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February 2012 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'The publishing world has been electrified by the news that J K Rowling has written her first adult novel and it is expected to be published later this year, although there’s no title or date yet. Some observers have always felt that Rowling would produce another book. She does after all give every appearance of being a compulsive writer, the kind of author who always has plots running round her head. ' News Review on this week's hot news.
  • 'World Book Day and World Book Night get the Wow! factor. World Book Day and Night are approaching fast. This year it’s going to become more of an international set of events, and some it will be available online. It's a fantastic line-up on 1 March and 23 April.
  • 'Hugely successful self-published author Amanda Hocking has grabbed the headlines again with her decision not to go with Amazon’s new publishing venture, in spite of their offer of a higher advance, but to stick with St Martin’s Press, which she felt would be better able to get her books into bookshops. This deal was for her new four-book series Watersong, with the first title, Wake, to be published this autumn.' News Review reports.
  • 'There’s been an interesting discussion this week sparked off by an article in Publishing Perspectives about why an editor who has been working at a senior level in a publishing house would want to become a literary agent in order to spend more time working on authors’ manuscripts. The editor in question is Rebecca Carter of Harvill Secker and before that of Chatto & Windus, both highly-regarded imprints of Random House UKPenguin Random House have more than 50 creative and autonomous imprints, publishing the very best books for all audiences, covering fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, autobiographies and much more. Click for Random House UK Publishers References listing.' News Review investigates.
  • 'The New Year has started with a mass of news from the ebook front, where things are really moving very fast. In the States ebook sales surged after Christmas. In the UK the figures show that more than one million ereaders and more than half a million tablet devices were received as gifts over Christmas, with Amazon and Apple the leading suppliers of e-readers and tablets respectively. One in 40 adults received a Kindle for Christmas.' News Review reports.
  • 'A review of the UK children’s publishing scene by Caroline Horn in this week’s Bookseller provides an interesting picture of a part of the publishing business which is in pretty good shape. There is a strong feeling in the trade that the focus has shifted to bestsellers, bestselling authors and brand-name series. This makes it hard for new authors to get a sympathetic view taken of their work. The view is that nobody is interested in unknowns unless they are likely to be instant bestseller material.' News Review takes a look.



  • 'We are not seeing a migration from print to digital reading among young people, we are seeing reading falling in overall popularity as a leisure activity. We know that viewing video online is becoming more popular for all internet users than reading text. Reading itself is being squeezed.' Jonathan Douglas, Director of the UK National Literacy TrustUK-based organisation which has campaigned since 1993 to improve literacy standards across all age groups. Excellent research information and details of the many initiatives the charity is currently involved in. It also has a useful page of news stories on UK literacy, which links to newsletter, in his blog.
  • 'In November I'll start to think about the next book. In January I'll begin writing it, deliver it in June, in July it'll be edited, August is the holidays. September I'll start doing pre-publication interviews, it'll come out in October and I'll' go on the road again. It's like working on a production line, there's not an awful lot of time to sit around chewing the fat with Salman Rushdie, even if he wanted to...' Ian Rankin, author of The Impossible Dead in the Independent on Sunday
  • 'I think the short story's a bit of a bisexual - it takes from prose what's great about prose, the wide-angle lens and the interest in psychology and character. And then it takes from poetry the distillation of language and the complete ease at using metaphors and images and motifs... Jackie Kay in The Poetry Paper
  • 'To the Society of Authors, the arguments in favour of higher royalties on e-books seem as unanswerable as they have ever been. We feel that the starting rate for an unenhanced book, including academic texts, should be at least 30% - and that where enhanced e-books are being published, the royalty rate should be negotiated to reflect the degree of additional costs and work involved. Where the deal is exclusively for an e-book, and no advance is being paid, the royalties should start at a minimum of 50% and be valid either for a period of some three years, or else permit the author to terminate the agreement. Tom Holland, retiring chair of the UK Society of Authors in the Bookseller
  • 'I believe that the iron grip that large publishers and their marketing partners have had on readers’ attention since the 1990s has slipped quite a bit with the arrival of online retailers and opinion-makers.' Fred Ramey in Psychology Today


Writers' Quote

'Eight hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, that's the only way I know how to do it.'
Philip Roth

Links to stories of the week

Our new feature links to interesting blogs or articles posted online, which will help keep you up to date with what's going on in the book world:

The new website of the Crime Readers’ Association

David Nichols in the Independent

The death of chick lit

Why Every Entrepreneur Should Self-Publish a Book

Success story

With the publication of Inheritance, Christopher Paolini brings to a triumphant conclusion his epic sequence. In the UK this book had a first week sale of 76,000 copies and the series as a whole has sold 1.2 million books to date in the UK. It had a first printing of 2.5 million in the US. Not only have the books been translated in 49 countries but total sales for the first three books in the series have been 25 million copies worldwide.

