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September 2017 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'Should you do what your editor says? And, if you feel uncomfortable, how can you find another editor? Or will you submit through an online organisation which is bypassing editors? The tech solution abandons the editor's input in the book selection process, using instead readers' votes to decide what to publish...'
  • Next Thursday, 28 September, is National Poetry Day in the UK and a good template of how a national celebration for poetry can achieve real reach. The BBC, schools, poets, publishers, bookshops and readers are uniting to bring about a real celebration of poetry. Poets in particular will be very much in evidence, with a mass of events and school visits to celebrate the day.
  • Mixed fortunes for world's 50 largest publishers are shown in a recent report but more recent figures for US audio downloads show that they have been booming. News Review looks at some recent figures.
  • Authors' services for writers have been in the news lately, with an article in Goodreader last week, Driving Down the Price of Publishing, showing how competitive the market has become. But what should writers be looking for when they shop around for copy editing or other editorial services? Authors' services and what you should be looking for.
  • Two recent developments highlight what's happening to book reviewing and coverage. The New York Times' celebrated and influential bestseller lists have been the focus of controversy this week, with accusations that an author has been trying to get her book to the top of the lists. In the UK, crowdingfunding publisher Unbound has become so concerned about the lack of newspaper reviews that it is launching its own literary magazine.
  • The Australian Society of AuthorsWell-designed site with a lot of useful content, including List of Publications, Getting Published and list of Australian agents. has launched a digital marketplace, designed to showcase and sell the work of authors and illustrators to publishers, agents and literary scouts worldwide. Meanwhile, should reading children's books be considered a guilty pleasure for adults?


  • 'Remember to never split an infinitive. The passive voice should never be used. Do not put statements in the negative form. Verbs have to agree with their subjects. Proofread carefully to see if you words out...' William Safire, author of Full Disclosure, Scandalmonger and a long-running column "On Language" for The New York Times Magazine. William Safire's Rules for Writers are still just as relevant as ever.
  • ‘Write for your audience. By that I mean don't create something that is unfathomable, self-indulgent dross then be surprised when nobody watches. You need to take your audience with you, to help them to understand the world you've created and the characters that inhabit that world. Let them see what your characters are striving for and give them a reason to care if they succeed or not...' Tony Jordan, whose scriptwriting credits include EastEnders, Life on Mars and Dickensian in The Times provides this week's Comment.
  • 'If you had asked me a decade ago, I'd have said there was a distinction between how we and the rest of the world valued short stories. There is, however, a difference between what booksellers think we want and what the reading public want... More than one million people tune in live - and that's not counting those who download it afterwards...' Di Speirs, BBC Radio's book editor, and long-time champion of the short story. The shortlist for this year's BBC National Short Story Award Is announced on 15 September with broadcasts of the 5 shortlisted stories the following week.
  • ‘There are things about writing that can be taught. I would say there are fewer people who want to read seriously now, and more people who want to write. But if you can use writing to get people reading, that is exciting... In the last few years I have come to feel that maybe in 50 years there won't be novels, that people won't have the attention for it. Then you feel it's like the last trace of a culture, like the Lascaux paintings or something...' Claire Messud, author of The Emperor's Children and just-published The Burning Girl, from the Observer.
  • ‘To begin with, the novelist does not rely on someone to give them a job. They can pick up their pen, or add to a document, whenever they like. They can squeeze it around the day job, the nappy changes, the school day, the boiling of potatoes. There's no immediate pressure to "get it right" as there is with an audition...' P K Lynch, author of just-published Wildest of All, provides this week's Comment Actor to writer in Bookbrunch.
  • 'When I begin a book, I think a lot, make a few notes, then start writing. I could never plot it out, chapter by chapter, as I'd go crazy with boredom. I don't know how creative writing students do so many drafts, I'd run screaming round the room, I usually do one draft, then tidy it up. It either works out or not. If not, I start something else...' Susan Hill, author of The Woman in Black and many other books in The Sunday Telegraph's Stella. Her new book Jacob's Room is Full of Books, is out in October 2017.


'I think a writer's job is to provoke questions. I like to think that if someone's read a book of mine, they've had - I don't know what - the literary equivalent of a shower. Something that would start them thinking in a slightly different way, perhaps. That's what I think writers are for.'

