3 Tips to Help Choose the Right Driving Instructor

Choosing the right driving instructor is a crucial step for both parents and learners. A qualified driver is able to teach the focused lessons to make sure the young driver is in a much better position to follow the best driving habits. On average, a young driver will need about 20 hours of private practice and a further 40 hours of professional instruction. Even though it can be tempting to choose a driving instructor based on the cost per lesson, there are several other things that need to be considered to become a confident driver.Let’s take a look at a few of the most important things to consider:


Use a fully qualified driverThe most productive lessons will come from using a fully qualified instructor. You should ask a potential instructor whether they are a trainee or fully qualified. They should display an appropriate badge in the car window to display their qualification. A fully qualified instructor will have a green badge, while the trainee will have a pink one. Also, the instructors are graded. The best instructors have a grade of A or B, which can be checked by seeing their certificate. Additionally, it is worth asking about the pass rate of the potential instructor to get a further indication of their ability to teach the learner driver.Get personal referralsThe most effective way to find a reputable instructor is to get a personal referral from a friend, family member or colleague who has recently passed their test. Any instructor that is able to explain things clearly, turn up on time and put the driver at ease will be easy to recommend.Are the prices competitive?The costs quoted by the different driving schools are certain to range in price, so it is worth shopping around. It isn’t likely to benefit to simply go with the instructor that quotes the cheapest price per lesson, especially if you end up needing to book more lessons. While the price is a key factor, it is just as important to consider the qualifications. Also, it may benefit to use the independent instructor because they will not need to up their rates to cover the franchise fees for their brand name. The length of a lesson can range from 45 to 60 minutes, so it is worth checking before booking a lesson. Additionally, it isn’t worth making a block booking until two or three lessons have been completed with a particular instructor to make sure they are the right fit for your personality.

Some of the Best Cooking Books That Need to Be in Your Kitchen

Having just graduated from university, cooking books have a firm place on my kitchen shelf. From disastrous attempts at making barely edible dishes, my time as a student has exposed me to many cooking books. Here are the top ten of the best cooking books that are invaluable to any wannabe Masterchefs out there.

Ready… Steady… Cook!

10. Delia’s Complete Cookery Course by Delia Smith

This mammoth cookery book whips in at number 10. Delia Smith is very much the David Beckham of the cooking world – an institution. Her Complete Cookery Course does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides wannabe chefs with a full, comprehensive guide to creating the best dishes. With fundamental must know recipes like apple pie and yorkshire puddings, Delia shows she is one of the masters. With mouth-watering pictures acting as a rough guide this book is a god send for beginner chefs. No doubt a staple on your mother’s shelf, this book is perfect as a starting point in the basics of pastry making, cake baking and roast making. A genuine triumph in the cookery book world.

9. The New Curry Bible by Pat Chapman

Chapman’s bible does not follow the conventional rules of cookery books, but is a diamond in the rough for curry fanatics out there and the reason it has made this best cooking books list. The New Curry Bible does not simply show you the recipes but teaches you the history of curry making. It is not a book to be bought for people who want a quick fix curry. If you are one of those people I suggest you save yourself time and money and just buy a ready meal. However, if you are interested in the exquisite nature of curries, then this book teaches you all you need to know. Like any specialist cook book, it is a little disheartening at first to encounter all of the strange herbs and spices that you know you don’t own, but the rewards from having knowledge of these is irreplaceable. Although it may take you a while to get to grips with the fine art of balancing the spices, you will most certainly become famous amongst friends and family for the talent you will take from this beautiful book.

8. Rick Stein’s Taste of the Sea: 150 Fabulous Recipes for Every Occasion

As a massive lover of seafood, this book has literally been my magna carta. Rick Stein takes you on a journey around the coast and teaches you to really appreciate fish in all its scaly glory. From skinning methods to filleting, this book teaches you how to prepare and cook fish to perfection. Stein writes in a clear and simple fashion and it is impossible to resist his infectious passion. With a variety of dishes that cater for absolutely every occasion, this book is a must have for beginners and experienced fish mongers alike. The instructions are not condescending or set in stone, and leave freedom for experimentation. A truly great book by a truly great chef and teacher.

7. Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong

Following the theme of specialist cooking books, Simple Chinese Cooking is an absolute must have for anyone wanting to start a love affair with chinese cooking. Filled with beautiful photography, this book coaches you through each dish with clear and crisp step-by-step instructions. Usually when faced with a specific cook book, there seems a never-ending list of ingredients that appear to exist in outer space, but this book has essentials that can be bought and found easily in local grocery stores. Not only is this book a great guide, but it is also incredibly exciting as each week you can watch yourself develop and gain confidence with once seemingly difficult dishes. From steamed cod to sweet and sour pork, Kwong’s recipes will have you burning all your chinese takeaway menus from the get go.

6. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver

There can be no such thing as a best cooking books list without Mr Oliver, of course. One of the things I love most about almost all of Jamie Oliver’s cook books are their beautiful and impeccable presentation. They are not endless pages of lines and lines of writing but are instead filled with bright, colourful and delectable pictures, as well as no- nonsense recipes. In his 30 Minute Meals Jaime shows you that once and for all cooking does not have to be a stressful and laborious affair. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals is amazing for working people for whom time is money, and of course students who wish to spend minimum amount of time cooking and maximum amount of time… studying. Not only is it wonderfully organised with a designated section for starters, mains and desserts, but there are numerous vegetarian recipes scattered inside, making this book literally for every type of chef.

5. The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman

After his debut cook book How to Cook Everything became an international sensation, Bittman is back to teach you it is easier than you thought to cook recipes from all around the world. With no unnecessary embellishments Bittman gently leads you on a culinary round the world trip that will leave your taste buds in a state of euphoria. The best aspect of Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes In The World whilst you may never get round to cooking everything inside, the dishes you do make will leave you feeling inspired to take dishes you already cook and turn them on their head. Although it can be overwhelming to face so many recipes in one book, I urge you to add this to your collection. It is timeless and will only help to increase your knowledge of food.

4. Gordon Ramsay’s Secrets by Gordon Ramsay

In this incredible and not too badly priced book, Gordon Ramsay lets you in on a few secrets that have made him the world-renowned chef that we have all come to love. With a huge collection of recipes from poultry to fish and desserts to soups, this cookbook lets you in on inside info that will have friends and family thinking you are a bona-fide kitchen guru. The recipes are simple and effective and Ramsay has even added flourishes of his own, such as useful tips on presenting dishes. If you really have a passion for cooking or would love to learn more, this is the book that teaches you not just to cook but how to become a chef. These tips help to make cooking a truly enjoyable experience and will boost your confidence to be adventurous not only in cooking but also in eating as well.

3. The Complete Book of Sushi by Hideo Dekura

As a self-confessed sushi addict this book is incredible – the pages are almost edible. It combines the modern with the traditional and allows you to get to grips with this difficult Japanese style of cooking. Although not to everyone’s taste, this book teaches you the secrets behind making that difficult sticky rice and how to present your sushi in wonderful ways. The most interesting thing about Dekura’s book is they way it advances from simple to expert. This allows you to move gradually at your own pace and also sets little targets within the book. Whilst there are other books on the market such as Yo Sushi’s, it is Dekura’s book that really stands out of the crowd. With gorgeous photography it inspires with a mere flick of the page, and unlike its contemporaries has clear and simple instructions. A must have for any sushi fan and it also makes a great present.

2. Wahaca – Mexican Food At Home by Thomasina Miers

This book comes in at number two of this best cooking books top ten and is a must have for any frequent Wahaca customer. It was only recently published and plunges you straight into the vibrant and tasty world of Mexican street food. One thing that did surprise me was the breakfast section, and I have to admit I have been thoroughly converted to a mexican way of eating in the morning. Full of beautiful pictures and written in an accessible and friendly way, this book does exactly what the title states and brings Mexican food straight into your kitchen. Miers has clearly done the research required for such an exquisite book, and the information about mexican chillies is invaluable. An excellent book for cooking meals for friends and a great equivalent to BBQ parties.

