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What's New in 2013

2013

30 December 2013 - What's new

December 2013
  • 'The latest self-publishing success story comes from the most unlikely place - France. Or perhaps it is not so surprising, since the French publishing world is known for its rigidity and for its success at fighting off change of any kind, leaving the literary establishment firmly in charge. But it is from this unpromising source that the latest publishing sensation has come, with the authors being two Strasbourg librarians and their girl magician heroine bearing a distinct relationship to Harry Potter. J K Rowling has been so phenomenally successful that all attempts to copy her have failed, but that these two authors have successfully come up with a female Potter magician who is far tougher than the original and offers something different...' News Review
  • Our links of the week: BookBrunch - Does book reviewing have a future? Mal Peet: "The Wheat and the Chaff" on children's writing, Entitle launches eBook Subscription Service with Over 100,000 Books and Report from 2013 International Publishers Association Conference | Publishing Perspectives.
  • Thinking about Self-publishing? Our site offers the fullest explanation and guide to what is involved, and a custom self-publishing service.
  • 'Once the world ends, all your worries about your mortgage and your job get shunted off to the sideline. We use genre fiction to tell us what we are; I think with all genre fiction, where it becomes great is when it is saying something about the world we are in...' Mike Carey, author of The Girl with All the Gifts in the Bookseller, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Inside Publishing is a nineteen-part series which helps you to find out what really goes on in publishing. From Advances and Royalties to The English language publishing world and from Subsidiary rights to the Writer/Publisher Financial Relationship, this series gives you the inside story.
  • Our Writing Opportunity this week is the Christopher Tower Poetry Competition 2014, open to all 16-18 year-olds who are in full or part time education in the UK and closing on 28 February.
  • Our listing of Writing Opportunities shows those which are currently still open, in ascending or descending date order, and it's also useful to see what's coming up in the way of annual competitions during during the year, so that you can plan what to enter.
  • ‘New media and new forms of buying and lending are all very interesting, for all kinds of reasons, but one principle remains unchanged: authors must be paid fairly for their work. Any arrangement that doesn't acknowledge that principle is a bad one, and needs to be changed. That is our whole argument.' Bestselling children's author Philip Pullman, in his capacity as President-elect of the UK Society of Authors, in our Writers' Quotes.  If quotes are your thing and you'd like to access our huge collection, try these pages: More Writers Quotes, Writers Quotes and Even More Writers Quotes.
  • Our December Magazine has just been published, providing an overview of the new material on the site in the last month.

23 December 2013 - What's new

December 2013
  • 'The world of big literary prizes has become much more complicated. It used to be just the Booker amongst English-language prizes which was of international interest, in spite of the fact that only UK and Commonwealth authors' books could be entered...' News Review
  • Book Aid International feels like it might be the right charity for writers to support - it sends books to sub-Saharan Africa, supporting access to books and developing literacy in some of the world's most needy countries. Last year it provided 548,018 new books to over 3,300 libraries and it has sent more than 30 million books to partner libraries since 1954. Through its ingenious Reverse Book Club you can stock a community library for £6 a month, whilst £10 a month will stock a hospital with a collection of life-saving books.'
  • 'I remember writing at the end of 2012 that whatever else 2013 brings, the only thing we can all rely on is that we'll know a little bit more by the end of the year than we knew heading into it. Digital does not move in a digital way. The year asked more questions that we knew we had to answer. There are constants. Readers still read, writers still write. Everything in-between these two poles is up for grabs, however. How readers will read, and the types of content they will want to read, are moveable items.' Philip Jones, Editor of the Bookseller, in Futurebook, quoted in our Comment column.
  • This week's Writing Opportunity is something different. Inspired by my Museum closes on 10 February and is open to writers over 16 from all over the world.
  • The eleven My Say contributions writers have sent us show an amazing range of views. Why don't you send us a short piece about your writig life and experiences to go on the site - we'd love to hear from you.
  • This week's links are a varied bunch: The best literary spats of 2013 | Books | The Guardian, Could subscription services help curb book piracy? - Telegraph, BBC News - Author Nick Spalding's top 10 self-publishing tips, Trident Media Group's Robert Gottlieb on Re-Engineering The Role of Literary Agents | Digital Book World and Report from 2013 International Publishers Association Conference | Publishing Perspectives.
  • 'At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, training himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance - that is to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. William Faulkner in our Writers' Quotes.

16 December 2013 - What's new

December 2013
  • 'The announcement that Gillian Flynn had been declared Specsavers International Author of the Year last week was only the latest accolade awarded to her. Flynn is an American author and former television critic for Entertainment Weekly. As of 2012, she has published three novels: Sharp Objects, Dark Places and Gone Girl. Her first two sold pretty well but not spectacularly and she really hit her stride with Gone Girl. Now published in 28 countries and with over two million copies sold worldwide, one million of them in the UK, it's fair to say that the continuing success of the book has surprised everyone, but it has a wide appeal to young and old, male and female...' Our latest Writers' Success Story and the rest.
  • A new site for short story writers and readers has recently launched. Yaktale is a place where writers can post their stories, after they have emailed with the request and sent a brief account of past work. Already existing writers on Yaktale have the ability to invite other writers onboard, but they only have a limited number of invites so they are encouraged to distribute them wisely. News Review
  • A good batch of links this week: HarperCollins CEO Paints Positive Picture for Publishing | Variety, Changing the Diet of American Readers | Publishing Perspectives, BookBrunch - History in the making, Sweden Shifting Away from Crime, While UK Hunts Sure Things | Publishing Perspectives and Amazon Publishing Launches Short Fiction Imprint.
  • Are you preparing your submission package for agents or publishers? Our page on Your Submission Package might be useful and there's also our Submission Critique service to help you get it right. If you already have a publisher but no agent, our Contract vetting service is an invaluable but inexpensive way to get some expert advice.
  • 'I treat it like a job. I like a nice long day. I can't work in bits and pieces, and I prefer not to work at evenings and weekends... The thing about writing a novel that's so funny is that there are perhaps just two or three moments of three minutes - those moments when you have the key ideas - and that's the whole book. Everything else is just filling the gaps. Of course there are moments of fun, but there's a lot that's just work, sometimes hard, sometimes dull...' Sarah Waters, author of The Little Stranger in the Observer, quoted in our Comment column.
  • From our Archive there's the serialisation of How Not to Write a Novel: Confessions of a Midlist Author by David Armstrong: 'Every week, agents and publishers receive hundreds of manuscripts from would-be authors. Of these, fewer than 1% will make it into print. David Armstrong was one of these, his first crime novel, Night's Black Agents, was plucked from the slush pile at a major publisher and published to acclaim. So far, so good. But what rapidly became clear to Armstrong was that being a published novelist is not always as glamorous as it seems from the outside...'
  • This week's Opportunity is not so much for writers as for illustrators. The 2014 Book Illustration Competition closes on 10 January. It is open to illustrators over the age of 18, both student and professional, with the winner receiving a Folio Society commission, and last year there were over 500 entries from across the globe.
  • 'It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.' W H Auden being rueful and accurate in our Writers' Quotes.

9 December 2013 - What's new

December 2013

2 December 2013 - What's new

December 2013
  • 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. Our new page looks at Copy editing for self-publishers.
  • Pan MacmillanOne of largest fiction and non-fiction book publishers in UK; includes imprints of Pan, Picador and Macmillan Children’s Books in the UK has just acquired Mary Wood, a self-published author of five historical sagas, taking on all five as well as two new books. Pan Macmillan will publish the novels in paperback and e-book throughout 2014 and 2015. The author's blog has played a major part in making her well-known and the ebook versions of all her titles have been in the Amazon Top Ten. News Review
  • To find a mass of useful material on the site, try this page Advice for Writers.
  • 'Proud? Frightened about the next book, actually, always frightened about the next book, If you've had 16 number ones in a row, you wonder if the next one will be. We can all think of a lot of authors who have died overnight. You see such big names disappearing and you think, 'That could be me'. There's always pressure. You sit down each day and say, 'this has to be better than anything I've done before', because these are real readers and they are sitting there waiting for it...' Jeffrey Archer, whose latest bestseller is Best Kept Secret, in the Bookseller, quoted in our Comment column.
  • This week's Wriitng Opportunity is the 2014 First Fictions Graphic Novel Competition, closing on 3 March 2014 and open to all cartoonists, writers and artists who have not previously published a full-length graphic work and are resident in the UK.
  • The Mslexia Writer's Diary 2014 is just the thing to put on your Christmas present list. Writing exercises, a table for tracking submissions, key dates in the literary year, nuggets of wisdom and fortnightly reading recommendations from top authors, all to help you keep your writing life on track.
  • Another good crop of links this week: Are There Books Too Private to Publish? Publish Faster, Publish Less: Futurebook's Big Ideas | Publishing Perspectives and Young adult readers 'prefer printed to ebooks' | Books | theguardian.com.
  • ‘There's a marvellous peace in not publishing... When you publish, the world thinks you owe something. If you don't publish, they don't know what you're doing. You can keep it for yourself.' - J D Salinger, two of whose stories have been stolen and published, in our Writers' Quotes.

25 November 2013 - What's new

November 2013
  • This week has yielded some rather unexpected figures from both sides of the Atlantic relating to ebook sales. In the States it looks as if ebook sales are in decline, whereas in the UK there's also a tempering in projections of ebook growth. News Review
  • Changing Direction? Exploring a New Genre? 'It's been a very good year for Compass BooksAn Imprint Of John Hunt Publishing. Focuses on practical and informative ‘how-to’ books for writers with lots of interesting new titles on our list and even more in production. Rather than concentrating on beginners' books, we're constantly on the lookout for titles that offer sound, practical advice for the more experienced writer looking at changing genre, written by authors who are widely published in that particular area...' Suzanne Ruthven conributes the sixth article in Talking to publishers. The other articles in the series are from the editors of different genres.
  • Writing Memoir and Autobiography - if you want to write  a memoir you're in good company - lots of writers want to try their hand at this category. 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. looks at how to set about writing your memoir and how to publish it. Writing Memoir
  • 'Work is the only interesting thing for me if I'm working out on the edge of the unknown. The immediacy of discovery, that's what's interesting to me. Every book is a different country. When I start my fourth, it will be as if I've never written a book before. I'll be completely at sea, and nothing I've ever done before in my life will help me at all.' Donna Tartt, author of The Goldfinch, in the Sunday Times' Culture in our Comment column.
  • Our wide-ranging links of the week: Publishing crisis? Time to create a Spotify for books | Media Network | Guardian Professional, HarperCollins UK boss tells publishers: take storytelling back from digital rivals | Books | theguardian.com, A Look at the Book Business From the Inside -- Vulture and BookBrunch - Where every picture really does tell a story.
  • Blurb-writing - Our service is for anyone who is having difficulty producing their cover or jacket copy and may be especially helpful for self-publishers. Let our skilled editor/writers do the job for you, so that you end up with a professional blurb. See our Services for Self-publishers for other services offered.
  • 'In nearly all good fiction, the basic - all but inescapable - plot form is this: A central character wants something, goes after it despite opposition (perhaps including his own doubts), and so arrives at a win, lose, or draw.' John Gardner in our Writers' Quotes.

