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April 2014 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'The UK's first ever Young Adult Literature Convention will take place at the London Film and comic Con 2014 from 12 to 13 July. This gives authors who are writing for a YA audience the chance to meet other authors, to take part in a host of author events with publisher stands promoting new and upcoming titles. The UK children's Laureate, Malorie Blackman, has put her weight behind the convention and will act as curator and director but the truth is that it's quite late in the day for YA books to start enjoying this amount of attention...'
  • 'New research carried out by DJS Research Ltd on behalf of the book charity Booktrust has found a divide in the UK between readers and non-readers, linked to wellbeing and deprivation. A significant number of adults have negative attitudes to reading - despite the fact that people who regularly pick up a book are, on average, more satisfied with life and are more likely to think that what they do in life is worthwhile...' This week's News Review looks at trends affecting readers.
  • 'Last week was dominated by the London Book Fair and it's good to be able to report a very buzzy fair, with confidence returning and a mass of business being done. LBF is a rights fair and has increasingly come to be the major book fair of the spring, balancing the Frankfurt Book FairWorld's largest trade fair for books; held annually mid-October at Frankfurt Trade Fair, Germany; First three days exclusively for trade visitors; general public can attend last two. in the autumn. The American BookExpo is much larger but is essentially focused on the huge US domestic market. London is easy to get to for publishers from many European countries but also increasingly a magnet for publishers from much further afield, such as Japan, China, Brazil and (this year's LBF Focus) Korea...'
  • 'Following on from a buoyant Bologna Book Fair, recent figures show that children's books are doing well on both sides of the Atlantic. Now that the UK and US economies are both coming out of recession, this is probably no longer because parents are prioritising books for their children. Perhaps it might be because they have seen the advantage that having their own books at home gives children. There is a high demand for middle grade fiction and in YA the trend is towards great realism. It's become apparent how much YA sales are boosted by adult purchase for their own reading...'
  • Following on from Hanif Kureishi's attack on creative writing courses this week, this old chestnut of a question has turned up again. Kureishi has dismissed creative writing courses as "a waste of time" and said he would never have gone on one himself, despite the fact that he currently teaches a writing course at Kingston University.


  • How far apart are crime writing and poetry? 'I have been interested in both equally all my life. All through childhood I wrote verses and mysteries. There is, for me, one connection: Structure. My poetry is metrical, rhyming. My crime novels are highly structured. I never start out with a dead body. I start out with an impossible scenario. Opening questions should be mysterious, weird, intriguing and contain the seeds of the solution. The structure has to be meticulous - I'm a structure freak...' Sophie Hannah, author of nine novels, including The Telling Error and five poetry collections, in the Observer
  • 'The world of spying is my genre. My struggle is to demystify, to de-romanticise the spook world, but at the same time harness it as a good story. As someone once said, the definition of genius - not that I'm a genius - is to have two conflicting opinions about any one subject and that's what I do all the time. Some call it ambiguity. I call it lack of resolution...' Our Comment this week is from John le Carré, author of A Delicate Truth and nineteen other novels, in the Sunday Telegraph's Seven.
  • This week's Comment on writing poetry comes from Simon Armitage, whose latest books are The Death of King Arthur and Black Roses, in The Times: 'I don't dedicate my day to poetry like you would do with a job. You can't get yourself a office and sit there from 9 to 5 writing poems - it just doesn't work. With prose I can knock it out, but it's an effort to write poems because they're so intense. You need a lot of energy and stamina and patience to just sit there and fall under a poem's spell. I'm not casual with my poetry, though. When I'm engaged and writing poems I'm completely disciplined and deadly serious. I really mean it...'
  • 'I do not wish to write prose that draws attention to itself, rather than the world it describes. I write quickly partly because of my own boredom threshold. The experience of being absorbed in a book is one of the best experiences you can have. There is a way of engaging with a larger readership. It is troubling that what we regard as important books are basically taking no part in the cultural conversation in this country.' Nick Hornby, author of A Long Way Down and About a Boy in The Times
  • 'Fiction springs irresponsible and unfettered from every soil. A novel is an entertainment, worked over, calculated, staged, shaped. Yet its genesis is always in the writer's real pleasures, enthusiasms, griefs and confusions. Writing one is quite unlike journalism. In earlier novels the rags of my real preoccupations kept surfacing unexpectedly, interwoven into brand new garments. Threads come in from all directions: the sea, the spiritual poverty of modern education, variety artistes, idealistic organic farmers, the modern military, unrequited love, Venice, Transsexualism, late Shakespeare. So it was probably inevitable that the most intense and disastrous experience of all would provoke a fictional mother and a fictional grief: both real and unreal...' Our Comment this week is from Libby Purves, author of Shadow Child and Acting Up, in The Times.
  • The late Norman Mailer in our Comment column: 'It's very bad to write a novel by act of will. I can do a book of nonfiction that way - just sign the contract and do the book because, provided the topic has some meaning for me, I know I can do it. A novel is more like falling in love...'

