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16 November 2020 - What's new

November 2020
  • 'Why does the writer write? The writer writes to serve - hopelessly he writes in the hope that he might serve - not himself and not others, but that great cold elemental grace which knows us. A writer I very much admire is Don DeLillo. At an awards ceremony for him at the Folger Library several years ago, I said that he was like a great shark moving hidden in our midst, beneath the din and wreck of the moment, at apocalyptic ease in the very elements of our psyche and times that are most troublesome to us, that we most fear...' Joy Williams, author of The Visiting Privilege, The Quick and the Dead, Ill Nature, State of Grace and The Changeling.
  • For anyone thinking about or embarked on self-publishing, our ten-part WritersServices Self-Publishing Guide by 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 www.joannephillips.co.uk is an essential starting-point, taking you through the process step-by-step. 'Today's indie author can feel confident that they are in good company - indeed, many traditionally published authors are leaving their publishers and going indie by choice. Tired of creative compromises, covers they can't stand, zero promotion and tiny royalty percentages, they are joining the ranks of self-publishing authors and reaping the benefits. If you have a book you are passionate about, if your main objective is to get your work in front of readers and make it professional and accessible, and if you're tired of doing the ‘rounds' of agents and publishers and facing soul-destroying rejection, there is an answer. Self publish...' Articles include What is Self-publishing and Choose Your Self-publishing Route.
  • As well as our highly-regarded Copy editing service, which will help you prepare your manuscript for submission or self-publishing, we have Manuscript Polishing, which provides a higher-level polishing service, English Language Editing for those for whom English is not a native language, our latest new service Writer's edit, providing line-editing, and Proof-reading. Get the right level of editorial support for your needs. Our low-cost services represent exceptionally good value. Contact us to discuss what you want.
  • Links from the publishing world: millions of Chinese understand perfectly why e-commerce giant Alibaba adopted this as a marketing slogan for its hugely successful Singles' Day, The past is prologue; tomorrow is online; you'll know who's won the Booker by the time you read this, but Africa basks in Booker boost for female writers - BBC News; more impending consolidation amongst the big battalions of the publishing world, 'NYT' Says HC, PRH Top Contenders to Buy S&S; and nearly one milion children's books in print, Self-Published Author Moves Brand into Consumer Products.
  • An endorsement from Anthony Fitzgerald for our English Language Editing Service: 'The result? A book that reads like it's written by a native speaker for only 13% of the price a complete translation would have costed. Thank you, writersservices.'
  • Links from writers and about writing: Nigerian-American author's Half of a Yellow Sun has been voted the best of the Women's Prize's 25 years of winners, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Is Women's Prize 'Winner of Winners'; SF anthology stalled since 1974, Harlan Ellison's The Last Dangerous Visions may finally be published, after five-decade wait | Books | The Guardian; he was just 16 in 1968, it was a moment of change and social revolution, Novelist William Boyd Looks Back to the Past; and author of the cult classic novel, in which a bored psychiatrist  lets "the dice decide" his options, The Dice Man author George Cockcroft (aka Luke Rhinehart) dies aged 87 | Books | The Guardian.
  • If you are submitting your work to an agent or directly to a publishing house, check through our guidelines to give it its best chance. Making Submissions.
  • Links of general interest: if you'd like to improve your writing setup, this useful guide may help, 11 Actually Useful Digital Tips for Writers - National Centre for Writing; 'some days we think of poetry as a dead antelope', a serious look at poetry and prizes, On Poets and Prizes / Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young - ASAP/J; 35% of the world read more due to COVID-19, but go online to look at this properly, Infographic: World Reading Habits in 2020 | The Digital Reader.
  • Working with an agent explains how to get the best out of the relationship with your agent: 'It can be hard work finding an agent to represent you. Make sure though that, when you set up the relationship, you do so in a professional manner Don't let your eagerness to find representation mean that things are left vague. You will be depending on the agent to process all your income from the books they sell, so you need to have a written record of your arrangement, preferably a contract...'
  • 'Meeting writers is always so disappointing. I got over wanting to meet live writers quite a long time ago. There is this terrific book that has changed your life, and then you meet the author, and he has shifty eyes and funny shoes and he won't talk about anything except the injustice of the United States income tax structure toward people with fluctuating income, or how to breed Black Angus cows, or something.' Ursula K Le Guin in our Writers' Quotes.

