- Our update this week has a Granta magazine open submission, News Review on author brands and why they matter, and the inimitable Mike Shatzkin on Amazon, friend or foe?
- Karen Joy Fowler in this week's Comment makes a totally fair point about the importance of enjoying your writing, and what makes some writers happy is writing a different kind of book each time. But is there any truth in the suggestion that writing similar books is the best way to build a successful writing career? The author as a brand is the subject of this week's News Review.
- You have until 1 April for this week's Writing Opportunity. Granta magazine open submission is for all writers writing with unpublished fiction, non-fiction and poetry whose material is in English.
- An Editor's Advice is a series of seven articles by one of our editors on really useful subjects for writers such as Dialogue, Manuscript presentation and Doing further drafts: 'I have just finished writing a report on a novel. I've pinpointed various areas of weakness and made various suggestions that the writer may or may not wish to follow. But the nub of the report is a recommendation that the writer produce a further draft of the novel rather than trying to submit it to a publisher now. I wonder sometimes how writers feel when they get my reports and see that recommendation...'
- Working with an Agent - 'It can be hard work finding an agent to represent you. Make sure though that, when you set up the relationship, you do so in a professional manner Don't let your eagerness to find representation mean that things are left vague. You will be depending on the agent to process all your income from the books they sell, so you need to have a written record of your arrangement, preferably a contract...'
- ‘I have many feelings about literary awards and they are all tangled together. In general, I like them. I am often pleased, but occasionally outraged, by a particular choice. It's a thoroughly pleasurable kind of outrage though, because the conversation is all about books and takes place among people to whom books matter. Of course, the whole enterprise of declaring one book better than all the others is instantly untenable. But I'm glad that people try. Glad and grateful...' Karen Jay Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, in the Independent on Sunday, quoted in our Comment column.
- Do you have an old typescript or a hand-written manuscript which you can't work on? Or even audio recordings which need typing up? Our Manuscript typing service can do the job for you cheaply and efficiently, so you can get to work on your book..
- Our links this week: from oNe of the very best internatational publishing commentators, Mike Shatzkin, Asking whether Amazon is friend or foe is a simple question that is complicated to answer - The Shatzkin Files The Shatzkin Files; from a writer who is always being asked if he writes on the train, BookBrunch - No work being done; announcements made by three publishing businesses show how companies which have been at the coalface of traditional publishing for some time are looking at remodelling themselves, How to rebuild a publishing business | The Bookseller.
- More links: a publisher's view of online marketing, 5 Tips for Online Book Marketing Today; Hodder & Stoughton is relaunching the website for its science fiction, fantasy and horror community, Hodderscape relaunch and open submissions | The Bookseller; and is this a radically new ebook distribution platform, a new way of thinking? Total BooX: Ebooks for the Way the 21st-Century Reader Reads.
- 'You may be able to take a break from writing, but you won't be able to take a break from being a writer.' Stephen Leigh in our Writers' Quotes.
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- 'There's been a buzz this week around the question of authors getting paid to appear at festivals. In the UK they largely don't get paid, as they are seen as promoting their books and selling them as well. In fact many festivals get off lightly and even get the publishers to pay the authors' travel costs and accommodation. But do the book sales and publicity justify the work done by authors?...' Should writers be paid for festival appearances? is this week's News Review.
- Joanne PhillipsUK-based freelance writer and ghostwriter. She has had articles published in national writing magazines, and has ghostwritten books on subjects as diverse as hairdressing and keeping chickens. Visit her at www.joannephillips.co.uk' The Business of Writing for Self-publishing authors offers terrific advice for all writers: 'Self-publishing authors - also known as ‘indie' authors or author-publishers - have had a steep learning curve these past few years. Getting to grips with the various sales channels available to them, producing top quality ebooks and paperbacks, and finding a place in mainstream outlets have left many writers struggling to keep up with the paperwork. What follows is brief guide to the essentials your self-publishing business needs - because it is a business, even if you only publish one book!'
- ‘Speaking as a writer of genre fiction, there are few sentences that cause more irritation than "these books transcend genre", but if it has any meaning at all, it is this: because of that obvious interconnectedness between the world we inhabit and the world Pratchett invented, the Discworld novels found a readership that stretches well beyond people who would consider themselves fans of fantasy fiction. I always read - and sometimes reread - Pratchett on book tours. They are the perfect antidote to being alone and far from home... Val McDermid on Terry Pratchett in our Comment column.
- Why your book contract needs vetting - 'You are a first-time author without an agent and you receive a contract to publish your book - just how do you evaluate it? Is it fair or biased against the author by prevailing industry standards? Is your publisher looking out for your interests as well as his own - or wording the clauses in a way only advantageous to the company? Would you, for example, know which rights to grant - for how long and on what terms..' Our contracts expert on why contract vetting is essential if you don't have an agent.
- This week's links: Can we declare a moratorium on essays about the death of writing? The death of writing? Not again - LA Times; does Ishiguro despise genre writers? (sounds unlikely), » The Last Holdouts of the Genre Wars: on Kazuo Ishiguro, Ursula K. Le Guin, and the Misuse of Labels; and some amazing figures on the proportion of self-publishers who are women, Self-publishing lets women break book industry's glass ceiling, survey finds | Books | The Guardian.
- And there's more: Who is most important, your agent or your publisher? Authors 'more committed to agent than publisher' | The Bookseller; how publishing has changed radically over the last few years, BookBrunch - Beware of pity; and the third year of The Brunel University African Poetry Prize, a major new poetry prize of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa, SHORTLISTED POETS 2015 | The Brunel University African Poetry Prize.