Success story

Darren Shan’s first book, Ayuamarca, was published in 1999 by Orion and didn’t have much impact. The sequel, Hell's Horizon, sold fewer copies than the first. But in January 2000, Shan released Cirque du Freak, the first book of The Saga of Darren Shan series in the UK and Ireland and this was the beginning of his tremendous success and as a YA (and, more recently, adult) horror writer.

Help for Writers

Use this page as a springboard to over 2,000 pages on the site.

Set up your own blog

In order to be in the best position to promote yourself and your writing, it’s well worth setting up a blog. In case you find this idea a bit alien, here’s why you should take the trouble to do this.

A blog offers you the opportunity to start building an audience for your work and the chance to experiment with writing about yourself and with different kinds of writing. Many successful writers’ blogs start with a small readership of family and friends, but build a good audience over the years. Relax and just write what comes naturally, it makes sense for your blog to be more informal, more personal than a standard piece of non-fiction writing and more lively than a slice of autobiography, as there are no conventions that go with it.

Mountain reflection small

Previous magazines:





Magazine index

Writing Memoir and Autobiography

Writing Historical Fiction

Writing Romance

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy  

Writing Crime Fiction

Writing non-fiction


If you're thinking about self-publishing, this is the place to find out what's involved. If you're ready to go ahead, our high quality service is second to none and there's an economy version for those who want to tackle some of the work themselves. You can estimate the cost for yourself.

Our book review section

Help get your book ready for publication with an editorial service

Marti Norberg, who has worked as a reporter and managing editor for several Colorado newspapers, advises on how to use an editorial service (such as WritersServices) to get your book ready.



John Jenkins' February column

'Everybody knows that old joke which asserts that if you steal from one writer it’s plagiarism and if you steal from 14 it’s research. But joking aside, it is essential that writers know the difference and abide strictly by the law. Not only the letter of the law but also the spirit... Because much of what is on the internet is freely available does not mean it is free to copy. Sometimes you can get permission to copy a passage for educational purposes and it is better to ask first.'

John Jenkins' January column

'Why is that even some successful authors find that writing a synopsis is a difficult task? Perhaps because they want to employ too much of their imagination and command of the English language. For beginners the problem seems to be one of confusion as they fail to appreciate the differences between a review, a biography and something to sell the book to a publisher or agent...'


Our new service is for anyone who is having difficulty producing their cover or jacket copy and may be especially helpful for self-publishers. Let our skilled editor/writers do the job for you, so that you end up with a professional blurb.

John Jenkins' November column

What kind of a free Press do we writers want? A totally free Press left with its own self-governing body for standards of behaviour?

Or a Press without any restrictions other than the existing laws of libel?

Or a Press subject to government and legal censorship?

Rotten Rejections

Our latest new contribution: 'One agent wrote to say my titles were so uncommercial that reading my synopsis made him laugh and that he couldn't sell any of my titles to a publisher even if he had a million years to try.'

Update to our links

Our 23 lists of recommended links have just been updated with many new links to sites of special interest to writers. these range from Writers Online Services to Picture libraries and from Software for writers to Writers Magazines & Sites.

Getting your manuscript copy edited

If you are looking for copy editing online, it is difficult to ensure that you are getting a professional copy editor who will do a good job on your manuscript.

WritersServices has now made its copy editing service unique, as it will offer as standard two versions of your script, one prepared using 'track changes' and one with all the changes accepted.

Writing Historical Fiction

Our revised article on Writing Historical Fiction brings this subject up to date.

Other articles cover

Writing Crime Fiction Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Romance Writing Non-fiction and Writing Memoir and Autobiography.

Our Editorial Services for writers

Check out the 18 different editorial services we offer, from Reports to Copy editing, Typing to Rewriting. Check out this page to find links to the huge number of useful articles on this site, including Finding an Agent and Making Submissions.

Choosing a Service

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

We Watch the web for writers

Our huge section on technology and the web, and how writers can make use of them, takes you from beginner-level articles to advanced technology.