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December 2015 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'This year the charity Book Aid InternationalSupplies much-needed books to developing countries, raising funds from publishers and general public; 'Reverse Book Club' is masterly idea-for just £5 ($10) month you can provide 48 books to go to where they're most needed, which goes from strength to strength, has sent over 1.1 million books to partners in Africa, beating their previous donation levels. Books and libraries are a crucial resource in sub-Saharan Africa. They are vital for quality education; they raise literacy levels, provide information and underpin development. The books help children learn, students increase their knowledge and adults improve their skills. Books really do have the power to help people change their own lives for the better. The books go to libraries, so they are accessible to all.' This week's News Review looks at the work of an amazing book charity.
  • 'This article in the Guardian, Are books getting longer, shows that in both commercial bestseller lists and literary lists (measured by Booker Prize winners), the books that feature are tending to get longer. But this goes against a number of trends which you would expect to be pushing readers in the opposite direction...' News Review on Big books in demand.
  • 'Lizzie Kremer's amusing article about being a nerd, which we link to this week, disguises a greater truth about agents, which is that behind the showmanship and flair that many of the better-known and possibly more successful ones show there is a great deal of attention paid to the detail of their clients' affairs, particularly their royalty statements and subsidiary rights sales...'
  • 'The news from the independent publishing sector is good. The UK Independent Publishers Guild has just published its first report into the independent sector in the UK. What it shows is a thriving picture, with 600 independent publishers and just 15% of the respondents saying that their business is contracting...' Our News Review looks at good news from indie publishers.
  • 'The fuss that's been sparked off by the recent publication of Philip Henscher's selection of short Stories in The Penguin Book of the British Short Story suggests that short stories may be achieving more traction and visibility than they did even a few years ago. The 90 short stories included in the two volumes come from the eighteenth century (Daniel Defoe) up to the present day (Zadie Smith). Henscher trawled trough thousands of short stories by hundreds of writers. Top authors such as Rose Tremain, Julian Barnes and William Boyd, surprisingly, didn't make the cut...'
  • 'The recent Digital Census 2015 revealed some surprises in the responses. In the book trade in general there's been much talk of a slowdown and reversal in the speed of ebook adoption, accompanied by a revival in the fortunes of print. So what exactly did the Census reveal? Digital Census has plenty of surprises...'


  • ‘Growing up in Zimbabwe was a great adventure, but I didn't see it as such. I spent my entire childhood in Africa. I couldn't have written The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, which are set in Botswana, without the affection that gave me. If I'm working at full tilt, I'll write 3,000 to 4,000 words in a day. It just comes to me. I break the rules: you're only supposed to write one book a year or every two years. (this year he has published six.)' Alexander McCall Smith in the Sunday Telegraph's Stella provides this week's Comment.
  • 'I've written poems as long as I've been able to write - obviously, since long before blogging existed. It's about language for me, and the play of light, if you will, on an idea or a feeling or something so inchoate you can only make it flesh in the form of a poem. It's like gathering smoke together and giving it embodiment in the form of words. A poem is like a little miracle...' Katy Evans-Bush, the author of the Baroque in Hackney

    Katy Evans-Bush's elegant blog about poetry, arts and culture, which has become a must-read for many.

