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March 2010 - Writers Magazine

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News Review

  • At the report back from the annual UK Books and Consumers report this week, Book Marketing Limited’s Research director Steve Bohme pointed out some interesting changes in consumer behaviour relating to books. Nearly half of all book purchases were gift purchases, an increase from one-third in 2005, a stunning proportion which shows that books have not lost their attraction as gifts... Purchases were down 4% in 2009, compared with 2005. News Review reports.
  • 'This year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair runs from 23 to 26 March and provides a good opportunity to have a look at the children’s publishing industry. Not everything in the garden is lovely but children’s trade (general) publishing is undoubtedly doing a lot better than its adult counterpart.' News Review on the biggest children's book fair.
  • 'The staggering number of 285,000 new titles and editions were self-published and published by community presses in the US last year, balanced against a slightly lower figure of 275,000 coming from traditional publishing houses... The Nielsen figures for the UK are 133,224, quite modest by comparison...  So, what do these huge figures mean for authors? At a time when it’s increasingly hard to get published, why are there so many titles coming out? The main answer of course is self-publishing and print on demand in general. News Review reports.
  • ‘I am saddened that yet another claim has been made that I have taken material from another source to write Harry. The fact is I had never heard of the author or the book before the first accusation by those connected to the author's estate in 2004; I have certainly never read the book.' J K Rowling News Review looks at the latest plagiarism claim
  • The end of the slush-pile is upon us. Big publishers don't even bother to read it and it's a rare author who can make it into print that way. News Review looks at the odds and at the big writers who have beaten the trend.

Comment

  • (Historical novels) are just novels that have a past location and are therefore not swept away by the tide of present day life so fast. This is the great agony of trying to capture the present in a novel - it's a very slow thing to write and present life moves on in a hideously unexpected and overtaking kind of way.' Rose Tremain, whose new novel is Trespass, in the Bookseller
  • 'Whatever the future, a new generation of agents and publishers sees the old publishing model as broken. There must, they say, be a marriage between virtual and old text worlds. This generation speaks the jargon of "disintermediation" (roughly, commercial streamlining). The boom days are over. Writers will have to adapt.' Robert McCrum in the Guardian.
  • 'If you feel sorry for publishers spare a thought – and a dime – for writers, on whose shoulders this huge, discounting, rights-trading, jargon-babbling profiteering melée rests. As things are, the writer’s share of a book that sells for £10, after his or her agent’s fee, hovers between 35p and 40p: more than 95% is kept by the agent, publisher and retailer.' Henry Porter in the Guardian.
  • ‘Books are not a threatened species. They are ordinary features of the ordinary world... Should we, who read books and believe that books and the stories within them contain such power, be surprised that kids read, that books survive? Of course not. We should be celebrating these facts.’ David Almond, author of Skellig, in The Times
  • 'I think John Irving said in an interview something which nobody says about writing, which is that writing is sitting down and typing that sentence, and that sentence creates the next sentence and the character grows and the story grows from the physical act of typing what is going on in your head.' Deborah Moggach in Scriptwriter.
  • 'The idea of what constitutes literary value has changed or become less consensual. It’s harder to establish what is good and what is not, and that is one of the things that forms the canon. Barnes, Amis, McEwan were the last people through the door, and then the door closed, and then the building fell down.’ Giles Foden, author of Turbulence, in the Bookseller

Writers' Quote

'Writing is a dog's life, but the only one worth living.'
Gustave Flaubert

Success story

This week's success story is Hilary Mantel, whose Booker win with Wolf Hall has transformed her life after a long writing career.

Inside Book Publishing

Our latest review covers the 4th Edition of Giles Clark and Angus Phillips' useful book. Reviewer 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. commented that it had been substantially revised and that it 'provides an excellent introduction to anyone with a professional interest in publishing...  No writer equipped with this book need ever feel like an ignorant outsider again.'

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. In the latest in our new Categories series Chris Holifield looks at how to set about writing your memoir and how to publish it.

Other articles in the series:
Writing Historical Fiction
Writing Romance
Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Writing Crime Fiction
Writing non-fiction

 

John Jenkins' March column

John looks at the writing of memoirs and shows how his students have approached writing in this genre. He then provides an elegant essay on the semi-colon.

The latest addition to our fictionalised stories about our services.

Alison needed our children's editorial services to get her magic unicorn story right.

Plus other stories, including:

 Magazine - eBook Reader

John Jenkins' April column

John ruminates on what writers can learn from the great Anthony Trollope and concludes:

His success is an inspiration to those who feel they have failed early in life and fear failure more than failure itself...  he would set himself a target of 5,000 words a day – or 28,000 words a week – and keep to it.

Is a creative writing degree really worth it?

Having completed a creative writing degree, Josh Spears thought he would become a bestselling writer or at least be able to get a job. Neither of these has happened, so was it worth it and would he advise other writers to put themselves through the course?

Don't procrastinate!

'Do you find it difficult to get started on your writing? Is it always easier to put off finishing that research/ starting that novel/embarking on the second draft? You are not alone, for many writers suffer from procrastination.' Chris Holifield looks at how to get yourself going.

'This is primarily because writing is such a uniquely lonely job. Where else would you be sitting by yourself and supplying your own self-discipline? Most jobs have a structure and a time-frame which really help the individual to get on with the job. Even consultants and freelancers have deadlines to meet, but for the writer there is generally no specific outside pressure to help things along – it’s up to them to get themselves motivated, get started and get on with it.'

Review of FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions from ambitious writers and the answers by John Jenkins

This book by the former editor of Writers’ Forum, our columnist John Jenkins, is packed with answers to all the questions you have ever thought of asking.

Chris Holifield's review concludes that: 'All in all, this is a valuable resource, especially for the new writer, but also for anyone who has tried to work their way through the writing jungle.'

 

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.

Latest changes in the book trade 7:

In the seventh 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. looks at the subject of Creative Commons and how these special licenses might transform authors' capacity to the license use of their books for all sorts of purposes.

First article: Bookselling

Second article: Publishing

Third article: Print on Demand and the Long Tail

Fourth article: Self-publishing - career suicide or 'really great'

Fifth article: Writers' Routes to their audiences

Sixth article: Copyright

Real Time Web for Old Time Books: the Benefit of Social Media for Publishers and Authors

Fauzia Burke explores the online activities you can do in real time -- from status updates on Facebook, to microblogging on Twitter to uploading photos and videos on other social media sites. If you want to explore how social networking can help you market your book, her article provides a starting-point.

 

2009 Diagram Prize winner

The winner of the wonderfully barmy Diagram Prize for 2009 has just been announced.  And here's where you can find the shortlist. 

 

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

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

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. 

International Book Fairs 2010

Our updated line-up of the year's book fairs across the world, a unique feature of the site which is much in demand.  Is there a book fair near you?  It might be worth planning to attend it if so.

John Jenkins' February column

In his February column John deals with the famous piece of advice to writers: 'Show, don't tell'.

If you've ever wondered exactly what this means in practice, John's examples provide a quick tutorial and will help you to make your own writing work much better.