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October 2013 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • Last week's news of the departure of Larry Kirshbaum, the respected and successful publisher turned agent who Amazon hired to head up their trade publishing venture, was greeted with a certain amount of glee amongst all those who are fearful of the giant online retailer. But what does it really mean?
  • The shortlist for the 2013 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry is an interesting and diverse one. Including new work by well-established poets Robin Robertson, Michael Symmons Roberts, Sinéad Morrissey and Geroge Szirtes, it also has newcomer Helen Mort's debut collection, Division Street. Daljit Nagra's interpretation of The Ramayana and Moniza Alvi's powerfully felt At the Time of Partition invoke a wider world. Anne Carson is unpredictably experimental, as always, in her verse novel Red Doc >, which contrasts wonderfully with Speak, Old Parrot from veteran poet Dannnie Abse.
  • This has been a week full of prize announcements, with Alice Munro being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and Eleanor Catton winning the Booker. Alice Munro's was a popular win, with many people feeling glad it has gone to the veteran Canadian writer, who had only recently announced that she would not be writing another book. Maybe this will make her change her mind, but the sad news that she is too ill to travel to the Nobel ceremony suggests otherwise. She has a much wider audience than many Nobel Prize-winners and was awarded the Prize as ‘a master of the contemporary short story'.
  • 'The Frankfurt Book FairWorld's largest trade fair for books; held annually mid-October at Frankfurt Trade Fair, Germany; First three days exclusively for trade visitors; general public can attend last two. seems to have been a great success this year, amidst signs that publishers have been having a better time than in recent years and are more actively buying and publishing. Amongst the reasons for this are an improved outlook in Europe and the fact that for many publishers ebooks are making a solid and cost-effective contribution...' News Review reports form the world's biggest book fair.
  • 'Nielsen research made public at the recent Bookseller Children's Conference suggests that the number of UK children who rarely read, or do not read at all, has risen in the past year from 20% to 28%. As in the US and elsewhere, children's reading is being affected by alternative activities, particularly games, watching videos online and texting...'
  • The news that bestselling author Wilbur Smith is, as he puts it, in search of a new Wilbur Smith, a younger writer who will take over the job of writing his books, has been in the papers. At 80, he is ready to go into semi-retirement so that he can spend more time with his much-younger wife, while someone else carries on writing. When he signed a £15 million deal with HarperCollins recently there was speculation that he would get some younger writers to help write the books, as both Clive Cussler and James Patterson have done. Both keep some control of the storylines of their books, and can thus claim authorship.


  • 'The nice thing about agenting is that you can carry on until you annoy everyone. I'm going to do it until I don't enjoy it. And I do enjoy it, not every single minute, but more than 90% of it. Even the negotiating is good fun up to a point. And that moment you get your authors' new manuscripts, and your heart is in your mouth because you want to be able to love it - that's still the most exciting part... Publishers as people aren't risk averse, as corporations they are. Often editors would like to buy books that they aren't allowed to.' Carole Blake of agency Blake Friedmann in the Bookseller.
  • 'When I'm working at full tilt, I average about 1,000 words an hour. I sit at the keyboard and it all comes out. It's an extraordinary thing, but I think it's because fiction is created by the unconscious mind, which is always exploring situations and possibilities. I suppose that's the thing I love about writing, what got me into it in the first place...' Alexander McCall Smith, author of The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon in The Times.
  • I've met a lot of authors weighing their options, seen a ton of hands shoot up in panels hoping for that one last piece of advice to push them off the fence one way or the other. There's a path on both sides of that fence, and writers can see crowds beating the grass flat. They can see the books that lie along either way. My advice, for what it's worth, is to stop looking at those crowds and those books. Look at the work in your hand. Claire Tomalin, author of Charles Dickens: A Life in the Evening Standard
  • ‘When that happened I thought it was the most natural thing in the world. I had no idea; I'd never written a book before. I wrote this book, someone said they would publish it. I always thought they would, I didn't know books got turned down. The one night they rang up and said, "You've sold it in America for $40,000." They said, "Are you sitting down?" I thought "You're being a bit overwrought, aren't you? What's to sit down about?" Then it was the prizes. It really seemed to be just what happened to you.' (His next book did not sell, or win any prizes.)... Jim Crace, whose Harvest was the favourite for this year's Booker, in the Evening Standard
  • 'The overwhelming number of readers of crime fiction are women, but most of the people who write about crime are men. Women are still conditioned to defer. We are less likely to push ourselves into the limelight and we are less likely to get our agents or publishers to run to the papers with every little thing we do.' Val McDermid in The Times
  • 'I didn't know the first thing about publishing, I didn't know anybody in publishing, I didn't care about having anything to do with publishing during those six years I wrote it... I did it (self-published) for my mental health. The frustration was starting to get to me. You think, "Gee, I spent three years of my life sending letters to agents - three years of my life, for God's sake." Sergio De La Pava, author of A Naked Singularity, which won the 2013 $25,000 PENSupported by eminent writers, this is the English branch of International Pen, which has centres in nearly 100 countries. It fights for freedom of expression and against political censorship. It campaigns for writers harassed, imprisoned and sometimes murdered for their views. Literary Award for a debut novel.

Writers' Quote

‘Books say: she did this because life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't. I'm not surprised some people prefer books. Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people's lives, never your own,' Julian Barnes in Flaubert's Parrot

Links to this month'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:

Shatzkin: Why Competing With Amazon Is So Difficult | Digital Book World

Jane Austen 'airbrushed' on new £10 note, claims biographer | Money |

How Amazon and Goodreads could lose their best readers -

Neil Gaiman delivers our second annual lecture | Reading Agency

BookBrunch - When print publishers are not necessary

Wylie tells publishers: 'withdraw from Amazon' | The Bookseller

Does Reading Literary Fiction Makes You a Better Person? | Publishing Perspectives

Philip Hensher stirs debate among authors after refusing to write for free

BookBrunch - Creative writing - or creative accounting?

