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July 2017 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • Can this be true? A recent study quoted in Bookbrunch claims that 52% of UK adults believe they have a book in them. And, according to the old adage, that's where it should stay. Figures produced suggest that those thinking they could write a book could amount to 25 million people in the UK.
  • A powerfully-argued article in the Bookseller's Futurebook has highlighted how the explosion in social media and freemium games means we have reached saturation point - what the author defines as ‘peak attention', where the time we have available has run out and we have to cut down on something, which will very probably be books...'
  • Figures quoted by China Daily show that publishers in China are benefiting from 300m users of mobile devices who read electronic books. The market is up 25% year on year and reached $1.7 billion in sales last year.... Difficult though it can be to get western books into China, this presents a huge opportunity for international publishers and their authors, although of course the biggest potential is for Chinese writers reaching readers in their own country and beyond.
  • 'Figures from the US continue the trend in book sales which shows children's books doing well and hardback sales outpacing trade paperback and mass market segments. It's good to see positive figures - unit sales for 2017 are 3% higher than in the first 6 months of last year...'
  • 'Good news all round this week, with spectacular audiobook sales increases in the US and surprising figures showing that Millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries. In the UK children's titles are continuing to outperform the market...'
  • 'Tracy K Smith has been named US Poet Laureate and in the UK National Writing Day has brought a focus on poetry, with two new articles available from the Poetry School... Poets don't have it easy and there's general agreement that poetry doesn't make you a living, or not unless you're very successful. For poets the rapid expansion of creative writing classes, often taught by poets, has been a life-saver...'


  • ‘I love structure in a novel and the detective story is probably the most structured of popular fiction. Some would say that it is the most artificial, but then all fiction is artificial, a careful rearrangement by selection of the writer's internal life in a form designed to make it accessible and attractive to a reader. The construction of a detective story might be formulaic; the writing need not be...' P D James writing about detective fiction in her book 1999 book, Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography, which can be found on the wonderful new website dedicated to P D James launched by Faber & Faber this week.
  • ‘A short story... can be held in the mind all in one piece. It's less like a building than a fiendish device. Every bit of it must be cunningly made and crafted to fit together perfectly and without waste so it can perform its task with absolute precision... The ideal short story is like a knife - strongly made, well balanced, and with an absolute minimum of moving parts.' Michael Swanwick, author of many short stories and a number of SF novels including Chasing the Phoenix, provides this week's Comment.
  • 'The meaning of a story emerges in the meeting between the words on the page and the thoughts in the reader's mind. So when people ask me what I meant by this story, or what was the message I was trying to convey in that one, I have to explain that I'm not going to explain...' Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials and the forthcoming The Book of Dust, provides our Comment, from his website.
  • ‘The rise of nationalism, including in the United States, but also through Europe and even in Asia, has underscored the importance of internationalism - as a subject and as an approach to the markets for the publishing community and for writers. This has been coming for a while, although it arrived as a great surprise to many people. The seeds of it have been planted earlier...' Andrew Wylie of The Wylie Agency in Publishing Perspectives.
  • 'The real world is full of wild, outlandish coincidences that we can't use because fiction has to be realistic. There's nothing realistic about the world now, politics-wise, everything-wise. You couldn't make it up - it's a problem for fiction writers.' Ian Rankin, author of Rather be the Devil, Knots and Crosses and many other novels, in the Sunday Telegraph.
  • On horror -‘It's one of the genres that live across the tracks in the literary community, but what could I do? That's where I was drawn. I love D.H. Lawrence. And James Dickey's poetry, Émile Zola, Steinbeck ... Fitzgerald, not so much. Hemingway, not at all. Hemingway sucks, basically. If people like that, terrific. But if I set out to write that way, what would've come out would've been hollow and lifeless because it wasn't me. And I have to say this: To a degree, I have elevated the horror genre...' Stephen King, author of Carrie, Sleeping Beauty and many other novels in an interview in Rolling Stone


'People are certainly impressed by the aura of creative power which a writer may wear, but can easily demolish it with a few well-chosen questions. Bob Shaw has observed that the deadliest questions usually come as a pair: "Have you published anything?" (loosely translated as: I've never heard of you) and "What name do you write under?" (loosely translatable as: I've definitely never heard of you).'