9 November 2020 - What's new

November 2020

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October 2020

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October 2020

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October 2020

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September 2020

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September 2020

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September 2020

7 September 2020 - What's new

September 2020
  • ‘The majority of my books are set in north London, and it began to seem like an omission or a lie that when I open my door I'm in a multiracial neighbourhood, yet I haven't written about that. Should my books stay white for the rest of my life? I don't think so. That's all I can say, I wanted the book to represent my city... You write yourself out the further you go. The women thing started like that. I came to believe that women had more problems than white men, and white men's problems are mostly internal. That's certainly the case with High Fidelity and About a Boy. I tried to do the best I could with them, but there is something inert about that... Nick Hornby, author of 21 books, including 7 novels, amongst them Just Like You, published next week, About a Boy, Fever Pitch and High Fidelity, in the Sunday Times' Culture.
  • For anyone thinking about or embarked on self-publishing, our ten-part WritersServices Self-Publishing Guide by 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 www.joannephillips.co.uk is an essential starting-point, taking you through the process step-by-step. 'Self-publishing has changed so much over the past few years it's hard to believe it was once looked down upon by the publishing industry as the last resort of the vain and desperate. At the time of writing many self-publishing authors are identifying with the term ‘indie author', which acknowledges that to professionally publish today, you don't actually have to do everything yourself!' Articles include Formatting your book for Kindle and Marketing and Promotion for Indie Authors: Online.
  • If on the other hand you're planning to submit to agents, you'll want to get your submission package into good shape before getting started, to give your book its best chance.
  • Seven writing competitions are still open, though some are closing soon.
  • This week's links are a varied bunch: there is no risk greater for a writer than emotional risk - which is why writing one's memoir is ultimately the riskiest of all, The Risky Writing Life; a comprehensive process in which, according to the definitive book on the subject, a trained checker works through your book? Why Nonfiction Book Fact Checking Should Be an Industry Standard; the big beasts of the ,publishing world are circling, eying up their prey, Bertelsmann, HarperCollins Show Interest in S&S; the acclaimed crime writer acknowledging that the fact that some people are perceived to have value attached to them and others aren't is really important, Denise Mina: 'I couldn't read until I was about nine' | Books | The Guardian; and 'An unhappy childhood is a writer's gold mine, Writing a path to redemption.
  • Our article on How to get your book translated into English (without it costing the earth) asks writers with a manuscript which needs translating or has been written in English by a non-native speaker: 'if your English is good enough, what about translating your book yourself, or writing in English, and then getting your translation polished and copy edited by a professional editor who is a native English speaker?' This could be a cost-effective way of reaching the international English-speaking market.
  • English Language Editing is our polishing service for writers who have translated their work into English or written it in English when it is not their native language. If you need to make sure it's good enough to publish, or send to a publisher, this service is for you. Acknowledging the growth of world English, English Language Editing is designed for the many non-native English speakers throughout the world who want to publish their work in English.
  • More links: here's a breakthrough first novel, a high-school thriller which tackles institutionalised racism, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé: the 21-year-old British student with a million-dollar book deal; this year, my detective Vera Stanhope turns 21, Stories have always been healing, so I'm funding bibliotherapists | Ann Cleeves | Books | The Guardian; 'a novel tells you far more about a writer than an essay, a poem, or even an autobiography', Martin Amis Gets Matter of Fact; and children's authors who also work in the children's publishing world, Children's Writers Who Wear Multiple Hats.
  • Are you having difficulty producing a really good blurb to self-publish your book? Or do you need a synopsis to submit it to publishers? Our services can help.
  • From our Writers' Quotes: 'Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.' Gloria Steinem

 

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August 2020

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August 2020

‘I'm always interested in trying to use whodunit and murder mystery forms to do something a bit more profound than, after 400 pages, saying the butler did it, thank you, goodbye. Effectively, I didn't just want to write ordinary detective stories... They are the only form of literature that deals in absolute truths. When you read a whodunit, the joy of it is that you know that at the last chapter every ‘i' will be dotted, every ‘t' will be crossed, everything will be solved...' Anthony Horowitz, author of 73 books, including the Alex Rider series, the just-published Moonflower Murders, Magpie Murders and 14 TV series, in the Sunday Times Culture. Our Comment.

An Editor's Advice is a series of seven articles by one of our editors on really useful subjects for writers such as Manuscript presentation, Dialogue, Doing further drafts and Planning: 'The idea of planning doesn't fit well with the idea of the writer as inspired genius, frantically scribbling away. However, I am willing to bet that, no matter what they would have you think, most successful writers plan as much as they write. They just don't tell you about it. The biggest objection that most inexperienced writers raise when someone broaches the delicate matter of planning is that it will get in the way of their inventive powers. A plan will be like a straitjacket. They'll be stuck with this plan and if they come up with a good idea along the way, they will not be able to use it. They are genuinely horrified at the thought...'

Mslexia Fiction & Memoir Competition 2020 is open to women writers only from across the world with unpublished manuscripts (self-published work allowed) in four categories: Flash Fiction, Short Story, Children's & YA Novel and Memoir & Life Writing, with various entry fees and prizes. Closing 21 September.

Do you want some help with your writing but don't quite know what you want - or even if you need any help? Are you a bit puzzled by the various services on offer, and not sure what to go for? Choosing a service can help you work out which service is right for you. Or email us to ask about your requirements.

Our links: how readers are most engaged Maybe We Read Crime Fiction Because Deep Down, We All Know We're Complicit in Crime | CrimeReads; writers who find themselves mired in procrastination would do well to take a page from Marcel Proust's most famous book, Surprising secrets of writers' first book drafts - BBC Culture; an amalgamation of swashbuckling detective, political activist, and Catholic theologian, The Evolution of Dave Robicheaux and the Incredible Career of James Lee Burke | CrimeReads; from a writer, poet and editor from London, Will Harris on the Idea of Poetry as Interconnectedness | Literary Hub; and at least ten times a day I ask myself, "What the f*ck is wrong with people?" Why Writing About Psychopaths Keeps Me Sane | CrimeReads.

If you are trying to get your work into shape for publication, or for self-publishing, there's plenty of advice on the WritersServices website which may help. Advice for writers

More links: if Amazon's power is left unchecked, competition within publishing could diminish even more, Publishing Leaders Issuing Warning over Amazon's Market Power; it's now roughly halfway through a series of virtual meetings with publishers, Black Writers' Guild reports progress as publishers start to confront diversity deficit | The Bookseller; a sad side-effect of the success of charity bookshops, The demise of the second-hand bookshop | Alexander Larman | The Critic Magazine; until quite recently, I hadn't finished a book since the end of January, Get Happier by Rereading Your Favorite Books From Childhood.

Have you been working on your book over the holidays? Are you now ready to submit to publishers or to self-publish? We offer the widest range of editorial services on the web, tailored to writers' requirements and carried out by our professional editors, Our Services for writers.

Our final set of links are all about the Women's Prize for Fiction Reclaim Her Name programme and show just how a well-intentioned initiative can go wrong: ‘George Eliot' joins 24 female authors making debuts under their real names | Books | The Guardian; next, apologies, 'Sloppy': Baileys under fire over Reclaim Her Name books for Women's prize | Books | The Guardian; and then a more serious challenge to the whole idea of this list, The #ReclaimHerName initiative ignores the authorial choices of the writers it represents. | Literary Hub.

