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February 2014 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • There's been a wide-ranging debate this week sparked off by Hugh Howey's report on authors' earnings from ebooks, including an article by Mark Coker in Publishers WeeklyInternational news website of book publishing and bookselling including business news, reviews, bestseller lists, commentaries Hugh Howey and the Indie Author Revolt. Can Hugh Howey lead an indie author revolt? Based on Amazon's hourly ebook bestseller lists, Howey has made some large claims about the shift to self-publishing and the end of big publishers' control of the publishing model. But Howey's argument is based on the figures Amazon releases and these are essentially a marketing tool, controlled by the site and intended to sell as may ebooks as possible and to further Amazon's aims of increasing the share of Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon's own publishing lists...'
  • 'The shortlist for the first Folio Prize has caused quite a stir, highlighting various changes in the ecology of prizes. It set out to be different from the Man Booker and more literary, and seems to have achieved its intention. In doing this it has provided a challenge to the cosy hegemony of the Booker, no doubt influencing Booker's decision to make its own eligibility guidelines the same - novels written in English published in the UK but by authors from all over the world, including the US. Many would feel that this is a change too slow in the coming - and that in this time of increasing globalisation it's no good to have a continuing approach which only admits British and Commonwealth writers.
  • 'Online communities are the way things are going. Publishers have been trying to establish communities of readers to sell books to for some time, but now an author blogger has called for them to set up communities of writers too, and perhaps even communities of publishers and freelances as well. Publishers have been thinking about communities of readers for some time, as they try to develop relationships direct with their consumers...'
  • News Review asks: Are brands in decline? 'As recent figures have shown, this last year has shown the lowest sales for brand name authors for five years. It's easy to assume from this figure that it's all over for the big brands, in print at least, but the truth is that they have shown their durability over many years. Brands do come and go and no-one stays at the top forever. New authors come to the forefront and, although the older brands may not be so visible, they do still provide the mainstay of many publishers' lists. Every time a brand-name author has a new book, their whole backlist - backlist which may consist of a great many titles - gets a boost...'
  • Further information from the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer's Digest Author Survey shows the appallingly low level of income most writers get from their books. In News Review 13 January the first part of this research was revealed, but the research has also yielded information from the 9,000 witers who took part about their earnings from their writing.
  • 'As well as being the season for book industry leaders to forecast what kind of year they think we're going to have, it's also been a time when editors are looking into crystal balls. They're not coming up with many answers and most trends seem to be a continuation of what's already happening...'
  • News Review looks at whether authors prefer traditional publishing to self-publishing. Dana Beth Weinberg has written about the recently-released figures showing that most American authors prefer traditional publishing to self-publishing: ‘ The recent Digital Book World and Writer's Digest Author Survey showed that among the authors surveyed who had completed manuscripts, surprisingly few expressed a preference to indie publish their latest ones.


  • '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...'
  • 'This is certainly not the writer's life I anticipated when I opened that first acceptance latter, when I first met someone who'd read me. This isn't what I aimed for when I sneaked out short stories between working in all kinds of centres and hospitals and facilities. The workshops taught me that you move beyond your fears, find the words to name yourself, make demands, celebrate joys, protest pains, then you can start to move your world. I grew up as a writer seeing that language is a monumental force, that it constantly works upon us, for good and ill, that it can redefine us, rehearse the changes we want, establish our humanity...' A L Kennedy, author of What Becomes? in The Times
  • 'You have to inhabit an idea yourself; writing a book or film takes a long time, so you really have to feel like it is life or death for you. I just wanted a situation where I could then think about women and writing and sex and race - all the things I've been thinking about my whole life. This setup is an excuse to write the book I needed to write, because you can explore certain things: what do these characters think about marriage and relationships? (which means you spend months and years thinking, 'what do I think about marriage and relationships?') A story is an excuse to think about something...'Hanif Kureishi, author of The Buddha of Suburbia and The Last Word in the Bookseller
  • 'I think that a crime novel - like any story - succeeds or fails on the basis of character. Creating and sustaining a main character with whom the reade

Writers' Quote

'There is an element of autobiography in all fiction in that pain or distress, or pleasure, is based on the author's own. But in my case that is as far as it goes. My fiction may, now and again, illuminate aspects of the human condition, but I do not consciously set out to do so, I am a storyteller.' William Trevor


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:

Self-publishing: is it killing the mainstream? | Books |

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 -

Top 5 Predictions for the e-Reader Industry in 2014

Nine places to look in 2014 to predict the future of publishing - The Shatzkin Files

Report from 2013 International Publishers Association Conference | Publishing Perspectives.

