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October 2014 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • 'Some encouraging publishing-related figures have emerged this week. The number of books published worldwide in 2013 was an astounding 28 million, raising the question of whether there are enough readers - and buyers - for them all. In the US there were 390,000 ISBNs for self-published books and 300,000 for trade (general) books...'
  • 'A new Mintel survey this week shows that ebook fans are increasing their reading because ebooks are cheaper. These UK figures show that 26% of consumers who have bought an e-book in the last year are reading more than they used to because e-books cost less than paperbacks, a figure that rises to 38% of 16 to 24-year-olds...'
  • 'Frankfurt was much more ‘business as usual' than anyone might have predicted. With just a few less visitors than last year, the mood was pretty upbeat, with a lot of solid rights business being done. Apart from the very real ongoing anxiety about the Amazon/Hachette dispute - no big publisher feels safe from the feeling that they might, and probably will be, next, - there's the progress of the digital revolution and, surprisingly, publishers seem to have taken things very much in their stride...'
  • 'We're just coming up to 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., which starts on Wednesday. and publishers from all over the world are about to converge on Frankfurt for the annual jamboree. It is remarkable how well this big fair has retained its international dominance in the face of digitisation and instant communication... Even in an age of books fairs, this is the one that everyone in the publishing world wants to go to and it is extremely international, although on the days when it is open to them the German halls house a buzzing national fair, attended by large numbers of the public in this bookish country...'
  • 'The book trade internationally does seem to have turned the corner after a difficult few years when a major format change at the same time as a deep global recession turned everything upside down... Bookshops are working out new ways of surviving, with a focus on events, local authors, school supply and so on. No doubt the fallout will continue but in the UK and US there are definite signs of more bookshops surviving and is the online competitors to Amazon who are having a hard time. Our News Review this week covers the good news that print book sales have recovered a bit, while children's leads the way.'


  • 'I've a pretty good idea of what the story is and where it's going. The trouble is that, though you've laboured to create these characters and thought of plausible things for them to do, they take on lives of their own. I've often thought that writing fiction was like industrial management. Sometimes I've felt like putting thumbscrews on my employees to prevent them messing up on my plans...' Michael Frayn, author of Noises Off and Matchbox Theatre, in The Times
  • ‘I am wary of that romanticised idea of writing a novel, you just have to pick up a pencil or a pen and open your laptop and it is far more boring. It's not glamorous. I learnt that I can write anywhere. You do need time and space but you don't need a cottage in Wales, I'd say...' Jessie Burton, author of The Miniaturist.
  • Our Comment this week is from David Nicholls, author of One Day and Us: 'I think the worst thing you can do when you start to write is think: "Will this make sense in Brazil?" I actively tried not to write in a way that felt unnatural or to twist things, cut out cultural references, alter the sense of humour, or have any of those cliched notions about what might appeal to a French audience or a Spanish audience. I am aware of the expectations of people in Sweden and Brazil and the US, but it's crazy to let them interfere...'
  • ‘Young writers, if they're meant to be writers, they will write. There's nothing that can stop them. It may kill them. They may not be able to stand the terrible indignities, humiliations, privations, shocks that attend the life of an American writer...' Tennessee Williams in Writers at Work
  • 'Publishing is the process of getting an author's thoughts and ideas to the mind of a reader. Book publishing was carried out in the traditional manner for so long that everyone began to believe that publishers, agents, publicists and bookshops were essential to the process. The multiplicity of options brought about by the digital age remind us that there are only two constants in the process: the author and the reader...' Nicola Solomon, CEO of the UK Society of Authors in the Bookseller
  • 'I think I will write, in my 70s, more novellas. I love the idea of sitting down to read something in three hours - about the length of an opera, or a long movie, or a play where all of its structure can be held in the mind. A novella is a great length, and it's a demanding genre in which things have to be settled quickly.' Ian McEwan, author of The Children Act, in the Observer.


'One of my many theories about short stories is that their titles and first lines ought to be memorable, because if not memorable they will not be remembered, and if not remembered the stories will not be reprinted (because no one can find them).'

Damon Knight


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:

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

Editorial from Frankfurt: Why We Can't Afford to Stand Still - Publishing Perspectives

How to Get Traffic to Your Author Website: 30+ Tips for Discouraged Writers | Your Writer Platform

Publishers consult lawyers over Kindle Unlimited | The Bookseller

When Publishing Begins to Look Like a Bad Relationship | Publishing Perspectives

Editorial from Frankfurt: Collaborate! Innovate! Evolve! Create! | Publishing Perspectives

Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon's E-Book Tactics -

The 29 Errors a Publisher Can Make...And Counting | Publishing Perspectives

UK Publishing Crowd Gathers in London to Discuss Self-Publishing | Publishing Perspectives

Crowdfunding Authors' Books Could Save Publishing

Girl reading books

Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon's E-Book Tactics -

Measure for measure: the Digital Census since 2009 | FutureBook

Row over literary agents' 'transparency' | The Bookseller

Mantel defends Thatcher story | The Bookseller

Nearly three quarters of young people prefer print | The Bookseller

Authors United threatens next Amazon move | The Bookseller

East African Writers Embrace Self-publishing and Promotion | Publishing Perspectives

Has the Man Booker prize really opened up? | Books | The Guardian

Author Malorie Blackman on Diversity in Children's Books | Publishing Perspectives

Literary Agent Q&A: Madeleine Milburn, UK | Publishing Perspectives

Pulp fiction | FutureBook

Margaret Atwood's new work will remain unseen for a century | Books |

Book Publishing, Not Fact-Checking - The Atlantic

5 Steps to Increasing Your Book's Marketability with Research | Publishing Perspectives

Kate Mosse: my skill is storytelling, not literary fiction | Books | The Observer

Are eBooks Destroying Bookselling Culture?

Malorie Blackman faces racist abuse after call to diversify children's books | Books | The Guardian

BookBrunch - Authors demand Amazon's patronage


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.

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. Previously an actor (which must come close to writing in terms of the difficulty of achieving success in your work), Burton supported herself through that four years mostly through temping in the City...'

Which report?

A new page on 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 Success Story this week 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.

Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer

'Is unlike any other writing instruction manual I have ever seen...' It is also, quite simply, a very beautiful object, gorgeous to look at, its contents by turns playful and inspirational.' Maureen Kincaid SpellerMaureen Kincaid Speller a reviewer, writer, editor and former librarian, is our book reviewer and also works for WritersServices as a freelance editor. reviews Jeff VanderMeer's new book. Review

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. Getting to grips with the various sales channels available to them, producing top quality ebooks and paperbacks, and finding a place in mainstream outlets have left many writers struggling to keep up with the paperwork. 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.

Talking to publishers

We have nine articles in the Talking to publishers series, in which the editors tell us what they're actually looking for..

2014 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 Opportunities are The Brunel University African Poetry Prize 2015 and the Little Brown Group's Blackfriars open submission.

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.