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February 2016 - Writers Magazine


News Review

  • 'The latest fashion in women's writing is explored in an article we provide a link to this week. The authors think that the rash of bestselling books with ‘Girl' in the title are appealing to a female crime fiction audience and they're probably right, but these books are also the heirs to a longer tradition...'
  • 'Nick Clee asks in this week's Bookbrunch if you need to transcend a prize to win it, inspired by the Costa win by Frances Hardinge's children's book. In this age of proliferating book prizes it's a reasonable question to ask, but does anyone really think that literary prizes should be thrown open to those who are writing, for instance, category romance or horror fiction?...' This week's News Review.
  • 'A survey carried out by Booktrust in association with the Open University has found that children of 0-8 prefer reading print books, rather than ebooks. An astounding 76% showed a preference for print books for reading for pleasure and 69% prefer print books for educational reading too...'
  • 'According to a study funded by the Quick Reads sponsor Galaxy, 27% of the British population have been inspired by a book to make ‘positive life changes' and 41% of regular readers regard the habit as a better antidote to stress than meeting friends... News Review on the power of reading.
  • 'It's a slightly demanding read, but Mike Shatzkin's latest post on The Shatzkin Files is essential reading if you want to understand the contemporary bookselling scene and how it is increasingly controlled and shaped by the huge conglomerates which dominate the web...'
  • 'Getting published is a major preoccupation for many writers. How do you get an agent? How do you self-publish? And how do you decide which to do - and when to give up on agents and go for self-publishing? These are the questions which reverberate around writers' heads. Most writers can hugely improve what they've written with the right advice, and then they stand a much better chance...' News Review on Publishing your book.


  • ‘Writer's block is a reluctance to make decisions. You're trying to keep your options open and hoping a simple idea comes along, so it's hard to commit to one. My wife once told me, as I was having trouble getting going, "That's because you're trying to write the book, and you just need to write a book..." Our Comment is from Christopher Brookmyre, author of Quite Ugly One Morning and Black Widow in the Independent on Sunday.
  • ‘I knew this book would be my last chance and admit that before I wrote it, and even in the early stages, there was a fair amount of despair. People, like I was, are intrigued by what they see or imagine on a travel route. I'm sure, too, that Rachel's weaknesses as an unusual and troubled person, can be identified with...' Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on a Train, which shot to the top of the bestseller lists in the UK and US when it was published last year, provides this week's Comment.
  • ‘Novelists are often asked which of their characters is them, as if imagination has no part to play. Most of us will answer that characters develop out of the need of the story itself. So my Cassie and her murderous actions are necessary in The Taxidermist's Daughter for the plot to work. She's not me, any more than is Freddie in The Winter Ghosts or Alais in Labyrinth...' Our Comment this week is from Kate Mosse, author of The Taxidermist's Daughter and Labyrinth, in the Sunday Times.
  • ‘Like a lot of authors I have galloping imposter syndrome: as far as I'm concerned I have cunningly infiltrated the writing community. With each book that gets published I have this dread fear that I'm going to be found out. Certainly when The Lie Tree was published, I thought: ‘This time they'll see through me for the fraud I am.' Things have not panned out as I expected!...'Frances Hardinge, winner of the 2015 Costa Book of the Year 2015 with The Lie Tree, in the Guardian, provides this week's Comment.
  • ‘From our positions as individual creators, whether of fiction or non-fiction, we authors see a landscape occupied by several large interests, some of them gathering profits in the billions, some of them displaying a questionable attitude to paying tax, some of them colonising the internet with projects whose reach is limitless and whose attitude to creators' rights is roughly that of the steamroller to the ant...' Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials and many other children's books and President of the UK Society of authors, in the Bookseller provides this week's Comment - 'The steamroller to the ant'.
  • ‘Once I get an idea in my head it's an adrenaline rush, and I'm racing to get to the end. I think fast and write fast. It sounds uncreative, but I write from 9-5, four days a week. I have two kids and have had to be very structured. I start a book every January, it's due in June, I edit during the summer and it's published during the autumn...' Cecelia Ahern, author of PS I love You and The Marble Collector in the Telegraph's Stella provides this week's Comment.
  • ‘As Taylor makes clear, over the past century the exigencies of making a living have never been enough to stop writers and commentators from debating, noisily and disputatiously, about the direction of literature, its distance from popular taste and which self-appointed minority is fit to interpret and pass judgement on it. These are questions that matter to Taylor too because the vibrancy of our literature, summed up in this wide-ranging, entertaining and thoughtful survey, is a marker of our wider cultural health... Our Comment is from Michael Prodger's review of D J Taylor's widely-praised The Prose Factory: Literary Life in Britain Since 1918 in The Times.


'Perhaps it would be better not to be a writer, but if you must, then write. If all feels hopeless, if that famous 'inspiration' will not come, write. If you are a genius, you'll make your own rules, but if not - and the odds are against it - go to your desk no matter what your mood, face the icy challenge of the paper - write.'

