judge that your command of English grammar requires strengthening before you can risk pushing words, sentences and paragraphs to their limits. In that case he won’t encourage you to invest precious resources in editing fees: not if he considers you might be better served by some other form of tutelage. Either way, he will never try to dissuade you from continuing to pursue your ambition to be a writer: merely to think long and hard before spending too much money on it.

 

You should also bear in mind, before you decide to make contact, that Callison, unlike many consultants, does not claim to be in a position to recommend your manuscript to specific publishers or literary agents. While he will advise on how to target your own niche in the market he’s an author and educator first and last, not a salesman, and anyway, his doing so could, more often than not, prove counter-productive. No publishing house reader needs, or likes, to be pressured into doing the job they’re employed to do - identifying and contracting new, potentially marketable authors before some competitor does. If your submission has the right stuff, that special quality will be seized upon. If it doesn’t, then no amount of persuasion by intermediaries will get your name in print.

 

In that event, don’t feel downhearted: just temporarily unrecognised. You’re a writer, remember? Either re-examine it and ask yourself some uncomfortable questions; have it professionally edited and any weaknesses re-drafted to increase its potential for acceptance by publishers you haven't yet approached … or bite on the bullet. Go back to your keyboard and begin another book. A better one.

 

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Brian Callison did. His first attempt was turned down flat. Not suitable for our list they rejoined unhelpfully. Happily for him he acquired a mentor who happened to be a novelist of standing. His second became a worldwide best seller. The one about which Alistair McLean said: ‘The best war story I have ever read …’

 

So he, too, has been where you are now. He identifies with your misgivings. And if it helps, despite having created a shelf-full of books he regularly resolves never, ever to start another. He’s done that twenty-one times, so far. You’re unlikely to face many difficulties that Brian hasn’t already come up against, and found the means to overcome.