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What's New in 2017

2017

18 December 2017 - What's new

December 2017

11 December 2017 - What's new

December 2017
  • '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. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way...' Stephen King provides this week's Comment.
  • For one day only on 8 January Pushkin Children's Books open submission 2018, open to all unpublished authors of middle-grade books with the prize of publication.
  • Tips for writers is our 8-part crash course for writers who are starting out, taking you from Promoting Your Writing (and Yourself), from Self-publishing: is it for you? to Keep up to date and Submission to publishers and agents. 'Think about the market for your book. Research the category and read widely to see what other published writers in this area are doing. Which writers are successful and why? Visit bookshops and analyse what you find there. If you are reading this you are probably already writing, but it really is worth thinking right from the beginning about your readers, as that makes it far more likely you'll eventually find them...'
  • There's bad news from the US, where reading scores are declining, just when they are making real improvements in many countries across the world. Basic literacy is at an all-time high around the world and most countries have seen steadily rising reading achievements in the last decade, as is shown by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. News Review.
  • Are you writing for the children's market? Have you found it difficult to get expert editorial input on your work ? Do you want to know if it has real commercial potential? Or are you planning to self-publish? Our Children's Editorial Services provide three levels of report, so you can get your work assessed, and Copy editing by specialist children's editors.
  • Our links: we're an odd lot, novelists. Obsessive. Why else does someone launch a project that consumes so much time and holds out such a wavering promise of reward? HOW IMPORTANT IS THE FIRST DRAFT TO YOUR NOVEL? A writer who waits for the ideal conditions under which to write will die without putting a word on paper," E.B. White said, The Right Writing Routine; advice from a veteran writer who died this week, WILLIAM H. GASS'S ADVICE FOR WRITERS: "YOU HAVE TO BE GRIMLY DETERMINED." and diversity, what's done and still to do, Breaking down the barriers - a new chapter in publishing.
  • From our Endorsements page: 'Today I only want to say, "thank you". DM has done a truly great job. I have worked with her suggestions which have brought clarity and depth to my subject. Her work on my punctuation is brilliant. As I read through the manuscript now, it is like gliding on silk.' Helena Dodds.
  • More links: we often feature this author but it's hard to resist her tough-minded critique, URSULA K. LE GUIN: WHO CARES ABOUT THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL? The plagiarism allegations against The Girls author Emma Cline, How We Eclipse Women's Literary Brilliance With 'Scandal'; a substantial article about this important writer, Louise Erdrich, Great American Novelist, Is Just Getting Started; and, just for fun, 'He began to eat Hermione's family': bot tries to write Harry Potter book - and fails in magic ways.
  • Do you want to self-publish your work? WritersServices offers a suite of services which help writers get their work into shape before they self-publish, which includes Copy editing, Blurb-writing, Poetry Collection Editing, Typing manuscripts. Our Services for Self-publishers are just a few of the 20 services on offer.
  • 'And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.' Sylvia Plath in our Writers' Quotes.

4 December 2017 - What's new

December 2017
  • ‘My students at Columbia I teach to read. If you can be a good reader and can think that reading and literature are great pursuits, you can perhaps teach yourself to write. For every ‘lesson' one would try to propound there'd be a wonderful story or novel that violated any rule. But that's about all. I use myself as something like a specimen to them...' Richard Ford, author of The Sportswriter and Let Me Be Frank with You, talking about writing in the Guardian provides this week's Comment, Most books don't last.
  • Get moving quickly to submit to the lively and effective Emma Press's poetry and prose open submission for poetry and prose pamphlets, adult and children's prose by 10 December. No entry fee and it's open to all writers internationally but you have to join the Emma Press Club. The prize is publication. Our Writing Opportunity
  • A must-read for children's authors is Suzy Jenvey's special series for WritersServices, the four-part 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. The second part is - Before You Write: What is My Story Going to be? The third part deals with Starting to Write and the fourth part is about Submitting Your Work to Agents and Editors. This series by a hugely experienced children's editorial director and agent helps you get started on your own story or develop what you're already working on.
  • 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, Translation editing for those for whom English is not a 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.
  • Our links: successful authors work their butts off either way. There is no such thing as a lazy successful author, The Myth of the Lazy Writer; I had beyond-exciting fantasy plans for my latest novel, The Age of the Child, and first among them was that it would not be self-published, Why Pursue Traditional Publishing? (Are There Enough Good Reasons?); it might feature such thought-stretching concepts as time travel and warp drives, but Science fiction triggers 'poorer reading', study finds; and sales are flat, or down. There have been no market-defining breakout hits, no hot new genres to plump up the annual earnings statement, The Year in Best-Sellers.
  • If you're aiming at traditional publishing, Finding an agent and Working with an agent are two practical checklists to help set up and maintain this vital relationship. 'Try to find an agency which is ‘hungry' for new clients. To keep their workload under control, an established independent agent might take on something like four new authors a year (this figure came from two agents I spoke to about this), but only to replace four departing clients. This may seem obvious, but whether or not an agent is actively looking to build their list of clients is probably the single most important factor affecting how closely they are looking at unsolicited submissions...'
  • More links: do we like reading about fictional rape? On Rape Culture in Crime Fiction; so how much does your author pic matter, An Author Photo Is Worth a Thousand Words; and it's managed to surprise us, by its rapid evolution into a self-sustained industry on its own, 6 Things About Self-Publishing You Will Be Tempted To Overlook, But Shouldn't.
  • 'The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible.' Mark Twain in our Writers' Quotes.
  • If quotes are your thing we have a large collection in our Archive, More Writers' Quotes and Even More Quotes.

