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March 2013 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • Last week's annual Books and Consumers research from Bowker showed some interesting trends in book-buying both in the UK and the US. In 2012 British consumers bought 296m books, compared to 288m in 2011, but for the fifth year in a row spend declined from £2,137m ($3.226) to £2.1086 ($3.182) as the lower prices for ebooks started to affect the overall price mix.
  • In a column written for the Bookseller, agent Peter Straus, who is MD of Rogers, Coleridge and White and also President of the UK Association of Authors Agents, has questioned whether it makes sense any longer for publishers to insist on signing contracts for the legal term of copyright. For publishers this has been an important consideration, giving them the control of a book for the full term of copyright unless it goes out of print and is not reprinted.
  • The announcement that London agency Conville & WalshSee Conville & Walsh listing has been bought by Curtis BrownSee Curtis Brown listing UK is the latest news in the consolidation which is going on amongst literary agents. This purchase brings a successful smaller agency into a bigger one which has not perhaps been so dynamic. As a way of recruiting productive agents, it probably beats trying to develop them (so long as you have the money to invest or can lay your hands on it), as these agents are not likely to leave taking their client list with them.
  • Are creative writing courses just an expensive con, or do they really help writers with their writing and subsequent careers as writers? Many writers have spent a lot of money on courses, sometimes expensive one year Creative Writing MAs, but have these done anything more than make money for the organisations running the courses? It's hard to be sure, because this is something no-one wants to talk about and of course some writers do benefit and find a publisher for their work.


  • 'Philip Roth once said to me years ago, when he took an interest in me as a young writer: you've got to write as if your parents are dead. It was very good advice, and I stuck to it, and now I look back with some horror. My father, especially, was torn between exultant pride that I'd published a book and sheer horror at what was in it. So I must have had a steely bit of detachment then. But I've never done what Bellow did in Herzog, or Roth, or Hanif (Kureishi)... put their ex-wives in books. I couldn't do that. My chip of ice is a bit... slushy.' Ian McEwan, whose latest book is Sweet Tooth, in the Observer.
  • Even if you are a bestseller you feel insecure because it is all so unpredictable. You think, are people still going to go out and buy this? Patricia Cornwall in the Sunday Telegraph's Seven.
  • 'There are no rules about how long it takes to write one novel, or several novels. There are some writers who produce as many novels in six months as Tartt has in her whole career. Nora Roberts, American's most popular writer of romance novels, turns out five books a year, and has only one rule of writing: "Ass in the chair". Six to eight hours, every day, adds up to revenue of nearly $60 million a year.' Erica Wagner in The Times.
  • 'I don't like being unfashionable, but I'm doomed to be. Highly educated people didn't like the musical Les Miserables when it opened on stage. I think they have a fear of their own emotions. I loved it, but then I love Tammy Wynette. I'm an odd mixture. I did English at Cambridge, but the novels I was writing were no good, because I unconsciously, wanted them to be treated as literature, which is absolute nonsense. The only books that work come out of your own powerful drives. If you don't care about them, why should anyone else? Hollywood has been helpful to me in that sense. It banged all the shit out of me... William Nicholson, author of Motherland and the screenplay of Les Miserables, in The Times.

Writers' Quote

'Ideally, the writer needs no audience other than the few who understand. It is immodest and greedy to want more.'

T S Eliot

Links to this week's top stories

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:

Exploring Accessible Publishing for the Print Disabled
Sixty Years of Sterling Wisdom from the "Lord of Publishing"
The Most Influential Children's Publisher You've Never Heard Of

 Magazine - Colourful globe

Writing Memoir and Autobiography

Writing Historical Fiction

Writing Romance

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

Writing Crime Fiction

Writing non-fiction

Our book review section

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. 


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

Our new Poetry Critique service

Are you ready to show your poetry to magazines and publishers, but worried about rejection from the people you most admire? Do you feel you need some help editing your poetry to really make it shine?

Our new service provides a line-by-line critique on up to 150 lines of poetry from our expert editor, plus advice on marketing your poems.

Driven to Distraction: Writers and Social Media

Jonathan Franzen famously wrote that, 'it's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection is writing good fiction', and many writers are open about blocking sites that harm their productivity. But with eight out of ten people in Britain now having access to the internet, and social media sites growing at an alarming rate, social media can be an effective and useful tool for writers to promote themselves.

This article highlights ways in which writers can utilise the two main social media sites, and reach out to an ever growing creative online community without it getting in the way of the writing itself.

New words added to Oxford Dictionaries reflect changes in society

Oxford Dictionaries Online, Oxford University Press's free dictionary and language reference service, has just added its new quarterly words, which present a fascinating picture of our changing language.

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. There's a new Writers' Blogs listing which needs populating, so please send in your suggestions.

Help for Writers

Use this page as a springboard to over 3,000 pages on the site. 

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, Your Submission Package and Making Submissions.