From our Writers' Quotes: 'Make no mistake, those who write long books have nothing to say. Of course those who write short books have even less to say.'

If quotes are your thing we have a  very large collection in our Archive, More Writers' Quotes and Even More Quotes.

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August 2020

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August 2020

 

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July 2020

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July 2020

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July 2020

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July 2020

29 June 2020 - What's new

June 2020
  • 'Like any social media platform, the more you use Twitter the more you will get out of it. So keeping your account as active as possible - i.e. tweeting as often as possible - is perhaps the most valuable tip of all. But that raises a common anti-Twitter excuse: "Oh, I wouldn't know what to talk about... To pro-Twitters like me, this is perhaps the most frustrating excuse of all, especially when it comes from otherwise idea-rich writers and authors! Paul Jones, author of The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetteer, Haggard Hawks & Paltry Poltroons and its sequel, Jedburgh Justice & Kentish Fire. Why and How Writers Should Embrace Twitter
  • An Editor's Advice is our seven-part series on how to become a better writer. On Genre writing: 'I've been reading science fiction, fantasy and crime novels since I was a teenager, and I can spot when a writer doesn't fully understand the mechanics of their chosen genre. It may not matter to a casual reader but it really matters to the fans, and if they don't like what they find, they'll be telling their friends why the novel is rubbish. So, what do you do about it? How do you become a successful genre writer?
  • Have you managed to find a publisher for your work and are now enjoying the thrill of knowing that your book will soon be published? If you're wondering what happens next or just dreaming of being in that situation, Preparing for Publication gives an outline of what's involved.
  • Our links: leading crime writers reveal how they came up with their most famous creations, Me and my detective by Lee Child, Attica Locke, Sara Paretsky, Jo Nesbø and more | Books | The Guardian; how writers can cope with the considerable change there's been over the last few months, Writing, Pitching & Promoting in the Age of the Coronavirus | Jane Friedman; unwanted, disrespected, or simply shut out, Romance Writers of America had a history of racism. It led to its own implosion. - Vox; and looking at Orwell's life, What's really Orwellian about our global Black Lives Matter moment.
  • Copy editing services - WritersServices can provide a range of services working on your manuscript, to help you get it ready for submission or self-publishing. We are UK-based and our skilled professional editors have been working on writers' manuscripts for 19 years. We have recently introduced free samples and free assessments on most of these services, please see the individual service page.
  • More links: 'I kept being told my books were about identity, then I'd read books by white poets, and think, how are these not about identity?' Poetic justice: black lives and the power of poetry | Books | The Guardian; a rather dry article documenting a depressing reality, Author Income in the Coronavirus Crisis: European Writers' Council Report; "We need to see agents, publishers, writers, sales and marketing people of colour..." The industry is ‘hostile environment on multiple levels', says Singh | The Bookseller.
  • Writing for Children: Rule Number One - Read More than You Write."If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." says Stephen King. Novels show writers what can be done and how. They can be everything from a rip-roaring read to a work of art, and they present the finished article, the puzzle of writing solved and celebrated as a successful story. These can be fiendishly hard to analyse though in terms of your own writing.
  • Are you struggling to get someone to look at your poetry? Our Poetry Critique service for up to 150 lines of poetry can help. Our Poetry Collection Editing, unique to WritersServices, edits your collection to prepare it for submission or self-publishing. Both can provide the professional editorial input you may feel you need.
  • Julian Barnes in our Writers' Quotes: 'Books say: she did this because life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't. I'm not surprised some people prefer books. Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people's lives, never your own.'

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June 2020

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June 2020

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June 2020

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25 May 2020 - What's new

May 2020
  • 'The rules for writing under lockdown are no different to other ties. It won't happen unless you make it happen. It's incremental and frustrating, and your chances of being paid for it are tiny, but it's a fascinating process, with all the glamour and excitement of an affair but with less chance of divorce. Once you discover the joys of it, and the pains, it will bring you the deepest pleasure. Good luck...' Writing under Lockdown from Louise Doughty, author of nine novels including Platform Seven, Apple Tree Yard and Black Water, and the how-to-write guide A Novel in a Year, in the Sunday Times Magazine.
  • From our 19-part Inside Publishing series - 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...'
  • You'll have to be very quick to enter The Bridport Prize 2020, which closes on 31 May. There are four parts to this Prize, as follows: Poetry, Short Story and Flash Fiction are open to unpublished work from any writer writing in English over 16. The Novel Award is restricted to UK writers. The entry fees are £10 per poem, £12 per story, £9 for flash fiction and £20 per novel. Poetry and Short Story 1st Prize £5,000, 2nd Prize £1,000, 3rd Prize £500. Flash Fiction 1st Prize £1,000, 2nd Prize £500 and 3rd Prize £250. Novel Award 1st Prize £1500, 2nd Prize £750 and 3 awards of £150. Go for it!
  • Other competitions which are still open.
  • We have a new endorsement from Daniela Stanciulescu in Paris, on her English Language Editing for writers who are not native English speakers: ‘WritersServices editors are not just excellent professionals, they are persons of letters involved in helping the writers who are trying to enter in the world of British books... I am impressed. I am grateful. I'm delighted. Thank you so much.'
  • Our links: the impact on publishing and authors, How Book Publishers Decided To Move Publication Dates During The COVID-19 Pandemic; hundreds of YA book releases and publicity plans have been altered by the Covid-19 pandemic, YA Authors Move Online; this will be a very different Frankfurt. The plan is to run the event not only on the fair's grounds but also decentralized at locations in the city, and as a virtual event, Frankfurt Book Fair 2020 to go ahead | The Bookseller; a lively conversation with Judy Blume, Curtis Sittenfeld Rewrites Hillary Clinton's Life Without Bill; and "like watching an IMAX movie from the front row," NPD's Kristen McLean on US Book Sales During the Pandemic.
  • Rotten Rejections provides a note of the things publishers wish they'd never said: on Animal Farm by George Orwell ‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA' and Carrie by Stephen King 'We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.'
  • More links: the Pandemic will hit many industries hard, there is a particularly deep fear for those in the relatively privileged cultural industries, Radical Publishing in a Pandemic; making sure your readers are on the edge of their seats, Five tips for keeping your readers gripped - National Centre for Writing; in 1909, long before the invention of the World Wide Web or the prospect of a world where we must live socially distant from each other, he arguably predicted both, How E.M. Forster's Only Foray Into Sci-Fi Predicted Social Distancing | Literary Hub; and what a truly amazing row, Romance Writers of America aims for happy end to racism row with new prize | Books | The Guardian.
  • Our 20 Services for writers - just a list of what we offer at WritersServices.
  • From our Writers' Quotes 'Sometimes the ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost bleed to make ideas come. It's a mysterious process, but I hope I never find out exactly how it works. I like a mystery, as you may have noticed.' J K Rowling.

