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January 2017 - Writers Magazine


News Review

  • Nielsen has just reported that ebook sales in the US declined a rather surprising 15% in 2016, as compared with 2015. There seem to have been two reasons for this... Most amazingly, hardback sales have overtaken ebook sales for the first time since 2012. If you look back to the early days of ebooks, this is a long way from the commonly-asserted prediction that ebooks would totally replace print books within five years! News Review reports on this and some good news from children's publishing.
  • Some nervousness has been expressed by authors and staff in the last few days about the impending purchase by Bertelsmann of part of the Pearson share of Penguin Random House, but is there really much reason to feel anxious about this?
  • The first major publishing news of the New Year has been the announcement that Pearson, having declared a profit warning because of change and volatility in the educational market and declining sales in higher education, is intending to offload its 47% stake in Penguin Random House - and its partner Bertelsmann is keen to acquire it.
  • Amongst the predictions springing up as we move into the new year, a hard figure is the most astonishing. The slowing-down of ebook sales is well-documented but it is quite startling that the first figure of 2017 is that the UK print market sold 195 million books in 2016, an increase of almost 7% on 2015, and volume increased by 4.5%. News Review on The publishing world as 2016 turns into 2017.
  • The power of authors to influence their publishers was shown this week when Penguin Random House UKPenguin Random House have more than 50 creative and autonomous imprints, publishing the very best books for all audiences, covering fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, autobiographies and much more. Click for Random House UK Publishers References listing, which was formed four years ago when Penguin and Random House merged to form the biggest international trade publisher with turnover of £2.4bn, had to climb down after announcing that it had terminated its formal relationship with Unite and the National Union of JournalistsRepresents British journalists and photographers. Has a useful list of links to media resources. site links to a NUJ freelance fees site.
  • Poetry is not often the focus of attention, but this week we've chosen to feature two links to substantial articles which look at the state of poetry and how poets can be supported, from different sides of the Atlantic. Both are worth reading by anyone who is concerned about the state of the poetry world.


  • "I've never had writer's block yet, which I attribute, not just to luck, but also to my technique. I would advise anyone looking to ward-off writer's block to start writing something else, a completely different project. I'm always working on about six different projects at various stages of development, so if I don't feel like working on one I just turn to another. Basically, monogamy is hard, in writing as in life!" Our Comment is from Emma Donoghue, author of Room, and of the screenplay for the film, which has just been released.
  • ‘She probably went too far in putting out a fake autobiography. Which is like an invitation: expose me.' (referring to Frantumaglia, which is about to be published in English - not an autobiography as such, but a collection of letters, essays, interviews and the like.) "But she's not committed a crime. Nor do I feel that she was a bad person to write under a pseudonym..' Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale and Maddaddam on Elena Ferrante in the Guardian provides this week's Comment.
  • 'As an editor, I'm often asked what sorts of books I am looking for, and my answer is invariably the same. Whether it's crime or fantasy or women's fiction, I am looking for one thing: someone who knows how to tell a story. It should be a story that asks questions of the reader; that takes us from our known world and plunges us into another; it should be filled with believable characters who we care about; and it should have a narrative with a beginning, middle and an end that draws all the different strands together in a satisfying way...' Selina Walker, Publisher of Century and Arrow at Penguin Random House UK provides this week's Comment.
  • ‘I never felt like I was getting at the truth. I wanted to be told the truth. So when I write for young people I write for the young person I was. And it's only now that I find I have a lot of compassion for that kid and the things that he was worrying about. I was a really anxious kid, and I just needed someone to talk to about it, and nobody would...' Our Comment comes from Patrick Ness, author of A Monster Calls (just released as a film for which he wrote the screenplay), Chaos Walking and Class (a BBC series).
  • 'I wrote just three chapters to start with and sent them to ten agents. I received nine rejection letter in quick succession, but then the tenth letter arrived and it was an agent wanting to see the complete book. That changed everything. I moved in with my boyfriend to save on rent, took a part-time job and began writing two-and-a-half days a week...' Lisa Jewell, author of Ralph's Party, I Found You and ten other novels in our Comment column.
  • 'The agent works for the writer. He's the writer's interpreter, business adviser, and ideally the stable element in the writer's life - always available at the end of the phone, always ready to read and respond. The agent is the gardener on an author's estate. A writer is like a convict, spending a good part of their time in solitary confinement. So the writer is idiosyncratic, a-socialized, isolated, insecure...' Andrew Wylie, aka ‘The Jackal', of The Wylie Agency, speaking at the Guadalajara International Book Fair, provides this week's Comment on the role of the literary agent.


‘You need to commit to a time to write. If you don't commit to your writing, who's going to commit to you?'