18 November 2013 - What's new

November 2013
  • 'Indeed, what is a ‘book life'? Author Jeff VanderMeer sees the ‘book' as any creative project requiring text, be it a traditional print book, an e-book or a podcast. The aim is to do things that support that book life in a positive way rather than undermining it. And the point of Booklife is to provide a strategic and tactical guide to being a writer in contemporary times. It is not a how-to guide to creating a blog or website, nor is it an instructional manual about writing. Instead, Booklife is a more subtle examination of the business of being a writer, intended to help the reader to create a modus operandi that works for them' Our reviewer looks at Jeff VanderMeer's Booklife.
  • After eight years of litigation over Google's scanning of more than 20 million books in libraries, Judge Denny Chin has come down in their favour: ‘Google's use of the copyrighted works is highly transformative. Google Books digitizes books and transforms expressive text into a comprehensive word index that helps readers, scholars, researchers, and others find books...' News Review
  • This week's links are an interesting mix: Is the Western Publishing Industry Institutionally Racist? | PP Wong, Why we love loooong novels - Salon.com, BookBrunch - Vanitas vanitatum... or how I learnt to love self-publishing and two links to stories on the Google story in this week's News Review, Google Books ruling is a huge victory for online innovation and Why Google's Fair Use Victory In Google Books Suit Is A Big Deal--And Why It Isn't - Forbes.
  • This week's Comment is from Philip Jones, the editor of the Bookseller: 'Contrary to what some media outlets reported last week e-books haven't killed off any publishers: in fact in the main they have led to increased profit margins. E-book growth has largely sustained trade publishers during the latter years of the big recession, and even if they do now, as some say, 'plateau', profit margins may continue to grow as publishers learn to better manage their inventories and working capital across the rest of their business.'
  • Our Health Hazards series is well worth exploring if you've ever had problems with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from all that time spent at the keyboard, or any of the other hazards of a writer's life.
  • We are all mourning the death of the wonderful Doris Lessing, the Nobel prizewinner who really understood women's lives. This Margaret Atwood article from the Guardian sums up her life and work.
  • 'Of the things which man can do or make here below, by far the most momentous, wonderful and worthy are the things we call Books!' Thomas Carlyle in our Writers' Quotes.

11 November 2013 - What's new

November 2013
  • In the fourth part of our WritersServices Self-publishing Guide, 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 www.joannephillips.co.uk looks at EbooksDigital bookstore selling wide range of ebooks in 50 categories from Hildegard of Bingen to How to Write a Dirty Story and showing how the range of ebooks available is growing. http://www.ebooks.com/: Formatting for Kindle:' Last time we looked at KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and how self-publishing authors can upload their books to Amazon directly. Now we're going to focus on one key thing: formatting your book for Kindle.' The series to date.A recent investigation by USA Today into their bestseller lists of the last thirty years throws an interesting light on changes in bestsellerdom and background changes in the way in which books are bought and sold.
  • 'A recent investigation by USA Today into their bestseller lists of the last thirty years throws an interesting light on changes in bestsellerdom and background changes in the way in which books are bought and sold.In the years 1993-98, John Grisham dominated the fiction bestsellers but the list as a whole was full of big non-fiction bestsellers, mostly self-help, such as Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Don't' Sweat the Small Stuff... And it's all Small Stuff and Chicken Soup for the Soul. This was an era when books were still bought in retail stores, especially bookstores, and the big book chains were dominant...' News Review
  • What's going on in the business of publishing? Ebooks and discounts drive 98 publishers out of business | Books | theguardian.com, What's Driving UK Publishers Out of Business? | Publishing Perspectives and How Has Twitter Changed the Role of the Literary Critic? - NYTimes.com.
  • If you want editorial input from our professional editors, have a look at our Services, especially our Copy editing, Submission Critique, Manuscript Typing and our latest addition, Blurb-writing.
  • Women should write from the heart, and because they can't not write. I don't think that there is a chick-lit formula: you come across some heroines like Bridget Jones, but mine tend to be bitches. Entertain yourself and don't ever imagine your mother reading your book.' Adele Parks in The Times, quoted in our Comment column.
  • This week's Writing Opportunity is a new oone, The CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition 2013, open to all with a closing date of 16 March 2014."Writers aren't like plumbers. If you're a plumber, you fix one person's boiler in the morning, then you go and fix another in the afternoon. I didn't want to write a book unless I had something new to say - and it was good to live a little in between."

 

 


4 November 2013 - What's new

November 2013
  • Last week's news of the departure of Larry Kirshbaum, the respected and successful publisher turned agent who Amazon hired to head up their trade publishing venture, was greeted with a certain amount of glee amongst all those who are fearful of the giant online retailer. But what does it really mean? News Review
  • Talking to Publishers 5 is about a new non-fiction history imprint. 'History is back in fashion! With TV serialisations of periods like The Tudors and The Borgias, history is stepping out of the realms of dustiness and into the imagination of the general public. We want to capture history for a new generation of readers and have created a new imprint, Chronos Books, to provide great books for history lovers.' says Sarah-Beth Watkins. There are four other articles in the Talking to Publishers series.
  • 'The nice thing about agenting is that you can carry on until you annoy everyone. I'm going to do it until I don't enjoy it. And I do enjoy it, not every single minute, but more than 90% of it. Even the negotiating is good fun up to a point. And that moment you get your authors' new manuscripts, and your heart is in your mouth because you want to be able to love it - that's still the most exciting part... Publishers as people aren't risk averse, as corporations they are. Often editors would like to buy books that they aren't allowed to.' Carole Blake of agency Blake Friedmann in the Bookseller, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Our Tips for writers series is an 8-part series which starts with Improve your writing and ends with Submission to agents and publishers.
  • Our Writing Opportunity this month is National Novel Writing Month, which is part of a partnership with Wattpad and offers a prize of $2,000.  But are you up to wriitng a whole 50,000 word novel in just one month? Now's your chance to test yourself.
  • The links this week are Shatzkin: Why Competing With Amazon Is So Difficult | Digital Book World and Jane Austen 'airbrushed' on new £10 note, claims biographer
  • ‘Books say: she did this because life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't. I'm not surprised some people prefer books. Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people's lives, never your own,' Julian Barnes in Flaubert's Parrot, in our Writers' Quotes.

28 October 2013 - What's new

October 2013
  • The shortlist for the 2013 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry is an interesting and diverse one. Including new work by well-established poets Robin Robertson, Michael Symmons Roberts, Sinéad Morrissey and Geroge Szirtes, it also has newcomer Helen Mort's debut collection, Division Street. Daljit Nagra's interpretation of The Ramayana and Moniza Alvi's powerfully felt At the Time of Partition invoke a wider world. Anne Carson is unpredictably experimental, as always, in her verse novel Red Doc >, which contrasts wonderfully with Speak, Old Parrot from veteran poet Dannnie Abse. News Review
  • A Printer's View 1 is the first in a series of occasional articles looking at self-publishing from the printing perspective. In Self-publishing? How do you prepare your files for print? Andy EdmonsonManaging Director, Purely Digital, a quality digital printing service based in Derby; over 20 years' experience in printing industry; written for various publications including Print Week and popular blog Just Creative, Managing Director at Purely Digital, looks at this central question. 'You've considered the arguments for and against self-publishing and decided that it's the best option for you. Great; you've got over one of the many difficult hurdles of getting your book out to the world, the next step is to transform the files on your computer into a physical printed book. In theory, this is a relatively straightforward process - get the files ready, find someone to print the book, send it to them and get it printed. Unsurprisingly, it's not as simple as might seem and there are certain tips to bear in mind which will make your life a lot easier as you commence your self-publishing journey...'
  • 'When I'm working at full tilt, I average about 1,000 words an hour. I sit at the keyboard and it all comes out. It's an extraordinary thing, but I think it's because fiction is created by the unconscious mind, which is always exploring situations and possibilities. I suppose that's the thing I love about writing, what got me into it in the first place...' Alexander McCall Smith, author of The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon in The Times, quoted in our Comment coumn.
  • We have some great links this week: How Amazon and Goodreads could lose their best readers - Salon.com, Neil Gaiman delivers our second annual lecture | Reading Agency and a publily available article from our friends at Bookbrunch, BookBrunch - When print publishers are not necessary.
  • This week's Writing Opportunity is the Bodley Head/FT 2013 Essay Prize, closing on 24 November and open to writers who are 18-35  across the world.
  • Our Writing Opportunities are helpfully displayed so that you can see them by closing date, or by when they were added, and it's very easy to see which ones are still open.
  • 'Writing? It's not something you do for a living. It's an outlandish idea. Particularly if you don't speak the language.'Khaled Hosseini in our Writers' Quotes

 

22 October 2013 - What's new

October 2013
  • This has been a week full of prize announcements, with Alice Munro being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and Eleanor Catton winning the Booker. Alice Munro's was a popular win, with many people feeling glad it has gone to the veteran Canadian writer, who had only recently announced that she would not be writing another book. Maybe this will make her change her mind, but the sad news that she is too ill to travel to the Nobel ceremony suggests otherwise. She has a much wider audience than many Nobel Prize-winners and was awarded the Prize as ‘a master of the contemporary short story'. News Review
  • We have links to some interesting articles this week: Wylie tells publishers: 'withdraw from Amazon' | The Bookseller, Philip Hensher stirs debate among authors after refusing to write for free and BookBrunch - Creative writing - or creative accounting?, Liz Thomson of Bookbrunch's take on the financial side of Creative Writing.
  • I've met a lot of authors weighing their options, seen a ton of hands shoot up in panels hoping for that one last piece of advice to push them off the fence one way or the other. There's a path on both sides of that fence, and writers can see crowds beating the grass flat. They can see the books that lie along either way. My advice, for what it's worth, is to stop looking at those crowds and those books. Look at the work in your hand. Claire Tomalin author of Charles Dickens: A Life in the Evening Standard in our Comment column.
  • This week's Writing Opportunity is the Trinity College London International Playwriting Competition 2013, closing on 13 December and open to playwrights across the world.
  • If you are looking for copy editing online, it is difficult to ensure that you are getting a professional copy editor who will do a good job on your manuscript. Our page on Getting your manuscript copy edited may help.
  • 'In nearly all good fiction, the basic - all but inescapable - plot form is this: A central character wants something, goes after it despite opposition (perhaps including his own doubts), and so arrives at a win, lose, or draw.' John Gardner in our Writers Quotes.

