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May 2015 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'If you're writing genre fiction, or planning to, it's important to understand what's working in the market and what's already out there. This is the sort of information you can only get by a close study of publishers' genre lists and by reading as many books in your chosen genre as you can...' News Review on Writing genre fiction.
  • Trends on ebooks show a backwards shift. Whilst in 2012 there was a rapid shift towards ebooks, this has now reversed itself in favour of print books. To some extent this seems to be because ebooks are losing their novelty, but there's a real change in buying patterns, particularly amongst heavy readers.
  • 'There's so much talk about the way self-publishing has changed publishing, but has it, really? There's plenty of evidence that, for the authors trying to get themselves taken on by a publisher, nothing much has changed...' Has self-publishing changed publishing? is this week's News Review
  • Independent London publishing house Atlantic has recently had a new managing director, Will Atkinson. He put forward the company's publishing philosophy very clearly in an article for Bookbrunch, which sadly is behind their paywall. It is possible however to quote what he says in his article, ‘Publishing culture and commerce'.
  • Good news on children's books - 'Recent figures from Nielsen BookscanUK bibliographic organisation, describing itself as 'the definitive retail monitoring service for books', which shows UK bestseller lists on its website. show that children's print books are doing well in eleven out of the twelve countries the research tracks, the exception being India. That means there's a real boom going on in children's books, heartening news for children's writers...' This week's News Review is entitled Children's print book sales booming.


  • 'For the perennial breed of poets, to be neglected is an occupational hazard. Most of us deserve it. Nobody says most plumbers deserve it, but plumbers have to deliver. It doesn't really matter whether a poet delivers or not. If poets don't come through with the goods, nobody will be affected except them...' Clive James, whose latest poetry collection is Sentenced to Life, in the Observer.
  • 'What I love about fantasy is that it is all about the world, and that world can be showcased in so many different ways, be it film, games, books or artwork. That's part of the reason fans feel so passionately about fantasy. There are already 35 fan fictions about the Summoner trilogy on Wattpad, for example.' Taran Mathan, author of just-published Summoner, Book One: The Novice, which has already attracted more than six million reads on Wattpad, in the Bookseller
  • ‘Yet a writer's life is not limited to the dramatic moment of first exposure or the excitement that greets the new work of the well-established. In particular, as suggested by the phrase "the difficult second novel", things can get tough after first publication. If your first book has gone like the clappers, you'll probably be feeling pressure, both self-generated and from expectant publishers...' Alex Clark provides this week's Comment on "The difficult second novel".
  • ‘In talking to other writers and getting a bit older and realising how it works, (I discovered) that the gestation period for a new book is very tender - it's like a new shoot, you can't expose it to the light too quickly or it might wither. You'll lose the impetus, you'll lose the belief in it.' Laura Barnett, whose three-pronged first novel, sold in 18 countries, is The Versions of Us, in the Bookseller
  • ‘We change whilst we are in the midst of writing a book. We change, and I dare say we become better people. A novelist is always wiser when inside a novel than when outside. Stories shape their storytellers as much as storytellers shape their stories...' This week's Comment is from Elif Shafak, author of The Architect's Apprentice and Turkey's bestselling female novelist, in the Observer.
  • Our Comment this week is by Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life, which has just won the Folio Prize: ‘If you write only the true things people get bored... ordinary life is shapeless... When I write, I'm here to use everything I can to make this a good book. It's not me expressing my inner soul. It is me using everything that I have, so I can tell this story...'


'Just how difficult it is to write biography can be reckoned by anybody who sits down and considers just how many people know the real truth about his or her love affairs.'

Rebecca West


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:

McEwan defends freedom of expression | The Bookseller

Richard Nash on the Democratization of Publishing

Krasznahorkai wins Man Booker International | The Bookseller

Publishing Leaders are Temporary Custodians of Their Houses

The Year of the Very Long Novel -- Vulture

The Next 'Gone Girl'? Meet the 6 NYC Book Scouts Most Likely to Find It - Hollywood Reporter

Is the self-publishing stigma fading? | Books | The Guardian

Man Booker International prize 2015: the finalists speak | Books | The Guardian

Authors debate digital-first publication | The Bookseller

Pillar 2

Royalties and industry image debated at PA a.g.m | The Bookseller

Why Dylan Thomas deserves his international Day | Books | The Guardian

The Changing Face of STM Publishing

BookBrunch - Ruth Rendell on Wexford, mad and bad people, and the vigilance of the writer

Why Companies Need Novelists | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

How fast does your e-book grow | The Bookseller

Self-Publishing Boom Boosts Freelance Editing Services | Mediashift | PBS

James Patterson, world's biggest-selling author, backs bookshops with donation

What if printed books went by ebook rules? | OUPblog

How to Find a Literary Agent for Your Book | Jane Friedman

Book Marketing Today: It's All About the Fans

Audiobook sales double in five years thanks to downloads and famous faces - Telegraph

Two dozen writers join Charlie Hebdo PEN award protest | Books | The Guardian

Girl, 8, strikes blow for equality over 'boys only' books | Books | The Guardian

Ask The Chefs: What is Editorial Independence and How Does It Impact Publishing? | The Scholarly Kitchen

'Huge inequality' in writer earnings | The Bookseller

Book Publishing's Digital Disruption Hasn't Even Started | Digital Book World

Jane Friedman on Open Road Media, Five Years After Launch

The businesses of books | The Bookseller

The Girl on the Train: how Paula Hawkins wrote ‘the new Gone Girl' | Books | The Guardian

When Will Publishers Learn? Direct to Consumer Doesn't Work

London Book Fair's Evolution Reflects Publishing's New Ecology

The civil war for books: where is the money going? - Spectator Blogs

From Potter to Tartt to Ferrante ‹ Literary Hub

This Is Your Brain on Podcasts: Why Audio Storytelling Is So Addictive - The Atlantic

Can you really make a living by selling used books on Amazon for a penny? | Books | The Guardian

Penguin Random House Might Not Understand the Subscription Market, But They're Getting Into It Anyway | Ink, Bits, & Pixels

Traditional books on paper open a new chapter of success | Books | The Guardian

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.

Top Free Contests for New Writers

From guest contributor Michael McPherson: 'Are you a talented writer who wants to get noticed? Then what better way to start your career than participating in writing contests? There are a lot of free online competitions for new writers from all over the world...' and here are five of them.

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.

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...'

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 2015 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.' Poetry and Pamphlet Prizes and the Biographer's club Tony Lothian Prize 2015.

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.