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July 2010 - Writers Magazine

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News Review



  • Inspired by Colin Robinson's recent article in The Nation, News Review takes another look at Amazon, still growing fast and now the largest bookseller in the world, with all that entails.  Are they using their power wisely?  What effect do they have on publishers? There's a stop press too, relating to the latest big story on e-books.

  • News Review looks at the big international publishing companies and what a recent study shows about how they have fared in the rankings in the last year. Trade publishing is not top of the charts and it is the companies which have a global approach which have grown the most.

  • 'Following on from our look at prizes and what effect they have last week, this week’s column will be devoted to new prizes. There has been a proliferation of new prizes launched over the last few years, so there’s quite a lot to evaluate. Some of them focus on new work but only a proportion of them are open for entries from unpublished writers.' News Review looks at new prizes.

  • 'The literary world is awash with literary prizes, with new ones being set up every year. But what effect do these prizes have and do they actually sell more books?... The answer is mixed. Some of the biggest prizes do have a major effect on sales but others have surprisingly little impact. The 100,000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, which bills itself as the world’s largest prize for a single novel, was won recently by a novel in translation which will probably not sell in really significant numbers...'  News Review investigates

  • 'An article in a recent edition of the Bookseller has highlighted the ongoing pressure on acquisitions in publishing houses, which has now become acute.Helen Garnons-Williams, Bloomsbury fiction editorial director said: "Our entire business is based on confidence, whether among the publishers or the agents, and pretty much everyone is wobbling because no one knows what will sell." Auctions have often faltered because the recession is causing a massive loss of confidence and publishers are becoming increasingly risk-averse.' News Review has the story.

Comment



  • ‘Any bookseller who might be considering whether to order more copies of Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel, which last week (in May) took the Independent Foreign Fiction prize, should look at this week's charts. Astonishingly, translations currently account for 40 per cent of Britain's top-ten bestsellers... Boyd Tonkin, Literary Editor of the Independent

  • 'I think there was what people sometimes call 'a gap in the market' because I wanted to get away from the fantasy and sensationalism of James Bond and the Ludlum-esque stuff... after a while too much fantasy has a bludgeoning effect: you accept that the guy can fly, or defuse a bomb with bare hands, or whatever.' Jason Elliot, author of The Network, in the Bookseller.

  • 'Only now that the book is out have I fully realized what the most frightening part of the is process is. The questions: How will the reading public respond? Do ads work? Do people even read much anymore, beyond vampire books? Is the sophomore slump real? Is the sales rank on Amazon.com a true indicator?... I want people to buy and read my book, but the reasons for this want lie not in sales rank or blog hits. The reasons lie where they always have for the artist. If we do our job right, writers can, in the words of Muhammad Ali, shake up the world. Glenn Taylor, author of The Marrowbone Marble Company on Publishing Perspectives.

  • 'A multi-media strategy pays richer dividends to busy, versatile authors for whom film adaptations, TV slots, press columns and the like come easily. For focused literary types who simply want the best deal for their words, other agents still keep faith with books alone.' Boyd Tonkin, Literary Editor, in the Independent.

  • 'I've always loved short stories. The process is probably less anxious than writing a novel. There's something about the intensity of a short story that I love... You can reinvent them all the time (whereas) with the novel there's the huge weight of tradition. There's something about modern life that suits the short story. It's a bit snipped up and jagged and raw and I think stories are like that...' Michele Roberts, author of Mud, in the Bookseller.

  • 'Books are not dead. They may appear besieged, ever more so as fragile retailers hunker down to re-examine their own business models. There may be fewer new titles published over the next several years...  but I am confident that the book business will evolve, as it has done for hundreds of years, and will occupy a considerable position as a ongoing and valued medium.' Laurence Orbach, CEO of Quarto, in the Bookseller

Writers' Quote


'Poetry is not a career, but a mug's game. No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written, he may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing.'
  T S Eliot

The English language publishing world


In the face of a changing situation as English becomes ever more established as the international language, Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage. has revised this article in the Inside Publishing series, which consists of 19 articles which take you inside the publishing world.


The Writing Workshop Notebook by Alan Ziegler


Our reviewer 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. concluded that: 'This is an unconventional book about writing, inspirational as much as it is practical, and focusing on an aspect of the writing process that isn’t much discussed. It would, I think, prove a valuable addition to the writing bookshelf if you are at all interested in the workshopping process and what it involves.'


Magazine - Balloons



 John Jenkins' June column


 John looks at the recent decision by Rupert Murdoch to take the Times Online private.  But will this work, or are we all just too used to getting things for free online?



Writing Memoir and Autobiography


If you want to write a memoir you’re in good company – lots of writers want to try their hand at this category. In the latest in our new Categories series Chris Holifield looks at how to set about writing your memoir and how to publish it.


Other articles in the series:
Writing Historical Fiction
Writing Romance
Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Writing Crime Fiction
Writing non-fiction


Choosing a Service


Are you having difficulty deciding which service might be right for you?  This useful new article by Chris Holifield offers advice on what to go for, depending on what stage you are at with your writing.



Our book review section

John Jenkins' July column


John's view is that 'you can do everything with dialogue: let your characters tell the story'. He illustrates what he means by this in his July column.


2010 Bulwer-Lytton Prize



This year’s Bulwer-Lytton Prize, the annual award for the worst opening sentence, has gone to Molly Ringle's comparison of a lovers' kiss with the sucking of a thirsty rodent. Given annually since 1982, the competition, sponsored by the English department at San Jose State University, is inspired by the melodramatic first sentence of Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1830 novel Paul Clifford.


Review of The Arvon Book of Life Writing by Sally Cline and Carole Angier


Our reviewer, 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., said: 'Many people want to write about someone’s life, perhaps their own, and there are courses to suit every level of interest, from university masters degrees to local college qualifications.'  and concluded that it was: 'a brisk and helpful guide on how to set about writing a life story... It is a sensible account of life writing from experienced practitioners of what is both art and craft, and I recommend it!'


London Book Fair 2010: Masterclass - Organising author events


Amanda Pollard, illustrator of An Illustrated History of 1066, attends a London Book Fair Masterclass to find out what part authors can play in organising their own bookshop events.


New agents' listings


Our brand-new, up-to-date agents' listings have been compiled from agents' own websites and other information they publish about what they're looking for. You can use them to research which agents to submit to.


The listings cover UK and US agents, with separate listings for children's agents in the UK, and international agents from all over the world.


Tips for Writers Our new series for writers:


Improving your writing, Learning on the job, New technology and the Internet, Self-publishing - is it for you?,  Promoting your writing (and yourself), Other kinds of writing, Keep up to date and Submission to publishers and agents


Latest changes in the book trade 7:



In the seventh part of this series, Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage. looks at the subject of Creative Commons and how these special licenses might transform authors' capacity to the license use of their books for all sorts of purposes.



First article: Bookselling



Second article: Publishing


Third article: Print on Demand and the Long Tail


Fourth article: Self-publishing - career suicide or 'really great'


Fifth article: Writers' Routes to their audiences


Sixth article: Copyright


 Our Editorial Services for writers


Check out the 17 different editorial services we offer, from Reports to Copy editing, Typing to Rewriting. 


Help for Writers


Check out this page to find links to the huge number of useful articles on this site, including Finding an Agent and Making Submissions.