14 October 2013 - What's new

October 2013
  • '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. seems to have been a great success this year, amidst signs that publishers have been having a better time than in recent years and are more actively buying and publishing. Amongst the reasons for this are an improved outlook in Europe and the fact that for many publishers ebooks are making a solid and cost-effective contribution...' News Review reports form the world's biggest book fair.
  • WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing 3 from 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 www.joannephillips.co.uk deals with EbooksDigital bookstore selling wide range of ebooks in 50 categories from Hildegard of Bingen to How to Write a Dirty Story and showing how the range of ebooks available is growing. http://www.ebooks.com/: How to Sell on Amazon: An overview of the KDP platform and what it offers to indie authors.'There's just no ignoring the Zon these days - Amazon is the biggest retailer of books and ebooks, and if you want to reach readers as an indie author then a KDP account is an essential first step...'
  • ‘When that happened I thought it was the most natural thing in the world. I had no idea; I'd never written a book before. I wrote this book, someone said they would publish it. I always thought they would, I didn't know books got turned down. The one night they rang up and said, "You've sold it in America for $40,000." They said, "Are you sitting down?" I thought "You're being a bit overwrought, aren't you? What's to sit down about?" Then it was the prizes. It really seemed to be just what happened to you.' (His next book did not sell, or win any prizes.)... This week's Comment is from Jim Crace, whose Harvest is the favourite for this year's Booker, and may or may not have won it by the time you read this.
  • Have a look at our Talking to Publishers series to get an insight into what publishers are looking for.
  • 'Don't use metaphors in fantasy; your readers will take them literally. Or they may take them figuratively -- but if so, they'll also take your magics and transformations figuratively. Either way, you're in trouble.' Teresa Nielsen Hayden in or Writers Quotes.

 

7 October 2013 - What's new

October 2013
  • Read more than you write: 'Author opinion falls into two camps on this one, with some writers maintaining that reading fiction while writing is a very bad thing. To this I might say that if you have been working for years as a published author, and you have that degree of sophistication, dexterity and confidence, then maybe sometimes yes. But for the majority of us who are not at that level... Many other authors, however, believe the opposite to be true, that reading and being well-read is essential to good writing, and it is this argument that I am exploring here...' Sarah Taylor-Fergusson in Rule Number One of Writing for Children.
  • 'Nielsen research made public at the recent Bookseller Children's Conference suggests that the number of UK children who rarely read, or do not read at all, has risen in the past year from 20% to 28%. As in the US and elsewhere, children's reading is being affected by alternative activities, particularly games, watching videos online and texting...' News Review
  • Links of the week: What would Allen Lane make of Amazon? | Books | The Guardian, 10 Counterintuitive Tips for Self-Publishers | Publishing Perspectives and, for a bit of light relief,  Classic books in 140 characters - Telegraph
  • For Creative writing tutors and their students there's a mass of useful information on the site, which we are very happy for you to print out, with due acknowledgement, please. You can find this in the listing under Advice for Writers, but we'd specially recommend our 7-part series Tips for Writers, Our Categories series, about Writing Crime Fiction, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Memoir and Autobiography and so on, and our 19-part series Inside Publishing.
  • 'The overwhelming number of readers of crime fiction are women, but most of the people who write about crime are men. Women are still conditioned to defer. We are less likely to push ourselves into the limelight and we are less likely to get our agents or publishers to run to the papers with every little thing we do.' Val McDermid in The Times, quoted in our Comment column.
  • There's an interview with 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. and some nice comments about the WritersServices site on Joanne Phillips' blog.
  • 'When I read something saying I've not done anything as good as Catch 22 I'm tempted to reply: 'Who has?' Joseph Heller in our Writers' Quotes

30 September 2013 - What's new

September 2013
  • 'Discovering our authentic voice, writing with lasting impact, and standing out from the crowd are high priorities for most of us who write. But how do we go about achieving these intentions? Conscious Writing is a new approach to deep writing with full awareness which takes us into the core of what we're really here to write, and in the process, opens the way for us to realise our true potential as authors in the world.' Julia McCutcheon, the founder of IACCW, contributes a new article on Conscious Writing.
  • The news that bestselling author Wilbur Smith is, as he puts it, in search of a new Wilbur Smith, a younger writer who will take over the job of writing his books, has been in the papers. At 80, he is ready to go into semi-retirement so that he can spend more time with his much-younger wife, while someone else carries on writing. When he signed a £15 million deal with HarperCollins recently there was speculation that he would get some younger writers to help write the books, as both Clive Cussler and James Patterson have done. Both keep some control of the storylines of their books, and can thus claim authorship. News Review
  • Check out Advice for Writers for links to over 65 useful pages on the site. Try How to market your writing services online, Getting your manuscript copy edited, Writing for the web, Top Ten Tips for nonfiction writers, Choosing a Service, and Getting your poetry published.
  • 'I didn't know the first thing about publishing, I didn't know anybody in publishing, I didn't care about having anything to do with publishing during those six years I wrote it... I did it (self-published) for my mental health. The frustration was starting to get to me. You think, "Gee, I spent three years of my life sending letters to agents - three years of my life, for God's sake." Sergio De La Pava, author of A Naked Singularity, which won the 2013 $25,000 PENSupported by eminent writers, this is the English branch of International Pen, which has centres in nearly 100 countries. It fights for freedom of expression and against political censorship. It campaigns for writers harassed, imprisoned and sometimes murdered for their views. http://www.englishpen.org/ Literary Award for a debut novel in our Comment column.
  • 'Plotting is like sex. Plotting is about desire and satisfaction, anticipation and release. You have to arouse your reader's desire to know what happens, to unravel the mystery, to see good triumph. You have to sustain it, keep it warm, feed it, just a little bit, not too much at a time, as your story goes on. That's called suspense.' Colin Greenland in our Writers' Quotes.

23 September 2013 - What's new

September 2013
  • The Man Booker Prize's decision to accept novels from American authors, providing that they are published in the UK, has been arrived at after a series of consultations lasting over the last eighteen months. How they could have expected to keep their ruminations quiet is not clear. News Review looks at changes to what is probably the world's best-known literary fiction prize.
  • Our Wriitng Opportunity this week is the Davy Byrnes Short Story Award 2014, for those writers in Ireland or northern Ireland, closing on 3 February. There's €15,000 to the winning author, and €1,000 to five runners-up.
  • 'I just want to tell a good story so I always ask myself, are these people real to me? The things I write about are completely removed from my own life, but people want to know the characters better. There are schools of thought that dispense with all that now, but I think if there are strong characters, people want to know more...' Ruth Rendell in our Comment column.
  • Here are links to two interesting articles on the Authors Licensing and Copying Society website: the new UK children's Laureate, Malorie Blackman, tells us about her first three months in the post and the mission she has undertaken, and The Self-publishing maze: More and more writers are now choosing to publish for themselves. But is it really as easy as all that? Caroline Sanderson finds out.
  • To go alongsie our new Poetry Collection Editing service, there's Getting your Poetry published and 101 ways to make poems sell.
  • Oxford Author courses are offering £10 off their next two courses to writers who use the WritersServices website. Braving the new world of publishing and How to self-publish are on the 19th and 20th October.
  • 'Plotting isn't like sex, because you can go back and adjust it afterwards. Whether you plan your story beforehand or not, if the climax turns out to be the revelation that the mad professor's anti-gravity device actually works, you must go back and silently delete all those flying cars buzzing around the city on page one. Iin our Writers' Quotes.

 

16 September 2013 - What's new

September 2013
  • We've just launched our latest new service, which is our Poetry Collection Editing service. Intended for poets who want to prepare their poetry collection for self-publishing or for those who just want to get their poetry into the best possible shape before submitting it to publishers, this will provide a skilled editor to copy edit your work, correcting grammatical and spelling errors, and also to edit it, providing suggestions for improving the poems and the collection as a whole.
  • 'It's 60 years since T S Eliot, acting on a suggestion from his friend the poet Stephen Spender, worked with his friends to set up the Poetry Book SocietySpecialist book club founded by T S Eliot in 1953, which aims to offer the best new poetry published in the UK and Ireland. Members buy at 25% discount. The PBS has a handsome new website at  www.poetrybooks.co.uk to encourage poetry readers and bring the best new poetry to them. As every poet knows, getting to your audience is still a difficult task - it's hard to get published and then hard to find an audience to read to...' News Review on the T S Eliot Prize 20th Anniversary Tour.
  • Our Writing Opportunity this week is a very international one, the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which is open to writers who are citizens of the Commonwealth and aged 18 or over and closes on 30 November. The overall winner will receive £5,000, with five regional winners getting £2,000 each.
  • 'It took a while to get the tone right. In YA everything has to be filtered through eyes and experience of the young adult, there can't be an intervening adult that comes down like a deus ex machina providing useful information or a weapon... adults can't do anything to resolve the critical issues in the plot. I didn't know that getting into it; it took me five drafts to figure that out...' Elizabeth George, author of The Edge of Nowhere (YA) and Just One Evil in the Bookseller, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Inside Publishing is a 19-part series about publishing, which will help writers understand what goes on inside the business. From Subsidiary Rights to The Sales Department, from The Relationship between publishers and agents to Advances and Royalties, this series is packed with information about how publishing works.
  • 'I have discovered that I cannot burn the candle at one end and write a book with the other.' Katherine Mansfield in our Writers' Quotes.

 

9 September 2013 - What's new

September 2013
  • 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.
  • 'This week we have launched our new suite of editorial services to cater for self-publishers. It may seem obvious that this is a sensible thing to do and we certainly hope that there will be good demand, but in its way it marks a remarkable change in the publishing world in the twelve years since WritersServices was set up - and a huge turnaround in just the last three or four years...' News Review
  • Our 24 pages of selected links offer a range of sites of special interest to writers, from Writers' Online Services to Agents Associations, from Picture Libraries to Web Resources. Please send us your favourites so we can add them to the site.
  • 'People come up to you and say, "Your writing has changed my life." What they really mean is you've changed the way they look at the world. If something of yours happens to be of help to them that's wonderful, but it wasn't me waving any kind of magic wand -the book is the intermediary...' Margaret Atwood, author of MaddAddam in the Sunday Telegraph's Stella, quoted in our Comment column.
  • We've just added to our Endorsements page this comment from Martin Humphries of Vancouver: 'As a total neophyte as a writer, I have been doing a huge amount of research suddenly as to what services are available to writers, on both sides of the Atlantic, and am amazed that you are able to have someone read a whole book and give a serious critique for just 180 pounds. I think that is incredible value for money, compared to other similar services that appear to be available out there.'
  • 'The world is so great and rich, and life so full of variety, that you can never lack occasions for poems.' Percy Bysshe Shelley in our Writers' Quotes.

