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May 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.
  • The debate about ebooks goes on. But many writers will think that it's a debate which has been settled and doesn't need global publishers expressing a view - especially since in fact publishers have made a lot of money from ebook sales. But for indie publishers they are vital.
  • Last week's Harry Potter Book Day led Bloomsbury to release some amazing figures for the series, which have now exceeded 500 million copies sold worldwide. The figures take into account sales across all versions of the seven books in the series, which began with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1997, as well as three companion volumes
  • 'A story in the Bookseller, unfortunately behind the paywall, has provided encouragement for short story writers this week. Short story collections have sold 692,087 units or £5.88m in value in the UK during 2017. This is up 32% by volume and 45% by value over 2016...'


  • '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.
  • '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.
  • 'For a long time, probably since 1988 when The Silence of the Lambs was published, the crime market was dominated by books about serial killers. I like a good serial-killer thriller, but, probably happily, I do not have one in me. Then Gone Girl changed the game. Psychological suspense is what I had studied and what I thought I would be able to write...' Daniel Mallory, who, under the pseudonym A J Finn, published his much-heralded debut crime novel The Woman in the Window after a career in crime publishing. Our Comment was in the Observer Magazine.
  • ‘When times are stressful and it looks like the bad is winning out over the good, along comes the genre of crime novels to put the balance back in life. People inherently don't like folks who do bad to get away with it...' David Baldacci, author of Absolute Power, Memory Man and The Fallen, in The Times.
  • 'The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them - words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away...' Stephen King, author of a large number of novels, including Carrie and The Dark Tower.

'Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it's the answer to everything... It's the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it's a cactus.'

Enid Bagnold

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:

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, 88, ‘New Journalist' With Electric Style and Acid Pen, Dies - The New York Times

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

Jojo Moyes steps in to save Quick Reads from closure | The Bookseller

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

Children's book sales, home and away

Boats at sea

How to Become a Bestseller with Money, Luck, or Work (Mostly Work) | Jane Friedman

Writers as readers, publishers as curators

Take it from me: never judge a book by the blurb on its cover | Emma Brockes | Opinion | The Guardian

Jojo Moyes: modern dating is a 'road of misery' - BBC News

An Algorithmic Investigation of the Highfalutin 'Poet Voice' - Atlas Obscura

Opinion - Publishing Monday, 23 April 2018

Publishing startups have the tech - what they need is the stories | The Bookseller

What You Need to Know to Create a Best-selling Book

Let's silence the creative writing course snobs | Books | The Guardian

Hanya Yanagihara: influential magazine editor by day, best-selling author by night | Books | The Guardian

Want to earn more as a book author? A male name will help

The age of Amazon: a closeup examination of Bezos's behemoth | Technology | The Guardian

The perfect crimes: why thrillers are leaving other books for dead | Books | The Guardian

No mystery crime is the biggest-selling genre in books | Sophie Hannah | Books | The Guardian

Why more authors are going audio-only - BBC News

With Fewer Debut Novels Selling, What Do Editors Want To Tell Authors?

After Dozens of Rejections, It Only Takes One Acceptance to Make a Writer | Literary Hub

British Book Publishers Fear Brexit Will Bring a U.S. Invasion - The New York Times

Same old story or a new chapter? The London Book Fair 2018 and what lies ahead for the UK's publishing industry as Brexit draws closer | City A.M

The poets' home: how one small, heroic publisher shaped modern poetry

The thriller writers who are making a killing with crime fiction - BBC News

How Self-Publishing Made Today's Small Independent Presses Possible

London Book Fair 2018: Publishing in the 'Mid-Digital' Age

Indie Authors Talk Editors

On the Rise - and Cost - of the African Novel in English | Literary Hub

There's no female conspiracy in publishing - your book might just not be good | Lauren Spieller | Books | The Guardian

The Billion-Dollar Romance Fiction Industry Has A Diversity Problem : NPR


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 an especially good crop: Richard & Judy's Search for a Bestseller 2018, the Sunday Times/PFDRepresents authors of fiction and non-fiction, children's writers, screenwriters, playwrights, documentary makers, technicians, presenters and public speakers throughout the world. Has 85 years of international experience in all media. PDF now have a POD section. Some good advice for those seeking a representative. Young Writer of the Year 2018 and The Daily Mail Penguin Random House First Novel Competition. 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.