20 November 2017 - What's new

November 2017
  • 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...' From Want to Be a Better Writer?
  • My Say gives writers a chance to air their views about writing and the writer's life. So we have Lynda Finn about the isolation of New Zealand writers and their problems with getting published, British author Eliza Graham, author of Playing with the Moon, on her route to publication and Zoe Jenny, who is Swiss, on writing in English and why it was liberating. Send us your contributions, ideally 200 to 400 words in length and of general interest. Please email them to us.
  • ‘I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a novelist, but my father thought I should have a proper job, with a proper salary, a proper pension. The idea of being a writer struck him as the height of foolhardiness. He died very young (58), so he never saw how things worked out... We were very lucky. For 10 years literary fiction was the thing, paperback imprints were starting up, advances huge, every publisher wanted the spin to their list so the literary novelist suddenly found himself in demand with auction bids for the next novel...' Our Comment is from William Boyd, author of A Good Man in Africa, Any Human Heart, The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth and eight other novels in the Sunday Times.
  • Here's our article on 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...'
  • Our links: skilled editors have transformed hundreds of manuscripts from ordinary to extraordinary, Why All Self-Publishers Need a Good Editor; a helpful article on starting and maintaining an author website even if you're not yet published, Unpublished Writers and Websites: Should You Have One and What Should It Say? and how romance authors and editors address tricky issues of communication and safer sex without killing the mood, Let's Talk About Sex: Romance Publishing.
  • Do you need to get your material typed up, but can't face doing the job yourself? We can provide a clean typed version of your work at very competitive rates. Our service offers help for writers who have an old or handwritten manuscript, or audio tapes, which need re-typing before the writer can proceed with submission or publication. Just email us to find out if we can help.
  • More links: anyone who can talk and type can write a book, but how can you do it in a year? The One Thing You Can Do TODAY to Get Your Book Written This Year; and 'I enjoy writing and I enjoyed the kids', the great science fiction writer on her career, Writing Nameless Things: An Interview with Ursula K. Le Guin.
  • Are you planning to self-publish? WritersServices offers a suite of services which help writers get their work into shape before they self-publish. Services for Self-publishers.
  • A quote from the late, great Seamus Heaney in our Writers' Quotes: ‘If you find a poem that sets you alive, gives you daydream time, then you are in fact transported. You are carried a little bit further, either into yourself, or perhaps out of yourself. If there is a difference.'

