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July 2014

28 July 2014 - What's new

July 2014
  • Our latest new article is The Business of Writing for Self-publishing Authors and we also have a focus on poetry this week in our News Review and links, as well as the Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize 2014, a superb opportunity for 18-25 writers from all over the world to  have a chance at a big prize and publication by one of the UK's newest children's publishers.
  • 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, author of our WritersServices Self-publishng Guide and of The Business of Writing, has now turned her attention to self-publishers with The Business of Writing for Self-publishing Authors. '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!'
  • As two of this week's links demonstrate, poetry is contradictory in its audience and reach. A huge audience is interested in poetry - more than one million people read poems at each year. But on the other hand poetry book sales, in the US as elsewhere, are meagre for all but the very best-known poets. How is it that an artform which seems central to literature, offering distilled language and meaning in a succinct form, can be so easily ignored by many in the mainstream? In theory this should be poetry's moment, for the short form is perfect for the Internet. News Review
  • Have you ever wondered whether there's any point in entering competitions? Someone must be winning, but why is it somehow never you? It might be worth reviewing how you approach competitions, to see if you can achieve a better result. Entering competitions.
  • 'I'm amazingly fortunate to have a chance to write a second book that people will be interested in reading because they liked the first. It would be awfully pessimistic if an author with enthusiastic potential readers sat around in anguish...The book has your chromosomes all the way through it, you feel squeamish about someone critiquing your inner life...' Tom Rachman, author of The Imperfectionists and The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, in the Evening Standard, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Are you a young writer aged 18-25 writing YA? There's a brilliant opportunity this week in the Hot Key Young Writers Prize, where the prize is £10,000 and a publishing contract with Hot Key. Closing on 16 August, so you need to get moving.
  • We have two llinks this week which cast a clear light on poetry, Poetry Matters | Academy of American Poets and a wide-ranging look at poetry in America, The Millions : Americans Love Poetry, But Not Poetry Books. Then there's the latest on the Man Booker longlist, Man Booker 2014: more global, less diverse | Books | The Guardian; Self-publishing surging to 31% of ebook market, claims report | Books |; and a new second-hand books initiative which will pay royalties to authors, Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society Do the right thing Bookbarn International.
  • Our Glossary of Acronyms is a good way of finding your way through these confusing initials.
  • 'To be a writer is to sit down at one's desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone - just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over.' John Hersey in our Writers' Quotes.

21 July 2014 - What's new

July 2014
  • Freya North on writer's block, Nicola Solomon berates publishers, 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 on the business of writing, Best European Fiction 2016 and some great links, such as Does crime writing have a misogynistic heart? are all in this week's What's New.
  • In an extraordinary change of approach, Nicola Solomon, the Secretary of the UK Society of Authors, has attacked publishers, saying that ‘Traditional publishing is 'no longer fair or sustainable'. ‘Authors need fair remuneration if they are to keep writing and producing quality work. Publisher profits are holding up and, broadly, so are total book sales if you include ebooks but authors are receiving less per book and less overall due mainly to the fact that they are only paid a small percentage of publishers' net receipts on ebooks and because large advances have gone except for a handful of celebrity authors.' News Review
  • The Business of Writing: 'Writing is undoubtedly a creative art. Whether we are working on the next Booker Prize winner or ghostwriting blog posts, writers need to be original, imaginative and inspired. But writing is also a business, with invoices to raise, accounts to be submitted and records to be kept. Writers, like artists, can find themselves floundering when it comes to the ‘business end' of the job. Read on for our easy-to-follow guide to the business of writing...' Joanne Phillips has updated her extremely useful article. Next week we'll feature her new article, The Business of Writing for Self-publishers.
  • Our Picture libraries page has a useful list of places to go if you need to source images for your book.
  • ‘It was terrifying. I thought: "That's it, I only have 12 books in me." I was so sufficiently ill with it that I had to go to a doctor. For six months I couldn't write and I didn't tell anyone. It wasn't that I didn't know what to write, it was that I couldn't get the damn thing out. In the end, I literally pulled myself down to the library, sat there and dragged it out word after word. I didn't plan it, I started on chapter one and just saw where it went...' Freya North, author of 13 novels, most recently The Way Back Home, in the Bookseller on the dreaded writer's block, quoted in our Comment column.
  • This week's Writing Opportunity is the Dalkey Archive's Best European Fiction 2016, a chance for translators to get their work in this prestigious anthology.  It's closing on 15 August.
  • Our links this week offer a chance to read the full press story on Nicola Solomon's comments on publishers, Traditional publishing is 'no longer fair or sustainable', says Society of Authors | Books |; Crime fiction might be dominated by violence against women - but there's more to it than titillation in Does crime writing have a misogynistic heart? - Telegraph; what does it mean to cry over a book, Crying While Reading Through the Centuries : The New Yorker; a 6,000 word story on Twitter, David Mitchell tells Twitter story | The Bookseller; are publishers guilty of bad conduct too ? The Publishers Are as Bad as Amazon | Thomas Hauser; and a new prize opens up African writing to a wider readership, Okwiri Oduor Wins 15th Caine Prize for African Writing | Publishing Perspectives.
  • "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." - Stephen King. Author opinion falls into two camps on this one, with some writers maintaining that reading fiction while writing is a very bad thing... Many other authors, however, believe the opposite to be true, that reading and being well-read is essential to good writing, and it is this argument that I am exploring here. Writing for Children: Rule Number One - Read More than You Write.
  • 'No poet, no artist of any art has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.' T S Eliot in our Writers' Quotes.

