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July 2018 - Writers Magazine


News Review

  • Amazon's latest figures are astounding and cement its dominance of the book business, particularly self-publishing, as well as the huge inroads it is making in many other areas. Operating income for the second quarter increased from $628 million in the 2nd quarter of 2017 to $3 billion, whilst net income jumped from $197 million to $2.5 billion...'
  • '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...'


  • ‘Publishing is all about taste. You have other things, but at the centre of everything you do is your taste - and your trust in your taste and your judgement... It's such a difficult job - you need to have the big picture and the detail. An editor who is just an editor thinks only about the text and creating a marvellous book and handing it over - whereas one who is also a publisher has a 360 degree view on a book and they are the engine that drives a book and they get involved in all aspects, particularly publicity...' Alexandra Pringle, editor-in-chief, Bloomsbury Publishing, in Bookbrunch.
  • ‘You must dedicate yourself to keeping a journal. When I look into my own journals, what fascinates me most about what was going on in my life 30 years ago are the things that we would consider the most mundane. What was I reading, who was I talking to, what were the main subjects of conversation...' Ian McEwan, author of 22 books including The Child in Time, Amsterdam and Atonement in an interview in Signature.
  • ‘A bestseller might be read by hundreds of thousands of people, but Apple Tree Yard on TV reached 8 million people per episode - one of the few occasions when an author can become part of the national conversation. But writing a good book on its own is not enough - it needs to be a lucky book. Apple Tree Yard was a lucky book, lucky on several levels. Lucky in being published by Faber & Faber, who did the most amazing job even before the glamour of TV. Then it was lucky again as the rights were optioned by Kudos TV and lucky a third time when they sold the adaptation in a brilliant version by Amanda Coe to BBC1...' Louise Doughty, author of Apple Tree Yard, Black Water and six other novels provides our Comment in a speech at the UK Publishers Association Summer Reception in the Terrace Pavilion in the House of Commons, London.
  • ‘Revision is absolutely necessary. If something is easily too good to alter, thank the gods, but don't expect it to happen again. Expect, rather, that you will need to improve upon the given, to continue the imperfect formation that your initial work has produced. Which is, after all, what making the poem is all about - to take the passion and, without cooling it, to put it into a form...' Mary Oliver, from Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse. This Pulitzer Prize-winning poet has also produced four books of poetry and Devotions, a definitive collection of her work.
  • ‘You don't necessarily choose the books you write; they choose you, in a way. Sometimes one arrives when you are least expecting it, a bit like an unplanned pregnancy. This book was very much like that. But I had huge trepidations about publishing it. I only let my publisher give me a £1 advance in case I changed my mind...' Our Comment this week is about 'A memoir that didn't fleece the people I love' and is from Maggie O'Farrell writing about her latest book, I Am. I Am. I Am in the Observer. Her seven novels include The Hand That First Held Mine and This Must Be the Place.
  • ‘I got insomnia because I was so freaked out. Everyone else was delighted for me but it was destabilising. My friends had to process the success for me. I didn't realise writing was not the final stage. You hope the book speaks for you - you write because you want to make sense of the world through your books, so to have to be the representative of it was challenging... When I started writing it was like I didn't need to ask permission. Unconsciously perhaps, the roles I created in The Miniaturist were dream roles I wanted to play...' Jessie Burton, author of the bestsellers The Miniaturist and The Muse, in the Evening Standard.
  • 'My greatest fear is of suddenly feeling that to devote so much of my life to writing is meaningless. It's a sensation that I've felt very often, and I'm afraid that I will again. I need a lot of determination, a stubborn, passionate adherence to the page, not to feel the urgency of other things to do, a more active way of spending my life. So yes, I'm fragile. It's all too easy for me to notice the other things and feel guilty...' Elena Ferrante, author of My Brilliant Friend and four other Neapolitan Novels in the Los Angeles Times.
'People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?' I say, they don't really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they're gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.'