1.Jaime does… by Jaime Oliver

In at number one is Jaime does. In this book Jaime travels through foodie hotspots such as Spain, France and Morocco in order to find innovative recipes. The book is beautifully presented (like all of Jaime’s books) and has wonderful pictures of his travels alongside the amazing pictures of his food. Each country has an introductory paragraph that explains the culture and food he came into contact with, and then in very simple language and an ever friendly tone, Jaime guides you through a range of dishes. From light bites such as patatas bravas to the more complex dishes like the steak tartare, Jaime’s tone never condescends you as the amateur chef. This book not only provides great enjoyment as a teaching tool but is also nice to flip through every now and again to behold the location shots of his food journey. Overall a very deserving winner of this Best Cooking Books list. Absolutely delicious!

This is by no means the only ten cook books I think you should own. There are many other brilliant cookbooks out there for beginners such as The Student Cookbook by Sophie Grigson. This is superb for amateur chefs who simply do not have the time to cook elaborate meals every day and are after recipes for both real cooking and convenience cooking. Then for more adventurous chefs who are willing to getinventive and scientific in the kitchen, there is Heston Bluementhal’s brilliant book The Fat Duck Cookbook, which combines vivid illustrations and wacky recipes for a truly great cooking experience. Overall, the ten books that compose this best cooking books list all offer friendly, easy to follow guidance which enables you to not only enjoy them as books, but also enjoy them as learning tools that will one day make you the king of the kitchen.

Bon appetit ladies and gents.

Book Marketing Techniques: Those That Backfire

Authors need to promote their books, but there’s a right and a wrong way to market, and wanting to sell a book is no excuse for not retaining your manners. No one likes a pushy salesman. Here are some examples of ways I’ve seen authors try to sell their books that have been a total turn-off for me. Authors, make sure you aren’t using these techniques. I’ve listed them in order from what are, in my opinion, least to most annoying.

Lying about Your Book’s Greatness

I’ve seen authors lie about how wonderful their books are in several ways.

  1. Having non-credible book endorsements, both on their websites and books’ back covers. By non-credible, I mean having an endorsement signed by “A.K. in Hawaii” or “A Teacher in San Diego.” If these people don’t want to give their names, they probably don’t support your book enough to want to stand by their comments, and they aren’t going to convince me that your book is worth reading. At the very least, you want full names, and a blurb from Tom Smith isn’t going to mean much to me anyway, unless you’ve written a book about healthcare and he’s Dr. Tom Smith from the Cancer Treatment Center of Miami, or something along those lines. If you can’t get experts on your book’s topic or celebrities or other authors to endorse your book, you’re better off just not including any testimonials so it doesn’t look like false promotion.
  2. False testimonials. Yes, I’ve seen false testimonials and heard authors tell me about them. “A.K. in Hawaii” might be the author’s next door neighbor, a real person who really read the book, but he might just as well be someone the author made up. I know of one author who had a comment page on his website, and about once a week, he would post a comment under a false name raving about his book to try to convince his website visitors how popular and wonderful his book was. The sad thing is that this author’s book truly was terrible, full of grammar mistakes and typos and badly printed, so anyone who read the book knew those comments had to be lies or written by completely crazy people.

Showing Off Your Big Ego

Too many authors try to promote themselves in ridiculous ways by writing on their websites how their book is a “must read” and contains the answer to all the reader’s problems. If you have to tell readers that, they aren’t going to believe you. Go find some legitimate testimonials from reliable people who will say those things about your book. You are not qualified to judge your own book because you have a vested interest in it.

The worst example of authors showing their egos that I’ve seen is when they post book reviews for themselves on Amazon and other online bookstores, and of course, they give their books five stars and brag about how great their books are. When I see an author give himself a five-star review, I realize the author is clueless about what is legitimate as a review; he hasn’t done his homework about the publishing industry, and he is trying to use trickery to sell his book. Not only will I not buy the book, but if there’s an option to vote on the review, I will always vote that it was not helpful.

Being In Your Face and Violating Personal Space

No one likes to have his or her personal space violated. However, not everyone has yet learned that the Internet also contains personal space for people. It’s one thing to have your book for sale on your website, at online bookstores, to promote it at websites for book promotion, or to buy Internet ads. It’s another thing to invade other online users’ personal space.

Here are some book marketing efforts I’ve experienced online that have been a total turn-off for me.

