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March 2015 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'It's not the first time an author has ‘written' from beyond the grave (Virginia Andrews and Robert Ludlum come to mind) but the just-announced news that, 11 years on, a fourth book in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy will be published still strikes a cynical note...' This week's News Review looks at the announcement of the fourth book in Stieg Larsson's 'trilogy'.
  • Karen Joy Fowler in this week's Comment makes a totally fair point about the importance of enjoying your writing, and what makes some writers happy is writing a different kind of book each time. But is there any truth in the suggestion that writing similar books is the best way to build a successful writing career? The author as a brand is the subject of this week's News Review.
  • 'There's been a buzz this week around the question of authors getting paid to appear at festivals. In the UK they largely don't get paid, as they are seen as promoting their books and selling them as well. In fact many festivals get off lightly and even get the publishers to pay the authors' travel costs and accommodation. But do the book sales and publicity justify the work done by authors?...' Should writers be paid for festival appearances?
  • 'So what are the chances of the just-launched German online book retailer and e-reader, backed by bookstore chains Thalia, Weltbild and Hugendubel, Deutsche Telekom, and giant German publisher Bertelsmann, providing a real challenge to Amazon?' This week's News Review looks at what's happening - is it a challlenge to Amazon at last?
  • 'Do publishing imprints matter? The excellent article by Philip Jones, editor of the Bookseller, in this week's Futurebook, is an interesting examination of imprints and their importance within the publishing business. But it does seem that most authors will be indifferent to the imprint and in a way they're right...'
  • '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?


  • 'My belief is that it's all about story and that's not shared by other writers necessarily. Story is the best vehicle to understand anything and that's what makes human beings unique. We make sense of the world by telling stories. I've become firmly of the belief that plotting and the narrative is primary and then anything else - style, tone, dialogue - comes second...' James Graham, playwright and scriptwriter, whose This House was a smash success at the National Theatre in London and whose Coalition was on TV last week, in the Observer.
  • ‘I have many feelings about literary awards and they are all tangled together. In general, I like them. I am often pleased, but occasionally outraged, by a particular choice. It's a thoroughly pleasurable kind of outrage though, because the conversation is all about books and takes place among people to whom books matter. Of course, the whole enterprise of declaring one book better than all the others is instantly untenable. But I'm glad that people try. Glad and grateful...' Karen Jay Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, in the Independent on Sunday.
  • ‘Speaking as a writer of genre fiction, there are few sentences that cause more irritation than "these books transcend genre", but if it has any meaning at all, it is this: because of that obvious interconnectedness between the world we inhabit and the world Pratchett invented, the Discworld novels found a readership that stretches well beyond people who would consider themselves fans of fantasy fiction. I always read - and sometimes reread - Pratchett on book tours. They are the perfect antidote to being alone and far from home... Val McDermid on Terry Pratchet
  • ‘He tended to make light of his work. He didn't like to talk about it and there was nothing of the pained artist about him. The archive shows that in fact he was absolutely painstaking. The archive shows the honing process, the hard graft of writing...' Amanda Conquy, director of the Dahl estate, on Roald Dahl's approach to writing.
  • ‘Just because you write a poem, it doesn't mean you have to publish it. If I'm just writing because I happen to have had an idea, I'm completely free to write it, fiddle around with it, take as long as I like, and then I can decide quite a long time afterwards what I want to do with it. There's a freedom in that.' Wendy Cope, author of Family Values and Life, Love and the Archers, in the Observer magazine.
  • ‘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


'Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.'

Jane Yolen


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:

Why modern fiction has turned its back on friendship | Books | The Guardian

Grégoire Solotareff on Writing Books for Very Young Readers

To Automate or Not to Automate the Rights Business? - Publishing Perspectives

Sarah Ardizzone on Translating Two Worlds: Children's and Adult's

JK Rowling reveals frustrations over manuscript rejections | Herald Scotland

Median author advance under £6,600 | The Bookseller

Asking whether Amazon is friend or foe is a simple question that is complicated to answer - The Shatzkin Files The Shatzkin Files

BookBrunch - No work being done

How to rebuild a publishing business | The Bookseller

5 Tips for Online Book Marketing Today

Hodderscape relaunch and open submissions | The Bookseller

Total BooX: Ebooks for the Way the 21st-Century Reader Reads

The death of writing? Not again - LA Times

The Last Holdouts of the Genre Wars: on Kazuo Ishiguro, Ursula K. Le Guin, and the Misuse of Labels

Self-publishing lets women break book industry's glass ceiling, survey finds | Books | The Guardian

Authors 'more committed to agent than publisher' | The Bookseller

BookBrunch - Beware of pity

SHORTLISTED POETS 2015 | The Brunel University African Poetry Prize

Douglas Adams made me a writer: Neil Gaiman salutes his friend and inspiration | Books | The Guardian

Want to Profit as an Author? Think About Sponsorships

Indie Authors Are to Blame for Lack of Meaningful e-Book Data

The Rise of the Nameless Narrator - The New Yorker

Sorry, Ebooks. These 9 Studies Show Why Print Is Better

Germany launches an Amazon competitor » MobyLives

Why Writers Need to Know the Publishing Business

50 Shades of Copyright Infringement?

Why all writers are vain | Books | The Guardian

Perfect balance

Kickstarter on How to Pay Writers

The imprint of meaningful things | The Bookseller

African Publishing Through African Eyes - Publishing Perspectives

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

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

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 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book title of the Year

Here's the amazing shortlist for the 2015 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book of the Year, of which the originator, the Bookseller's diarist Horace Bent said: "This is one of strongest years I have seen in more than three decades of administering the prize, which highlights the crème de la crème of unintentionally nonsensical, absurd and downright head-scratching titles."

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...'

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.

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.