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December 2010 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'In the internet age it has become especially dominant and over half of all web pages are currently written in English. This gives authors writing in English an immense advantage, a market potentially of both the 400 million and the 1.4 billion mentioned above. Without your work needing to go through the expensive and difficult process of translation, it can in theory be made available to all the readers in these huge groups.' News Review looks at the remarkable spread of English.
  • 'Libraries are under threat as governments carry out major cuts to public services in both the US and the UK... It’s a bad lookout for libraries, which are all too easy to cut, especially as regards their book budgets and staff, but this time local authorities are going for large-scale closure of branch libraries... News Review reports
  • 'So, what has changed in the world of short stories? Well, the biggest change is that the internet has made short stories more viable by creating the possibility of publishing them online and using the internet to find an audience for them. Because of the brief form, short stories can be read online or even printed out, which, just like poetry, gives them a head-start over novels. The short form also suits a time-pressured audience with an increasingly short attention span.' News Review looks at what's happening.
  • 'A recent posting on Publishing Perspectives took the reader to their article on Pitchapalooza, written by authors David Henry Sterry and his wife Arielle Eckstut, the duo known as The Book Doctors. The Book Doctors invented ‘Putting Your Passion Into Print’, now known as Pitchapalooza. This is an American Idol for books, where writers get one minute to pitch their books to a panel of book professionals. The panel then critiques their idea, evaluating everything from character to plot, presentation to marketing, title to comparative books, befriending booksellers to finding an agent... ' News Review reports.


  • 'Male writers write books with themselves as characters in them, because we never cease to feel that there's something less than manly about the way that we earn our living. Literary creation is an isolated business involving nothing in the way of physical aptitude, courage, leadership or business acumen. Writers are cut off from all of the male-bonding rituals that gestate in the world of work...' Will Self in The Times
  • ‘The idea that publishers 'now appear frozen in the headlights of the onrushing digital revolution' is simply untrue. Long before the digital revolution had become a reality for readers, most major publishing houses have been planning and investing in their digital divisions in addition to 'doing the day job', publishing and selling their authors in all formats and in all markets...' Ursula Mackenzie, CEO of Little Brown UK, on the Guardian website
  • 'I always look back to that and tell people if I had given up then, if I had said well I tried it and I'm not good enough, it didn't work out, I would still be practising law right now... I think so much of whatever we do in life is about hard work and it's about luck... Emma Giffin, author of Heart of the Matter in the Bookseller.
  • 'Fundamentally, though, the need for publishers endures, even if not in their current form. Readers will be best served by publishers who can marry the best of what is sometimes labelled "legacy" publishing to the new means of developing and delivering what readers want and writers need. And if that marriage is achieved, then the persistent reporting of the death of old publishing will continue to be mere exaggeration.’ Stephen Page, MD of Faber and FaberClick for Faber and Faber Publishers References listing, in the Guardian blog.

Writers' Quote

'The poet is the man made to solve the riddle of the universe' who 'brings the whole soul of man into activity'.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

John Jenkins' October column

John's column recounts how he won the heart of his prospective mother-in-law through a volume of Bryon's poems and provides a glowing review of a travel book which takes you in the footsteps of the poet.

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...'

John Jenkins' December column

'Show the reader, don't tell him:

Sooner or later most good tutors will advise you to stop "telling" the reader what has happened and instead "show them." The point is to involve the reader. There are many times when tell is more important but nine times out of ten go for show.' 

Inside Publishing series

This extremely useful 19-part series is in the midst of being revised to take account of changes in the publishing world. The introduction, How the publishing business works, Advances and royalties, The Relationship between agents and publishers, Subsidiary rights, The English-speaking publishing world and The Marketing department have all just been brought up-to-date.

This second week we're on to The Frankfurt Book Fair, the Sales Department, the Production Department, Pricing and Distribution.

And the third week it's Books clubs and Direct selling.  The fourth covers Creative Commons.

Agents' listings

Our agents' listings have been compiled from agents' own websites and other information they publish about what they're looking for. You can use them to research which agents to submit to.

The listings cover UK and US agents, with separate listings for children's agents in the UK, and international agents from all over the world.

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

Previous magazines:

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.

Choosing a Service

Are you having difficulty deciding which service might be right for you?  This useful new article by Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage. offers advice on what to go for, depending on what stage you are at with your writing.

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