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September 2009 - Writers Magazine

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News Review

  • 'Authors’ advances are being cut radically as a result of the recession. Together with the cancelling of contracts because a delivered manuscript is ‘not good enough’ or is late, this is all part of publishers’ attempts to cut their costs..  New authors are experiencing greater difficulty than ever before in getting their books taken on by a publisher. Now evidence is emerging that even big authors are having their advances cut. News Review investigates.
  • News Review reports that Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol is a huge bestseller but, as agent Jonny Geller commented: ‘If the most popular book on earth is a fiver, what does it tell the punter? Books are worthless. Retailers are just throwing away their industry.’ Amazon has also announced that the Kindle e-book version has been outselling the hardback edition in the US. So, it this Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘tipping-point’? Well, it just might be.
  • 'So why is it that the Man Booker Prize manages to generate so much interest across the world? Entries are limited to novels written in English and American writers’ work is excluded, but in spite of all this the Prize seems to generate considerable interest year after year.' News Review reports on an extraordinary success.
  • 'Was it ever reasonable to think that such a revolutionary, unprecedented pact, negotiated in secret over three years by people with loose claims of representation, concerning a wide range of stakeholders, both foreign and domestic, involving murky issues of copyright and the rapidly unfolding digital future, could be pushed through as a class action settlement within a period of months, in the teeth of a historic media industry transition?’ News Review quotes Publishers' Weekly in the investigation of the Google Book Settlement.
  • 'You can’t have missed the news that Dan Brown’s latest thriller, The Lost Symbol, will be released worldwide on 15 September. As readers queue up to place advance orders for one of the most eagerly anticipated books in history, there are also anxieties about how this one book will distort the performance of the book trade. News Review investigates the biggest book of the year.

Comment

  • 'Authors’ advances are being cut radically as a result of the recession. Together with the cancelling of contracts because a delivered manuscript is ‘not good enough’ or is late, this is all part of publishers’ attempts to cut their costs..  New authors are experiencing greater difficulty than ever before in getting their books taken on by a publisher. Now evidence is emerging that even big authors are having their advances cut. News Review investigates.
  • News Review reports that Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol is a huge bestseller but, as agent Jonny Geller commented: ‘If the most popular book on earth is a fiver, what does it tell the punter? Books are worthless. Retailers are just throwing away their industry.’ Amazon has also announced that the Kindle e-book version has been outselling the hardback edition in the US. So, it this Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘tipping-point’? Well, it just might be.
  • 'So why is it that the Man Booker Prize manages to generate so much interest across the world? Entries are limited to novels written in English and American writers’ work is excluded, but in spite of all this the Prize seems to generate considerable interest year after year.' News Review reports on an extraordinary success.
  • 'Was it ever reasonable to think that such a revolutionary, unprecedented pact, negotiated in secret over three years by people with loose claims of representation, concerning a wide range of stakeholders, both foreign and domestic, involving murky issues of copyright and the rapidly unfolding digital future, could be pushed through as a class action settlement within a period of months, in the teeth of a historic media industry transition?’ News Review quotes Publishers' Weekly in the investigation of the Google Book Settlement.
  • 'You can’t have missed the news that Dan Brown’s latest thriller, The Lost Symbol, will be released worldwide on 15 September. As readers queue up to place advance orders for one of the most eagerly anticipated books in history, there are also anxieties about how this one book will distort the performance of the book trade. News Review investigates the biggest book of the year.

Writers' Quote

'It is splendid to be a great writer, to put men into the frying pan of your words and make them pop like chestnuts.'
 Gustave Flaubert

John Jenkins

Our first column from the former editor of Writers' ForumBritish writers' magazine which is highly recommended for all writers. It features wide range of news and articles which help writers to improve their work and get published: www.writers-forum.com is entitled 'Move over Harry Potter' and  is about Joe Delaney, who followed his agent's advice to switch to writing for children - and is having a remarkable success.

Latest changes in the book trade: publishing

In the third part of this series, 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. gives an update on developments relating to Print on demand and the Long Tail.

Print on demand makes it possible to produce just one book at a time, opening up the possibility of keeping everything in print forever and offering writers the opportunity to self-publish.

First article: Bookselling

My Say by Jae Watson

'Before publication I wondered what the key was, the magic formula. I attended conferences and literary festivals, nurturing a fading hope of finding the answer. Here are the things I gleaned, helping me cross that fine, elusive line dividing unpublished and published writers...'

Magazine - Oriental girl 

Self-publish your way through the recession

First published in the spring issue of The Self-Publishing Magazine, this article by Chris Holifield looks at what's going on in the publishing world and why it might make sense to consider self-publishing.

Review of The Weekend Novelist Redrafts the Novel

by Robert J Ray

 

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. reviews this new book from the author of The Weekend Novelist, concluding that:

'For the first-time redrafter, Ray’s methods provide a good foundation, and most importantly, they use a clear timetable. Over eighteen weekends (that is, four and a half months), a writer can carry out the work necessary for an effective rewrite of a novel, and have the manuscript ready to go.'

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.

Tips for Writers Our new series for writers:

Improving your writing, Learning on the job, New technology and the Internet, Self-publishing - is it for you?, Promoting your writing (and yourself), Other kinds of writing, Keep up to date and Submission to publishers and agents

Help for Writers

Check out this page to find links to the huge number of useful articles on this site, including Finding an Agent and Making Submissions.

Our Editorial Services for writers

Check out the 17 different editorial services we offer, from Reports to Copy editing, Typing to Rewriting. 

Our book review section

The Ins and Outs of Indexing

'Very few works of non-fiction can do without an index of some description... If the reader is lucky, the index will allow them to find the term they seek and take them immediately to a relevant and useful mention of that term or concept... So why can’t a computer programme achieve this?

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' article on Indexing looks at why non-fiction books need them, why it's a specialist job and why computers can't achieve the same result as a skilled indexer.

Our new Indexing service 

A professional index is essential for any work of non-fiction. Readers expect to find a useful, well-presented index at the back of a book, and can get very frustrated if the index doesn’t quickly lead them to the information they seek.

  • Are you an author planning to compile your own index?
  • Have you been asked by your publisher to provide an index for your book?
  • Are you self-publishing your work? If so, don’t let your readers down by offering them a sub-standard index.

A professional index will set your work apart from other self-published books. Indexing need not be expensive – and an effective index is the key to a good non-fiction book.

Don't give up the day job

It’s a common enough fantasy for writers: maybe now I can leave that dreary job and devote myself whole-heartedly to writing... Perhaps you’ve even been indulging in it as you lay on the beach this summer, or more likely spent your precious holiday working on your latest novel.

The business of writing
by Joanne Phillips

'Writing is undoubtedly a creative art...  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...'

New Categories series

Writing Non-fiction

This is the fourth article in a 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. which will cover the major writing genres.

So you want to write non-fiction? Here are some suggestions about how to approach it, covering the competition and marketing, planning, research, selling your book and self-publishing.

Writing Romance

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

Writing Crime Fiction

T S Eliot Prize shortlist

John Jenkins' October column

How to kickstart a biography

'In my writing classes I always urge people to have two pieces of work in progress simultaneously. And the easiest and most satisfying second option is a family history.

Tackling a family history employs all the qualities you need to be an entertaining writer –and anybody who has a clear mind and can write a letter can write such a book...'