 

2 September 2013 - What's new

September 2013
  • Self-publishing - the rights way is a new article from Tom Chalmers of IPR Licensethe global, digital marketplace for authors, agents and publishers to list and license book rights; launched in 2012 which explores the importance of rights to self-published authors: 'It's a fact that most self-published authors understand the process that takes them from a written manuscript to a published book, but few realise the additional elements that make publishing a profitable business. Rights licensing is arguably the most vital element in this equation. Whether it's selling translation rights, audio rights or optioning the film rights, these all help balance the book's books. Rights sales are an increasingly important aspect of a title's profitability for publishers, yet the potential income is often overlooked by self-published authors, who focus on selling their edition of their work in their own territory - or, with the help of digital publishing, internationally in their first language.'
  • The American publisher Sourcebooks has just acquired Simple Truths, a largely unknown publisher - unknown even to Sourcebooks' CEO, Dominique Raccah, although their offices happened to be just a few blocks away from Sourcebooks' own offices in Naperville, Illinois. It's about publishers selling and finding writers online. This week's News Review.
  • Is there a book in you? 'Alison Baverstock's book has been a very good seller but it still seems worth reviewing it, even some time after publication, as it really is an extremely useful book which many writers may not have encountered as yet. Let's face it, we all think we have a book in us. But in this age of over-production when we can only get our work published with difficulty, just how many of us are sufficiently motivated and talented to make it? This is the question which Alison Baverstock addresses...' Our review.
  • 'I've been writing for 50 years now and used to be very disciplined about it, writing every day. I'm not so much any more, and when I do, it's wherever I happen to be. I also used to write longhand, on legal pads - my ex-husband was a lawyer - whereas now it's a laptop...' Alice Walker, author of The Colour Purple, on being 69, quoted in or Comment column.
  • If you are looking for copy editing online, it is difficult to ensure that you are getting a professional copy editor who will do a good job on your manuscript. Our page on Getting your manuscript copy edited may help.
  • This week's Writing Opportunity is the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Writing Fellowships 2013, closing on 19 September and only open to those resident in the US or Canada.
  • 'New media and new forms of buying and lending are all very interesting, for all kinds of reasons, but one principle remains unchanged: authors must be paid fairly for their work. Any arrangement that doesn't acknowledge that principle is a bad one, and needs to be changed. That is our whole argument.' Philip Pullman in our Writers' Quotes.

 

 

26 August 2013 - What's new

August 2013
  • This week we have the second part of 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 www.joannephillips.co.uk' WritersServices Self-publishing Guide, Choose Your Self-publishing Route: 'When I started my research into indie publishing way back in May 2012, there were so many routes open to authors it was mind-boggling. I made pages and pages of notes and distilled all my research into a useful spreadsheet comparing the most prevalent options. Now I can narrow down the options to two main routes...'
  • Elmore Leonard, who died this week at the age of 87, was for most of his writing life ignored by the critics. Starting as a writer of westerns, even then belittled by the literary establishment and now little published, he graduated later to the tough crime novels which made his name. News Review
  • This week's links are Can I Publish Myself? An Interview With Author-Speaker-Publisher Phil Simon - Forbes and Reports of Barnes & Noble's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated | Publishing Perspectives.
  • 'The size of the book was a real surprise to me. It just kept growing and growing. My publishers would be able to tell you that I had been lying to them about when the book was going to be ready for the last three years. But I'm much more interested in the entertaining, immersive qualities of writing than I am with more abstract formal qualities. Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries, which has just been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Don't be dismayed by the opinions of editors, or critics. They are only the traffic cops of the arts.' Gene Fowler in our Writers' Quotes.

19 August 2013 - What's new

August 2013
  • This week has brought the debut of a new star-in-the-making - or should she be described as having leapt straight to stardom? Samantha Shannon, whose first novel The Bone Season is published in the US and the UK this week, seems like an ordinary kind of superstar. News Revew reports.
  • Closing on 30 August, the Manchester Metropolitan University Poetry and Fiction Prizes 2013 are for poetry and a short story and each offers a prize of £10,000.  They are open to all.
  • We have some interesting links this week - although perhaps rather a lot about Amazon, some of which will surprise you!  Seth Godin on Why Vilifying Amazon Makes No SenseDon't tell me the truth about Amazon and Ether for Authors: How Clear a View of Publishing Do We Have?
  • 'When I was at primary school my father gave me a broken alarm clock and I used to take it apart and put it back together again. When I think of a plot I think of its components, which can be characters or incidents. The important thing is never to force a component into a place where it will not fit...' Keigo Higashimo, author of The Devotion of Suspect X, in The Times, quoted in our Comment column.
  • ‘With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare when I measure my mind against his.' George Bernard Shaw in our Writers' Quotes.

12 August 2013 - What's new

August 2013
  • Many observers were completely shattered this week by the completely unexpected news that Jeff Bezos had bought the Washington Post. Apparently the Graham family used an investment firm to approach six "potential suitors" amid tightest security before choosing Bezos. News Review on the story of the week.
  • This week we start Joanne Phllips' essential new series, the WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing, a ten-parter which will take you through what you need to know about self-publishing. First up is What is Self-publishing?
  • Joanne has also produced our easy-to-follow guide to the Business of Writing, The Ins and Outs of Indexing (a subject she knows well) and How to Market Your Writing Services Online.
  • 'I don't set out to write a book that will deliberately traumatise children or introduce them to dreadful things. I just try to reflect what life can be like. If you happen to write children's books, people often think your books are like childcare manuals: you're saying this is the way your children should be. And I'm not saying that at all. I'm just trying to write books that are interesting and entertaining and involving...' Jacqueline Wilson in the Sunday Telegraph in our Comment column.
  • This week's links are How do agents fit into the new book publishing ecosystem and Amazon vs. your public library.
  • Are you ever at a loss for a Publishing or Printing term? Our glossary may be able to help.
  • 'To have something to say is a question of sleepless nights and worry and endless ratiocination of a subject - of endless trying to dig out of the essential truth, the essential justice.' Scott Fitzgerald in our Writers' Quotes.

 

5 August 2013 - What's new

August 2013
  • Two press articles this week have raised an interesting debate about the role of writers and what it's reasonable to expect them to do, and the importance of readers in the writing-and-reading continuum. News Review
  • Writing Memoir and Autobiography - if you want to write a memoir you're in good company - lots of writers want to try their hand at this category. 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. looks at how to set about writing your memoir and how to publish it.
  • 'I don't see female characters as vicious. In literature, you find so many instances of male characters who are immoral, tormented or angry - all the things that male characters seem very freely able to be...' Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl, who has sold the film rights and will be writing the screenplay, in The Times, quoted in our Comment column.
  • This week's Writing Opportunity is the National Poetry competition, open to all adult poets across the world writing in English, whch has a closing date of 31 October.  First Prize: £5000, Second Prize: £2000, Third Prize: £1000, Seven Commendations: £100.
  • The view from a publisher's desk is the first in a series of articles by Tom Chalmers, MD of Legend Press, giving a publisher's view of the submission process and what a publisher is looking for.
  • ‘I think what I love most [about writing] is that feeling that you really nailed something. I rarely feel it with a whole piece, but sometimes with a line you feel that it really captured what it is that you had inside you and you got it out for a stranger to read, someone who may never love you or meet you, but he or she is going to get that experience from that line. ‘ Andrew Dubus III in our Writers' Quotes.

29 July 2013 - What's new

July 2013
  • 'Ebook sales growth in the UK seems to be flattening this year. A recent Bowker study showed that digital is taking a much greater proportion of the fiction market than of narrative non-fiction, as in the US... This week's News Review
  • Maria Maloney of Our Street BooksAn Imprint Of John Hunt Publishing. For children of all ages, deliver a potent mix of fantastic, rip-roaring adventure and fantasy stories to excite the imagination; spiritual fiction to help the mind and the heart grow; humorous stories to make the funny bone grow; historical tales to evolve interest; and all manner of subjects that stretch imagination, grab attention, inform, inspire and keep the pages turning. Our subjects include Non-fiction and Fiction, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Religious, Spiritual, Historical, Adventure, Social Issues, Humour, Folk Tales and more. on Writing for and about children in Talking to Publishers 3: 'Speak directly to the children on their own level and not at them or down to them. It is helpful if you have an educational background or write from experience. Ensure you aim the style of language at the appropriate age group. Sophisticated language won't suit the very young for instance. We often get picture books for children 3-6 with language more suited to teenagers.'
  • WritersServices editor Kay GaleWritersServices editor who has worked for many years as a freelance editor for number of publishers. She is also a practising homeopath and her website is www.twickenhamhomeopathy.co.uk on The Slush-pile: 'When I started working in publishing over thirty years ago it was part of my job to check through the pile of unsolicited manuscripts that arrived on a daily basis, and like every other enthusiastic young editorial assistant, I dreamed of finding the next bestseller in the ‘slush pile'. I was soon disillusioned..'
  • 'On the internet everyone is writing. There is a great flowering of writing. Going in to Knopf (his US publisher) today is not like going into a publisher 50 years ago. That world is changing... 'You're lucky if a book stays in print for 30 or 40 years. James Salter, author of All That Is is, in the Observer, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Our Writing Opportunity this week is the new Harvill Secker Crime Writing Competition, closing on 30 November.  It's open to entrants from all over the world and the prize is publication by Harvill Secker with a £5,000 advance.
  • We have some particularly interesting links this week in our topical links section.
  • ‘To write good SF today...you must push further and harder, reach deeper into your own mind until you break through into the strange and terrible country wherein live your own dreams.' Gardner Dozois in our Writers' Quotes.