13 November 2017 - What's new

November 2017

6 November 2017 - What's new

November 2017
  • ‘There were some things about Agatha Christie's writing that I did want to emulate: not the prose style itself, but her blueprint for what the ideal crime novel should be and do. She often started with an outlandish, almost impossible-seeming plot premise that cranked up the suspense level to maximum right from the start; her stories have the strongest bone structure I've ever read..' Sophie Hannah, author of two Poirot novels and 19 other novels in the Observer. Taking on Poirot.
  • The Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers' Award 2018 closes on 13 December. Prose writers must must write in the English language and reside within the British Commonwealth and Eire. There's no entry fee and a prize of £10,000. Our Writing Opportunity.
  • Our Health Hazards series which looks at all the particular dangers faced by writers, from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to Looking after your eyes, and advises on how to position your desk and chair. Essential reading for anyone who spends a lot of time at the computer, especially if you're already anxious about your mouse hand, back or eyes.
  • Our links: in the battle for people's attention, Nick Wells writes, we must be where our readers want to be, Finding readers in a perma-free world; this particular piece in my collection was taking a long time, How Long Is Writing Supposed to Take? - Electric Literature; an author who chose not to hire a publicist. Without one, I wondered, who but she would promote her book? Taking Charge of Your Book's Buzz; and three-volume novels, it turns out, get better (at least in terms of reviews), while film trilogies get worse (ditto), Triple trouble: why book trilogies are better than film | Books | The Guardian.
  • 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, Translation editing for those for whom English is not a 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.
  • More links: most writers these days are advised to keep their day jobs, How to Keep Your Day Job from Destroying Your Writing Dreams | Writing and Wellness; an interview with the author and illustrator of the beloved and bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Four Questions for Jeff Kinney; "How did you do you it?" people want to know, Do You Dream of Writing a Book? | HuffPost; Despite its usefulness, "show don't tell" is probably the most commonly given advice in writing. So why is it so hated? Changing Telling into Showing - The Manuscript Shredder.
  • Which service should I choose to help me get my work into good shape for submission or self-publishing? This is the question our page Which service? answers and it then goes on to give a quick rundown on our 20 editorial services for writers, the biggest range you can find on the internet.
  • From our Writers' Quotes we have 'There is nothing more dreadful to an author than neglect, compared with which, reproach, hatred and opposition are names of happiness.' from Dr Samuel Johnson

30 October 2017 - What's new

October 2017
  • Newly released figures show that ebook revenues in the US have declined again. In the first half of 2017, e-book sales declined by 4.6%, according to the AAP. All other categories, apart from paperback books saw increased revenues in the same time period, with some astounding growth. News Review
  • From our 19 part Inside Publishing series, The Relationship between Publishers and Agents: 'Why do publishers need agents? Actually they don't need them, although they have come to rely on them. In many ways publishers would prefer to deal direct with unagented authors. It's authors who need agents. Writers need someone to sell their work and then to look after their relationship with their publishers...'
  • From the same series, Print on demand is a now widely-used printing technology which delivers, literally, print on demand. It has the power to change the way books are published radically, and even publishers are using it on a very much greater scale. Some writers are still not yet familiar with its possibilities.
  • As an aspiring writer, you should certainly start by writing an outline. I explain how to do this in this Masterclass. You solve a lot of problems with an outline. It is far easier to correct your mistakes if you write an outline than if you sat down and wrote, ‘Chapter One' at the top of a piece of paper and started writing. If you work that way, it will take an awfully long time to correct your mistakes. Our Comment is from Ken Follett, author of The Kingsbridge Series and The Century Trilogy, whose latest novel is Edge of Eternity. It's tempting to quote again from the helpful Masterclasses on his website.
  • Our links: Michael Bhaskar warns that the strong performance of the book market over the past few years should not disguise the challenges ahead, It's going well - but don't get complacent; why chapter word count is so darn important to writers, Chapter Length Matters. Here's Why; from a goldmine of information about what's most popular with young readers around the world, YA Reading and Writing Trends from Wattpad's 60 Million Users; and this matters whether you're an indie author or have a traditional publisher, Checking Book Proofs in Three Simple Steps.
  • 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!'
  • More links: 23 years on from Killing Floor - the first Jack Reacher story - his thrillers are a publishing phenomenon, dominating the fiction charts, sparking film adaptations starring Tom Cruise, and enthralling millions of fans, How Lee Child is breaking cover on Jack Reacher secrets - BBC News; what a difference a decade or so makes, how writers down under have prospered, Australia: The Big Not-So-New Thing; and nothing about Britain's 900 independent bookshops adds up, Philip Pullman is right - discounting is the true book lover's enemy | Patrick Barkham | Opinion | The Guardian.
  • Earlier this year we launched our latest new service, the Writer's edit, a top-level 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.
  • From our Writers' Quotes, Albert Camus:'Bad authors are those who write with reference to an inner context which the reader cannot know.'