R L Stine

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:

How do I get my book published? You asked Google - here's the answer | Katy Guest | Opinion | The Guardian

No, you probably don't have a book in you | The Outline

Imaginary History: PW Talks With George R.R. Martin

Publishing Industry Scams Are Evolving For The Self-Publishing Age

Do Great Writers Really Steal? On Plagiarism and Publishing | Literary Hub

At PRH, Producing a Publishing Powerhouse

Amazon's Kindle Unlimited Is a Boon for Some Authors - The Atlantic

50 Years Ago, Kingsley Amis Had a Midlife Crisis and Turned to James Bond for Help - The Millions

British publishing breaks revenue records but textbook sales are hit | The Bookseller

Book sales boom but authors report shrinking incomes | Books | The Guardian

Reading books is on the decline

How to Create Your Best Blogging Year - How to Blog a Book

How to Write for Children and the Writer's Responsibility to All Readers - Brain Pickings

How to Self-Publish a Poetry Book - 10 Steps | Blurb Blog

How young writers are leading a poetry comeback | PBS NewsHour

Academic publishing is broken. Here's how to redesign it

Author Income Surveys Are Misleading and Flawed-And Focus on the Wrong Message for Writers | Jane Friedman

Films based on books take 44% more at the box office | The Bookseller

Sharp Objects writer Gillian Flynn on why she wants to show recognisable women - BBC News

On Semicolons and the Rules of Writing - The Millions

Print Unit Sales Rose 2% in First Half of 2018

The Changing Face of Romance Novels - The New York Times

Changing Genres | Samantha Tonge

Why is publishing suddenly obsessed with "rebel" women?

Payments to authors: advances and discount clauses

Writers and publishers trade blows over plummeting author pay levels | Books | The Guardian

Ask the Editor: Writing Dialogue

C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, & Edmund Wilson on The Lord of the Rings | Book Marks

Australian author goes from editing porn to publishing sensation

Authors' fury at website offering free book downloads | The Bookseller

The Man Booker at 50: flawed - but still the best way to judge our literature | Books | The Guardian

Kenyan writer Onjerika scoops £10,000 Caine Prize | The Bookseller

Brain function

10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Published Author - M. Shannon Hernandez

‘It is like being on psychedelic drugs': Benjamin Myers on the strange world of literary prizes | Books | The Guardian

ALCS survey finds 15% drop in average author earnings since 2013 | The Bookseller

Publishers are paying writers a pittance, say bestselling authors | Books | The Guardian

Neuroscience research shows audiobooks are more emotionally engaging than film or TV | The Bookseller

Drawn from life: why have novelists stopped making things up? | Books | The Guardian

The Way You Read Books Says A Lot About Your Intelligence, Here's Why

Future of books brighter in India than most parts of world: Publisher David Davidar - Times of India

Essential Writing Advice from Virginia Woolf | Literary Hub

Oxford English Dictionary hunts for regional words | The Bookseller

Stephen King: Master of Almost All the Genres Except "Literary" | Literary Hub

AuthorEarnings Debunks Industry Lies Surrounding SciFi, Fantasy

Words-to-be-read are losing ground to words-to-be-heard, a new stage of digital content evolution | The Idea Logical Company

Dana Schwartz: Writing a Book Did Not Change My Life | Literary Hub

Carnegie medal winner slams children's book publishers for ‘accessible' prose | Books | The Guardian

Vida report: 'Dangerous lens' of male bias remains in literary criticism | The Bookseller

An Exclusive New Column Series: Richard Charkin on the Vocabulary of Publishing

Audio is publishing's new star as sales soar across genres | UK news | 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 latest new services, Translation editing and the Writer's edit. 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 Opportunities were the Manchester Poetry and Fiction Prizes 2018, The new Gingko Prize for Ecopoetry, Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2018 and the Winchester Poetry 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 6,000 pages on the site.