22 July 2013 - What's new

July 2013
  • The revelation that Robert Galbraith was really J K Rowling and the huge subsequent demand for The Cuckoo's Calling have dominated the headlines this week. It's an ideal silly season story, complete with a villain in the shape of the lawyer who, for some extraordinary reason, confided the truth to his wife's best friend, who promptly tweeted it to Sunday Times journalist India Knight. News Review
  • This week's Writing Opportunity is 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.' www.mslexia.co.uk Women's Novel Competition 2013, with a prize of £5,000, an entry fee of £25 and a closing date of 23 September.
  • Follow this link to find our links of the week.
  • Our My say column give writers a chance to air their views and share their experience. Get in touch if you'd like to write for the column.
  • 'When my first novel was published, people said: "Why are you still here?" (working in a London bookshop). How much money do they think authors earn? If you're lucky, you'll get enough to help you survive while you're writing your next book...' Evie Wyld, author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice and All the Birds, Singing in the Independent on Sunday in our Comment column.
  • Our WritersServices Self-Publishing printer Lightning Source has just announced that it can now handle colour printing in the UK as well as the US. This exciting breakthrough means that we're now able to offer colour printing for a very good price, with all the benefits of print on demand - a huge advantage for any self-publisher who is thinking of producing a colour book, whether it's a children's book, a cookery book, a high-quality art book or any other book where colour is essential. Contact us to find out more.
  • This week we've sent out a press release and had some good coverage for the site, including this piece in Bookbrunch.
  • If you're looking for some help, our page on Choosing a service takes you through all the services and helps you find what you want.
  • 'It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.' W H Auden in our Writers' Quotes.


15 July 2013 - What's new

July 2013
  • 'The big story this week is the devastating news for Apple that it has lost its case. A federal judge in New York has ruled that Apple did collude with five big publishers to fix ebook prices...' News Review has the story.
  • You'll have to get your skates on for our Writing Opportunity this week, the Hot Key Young Writers Prize, which closes on 22 July and is open to 18-15 year-olds from all over the world. There are two categories: books for 9-12s and for young adult readers (13-19). Each winner will receive the opportunity to be published by Hot Key with a £10,000 advance.
  • 'I've spent 30 years loving being a novelist. It's bullshit to say that I think television has superseded the novel. It's just not what I think. Of course it's exciting to do something on this scale in a medium I've never worked in; and, yes, I've talked about TV dramas being comparable to novels, in that you have the length for complex storylines and characters. But I would never say they have replaced novels. There's room for both.' Salman Rushdie in The Times, quoted in our Comment colum.
  • This week's links are E-Book Ruling Gives Amazon an Advantage - NYTimes.com, Book Publishing's Big Gamble - NYTimes.com and An innocent story with dramatic implications - The Shatzkin Files.
  • An Editor's Advice is a seven-part series from Maureen Kincaid SpellerMaureen Kincaid Speller a reviewer, writer, editor and former librarian, is our book reviewer and also works for WritersServices as a freelance editor., a longstanding WritersServices freelanc editor. Starting with Dialogue and moving on to Another draft, this very practical series ends with Presentation.
  • ‘People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it.' Harlan Ellison in our Writers' Quotes.

8 July 2013 - What's new

July 2013
  • A shifting of the tectonic plates of publishing - this was an unprecedentedly eventful week in publishing, which saw the completion of the Penguin Random House merger, but with some surprises, and the completely unexpected departure of Victoria Barnsley, CEO of HarperCollins UK. News Review reports.
  • Suzanne Ruthven interviews her colleague Autumn Barlow, publisher for the new John Hunt PublishingExplore the "Our Imprints" section to learn more about our uniquely qualified publishers and their supporting teams. imprint for historical fiction, Top Hat BooksAn Imprint Of John Hunt Publishing. Historical fiction that lives. We publish fiction that captures the contrasts, the achievements, the optimism and the radicalism of ordinary and extraordinary times across the world.: 'As I see it, "historical" isn't actually a genre itself. Within historical fiction there are literary works, thrillers, romances, action-adventure, and of course Alternate Histories and historical fantasy...'  Talking to publishers 2
  • ‘Whether you're an author, agent, publisher or retailer, depending on your view it's either a terrifying or exhilarating time. The only certainty is that it's all changing... The publishing world has gone mad. But throughout it all, one thing will survive - the inspiration of stories, the power of words. It's what unites all of us at this party. Victoria Barnsley, CEO, at the HarperCollins UK summer party which turned into her leaving party, as reported in Bookbrunch, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Are you looking to have some help with your writing, a report perhaps, a Submission Critique or Copy editing? Our editorial services might be able to help.
  • Links to this week's top stories: Want Kids to Succeed at School? Stock Your Home with Books | Publishing Perspectives,  Genre Fiction and Digital Publishing: A Marriage Made in Heaven | Publishing Perspectives, Google Wins Appeal, Authors Guild Loses Class Action Status.
  • This week's Writing Opportunity is the Costa Short Story Award, for a previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words written in English by an author aged 18 years or over, living in the UK or Ireland. It's closing on 2 August.
  • ‘Fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.' Virginia Woolf, quoted in our Writers' Quotes.

1 July 2013 - What's new

July 2013
  • Our new review of Writing: A User's Manual by David Hewson concludes that:'The great strength of Hewson's guide lies in the detailed focus on the actual process of putting together a novel, the decisions that need to be made, the best way to approach the task and so on.'
  • News Review this week deals with China: 'A recent Publishing Perspectives story throws light on the burgeoning market for writers' work in China. The founder, Luo Li, has recently left the country's largest online literature site Quidian, charged with stealing copyrights that belonged to Quidian's parent company, Shanda Literature.'
  • We've added this comment from Garth Gunston to our Endorsements page: 'The bottom line is to say thank you for the help you have given which to my eye seems to have been highly professional from small things such as meeting the target dates you set to the evident attention to detail. I have been bombarded with stories of companies offering to assist writers with 'come on promises' to generate more business so to feel I am dealing with a genuine professional and respected group is both a relief and a pleasure.'
  • 'As a writer you become obsessive, wedded to the position you place your notebook in in relation to the laptop. But you don't realise your body is awfully contorted. (Writing on the computer) is so much more painful than writing with a fountain pen ever was.' Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider series, in the Sunday Times, quoted in our Comment column.
  • This week's Writing Opportunity is the new Etisalat Prize for Literature, open to writers of African citizenship and to be submitted by their publishers. The Prize is £15,000.
  • ‘Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.'‘Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.' James Saroyan in our Writers' Quotes.

 

24 June 2013 - What's new

June 2013
  • Suzanne Ruthven of Compass BooksAn Imprint Of John Hunt Publishing. Focuses on practical and informative ‘how-to’ books for writers kicks off our new series of Talking to Publishers with an article about their books for writers: 'It would be a great mistake to think that writers' how-to books were only written for beginners - there are times when even more experienced writers also need a bit of helpful advice, especially if thinking about changing direction, or exploring a completely different genre...'
  • 'Short stories seem to be in demand as never before. The web has given new impetus to this literary form and many writers have embraced it eagerly, as it's undoubtedly easier to write a short story than a novel. That's where a lot of writers start...' News Review looks at what's happening with the short story.
  • Our links of the week are: Philip Pullman: 'Pay us for library e-books or writing will not be 'commercially viable', and Author of erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey earns £12.6m in just six months - but still lives in a £350,000 terrace house.
  • 'I've enjoyed my work self-publishing, and I will never rule out the possibility of self-publishing something again in the future, but right now, I'd rather focus on my writing instead of stressing about formatting and pricing and book covers and finding editors.' Amanda Hocking, who has just sold a new series to St Martins' Press, in Bookbrunch, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Tips for writers is our eight-part series giving you a quick breakdown on how to Improve your writing, Learn on the job and right through to Submission to publishers and agents.
  • ‘Writing a book I have found to be like building a house. A man forms a plan, and collects materials. He thinks he has enough to raise a large and stately edifice; but after he has arranged, compacted and polished, his work turns out to be a very small performance.' James Boswell in our Writers' Quotes.

17 June 2013 - What's new

June 2013
  • Recent data from Bowker confirms that self-published books now make up 20% of all ebook sales in the UK and it's more than that in the most successful ebook categories - crime, science fiction and fantasy, romance and humour. News Review
  • If you are looking for copy editing online, it is difficult to ensure that you are getting a professional copy editor who will do a good job on your manuscript. Our page on Getting your manuscript copy edited may help.
  • This week's Writing Opportunity is the world-famous Foyle Young Poets Award 2013.  Open to all young poets aged 11-17, it closes on 21 July, so hurry to get your entry in.
  • 'Most of the time, I'm just like, "Ah, you're right, I'm horrible: I should just quit now. But for a long time, y'know, I heard nothing but positive. At the very beginning, in fact, it was my sister who pretty much bullied me into sending out letters to agents, and it took me maybe only two months to get one - and then, a month later, to get a book deal. So it wasn't the normal paying-your-dues kind of thing. I got my negative later...' Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series in The Times magazine, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Are you thinking of becoming a ful-time writer? Read our article entitled Don't give up the day job before you take that important step.
  • Our links of the week are Blackman named Children's Laureate, Will Self-Publishing Counterbalance Trade Publishng Consolidation and The Digital Consultancy: Writing in a Digital Age.
  • ‘Songwriting is about getting the demon out of me. It's like being possessed. You try to go to sleep, but the song won't let you. So you have to get up and make it into something, and then you're allowed to sleep. It's always in the middle of the night, or you're half-awake or tired, when your critical faculties are switched off. So letting go is what the whole game is. John Lennon in our Writers' Quotes.

 

10 June 2013 - What's new

June 2013
  • Will Self's recent comments at the Hay Festival suggest that the literary world has changed out of all recognition: ‘What has changed in the past 30 years is that it has become impossible for the rump of the literary profession - those middling sorts (of sales, that is, not necessarily of brow) - to earn a reasonable living simply by writing books. The abolition of the net book agreement in the 1980s heralded two simultaneous developments: a vertiginous integration of book distribution and retailing, and a simultaneous collapse in the formerly steep-sided pyramid of critical authority...' News Review
  • Sir Quentin Blake: Children need illustration to read and Bloomsbury launches e-book only imprint are our links of the week.
  • 'It was a bit unimaginable when I began that I'd ever get to 25 books. But it was also unimaginable how much crime-writing would have changed. In hindsight, I can see that several things happened at the same time. Literary fiction in the UK became very interested in critical theory and lost its relationship with narrative and, to some extent, with the reader. It stopped taking them on a journey from a beginning to a middle to an end. Val McDermid is quoted in our Comment column.
  • Do you think it might be worth brushing up your keyboard skills? For most writers using the keyboard is the very essence of what they do and being able to use it well will save enormous amounts of time and error. Our listing provides some sources of instruction on doing this, many of them free.
  • The deadline is 1 July for this week's Writing Opportunity, the H W Fisher Biography Prize.
  • 'People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it.' Harlan Ellison provides this week's Writers' Quote.