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May 2020

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May 2020

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May 2020
  • ‘I think this period, if it's doing nothing else, is probably making reading a more central part of people's lives than before. Reading is always, in one sense, a form of escape. It's escaping into a life which is not the life that you're actually having to live. That's why we do it.' Penelope Lively, author of Booker Prize-winning Moon Tiger, Family Album and more than 38 other books for adults and children in the Observer. Escaping the Lockdown.
  • An Editor's advice on planning, part of our 7-part series, 'Some people like to know exactly what they're doing before they start writing. They make very elaborate diagrams of the plot, note what each character is doing and when - this is particularly useful if you're writing a story which depends very heavily on a complex series of events coming together at just the right moment. Some writers focus on building detailed descriptions of their characters, so they know how they will react in any given situation, and then put them into the action. Once they've made a plan, they stick to it, but they then make a note of the ideas they have as they work, and then go back later and see if they can be incorporated into the story. If not, they might be worth using elsewhere...'
  • The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2020 is open to all. The entry fee for Poetry entries is £12, with £18 for Short Fiction entries, but hurry because there's an offer if you enter by 10 May. £1,000 is awarded to both the Poetry and Short Fiction winners, plus publication the Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, which is awarded to 60 writers shortlisted by the judging panel. Closing 31 August.
  • If you've come to the site looking for a report on your manuscript, how do you work out which one would suit you best? Which Report? includes our new top-of-the range service, the Editor's Report Plus, introduced by popular demand to provide even more detail. This very substantial report takes the form of a chapter-by-chapter breakdown and many writers have found this detail helps them to get their book right. Through our specialist children's editors we can offer reports on children's books.
  • Our links: A Portable Paradise, which has already won the T S Eliot prize, moves from the Grenfell Tower fire to the Windrush generation and the legacy of slavery, Roger Robinson's poems of Trinidad and London win Ondaatje prize | Books | The Guardian; ever since early March independent booksellers have been tweaking their business models in an attempt to remain solvent, Virtual Author Events Are the Next Big Thing; a significant proportion of the UK and Ireland's smallest independent presses say their businesses are at risk as a result of the Coronavirus lockdown, Small presses fear being 'wiped out' by autumn | The Bookseller; if you're in any way a member of the independent publishing community, welcome, What Can Independent Presses Do to Survive These Uncertain Times? and another really thorough article, How to Write a Novel Synopsis | Jane Friedman.
  • If, in spite of Jane Friedman's help, you find it difficult to write your own synopsis for submission to agents and publishers, our Synopsis-writing service can help. If you're preparing to self-publish and having difficulty with your blurb, our Blurb-writing service from a professional copy-writer will make your book stand out.
  • More links: 'I miss writing stories in which a life lived online does not figure, On the Relief of Ignoring the Internet in Fiction | Literary Hub; on publishing when bookshops are closed, being an ‘exercise nut' and the dangers posed to writers by mob rule, Lionel Shriver: 'Some people think I'm evil incarnate' | Books | The Guardian; the Queens of Crime who dominated the Golden Age of British detective writing, Christie & Sayers & Allingham & Tey | CrimeReads; and, from a fan of the great poet who left it too late, Dear Eavan Boland, I Wanted to Send You a Letter | Literary Hub.
  • How to get your book translated into English (without it costing the earth) - for non-native English speakers wanting to reach the international English language market. If your English is good enough, what about writing your book in English or translating it into English yourself, and then getting your translation polished and copy edited by a professional editor who is a native English speaker? The result should be a publishable manuscript at a relatively low cost, ready for you to publish or submit to publishers.
  • From our Writers' Quotes, Stephen King on audiobooks: ‘I listen to my own books. The reason why is because you can hear everything you did right and everything you did wrong. This is the most honourable form of storytelling there is.'

