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May 2014 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'In an article in the print edition of the Bookseller, Philip Gwyn Jones offered a clear-sighted analysis of the current model of funding literary writing. He is the former publisher of Granta, a very highly-regarded editor with msses of experience in this area and the independence currently to call it like it is. Gwynn Jones says that serious non-fiction publishing is in trouble and that publishers are simply not prepared to come up with the advances which will enable writers to spend the time they need researching their books, perhaps over several years...'
  • 'Hardbacks, rather than ebooks, are the wild cards of the publishing industry. Who would have thought that they would survive and prosper in the age of the ebook? Wouldn't you assume that hardbacks would simply fade away once they were so radically undercut on price by ebooks, never mind paperbacks? News Review this week: Hardbacks - still a success story...'
  • 'When I first came into publishing, paperbacks seemed the coming thing. Surely it was only a question of time before the power of consumers drove paperbacks to centre stage and ousted those expensive hardbacks? In book auctions most of the money came from the paperback publisher, so it seemed logical to expect that shortly paperbacks would win the day and books would be published straight into paperback.' This week's News Review looks at where paperbacks stand in the era of ebooks...'
  • '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...'


  • ‘There's a paradox as a writer where you're encouraged to put everything of yourself in your books, to take things to the furthest extreme, to hold back nothing. But when you're talking in your own voice, you have to reassure people that you share their values and agree with them about everything and nobody need be perturbed by the content of the book because we're in this consensus about how we see each other and see art...' Ned Beauman, author of Glow and the youngest of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists, in the Independent on Sunday.
  • ‘Television is a fine medium and I love cinema more than most. I listen to music all the time and have been known to glance at the web too, but for me nothing quite compares to that moment when you read some marks on the page and think "yes, I know exactly what you mean"....' David Nicholls talks about the experience of reading a wonderful book
  • ‘I think as you get older you realise you will die with projects unfinished. I have long been conscious about the fact that when you have the idea for a story that does not mean you are ready to write it. I wanted to write the Thomas Cromwell books right at the beginning of my career as a writer. He was not ready to come out into the light and I wasn't ready for him...' Hilary Mantel, two-time Booker Prize winner and author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies in the Observer.
  • ‘Writing can be taught. The desire and will to do it cannot. Living the life of a writer means you're either starving in a garret or you're living a very leisured life. My lifestyle isn't middle class; it's upper class. I don't mean that in a smug way. I don't have the burden pf getting up and going to work...' Irvine Welsh, author of The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins, in The Times
  • 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...'

Writers' Quote

'If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.'

George Orwell


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 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 |

Links to this month's top stories


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?


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.'

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.'

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

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.

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

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 Bridport Prize 2014, the MMU Novella Award 2014 and the Mslexia Women's Poetry Competition 2014 and Pamphlet Competition.

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.