3 June 2013 - What's new

June 2013
  • This weekend New York has been the destination of thousands of booksellers, publishers and others involved with books, as they participate in the annual Americna Booksellers' Association BookExpo. Second only internationally 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. in terms of size, the convention had 190 new exhibitors this year and seems to be upbeat about prospects in the book world. News Review
  • My Say -  author Natasha Mostert on reaching THE END - and what happens next. Celebrations, hard work with an editor and finally - publication: I recently celebrated this happy milestone for the sixth time. At my elbow lies a nice, crisp, and as yet unblemished hard copy of Dark Prayer. Read our other writers contributions in My Say.
  • Does your book need copy editing, either to prepare it for submission or so that you can self-publish with confidence? Our team of skilled copy editors is ready to help. Here's an article about UK and American copy editing and another about the difference between proof-reading and copy editing.
  • 'The publication of my first book, The Cry of the Wolf - still in print after all these years with Andersen Press - turned me overnight from a pathetic saddo who wrote reams of stuff no one ever read into a published author. It's a narrow line. Fifteen years! It goes to show what a hard thing good writing is, Sometimes writers do fall from the sky complete, like a shower of frogs - although it is usually frogs that fall, and not, say T S Eliot - but most of us have to work at it. Melvyn Burgess, author of The Hit, in The Times in our Comment column.
  • Have you ever wondered whether there's any point in entering competitions? Someone must be winning, but why is it somehow never you? It might be worth reviewing how you approach competitions, to see if you can achieve a better result. See our page on Entering Competitions.
  • 'Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in the human condition.' Graham Greene in our Writers' Quotes.

 

27 May 2013 - What's new

May 2013
  • We're in a state of high excitement at WritersServices, as we've just launched our fantastic new site which has a huge amount to offer writers. Welcome to our 3,700+ pages, please explore them and join our community of writers. You can also sign up to receive our weekly newsletter of what's new on the site.
  • A recent Bowker study showed that the number of publisher-owned online communities is set to more than double in the next two years. Two-thirds of responding trade and academic publishers in the UK and US already have such a site, and it's expected that 90% of them will do so by 2015. Most of them believed that the investment was already paying off. News Review
  • ‘She had called my agent and said: "Name a price. I will pay it. I want it off, so there's no auction or anything." I'd only ever earned six pounds an hour, so I thought," What do you do when someone says that?" My agent went back and said to Arzu, "It has to be something where Abi can stop waitressing and write." That was what we agreed on...' Abigail Tarttelin, author of Golden Boy, in the Evening Standard, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Our Writing Opportunities this week are the Mslexia Poetry Competition and the Mslexia Pamphlet Competition, both of which close on the 17 June and have free online workshops.
  • 'The writer's way is rough and lonely, and who would choose it while there are vacancies in more gracious professions, such as, say, cleaning out ferryboats.' Dorothy Parker quoted in our Writers' Quotes.

20 May 2013 - What's new

May 2013
  • A reading campaign based around Premier League footballers has been a resounding success, according to the report released today by the National Literacy Trust. 'Reading Stars', with UK Premier League footballers such as Theo Walcott, is a huge success, inspiring more children to read and raising library attendance and literacy.
  • Our Health Hazards series is a unique 7-part series warning about the dangers to writers of Carpal Tunnel syndrome, eye problems and your working environment.
  • 'I'm writing for myself. I'm writing the book that I want to read and I have come to know that there is a broad spectrum of the population that like to read what I like to read. What I do, I do very intentionally and it takes a lot of time and energy.  And it's funny to me that there are critics who say, "Oh, it's a lazy style." I believe that the purpose of language is to convey an idea and I personally don't like language getting in the way. Dan Brown, author of Inferno, in our Comment column.
  • Our fictionalised stories show how our eighteen services have helped writers give you some idea of what they can do. Scriptwriting assessment fictionalised story - 'Sarah had always been fascinated by the cinema. As a little girl going to see a film was her favourite treat and she was also interested in how movies got to be made. Her own favourites were the films with really good stories, like Titantic and Avatar, but she also liked the ones which were based on books, like Lord of the Rings and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo...'
  • 'As for me, this is my story: I worked and was tortured. You know what it means to compose? No, thank God, you do not! I believe you have never written to order, by the yard, and have never experienced that hellish torture.' Fyodor Dostoyevsky in our Writers Quotes.

13 May 2013 - What's new

May 2013
  • This week's publishing sensation is James Oswald, Scottish farmer and writer, who has achieved his current success because of single-minded determination to publicise his work. Through his own efforts he reached the top of the Kindle bestseller lists in the UK and has used this self-publishing success to find a publisher. News Review
  • Getting your manuscript copy edited - if you are looking for copy editing online, it is difficult to ensure that you are getting a professional copy editor who will do a good job on your manuscript. WritersServices has now made its copy editing service unique, as it will offer as standard TWO versions of your script, one prepared using 'track changes' and one with all the changes accepted. Our copy editing service.
  • 'Video games influence our narrative structures; people are telling stories in the way we never had before. I think people can be snobby about that, but people used to be snobby about the influence of cinema on literature. But if you look at Source Code that movie is essentially a structured video game as you keep reloading and trying again. That type of storytelling is bleeding into books. Christopher Bookmyre, author of Bedlam, in the Bookseller, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Our Writing Opportunity of the week is the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, the UK's biggest national competition for playwriting, which closes on 3 June.
  • Our Tips series is an 8-part series which starts with Improve your writing and ends with Submission to agents and publishers.
  • 'The worst thing that ever happened to writing is that it became a business, The purpose of business is to make money, and to achieve that end it is necessary to please as many people as possible, to amuse them, to entertain them - in short, to do everything that will help increase the volume of sales.' - Dagobert Runes in our Writers' Quotes.

6 May 2013 - What's new

May 2013
  • Bestselling author James Patterson has taken the unusual step of speaking out about the changes going on in the industry. He's gone for a novel way of doing this, with full-page ads in Publishers' Weekly and the New York Times Book Review, asking the government to bail out bookshops. Bestselling author James Patterson has taken the unusual step of speaking out about the changes going on in the industry. He's gone for a novel way of doing this, with full-page ads in Publishers' Weekly and the New York Times Book Review, asking the government to bail out bookshops. News Review looks at how a besselling author can take a stand
  • Our Inside Publishing series provides a helpful introduction to publishing for authors. This extremely useful 19-part series has been revised to take account of changes in the publishing world. Advances and royalties, Subsidiary rights, The English-speaking publishing world, The Marketing department and The Financial relationship between writers and publishers can all be found on the site.
  • ‘While I'm sure that some of the many available writing courses now on offer are worth the time and their fees, I do worry that so many people and companies are looking for ways to profit from the never-ending queues of unpublished writers wanting to be published. It's an ever-hopeful, never-diminishing number, with few ever questioning their own talent, so they are vulnerable, and ripe for exploitation. Lack of expertise in the topic they are teaching does not seem to be a barrier for the tutors. For example, surely someone teaching a course on how to get published should at least be published themselves? Carole Blake of agency Blake Friedmann, quoted in our Comment column.
  • 'Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.' - Willian Faulkner in our Writers' Quotes.

22 April 2013 - What's new

April 2013
  • 'Amazon was one of the major talking-points at last week's London Book Fair. Earlier in the month the internet retailer had bought the book recommendation site Goodreads. Apple had been discussing with Goodreads the possibility of integrating its content into the iBookstore, when suddenly things went quiet, then Amazon's purchase of Goodreads was announced. Amazon is also rumoured to be preparing its own phone, which would bring a direct challenge to Apple's iPhone...' News Review
  • 'In his essay Politics and the English language George Orwell set out a series of rules for writing that are worth repeating in full: 1 Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print. 2 Never use a long word where a short one will do. 3 If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. 4 Never use the passive when you can use the active. 5 Never use a foreign phrase or jargon word if you can think of an everyday equivalent. 6 Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. Damian Whitworth in The Times, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Writing Memoir and Autobiography - if you want to write a memoir you're in good company - lots of writers want to try their hand at this category. 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. looks at how to set about writing your memoir and how to publish it.
  • Links of the week: At the London Book Fair, Authors Encouraged to Think Like Entrepreneurs and 5 Ways Publishers Can Be More Like Start-Ups.
  • Our Writing Opportunity this week is The TLM Young Poets Competition, which is open to young people between the ages of 16 and 30 from around the world. It closes on 30 April though, so get your entry in quickly.
  • 'Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.' Thomas Gray in our Writers Quotes.

15 April 2013 - What's new

April 2013
  • Today is the first day of the London Book Fair, which is going to be an interesting occasion this year. The winds of change are sweeping through the publishing industry as digital developments bring a whole host of changes in their wake. It's all happening at a time of recession too, which is altering many of the traditional publishing relationships, creating both new threats and new opportunities. News Review reports.
  • Links of the week: The Slow Death of the American Author - Scott Turow, president of the US Authors Guild, on a vital change and Ten ways self-publishing has changed the books business.
  • If you want editorial input from our professional editors, have a look at our Services, especially our Copy editing, Editor's Report, Submission Critique and Children's Services. Also available is Synopsis writing, Contract Vetting, Manuscript Typing and our latest additions, Poetry Critique and Blurb-writing.
  • 'If you think of the story that you tell that's your favourite personal story, or funny story, it doesn't have flashy sentences. It doesn't have too much detail. It just tells the story. That isn't, for whatever reason, the way most people write books, But it seemed to me that there was no reason that it couldn't be the way at least one person writes books. I said "I'm going to stop writing the parts that people skim..." James Patterson, author of a great many books, in the Sunday Telegraph's Seven, quoted in our Comment column.
  • There's just time for young poets to enter the TLM Young Poets Competition, which is open to anyone aged 16-30 from anywhere around the world and closes on 30 April. Here's our latest Writing Opportunity.
  • 'The thing that really really turns me on - and I've now been doing it for 40 years, and it still works in exactly the same way - is this: you are sitting at home reading a manuscript and your hair stands on end and you think, 'I know how to publish this and, with a bit of luck, it could really work.  Dan Franklin, MD and Publisher of Jonathan Cape in our Writers' Quotes.

