Skip to Content

September 2014 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • The book trade internationally does seem to have turned the corner after a difficult few years when a major format change at the same time as a deep global recession turned everything upside down... Bookshops are working out new ways of surviving, with a focus on events, local authors, school supply and so on. No doubt the fallout will continue but in the UK and US there are definite signs of more bookshops surviving and is the online competitors to Amazon who are having a hard time. Our News Review this week covers the good news that print book sales have recovered a bit, while children's leads the way.
  • 'So just how do you go about promoting poetry and poets? There are lots of answers to this and many poets are very successful at promoting themselves through a combination of their publisher's efforts or self-publishing, through readings, performances and getting their work into poetry magazines, online or other kinds of promotion...' This week's News Review looks at a big new poetry promotion - Next Generation Poets 2014.
  • 'John Lewis of the Bookseller has argued strongly that the paperback edition is still a major factor in book sales and what's more that its position doesn't seem to be changing in the face of ebook sales nearly as much as had originally been assumed, now that things are settling down. What's surprising about this is that the paperback edition is coming out 6-12 months after the hardback and ebook are available. Even more important in terms of sales, you would expect the ebook to completely cannibalise the paperback sales as it's invariably not only available sooner but also considerably cheaper...' News Review on why paperbacks still have legs.
  • 'Recent figures from Bowker in the US show a startling plunge in the number of titles printed print-on-demand by 46% year-on-year. Even more surprising perhaps is that this decline is not part of the major shift from print titles to ebooks, as the overall print figures declined by only 1.6%. This figure reverses the sector's growth from 2011 to 2012 and shows that the number of print books being produced is remarkably stable. So much for the theory that print books would disappear and be replaced entirely by ebooks as the digital revolution proceeded...' This week's News Review is on Print on demand plunges and 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. sets up self-publishing programme.
  • 'It looks as if open submissions are here to stay. Publishers, having for many years tried to stem the tide of unsolicited submissions, are now openly soliciting them within a time-limited and often genre- specific framework. Some publishers have always worked this way. Harlequin Mills and Boon has been an example, encouraging unsolicited manuscripts in specific sub-genres of romance and going to some pains to encourage authors to send in what they were looking for to add to each of their lists. But most publishers have made it clear that they will not accept unsolicited submissions...'


  • 'Publishing is the process of getting an author's thoughts and ideas to the mind of a reader. Book publishing was carried out in the traditional manner for so long that everyone began to believe that publishers, agents, publicists and bookshops were essential to the process. The multiplicity of options brought about by the digital age remind us that there are only two constants in the process: the author and the reader...' Nicola Solomon, CEO of the UK Society of Authors in the Bookseller
  • 'I think I will write, in my 70s, more novellas. I love the idea of sitting down to read something in three hours - about the length of an opera, or a long movie, or a play where all of its structure can be held in the mind. A novella is a great length, and it's a demanding genre in which things have to be settled quickly.' Ian McEwan, author of The Children Act, in the Observer.
  • ‘I write by hand, then type it up. When I've finished a scene, I'll read it and, if it needs editing, I write all over it, then retype it. I fax the copy to a typist, who puts it on a disc, and she faxes it back, then I edit it again. When I start a new novel I already have the story in my head, including the ending, so I begin by doing an outline and then write it consecutively - page one is always page one...' Barbara Taylor Bradford, author of A Woman of Substance and Cavendon Hall, in The Times.
  • This week's Comment is from children's writer Anthony Horowitz: ‘A writer is over when they think they're perfect. Sometimes you just have to rewrite a book: the new Sherlock Holmes novel wasn't working, so 42,000 words in I'm back to the beginning... All writing comes from tension. If you have a nervous energy, a sort of discontentment and unanswered questions, you want to rub and scratch and examine yourself. I tend to get stressed about everything - that is how I am. But if it all comes out on the page, well, at least it's got a home.'
  • In response to one commentator, Melanie A, who said the "publishing business is corrupt, sick and almost dead", Child stated: "When you say the publishing business is corrupt, sick, and almost dead, you're completely wrong. Yes, it's cautious and careful, as a result of the recession you mention, and the changing entertainment environment you note, and contracts are certainly stricter, but it's vibrant, optimistic, profitable, energetic, full of very smart people, most of them young, most of them women, and I find it a very pleasant place to work (but then, I came from television.) Lee Child, author of 19 Jack Reacher novels, including Personal, after appearing on UK's Newsnight TV programme, quoted in our Comment column.
  • ‘I never started writing thinking I would make a lot of money out of it. Most of the writers I knew in the early days had day jobs. When I started making a bit of money from it that was nice. When it became a full-time occupation that was lovely. So the money was a bonus, really. Ian Rankin, author of Saints of the Shadow Bible and many other Rebus novels in the Sunday Telegraph.


'Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.' 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:

Measure for measure: the Digital Census since 2009 | FutureBook

Row over literary agents' 'transparency' | The Bookseller

Mantel defends Thatcher story | The Bookseller

Nearly three quarters of young people prefer print | The Bookseller

Authors United threatens next Amazon move | The Bookseller

East African Writers Embrace Self-publishing and Promotion | Publishing Perspectives

Has the Man Booker prize really opened up? | Books | The Guardian

Author Malorie Blackman on Diversity in Children's Books | Publishing Perspectives

Literary Agent Q&A: Madeleine Milburn, UK | Publishing Perspectives

Pulp fiction | FutureBook

Margaret Atwood's new work will remain unseen for a century | Books |

Book Publishing, Not Fact-Checking - The Atlantic

5 Steps to Increasing Your Book's Marketability with Research | Publishing Perspectives

Kate Mosse: my skill is storytelling, not literary fiction | Books | The Observer

Are eBooks Destroying Bookselling Culture?

Malorie Blackman faces racist abuse after call to diversify children's books | Books | The Guardian

BookBrunch - Authors demand Amazon's patronage

VIDEO: How Fiction Can Change Reality | Electric Literature

Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society - A TV writer? What's that?

Dumps and Death Threats, Hecklers and Vindication: True Tales from Today's DIY Book Tour - The Daily Beast

Publishers Turn to the Crowd to Find the Next Best Seller -

What is Your Book Community? | Publishing Perspectives

The Hunger Games vs. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo | Publishing Perspectives

In China, You Don't Need a Publisher to Rake in the Big Yuan | Publishing Perspectives

Streaming of books threatens to sell readers down the river | Books | The Observer

Reading Print Versus Digital Increases Comprehension: Study - GalleyCat

Review: Out of Print, a Film by Vivienne Roumani | Publishing Perspectives

Africa space

Amazon vs Hachette: today books, tomorrow the world - Telegraph

Authors United ramps up Amazon campaign | The Bookseller

Historical fiction can speak very clearly to the present and the past | Books |

Literary Agent Q&A: Taryn Fagerness | Publishing Perspectives

Can So Many Authors Be Earning Big Money? - Dana Beth Weinberg

How Amazon Brought Publishing to Its Knees - and Why Authors Might Be Next

6 Questions to Ask Before Publicizing Your Book | Publishing Perspectives

A Short History of Self-Help, The World's Bestselling Genre | Publishing Perspectives.

Man Booker 2014: more global, less diverse | Books | The Guardian

Self-publishing surging to 31% of ebook market, claims report | Books |

Poetry Matters | Academy of American Poets

The Millions : Americans Love Poetry, But Not Poetry Books

Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society Do the right thing Bookbarn International

Man Booker 2014: more global, less diverse | Books | The Guardian

Self-publishing surging to 31% of ebook market, claims report | Books |


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.

Which report?

A new page on gives the lowdown on the three reports we offer.

How to get your book in the hands of an international audience

The second article from the MD of IPR, How to get your book in the hands of an international audience, expands on his theme of authors and rights and shows how the international book rights business works: ' It's clear that experience and market knowledge, as well as good contacts, are key elements in the placement of titles and getting deals done. Our licensing manager Caroline Sloan was recruited from Penguin Random House and has a number of years' experience working in foreign rights so she has a wealth of knowledge across a number of territories but that doesn't mean she knows every single intricacy or quirk attached to every single marketplace. But throughout her career what she has done is to make sure that she engages with people on the ground who do. These people are called sub-agents and literary scouts...'

Success Story - Tina Seskis

Our Success Story this week is that of Tina Seskis: an irresistible subject for a Success Story because she lives just up the road from WritersServices in north London and the reasons for her success as a writer are like a textbook illustration of how to do it. After university, she went on to work in marketing and advertising for more than 20 years and it was this experience which stood her in good stead when she found herself with a book to market. This was a book which she'd had the idea for whilst on holiday in Venice. Here's its brilliant starting-point: "It's funny how easy it is, when it really comes down to it, to get up from your life and begin a new one. All you need is enough money to start you off, and a resolve to not think about the people you're leaving behind..."

Why your book contract needs vetting

A quick look at contract vetting and why it's essentail if you don't have an agent, from our contracts expert.

Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer

'Is unlike any other writing instruction manual I have ever seen...' It is also, quite simply, a very beautiful object, gorgeous to look at, its contents by turns playful and inspirational.' Maureen Kincaid SpellerMaureen Kincaid Speller a reviewer, writer, editor and former librarian, is our book reviewer and also works for WritersServices as a freelance editor. reviews Jeff VanderMeer's new book. Review

The Business of Writing for Self-publishing Authors

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 follows up her tremendously useful article on The Business of Writing with a look at the business side of self-publishing for self-Publishers: 'Self-publishing authors - also known as ‘indie' authors or author-publishers - have had a steep learning curve these past few years. Getting to grips with the various sales channels available to them, producing top quality ebooks and paperbacks, and finding a place in mainstream outlets have left many writers struggling to keep up with the paperwork. What follows is brief guide to the essentials your self-publishing business needs - because it is a business, even if you only publish one book!'

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. The second part is - Before You Write: What is My Story Going to be? 

The third part deals with Starting to Write,

The fourth part is about Submitting Your Work to Agents and Editors

WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing

In Joanne Phillips' 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.

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.

Writing Opportunities

This month's Writing Opportunities are the 2014 National Poetry Competition and the Troubadour International Poetry 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.