14 July 2014 - What's new

July 2014
  • 'Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer, with art by Jeremy Zerfoss (and many others), is unlike any other writing instruction manual I have ever seen. Heavily illustrated with fantastical paintings and specially commissioned illustrations, it is, in VanderMeer's own words, ‘a kind of cabinet of curiosities that stimulates your imagination'. It reflects VanderMeer's own belief that ‘an organic approach to writing should be coupled with a systematic practice and testing to improve your fiction'. It is also, quite simply, a very beautiful object, gorgeous to look at, its contents by turns playful and inspirational.' Maureen Kincaid SpellerMaureen Kincaid Speller a reviewer, writer, editor and former librarian, is our book reviewer and also works for WritersServices as a freelance editor. reviews Jeff VanderMeer's new book.
  • In 2013 11.5% of professional authors, defined as those who dedicate the majority of their time to writing, earned their income solely from writing. This is down from 40% in 2005, when a typical writer's income was £12,330 ($21,090). Worse still, the typical income of all writers now is just £4,000 ($6,841), a paltry amount and well below the minimum wage. A `new study just published by ALCS (the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society) has shown that the typical income of a UK writer is just £11,000 ($18,815) a year. The figures show a sharp decline in the number of full-time writers. Writers struggle to make a living is this week's  News Review story.
  • Are you a poet? We have two services which might be of interest to you - Poetry Critique Service for up to 150 lines of poetry and Poetry Collection Editing, which is for anyone who wants to get a collection into shape for self-publishing or submission to publishers.
  • Eimear McBride, winner of the 2014 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, in our Comment column: ‘I think they (the judges) were excited by the language and by the emotional impact of the story. They must have been looking for something different because certainly the book isn't written in a conventional way... Being a writer who was not published for nearly ten years isn't a great path. It's very hard to spend most of your adult life feeling like a failure...'
  • This week's links: Mark McCrum on why as a pubished author he decided to self-publish, BookBrunch - Going it alone; how the format affects how you read, What Does Your Brain Like Better: Paper or Ebooks? | Publishing Perspectives; black literary writers with African roots seem to be doing better than African-American writers, Are African Writers Trumping African-American Authors? | Publishing Perspectives; agent John Saddler asks if we should care about the demise of publishers BookBrunch - Is Amazon destroying publishing - and if so, does it matter? and crime writer Val McDermid on how things have changed for authors, McDermid: 'could not build writing career today' | The Bookseller.
  • Our agent listings cover the UK, US and International, and there's a separate listing for Children's Agents.
  • 'Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself, but with its subject.' John Keats in our Writers' Quotes

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