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June 2018 - Writers Magazine


News Review

  • 'The sale of Waterstones to activist hedge fund Elliott Advisers has been widely welcomed in the book trade and is very much in the interests of writers. Like Barnes & Noble in the US, the British bookstore chain occupies a key position in terms of chain bookselling. The difference is that Waterstones has benefited from having James Daunt in charge for a number of years and, although there have been painful cuts, not least to a level of management in the stores, Daunt's efforts have been widely admired by publishers and seen as enabling the bookshop sector to continue to benefit from being able to deal with one big chain of ‘proper' bookshops...'
  • 'There's good news in Bookbrunch about poetry sales coming from the UK, the market is up two-thirds since 2012. A 66% increase in poetry sales over the past five years has led to a million poetry books being sold with a total value of £1.1m. There has been a boom in poetry events and festivals, with increased interest in the work of living poets with strong online followings...'
  • 'This week's London Book Fair has been a buzzy and optimistic occasion, as publishers from around the world gathered to sell rights to the international market. Second only 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., the LBF punches above its weight in terms of its usefulness to publishers...'
  • 'Bologna seems to have been a lively occasion as usual, with considerable interest in Middle Grade fiction and some reviving interest in YA too at the children's book fair. Picture books are still difficult but there is interest in talented new writers and illustrators. Bonnier's decision to close down its Australian children's publishing arm was a real shock...'
  • 'It's unusual to find a book chain boss who went into bookselling because he liked reading, but James Daunt, founder of Daunts bookshop chain in London, and CEO of the Waterstones chain in the UK, is that rare animal. Encouragingly, he still maintains that: "Books still work and always will".' Daunt on bookselling is this week's News Review.


  • ‘You don't necessarily choose the books you write; they choose you, in a way. Sometimes one arrives when you are least expecting it, a bit like an unplanned pregnancy. This book was very much like that. But I had huge trepidations about publishing it. I only let my publisher give me a £1 advance in case I changed my mind...' Our Comment this week is about 'A memoir that didn't fleece the people I love' and is from Maggie O'Farrell writing about her latest book, I Am. I Am. I Am in the Observer. Her seven novels include The Hand That First Held Mine and This Must Be the Place.
  • ‘I got insomnia because I was so freaked out. Everyone else was delighted for me but it was destabilising. My friends had to process the success for me. I didn't realise writing was not the final stage. You hope the book speaks for you - you write because you want to make sense of the world through your books, so to have to be the representative of it was challenging... When I started writing it was like I didn't need to ask permission. Unconsciously perhaps, the roles I created in The Miniaturist were dream roles I wanted to play...' Jessie Burton, author of the bestsellers The Miniaturist and The Muse, in the Evening Standard.
  • 'My greatest fear is of suddenly feeling that to devote so much of my life to writing is meaningless. It's a sensation that I've felt very often, and I'm afraid that I will again. I need a lot of determination, a stubborn, passionate adherence to the page, not to feel the urgency of other things to do, a more active way of spending my life. So yes, I'm fragile. It's all too easy for me to notice the other things and feel guilty...' Elena Ferrante, author of My Brilliant Friend and four other Neapolitan Novels in the Los Angeles Times.
  • ‘"I'm writing a book." The very phrase seems self-indulgent and strange, more so at a time when we count the words and minutes, even the characters and the seconds. In popular myth, the writer is a mercurial figure, and when I started writing I assumed that the process would consist of long periods of staring at a flashing cursor interrupted by flashes of inspiration which would keep me at the keyboard for 50,000 words. Having heard about all those writers' retreats for novelists, I also assumed that it would help to have a beautiful view to look at. All wrong....' Jonathan Conlin, author of Tales of Two Cities, Evolution and the Victorians and four other books, provides this week's Comment from agent Andrew Lownie's excellent archive.
  • 'Amid the avalanche of titles published each year, promoting a book now seems to demand almost as much work as writing it... This may sound a bit spoilt, especially when I know how incredibly lucky I have been, but life is not simple when it comes to promoting foreign translations as well as the British and American editions. For a start you need to banish any hope of working on a future book for at least half a year to nine months. It may be good for your stash of air miles, but some seventeen overseas trips in a year does not help continuity of concentration.' Antony Beevor, author of just-published Arnhem - The Battle for the Bridges 1944, as well as Stalingrad, The Second World War and many other distinguished military histories in Bookbrunch.
  • 'I think I am starving for publication: I love to get published; it maddens me not to get published. I feel at times like getting every publisher in the world by the scruff of the neck, forcing his jaws open, and cramming the Mss down his throat - 'God-damn you, here it is - I will and must be published...' Tom Wolfe, journalist extraordinaire and author of The Right Stuff, From Bauhaus to Our House and The Bonfire of the Vanities, who died this week.
  • 'I discovered that if I trusted my subconscious, or imagination, whatever you want to call it, and if I made the characters as real and honest as I could, then no matter how complex the pattern being woven, my subconscious would find ways to tie it together - often doing things far more complicated and sophisticated than I could with brute conscious effort...' Tad Williams, author of 20 fantasy novels, including the Witchwood, Bobby Dollar and Shadowmarch series, and three short story collections.

