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May 2011 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'Never has there been a time when so much is changing so fast in the world of books. Seminars and discussion from Book Expo America last week underlined the way things are going, and it’s a scary prospect for people who have spent their lives in publishing or bookselling.' News Review reports on the scrum.

  • 'Other news stories had to be shelved with the news yesterday that Waterstone’s has been bought by Russian oligarch Alexander Mamut’s A&NN Group. Although this negotiation has been a bit long drawn-out, the news has been well-received and is in contrast to the situation in the United States, where Borders continues to teeter on the brink. The troubled HMV group has only raised £53m in the sale, considerably less than they had originally hoped for.' News Review on the latest news.

  • "The shortlist for the £10,000 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing – the twelfth “African Booker” - has just been announced. Libyan novelist Hisham Matar, Chair of the judges, said that "choosing a shortlist out of nearly 130 entries was not an easy task – one made more difficult and yet more enjoyable by the varied tastes of the judges – but we have arrived at a list of five stories that excel in quality and ambition. Together they represent a portrait of today’s African short story: its wit and intelligence, its concerns and preoccupations.” News Review reports.

  • 'Readers of this column may be tiring of all the talk about ebooks, but it should be said in our defence that the news has been full of nothing else for many weeks now. Take comfort however, because in the midst of this obsessive concentration on digital developments, publishing – and writing – is still going on as normal... A major trend at present is the increase in the number of books published.' News Review looks at the figures.

  • 'A recent article in Teleread questioned the way publishers bring out the premium edition, the hardback, and then make readers wait for the mass market paperback, which is available at a lower price which most people can afford... But if books are valued down to nothing, or almost nothing, as they are being right now in the Amazon Kindle store, doesn’t the consumer get used to the idea that books, like many other things, should be free or nearly so? And how do writers make an income from their writing if that is the prevailing view? News Review reports.


  • Writing biographies: ‘If you get to hate them you should give up the book! But it is a bit like being married. You have days when you feel fed up and days when you feel passionately in love. Dickens did terrible things in his life. But a good thing about being old is that you’ve seen it, you’ve done it. You know we all do terrible things…Claire Tomalin, author of nine biographies, with Charles Dickens : A Life coming later this year.

  • ‘The inevitable disappearance of the vast majority of bookshops will remove a main marketing channel and will seriously undermine the power of publishers. It will also increase the scary dominance of Amazon. Book printers will, sadly, mostly go out of business, and physical books will become more expensive as a consequence of reduced economies of scale. Public libraries, as repositories of physical volumes, will disappear… UK investor Luke Johnson, former Chairman of Borders UK, in Publishers’ Lunch.

  • 'I've always had uneasy loyalties about the relevance of the term 'work' to the activities I perform every day, and which occupy the hours when most other people are in fact "working". I write novels and stories and essays for a living. And while I fairly mindlessly refer to what I do as "work"... it's hard for me to think that work is what I really do.' Richard Ford in the Guardian.

  • 'How do you choose your subject matter? Indeed, do you choose it or does it choose you? Should you follow the adage "write what you know", or should a writer engage with the world beyond their back-yard? How important is research? Are you "allowed" to write a story that doesn't "belong" to you, for reasons of race, class, gender and so on? Is it possible to "own" any story, even the story of your life, given that others who intersect with it (your parents, your lover) will have a different "truth" to tell?...' Monica Ali on writing Untold Story, her novel about Princess Diana, in the Bookseller.

Writers' Quote

'In science there is a dictum: don't add an experiment to an experiment. Don't make things unnecessarily complicated. In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don't ask your reader to admire your words when you want them to believe your story.'
Ben Bova

Help get your book ready for publication with an editorial service

Marti Norberg, who has worked as a reporter and managing editor for several Colorado newspapers, advises on how to use an editorial service (such as WritersServices) to get your book ready.

Historical Writers' Association

Novelist Manda Scott has recently formed the [no-glossary]Historical Writers' Association[/no-glossary] as a forum for writers and to promote the genre. The internet-based group already boasts around 100 members including authors, agents and editors, is open to writers of historical fiction and non-fiction.

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 SocietySpecialist book club founded by T S Eliot in 1953, which aims to offer the best new poetry published in the UK and Ireland. Members buy at 25% discount. The PBS has a handsome new website at 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."

Magazine - The Reader

Great review of WritersServices

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

'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.

Writing Memoir and Autobiography
Writing Historical Fiction
Writing Romance
Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Writing Crime Fiction
Writing non-fiction

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.

Our Editorial Services for writers

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

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WritersServices Self-publishing

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.

Getting your manuscript copy edited

If you are looking for copy editing online, it is difficult to ensure that you are getting a professional copy editor who will do a good job on your manuscript.

WritersServices has now made its copy editing service unique, as it will offer as standard two versions of your script, one prepared using 'track changes' and one with all the changes accepted.

John Jenkins' April column

Ideas for stories begin in many different places:

A snatch of dialogue

A character

A title

Sometimes from a news fragment from TV or newspapers.

Whatever the start point, the crucial question – whether from Aristotle to Shakespeare or Sam Goldwyn to Stephen Spielberg is:

What’s the big idea?

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 articles cover Writing Crime Fiction, Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, Writing Romance, Writing Non-fiction and Writing Memoir and Autobiography.

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 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

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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.

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