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April 2018 - Writers Magazine


News Review

  • 'The sale of Waterstones to activist hedge fund Elliott Advisers has been widely welcomed in the book trade and is very much in the interests of writers. Like Barnes & Noble in the US, the British bookstore chain occupies a key position in terms of chain bookselling. The difference is that Waterstones has benefited from having James Daunt in charge for a number of years and, although there have been painful cuts, not least to a level of management in the stores, Daunt's efforts have been widely admired by publishers and seen as enabling the bookshop sector to continue to benefit from being able to deal with one big chain of ‘proper' bookshops...'
  • 'There's good news in Bookbrunch about poetry sales coming from the UK, the market is up two-thirds since 2012. A 66% increase in poetry sales over the past five years has led to a million poetry books being sold with a total value of £1.1m. There has been a boom in poetry events and festivals, with increased interest in the work of living poets with strong online followings...'
  • 'This week's London Book Fair has been a buzzy and optimistic occasion, as publishers from around the world gathered to sell rights to the international market. Second only to the Frankfurt Book FairWorld's largest trade fair for books; held annually mid-October at Frankfurt Trade Fair, Germany; First three days exclusively for trade visitors; general public can attend last two., the LBF punches above its weight in terms of its usefulness to publishers...'
  • 'Bologna seems to have been a lively occasion as usual, with considerable interest in Middle Grade fiction and some reviving interest in YA too at the children's book fair. Picture books are still difficult but there is interest in talented new writers and illustrators. Bonnier's decision to close down its Australian children's publishing arm was a real shock...'
  • 'It's unusual to find a book chain boss who went into bookselling because he liked reading, but James Daunt, founder of Daunts bookshop chain in London, and CEO of the Waterstones chain in the UK, is that rare animal. Encouragingly, he still maintains that: "Books still work and always will".' Daunt on bookselling is this week's News Review.
  • The debate about ebooks goes on. But many writers will think that it's a debate which has been settled and doesn't need global publishers expressing a view - especially since in fact publishers have made a lot of money from ebook sales. But for indie publishers they are vital.
  • Last week's Harry Potter Book Day led Bloomsbury to release some amazing figures for the series, which have now exceeded 500 million copies sold worldwide. The figures take into account sales across all versions of the seven books in the series, which began with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1997, as well as three companion volumes
  • 'A story in the Bookseller, unfortunately behind the paywall, has provided encouragement for short story writers this week. Short story collections have sold 692,087 units or £5.88m in value in the UK during 2017. This is up 32% by volume and 45% by value over 2016...'


  • 'I discovered that if I trusted my subconscious, or imagination, whatever you want to call it, and if I made the characters as real and honest as I could, then no matter how complex the pattern being woven, my subconscious would find ways to tie it together - often doing things far more complicated and sophisticated than I could with brute conscious effort...' Tad Williams, author of 20 fantasy novels, including the Witchwood, Bobby Dollar and Shadowmarch series, and three short story collections.
  • 'For a long time, probably since 1988 when The Silence of the Lambs was published, the crime market was dominated by books about serial killers. I like a good serial-killer thriller, but, probably happily, I do not have one in me. Then Gone Girl changed the game. Psychological suspense is what I had studied and what I thought I would be able to write...' Daniel Mallory, who, under the pseudonym A J Finn, published his much-heralded debut crime novel The Woman in the Window after a career in crime publishing. Our Comment was in the Observer Magazine.
  • ‘When times are stressful and it looks like the bad is winning out over the good, along comes the genre of crime novels to put the balance back in life. People inherently don't like folks who do bad to get away with it...' David Baldacci, author of Absolute Power, Memory Man and The Fallen, in The Times.
  • 'The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them - words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away...' Stephen King, author of a large number of novels, including Carrie and The Dark Tower.
  • ‘I was given the audio versions of some Harry Potters, read by Stephen Fry, and realised I could match the sound of the words to their shape on the page... Once I heard those Harry Potter books, I could then memorise them. To this day, I know the first three pretty well perfectly...' Leo Carew, whose much-heralded fantasy first novel The Wolf has just been published by Headline and whose website features wild places he's visited, with fabulous photos. Our Comment, From dyspraxia to publication.
  • 'Becoming children's laureate has given me a voice. I'm determined to change the snobby attitude around picture books. Children's illustration is viewed as the poor relation to fine-art painting, yet it's children's first introduction to art and can have a profound effect on how they view the world. John Burningham's Granpa, which deals with the loss of a loved one, explains grief to a child far better than anything else...' Lauren Child, UK Children's Laureate and author of the Charlie and Lola picture books and the Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort novels in the Sunday Times magazine.
  • ‘Books begin to feel more and more like a new counter-culture. There seems a new power animating books that was absent for many years, and that has to do with the form. It's said that reality has outstripped fiction but I don't think that's true. We need fiction more than ever to define reality afresh...' Our Comment is from Richard Flanagan, author of The Narrow Road to the Deep South, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2014, First Person and four other novels, in the Bookseller.

