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March 2017 - Writers Magazine


News Review

  • The recent death of Colin Dexter has produced plaudits from fellow-authors and editors alike. In the UK he was one of our best-loved crime writers inspiring a uniquely affectionate response amongst readers and the publishing world alike. Quoted in Bookbrunch, fellow crime writer Peter James praised him highly: 'I think Colin Dexter truly changed both the landscape of British crime fiction and also its stature in the canon of literature...' News Review on the Death of a crime writer.
  • 'World Poetry Day has been marked by the publication of some encouraging sales figures from the UK, showing sales up 16% on last year in the first quarter. But a lot of these sales seem to be driven by social media and to feature poets who are appealing to a young female audience. Rupi Kaur's self-published Milk and Honey, which was mentioned on WritersServices last September in link to an article entitled How To Sell Nearly a Half-Million Copies of a Poetry Book, is a case in point and her sales spiked after International Women's Day... News Review on World Poetry Day and new ebook platform Bookgrail.
  • 'A generally buoyant picture has emerged from the London Book Fair, which showed an international publishing business in relatively good shape and double-digit growth in the all-important number of pre-registered visitors to the Fair. The mood of optimism was stoked by the low pound and several new developments. The international book world flocked to London to the second most important global fair after Frankfurt to talk to other publishers and to do deals on upcoming books. Authors were also catered for with a wide range of seminars but did not catch the LBF headlines in the same way...' News Review
  • 'Hachette UK's acquisition of Bookouture is the biggest publishing news of the week, showing how traditional publishers are acquiring the talent and technical nous to enable them to profit from the digital revolution...' But this is a publisher authors can submit directly to. News Review
  • The successful growth of new British publisher Head of Zeus shows how an international approach to publishing can put a business in a strong position through challenging the traditional approach to publishing markets...' But it's through selling ebooks internationally that the firm is coming up with a new publishing model. News Review
  • Coming from the tech arena is a fairly hostile view of traditional publishing, which assumes that it is dead and will shortly be totally replaced by indie publishing. But is this really what is happening at present? It doesn't seem so clear-cut. News Review on the debate about 'The black hole of modern publishing practices'.
  • In a very visible case, highly successful Australian author Kate Morton has accused the agent who kick-started her career of favouring her own interests. Morton is seeking a refund of up to $2.8 million paid to her agent in commission. Her well-respected agent Selwa Anthony is suing her former client for breach of contract relating to books on which she says she was entitled to receive her 15% commission. News Revie
  • It's been a lively week on the children's publishing and reading front, with an attack on the "joyless education" which is putting children off reading, an intervention from the Children's Laureate demonstrating that drawing and illustrating help children's literacy and authors complaining about celebrity signings for children's books. The week's News Review, is Should celebrities be signed up for children's books?


  • Our Comment is some advice from Selina Walker, Publisher of Century and Arrow, which starts with: 'Once you have your idea for a story, write yourself a rough outline and You will need to work out who your characters are, what type of ‘journey' you're taking them on, what's going to kick their story into gear (your opening), and how it's going to end...'
  • 'I used to worry that I'd run out of ideas. But as I get older I know it's not ideas; it's energy. As long as the job involves words and story - and it's what I really want to do - I'll give it a go. I enjoy the contrasts between the different forms. Writing a film script is so different to writing a novel, I find it quite easy to give proper attention to both in the same working day...' Roddy Doyle, author of The Commitments and The Guts provides this week's Comment from Bookbrunch.
  • 'Outside the bubble of hype are authors in various genres quietly working away with large and valuable readerships. They are producing books and working in areas that might raise eyebrows or even a hint of derision at many acquisitions meetings. Yet readers still love it, they will keep coming back for more. In this respect then I think the ebook market can buck mainstream fashion; and the entire book market is all the better for it...' Our Comment is from Michael Bhaskar, Co-Founder of Canelo and author of Curation: The Power of Selection in a World of Excess and is from in PW's London Show Daily 15 March, which is sadly not available online.
  • ‘If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories...' Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse 5 and Breakfast of Champions provides this week's Comment.
  • ‘I realize how decadent writing a novel is. You really own this world, you can do whatever you want to it. You can go inside people's minds. Gone Girl has a lot of internal monologues, so it was a big struggle to figure out how to have them show you who they were instead of like, "Here's about me." Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl and Dark Places in the Hollywood Reporter gives us this week's Comment.
  • Our Comment is from Mark Dawson, author of 24 books, including The Cleaner, his latest John Milton title, and the Isabella Rose series: ‘You have to be the writer and get the words down, then you've got to know to take off your writer's hat and put on your business hat. And this is why self-publishing is not for everybody... If you sign up to my mailing list, you get the first two books in the Milton series free - you need to shoot them a pill to get them to sign up... You want to take someone from being a customer to being a reader, then a fan and in the end you consider them friends...'
  • 'If I've written the screenplay, I get a lot of say, or I make myself an executive producer and at least pitch in with it. I always think of the novel as a visual form. I think of people as visual creatures. It's our strongest sense. The key to an important scene is to get the visual details correct... There comes a moment when you just have to back off. Once it goes into pre-production, all the big decisions are made and you really don't want to be lurking around saying ‘it's not like this in my novel! Our Comment is from Ian McEwan, author of The Children Act and sixteen other novels and books of stories in Concrete Online.