8 April 2013 - What's new

April 2013
  • 'The fiftieth anniversary Bologna Book Fair was a cheering occasion. Eminent children's publisher Klaus Flugge, the founder and publisher of Andersen Press, was awarded the honorary citizenship of Bologna for his services to children's books and to the Fair. He has attended every Bologna Book Fair to date...' News Review on the Bologna Book Fair.
  • Our new PhD editing service is launched this week. Are you working to prepare your PhD for submission? Professional editing can help you improve the presentation of your work and iron out any grammar or spelling errors. See our 19 other editorial services.
  • Links to this week'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: Search and Rescue In a well-informed article on the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society site, Danuta Kean asks if Google is doing enough to deal with the copyright infringements of file-sharing sites. British Library adds billions of webpages and tweets to archive.
  • 'I don't have a choice. If there's a story there will always be another story. There's always the Other Story. If you write fiction, your job is to apprehend the truth, something real, and be sensitive enough to give back, a reflection that is both a mirror and beyond the real..' Ali Smith, author of There but for the in The Times, quoted in our Comment column..
  • Bob's Journal of a Virtually Unpublished Writer offers entertaining insights into the life of an aspiring writer. It's a WritersServices exclusive and you can go back to the start in 2001 and right through to its end in December 2007, when he reflected: 'Still haven't broken through my writer's block. No longer even sure I want to. Why write? What's writing for? Have absolutely no idea. How can one add anything worthwhile to the work of writers like Oscar Wilde? Yet the internet grows more vast by the minute with the words of the millions who are certain their opinions are worth airing.'
  • 'What we call fiction is the ancient way of knowing, the total discourse that antedates all the special vocabularies....Fiction is democratic, it reasserts the authority of the single mind to make and remake the world.' E L Doctorow in our Writers Quotes.

1 April 2013 - What's new

April 2013
  • Discoverability seems to be the word on everyone's lips at the moment in the book business.  By this is meant how people find books and it's evident from recent research that bookshops play a very important part in this. This may not be a great comfort to them, as it must be incredibly irritating to be used as a showroom for internet retailers from whom the customer often ultimately buys because they offer the lowest price. News Review
  • Find out which book title has won the 2012 Diagram Prize!
  • Blurb-writing - Our new service is for anyone who is having difficulty producing their cover or jacket copy and may be especially helpful for self-publishers. Let our skilled editor/writers do the job for you, so that you end up with a professional blurb.
  • 'The holy grail for a historian is having three things come together. First is new material, second is a good story with a tight narrative and great characters, and third is something that has global and contemporary appeal. I was lucky enough to have all three... William Dalrymple, author of White Mughals and Return of a King, in the Bookseller, quoted in our Comment column.
  • 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. This week: Children's Nonfiction Publishing Comes of Age and James Herbert.
  • New words added to Oxford Dictionaries Online reflect changes in society Oxford Dictionaries Online, Oxford University Press's free dictionary and language reference service, recently added its new quarterly words, which present a fascinating picture of our changing language.
  • There ain't nothing more to write about and I'm rotten glad of it, because if I'd know'd what trouble it was to make a book, I wouldn't a tackled it.'  Mark Twain in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in our Writers Quotes.

25 March 2013 - What's new

March 2013
  • Last week's annual Books and Consumers research from Bowker showed some interesting trends in book-buying both in the UK and the US. In 2012 British consumers bought 296m books, compared to 288m in 2011, but for the fifth year in a row spend declined from £2,137m ($3.226) to £2.1086 ($3.182) as the lower prices for ebooks started to affect the overall price mix. News Review
  • This week's links: Exploring Accessible Publishing for the Print Disabled, Sixty Years of Sterling Wisdom from the "Lord of Publishing" and The Most Influential Children's Publisher You've Never Heard Of.
  • Our reviewer, Maureen Kincaid SpellerMaureen Kincaid Speller a reviewer, writer, editor and former librarian, is our book reviewer and also works for WritersServices as a freelance editor., said of the The Arvon Book of Life Writing by Sally Cline and Carole Angier: 'Many people want to write about someone's life, perhaps their own, and there are courses to suit every level of interest, from university masters degrees to local college qualifications' and concluded that it was: 'a brisk and helpful guide on how to set about writing a life story... It is a sensible account of life writing from experienced practitioners of what is both art and craft, and I recommend it!'
  • 'Philip Roth once said to me years ago, when he took an interest in me as a young writer: you've got to write as if your parents are dead. It was very good advice, and I stuck to it, and now I look back with some horror. My father, especially, was torn between exultant pride that I'd published a book and sheer horror at what was in it. So I must have had a steely bit of detachment then. But I've never done what Bellow did in Herzog, or Roth, or Hanif (Kureishi)... put their ex-wives in books. I couldn't do that. My chip of ice is a bit... slushy.' Ian McEwan, whose latest book is Sweet Tooth, in the Observer, quoted in our Comment column.
  • 'Ideally, the writer needs no audience other than the few who understand. It is immodest and greedy to want more.' Gore Vidal in our Writers' Quotes.
  • There are more pages of writers' quotes to be found on the site on this page.

18 March 2013 - What's new

March 2013
  • 'In a column written for the Bookseller, agent Peter Straus, who is MD of Rogers, Coleridge and White and also President of the UK Association of Authors Agents, has questioned whether it makes sense any longer for publishers to insist on signing contracts for the legal term of copyright. For publishers this has been an important consideration, giving them the control of a book for the full term of copyright unless it goes out of print and is not reprinted...' News Review takes a further look at agents.
  • Our links of the week: Modern authors feel a 'commercial obligation' to write about sex, Julian Barnes says, and World Book Day 2013: Parents still find time to read to their children, despite leading increasingly busy lives.
  • 'Even if you are a bestseller you feel insecure because it is all so unpredictable. You think, are people still going to go out and buy this? I'm just as insecure for my new book as I was for my first one. Patricia Cornwell in the Sunday Telegraph's Seven, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Writing Opportunity: there's still just time to answer the 2013 call for submissions from Cinnamon Press, with a deadline of 31 March 2013. They have nine slots to fill for books that will be published in 2015 and are looking for poetry collections, short story collections or full-length fiction
  • Our 2013 list of International Book Fairs provides a note of book fairs near you which you might like to attend.
  • 'The ability of fiction to develop creativity, to analyze the human psyche, help you understand people - it's critical. It's as important as vitamins or anything else. To me, it's the core of the intellectual health of human beings.' Helen Zell, who has just donated $50m to support the University of Michigan's graduate writing program, in our Writers' Quotes.

11 March 2013 - What's new

March 2013

'There are no rules about how long it takes to write one novel, or several novels. There are some writers who produce as many novels in six months as Tartt has in her whole career. Nora Roberts, American's most popular writer of romance novels, turns out five books a year, and has only one rule of writing: "Ass in the chair". Six to eight hours, every day, adds up to revenue of nearly $60 million a year...' Erica Wagner in The Times in our Comment column.

Horror author Darren Shan will run a live-streamed author event with horror author on 19th March at 2 pm. Fans will be able to tune in to see Shan talk about his new 12-part Zom-B series. The third title, Zom-B City, will be published on 14th March. Viewers should register for the event at http://www.darrenshanlive.com/, and can submit questions to Shan ahead of the event. It will be recorded and available on demand after the streaming. See also our Success Story on Darren Shan.

'The announcement that 50% of London agency Conville & WalshSee Conville & Walsh listing has been bought by Curtis BrownSee Curtis Brown listing UK is the latest news in the consolidation which is going on amongst literary agents. This purchase brings a successful smaller agency into a bigger one which has not perhaps been so dynamic. As a way of recruiting productive agents, it probably beats trying to develop them (so long as you have the money to invest or can lay your hands on it), as these agents are not likely to leave taking their client list with them. In that respect they are not like new agents developed by bigger agencies, who often leave to join another agency which offers a better deal, or to set up on their own...' News Review looks at agencies combining.

We've got a glowing new write-up from Craig Hurren on our Endorsements page: 'I must say that their professionalism and expertise was truly impressive...'

'A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.' William Styron in our Writers' Quotes.

4 March 2013 - What's new

March 2013

 'Are creative writing courses just an expensive con, or do they really help writers with their writing and subsequent careers as writers? Many writers have spent a lot of money on courses, sometimes expensive one year Creative Writing MAs, but have these done anything more than make money for the organisations running the courses? It's hard to be sure, because this is something no-one wants to talk about and of course some writers do benefit and find a publisher for their work.' News Review

Here's the shortlist for the 2012 Diagram Prize.  It looks like it's going to be make this a serious challenger for the barmiest year ever. It's run by the Bookseller (the UK book trade weekly) with input from dedicated odd title hunters from all over the world. The prize, set up in association with the Diagram Group, has been running since 1978 and is a joyous celebration of the barmy side of publishing.

If you want editorial input from our professional editors, have a look at our Services, especially our Copy editing, Editor's Report,  Submission Critique and Children's Services.  Also available is Synopsis writing, Contract Vetting, Manuscript Typing  and our latest addition, Blurb-writing.

'No longer was I the only mad woman in the attic. I went to an RNA weekend in Bournemouth. I had to get the train and I arrived late, and I knew no one, apart from the main speaker. And I only knew her because she'd been on television. But it was so wonderful meeting other people with the same obsession. Because when you're a writer, it's very difficult to explain what you do to those who have no concept of what it's like...' Katie Fforde, author of A French Affair and President of the UK Romantic Novelists' Association, quoted in our Comment column.

Have you managed to find a publisher for your work and are now enjoying the thrill of knowing that your book will soon be published? If you're wondering what happens next, here is an outline of the processes involved: Preparing for Publication.

'Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.' E L Doctorow in our Writers' Quotes.

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25 February 2013 - What's new

February 2013
  • 'It's a sign of the changing times that Pan MacmillanOne of largest fiction and non-fiction book publishers in UK; includes imprints of Pan, Picador and Macmillan Children’s Books Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint Tor UK is now accepting direct submissions from authors. Most publishers have long since decided not to accept unsolicited submissions, so this is a major turnaround. It's possibly also a comment on the fact that so relatively few agents represent Science Fiction or Fantasy authors, in most cases because the agents concerned don't profess to understand these genres...' News Review reports.
  • 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.' www.mslexia.co.uk now have the first in their series of three specially-commissioned short story writing workshops set up in relation to the Mslexia Women's Short Story Competition available for free online. The first workshop is all about 'Beginnings' and offers practical writing advice. The other two workshops will be available over the next few weeks.
  • 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: Books in Translation: It's Time for Others to Join the Fight, Killing the "Pay First, Read Later" E-bookselling Model and Osprey Takes Flight on Brands, Tribes, "Clonefiles" and the Crowd.
  • If you are looking for copy editing online, it is difficult to ensure that you are getting a professional copy editor who will do a good job on your manuscript. Our page on Getting your manuscript copy edited may help.
  • 'No longer was I the only mad woman in the attic. I went to an RNA weekend in Bournemouth. I had to get the train and I arrived late, and I knew no one, apart from the main speaker. And I only knew her because she'd been on television. But it was so wonderful meeting other people with the same obsession. Because when you're a writer, it's very difficult to explain what you do to those who have no concept of what it's like...' Katie Fforde, author of A French Affair and President of the UK Romantic Novelists' Association in our Comment column.
  • Have you ever wondered whether there's any point in entering competitions? Someone must be winning, but why is it somehow never you? It might be worth reviewing how you approach competitions, to see if you can achieve a better result. See our page on Entering Competitions.
  • 'Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.' T S Eliot in our Writers' Quotes.