23 October 2017 - What's new

October 2017
  • 'I guarantee you that no modern story scheme, even plotlessness, will give a reader genuine satisfaction, unless one of those old-fashioned plots is smuggled in somewhere. I don't praise plots as accurate representations of life, but as ways of keeping readers reading. When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell students to make their characters want something, even if it's only a glass of water...' Advice from Kurt Vonnegut Jnr in our Comment column.
  • The big writing opportunity of the autumn, National Novel Writing Month 2017, starts on 1 November and is open to all writers of 13 and over with no entry fee. Challenge yourself to write a 50,000 word novel in a month!
  • The success of NaNoWriMo has shown the power of a good idea and the way the internet can rapidly spread it to an international audience. The vast number of regions where there are groups signed up shows how successful the project has been - and the great enthusiasm of writers to extend themselves and meet the challenge NaNoWriMo presents. News Review
  • 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 they 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.'
  • Our links: when I decided to write my book, many years ago, I was committed, What does it take to write and publish a book? Fire in the belly | HuffPost; a fascinating article from a prominent editor about the acquisition process, 10 Rules for Book Editors; and striking insights from a short story writer turned novelist who won the Man Booker, George Saunders: ‘When I get praise, it helps me be a little bit more brave' | Books | The Guardian.
  • Which service should I choose to help me get my work into good shape for submission or self-publishing? This is the question our page Which service? answers and it then goes on to give a quick rundown on our 20 editorial services for writers, which we think is the biggest you can find on the internet.
  • More links: challenging, time consuming, and requiring an author to expend a tremendous amount of social capital, What Authors Need to Know About Crowdfunding Their Book: A Case Study by the Numbers | Jane Friedman; a new twist for author Dan Brown, certainly not a stranger to copyright claims and lawsuits, Author Who Lost Copyright Case Over The Da Vinci Code In The US In 2007 Looks To Revive It In The UK In 2017 | Techdirt; and most people would spike an idea if the business plan revealed negative numbers year after year. But Bibi Bakare-Yusuf is not most people, Meet the Small Nigerian Press With Its Sights Set on the World | Literary Hub.
  • Have you ever wondered why you don't win any of those competitions? Our check-list gives you tips on Entering Competitions.
  • 'The long-lived books of tomorrow are concealed somewhere amongst the so-far unpublished MSS of today.' Philip Unwin in our Writers' Quotes.

16 October 2017 - What's new

October 2017

9 October 2017 - What's new

October 2017

2 October 2017 - What's new

October 2017
  • Great excitement in the UK publishing community over the Anglo/Japanese author's surprise win of this year's Nobel Prize for Literature, just announced, Kazuo Ishiguro wins the Nobel prize in literature | Books | The Guardian.
  • 'Next week it's 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 biggest annual book fair and a huge meeting of publishers from all over the world. Publishers are putting together their projects and packing their bags in preparation for five days of intensive back-to-back meetings...' News Review
  • We've just launched the August Magazine which has some great links, including Val McDermid: 'Even on a romantic holiday my thoughts turn to murrrder' | Books | The Guardian, The Difference Between a Press Release and a Pitch (You Need Both) | Jane Friedman and 10 Writing Rules You Can (and Should) Break.
  • 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, Writer's edit, a new line-editing service, and Translation editing for writers who are not native English speakers.
  • The National Poetry Competition 2017 is open to all poets of 17 and over internationally. The entry fee is £6.50 and First prize £5,000, Second prize: £2,000, Third prize: £1,000, with seven commendations of £200 each. Closing on 31 October.
  • 'I started with a desire to explore marriage this round. My previous two books were told from the point of view of women who were decidedly single - who didn't really even know how to sustain any kind of relationships, romantic or not. So I wanted to deal with a married couple, and do it as a "he said, she said" kind of narrative, because marriages are, in a way, one long version of a "he said she said" story. No matter how close we are to someone, there will always be a disconnect...' Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl and Dark Places, on her novel Sharp Objects, on her website. 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 Dialogue, Manuscript presentation and 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...'
  • Our links: does reading interfere with your writing? When I'm Writing Fiction, I Cannot Read It | Literary Hub; this is a question we're often asked, How Many Words in a Novel? Our Editors Have the Answers; covers sell books, but how can they be so different, Cover versions: why are UK and US book jackets often so different? | Books | The Guardian; and big relaunch plans reveal interesting romance reader behaviour, Mills & Boon woos new readers | The Bookseller.
  • Advice for Writers is a really useful page which takes you into our archive and helps you explore our more than 6,000 pages of information for writers.
  • More links: advice from a bestselling author, 'You can always fix bad pages. You can't fix no pages. So write. Just write. Try to turn off that voice of doom that paralyzes you.' 5 Writing Tips: Harlan Coben; fascinating insights into his relationship with the famous poet, Philip Larkin and Me: A Friendship with Holes in It | The New Yorker; writers have spoken out against stress on famous names in works chosen, Children's authors slam celebrity-heavy World Book Day lineup | Books | The Guardian; and even if you don't write in the romance genre, don't be too quick to dismiss adding the element of romance to your story, Tips for Weaving Romance into Your Novel - WRITERS HELPING WRITERS®.
  • 'Being a writer means you get to live vicariously through your characters.' Lisa Marbly-Warir in our Writers' Quotes.