Entitle launches eBook Subscription Service with Over 100,000 Books

Mal Peet: "The Wheat and the Chaff"

BookBrunch - Does book reviewing have a future?

Report from 2013 International Publishers Association Conference | Publishing Perspectives

Trident Media Group's Robert Gottlieb on Re-Engineering The Role of Literary Agents | Digital Book World

BBC News - Author Nick Spalding's top 10 self-publishing tips


Our series about writing in different genres

Writing Memoir and Autobiography

Writing Historical Fiction

Writing Romance

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

Writing Crime Fiction

Writing non-fiction

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.

WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing

In the seventh part of the WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 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 deals with Print on Demand for Indies: 'Print On Demand - or POD - is exactly that: a service whereby your book is printed only when it has been ordered, either by a bookshop or an online retailer. POD is an alternative to offset printing, where it is usually only economical to print large quantities of books...'

The Tissue Trail

Getting my novel published by Garth Garston: 'I had done all the textbook advice actions - buying and studying The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, writing a submission cover letter and synopsis plus my first three chapters, and getting my manuscript seriously proof-read. I had had my first rejection after a friend had recommended my first novel to top UK literary agency Curtis BrownSee Curtis Brown listing...'

WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing

WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing 5 is about EbooksDigital bookstore selling wide range of ebooks in 50 categories from Hildegard of Bingen to How to Write a Dirty Story and showing how the range of ebooks available is growing.: Distributing to Other Eretailers. Joanne Phillips: 'Now we've explored how to format your book for Kindle and upload to the Amazon KDP platform, it's time to look at the virtual shelves of other eretailers. There are two options here: upload to each eretailer direct, or use a distributor like Smashwords to do it for you. Why Sell Across Other Platforms? Amazon is not the only fruit! The series to date.

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

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 5

This looks at Cover Design Know-how: Tips from a top designer on how to make your indie cover look professional and stand out from the crowd. Joanne Phillips asked designer Chris Howard for the lowdown on cover know-how, startiing with 'What makes the perfect book cover?'

2014 International Book Fairs

The most comprehensive listing available on the web International Book Fairs

Talking to Publishers 7

Talking to Publishers 7 is an interview with Barbara Ford-Hammond, publisher of 6th BooksAn Imprint Of John Hunt Publishing. Investigations, explanations and deliberations on the paranormal, supernatural, explainable or unexplainable. Titles cover everything included within parapsychology: how to, lifestyles, alternative medicine, beliefs, myths and theories. The 6th reader is an intelligent seeker of information and challenge. The 6th author delivers exactly that., which focuses on Paranormal and Parapsychology. (See below for the rest of the series)

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.

A Printer's View

A Printer's View 1 is the first in a series of occasional articles looking at self-publishing from the printing perspective. In Self-publishing? How do you prepare your files for print? Andy EdmonsonManaging Director, Purely Digital, a quality digital printing service based in Derby; over 20 years' experience in printing industry; written for various publications including Print Week and popular blog Just Creative, Managing Director at Purely Digital, looks at this central question.

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.

Conscious Writing

'Discovering our authentic voice, writing with lasting impact, and standing out from the crowd are high priorities for most of us who write... Conscious Writing is a new approach to deep writing with full awareness...' Julia McCutcheon, the founder of IACCW, contributes a new article on Conscious Writing.

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.

Self-publishing - the rights way is an article from Tom Chalmers of IPR Licensethe global, digital marketplace for authors, agents and publishers to list and license book rights; launched in 2012 which explores the importance of rights to self-published authors: 'It's a fact that most self-published authors understand the process that takes them from a written manuscript to a published book, but few realise the additional elements that make publishing a profitable business.

WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing

Joanne Phllips' essential new series, the WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing, is a ten-parter which will take you through what you need to know about self-publishing. First up is What is Self-publishing?

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: 2014 Cardiff International Poetry Competition, 2014 Manchester Writing for Children Prize, and the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2014

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.