18 February 2013 - What's new

February 2013
  • 'Big brand name authors continue to play a major part as far as UK readers are concerned and many of these are American. Danielle Steel, author of 80 novels, is the only writer to have appeared in every annual list of most-borrowed books from libraries in the UK in the last 30 years. Her books were borrowed an astonishing 900,000 times from libraries last year. Altogether they have been borrowed more than 42m times since 1999, a period over which she has also sold an estimated 11 million books...' News Review reports.
  • 'Writing is undoubtedly a creative art. Whether we are working on the next Booker Prize winner or ghostwriting blog posts, writers need to be original, imaginative and inspired. But writing is also a business, with invoices to raise, accounts to be submitted and records to be kept. Writers, like artists, can find themselves floundering when it comes to the 'business end' of the job. Read on for our easy-to-follow guide to the business of writing... ' Joanne Phillips' article will help you sort out the business end of your writing.
  • Links to this week's top storiesThe Financial Reality of a Genre Novelist, Costa Book Award: who would dare refuse Hilary Mantel her crown? and Joanna Trollope on Jane Austen.
  • Our Tips series is an 8-part series which starts with Improve your writing and ends with Submission to agents and publishers.
  • 'When I heard I was on the shortlist for my category I thought, "This is enough." It surpasses anything I have ever dreamed of. To have won it is such an extraordinary feeling and I can't imagine winning overall...' Francesca Segal, winner of the 2012 Costa First Novel Category with The Innocents in the Evening Standard, quoted in our Comment column.
  • 'If you try to nail anything down, in the novel, either it kills the novel, or the novel gets up and walks away with the nail.' D H Lawrence in our Writers' Quotes.

11 February 2013 - What's new

February 2013
  • Amazon's fourth quarter results have just come in $1 billion (£632,62m) short of analysts' expectations, but because of a 55% increase in operating income to $405m (£256m), shares rose 6%. There are however plenty of people who are beginning to wonder whether Amazon, with its ever-increasing sales and its wafer-thin margins, is ever going to make a profit. News Review reports.
  • This week's link is to a Telegraph story about a mysterious crime writer. Jake Kerridge profiles MC Beaton, the crime writer who's the third most borrowed adult author in Britain.

  • Our Writing Opportunity this week is 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.' www.mslexia.co.uk 2013 Women's Short Story Competition, closing on the 18th March.

  • 'After each book I get panicky. I don't love the reviews. I don't like going through all that, and you would think that, after almost 40 years of writing, I'd have got the hang of it.' Judy Blume in the Sunday Telegraph's Seven, quoted in our Comment column.

  • Screenplay assessment fictionalised story - 'Sarah had always been fascinated by the cinema. As a little girl going to see a film was her favourite treat and she was also interested in how movies got to be made. Her own favourites were the films with really good stories, like Titantic and Avatar, but she also liked the ones which were based on books, like Lord of the Rings and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo...' Our fictionalised stories of how our services have helped writers give you some idea of what they can do.
  • In the same section of our website you can find details of our eighteen editorial services for writers and useful pages such as Making submissions and Finding an Agent.
  • 'Nothing on earth can stop people writing the books they want to write. It's a matter of desire. Don't be down-hearted.' Victoria Glendinning in our Writers' Quotes.

28 January 2013 - What's new

January 2013
  • 'At last there's some hard information on ebook sales in the UK and an interesting indication of future trends in the US. The Bookseller has managed to put together some ebook sales figures which show that annual ebook sales in the UK are currently worth around £250m.
    There has been a huge impact from the 20p ebook offers from Sony and Amazon and real signs that they may be cannibalising book sales...'News Review looks at the latest trends.
  • Getting your manuscript copy edited - if you are looking for copy editing online, it is difficult to ensure that you are getting a professional copy editor who will do a good job on your manuscript. WritersServices has now made its copy editing service unique, as it will offer as standard TWO versions of your script, one prepared using 'track changes' and one with all the changes accepted.
  • 'I'd like to say - if it seems relevant - that I'm a woman writer, but as long as I'm allowed to explain for me, that still means being subversive, heretical, and exploring difference.' She is uncomfortable with gender-based writing 'As though men write one kind of writing and women write another, which is nonsense...' Michele Roberts, author of Ignorance, in our Comment column.
  • An intriguing topical link this week is to: Lance Armstrong Sued for Peddling 'Fiction' as Memoir Famous cyclist Lance Armstrong, who admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs to win a record seven Tour de France titles, was sued by two California book buyers over claims he sold fiction as autobiography. This opens up an interesting debate about whether non-fiction writers have guaranteed the 'truth' of their stories.
  • Writing Historical Fiction Our revised article on Writing Historical Fiction brings this subject up to date. Other articles cover Writing Crime Fiction, Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, Writing Romance, Writing Non-fiction and Writing Memoir and Autobiography.
  • 'Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination.' Janet Frame in our Writers' Quotes.

21 January 2013 - What's new

January 2013
  • 'For some time the market for writing has been in demonstrable good health in the UK, with a large audience buying a great number of books. From the rise of Waterstones in the 1980s, through the mass-market explosion of the 90s, and more recently the arrival of writing for the web and the ebook with the new self-publishing model, UK readers have been a substantial, various audience with an appetite for books and reading...' News Review on the current situation in the book world.
  • Driven to Distraction: Writers and Social Media - Jonathan Franzen famously wrote that 'it's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection is writing good fiction', and many writers are open about blocking sites that harm their productivity. But with eight out of ten people in Britain now having access to the internet, and social media sites growing at an alarming rate, social media can be an effective and useful tool for writers to promote themselves. This article by Kylie Grantwriter and Library Assistant; her novel in progress-The House That We Built-shortlisted for The Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2011 and her short stories have been published both in print and online; she blogs at http://bedsheetsandbiscuitcrumbs.blogspot.co.uk/ and couldn't live without custard creams or coffee highlights ways in which writers can utilise the two main social media sites, and reach out to an ever growing creative online community without it getting in the way of the writing itself.'
  • This week's topical links are: Penguin Random House merger begins a new chapter for publishing and Why Do Most Writers Start with Novels?
  • 'There is an idea that the birth of the self-published writer implies the death of the agent and publisher (sometimes one and the same person, nowadays). It's not uncommon to hear it said that editors in big corporations are so pressured by the bottom line and bean-counting suits that they no longer take risks: only the editor/owner of a little independent press can afford to take a chance on a new writer or support him/her through the long-term business of establishing a reputation and growing sales... Iain Finlayson, author of Blood Month in Bookbrunch, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Our Inside Publishing series provides a helpful introduction to publishing for authors. This extremely useful 19-part series has been revised to take account of changes in the publishing world. Advances and royalties, The Relationship between agents and publishers, Subsidiary rights, The English-speaking publishing world, The Marketing department and The Financial relationship between writers and publishers can all be found on the site.
  • 'An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next and schoolmasters ever after.' F Scott Fitzgerald in our Writers' Quotes.

14 January 2013 - What's new

January 2013
  • 'The winner of the 2012 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry has just been announced today. It's been won by Sharon Olds for Stag's Leap out of a ten-strong shortlist comprising collections from Simon Armitage, newcomer Sean Borodale, Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales, Julia Copus, Paul Farley, Kathleen Jamie, Jacob Polley, Deryn Rees-Jones and two distinguished American women poets, Jorie Graham and Sharon Olds...' News Review on this week's poetry news.
  • If you are trying to get your work into shape for publication, there's plenty of advice on the WritersServices website which you may find useful. Help for writers is a useful starting-point.
  • 'Bloomsbury, Headline, Little, Brown, Macmillan, HarperCollins haven't abandoned literary fiction. Let's face it, Hilary Mantel was published by Fourth Estate, part of HarperCollins, and quite a few winners were published from large houses - Ian McEwan, Alan Hollinghurst, Julian Barnes, Howard Jacobson. It's very tough for publishers to publish literary fiction now... Danuta Kean, books editor of MsLexia Magazine, in Bookbrunch, quoted in our Comment column.
  • Links to this week'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: Books go digital as print sales slump and J.A. Konrath Advises Writers: 'Get Over Yourself' in his annual Konrath's Resolutions For Writers column: "I really think it is possible to make a very nice living by writing and not worrying about anything else."
  • 'Science fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything. We can't talk about science, because our knowledge of it is limited and unofficial, and usually our fiction is dreadful.' Philip K Dick in our Writers' Quotes.

7 January 2013 - What's new

January 2013
  • 'As we enter this New Year, it's a good time to reflect on the work of one of our key book charities, Book Aid InternationalSupplies much-needed books to developing countries, raising funds from publishers and general public; 'Reverse Book Club' is masterly idea-for just £5 ($10) month you can provide 48 books to go to where they're most needed. WritersServices is a long-term supporter of this organisation, which has done so much to bring books to third world countries, especially in Africa...' News Review on the work of the charity.
  • A new addition to the Services we offer is the Poetry Critique. Are you ready to show your poetry to magazines and publishers, but worried about rejection, as you haven't had any knowledgeable comment on it? Would it help to have a skilled editor critiquing it?
  • 'I never write the books with films in mind. I always write them as books. I don't think one should write a book with a mind on a film version. I was a screenwriter before I was a novelist and I learn to write screenplays on the job. Working in television, you pay particular attention to story. You have to structure your stories properly. You have to work out what to include and what to leave out...' David Nicholls, author of One Day, quoted in our Comment column.
  • The Historical Writers' Association was set up last year by novelist Manda Scott as a forum for writers and to promote the genre. The internet-based group already boasts around 100 members including authors, agents and editors, and is open to writers of historical fiction and non-fiction.
  • Our checklist on Entering competitions helps you to review how you approach competitions and to make sure you give yourself the best possible chance of winning.
  • 'In writing biography, fact and fiction shouldn't be mixed. and if they are, the fiction parts should be printed in red ink, the fact parts in black ink.' Catherine Drinker Bowen in our Writers' Quotes.