J B Priestley



Links to this month's top stories

Our 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:

How Does Age Affect Reading? | Digital Book World

George RR Martin: Game of Thrones twist will appear in books, not TV show | Books | The Guardian

"You Will Be Tokenized": Speaking Out about the State of Diversity in Publishing | Brooklyn Magazine

BookBrunch - Independent Publisher Focus: Salt on the Silver Age of the small press

Diagram Prize: Oddest Book Titles of the Year battle it out | The Bookseller

The 'Girl' In The Title: More Than A Marketing Trend: NPR

Growth curve: Reedsy | The Bookseller

How The Literary Class System Is Impoverishing Literature | Literary Hub

Why one woman stole 47 million academic papers - and made them all free to read - Vox

Shirley Hughes's Dogger: one of the greatest picture books ever | Children's books | The Guardian

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, But What About Readers? | Digital Book World

Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know - CNET

Rights Platforms: Can Digital Match the Human Touch? - Publishing Perspectives

Do you have to 'transcend' a genre to win a prize?

Start Strong or Lose Your Readers | Digital Book World

History and Historicals: At 75, Avon Romances the Readers - Publishing Perspectives

Digital Arachnid: What Does Author Earnings Say to the Industry? - Publishing Perspectives

BookBrunch - Of grief and desire: Louis de Bernières on love poetry

Inviting Your Criticism of Criticism: The Paid Reviews Debate - Publishing Perspectives

Startup of the week: Publishizer | The Bookseller

Falling book prices could force authors to abandon their keyboards

How do I become... an ebook writer? | Money | The Guardian

How publishing startups use tech tactics to thrive in the digital era - TechRepublic

Indian Publishers Rely on Local Authors and Translation

5 Steps to Creating a Great Audiobook | Jane Friedman

Lee and Low Survey: Diversity in Publishing

The (Real) Future of Publishing | Digital Book World

The changing face of Nigerian literature | British Council

Girl Reading a book

Philip Pullman condemns publishers who 'steamroller' authors | The Bookseller

Ladybird Book Parody Sparks a Trend in UK Publishing

From the Box Office to the Books: How Movies Create Better Writers | Mycah Hazel

Book publishing lives in an environment shaped by larger forces and always has - The Shatzkin Files The Shatzkin Files

uHlanga: On the Birth of a South African Poetry Press - Publishing Perspectives

Popular history writing remains a male preserve, publishing study finds | Books | The Guardian

Loop of Jade by Sarah Howe review - the winner of the TS Eliot prize | Books | The Guardian

My Shakespeare Obsession: A Question of Character

A New Year's resolution worth keeping: support bookshops instead of Amazon - Spectator Blogs

Getting Published: What To Do If You Can't Get An Agent

Philip Pullman resigns as Oxford literary festival patron over lack of pay for authors | Books | The Guardian

Harry Potter vs. Huckleberry Finn: Why the British Tell Better Children's Stories Than Americans - The Atlantic

Print survives as a new literature is born | Robert McCrum | Opinion | The Guardian

Public vote opens for Costa Short Story Award | The Bookseller

5 Predictions for Trade Publishing in 2016: Publishing Technology

Solomon: 'once well-known authors now struggling' | The Bookseller

10 Industry Predictions for 2016 | Digital Book World

Hatton Garden: Book found detailed 'similar heist' - BBC News

Sophie Hannah: ‘There are people who think a crime novel can't be proper literature... that's a shame for them' | Books | The Guardian

A message to FutureBook from Author Day | The Bookseller


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 20 different editorial services we offer, from Reports to Copy editing, Manuscript Typing to Rewriting and our new service, Translation editing. This page provides links to the huge number of useful articles on this site, including Finding an Agent, Your Submission Package and Making Submissions.

The editor of the new imprint in our Talking to pubishers series explains in the new, eleventh article what her new list is looking for - 'the freshest thinkers and the most successful practitioners in the areas of marketing, management, economics, finance and accounting, sustainable and ethical business, heart business, people management, leadership, motivation, biographies, business recovery and development and personal/executive development'.

In the other ten articles in the Talking to publishers series the editors of each imprint provide a specific brief for what they're looking for. There's Top Hat historical fiction, for instance, where the editor says: 'Periodically we are told that the historical novel is dead - and then along comes Hilary Mantel winning the Man Booker for the second time, setting reading fashion on its head again...'

How to get your book translated into English (without it costing the earth)

Our new article asks writers with a manuscript which needs translating: "if your English is good enough, what about translating your book yourself, and then getting your translation polished and copy edited by a professional editor who is a native English speaker?" This could be a cost-effective way of reaching the international English-speaking market.

Translation editing service

Have you translated your work into English? Or do you have a translation that someone else has done? Now you need to make sure it's good enough to publish, or send to a publisher. If you need help to get your work into perfect condition, our new service, Translation Editing, is for you. Acknowledging the growth of world English, this new service is designed for the many non-native English speakers throughout the world who want to publish their work in English.

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... 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 website Writing Short Fiction.

Which report?

This  page gives the lowdown on the three reports we offer.

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 looks 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...'

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.

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

Our new Writing Opportunities this month were MslexiaStylish and lively site for quarterly UK literary magazine read by 12,000 'committed' women writers. Good range of quality writing, information and advice with news, reviews, competitions and interviews, all presented in a friendly fashion. Praised by Helen Dunmore as 'astute, invigorating and above all an excellent read.' women's Short Story Competition, The Basil Bunting Poetry Award and teh BBC National short Story Award. Current Writing Opportunities.

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 5,000 pages on the site.