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InsideSessions Runs into Difficulties

17 June 2002

A recent piece by Katharine Mieszkowski in Salon ( has put the spotlight back on Penguin Putnam's InsideSessions, a joint venture between the US publisher and Universal Music Group. InsideSessions' Internet-based learning programme claimed, for a fee, 'to teach you everything you need to know to transform your passion for writing into a published work'. The real attraction was that it promised that writers' work would be read and critiqued by an editor at one of the house's 27 imprints.

Apparently the outcome has been what many in the publishing world would have predicted - the editors have been overwhelmed and Penguin Putnam are having to put the work out to outside editors to keep up with the flow. The logic is that, if the editors are too busy to read unsolicited manuscripts in the first place, the fact that they are doing it for a fee won't change that situation. But this has caused unhappiness in some circles, since the writers are not sure that they are getting the degree of professionalism they have paid for, not to mention the particular benefit of getting their work in front of an acquiring editor. All of this reinforces how difficult it is to get published, especially in the US, where the editor of Writer's Digest recently estimated that there are an astounding 24 million writers.