Writers' Quote

'It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. Today, for instance, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes...' Gustave Flaubert


Links to this month's top stories

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 Underrated, Universal Appeal of Science Fiction - Chris Beckett - The Atlantic

BookBrunch - Authors, agents and self-publishing

BBC News - Amazon revenue up but offset by increasing expenses

Lamp Lighters and Seed Sowers: Tomorrow's YA | Publishing Perspectives

Vampire Writer L.J. Smith Bites Back -

Is There a Formula for an International Bestseller? | Publishing Perspectives

London Book Fair 2014: Howey Champions DIY Publishing

Why Do Celebrities Think They Can Write Children's Books? | Publishing Perspectives

The end of the beginning | FutureBook

LBF's Digital Minds: The Golden Age or End of the Book? | Publishing Perspectives

Paper Lantern Lit and the Rise of the Hybrid Agent

Archipelago Books: 10 Years, 100 Titles, 26 Languages | Publishing Perspectives

BookBrunch - How the Andrew Lownie agency places its authors

How Self-Publishing Led Amazon to German Ebook Dominance | Publishing Perspectives

'The ebook revolution hasn't even begun' - Telegraph

BookBrunch - A writer at the 2014 Bologna Book Fair

Tech gives strugglers the confidence to read more | Books | The Observer

The Apartheid of Children's Literature -

Paperback Pioneers

Hugh Howey Gives Toxic Advice for Self-Publishers

Kureishi slams creative writing courses | The Bookseller

Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society The Price Ain't Right

Why Huge Publishing Advances can be Huge Steps Backwards | FutureBook

Do book awards bring out our inner hipsters? » MobyLives

BookBrunch - A calculated risk led to success for A Calculated Life

Lynda La Plante forms own rights company | The Bookseller


Cornerstone buys four from self-published Tracy Bloom | The Bookseller

The fall of the house of books | FutureBook

The 7k Report - Author Earnings

Hugh Howey and the Indie Author Revolt

Publishers Want to Bring Binge Consumption to Books - The Wire

Amazon: Game Changer or Whipping Boy?

Muchamore criticises 'negative' children's sector | The Bookseller

Your Brain On Audio Books: Distracted, Forgetful, And Bored | Co.Design | business + design

India's Buoyant Book Market Attracts More Foreign Deals | Publishing Perspectives

Sensory Fiction: Books That Let You Feel What The Characters Do | WUWF

Adobe has Killed e-Readers | Good E-Reader - eBook and Digital Publishing News

First self-publishing MA offers DIY education | Books |

India's Buoyant Book Market Attracts More Foreign Deals | Publishing Perspectives

Sensory Fiction: Books That Let You Feel What The Characters Do | WUWF

Quill & Quire » Twitter trend declares 2014 the year of reading women

Bread and Roses | Hugh Howey

Is the mid-list, "publishing's experimental laboratory," disappearing? » MobyLives

On Becoming a (Self) Publisher | Publishing Perspectives

The future of bookstores is the key to understanding the future of publishing - The Shatzkin Files

BiblioTech: The 21st Century All-Digital Library | Publishing Perspectives

Counter to Cliche, French Translations Sell Better Than Ever | Publishing Perspectives

Are Print Books Becoming Objets d'art? | Publishing Perspectives

Online publications see a future in print -


Our book review section

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. Our Editorial Services for writers

Check out the 19 different editorial services we offer, from Reports to Copy editing, Manuscript Typing to Rewriting. Check out this page to find links to the huge number of useful articles on this site, including Finding an Agent, Your Submission Package and Making Submissions.