Brian Stableford

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:

What is the Theme of a Book? An Author's Guide • Reedsy Blog

Curtis Brown leads the way in dealmaking as new lists thrive | The Bookseller

The Difference Between a Press Release and a Pitch (You Need Both) | Jane Friedman

In the Era of Digital Composition, What Should a Writer Keep? - The New York Times

100 Must-Read, Best Books On Writing And The Writer's Life

On eBooks Being a Dead Format | The Digital Reader

Reader Analytics from Jellybooks: Crunching the Numbers to Improve Book Marketing and Sales | Jane Friedman

Adult Nonfiction from the Children's Lit World

10 Writing Rules You Can (and Should) Break

Is Trump Ruining Book Sales? | New Republic

So You've Decided to Write: Will You Tell the Truth? | Literary Hub

Not everyone on the internet should write a book - Quartz

Literary Style and the Lessons of Memoir | The New Yorker

Top 10 opening scenes in books | Books | The Guardian

Kurt Vonnegut's Greatest Writing Advice | Literary Hub

10 Steps To Self-Publishing Your Book | HuffPost

Will Writing That E-Book Really Boost Your Business?

Authors warned not to sign 'morality' clauses | The Bookseller

So You're an Author Without a Social Media Presence: Now What? | Jane Friedman


So You've Decided to Write: When to Drown Your Darlings | Literary Hub

Forget George Eliot: now it's male authors disguising their sex to sell more books | Books | The Guardian

Crime in the City: Singapore, World Capital of the Cozy Mystery | Literary Hub

Bookstores holding their own against digital onslaught - CBS News

When does a writer become a professional? | The Bookseller

How to Write Even When You Don't Feel Like Writing | HuffPost

India is the new publishing haven for writers from Pakistan, Sri Lanka. Here's why | books$ht-picks | Hindustan Times

Sudan's Caine prize winner wants Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa to supports the arts in Africa - Quartz

Your Literary Idols and Their Wardrobes - The New York Times

When Totally Normal Books About Girls Turned into 'Beach Reads' - Broadly

One Direction Fanfiction Is Having a Moment in YA Books | Pitchfork

Nine practical tips for new bloggers on the block | The Media

Twenty years of Harry Potter - the 20 things we have learned | Books | The Guardian

Literature's Great Alternative Families - Electric Literature

Controversy as author pulls out of history festival in diversity protest | The Bookseller

History should never be exclusively white and male | David Olusoga | Opinion | The Guardian

How a Small Press Landed a Big Fish in Naomi Klein

The Millions : Don't Talk About Your Book Until It's Published - The Millions

Publishers rejected me, but I went on to earn six-figures selling 1,000 books a day

False Starts, or This Novel-Writing Shit Isn't Easy | Literary Hub

A Confederacy of Dunces: a Pulitzer winner's struggle to find a publisher | Books | The Guardian

Misprint the legends: famous typos from James Joyce to JK Rowling | Books | The Guardian

Rights Pro of the Year: Kate Hibbert on 'the Status of Rights Selling'

National Writing Day: Anthony Anaxagorou on Working as a Poet • The Poetry School

National Writing Day: Publisher Emma Wright on Setting Up a Small Press • The Poetry School

How to Immediately Improve Your Query Letter's Effectiveness | Jane Friedman

Buying houses in cash and selling millions: meet self-publishing's 'hidden' authors | 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 20 different editorial services we offer, from Reports to Copy editing, Manuscript Typing to Synopsis-writing 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. Our new services are Translation Editing and Writer's edit.

Literary magazines with one week's response time

Sandeep Kumar Mishra's useful list, recently added to the site. The magazines range from literary fiction to non-fiction and include science fiction and fantasy, popular non-fiction, politics, flash fiction, reviews, humour, social issues, the economy, lifestyle, horror, artwork and much more. If you've ever despaired at how long magazine submissions can take, this is the list you need.

Our services for writers

A recently created page lists all 20 editorial services offered by WritersServices, the widest range available on the web. Go straight to the service you're looking for.

The Writer's edit is our top-level new service for writers who want line-editing as well as copy editing. Does your manuscript need high-level input from an editor to help you get it into the best possible shape for submission or self-publishing? This may be the service for you, offering the kind of editing which publishers' senior editors used to do in-house on their authors' manuscripts and which is now hard to find.

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

Have you got 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?" Or perhaps it's written in English but needs polishing? 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.

Our Inside Publishing series offers 19 articles offering an insider's perspective. On Copyright 'Many writers worry about losing their copyright. Before sending out your manuscript it is always advisable to put a copyright line consisting of the copyright sign ©, the year and your name on the title page...' On The Writer/Publisher Financial Relationship: 'There's no escaping the fact that publishers and authors are essentially in an adversarial position. Even in the very best and most supportive publisher/writer relationships there is the tension caused by the fact that authors would like to earn as much as possible from their writing and publishers to pay as little as they can get away with...'

Are you a self-publisher? 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.

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 there are ten articles, including No 9 dealing with  Marketing and Promotion for Indie authors: Online and No 10 dealing with Offline.

Writing Opportunities

Our new Writing Opportunities this month were the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2017, The Galley Beggar Press open submisson and the Winchester Poetry Prize. 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.