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June 2014 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'This week's Bookseller reports that E L James made £33m before tax in the year to the end of September 2013, more than three times her pre-tax earnings from the year before. This astonishing amount of money shows how very much an internationally bestselling author can make, especially when it's actually a trilogy. Fifty Shades Ltd said it ‘had a very successful year, during which it secured royalty agreements with numerous international publishing houses and licensing agreements with other organisations'.
  • 'A week or two back we linked to a recent article in Publishing Perspectives, Yawn No More: Americans and the Market for Foreign Fiction, about the annual BEABookExpo America, commonly referred to within the book publishing industry as BEA. The largest annual book trade fair in the United States Global Market Forum, this year focusing on books in translation. It showed that progress is being made to overcome American publishers' traditional reluctance to take on translated work from the rest of the world. Various different publishing models are being tried, which is important since the extra costs of translation have to be recouped somewhere...' At last, a mini-boom in translations.
  • The opening of the wonderful new Foyles bookshop in Charing Cross Road in London has shown a tremendous act of faith in bricks and mortar bookselling. The iconic bookstore has been suffering badly due to a drop in footfall relating to the building of Crossrail, a major new east-west underground line cutting through the heart of London's West End. It will though also benefit markedly when the line opens in 2018. It's hard to take the long view, but Foyle's is in a good position to do so. This bookstore has endured in private ownership for 111 years but the move to two doors away, whilst tremendously encouraging, is also very risky at a time when the book trade is in a state of upheaval and bookshops seem under particular threat from Amazon and the supermarkets...'
  • Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is having an extraordinary impact. Now that it's won the new Bailey Women's Prize (successor to last year's Women's Fiction Prize and the Orange Prize), there seems to be no stopping the author... But it took her nine years to find a publisher and then it was a tiny start-up, Galley Beggar Press, which quickly set up the book as a co-publication on the paperback and ebook rights with Faber, once it was shortlisted for the Folio Prize...'
  • 'The book world is poised on a knife-edge as the dispute between Amazon and Hachette continues, with no end in sight. It provided an oppressive feeling at BookExpo America, just ended in New York. American Booksellers Association chief executive Oren Teicher, at the organisation's general meeting, said unequivocally that the industry was 'being held hostage by a company far more interested in selling flat-screen TVs, diapers and groceries... prepared to sacrifice a diverse publishing ecosystem to achieve retail dominance. That's not good for anyone...'


  • '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
  • ‘I never wanted to be a writer. At first I wanted to be a violinist but I just wasn't good enough. My love of stories came, I suppose, from my father, who used to read books to me like King Solomon's Mines. I've loved adventure books ever since. Writing historical fiction means I do lots of research, so my study's covered in notes and bits of paper. It helps me get under the skin of my subjects...' Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel in The Times.
  • ‘After publication, nothing much happened for over a year. I didn't have much hope. Then I began to notice people reading it - even on aeroplanes when I was travelling. It was everywhere, it was surreal. I was proud of it yet it was so dark and its central character so spineless and set in a country people in the US knew little about... I didn't think this was what bestsellers were about...' Khaled Hosseini, author of And the Mountains Echoed and The Kite Runner, in the Observer.
  • 'I never thought I'd self-publish a book, because for me it has all the hallmarks of delusional desperation. But after my children's book, The Tale of Russell the Sacred Crow, was rejected a few times for one reason or another, I had some commission from my printer and I thought I might as well have a go. Nowadays you really don't need to self-publish a novel or biography, you can just whack it up on the internet for the whole world to see, but a children's picture book is different.' Matt Carr writing about his his self-publishing experience in the Bookseller.
  • ‘Content is king, and it will remain king - tech will come and go... It's not I don't believe in tech, I do. But I also know that content is king. Not to quote Rupert Murdoch, but he used to say: ‘You have to own the pipes, but if you don't have anything flowing through it, what are the pipes going to do? ' We developed technology to market and sell our content, but the technology doesn't come first. You got to have the content and then get the technology behind it...' Jane Friedman, CEO of backlist ebook publisher Open Road Media

Writers' Quote

'This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it 'to the editor who can appreciate my work' and it has simply come back stamped "Not at this address". Just keep looking for the right address.'

Barbara Kingsolver


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:

They might be giants | FutureBook

How To Become A Literary Agent | Marie Claire

BookBrunch - Putting poets first

Reading: The Struggle by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Internet spells end of long, complex literary novels, says author Tim Parks - News - Books - The Independent

BookBrunch - Shaping the twenty-first century writing life

Amazon is not your best friend: Why self-published authors should side with Hachette -

Developing Markets Fuel Wattpad's Explosive Growth | Publishing Perspectives

6 Reasons Why English Writers Should Self-publish in Germany | Publishing Perspectives

Harper Voyager Expands Digital-First Publishing

Why Are Literary Critics Dismayed by Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch and Its Success? | Vanity Fair

Yawn No More: Americans and the Market for Foreign Fiction | Publishing Perspectives

Global Book Market Snapshots: France and Germany | Publishing Perspectives


Self-publishing will save literary fiction | Hugh Howey

Harlequin Romance Tries to Adjust to Changing Times | Publishing Perspectives

Self-Publishers Go to the Library: SELF-e at BEA's Author Hub | Publishing Perspectives

Is It O.K. to Mine Real Relationships for Literary Material? -

The shameful joys of the franchise novel ... and why the force is with them | Books |

Former East Kilbride News reporter secures publishing deal - Daily Record

AAR Calls Out Amazon in Hachette Dispute

Are Literary Agents Really Worth Their Commission? | Digital Book World

The novel is dead (this time it's for real) | Books | The Guardian

Notes on the (non-)death of the book - Los Angeles Times

Reasons to Be Optimistic During the Disruption of Publishing

Mills & Boon announces 'totally new' digital storytelling format | Books |

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 PerspectivesOur 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

Suzy Jenvey, vastly experienced children's editorial director and now agent, has completed her four-part 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? '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.'

The third part of Suzy Jenvey's series deals with Starting to Write: 'Once you have started writing, never lose sight of that fact that your readers are children; your narrative and description should be different in certain aspects from adult writing.'

The fourth part is about Submitting Your Work to Agents and Editors: ' In my 26 years in publishing, I have read thousands of manuscript submissions. The way they were presented varied enormously. My main tip is to let your writing do the talking; the editor or agent is ONLY interested in how good your writing is, and unusual presentation ideas aren't going to make an unoriginal idea original, or a weak writer strong...'

Richard Hall, author of Theatres of War, chooses in his My Say to ask the question: "Write about what you know" - does this adage always make sense? 'For those planning a contemporary novel it may be sound advice to write about what you know. But what about writers of historical novels? They cannot have personal knowledge of anything before the recent past...' Other columns from writers in our My Say series. If you have something you'd like share with us about your writing, please send your article to us.

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 Self-publishing Guide we've now published all ten articles, No 9 dealing with  Marketing and Promotion for Indie authors: Online and No 10 dealing with Offline: 'Self-publishing has changed so much over the past few years it's hard to believe it was once looked down upon by the publishing industry as the last resort of the vain and desperate. At the time of writing (July 2013) many self-publishing authors are identifying with the term ‘indie author', which acknowledges that to professionally publish today, you don't actually have to do everything yourself!...'

The series to date

New articles on the site

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

Talking to publishers

We have nine articles in the Talking to publishers series, in which the editors tell us what they're actually looking for..

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 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 superb Writing Opportunities: James Herbert Award for Horror Writing 2014, The Moth International Short Story Prize, The Foyle Young Poets Award 2014, New Children's Author Prize 2015, Mslexia Women's Memoir Competition 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.