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March 2012 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'I’m afraid we can’t escape Amazon in the news at the moment. In Publishing Perspectives Bryce Milligan, the publisher of small American indie Wings Press, asks whether Amazon’s philanthropic grants are not just helping along their company aim of overwhelming the competition. The independent Publishers Group of small publishers is currently engaged in a battle with the Internet giant. The options don’t look good – either trade with Amazon at a discount, which means the publisher will actually lose money, or don’t trade with them at all...' News Review reports.
  • 'It’s a sign of the times that previously unknown British author E L James has topped the New York Times bestseller list with an erotic romance, Fifty Shades of Grey. The book was published in a print edition but the vast majority of sales were in ebook. Vintage US are releasing new ebook versions of the trilogy on Monday while their first print in paperback will be 750,000.' News Review has the story.
  • 'With the word’s top children book fair, Bologna, starting on the 19th March, all eyes are on this lucrative and expanding area of the publishing market. This is partly because across the world parents have continued to invest in books for their children and in their children’s education at a time when general bookselling has been affected by recession. Children’s publishers are subject to less uncertainty than their adult counterparts and can continue to invest in the long term News Review reports.
  • 'This week’s there’s an interesting story from the US about writer Kate Alcott, whose first novel The Dressmaker has just sold 35,000 copies in hardback and been sold for translation in five countries... But, as News Review explains, Kate Alcott was actually a pseudonym and her story shows why new authors may have an advantage over previously published ones.


  • ‘One reason why first-time novelists are frequently turned down by agents and publishers is because they tend to regard freedom of expression as a permit to waffle on, page after page, about nothing in particular. Their manuscripts lack rigour and economy, and this reveals a common failing in the creative mind-set of beginners: too much allowance is made for the gratification of every expressive urge that springs to mind...' Roland Vernon, author of The Good Wife's Castle in Bookbrunch.

  • 'The bit between the writer and reader is called publishing. We need to think of copyright in an imaginative way. Publishers are very creative about formats for books, through covers and marketing campaigns, but we are not that creative about the product. The creativity there seems to go on before we receive the product. We can think what we might make from the copyright and from the brilliance of working with an author.' Stephen Page, MD of Faber and FaberClick for Faber and Faber Publishers References listing, at the Bookseller's Futurebook conference.
  • 'I can't do fantasy. When I read C S Lewis I just don't get it. I can walk into the cupboard but I can't walk out of it into the snow. I like historical facts, evidence, real stories. There are so many vampires now, there is a lot of dross as well as good stuff. But take J K Rowling or Philip Pullman, it is amazing what these people have done... Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse, in The Times
  • 'How could the author who had cut out ALL the middle-men with the invention of Pottermore, jump back onto the ship she appeared to have left aground? The answer is relatively simple, but one often neglected in a world of Kindle-mania. Rowling wants the new book to be a success: and success is not just measured in units sold...' Philip Jones, Futurebook, the Bookseller
  • 'We are not seeing a migration from print to digital reading among young people, we are seeing reading falling in overall popularity as a leisure activity. We know that viewing video online is becoming more popular for all internet users than reading text. Reading itself is being squeezed.' Jonathan Douglas, Director of the UK National Literacy TrustUK-based organisation which has campaigned since 1993 to improve literacy standards across all age groups. Excellent research information and details of the many initiatives the charity is currently involved in. It also has a useful page of news stories on UK literacy, which links to newsletter, in his blog.

Writers' Quotes

'I've always believed in writing without a collaborator, because when two people are writing the same book, each believes he gets all the worries and only half the royalties.'
Agatha Christie

Links to stories of the week

Our new feature links to interesting blogs or articles posted online, which will help keep you up to date with what's going on in the book world:

The New Press - 20 years of publishing in the public interest and now the they have a bestseller.

Sourcebooks announces Agile model, which allows for the rapid and interactive development of work by its authors, where the content evolves through a partnership between the author and their community.

British Library Web Archive

We feel very honoured that the British Library asked to archive in its web archive. It was initially archived on 15 October 2009 and has been updated at six-monthly intervals ever since.

Help for Writers

Use this page as a springboard to over 2,000 pages on the site.

Success story

With the publication of Inheritance, Christopher Paolini brings to a triumphant conclusion his epic sequence. In the UK this book had a first week sale of 76,000 copies and the series as a whole has sold 1.2 million books to date in the UK. It had a first printing of 2.5 million in the US. Not only have the books been translated in 49 countries but total sales for the first three books in the series have been 25 million copies worldwide.

Magazine - Daisies

Success story

Darren Shan’s first book, Ayuamarca, was published in 1999 by Orion and didn’t have much impact. The sequel, Hell's Horizon, sold fewer copies than the first. But in January 2000, Shan released Cirque du Freak, the first book of The Saga of Darren Shan series in the UK and Ireland and this was the beginning of his tremendous success and as a YA (and, more recently, adult) horror writer.

Set up your own blog

In order to be in the best position to promote yourself and your writing, it’s well worth setting up a blog. In case you find this idea a bit alien, here’s why you should take the trouble to do this.

A blog offers you the opportunity to start building an audience for your work and the chance to experiment with writing about yourself and with different kinds of writing. Many successful writers’ blogs start with a small readership of family and friends, but build a good audience over the years. Relax and just write what comes naturally, it makes sense for your blog to be more informal, more personal than a standard piece of non-fiction writing and more lively than a slice of autobiography, as there are no conventions that go with it.

Previous magazines:

February January Magazine index

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


The 2011 Diagram Prize

Now's your chance to catch up with this year's shortlist of six barmy titles, and to go to the Bookseller's site to cast your own vote. Ranging from Mr Andoh's Pennine Diary: Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge to Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World, this is a vintage year.  

John Jenkins' February column

'Everybody knows that old joke which asserts that if you steal from one writer it’s plagiarism and if you steal from 14 it’s research. But joking aside, it is essential that writers know the difference and abide strictly by the law. Not only the letter of the law but also the spirit... Because much of what is on the internet is freely available does not mean it is free to copy. Sometimes you can get permission to copy a passage for educational purposes and it is better to ask first.'


Our new service is for anyone who is having difficulty producing their cover or jacket copy and may be especially helpful for self-publishers. Let our skilled editor/writers do the job for you, so that you end up with a professional blurb.

Update to our links

Our 23 lists of recommended links have just been updated with many new links to sites of special interest to writers. these range from Writers Online Services to Picture libraries and from Software for writers to Writers Magazines & Sites.

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.

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.

Our Editorial Services for writers

Check out the 18 different editorial services we offer, from Reports to Copy editing, Typing to Rewriting. 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 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.

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.

We Watch the web for writers

Our huge section on technology and the web, and how writers can make use of them, takes you from beginner-level articles to advanced technology.

Our book review section