'If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.'

Elmore Leonard

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:

10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Published Author - M. Shannon Hernandez

‘It is like being on psychedelic drugs': Benjamin Myers on the strange world of literary prizes | Books | The Guardian

ALCS survey finds 15% drop in average author earnings since 2013 | The Bookseller

Publishers are paying writers a pittance, say bestselling authors | Books | The Guardian

Neuroscience research shows audiobooks are more emotionally engaging than film or TV | The Bookseller

Drawn from life: why have novelists stopped making things up? | Books | The Guardian

The Way You Read Books Says A Lot About Your Intelligence, Here's Why

Future of books brighter in India than most parts of world: Publisher David Davidar - Times of India

Essential Writing Advice from Virginia Woolf | Literary Hub

Oxford English Dictionary hunts for regional words | The Bookseller

Stephen King: Master of Almost All the Genres Except "Literary" | Literary Hub

AuthorEarnings Debunks Industry Lies Surrounding SciFi, Fantasy

Words-to-be-read are losing ground to words-to-be-heard, a new stage of digital content evolution | The Idea Logical Company

Dana Schwartz: Writing a Book Did Not Change My Life | Literary Hub

Carnegie medal winner slams children's book publishers for ‘accessible' prose | Books | The Guardian

Vida report: 'Dangerous lens' of male bias remains in literary criticism | The Bookseller


An Exclusive New Column Series: Richard Charkin on the Vocabulary of Publishing

Audio is publishing's new star as sales soar across genres | UK news | The Guardian

Listen carefully, book lovers - top authors are skipping print |

Business Musings: What It Feels Like To Have An Agent - Kristine Kathryn

Restructuring your novel - Phoebe Morgan

At BookExpo, a Look at Copyright Issues: 'It's the Author Who Suffers'

First novel inspired by CIA's Doctor Zhivago plan nets $2m book deal | Books | The Guardian

Authors, Don't Be Taken in by the Blockchain/Bitcoin Hype | The Digital Reader

Salt saved from debt after supporters rally to buy 'just one book' | The Bookseller

Who Will Buy Your Book? - The Millions

Starting Later & Starting Over: Launching a Writing Career When You're No Longer "Young" | Jane Friedman

Banker launches publishing start-up offering novelists £24k salary | The Bookseller

Philip Roth: 'You Begin Every Book As An Amateur': NPR

The Power of Free: How to Sell More E-Books

Why are middle-aged women invisible on book covers? | Alison Flood | Books | The Guardian

Authors reach out to schools via penpal scheme | The Bookseller

What's Going On In Your Child's Brain When You Read Them A Story? : NPR Ed : NPR

Fact or friction: the problem with factchecking in the book world | Books | The Guardian

Ask the Editor: Finding an Agent

Philip Roth, Towering Novelist Who Explored Lust, Jewish Life and America, Dies at 85 - The New York Times

What Every Indie Author Needs to Know About E-Books

Traditional publishers' ebook sales drop as indie authors and Amazon take off - GeekWire

Writing Advice from Ann Packer

Authors Are Taking Friendly Fire in Amazon's War on Fake Reviews | The Digital Reader

Drawing subscribers to your book-related newsletter: 7 insider tips | The Bookseller

A Brief History of Seven-Figure Book Advances | Literary Hub

Rants and Revelations : Avoiding the Pitfalls of Publishing With Amazon Kindle Self-Publishing Platform: Authorlink

How Amazon enabled my dream career

Tom Wolfe and the bonfire of male literary reputations | Emma Brockes | Opinion | The Guardian

5 questions aspiring authors should ask themselves now | The Bookseller

Sarah Perry on her struggle to become a writer: ‘I was poor and getting poorer' | 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.

WritersServices Guide to Self-publishing

In 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' fantastically useful WritersServices Self-publishing Guide there are ten articles, including What is Self-publishing? and Choose your self-publishing route.

Want to Be a Better Writer?

A new article from Jane Sandwood: 'We all know what makes for a good novel - an intriguing plot line, beautiful language, a cast of inimitable characters, and always, a shocking twist. As a writer, you are probably conscious of all the ways you can keep your reader reading, but what about your own reading? Many writers can make the mistake of not reading - in general, and in the particular genre or market they wish to enter into with their own book...'

Literary magazines with one week's response time

Sandeep Kumar Mishra's useful list, uniquely available on 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 service offers the kind of editing 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 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...'

Writing Opportunities

Our Writing Opportunities were the Daily Mail PRH First Novel Competition 2018, Myriad's First Drafts competition 2018 and The Mothe Short Story Prize 2018. 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.