    blog, talks about her collection of essays Forgive the Language: Essays on Poets and Poetry, and provides our Comment.
  • Our Comment is from Robert Harris, author of Dictator, Pompeii and many other historical novels, in the Bookseller: ‘I wouldn't have gone back to the period, if I hadn't felt it had something to say to us. You have a double benefit (when you write a historical novel): you re-create that world for the reader, yet at the same time it's a commentary on our own time: whatever you select to write is inevitably trying to hold up a mirror to our own age, whether consciously or unconsciously...'
  • ‘Short story is a terrible term, I much prefer the French term conte. I looked up the word "short" in the OED, and it is almost always used pejoratively. Short stories are nearer poetry than anything...' Jane Gardam, whose 10th short story collection The Stories recently won the Charleston-Chichester Award for a Lifetime's Excellence in' Short Fiction
  • ‘It is a mark of the importance that still attaches itself to biography as an art form that practically every example of it that appears in a publisher's catalogue tends to cause offence to someone... All this raises the associated questions: who is the biographer writing for, and to whom is he or she ultimately responsible? If the answer to the first question hangs tantalisingly out of reach, the second's answer is "the subject". D J Taylor in the Independent on Sunday provides this week's Comment.
  • 'Well, I wrote one and nobody wanted it. I wrote a second and nobody wanted it. I wrote the third and nobody wanted it. And then I went back to the newspaper to see if I could get a job. I thought, you've really failed. Like usual. Loser, loser, loser...' Patricia Cornwell, whose latest book is Depraved Heart, in the Observer magazine provides our Comment, Becoming a writer, the hard way.


'No poet, no artist of any art has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.'

T S Eliot



Links to this month's top stories

Our 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:

Sophie Hannah: ‘There are people who think a crime novel can't be proper literature... that's a shame for them' | Books | The Guardian

A message to FutureBook from Author Day | The Bookseller

How do we stop UK publishing being so posh and white? | Books | The Guardian

'Our main responsibility is to our authors' | The Bookseller

Kwani Literary Festival in Nairobi Showcases African Authors

BookBrunch - Support from a procrastination of writers

When Popular Fiction Isn't Popular: Genre, Literary, and the Myths of Popularity | Electric Literature

Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch on the Future of Publishing - WSJ

The big question: are books getting longer? | Books | The Guardian

Authors need to 'engage' in the publishing process | The Bookseller

The Secret History of One Hundred Years of Solitude | Vanity Fair

Knausgaard Writes Like a Woman ‹ Literary Hub

Sailing boats

Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award | Literary Review

Does Anne Frank Copyright Extension Rewrite History? - Publishing Perspectives

The Indie Authors' Guide to Self-Publishing Art Books

Hi, I'm Lizzy, I'll be your nerd today: The detail of publishing | Publishing for Humans

A manifesto for new formats | The Bookseller

Forget Binge-Watching, Try Encouraging Binge-Reading

Guardian first book award 2015 goes to poet Andrew McMillan | Books | The Guardian

If you enjoyed a good book and you're a woman, the critics think you're wrong | Jennifer Weiner | Comment is free | The Guardian

Loved the Novel About a Girl on a Train? You May Have Read the Wrong Book - WSJ

BookBrunch - China and the second child

A manifesto for the open book | The Bookseller

5 Ways to Use Instagram as an Author | Jane Friedman

BBC Launches Campaign Promoting Reading - Publishing Perspectives

Microsoft gets into sci-fi publishing with research-inspired short stories | PCWorld

Bad sex in fiction award 2015: Morrissey goes head to head with Erica Jong | Books | The Guardian

Web Poets' Society: New Breed Succeeds in Taking Verse Viral - The New York Times

The Ultimate Guide To Getting Published In A Literary Magazine

Data Encryption, Cryptography are Keys to the Future of the Book - Publishing Perspectives

PW Talks with Global Kids Connect Speaker Ginger Clark

Writers on the pain of hindsight in publishing: 'It's like a bad breakup - you have to move on' | Books | The Guardian

Bastei Lübbe Targets Millennials With New Mobile Platform - Publishing Perspectives

With First Female President, PEN International Looks to the Future - Publishing Perspectives

What Do Writers Owe Readers? ‹ Literary Hub

BookBrunch - Publishing 2020: the next five years

BookBrunch - Taking stock: literature in translation

BookBrunch - Reproducing the inner voice

JK Rowling: I'm writing a children's book under my own name - Telegraph


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. This this page provides 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'

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 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.

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

There were no new Writing Opportunities this month.

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.