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September 2013 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 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 Man Booker Prize's decision to accept novels from American authors, providing that they are published in the UK, has been arrived at after a series of consultations lasting over the last eighteen months. How they could have expected to keep their ruminations quiet is not clear.
  • It's 60 years since T S Eliot, acting on a suggestion from his friend the poet Stephen Spender, worked with his friends to set up the 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 to encourage poetry readers and bring the best new poetry to them.
  • This week we have launched our new suite of editorial services to cater for self-publishers. It may seem obvious that this is a sensible thing to do and we certainly hope that there will be good demand, but in its way it marks a remarkable change in the publishing world in the twelve years since WritersServices was set up - and a huge turnaround in just the last three or four years.
  • The American publisher Sourcebooks has just acquired Simple Truths, a largely unknown publisher - unknown even to Sourcebooks' CEO, Dominique Raccah, although their offices happened to be just a few blocks away from Sourcebooks' own offices in Naperville, Illinois.


  • '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.
  • 'I just want to tell a good story so I always ask myself, are these people real to me? The things I write about are completely removed from my own life, but people to know the characters better. There are schools of thought that dispense with all that now, but I think if there are strong characters, people want to know more.
  • 'It took a while to get the tone right. In YA everything has to be filtered through eyes and experience of the young adult, there can't be an intervening adult that comes down like a deus ex machina providing useful information or a weapon... adults can't do anything to resolve the critical issues in the plot. I didn't know that getting into it; it took me five drafts to figure that out... Margaret Atwood, author of MaddAddam in the Sunday Telegraph's Stella
  • 'People come up to you and say, "Your writing has changed my life." What they really mean is you've changed the way they look at the world. If something of yours happens to be of help to them that's wonderful, but it wasn't me waving any kind of magic wand -the book is the intermediary... Elizabeth George, author of The Edge of Nowhere (YA) and Just One Evil in the Bookseller
  • 'I've been writing for 50 years now and used to be very disciplined about it, writing every day. I'm not so much any more, and when I do, it's wherever I happen to be. I also used to write longhand, on legal pads - my ex-husband was a lawyer - whereas now it's a laptop.' Alice Walker, author of The Colour Purple, on being 69, in The Times
  • 'The size of the book was a real surprise to me. It just kept growing and growing. My publishers would be able to tell you that I had been lying to them about when the book was going to be ready for the last three years. But I'm much more interested in the entertaining, immersive qualities of writing than I am with more abstract formal qualities. Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries, which has just been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Writers' Quote

'Plotting is like sex. Plotting is about desire and satisfaction, anticipation and release. You have to arouse your reader's desire to know what happens, to unravel the mystery, to see good triumph. You have to sustain it, keep it warm, feed it, just a little bit, not too much at a time, as your story goes on. That's called suspense.'

Colin Greenland

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:

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

Folio Academy Highlights Literary Gems of the Past | Publishing Perspectives

E-Book Ruling Gives Amazon an Advantage -

Girl reading book

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.


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...'

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

Talking to publishers 4 - 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. is an exciting new imprint for today's new generation of girl-power readers, but how would publisher Lisa Clark define her readership for the benefit of new writers interested in writing for her?

Press coverage for the site

This week we've sent out a press release and had some good coverage for the site, including this piece in Bookbrunch.

Colour printing now available for Print on demand

Our WritersServices Self-Publishing printer Lightning Source has just announced that it can now handle colour printing in the UK as well as the US. This exciting breakthrough means that we're now able to offer colour printing for a very good price, with all the benefits of print on demand - a huge advantage for any self-publisher who is thinking of producing a colour book, whether it's a children's book, a cookery book, a high-quality art book or any other book where colour is essential.

Talking to publishers 3

Maria Maloney of Our Street BooksAn Imprint Of John Hunt Publishing. For children of all ages, deliver a potent mix of fantastic, rip-roaring adventure and fantasy stories to excite the imagination; spiritual fiction to help the mind and the heart grow; humorous stories to make the funny bone grow; historical tales to evolve interest; and all manner of subjects that stretch imagination, grab attention, inform, inspire and keep the pages turning. Our subjects include Non-fiction and Fiction, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Religious, Spiritual, Historical, Adventure, Social Issues, Humour, Folk Tales and more. on Writing for and about children in Talking to Publishers 3: 'Speak directly to the children on their own level and not at them or down to them. It is helpful if you have an educational background or write from experience. Ensure you aim the style of language at the appropriate age group. Sophisticated language won't suit the very young for instance. We often get picture books for children 3-6 with language more suited to teenagers.' Talking to publishers 3

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

This month's writing opportunities are the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Writing Fellowships 2013 and the Davy Byrnes Short Story Award 2014.

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.