From two-time Booker Prize winning Hilary Mantel in our Writers' Quotes:'The most helpful quality a writer can cultivate is self-confidence - arrogance, if you can manage it. You write to impose yourself on the world, and you have to believe in your own ability when the world shows no sign of agreeing with you.'


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:

5 questions aspiring authors should ask themselves now | The Bookseller

Sarah Perry on her struggle to become a writer: ‘I was poor and getting poorer' | Books | The Guardian

Children's book sales, home and away

How to Become a Bestseller with Money, Luck, or Work (Mostly Work) | Jane Friedman

Writers as readers, publishers as curators

Take it from me: never judge a book by the blurb on its cover | Emma Brockes | Opinion | The Guardian

Jojo Moyes: modern dating is a 'road of misery' - BBC News

An Algorithmic Investigation of the Highfalutin 'Poet Voice' - Atlas Obscura

Opinion - Publishing Monday, 23 April 2018

Publishing startups have the tech - what they need is the stories | The Bookseller

What You Need to Know to Create a Best-selling Book

Let's silence the creative writing course snobs | Books | The Guardian

Hanya Yanagihara: influential magazine editor by day, best-selling author by night | Books | The Guardian

Want to earn more as a book author? A male name will help

The age of Amazon: a closeup examination of Bezos's behemoth | Technology | The Guardian

The perfect crimes: why thrillers are leaving other books for dead | Books | The Guardian

No mystery crime is the biggest-selling genre in books | Sophie Hannah | Books | The Guardian

Why more authors are going audio-only - BBC News

With Fewer Debut Novels Selling, What Do Editors Want To Tell Authors?

After Dozens of Rejections, It Only Takes One Acceptance to Make a Writer | Literary Hub

British Book Publishers Fear Brexit Will Bring a U.S. Invasion - The New York Times

Same old story or a new chapter? The London Book Fair 2018 and what lies ahead for the UK's publishing industry as Brexit draws closer | City A.M

The poets' home: how one small, heroic publisher shaped modern poetry

Front door

The thriller writers who are making a killing with crime fiction - BBC News

How Self-Publishing Made Today's Small Independent Presses Possible

London Book Fair 2018: Publishing in the 'Mid-Digital' Age

Indie Authors Talk Editors

On the Rise - and Cost - of the African Novel in English | Literary Hub

There's no female conspiracy in publishing - your book might just not be good | Lauren Spieller | Books | The Guardian

The Billion-Dollar Romance Fiction Industry Has A Diversity Problem : NPR

10 Literary Diss Tracks | Literary Hub

The Year in Trump Novel Pitches: An Agent's Lament | Literary Hub

No Sympathy for Amazon | The New Republic

Going off Grid

European Children's Bookstore Conference: Internet-Generation Readers

Jay Bernard's ‘personal and brave' poetry wins Ted Hughes award | Books | The Guardian

The Writers' Roundtable: Fiction vs. Nonfiction

Writing: the dream verses the reality

Canceled Deals and Pulped Books, as the Publishing Industry Confronts Sexual Harassment - The New York Times

Top authors make mass call on Man Booker to drop American writers | Books | The Guardian

Bonnier's Five Mile bombshell fails to derail buoyant Bologna | The Bookseller

What I Earned (and How) During My First Year of Full-Time Freelancing | Jane Friedman

On Writing the Comics - and Queer Characters - We Need | Literary Hub

A free anthology collects stories from 2017's new sci-fi and fantasy writers - The Verge

Will Self: ‘The novel is absolutely doomed' | Books | The Guardian

Authors hit back at Self's claim 'the novel is doomed' | The Bookseller

How Self-Publishing Is Diversifying The Book World | Thrive Global

Gone Girl's gone, hello Eleanor Oliphant: why we're all reading 'up lit' | Books | The Guardian

3 Easy Cuts To Make When You Start Editing | Allison Maruska

Romance so white? Publishers grapple with race issues amid author protests | Books | The Guardian

Getting into writing - an interview with Jo Simmonds, editor of The Fiction Pool | Zeroflash

Deferred gratification is dead? Tell that to fans of serialised novels | Stephanie Merritt | Opinion | The Guardian

Complete fiction: why 'the short story renaissance' is a myth | 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 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.

WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing

In 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' fantastically useful WritersServices Self-publishing Guide there are ten articles, including What is Self-publishing? and Choose your self-publishing route.

Want to Be a Better Writer?

A new article from Jane Sandwood: 'We all know what makes for a good novel - an intriguing plot line, beautiful language, a cast of inimitable characters, and always, a shocking twist. As a writer, you are probably conscious of all the ways you can keep your reader reading, but what about your own reading? Many writers can make the mistake of not reading - in general, and in the particular genre or market they wish to enter into with their own book...'

Literary magazines with one week's response time

Sandeep Kumar Mishra's useful list, uniquely available on 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 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...'

Writing Opportunities

Our Writing Opportunity ws the Bridport Prize 2018. 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.