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April 2020

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April 2020

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April 2020

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April 2020

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March 2020

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March 2020

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March 2020

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February 2020
  • Modern children have ‘a yearning for a world without screens. Yes it's rough and Torak and Renn go through some difficult times, but it's this amazing world where there's no climate change, lots of animals, no pollution. It doesn't matter what you look like. What matters is you don't make any noise when you're hunting... Michelle Paver, author of Wolf Brother, Dark Matter and Spirit Walker, talking about her new book Viper's Daughter, published next month, in the Bookseller. Our Comment.
  • Advice for Writers is a really useful page which takes you into our archive and helps you explore our more than 7,000 pages of information for writers.
  • If you have written a poem you think would appeal to 7-11-year olds, then why not enter the The Caterpillar Poetry Prize 2020? It is open to all poets across the world over the age of 16. Entry fee €14 per poem and the prize is €1,000. Closing date 31 March and the Prize will be judged by Roger McGough.
  • 'Professional copy editing does make sense, either if you are trying to give your work its best chance when submitting it or, even more crucially, if you are planning to self-publish. But how are you supposed to tell who will do a good job, when the editorial services on the web all sound pretty much the same and it's tempting to go for the cheapest?' Getting your manuscript copy edited
  • Our links:"What did you find to be the biggest difference between writing crime and writing fantasy?" Worldbuilding: Crime and Fantasy Books Have More in Common Than You Might Think | CrimeReads; not for everyone perhaps, but 'I use a systematic and business-like approach to help take the sting out of rejections and keep me focused on moving forward with querying', Here's a System and Template for Tracking Your Submissions; 'You ask yourself if you are a writer if there is no novel to prove that you are what you say you are,' Brandon Taylor, Reluctant Novelist | Literary Hub; erased from my zine's page, Did Amazon Throttle My Sales After I Criticized Them in the New York Times? | Literary Hub; and Fanny Blake reports on the crucial contribution of the Quick Reads programme to improving adult literacy, Making a difference - quickly.
  • Working with an agent: 'Don't ever take on an agent you don't like or don't trust, however desperate you may feel. You have to be able to work with them in what should be an extremely important relationship for you as a writer. You must also feel confident that they are competent, enthusiastic about your work and can be trusted, both in terms of the advice they offer and in relation to handling your money...
  • 'We have a new page which gives an editor's take on using pdfs, So what's wrong with PDFs? 'If you need your file to be edited, PDF is not the ideal format; in fact, it is practically the worst format you can choose. Why? Precisely because PDFs are designed not to be tampered with or changed. When you stop to think about it, editing is no more or less than a process of changing - and correcting - your file...'
  • More links: political books are selling like Donald Trump merchandise at Mar-a-Lago, dominating nonfiction bestseller lists for the past few years, John Bolton's $2 million book deal about the Trump administration isn't brave - Vox; finally moving into the limelight, Asian American Writers Are Finally Breaking Out on Their Own Terms; cover presentations designed by Amazon Publishing did by far the best job of luring in prospective buyers, Judging a Book by Its Title; and it's pretty clear what's unfair. Not paying on time. Breaking the terms of an agreement between publishers, booksellers, authors, agents. But fairness is more difficult to pin down, Opinion: Richard Charkin on Fairness in Book Publishing.
  • Our 20 Services for writers - just a list of what we offer at WritersServices.
  • From Tom Clancy in our Writers' Quotes: 'The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.'

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February 2020

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January 2020

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January 2020
  • ‘The biggest kick is reading something new and exciting and then getting other people to share your enthusiasm... Beyond all the cant and hypocrisy in publishing, that's what it's all about... I have always found comfort in the confines of a book or a manuscript, Reading is how I spend most of my time and is still the most joyful aspect of my day. I want to be remembered not as an editor or publisher, but as a reader...' Sonny Mehta, Publisher of Knopf, who died recently. Our Comment.
  • From our 19-part Inside Publishing series: 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...'
  • The Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize 2020 represents a brilliant opportunity for writers. It's open to writers of any nationality writing in English and the entry fee is £20 but there are two prizes with £15,000 for the winner of each prize, plus a publishing deal with Bonnier for Best Unpublished Manuscript. Closing 2 March.
  • Our copy editing services for writers. WritersServices can provide a range of services working on your manuscript, to help you get it ready for submission or self-publishing. We are UK-based and our skilled professional editors have been working on writers' manuscripts for 17 years. We have just introduced free samples and free assessments on most of these services, please see the individual service page.
  • WritersServices editor Kay GaleWritersServices editor who has worked for many years as a freelance editor for number of publishers. on The Slush pile: 'When I started working in publishing over thirty years ago it was part of my job to check through the pile of unsolicited manuscripts that arrived on a daily basis, and like every other enthusiastic young editorial assistant, I dreamed of finding the next bestseller in the ‘slush pile'. I was soon disillusioned..'
  • Our links: now the giant retailer is breaking into publishing with bestselling authors, Can Amazon Finally Crack the Bestseller Code? | The New Republic; from the doyenne of a particular type of black women's lit, Terry McMillan, Thwarter of Book Biz Gatekeepers, Has a New Novel; should the subject matter, & their titles, be treated with a little more thought & consideration? Can a work of fiction about the Holocaust be inaccurate? Romance narratives served as a kind of template for my own early love-affairs, Thrillers Pick Up Where Romance Leaves Off | CrimeReads; and 32 years of writing V.C. Andrews, How to Be a Ghostwriter.
  • How to get your book translated into English (without it costing the earth) asks writers who are not native English speakers with a manuscript which needs polishing or translating: "if your English is good enough, what about translating your book yourself or writing in English, and then getting your work polished and copy edited by a professional editor who is a native English speaker?" This could be a cost-effective way of reaching the international English-speaking market.
  • More links: the dominance of women in the book trade is most apparent in fiction... It wasn't always thus - obviously, In Publishing, Women Routinely Make Blockbusters - The Atlantic; a new spate of science-fiction and fantasy novels are quietly and gracefully opting instead to imagine worlds where homophobia does not exist, 'Why would I close the door to a queer person?' LGBTQ fantasy comes of age | Books | The Guardian; in more than 40 years as a journalist, I've interviewed some terrifying people, The True Crime Story That Changed My Life | CrimeReads.
  • 'Sometimes the ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost bleed to make ideas come. It's a mysterious process, but I hope I never find out exactly how it works. I like a mystery, as you may have noticed.' J K Rowling in our Writers' Quotes.
  • If quotes are your thing we have a large collection in our Archive, More Writers' Quotes and Even More Quotes.