  1. Repetitive and Unwanted Emails. I’ve had this happen more times than I can count. Somehow an author finds my email address and adds it to his email list and I start hearing from him every couple of days about all his book events and why I should buy his book. Even if I want to be on the person’s email list, sending me an email every couple of days is irritating. An email once a month or even once a week isn’t that bad, but I have other things to do than read about your book events on the East Coast when I live in Texas, and I am not going to hop on a plane to attend your book signing, especially if I’ve already read your book and had it signed. And if you’ve added me to your email list without my permission, well, technically, that’s illegal.
  2. Sending Friend Requests at Social Media Sites Solely to Promote Your Book. If people are interested in your book, they will request to be your friend at a social media site. Instead of spam friend requests, take out a Facebook ad that will be targeted toward the people most likely to read your book. It might cost you a little more money, but it will save you time online and provide you with far better results.
  3. Posting Book Covers on Other People’s Walls. My “Wall” is not the place to promote your book. My friends are not posting on my Wall so they can find out about your book. Get off my Wall!
  4. Messaging. No one likes junk mail, so don’t send me a message about how great your book is and how I can buy it. I only want messages from my real friends.
  5. Chatting. This one I especially find irritating. One day I was on Facebook, and an author, whom I didn’t know and who had already sent me three messages trying to tell me how great his book was and to let me know I could get it on Kindle for just $2.99, sent me a chat message about his book. If I don’t reply to your message, I sure don’t want to chat with you. I politely ignored him and logged off Facebook rather than tell him to quit harassing me. I wasn’t going to engage in an argument with him. But let’s be clear-I’m on Facebook to chat with my real friends. Not to read your book.

Sadly, space violations don’t only happen online. I was once at a book festival where an author made a point of going up to people walking by her booth with a set of headphones and quickly placing them over her victims’ ears before they could object so they could listen to her audio book. When I saw what was going on, I quickly turned down the nearest aisle and avoided that side of the room for the rest of the time I was there. I’ve also stopped to look at books at festivals where authors have said things such as “Why don’t you buy this book?” and “What can I do to get you to buy my book?” You can let me be is what you can do. Tell me about the book if you like, give me a chance to read the back cover, and then I’ll buy or move on. I don’t need a pushy sales pitch.

Have you ever met an author who behaves in these ways? I sure have-too many times. Perhaps you are even one of those authors. Hopefully, now you know better. Let’s face it-guerrilla book promotion doesn’t work when you act like you have a gorilla’s manners. Connect with your readers, but do it on their terms, without being pushy or rude. Be friendly, be straightforward, but also be willing to take “No” for an answer. When you are polite, you always make a better impression on your potential readers.

Top Ten Ways Authors Irritate Book Marketers

To promote a book, an author needs help, and that help comes from people in the media-from book reviewers to journalists, conference planners to bloggers, and many, many others. Approaching these people properly and following their guidelines is essential for winning them over so they will cheerfully help you to promote your book. While good manners and common sense should prevail, all book promoters have their horror stories about difficult authors. Following are the Top Ten most common complaints I have heard from various publicists and book promoters about authors with whom they have worked or refused to work.

1. Making Cold Calls: The telephone is a great means of communication, but it’s also a great interrupter. Before you call someone, visit his website and read all the guidelines. If you can’t get an answer to a question, send an email. People are busy, so when you call them, you interrupt them. Most people will reply to your email in a timely manner, and if a phone call is needed, you can ask in an email when is the best time to call.

2. Being a Bad Guest: Sometimes it’s not all about the author and the book. TV and radio hosts need guests and they like experts. They especially rely on authors of non-fiction books who can inform their audience. In these cases, authors need to remember it’s not about them or their book; it’s about the topic they were invited to discuss. Don’t try to plug your book during the show; just inform the audience. The host will doubtless mention your book when he or she introduces you and again when the program ends. Be a good guest by following protocol and fulfilling the host’s need to give his audience what it wants and you might even be invited back.

3. Being Impatient: Everyone is busy today. Magazines and other publications are often planning out issues six months in advance. Newspaper reporters are struggling to meet today’s deadline. And book reviewers have stacks of books to review. Don’t expect people to respond to you immediately. Don’t expect them to drop everything to read your book or even your press release. Give them a reasonable amount of time. If you contact someone and you don’t hear back from her right away, wait a couple of weeks and then follow up, or ask upfront what is the timeframe for when your book review or the news story might appear. Being impatient will only irritate people, and even if they do run your news story to make you quit bothering them, they might not be willing to do so the next time around.