Doris Lessing

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:

The 5 Weirdest Lawsuits About Authors Stealing Ideas

How Books Designed for Soldiers' Pockets Changed Publishing Forever - Atlas Obscura

Inkitt, a ‘reader powered' book publisher, raises $3.9M to discover the next best-selling author | TechCrunch

Searching for My Mother, 16 Years After Her Murder | Literary Hub

Murray Hill calls for publishers to be 'agents of social change' | The Bookseller

Imagining the Future of Nigeria: Accessing Africa Through Sci-Fi | Literary Hub

The Hobbit at 80: much more than a childish prequel to The Lord of the Rings | Books | The Guardian

Ask the Editor: Working with an Editor

Why science-fiction writers couldn't imagine the internet

7 Writers Who Were Also Editors (And the Books They Edited) | Literary Hub

Milly Johnson condemns fraudulent sales on Amazon | The Bookseller

Americans Didn't Ruin the Man Booker Prize. Book Publishers Did. | New Republic

How Much Actual History Do You Need for a Historical Novel? | Literary Hub


ALCS | Poetry cornered

All the awards for young writers amount to discrimination | Joanna Walsh | Books | The Guardian

What's More Important: Author Websites or Social Media? | Jane Friedman

Why I'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years - The Atlantic

Man Booker shortlist gets mixed response, Mozley calls for more regional diversity | The Books

Has Britain's Man Booker Prize become too American? Yes. - The Washington Post

Crossing Over: Making Peace with Self-Publishing | HuffPost

Creating a Successful Book Tour: Five Tips From an Indie Author

The Pitfalls of Continuing a Series After Its Author's Death | Literary Hub

No, I Didn't 'Game' The New York Times Bestseller List | HuffPost

Steinbeck's Heir Wins Lawsuit - The New York Times

Hogwarts as Never-Never Land: Stephen King on The Goblet of Fire | Literary Hub

7 Habits You Need to Adopt if You Want to Write More

Authors question the novel's future in face of declining attention spans | The Bookseller

Amazon's Naggar tells publishers to slash e-book prices | The Bookseller

The arrival of Amazon and the future of Australian publishing | Pursuit by The University of Melbourne

Want Tips on Conducting Research for Your Project? #amwriting

5 things inspiring Digitalback Books' Gersy Ifeanyi Ejimofo right now | The Bookseller

Val McDermid: 'Even on a romantic holiday my thoughts turn to murrrder' | Books | The Guardian

14 Habits Of Highly Successful Authors | HuffPost

The Promise and Potential of Fan Fiction | The New Yorker

Driving Down the Price of Publishing

The 7 Writer Types You Should Avoid Becoming - Chicago Review of Books

Why We Should Stop Searching for the Next Gone Girl

Before Dylan, Tagore: on the erasure of Indian literature | Overland literary journal

Interview with Poet and Man Booker Prize judge, Helen Mort

The Long, Winding Path to One Debut Novel's Publication


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 Synopsis-writing 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. Our new services are Translation Editing and Writer's edit.

Fact to Fiction

Eleni Cotton's new article is about how she used her own family history as the basis for her novel set in Malawi: 'I had managed to remain fairly objective about the story but, quite suddenly, it hit me that these people I was writing about, whose lives I was describing, were my ancestors - the parents and grandparents of my own parents. For a while, this thought paralysed me. Feelings of loyalty and love strangled the blazing need to tell the story as it was...'

Literary magazines with one week's response time

Sandeep Kumar Mishra's useful list, recently added to the site. The magazines range from literary fiction to non-fiction and include science fiction and fantasy, popular non-fiction, politics, flash fiction, reviews, humour, social issues, the economy, lifestyle, horror, artwork and much more. If you've ever despaired at how long magazine submissions can take, this is the list you need.

Our services for writers

A recently created page lists all 20 editorial services offered by WritersServices, the widest range available on the web. Go straight to the service you're looking for.

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 service offers the kind of editing 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)

Have you got 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?" Or perhaps it's written in English but needs polishing? 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.

Our Inside Publishing series offers 19 articles offering an insider's perspective. On Copyright 'Many writers worry about losing their copyright. Before sending out your manuscript it is always advisable to put a copyright line consisting of the copyright sign ©, the year and your name on the title page...' On The Writer/Publisher Financial Relationship: 'There's no escaping the fact that publishers and authors are essentially in an adversarial position. Even in the very best and most supportive publisher/writer relationships there is the tension caused by the fact that authors would like to earn as much as possible from their writing and publishers to pay as little as they can get away with...'

Are you a self-publisher? 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. Effectively a self-publisher who goes ahead without copy editing is just publishing a manuscript, a work-in-progress which readers will react against because of all the errors. Copy editing for self-publishers.

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

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 there are ten articles, including No 9 dealing with  Marketing and Promotion for Indie authors: Online and No 10 dealing with Offline.

Writing Opportunities

Our Writing Opportunities were the Manchester Poetry and Fiction Prizes 2017 and 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.' Women's Novel Competition. 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.