13 January 2020 - What's new

January 2020

6 January 2020 - What's new

January 2020

30 December 2019 - What's new

December 2019

16 December 2019 - What's new

December 2019
  • ‘There were a couple of years where, if I could have finished the book, I could have stayed ahead of the show for another couple of years, and the stress was enormous. I don't think it was very good for me, because the very thing that should have speeded me up actually slowed me down. Every day I sat down to write and even if I had a good day - and a good day for me is three or four pages - I'd feel terrible because I'd be thinking: "My God, I have to finish the book. I've only written four pages when I should have written 40."...' George R R Martin, whose epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire has been made into the hugely successful tv series, Game of Thrones, and which still has two more volumes to come, in the Observer. Our Comment.
  • Our Services for Writers - just a list of 20 services to help you get your work ready for publication.
  • The Spread the Word Life Writing Prize 2020 is open to writers who have yet to publish a full-length work or to have a literary agent, living in the UK and aged 18 or over. There's no entry fee. The winner gets £1,500, an Arvon course, a writing mentor and two years' membership of the Royal Society of LiteratureThis British site may seem rather formal (stated aim ‘to sustain and encourage all that is perceived as best whether traditional or experimental in English letters, and to strive for a Catholic appreciation of literature’), but has a lively series of lectures and discussions involving distinguished authors. Also administers literary prizes. http://www.rslit.org/index1.html, and the Prize closes on 3 February.
  • Other active competitions and prizes.
  • We have a new endorsement for WritersServices: 'The outcome of my experience with Writerservices has far exceeded my expectation and I was amazed by their professionalism, hard work, knowledge and keenness to edit my manuscript of the novel, Uncle Thesiger's Mashhuf, in every detail, thereby ensuring it will appeal to English readers. Their services are very helpful to all writers', Ammar Al Thuwaini, an Iraqi novelist and translator.
  • Our links: she felt it was not for people like her, Who Has the Right to Be a Writer? | Literary Hub; you know them as bodice rippers. But during the last 10 or so years, that perception has started to shift, Romance Is a Billion-Dollar Literary Industry. So Why Is It Still So Overlooked? | Glamour; my editor slashed through my sentences, slathering them with ink, making me read my version first, then his, and tell him why his was better! The Wonderful Thing About Line Edits | Jane Friedman; former winner Jane Davis on what success in our awards for self-publishing meant to her, The Selfies - what it means to win and a writer with an ability to create believably strange natural worlds from a place of granular fascination, Visiting Jeff VanderMeer's Weird, Wondrous Worlds | Literary Hub.
  • 'You are a first-time author without an agent and you receive a contract to publish your book - just how do you evaluate it? Is it fair or biased against the author by prevailing industry standards? Is your publisher looking out for your interests as well as his own - or wording the clauses in a way only advantageous to the company?' Why your book contract needs vetting.
  • More links: how to gain access to the gatekeepers - that is, get your idea in front of book editors, What to Say (and Not to Say) in Query Letters to Book Editors - The Chronicle of Higher Education; the knock-on effect of going bust (but this story has a happy ending for some) Book People collapse plunges small publisher Galley Beggar into crisis | Books | The Guardian; the epic role of one translator, How Chinese Sci-Fi Conquered America - The New York Times; and the controversies surrounding literary prizes, A year of literary prizes and surprises in 2019.
  • Have you ever wondered why you don't win any of those competitions? What can you do to improve your chances? Our tipsheet on Entering Competitions.
  • 'You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.' Annie Proulx in our Writers' Quotes.

9 December 2019 - What's new

December 2019

25 November 2019 - What's new

November 2019
  • Do genre writers receive adequate respect from the literary establishment? ‘Everything's upside down. They assume that to do something that appeals to a huge audience is somehow easier than to do something that appeals to a tiny audience. Because we do a book a year people think you just crank a handle and out it comes. All my peers are smart, intelligent, well-informed, interested in the world; everybody puts in a huge amount of effort. It's not easy to do. This peculiar assumption that it is needs to be laid to rest. As Henry James said, "Easy reading is hard writing."' Lee Child, author of 36 novels, including the highly successful Jack Reacher series and ranging from Blue Moon to Killing Floor, in The Times magazine. Our Comment.
  • From 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 www.joannephillips.co.uk, The Business of Writing for Self-publishing authors offers terrific advice for all writers: 'Self-publishing authors - also known as ‘indie' authors or author-publishers - have had a steep learning curve these past few years. Getting to grips with the various sales channels available to them, producing top quality ebooks and paperbacks, and finding a place in mainstream outlets have left many writers struggling to keep up with the paperwork. What follows is a brief guide to the essentials your self-publishing business needs - because it is a business, even if you only publish one book!'
  • Wicked Young Writers 2020 is open to 5-25 year-old writers in the UK. There's no entry fee. Each winner gets four tickets to see the London production of WICKED at the Apollo Victoria Theatre + meet cast members after the show along with an exclusive backstage tour and £50 worth of books/eBooks tokens to spend. Closing 2 March.
  • For anyone thinking about or embarked on self-publishing, our ten-part WritersServices Self-Publishing Guide - also by Joanne Phillips - is an essential starting-point, taking you through the process step-by-step. 'Indie authors access the same professional services as traditional publishing houses. They employ freelance editors, proofreaders and cover designers. They have their work professionally formatted for ebooks and typeset for print. They may use service providers to manage some or all of the publishing tasks, or they may go it alone...' Articles include Choose Your Self-publishing Route and Marketing and Promotion for Indie Authors: Online.
  • Our links: after 20 years of writing, my first novel finally entered the world in August of 2019, Lessons: The Less-Traveled Road to Getting a Book Published - The Millions; "All money made by the band goes back to the band", Advice for Women with Book Advances; in Australia indigenous literature has been one of the top-performing categories for local booksellers in 2019, Indigenous books going global as local, international sellers notice spike; and - how things have changed - until the 2010s, if you were reading, it generally meant you weren't doing it online, What Tweets and Emojis Did to the Novel - The New York Times.
  • Last year we launched the Writer's edit, a 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. Our other copy editing services.
  • More links: Lady Oracle is both the title of a Margaret Atwood novel (1976, very funny) and the author's unofficial epithet, Margaret Atwood on the Relevance of The Handmaid's Tale; his first title was Unreliable Memoirs - it was an immediate bestseller and went on to sell over a million copies, Clive James dies at 80; a last poetry book will come next year | The Bookseller; a story of copyright and licensing infringement that sheds light on the exploitative nature of one of Egypt's most respected publishers, Naguib Mahfouz's Daughter Fights to Preserve Her Father's Legacy | Literary Hub; and my writing has always been a part of me, much like my disability, but for a long time I kept the two things stubbornly separate, A Writer's Wheels.
  • For quotes fans we have superb collections in More Writers' Quotes and Even More Quotes.
  • And this week, in our Writers' Quotes, from British poet Karen McCarthy Woolf: 'Poetry is a communicative art and also one that has the capacity to disrupt through its relationship with grammar, music and form.'

