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December 2014 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'It's been a pretty good year for publishers. Bertelsmann revenues were the highest for seven years, although admittedly its profits were down and the acquisition of Penguin is part of the mix. But children's and YA publishing is the driver of growth. American figures show that this year will be the best-ever for kids' books, with publishers paying more and more attention to this market. In the US ebook sales of children's books have boomed by an extraordinary 52.7%...'
  • ''There's been quite a lot of talk about ghostwriting this last week. It's been sparked off by the revelation that Zoella Sugg, Britain's biggest female vlogger, had a ghostwriter working on her first novel, Girl Online. What adds urgency and focus to this story is that Zoella's book shot to prominence, selling 78,109 copies in the first week, and thus outselling the first week record of any other author, including bestselling writers such as Dan Brown, J K Rowling and others. Penguin knew they were on to a sure thing when they signed up Zoella's book. She currently has 1.9m Facebook fans, 2.55 Twitter followers, and no less than 3.49m Instagram disciples for her blog, which is devoured by teenage girls...'
  • 'Two extremely different but very successful novels have launched new book-writing careers. On the more traditional side there is Milena Busquets' This Too Shall Pass, a thinly-fictionalised second novel about her relationship with her mother, the publisher Esther Busquets, who developed the Catalan family publishing house, Lumen, into a successful business with an international reputation for literary publishing, and died in 2012. Milena's book is now sold in 26 countries and will be publishing in the UK and the US next spring...'
  • 'It is sad to read about the death at 94 of the highly-respected and much- loved P D James. Most people know her as an author and her body of work has given vast enjoyment to a great many people. At the age of 93, she said she wanted to write just one more crime novel. She will be remembered by many as a friend and I am one of those who had the privilege of knowing her from when I was her paperback editor many years ago...'
  • 'Two interesting pieces of news from the last week show that publishing - of both the traditional and the new variety - is stronger than you might think. In China the second Shanghai International Children's Book Fair has attracted 250 exhibitors from 25 countries, with 6,000 Chinese and international business visitors and 20,000 Chinese consumers expected to attend This new Fair offers a real challenge to the international children's rights fair in Bologna...'


  • 'I've always been interested in those painful moments between people which can't be fully articulated, and even if they were fully articulated might become even more unbearable. There's no way out. Nor do I think in situations like that there's that horrible American word 'closure'. Because for all the sexual liberation, the great social changes through the 60s and 70s, one meets loads of people who seem to have been married for ever...' Ian McEwan, talking about The Children Act in the Sunday Times magazine
  • ‘I didn't follow the sf rules and conventions unless I felt like it; essentially I went on writing what I wanted to write, and they could call it what they liked. To publish genre fiction of course branded me as a sub-literary writer in the eyes of the literary establishment, critics, award-givers, etc., but the great potentialities of the field itself, the open-mindedness of its editors and critics, the intelligence of its readers, compensated for that. Genre fiction was looked at as a ghetto, but I wonder now if realist fiction, sealing itself off in the glum suburbs of a dysfunctional society, denying the uses of imagination, was the ghetto...' Ursula Le Guin, author of The Left Hand of Darkness and Lavinia in Salon
  • 'I grew up in London for the first 10 years, then my parents divorced, which was agonising. But it was while I was at boarding-school that I made the connection between putting my mind into some imaginative world and finding solace for homesickness and sadness. If I did that, I felt better. It would be like crying. I discovered this miraculous thing that has held true all my life, which is that writing can take me out of myself to such an extent that it's a great palliative for bad times. Rose Tremain, author of Restoration and The American Lover, in the Sunday Times magazine
  • 'I hope I never condescend to the audience. I think you should write as if people who are smarter than you are will read it, because they are out there... I don't know where these great governing clichés (about writing) come from - that you have to follow a convention, or that the first sentence has to hook the reader in. That's just poison. So much of the time I spend teaching, I actually spend unteaching. I think my childhood made me very aware of language. I was interested in writing before I really had any conception that there were professional writers. I just did it for the pleasure of it...' Marilynne Robinson, author of Housekeeping and Lila, in the Sunday Telegraph's Stella
  • ‘Beginners' failures are often the result of trying to work with strong feelings and ideas without having found the images to embody them, or without even knowing how to find the words and string them together. Ignorance of English vocabulary and grammar is a considerable liability to a writer of English. The best cure for it is, I believe, reading. Ursula K Le Guin , author of the classic The Left Hand of Darkness and Dancing at the Edge of the World on Brain Picking.


'That's the essential goal of the writer: you slice out a piece of yourself and slap it down on the desk in front of you. You try to put it on paper, try to describe it in a way that the reader can see and feel and touch. You paste all your nerve endings into it and then give it out to strangers who don't know you or understand you.'

Stephen Leigh

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:

Amazon Not as Unstoppable as It Might Appear -

Flexible and digitised, our libraries have a bright future - Telegraph

Forget Your Preconceptions About Teenagers and Reading

Book Marketing (Still) Starts and Ends with the Website | Digital Book World

Amazon goes head to head with Wattpad in battle for fanfic writers | Books | The Guardian

Should You Hire a Professional Book Publicist? - Publishing Perspectives

James Daunt: the man who saved Waterstones - ES Magazine - Life & Style - London Evening Standard

How Much Can You Fake in Publishing?

