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February 2015 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'Are things changing in terms of publishers accepting submissions or is the latest fashion for ‘open submissions' just a fashion? Big publishers abandoned what was rudely called ‘the slush pile' some years ago, so why are some imprints now having open submission periods, mostly of only two weeks or so?... News Review - Open submission - a fad or an opportunity?
  • 'Figures just released by the International Publishers Association show that Britain produces more books per capita than any other country in the world. Last year 184,000 titles were produced - the equivalent of 2,870 titles per million inhabitants when population is taken into account. These figures only cover books published by publishers and exclude self-published work, which might well change them substantially...' What about other countries?
  • Authors take the long view, publishers don't. 'Amazingly, it looks as if many authors are having a longer-term business outlook towards the publishing of their books than traditional publishers have managed to achieve. The latest update of the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer's Digest Author Survey, written up by Dana Beth Weinberg, shows some interesting results. Authors with publishers have higher expectations of their publishers - quite reasonably they expect them to deliver much more than they could do for themselves...'
  • 'So what are fiction editors looking for in 2015? A handful of British editors have contributed to a recent article in the Bookseller, speaking up for home-grown talent, strong debut novels and - perhaps surprisingly - books in translation...'


  • ‘I think my most stunning failure was that I managed to get a U in my English O level. I was devastated. I cried on my way home, because I thought the one thing I wanted to do, the one dream I'd always had, the one glimmer of hope I could hold on to, had been taken away from me. I wanted to be a writer but I'd blown it...'Our Comment this week is from Tony Schumacher, author of The Darkest Hour, in the Observer magazine.
  • 'I began my writing career with short stories. I was happy to do so. Then, somewhat to my surprise, I wrote a novel, then another, and another. Short stories meanwhile deserted me - or perhaps I deserted them. I put it in that rather ashamed way because I have no sense of the short story being an inferior form only leading to novels. Both forms seem to me equally rich and viable. Much is made of their differences when actually they have a great deal in common...' Graham Swift, author of Last Orders and England and Other Stories in the Independent on Sunday
  • 'When I wrote Before I go to Sleep, I was in a blissful state of being disconnected from anybody else - I wrote it with the hope I could finish it, first of all, and then with the hope that somebody else might like it. But I was writing Second Life knowing that I had editors all over the world that were eager for it. There was a sense of pressure in getting it right. But ultimately I realised I had to just write a book that I loved...' S J Watson, author of Before I go to Sleep and Second Life, in the Observer.
  • 'As I write, it is 5.30pm on a wet Wednesday afternoon, and so far today I have talked once, to my wife, about which of us is going to take our youngest son to football training. I appreciate how lucky I am in my work. I am able to support myself and my family through my writing. I can watch as many YouTube clips as I want. My lunch hour is when my stomach tells me it should be. But on a normal working day, things are very, very quiet around here... Nick Hornby, author of About a Boy and Funny Girl, in the Sunday Times magazine, quoted in our Comment column, in a piece entitled Screenwriting - a collaborative endeavour...'


‘At times of crisis or distress, it's poems that people turn to. (Poetry) still has a power to speak to people's feelings, maybe in a way that fiction, because it works in a longer way, can't. There's a little bit of your brain that mourns and grieves that you're not writing poetry, but actually as long as I'm writing something, I'm happy.'

Blake Morrison, whose Shingle Street is just published


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:

In The Hothouse Of Publishing, Our Terminology May Need Pruning | Thought Catalog

Just 54% of Americans Read a Book Last Year, says NEA - Publishing Perspectives

Is Book Reviewing a Public Service or an Art? - Explains Why Novellas Are The Future Of Publishing

Why Reading On A Screen Is Bad For Critical Thinking | Naomi S. Baron

Our Ebooks, Ourselves: What's Happening with Our Ereader Data? - Publishing Trends

Literary Hub Is a New Home for Book Lovers - WSJ

Amazon, the greedy giant with small publishers in its grip | Books | The Guardian

Reading for pleasure boosts self-esteem | The Bookseller

Mylibreto: Spanish Start-up Offers Social Analytics Tool - Publishing Perspectives

The Australian Insults Colleen McCullough in Obit, Inciting Ire

So You Want to Be a Famous Self-Published Author?

The Millions : A Future for Books Online: Tumblr's Reblog Book Club

Jaipur BookMark Estimates Indian Publishing Worth $20bn

Perfect balance

Authors Playing the Long-Game in Tough Book Market, Survey Finds | Digital Book World

Orpheus creates online encyclopedia for children | The Bookseller

Amazon Not as Unstoppable as It Might Appear -

Flexible and digitised, our libraries have a bright future - Telegraph

Forget Your Preconceptions About Teenagers and Reading

Book Marketing (Still) Starts and Ends with the Website | Digital Book World

Amazon goes head to head with Wattpad in battle for fanfic writers | Books | The Guardian

Should You Hire a Professional Book Publicist? - Publishing Perspectives

James Daunt: the man who saved Waterstones - ES Magazine - Life & Style - London Evening Standard

How Much Can You Fake in Publishing?

Andrew Keen's dark web | The Bookseller research papers made freely shareable | 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 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.

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. It's worth considering going along to any book fair within reach, to find out how the book trade operates and take advantage of new programmes for self-publishers.

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. I'd always had a feeling that if life ever did allow me a clear run at creative writing, I might just be able to do something with it. 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. Having spent four years writing the book she was quite overwhelmed by its reception, the competition to represent her and then the eleven-publisher auction at the 2013 London Book Fair...'

Which report?

A new page 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 amd why it's important for all authors, particularly self-publishing ones.

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...'

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.

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. 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.

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...' Copy editing for self-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 BBC Young Writers' Award amd 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.' Short Story 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.