18 November 2019 - What's new

November 2019

11 November 2019 - What's new

November 2019

4 November 2019 - What's new

November 2019
  • ‘When the last autumn of Dickens's life was over, he continued to work through his final winter and into spring. This is how all of us writers give away the days and years and decades of our lives in exchange for stacks of paper with scratches and squiggles on them. And when Death calls, how many of us would trade all those pages, all that squandered lifetime-worth of painfully achieved scratches and squiggles, for just one more day, one more fully lived and experienced day?... ' Dan Simmons, author of 37 horror, science fiction, fantasy and historical novels and collections of short stories, including Drood, Hyperion and The Terror. Our Comment.
  • From our nineteen-part Inside Publishing series, you can read up on Advances and royalties: 'Publishers usually offer to pay authors advances against royalties. How do you work out how much money you might earn from your book? You need to understand for yourself how advances and royalties work and what they mean for you...'
  • From the same series, Copy editing and proof-reading explains the difference between the two: 'Proof-reading is a separate activity from copy editing and should always be done afterwards as part of a final check that the text is in good order. Traditionally, proof-reading was done at galley stage, when the text was set up in type but not yet made into pages...'
  • The Bookbrunch Selfies Awards 2020 is for self-published titles published since January 2018, and entries will be accepted from authors based in the UK who are predominantly or only self-published. There is an entrance fee of £25+VAT per title, and all those submitting work will receive six-month subscriptions to BookBrunch. The winners will get £1,000 in each category and other prizes.
  • WritersServices can provide a range of services working on your manuscript, to help you get it ready for submission or self-publishing. We are UK-based, offer exceptional value and our skilled professional editors have been working on writers' manuscripts for 17 years. We have just introduced free samples and free assessments on most of these services, please see the individual service page. Copy editing services.
  • Our links: Jane Friedman argues that the secret to selling a book is understanding its readers and how to deliver on their expectations, No Clear Readership, No Clear Sales; what's behind our heightened connection with children's books? Why the books we read as children are the ones that shape our psyche | Books | The Guardian; book publishing has changed dramatically over the last twenty years, Intellectual Property: The Big Picture for Authors | Jane Friedman; and how do you tackle writers block? I don't believe in writer's block, Bernardine Evaristo on the Illusion of Writer's Block | Literary Hub.
  • Why your book contract needs vetting - 'You are a first-time author without an agent and you receive a contract to publish your book - just how do you evaluate it? Is it fair or biased against the author by prevailing industry standards? Is your publisher looking out for your interests as well as his own - or wording the clauses in a way only advantageous to the company? Would you, for example, know which rights to grant - for how long and on what terms...' Our contracts expert on why contract vetting is essential if you don't have an agent.
  • More links: should only writers from marginalized backgrounds tell stories about people who share their cultural histories? Who Gave You the Right to Tell That Story? What interests me most is that I think the different eco-systems within publishing are settling down somewhat, Questions for: John Bond; lost or found languages, Conlangers invent languages for science, pleasure-and the occasional hoax; his prison memoir I Will Never See the World Again, was longlisted for the £50,000 Baillie Gifford prize in September, Jailed Turkish author Ahmet Altan freed after three years | Books | The Guardian.
  • Are you thinking of submitting your book to an agent? Try our Finding an Agent page or Your Submission package. Our Submission critique service may also help, as it's essential to get your package into the best possible shape before you start submitting.
  • 'It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.' P D James in our Writers' Quotes.