Andrew Keen's dark web | The Bookseller research papers made freely shareable | The Bookseller

Are book publishers blockbustering themselves into oblivion? - The Globe and Mail

Mentoring helps close publishing 'chasm' | The Bookseller

Deborah Emin's Theory: Integrating Libraries and Bookstores

The Bad Sex in Fiction Award

BookBrunch - The advocacy of a good agent

Authors Sign Up to Raise Barnes & Noble's Black Friday Sales -

Why Copyright Needs to Be Defended - Publishing Perspectives

Kobo Sees Opportunities for Self-publishing in Europe - Publishing Perspectives

Amazon and Hachette Come to Terms | Hugh Howey

Dan Brown on the Writing Life as a Global Megaseller - Publishing Perspectives

Tree pic

Curiouser and curiouser: What we discovered at FutureBook 2014 | The Bookseller

Virtual Sci-Fi Book Festival Makes Backlist Sexy Again - Publishing Perspectives

Shortlist Announced for 2014 Bad Sex in Fiction Award

Relief at conclusion of Amazon/HBG battle | The Bookseller

Fanfiction and Fandoms: A Primer, A History - Publishing Trends

BookBrunch - Self-publishing: time for a reality check

Literary Genre Wars' Secret Truce - Flavorwire

What Are Your Writing Habits? - Publishing Perspectives

Seattle News and Events | The Perks, Pitfalls, and Paradoxes of Amazon Publishing

The ebook industry needs to make reading more social

Hot Button Issues for English-Language Publishers in 2014 - Publishing Perspectives

Expanding the Foreign Rights Market for Children's Books

Andrew Wylie talks about the state of the publishing industry - Quill and Quire

Dr. Syntax: Do Publishers Deserve to Exist?

BookBrunch - Speak up for copyright

Your Tube | The Bookseller

BookBrunch - Content is still king, and technology has not dethroned it

BBC News - Man Booker win a boon for Australia literature

How Soon Will the Majority of Books Be Self-Published? - Publishing Perspectives

Vox on Amazon: Way off-base, not entirely wrong -

Influential Krugman says Amazon 'hurts America' | The Bookseller

Are Publisher Advances Truly Critical? - The Digital Reader

Man Booker winner echoes fears over inclusion of US writers | Books | The Guardian


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.

Writing Short Fiction: A Personal Journey

‘Twenty years as a teacher, ten years in educational research and five years of directing an educational charity, and in all that time, I hadn't published any fiction or poetry at all. I'd always had a feeling that if life ever did allow me a clear run at creative writing, I might just be able to do something with it. But by 2004, with the charity going nowhere fast, I decided to make my own opportunities rather than wait for them to come to me...' Bruce Harris's Writing Short Fiction: A Personal Journey is about how he worked his way towards setting up the fantastic new website Writing Short Fiction.

Talking to publishers

A new tenth article in the Talking to publishers series covers How-to books for experienced writers - by experienced writers: 'In reality, no writer can exist for ever in a comfort cocoon of familiar marketplaces since editors are constantly changing, publishers frequently alter their focus, and all too often published authors find themselves redundant. That's why it's necessary for relatively new or middle list authors to be constantly re-inventing themselves to stay ahead of these market changes...'

Jessie Burton's Success story

'Jessie Burton's road to success is interesting because it's only just happened, following the publication of her first novel The Miniaturist in July. Having spent four years writing the book she was quite overwhelmed by its reception, the competition to represent her and then the eleven-publisher auction at the 2013 London Book Fair...'

Which report?

A new page gives the lowdown on the three reports we offer.

How to get your book in the hands of an international audience

The second article from the MD of IPR, How to get your book in the hands of an international audience, expands on his theme of authors and rights and shows how the international book rights business works amd why it's important for all authors, particularly self-publishing ones.

Success Story - Tina Seskis

Our latest Success Story is that of Tina Seskis: an irresistible subject for a Success Story because she lives just up the road from WritersServices in north London and the reasons for her success as a writer are like a textbook illustration of how to do it. After university, she went on to work in marketing and advertising for more than 20 years and it was this experience which stood her in good stead when she found herself with a book to market..."

Why your book contract needs vetting

A quick look at contract vetting and why it's essentail if you don't have an agent, from our contracts expert.

The Business of Writing for Self-publishing Authors

Joanne PhillipsUK-based freelance writer and ghostwriter. She has had articles published in national writing magazines, and has ghostwritten books on subjects as diverse as hairdressing and keeping chickens. Visit her at follows up her tremendously useful article on The Business of Writing with a look at the business side of self-publishing for self-Publishers: 'Self-publishing authors - also known as ‘indie' authors or author-publishers - have had a steep learning curve these past few years... What follows is brief guide to the essentials your self-publishing business needs - because it is a business, even if you only publish one book!'

The Essential Guide to Writing for Children

Suzy Jenvey, vastly experienced children's editorial director and now agent, has completed her four-part The Essential Guide to Writing for Children. The first article looks at the all-important question of age groups and what you should be aware of in writing for each one. The second part is - Before You Write: What is My Story Going to be? The third part deals with Starting to Write, the fourth part is about Submitting Your Work to Agents and Editors.

WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing

In Joanne Phillips' fantastically useful WritersServices Self-publishing Guide we've now published all ten articles, No 9 dealing with  Marketing and Promotion for Indie authors: Online and No 10 dealing with Offline.

New articles on the site

A regularly-updated page linking you to new stuff on the site.

2015 International Book Fairs

The most comprehensive listing available on the web International Book Fairs

Do you want your book to be properly published?

There's no reason why a self-publisher shouldn't have as good a chance of finding an audience as an author whose book is coming out from a publisher. But what really lets their work down is if it hasn't been professionally copy edited. Effectively a self-publisher who goes ahead without copy editing is just publishing a manuscript, a work-in-progress which readers will react against because of all the errors. Copy editing for self-publishers

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.

Writing Opportunities

This month's Writing Opportunity is the Skylark Literary Magical Competition.

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.

Advice for writers

Use this page as a springboard to over 4,500 pages on the site.