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April 2011 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'The two big spring book fairs in Europe, Bologna and London, have both gone rather well, with packed aisles and a lot of solid business being done. This is all the more surprising because the book business internationally is in something of a crisis. The two big English language markets are both down on book sales, the UK by 3% and the US by a worrying 9%. Although sales of ebooks are growing, especially in the States, this is not yet compensating for the lost print sales.' News Review reports.
  • 'Self-publishing has been much in the news recently, with bestselling self-publisher Amanda Hocking deciding to sign up with a publisher, whilst author Barry Eisler has decided to continue self-publishing in spite of receiving a big offer.' News Review looks at the pros and cons of going it alone or signing up with a publisher.
  • 'The recent Books and Consumers conference showed some surprising trends in British book-buying, which is catching up on the US as regards e-books. Ebook sales, whilst much talked-about, were still only 1% of the total in 2011. But Kelly Gallagher, Vice President Publishing Services of PubTrack Bowker, the US parent company of Book Marketing Limited, which presented the research, observed that in the US ebook sales had enjoyed a "hockey stick" moment, with a steep rise in sales once devices had become prevalent. News Review at the Books and consumers conference.
  • 'In a stunning final judgement, Judge Denny Chin has this week rejected the Google Book Settlement, some 13 months after its final fairness hearing, saying: "In the end, I conclude that the [Settlement Agreement] is not fair, adequate, and reasonable." Chin set a date of April 25th for a status conference, and suggested his concerns with the agreement could be overcome with one simple change. "As the United States and other objectors have noted, many of the concerns raised in the objections would be ameliorated if the ASA were converted from an opt-out settlement to an opt-in settlement. I urge the parties to consider revising the ASA accordingly." News Review on the Google Settlement.
  • 'World Book Night was brilliant and World Book Day its usual effective self. But what about the literacy campaign which lies behind the whole operation?
    It is a shocking statistic that one in six people in the UK struggle with literacy. The figure is better in many European countries and worse in the US and many others. What is clear is what a terrible loss this is for them, how it reduces their life chances in every way, barring them from decent jobs and sapping their self-confidence.'
    News Review reports.
  • 'World Book Night is practically upon us, and thousands in the UK will help celebrate it this coming Saturday, 5 March. This year the organisers have broken away from the traditional Quick Reads and book tokens for children - although the traditional programmes are still there - to go for a much larger promotion.' News Review reports.


  • 'Pay a fair price, e-whingers: Talent and experience should cost a just amount of money in a commercial marketplace. Professionals deserve a fair reward. This whingeing, petty, adolescent sense of entitlement to culture and entertainment for free has almost proved the death of recorded music. It must not happen with books.’ Boyd Tonkin, Literary Editor, in the Independent
  • 'With a biographical novel you've got the basic structure of the life, you've got a mass of facts. The problem is to find a novel-shaped story to tell, there's no point telling the biographical story, it's been done… David Lodge, author of A Man of Parts on H G Wells, in the Bookseller.
  • '"Consider the nature of what happens when we read a book... in private, unsupervised, unspied-on, alone. It isn’t like a lecture; it’s like a conversation. There’s a back-and-forthness about it. The book proposes, the reader questions, the book responds, the reader considers. We bring our own preconceptions and expectations, our own intellectual qualities, and our own limitations too, our own experience of reading, our own temperament, our own hopes and fears, our own personality to the encounter."' Anthony Horowitz quoting Philip Pullman.
  • ‘Very often I'm brought to a halt by some ridiculous mistake that hasn't been picked up by an editor, which makes me think there can't be much line-by-line editing going on in publishing houses these days. I don't know that it matters all that much. It makes a lot of people absolutely furious so they can hardly enjoy reading. But for me if what is being said comes clearly across that's what matters. It is a bit pedantic to fuss too much about the editing of detail. On the other hand, it does offend my personal instincts, having been trained in the old-fashioned ways, which meant our texts should be perfect.' Diana Athill, author of Somewhere Towards the End in the Guardian

Writers' Quote

'And as to experience--well, think how little some good poets have had, or how much some bad ones have.'
Elizabeth Bishop

Historical Writers' Association

Novelist Manda Scott has formed the Historical Writers’ Association 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.

Poetry Book Society fights Arts Council England funding withdrawal

The tiny Poetry Book Society is fighting back against the Art's Council's shocking decision to remove its funding completely in one year's time.

Carol Ann Duffy, the UK Poet Laureate, was widely quoted in the press last week: "This news goes beyond shocking and touches the realms of the disgusting. The PBS was established by T S Eliot in 1953 and is one of poetry's most sacred churches with an influence and reach far beyond its membership. This fatal cut is a national shame and a scandal and I urge everyone who cares about poetry to join the PBS as a matter of urgency."

John Jenkins' February column

In this month's column John Jenkins deals with the all-important subject of creating characters.  How good are you are creating characters?  John shows you how to go about this.

International Book Fairs 2011

Bang up to date, our list of the key international books fairs for 2011.  Some are growing in this competitive sector, some have vanished, and others are still a bit vague, but here's the list as it stands at present.

 Magazine - Bookshelves

Great review of WritersServices

We're complimented by Stuart Aken's review of our site in his blog for 27 July:

'It is the Resources pages that really make this site stand out from the crowd. Here you’ll find reviews of books and software, listings of agents, self-publishing facts, educational matters, health and safety advice, and there’s a new feature, reviewing writing magazines. You’ll see there is a great deal of information on this site. It’s well presented and easily navigated, which is as well, considering the number of pages. It’s a site I browse often and I think you’ll benefit from a good look at this one.' Read more.

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.

2010 Diagram Prize winner

And here's this year's winner.

2010 Diagram Prize shortlist

Here's the shortlist for the 2010 Diagram Prize. It looks like it's going to be another strong year.
My favourite competition of the year is run by columnist Horace Bent in 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.

Writing Historical Fiction

Our revised article on Writing Historical Fiction brings this subject up to date.

Other adricles cover Writing Memoir and Autobiography, Writing Romance, Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, Writing Crime Fiction and Writing non-fiction

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:

August 2010

July 2010

Magazine index

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.


If you're thinking about self-publishing, this is the place to find out what's involved. If you're ready to go ahead, our high quality service is second to none and there's an economy version for those who want to tackle some of the work themselves. You can estimate the cost for yourself.

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