28 October 2019 - What's new

October 2019

21 October 2019 - What's new

October 2019
  • ‘I had always wanted to be a writer as a child but couldn't spell out this dream to myself because during the Cultural Revolution all writers were condemned. To be a writer was the most dangerous profession. I wrote my first poem aged 16 and destroyed it. When I was working spreading manure in the paddy fields aged 16 and 17, I was always writing in my head...' Jung Chang, author of the bestselling Wild Swans, Empress Dowager Cixi (with Jon Halliday) Mao The Untold Story and the just-published Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister, about the sisters who helped shape modern China, in the Observer. Our Comment
  • Inside Publishing is a 19-part series looking at publishing from the writer's point of view. Our article on Copyright: 'Unless there is a very good reason, authors should in general seek to retain copyright in what they write. The most obvious exceptions are if a writer is employed by a newspaper, journal or company, when the writer is producing the work as part of their job...' On Children's Publishing: 'Age groups are an important element of the way publishers look at publishing for children. The storyline and language must be appropriate for the intended age-group and this is where many writers who haven't written for children before are likely to go wrong...'
  • Our new page Copy editing services covers our six services working on writers' manuscripts, a range which includes our top of the range Writer's Edit and English Language Editing. We offer free samples and free short written assessments on most of these services, which are provided by our skilled professional editors. We are transparent about our rates and our high quality copy editing services are also very good value.
  • Our links: overall visitor numbers were up at the 2019 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., where rights trade was brisk and events addressed timely topics including Brexit, feminism, racism, and climate crisis, Frankfurt 2019: Big Crowds, Upbeat Industry, Social Purpose; Writing well is hard. All writers know this. So why don't we talk about it more? Demystifying the Writer's Fear of Failure | Literary Hub; these days, a huge following on social media, particularly Instagram, is a must for a book deal, What's an Influencer Worth to Books? You don't expect an author with more than 100 million copies of her books sold into 36 languages and 120 countries to tell you that she's out on a limb, Cornwell's New Spacewalk: 'Not Just About Putting a Flag on the Moon'; and writing the book had broken me open, filling me with a giddy joy, On the Darkness, Strangeness, and Unbridled Joy of Children's Books | Literary Hub.
  • We have a new page which gives an editor's take on using pdfs, So what's wrong with PDFs? 'If you need your file to be edited, PDF is not the ideal format; in fact, it is practically the worst format you can choose. Why? Precisely because PDFs are designed not to be tampered with or changed. When you stop to think about it, editing is no more or less than a process of changing - and correcting - your file...'
  • More links: writing books - which requires solitude and stamina and more solitude, Deborah Levy Beats Writers' Block by... Swimming | Literary Hub; speaking with editors about three areas of expansion, YA Publishing Widens Its Lens; one of the most daring writers working (in my opinion), Joyce Carol Oates Talks Crime Fiction, Character, and Cats | CrimeReads; and when the "Queen of Crime", who counts London gangsters such as Krays' rival Eddie Richardson as friends, gives you an order it would be foolish not to listen, Martina Cole: Best-selling author says she is 'victim of snobbery in publishing' | Books | Entertainment | Express.co.uk.
  • Putting together Your submission package - 'given the difficulty of getting agents and publishers to take on your work, it's really important to make sure that you present it in the best possible way. Less is more, so don't send a full manuscript, as it's very unlikely to be read. Far better to tempt them with a submission package that will leave them wanting to see the rest of the manuscript'.
  • 'Read, read, read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window.' William Faulkner in our Writers' Quotes.

14 October 2019 - What's new

October 2019

7 October 2019 - What's new

October 2019

30 September 2019 - What's new

September 2019
  • 'I only really care about my readers. But I've always been irritated by the lazy assumption among critics that what I do is somehow easier than what ‘literary' novelists do. It's actually quite the reverse - to write something to please millions is obviously harder than doing something that only has to please thousands. I also think that genre writers have a greater responsibility. A literary reader has no expectation that everything they read is going to be great...' Lee Child, author of the 23 Jack Reacher novels, most recently Past Tense, in Books magazine. Our Comment
  • Bob's Journal is a long-running column from writer Bob Ritchie described by fellow EastEnders script-writer Pippa McCarthy: 'Just discovered your web page... I've just spent the last hour crying with laughter with periodic yelps of 'been there!'... I'm going to make my entire family read your diary. Then perhaps will understand own bizarre behaviour every time I start a script... Anyway, will shut up now but just wanted to say you have cheered me up no end. It's brilliant.'
  • As well as our highly-regarded Copy editing service, which will help you prepare your manuscript for submission or self-publishing, we have Manuscript Polishing, which provides a higher-level polishing service, English Language Editing for those for whom English is not their native language and our new Writer's edit, providing line-editing. Get the right level of editorial support for your needs. Contact us to discuss what you want and take advantage of our free samples - and written assessments on most of these services.
  • Our links: for almost two years after my first book was published, I did not write a single new thing, Maybe the Secret to Writing is Not Writing? | Literary Hub; what's the difference between an unforgettable crime thriller and the sort of thriller that retreats into the remote fissures of your brain? The 5 Essential Elements of Unforgettable Crime Thrillers | CrimeReads; it sounded like a book, or a film, or something, a cool story, It sounded like a novel - so I wrote it; and joining their tribe seems simple enough: Get a book, read it, and voilà! Why Do Some People Love Reading? - The Atlantic.
  • WritersServices editor Kay GaleWritersServices editor who has worked for many years as a freelance editor for number of publishers. on The Slush pile: 'When I started working in publishing over thirty years ago it was part of my job to check through the pile of unsolicited manuscripts that arrived on a daily basis, and like every other enthusiastic young editorial assistant, I dreamed of finding the next bestseller in the ‘slush pile'. I was soon disillusioned...'
  • More links: for decades, Mighty Girls have devoured her works, Protecting "The Books That Will Never Be Written": Judy Blume's Fight Against Censorship | A Mighty Girl; publishing is the business of creating books and selling them to readers. And yet, for some reason we aren't supposed to talk about the latter, Everything You Wanted to Know about Book Sales (But Were Afraid to Ask) - Electric Literature; and this summer, author Megan Miranda won the publishing lottery, Reese's Book Club is publishing's secret weapon - Vox.
  • Have you ever wondered why you don't win any of those competitions? What can you do to improve your chances? Our tipsheet on Entering Competitions.
  • ‘The crime novel should have a compelling and credible plot, characters who are more than stereotypes, good writing and the creative integration of setting, narrative, characterisation and theme. To put it simply, a good detective story should be a good novel.' P D James in our Writers' Quotes.