Val McDermid


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:

Ian Rankin: There's Nothing Crime Fiction Can't Do | Literary Hub

Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society 5 Ways to Make More Money from your Books in 2017

Sebastian Barry | 'It's terrifying, but fascinating that human groups have these impulses' | The Bookseller

Self-Publishing in 2017: The Year in Preview

How to Start a Story: 9 Tips From Our Editors • Reedsy Blog

An author reveals what it's (really) like to write a novel | Stylist Magazine

Buchi Emecheta, pioneering Nigerian novelist, dies aged 72 | Books | The Guardian

Agent Andrew Lownie Looks East to More Rights Activity

What Being an Editor Taught Me About Writing | Literary Hub

The Millions: Podcasts and Literary Criticism - The Millions

On Selling Your First Novel After 11 Years | Literary Hub

For me, traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way | Books | The Guardian

Jacob Polley: ‘If I'm writing a poem, I should be kept busy doing anything other than writing' | Books | The Guardian

Author Who Turns Classics Into Children's Books Is Sued - The New York Times

Digital Book World Asks: What Do the Readers and the Gatekeepers Want? - Publishing Trends

5 Things Psychology Can Teach Writers - WRITERS HELPING WRITERS®

Books on the Go in Ethiopia: What Keeps Addis Ababa Reading

Blue brain

This year's biggest book adaptations - and which ones are worth reading first | Books | The Guardian

Tips for aspiring writers from a successful indie author

A Few Questions for Poetry - The New York Times

Indie Author Predictions for 2017 - BookSparks

2016 TS Eliot prize won by Jacob Polley's 'firecracker of a book' | Books | The Guardian

Stressing 'an African Sensibility,' Etisalat Prize Announces Shortlist

The rise of Chinese sci-fi: Part 1 | Asia Times

Notable Literary Deaths in 2016 | Literary Hub

The State of Flash Fiction

On eve of Costa awards, experts warn that top books prizes are harming fiction | Books | The Guardian

Revisiting My 2016 Predictions for the Book Publishing Industry - DBW

The Rise of Science Fiction from Pulp Mags to Cyberpunk

2016 - a year of celebrating women writers | Books | The Guardian

The future is digital book discovery, not distracting gimmicks | The Bookseller

Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society - The Price Still Ain't Right

Why Are Amazon and KDP So Weird? | Digital Book World

Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society - Oh Canada! How Not to Reform Copyright

It Takes 16 People Working Full Time to Publish All of James Patterson's Books

James Patterson Has a Big Plan for Small Books - The New York Times

Your chance to become a novelist! The winner gets a book deal with £20k advance! | Daily Mail Online

9 Reasons To Index-Card Your Manuscript | You Write Fiction

How Publishers and 'Hybrid' Authors Are Working Together | Digital Book World

BookBrunch - Poetry, and the rest is noise: An interview with Jenny Swann from Candlestick Press

Moneyball for Book Publishers: A Detailed Look at How We Read - The New York Times

Why Podcasts Like 'Serial' Are Helping English Teachers Encourage Literacy - The Atlantic

Too Naked For the Nazis claims 38th Diagram Prize | The Bookseller

Wendy's Writing Now: Out of the Slush Pile - How I Found My Agent

What Big Publishing Consolidation Means for Authors

At What Point Does a Novel Become Literature? | Mental Floss UK


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 page provides links to the huge number of useful articles on this site, including Finding an Agent, Your Submission Package and Making Submissions.

The Writer's edit is our top-level new service for writers who want line-editing as well as copy editing. Does your manuscript need high-level input from an editor to help you get it into the best possible shape for submission or self-publishing? This may be the service for you, offering the kind of editing which publishers' senior editors used to do in-house on their authors' manuscripts and which is now hard to find.

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.

A New Approach to Discovering Your True Writer's Voice

Authenticity is a high priority for most of us who write. As creative souls with a message to share or a story to tell, we aim to come up with original ideas and find the most genuine words to express them to inspire the hearts and minds of our readers...' Our latest article from Julia McCutchenJulia McCutchen is an intuitive creator, writer and mentor who guides people to share their unique gifts through creating, writing and living from a conscious and vibrant connection to Truth. A former international publisher, Julia experienced a life-changing accident in 1999 which triggered a series of major quantum leaps in her spiritual awakening. She subsequently developed a tried and tested holistic approach to access the present and aligned state required for original creative expression in all areas of life, especially writing. She is the founder and creative director of the International Association of Conscious & Creative Writers (IACCW) and the author of two books including, Conscious Writing: Discover Your True Voice Through Mindfulness and More (Hay House). For more information and a free video series visit and is a follow-up to her Conscious Writing.

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

Our new Writing Opportunities this month were The Kindle UK Storyteller Award, the Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize 2016 and Pavilion Poetry's open submission. Current Writing Opportunities.

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 5,000 pages on the site.