RPY_JULIA_CROUCH_AM07_0On Felicity Wood’s blog, Julia Crouch writes a guest post about her experiences writing on trains, using it in part as a metaphor for the e-book experience, and partly to discuss a publicity project she did in which she wrote a complete short story over the course of her train journey to and from a writers’ convention.

The story, Strangeness On A Train, has been published as a free eBook on Amazon and Apple, as well as being printed up into samplers to be handed out on the Harrogate train and at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival from 19-22 July 2012.  I love the way Headline are using this story as a free gift for readers – a bit like the way Jackie magazine used to have a pot of purple eyeshadow Sellotaped to the front in the 1970s. Most writers have a cache of short stories to their names, and it’s exciting to think that we can get them out in this way, while at the same time enhancing the profile of our novels.

Crouch notes that, unlike a lot of traditional writers, the real thrill of being published for her is not seeing her books as physical objects in a bookstore, but seeing them available for sale in major e-book stores. “If they weren’t,” she writes, “they wouldn’t be selling in the same sort of numbers. It means there are more ways for readers to get at books, and that can only be a good thing.” She also feels that publishers’ and published writers’ worry over super-cheap self-published e-books is a red herring—people will come to realize they get what they pay for:

Quality writing will out: quality writing that has been selected, championed in-house and nurtured by an editor. Quality writing that has been typeset and designed by professionals and marketed and publicised by a team of people who have a personal stake in its success.

Quite aside from what she wrote about e-books, I think it’s interesting to think about writing on trains, or in other possibly unusual settings. Inspiration—and time to get it down—is where you find it, and thanks to modern technology we can find it and capture it in more places than ever. And using that as a publicity booster is a great idea—people should be thinking about new ways to get the word out, because we have more new ways available than ever before. So keep right on writing on those trains, Julia Crouch.


  1. The classic on this topic is Schivelbusch, The Railroad Journey, 1977, and the paradigm shift (19th c. of course) of mediated reality. “…the rail traveler’s perceptions were changed by the invention of the machine ensemble between him and the landscape…”

  2. I’m not sure working on a train is startlingly unusual if the morning commute is anything to go by. What annoyed me was the presumption that quality writing has to be nurtured in-house. Many self-published writers do use the services of professional editors; others may be experienced editors in their own right. As for marketing, what higher personal stake can there be than that of a self-employed, self-published author selling their own work?

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