- Which service should I choose to help me get my work into good shape for submission or self-publishing? Writers coming to WritersServices for help with getting their work into shape for submission or self-publishing often have difficulty with working out which service they should go for. The services have been designed to suit a wide range of requirements, so whatever you want we've probably got it covered.
- ‘What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?' Anthony Trollope in our Writers' Quotes.
- A link to an article on how to make money through sponsorship, the launch of a German challenge to Amazon and a Comment on the writing habits of classic children's author Roald Dahl.
- 'So what are the chances of the just-launched German online book retailer and e-reader, backed by bookstore chains Thalia, Weltbild and Hugendubel, Deutsche Telekom, and giant German publisher Bertelsmann, providing a real challenge to Amazon?' This week's News Review looks at what's happening - is it a challlenge to Amazon at last?
- From our Archive, Writing for Children: Rule Number One - Read More than You Write by Sarah Taylor-Fergusson: 'Author opinion falls into two camps on this one, with some writers maintaining that reading fiction while writing is a very bad thing. To this I might say that if you have been working for years as a published author, and you have that degree of sophistication, dexterity and confidence, then maybe sometimes yes. But for the majority of us who are not at that level...'
- ‘He tended to make light of his work. He didn't like to talk about it and there was nothing of the pained artist about him. The archive shows that in fact he was absolutely painstaking. The archive shows the honing process, the hard graft of writing...' Amanda Conquy, director of the Dahl estate, on Roald Dahl's approach to writing in our Comment column.
- We have a series of seven articles on writing in different categories, covering SF and Fantasy, Crime Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction, Non-fiction and Memoir, to provide some background on how to approach different genres.
- Links of the week: an affectionate account of first meeting Douglas Adams, 'a very tall man with a big smile and a big slightly crooked nose, all gawky and coltish, as if despite his ridiculous size he was still growing...', Douglas Adams made me a writer: Neil Gaiman salutes his friend and inspiration | Books | The Guardian; a new book which suggests how you can proceed if you really want to make money from your writing, Want to Profit as an Author? Think About Sponsorships; and why ISBN numbers are so important to authors in the long run, Indie Authors Are to Blame for Lack of Meaningful e-Book Data.
- More links: why has it become so fashionable in literary circles to have an unnamed narrator, The Rise of the Nameless Narrator - The New Yorker; nine reasons why print is still preferred over ebooks, Sorry, Ebooks. These 9 Studies Show Why Print Is Better; and a surprise challenge to Amazon from German booksellers and publishers, Germany launches an Amazon competitor » MobyLives.
- Authors often find it difficult to write their own synopsis for submission to publishers, which is where our Synopsis-writing service can help. If you're preparing to self-publish and having difficulty with your blurb, our Blurb-writing service might be what you need.
- 'When starting to think about any novel, part of the motive is: I'm going to show them, this time.' Kingsley Amis in our Writers' Quotes.
- 'Do publishing imprints matter? The excellent article by Philip Jones, editor of the Bookseller, in this week's Futurebook, is an interesting examination of imprints and their importance within the publishing business. But it does seem that most authors will be indifferent to the imprint and in a way they're right...' News Review
- The amazing shortlist for the 2015 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book title of the Year has just been announced - now's your chance to vote for the winner.
- ‘Just because you write a poem, it doesn't mean you have to publish it. If I'm just writing because I happen to have had an idea, I'm completely free to write it, fiddle around with it, take as long as I like, and then I can decide quite a long time afterwards what I want to do with it. There's a freedom in that.' Wendy Cope, author of Family Values and Life, Love and the Archers, in the Observer magazine, quoted in our Comment column.
- Getting Your Poetry Published has some suggestions on how to get started with this. 'Don't even try to approach publishers until you have a collection-length amount of material to offer. Your chances will be much better even then if you can point to publication of your poems in magazines. Don't waste any time trying to get a literary agent to represent you... You may feel that it is better to hedge your options by going the self-publishing route. Fortunately this is now very much cheaper than it used to be and the final result is much more satisfactory...'
- This week's Writing Opportunity is the Tinder Press open submission, closing on 16 March and open to short stories as well as novels. This is a rare chance to submit direct to a literary publisher.
- ‘Twenty years as a teacher, ten years in educational research and five years of directing an educational charity, and in all that time, I hadn't published any fiction or poetry at all. I'd always had a feeling that if life ever did allow me a clear run at creative writing, I might just be able to do something with it. But by 2004, with the charity going nowhere fast, I decided to make my own opportunities rather than wait for them to come to me...' Bruce Harris's Writing Short Fiction: A Personal Journey is about how he worked his way towards setting up the fantastic new website Writing Short Fiction.
- Getting ready to publish your book? Do you want to self-publish your work? WritersServices offers a suite of services which help writers get their work into shape before they self-publish. From Copy editing to Blurb-writing with much else as well.
- Our links of the week: a strong argument for authors who are being traditionally published knowing about the publishing process, Why Writers Need to Know the Publishing Business; is 50 Shades of Grey acceptable in copyright terms, as well as being a very successful book and film? 50 Shades of Copyright Infringement? and daring to tell it like it is, Why all writers are vain | Books | The Guardian.
- More links: How much do writers get paid for their work? You might be surprised to learn that it is often more than the editors who make that work possible, Kickstarter on How to Pay Writers; do imprints matter and why? The imprint of meaningful things | The Bookseller; and how a pan-African writers' collective is "re-imagining African fiction publishing interesting ways", African Publishing Through African Eyes - Publishing Perspectives.
- 'Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.' Jane Yolen in our Writers' Quotes.
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