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August 2015 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'It's the colouring books and a self-published sleep aid which are making the headlines and topping the charts as summer moves in to autumn in the northern hemisphere - not that those of us in the UK feel we've had much summer... News Review looks at surprise bestsellers for the silly season.
  • It's sad to see the end of Authonomy, which HarperCollins UK has decided to close at the end of September. The first of the author submission sites, it worked through peer review in that submissions were ranked by users and the best-ranked were considered for publication by HarperCollins. I remember talking to the staff member at HarperCollins who had been given the job of setting it up. I thought it sounded a great idea from the point of view of authors, offering a real opportunity to get published for those whose work was really good.
  • As many in the northern hemisphere are still sunning themselves (or sitting out the rain if they're in the UK), the book trade is hotting up for the autumn. In the UK it looks as if 8 October will be Super Thursday, when the combination of big books being launched reaches its peak. News Review this week is looking forward to the autumn.
  • A recent report from Enders Analysis has said that it would be a mistake to see the ebook revolution as the key disruption in the book trade. The authors of the report are much more concerned with the reduction in the time people spend on reading, due to time spent on mobile devices, which is eating into book reading time.
  • 'The longlist for this year's Man Booker Prize is both diverse and international, with a wide range of different kinds of writers and a number of debuts. The longlist features three British writers, five US writers and one each from the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, India, Nigeria and Jamaica... News Review looks as the internationalisation of the Prize.
  • 'According to some sources, the audiobook market is growing rapidly. Orion audio publisher Pandora White called the sector "the fastest-growing in publishing" and Booktrack is growing exponentially, but is the quality of the recordings being sacrificed in order to achieve the lowest price? The download has injected new life into a rather quiet corner of the book world, so what are the issues?'
  • A kind of fever seems to have gripped a large number of book-buyers who have rushed out to buy Harper Lee's ‘new' book Go Set a Watchman, making the book a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. HarperCollins in the States says that the book has broken its own record for the number sold. But why is there such a huge surge of interest? Go Set a Bestseller is this week's News Review.


  • ‘By rejection number 45, I was truly neurotic. It was all I could think about - revising the book, making it better, getting an agent, getting it published. I insisted on rewriting the last chapter an hour before I was due at the hospital to give birth to my daughter. I would not go to the hospital until I'd typed The End...' Kathryn Stockett, author of the huge bestseller The Help, advises you to 'Give in to your obsession' in our Comment column.
  • 'I've learned that despite all the new bells and whistles, there's no substitute for giving the bookselling community time enough to read a book and get behind it... It starts with the book no matter what. Without that it doesn't matter how much you tweet. You'll get one wave of publicity and then it's over.' Dawn Davis, founder of 37 Ink, in Poets and Writers magazine, quoted in our Comment column.
  • 'One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily. In the first paragraph you solve most of the problems with your book. The theme is defined, the style, the tone.' Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in an interview in Writers at Work, in our Comment column.
  • 'That's the essential goal of the writer: you slice out a piece of yourself and slap it down on the desk in front of you. You try to put it on paper, try to describe it in a way that the reader can see and feel and touch. You paste all your nerve endings into it and then give it out to strangers who don't know you or understand you. And you will feel everything that happens to that story...' Our Comment is from Stephen Leigh, author of The Crow of Connemara.
  • 'It's all to do with fiction: life is mysterious, human beings are opaque - even your family, spouse, children, you don't know what goes on in their heads. How do you find out what makes people tick? The answer is the novel. That's why it endures and thrives, it's the best art form for making sense of the human condition. It deals with the messy, random business of our lives, this common adventure we're on, the human predicament. Fiction's the best way of getting at the truth, however paradoxical that sounds.' Our Comment is from William Boyd, author of Any Human Heart and the forthcoming Sweet Caress, in the Bookseller.
  • ‘The prize thing was absolutely wonderful. It brings you readers and that's the thing you want with every bone in your body but - how to say this without sounding churlish? - I'm very aware that people will have been saying, "Huh? Really? when it won prizes, so I don't take it as a sign that I've got there yet. I'm still working out how to write books. I need more time...' Katherine Rundell, author of Rooftoppers and the forthcoming The Wolf Wilder, in the Bookseller, provides this week's Comment.
  • Our Comment is from author and agent Bill Clegg: 'When I finish a week of writing, I'm sick of my own head and desperate to get into the work of someone else.(Going between agenting and writing) is like a series of reunions, you're always happy to be where you are.'


'It is fatal to decide, intellectually, what good poetry is because you are then in honour bound to try to write it, instead of the poems that only you can write.'

Philip Larkin

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:

Kathryn Stockett's 'The Help' Turned Down 60 Times Before Becoming a Best Seller | MORE Magazine

Flat book cover design: Why do all the summer novels have the same look?