'Writing is a kind of revenge against circumstance too: bad luck, loss, pain. If you make something out of it, then you've no longer been bested by these events.'

Louise Glück


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:

Why publishers might reject your next book, even if it's a good one

'It's no longer about the vanity press': self-publishing gains respect - and sales - British Columbia - CBC News

Amazon Books opens new Chicago neighborhood location - Business Insider

How Many Books Will You Read Before You Die? | Literary Hub

Every Writer Needs an Editor, Especially if that Writer is Also an Editor

How celebrity deals are shutting children's authors out of their own trade | Books | The Guardian

How Nan Talese Blazed Her Pioneering Path through the Publishing Boys' Club | Vanity Fair

Jacob Polley: ‘I'm a fool as a writer - you have to take risks' | Books | The Guardian

Why poetry is the perfect weapon to fight Donald Trump | Books | The Guardian

4 Questions to Ask Before Writing Your Life's Story | The Huffington Post

How to finish a novel: tracking a book's progress from idea to completion | Books | The Guardian

Children's Books and China's Crackdown on Western Ideology - The New Yorker

Stop Focusing on Follower Count: 5 Better Approaches for Improving Social Media Use | Jane Friedman

What Goodreads' Explosive Growth Means for Writers and the Broader Economy

At London Book Fair's Quantum Conference: Stakes and Statistics

London Book Fair 2017: For Publishers, Business Is Booming, but Brexit Means Uncertainty

10 Writer Learnings From The London Book Fair 2017 #WritersLife #LBF17 #Writer | BlondeWriteMore

Publishers Weekly - LBF Show Daily March 15, 2017 - Page 28-29

How I Learned to Create an Effective Sherlock Holmes Pastiche | Literary Hub

Look Inside America's First Romance and Erotica-Only Bookstore - VICE

Annabel Karmel goes self-publishing for next title | The Bookseller

How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Market and Just Write | Literary Hub

How to Adopt an Authorpreneur Attitude | The Huffington Post

Be More Terry | The Bookseller

Helen Dunmore: facing mortality and what we leave behind | Books | The Guardian

Learning to code can transform your writing, not just your website | The Bookseller

Writing As A Second Career

Sucks for us: Why Barack and Michelle Obama's $65 million book deal is the last thing we need -

Sharon Olds, America's Brave Poet of the Body | Literary Hub

'I See You,' A Conversation with Clare Mackintosh | The Huffington Post

The Millions: Against Readability - The Millions

How Crowdfunding Allows You to Experiment Outside Your Genre | Jane Friedman

Why the Much-Hyped "Netflix of Books" Model Ended Up Flopping

Norman Mailer's Fatal Friendship | New Republic

The Ladybird phenomenon: the publishing craze that's still flying | Books | The Guardian

Transparency, targeting, Twitter: what it means to be a literary agent now | The Bookseller

Kevin Morley and kids

Kevin Morley and Kids, see Becoming a writer to 'help kids in Africa'

The beauty of blind reading - The Sunday Times Short Story Awards

How, and why, I'm turning The Kraken Wakes into a game | The Bookseller

Trashy, sexist, downright dangerous? In defence of romantic fiction | Books | The Guardian

Turning the Virtual Page: Virtual Reality and Traditional Publishing - Publishing Trends

Helen Bailey murder: Ian Stewart jailed for at least 34 years for killing author | UK news | The Guardian

Five Pieces of Good Advice for M.F.A. Students

Want to sell a bad book? Tap into Twitter's network of "influencers"

Emma Donoghue and Laird Hunt on Writing Historical Women | Literary Hub

Is Amazon Kindle Cheating Self-Published Authors? - Authorlink

Stupid cultures: on our obsession with Literature | Overland literary journal

Rishi Dastidar - The Asian Writer

Three Award-Winning Romance Novelists Discuss Their Craft - BLARB

Faber CEO speaks out after winning indie trade publisher of the year | Books | The Guardian

Is My Novel Offensive?

David Mark on the Clarity of Good vs. Evil in Crime Fiction | Literary Hub

Why You Should Read About Writing | BookBaby Blog

Amazon Web Services: the secret to the online retailer's future success | Technology | The Guardian

Eimear McBride Is Not Afraid of Cruelty

What Was Chick Lit? A Brief History From the Inside | Literary Hub

Book Distribution For Self-Published Authors Beyond Amazon & Kindle | BookBaby Blog

A.S. Byatt: I Have Not Yet Written Enough | Literary Hub


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.

Our services for writers

A new page this month 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.

Finding an agent and Working with an agent - two practical checklists to help set up and maintain this vital relationship. 'Try to find an agency which is ‘hungry' for new clients. To keep their workload under control, an established independent agent might take on something like four new authors a year (this figure came from two agents I spoke to recently), but only to replace four departing clients. This may seem obvious, but whether or not an agent is actively looking to build their list of clients is probably the single most important factor affecting how closely they are looking at unsolicited submissions...'

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 International Rubery Book Award 2017 and The 11th Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. Current Writing Opportunities include The Kindle UK Storyteller Award.

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.