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March 2016 - Writers Magazine


News Review

  • 'The battle rages on about whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is best from the author's point of view and it all seems to come down to your own experience. If you're happily settled with a publisher and content with what they're doing for you, then of course you'll advocate that...' News Review this week - To self-publish or be traditionally published?
  • 'One of our links this week points the way to a final article from Digital Book World about hybrid authors, those who manage to combine the benefits of self-publishing in terms of control with the advantages of being published by a traditional publisher. Not every author wants to market their own book and many are not comfortable or confident about their ability to do so...' News Review
  • 'In our links this week we've teamed up a cosy story about finding an agent with a downbeat one about how publisher consolidation and focus on obvious big books is restricting authors' possibilities. If you are looking to get published traditionally, this is not a cheering situation...' News Review
  • Ebook sales plunged in October 2015, with adult books dropping 22% in one month, compared to children's ebooks which went down a whopping 44.7%. As we've discussed elsewhere, the children's market has a strong preference for print books, with both parents and children preferring them. News Review looks at the way ebooks are finding their level.
  • '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.


  • ‘The debate about whether you can teach creative writing is a funny one. Nobody ever says to a pianist, "Oh, you don't need a conservatoire, why don't you just practice your piano, then you'll get good." Good creative writing courses provide discipline, advice and criticism... But there is that extra magic fairy dust that good writers have that can't be taught...' Tracy Chevalier, author of At the Edge of the Orchard and Girl with a Pearl Earring, in the Sunday Telegraph's Stella provides this week's Comment.
  • ‘I tend to do what I want to do. For a long time I did not write fiction. Then suddenly a fictional world was in my imagination, so I wrote it. It's ridiculous to say I'm passive in relation to these things, because obviously I do exactly what I want to do...' Marilynne Robinson, author of The Givenness of Things and Housekeeping, in the Observer provides this week's Comment.
  • ‘Quit your job! The day I quit my job was the best day of my life. I wanted to be a writer. It took me four months, and resulted in How I Live Now. I found my fame and fortune with it, and I thought, "Publishing people are so friendly!" But they aren't, not always! Despite that book being a big success, my second, Just in Case, was turned down flat by both my UK and US editors...' Meg Rosoff, author of Jonathan Unleashed, her first book for adults, in the Independent on Sunday provides this week's Comment
  • ‘I can't talk to people. I'm very shy. It feels like an enormous restriction in my life, like I'm exploding because I can't express anything. But if I'm writing then I don't have that problem. For me, literature is a place where I can gain some freedom, to write whatever I want...' Karl Ove Knausgaard, author of My Struggle, a six-part autobiographical sequence which has been an international literary sensation provides this week's Comment, Writing bestsellers about your inner life.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘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.


'If you do not have an alert and curious interest in character and dramatic situation, if you have no visual imagination and are unable to distinguish between honest emotional reactions and sentimental approaches to life, you will never write a competent short story.'

Edward J O'Brien



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:

For me, traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way | Books | The Guardian

Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society - The Price Still Ain't Right

Why Are Amazon and KDP So Weird? | Digital Book World

Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society - Oh Canada! How Not to Reform Copyright

It Takes 16 People Working Full Time to Publish All of James Patterson's Books

James Patterson Has a Big Plan for Small Books - The New York Times

Your chance to become a novelist! The winner gets a book deal with £20k advance! | Daily Mail Online

9 Reasons To Index-Card Your Manuscript | You Write Fiction

How Publishers and 'Hybrid' Authors Are Working Together | Digital Book World

BookBrunch - Poetry, and the rest is noise: An interview with Jenny Swann from Candlestick Press

Moneyball for Book Publishers: A Detailed Look at How We Read - The New York Times

Why Podcasts Like 'Serial' Are Helping English Teachers Encourage Literacy - The Atlantic

Too Naked For the Nazis claims 38th Diagram Prize | The Bookseller

Wendy's Writing Now: Out of the Slush Pile - How I Found My Agent

What Big Publishing Consolidation Means for Authors

Taplin talks tech power at DBW | The Bookseller

An Independent Publisher at DBW: Nosy Crow's Tom Bonnick

Amazon, spam and the biggest slushpile in history. | Literary Agents Advice

Women's literary prizes are 'problematic' says Lionel Shriver | The Bookseller

'The Persistence of Print' at Digital Book World

Helen Garner learns of $207,000 literary prize win after checking junk email | Books | The Guardian


Translator Burton Pike Accepts 2016 Friedrich Ulfers Prize

At What Point Does a Novel Become Literature? | Mental Floss UK

Axel Scheffler: the Gruffalo wouldn't exist without UK in EU | Books | The Guardian

16 Reasons To Be Proud Of Being A Book Hoarder

Man Booker Prize has an unhealthy effect on the market, says author Deborah Moggagh | News | Culture | The Independent

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

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

Ladybird Book Parody Sparks a Trend in UK Publishing


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 the Daily Mail First Novel competition, the Winchester Writing Festival and the International Rubery 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.