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February 2008 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'The recent news of the $300m (£153m) Amazon purchase of Audible, the digital audiobooks site, has made it the market leader.' News Review looks at the implications and also reports on the smash success of cellphone novels in Japan.
  • 'The e-book arrives - or does it? This week has seen two big publishers announcing initiatives to prepare for the e-book world. At the same time, battle has been joined on e-book royalties.' News Review reports.
  • 'The writers have fought their corner and established their importance to the entertainment industry, as well as their key role as content-originators who must be paid for their contribution.' News Review on the end of the Writers' Guild strike.
  • The Association of Writers and Writing Programs now has 400 US colleges and universities as members. News Review looks at the boom in creative writing courses.
  • 'Joan Brady, the distinguished author of Theory of War, which won the Whitbread Book of the Year in 1993, has made the astonishing claim that the fumes from a factory next door to her home made her writing more downmarket.' News Review reports.
  • The latest figures show growth in indie booksellers and their sales.  The Independent Alliance has shown a way forward for smaller publishers.  News Review looks at the good news and how it affects writers.


  • 'When most books are sold on the net as downloads, how will this change their content? My hunch is that will finally spell the end of the novel.' Mark Booth in the Independent on Sunday on how the new literary form will arise on the Internet.

  • You can't mess around - everything has to be plausible and has to have happened, in some form, in the real world.  So, I like my books to be open-ended.' Stephen Leather, whose latest title Dead Men is just out, in Publishing News

  • 'Publishers are suspicious of activities they don't engage in themselves, and it is increasingly up to the author/agent to prove an unfamiliar market exists.' Alison Baverstock, author of How to Market Books, in Publishing News.

  • 'Finding an agent can be even harder than finding a publisher...' Mandy Little, MD of Watson Little in the Sunday Times

Writers' Quote

'Why, after all, should readers never be harrowed? Surely there is enough happiness in life without having to go to books for it.'
Dorothy Parker

Help for Writers

Check out this page to find links to the huge number of useful articles on this site.


The ABC Checklist for New Writers: Keeping Records

This the third of six extracts from The ABC Checklist for New Writers: How to Open Doors and Get Noticed the First Time Around by Lorraine Mace and Maureen Vincent-Northam, published by Orana Publishing. This useful book gives succinct answers to the many problems writers face, making it an indispensable reference for the budding writer.

This week - why you should keep good records of submissions and financial information.

1 Agents - when and how to approach them

2 Editors: Who they are and what they do

Magazine - Winter Scene

Poetry Writers' Yearbook own competition

A & C BlackClick for A & C Black Publishers Publishers References listing are running their own competition related to the book. You can also read the excellent poem by last year's winner and an article by the judge, the book's editor Gordon Kerr, on entering competitions.

WritersServices Competition

Our Poetry Writers' Yearbook competition is now closed (the winners will be notified shortly), but we still have an article from the book - 'a useful and practical guide to the fast-growing world of the poetry ezine and epoetry'.

Our Editorial Services for writers

Check out the 16 different editorial services we offer, from Reports to Copy editing, Typing to Rewriting.

An Editor's Advice

This new series is based on the advice 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 long-serving WritersServices freelance editor, has given writers over the years.  It deals with the most common problems she has encountered in the manuscripts which cross her desk.

The series covers Dialogue, Doing further drafts, genre writing, planning, points of view, autobiography and presentation.

See also Making submissions for how to approach publishers and agents.

Changes in the book trade

This new series by Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage. looks at the book trade and investigates how fundamental changes in how it works are affecting writers.  First: Bookselling

Entering competitions

Have you ever wondered whether there’s any point in entering competitions? Someone must be winning, but why is it somehow never you?  Our checklist helps you to review how you approach competitions, to see if you can achieve a better result.

International Book Fairs 2008

Our newly-updated list of 2008 book fairs around the world.

My Say

Shortly-to-be-published American author Wendy Walker on her path to the writer's life as a stay-home mom:

'How was I going to write an entire novel in the midst of the sleepless nights and frenetic days that constituted my life? It was, ironically, from this core-shaking doubt that the four characters in my first novel were born.'

Bob's Journal goes into its 8th volume  

Bob's last column for WritersServices reflects on writing and the Internet:

'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.'
This week
We've really enjoyed publishing Bob's column and are glad to say that it's still available on the site for anyone to read. In the meantime we wish him the best of luck with his writing.

The 2007 pages
The 2001 pages (if you want to start at the beginning)

Choosing a Service

Are you having difficulty deciding which service might be right for you?  This useful new article by Chris Holifield offers advice on what to go for, depending on what stage you are at with your writing.