A manifesto for reaching readers | The Bookseller

Is Amazon Creating a Cultural Monopoly? - The New Yorker

Stieg Larsson's partner ‘casts a spell' to jynx Millennium series book launch | Daily Mail Online

Why Smart Publishers Build Bad Websites | Digital Book World

Interstitial Publishing | The Scholarly Kitchen

Is Amazon Eating Itself Alive? - Publishing Perspectives

Publishing's decline 'leaves writers on breadline' - The Scotsman

Publisher or Author? Whose Job Is it to Innovate Anyway? - Publishing Perspectives

A manifesto for author-publisher relations | The Bookseller

We're Spending $10 Billion On Kids' Classroom Technology-But Does It Help Them Learn? | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Ebooks are changing the way we read, and the way novelists write | Comment is free | The Guardian

The Rise of Phone Reading - WSJ

Delhi Tea Seller Finds Success As Author on Amazon - Publishing Perspectives

Can digital community support writing, really? | The Bookseller

When the page is broken: Who writes the books? | The Bookseller

Down, Up, Down Again: The Diary of a Debut Author - Publishing Perspectives

How the Frankfurt Book Fair Helped Launch Shakespeare - Publishing Perspectives

Digital writing: If only community weren't so communal | The Bookseller

The publishing world is changing, but there is one big dog that has not yet barked - The Shatzkin Files The Shatzkin Files

Sara Paretsky interview: ‘I start each VI Warshawski book convinced I can't do it' | Books | The Guardian

Kindle turns five: independent women thrive in ebook bestseller charts | Books | The Guardian

Teymour Shahabi on YouTube for Writers

Why is reading for pleasure important? | Reading Agency

"My Agent By My Side": An Author's Assisted Publishing Experience - Publishing Perspectives

Book Media Amplification is Key to Small Press Success - Publishing Perspectives

Authors Guild Urges More Book Contract Changes

Publisher finds that writers' influences are mostly male | Books | The Guardian

In the Future, Will We All Be Freelancers? - Publishing Perspectives

IndieReader's Top 10 Five-star Reviews of Self-Published Books - Publishing Perspectives

The Buzz at the Zimbabwe Book Fair is Growth


The ghostwriter, the secret plot and a ‘grave-robbing' Stieg Larsson sequel | Books | The Guardian

In a digital world, movies and books face different and similar problems « TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics

Crime writers are the victims as Sherlock's too slow for forensics - Telegraph

Another wake-up call from Amazon as they serve author interests better than publishers have - The Shatzkin Files The Shatzkin Files

Is Baby Boomer Lit the Next Hot Genre? - Publishing Perspectives

Thinking about Internet Scale | The Scholarly Kitchen

5 reasons to wish Amazon an unhappy birthday -

Let the right edition in | The Bookseller

UK Society of Authors Advises: Always Compare Contracts

Escaping the new media cargo cult - Boing Boing

New Publisher Canelo Offers UK Authors Strong Incentives - Publishing Perspectives

UK Group to Fight Bias Against Older Debut Authors - Publishing Perspectives

George R R Martin urges fans to vote on Hugo Awards | The Bookseller


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 20 different editorial services we offer, from Reports to Copy editing, Manuscript Typing to Rewriting and our new service, Translation editing. 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.

How to get your book translated into English (without it costing the earth)

Our new article asks writers with a manuscript which needs translating: "if your English is good enough, what about translating your book yourself, and then getting your translation polished and copy edited by a professional editor who is a native English speaker?" This could be a cost-effective way of reaching the international English-speaking market.

Translation editing service

Have you translated your work into English? Or do you have a translation that someone else has done? Now you need to make sure it's good enough to publish, or send to a publisher. If you need help to get your work into perfect condition, our new service, Translation Editing, is for you. Acknowledging the growth of world English, this new service is designed for the many non-native English speakers throughout the world who want to publish their work in English.

Inside Eritrea: A Volunteer in East Africa

Kevin Morley wrote his book Inside Eritrea: A Volunteer in East Africa in order to raise funds from its sales to support the Saltergate Children's Home which he founded in Addis Ababa. He tells his story in Becoming a writer to ‘help kids in Africa'

2015 International Book Fairs

Use this page to find our unique authors' listing of the major book fairs across the world. Most of these are primarily intended as trade fairs for the book trade, but an ever-increasing number have extensive programmes of cultural events and opportunities to meet authors.

Writing Short Fiction: A Personal Journey

‘Twenty years as a teacher, ten years in educational research and five years of directing an educational charity, and in all that time, I hadn't published any fiction or poetry at all... But by 2004, with the charity going nowhere fast, I decided to make my own opportunities rather than wait for them to come to me...' Bruce Harris's Writing Short Fiction: A Personal Journey is about how he worked his way towards setting up the fantastic new website Writing Short Fiction.

Talking to publishers

The tenth article in the Talking to publishers series covers How-to books for experienced writers - by experienced writers: 'In reality, no writer can exist for ever in a comfort cocoon of familiar marketplaces since editors are constantly changing, publishers frequently alter their focus, and all too often published authors find themselves redundant. That's why it's necessary for relatively new or middle list authors to be constantly re-inventing themselves to stay ahead of these market changes...'

Jessie Burton's Success story

'Jessie Burton's road to success is interesting...'

Which report?

This  page gives the lowdown on the three reports we offer.

Success Story - Tina Seskis

Tina is 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...'

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 looks 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... 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...'

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.

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 Twenty 7 Books open submission, the 2015 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition, the poetry part of the Manchester Writing Prize and the MslexiaStylish and lively site for quarterly UK literary magazine read by 12,000 'committed' women writers. Good range of quality writing, information and advice with news, reviews, competitions and interviews, all presented in a friendly fashion. Praised by Helen Dunmore as 'astute, invigorating and above all an excellent read.' Women's Novel 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.

Advice for writers

Use this page as a springboard to over 4,500 pages on the site.