The Essential Guide to Writing for Children

Many of you are interested in children's writing and we're thrilled to launch a new series by Suzy Jenvey, vastly experienced children's editorial director and now agent, called The Essential Guide to Writing for Children. The first article looks at the all-important question of age groups and what you should be aware of in writing for each one: 'Children's publishers divide their editorial departments according to age group. The editors and designers in each division are expert at the language, content, word length and style for their particular age group. As a children's writer, you have to aim for a specific age group, and show through your writing that you understand the requirements...'

The second part of The Essential Guide to Writing for Children - Before You Write: What is My Story Going to be? Suzy Jenvey starts with: 'However short your potential story is, you will still need to start with a clear idea of who it is aimed at, and how the characters and story will develop. Here are some basic rules that you should follow in the planning stage...' and ends with 'Don't be tempted to ‘ambulance-chase' - i.e. to write a story similar to something that has just been hugely successful. Publishers are looking for genuine originals.'

Success story- Jax Miller

Our Success Story this month is Jax Miller, whose first thriller has just been sold around the world in a two-book deal. Her agent, Simon Trewin, said: ‘My Kindle almost caught fire with the speed I was clicking onto the next page.' Other Writers Success Stories featured on the site.

WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing

In 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' fantastically useful WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing we're now up to the eighth article, which deals with Ebooks: Pricing Strategies for Indie Authors: 'Never has price been a more essential factor in the success or popularity of a particular title. With prices for ebooks ranging from completely free to upwards of £6/$10, ebook pricing is a minefield for the indie author...'

The series to date

New articles on the site

A regularly-updated page linking you to new stuff on the site.

Talking to publishers

Maria Maloney is the publisher of Lodestone, a new imprint which offers a broad spectrum of subjects in YA/NA literature: 'Compelling reading, the Teen/Young/New Adult reader is sure to find something edgy, enticing and innovative. From dystopian societies, through a whole range of fantasy, horror, science fiction and paranormal fiction, all the way to the other end of the sphere, historical drama, steam-punk adventure, and everything in between (including crime, coming of age and contemporary romance)...' Talking to Publishers 9, the latest in the series.

Starting from scratch: setting up a new literary agency

' You have to find the right name and the right type of projects to work on as a literary agent. You have to find ways to let writers know about your agency and what qualifies you to be a literary agent...' Jane Dowary of the Jane Dowary Agency on Starting from scratch: setting up a new literary agency

2014 International Book Fairs

The most comprehensive listing available on the web International Book Fairs

Do you want your book to be properly published?

There's no reason why a self-publisher shouldn't have as good a chance of finding an audience as an author whose book is coming out from a publisher. But what really lets their work down is if it hasn't been professionally copy edited. Effectively a self-publisher who goes ahead without copy editing is just publishing a manuscript, a work-in-progress which readers will react against because of all the errors. Copy editing for self-publishers

Our latest Writers' Success Story

'The announcement that Gillian Flynn had been declared Specsavers International Author of the Year last week was only the latest accolade awarded to her. She really hit her stride with Gone Girl. Our Success Story looks at her rapid rise to fame and there are others in the series too.

Writing for Children: Rule Number One

Read more than you write. 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...' Sarah Taylor-Fergusson in Rule Number One of Writing for Children.

Poetry Collection Editing

Our latest new service, which is our Poetry Collection Editing service. Intended for poets who want to prepare their poetry collection for self-publishing or for those who just want to get their poetry into the best possible shape before submitting it to publishers.

Services for self-publishers

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. New to the site, our page of Services for Self-publishers.

Book reviews

Our review of Writing: A User's Manual a guide to the joins craft of planning, starting and finishing a novel by David Hewson is joined by our new review of Booklife, of which our reviewer says: 'The point of Booklife is to provide a strategic and tactical guide to being a writer in contemporary times.'

Writing Opportunities

This month's Writing Opportunities: the 12 Winchester Writers' Festival Competitions, the Guardian/Legend Self-published Book of the Month and the 2014 Bristol Short Story Prize.

Update to our links

Our 23 lists of recommended links have hundreds of 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. There's a new Writers' Blogs listing which needs populating, so please send in your suggestions.

Help for Writers

Use this page as a springboard to over 4,000 pages on the site.