4. Mailing Out Unsolicited Books and Manuscripts: In submitting books to publishers, usually a query letter is sufficient. Nothing is worse than getting stacks of unsolicited manuscripts in the mail without return postage. The same is true with books for reviewers, especially when accompanied by a letter that says, “Thanks for requesting my book” when the book wasn’t requested. Furthermore, as the author, you’re wasting money. Most unsolicited books end up never being read and instead are donated to a library or Goodwill store, while the manuscripts end up in the circular file, and you’ll be lucky to receive back a formal rejection letter.

5. Posting Your Own Book Reviews: Any author with a grain of sense should know better than to post book reviews at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores and give his book five stars. Nothing makes an author look worse. And almost as bad is when Mom, your brother, and Uncle Joe post the reviews for you-you can often tell because Mom will say, “I’m so proud of you, Mary, for writing a book.” The same is true for your website if you have a guestbook to sign-tell your family to stay away from it. Your publicist who wants you to look professional will be pulling out his hair if he has to deal with your mom promoting your book.

6. Printing Non-Credible Blurbs and Testimonials: I know you’ve seen them. The testimonial from A.K. in Hawaii who doesn’t want anyone to know he loves a book but still writes a book review. Who is A.K.? Why do readers care? Find testimonials from authors and experts in your field who are willing to give you their full name. If you don’t know anyone who can give you a testimonial, get busy looking for someone. If you still can’t find anyone, don’t print any testimonials on the back of your book. No blurb is better than a bad or fake blurb. A.K. may be a real person, but for all the reader knows, the author could have made up A.K.

7. Indulging in Self-Praise: Authors who praise themselves and their books only prove to people what big egos they have. This lack of emotional intelligence likely also shows up in a lack of good judgment in writing the book. Don’t make your website read like a commercial for your book. Make it informative, but beginning with “My book is the best one ever written on this topic” and “This wonderful novel was written with touching scenes, engaging characters, etc.” is a turn-off. It’s fine if you have testimonials from others saying those things. Just don’t say them yourself. The same is true with the book’s cover. Tell people what your book is about, but save the praise for your endorsers.

8. Having Insufficient Material: Nothing irritates a book promoter more than trying to promote a book that is not promotable. What makes a book unable to be promoted? No website to visit; no placement in bookstores, either physical or online. No email address to contact the author. Believe it or not, I’ve seen authors who say, “Readers can mail me a check for $19.95 to my address at P.O. Box etc., if they want a copy.” People want a chance to look at the book and read about it before they mail you a check, and they want to pay online because it’s faster and easier than mailing a check. Create an Internet and bookstore profile or your books will rot in your basement.

9. Hiding Your Identity: No one can promote your book if you won’t promote it. Readers care as much about the author these days as they do about the book. You need to be a visible presence in your book’s promotion. No pseudonyms. Your face needs to be on your website and on the book’s cover with a short biography. You need to blog and promote via social media so you appear like a real person online. You need to make appearances at book signings and other events. It’s difficult for a publicist or a radio host to say “This is a great book” and make people interested. It’s easier for them to say, “I’ve read this great book and here is the author who is going to tell you about it.” Your book is your child. Don’t send your child out into the world alone. Hold its hand and go with it.

10. Expecting Something for Nothing: Nothing is going to irritate a book promoter more than an author who acts like he and his book deserve publicity and deserve it for free. It takes a long time to read a book and write a review or a blog. It costs money to operate a website and pay people to maintain it. Even if a service is free, such as a journalist writing a newspaper article about your book, appreciate the value of that person’s time and send a thank you note after the story appears. Always give book promoters a free copy of your book. And do not complain about prices. If you can’t afford the service, find one you can afford, but don’t argue over the fees. Remember that the publishing world is a small place-you don’t want word to get around that you are cheap or a deadbeat.

Authors, now that you know what irritates book promoters, ask yourself whether you’re guilty. Are people not returning your calls because you’re being pushy or you’re clueless about the proper ways to promote your book? Now you know. There’s no more excuses. Go out and promote your book with new confidence and proper promotion etiquette.