BookBrunch - 'More of the same please'Tracking Publisher-Amazon Relations in 'The Everything Store'

In the Digital Publishing Era, Content Trumps Platform | Publishing Perspectives

What would Allen Lane make of Amazon? | Books | The Guardian

10 Counterintuitive Tips for Self-Publishers | Publishing Perspectives 

Classic books in 140 characters - Telegraph

Can I Publish Myself? An Interview With Author-Speaker-Publisher Phil Simon - Forbes

Reports of Barnes & Noble's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated | Publishing Perspectives

Seth Godin on Why Vilifying Amazon Makes No Sense | Publishing Perspectives

Ether for Authors: How Clear a View of Publishing Do We Have? | Publishing Perspectives

Don't tell me the truth about Amazon | FutureBook

How Do Literary Agents Fit Into The New Book Publishing Ecosystem? - Forbes

Amazon vs. your public library - Fortune Tech

The Head of FSG Reflects on Hothouse -- Vulture

Two Experiments Running: Agent-Publishing in London | Publishing Perspectives

'I turned down 'Robert Galbraith'': Editor admits rejecting JK Rowling's secret novel - News - Books - The Independent

Agent-Assisted Publishing: An Interrupted Debate | Publishing Perspectives

What the Writers' Guild Can Do For You



Our series about writing in different genres

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 Editorial Services for writers

Check out the 19 different editorial services we offer, from Reports to Copy editing, Manuscript 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.

A Printer's View

A Printer's View 1 is the first in a series of occasional articles looking at self-publishing from the printing perspective. In Self-publishing? How do you prepare your files for print? Andy EdmonsonManaging Director, Purely Digital, a quality digital printing service based in Derby; over 20 years' experience in printing industry; written for various publications including Print Week and popular blog Just Creative, Managing Director at Purely Digital, looks at this central question.

Writing for Children: Rule Number One

Read more than you write: 'Author opinion falls into two camps on this one, with some writers maintaining that reading fiction while writing is a very bad thing. To this I might say that if you have been working for years as a published author, and you have that degree of sophistication, dexterity and confidence, then maybe sometimes yes. But for the majority of us who are not at that level... Many other authors, however, believe the opposite to be true, that reading and being well-read is essential to good writing, and it is this argument that I am exploring here...' Sarah Taylor-Fergusson in Rule Number One of Writing for Children.

Conscious Writing

'Discovering our authentic voice, writing with lasting impact, and standing out from the crowd are high priorities for most of us who write. But how do we go about achieving these intentions? Conscious Writing is a new approach to deep writing with full awareness which takes us into the core of what we're really here to write, and in the process, opens the way for us to realise our true potential as authors in the world.' Julia McCutcheon, the founder of IACCW, contributes a new article on Conscious Writing.

Poetry Collection Editing

We've just launched our latest new service, which is our Poetry Collection Editing service. Intended for poets who want to prepare their poetry collection for self-publishing or for those who just want to get their poetry into the best possible shape before submitting it to publishers, this will provide a skilled editor to copy edit your work, correcting grammatical and spelling errors, and also to edit it, providing suggestions for improving the poems and the collection as a whole.

Services for self-publishers

Do you want to self-publish your work? WritersServices offers a suite of services which help writers get their work into shape before they self-publish. New to the site, our page of Services for Self-publishers.

Self-publishing - the rights way is a new article from Tom Chalmers of IPR Licensethe global, digital marketplace for authors, agents and publishers to list and license book rights; launched in 2012 which explores the importance of rights to self-published authors: 'It's a fact that most self-published authors understand the process that takes them from a written manuscript to a published book, but few realise the additional elements that make publishing a profitable business. Rights licensing is arguably the most vital element in this equation.

WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing

This week we start Joanne Phllips' essential new series, the WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing, a ten-parter which will take you through what you need to know about self-publishing. First up is What is Self-publishing?

Adding the second part of Joanne Phillips' WritersServices Self-publishing Guide, Choose Your Self-publishing Route: 'When I started my research into indie publishing way back in May 2012, there were so many routes open to authors it was mind-boggling. I made pages and pages of notes and distilled all my research into a useful spreadsheet comparing the most prevalent options. Now I can narrow down the options to two main routes...' WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing 3 has now been added to the site,

Joanne has also produced our easy-to-follow guide to the Business of Writing, The Ins and Outs of Indexing (a subject she knows well) and How to Market Your Writing Services Online.

Talking to publishers

This series is growing all the time and we're now up to no 5, covering writers' books, two history imprints, writing for and about children and Sassy BooksAn Imprint Of John Hunt Publishing. Hip, real and raw, SASSY books share untamed truths, spiritual insights and entrepreneurial witchcraft with women who want to kick ass in life and start revolutions..


Press coverage for the site

Our last press release on the launch of our new site garnered this piece in Bookbrunch.

Book review

Our new review of Writing: A User's Manual  - A practical guide to the craft of planning, starting and finishing a novel by David Hewson concludes that:'The great strength of Hewson's guide lies in the detailed focus on the actual process of putting together a novel, the decisions that need to be made, the best way to approach the task and so on.'


Writing Opportunities

New PhD editing service

Our new PhD editing service is just launched. Are you working to prepare your PhD for submission? Professional editing can help you improve the presentation of your work and iron out any grammar or spelling errors.

Update to our links

Our 23 lists of recommended links have hundreds of 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 4,000 pages on the site.