25 September 2017 - What's new

September 2017

18 September 2017 - What's new

September 2017
  • A new article we've just added to the site, Eleni Cotton's Fact to Fiction is about how she used her own family history as the basis for her novel set in Malawi: 'I had managed to remain fairly objective about the story but, quite suddenly, it hit me that these people I was writing about, whose lives I was describing, were my ancestors - the parents and grandparents of my own parents. For a while, this thought paralysed me. Feelings of loyalty and love strangled the blazing need to tell the story as it was...'
  • ‘Write for your audience. By that I mean don't create something that is unfathomable, self-indulgent dross then be surprised when nobody watches. You need to take your audience with you, to help them to understand the world you've created and the characters that inhabit that world. Let them see what your characters are striving for and give them a reason to care if they succeed or not...' Tony Jordan, whose scriptwriting credits include EastEnders, Life on Mars and Dickensian in The Times provides this week's Comment.
  • Have you got something you'd like to say to our community of writers? My Say gives writers a chance to air their views about writing and the writer's life. So we have Natasha Mostert, 'There are few things as satisfying as typing THE END to a manuscript.' And there's British author Eliza Graham, author of Playing with the Moon and The One I Was, on her route to publication and Richard Hall "Write about what you know" - does this adage always make sense? Contributions should ideally be 200 to 400 words in length and of general interest. Please email them to us.
  • Next Thursday, 28 September, is National Poetry Day in the UK and a good template of how a national celebration for poetry can achieve real reach. The BBC, schools, poets, publishers, bookshops and readers are uniting to bring about a real celebration of poetry. Poets in particular will be very much in evidence, with a mass of events and school visits to celebrate the day. News Review
  • Still avalilable on the Salt Publishing backlist, a book we reviewed a while back entitled 101 Ways to Make Poems Sell, which does just that.
  • Our links: what I didn't expect was the internet. Of all the technological developments that have changed the way modern society functions, perhaps none has presented such a disruptive challenge to society, Why science-fiction writers couldn't imagine the internet; some magical people manage to do it all: write incredible books and also edit them, 7 Writers Who Were Also Editors (And the Books They Edited) | Literary Hub; how a multi-million-pound selling writer has hit out after finding fraudulent books that she did not write being sold on Amazon under her name, Milly Johnson condemns fraudulent sales on Amazon | The Bookseller; and, criticized for its imperialist overtones, its unwillingness to take risks, and, above all, its corrupt insularity, Americans Didn't Ruin the Man Booker Prize. Book Publishers Did. | New Republic.
  • Do you want to self-publish your work? WritersServices offers a suite of services which help writers get their work into shape before they self-publish. Services for Self-publishers.
  • More links: as I wind through the pages of miniscule print, zooming in on articles and reading them only to discover their irrelevance, I feel familiar threads of anxiety knot in the depths of my stomach, How Much Actual History Do You Need for a Historical Novel? | Literary Hub; how do poets make money? The answer, a lot of the time, is: not through poetry, ALCS | Poetry cornered; a few years ago I wrote an article for the Guardian on ageism in the literary world, about the predilection of publications like Granta, the New Yorker and Buzzfeed for authors under the age of 40, All the awards for young writers amount to discrimination | Joanna Walsh | Books | The Guardian; and, from the guru, What's More Important: Author Websites or Social Media? | Jane Friedman.
  • 'I think a writer's job is to provoke questions. I like to think that if someone's read a book of mine, they've had - I don't know what - the literary equivalent of a shower. Something that would start them thinking in a slightly different way, perhaps. That's what I think writers are for.' Doris Lessing in our Writers' Quotes.
  • For quotes fans we have More Writers' Quotes and Even More Quotes.

11 September 2017 - What's new

September 2017
  • 'If you had asked me a decade ago, I'd have said there was a distinction between how we and the rest of the world valued short stories. There is, however, a difference between what booksellers think we want and what the reading public want... More than one million people tune in live - and that's not counting those who download it afterwards...' Di Speirs, BBC Radio's book editor, and long-time champion of the short story. The shortlist for this year's BBC National Short Story Award Is announced on 15 September with broadcasts of the 5 shortlisted stories the following week. Our Comment.
  • There's still time to enter the Manchester Poetry and Fiction Prizes 2017, which are closing on 29 September and are open to all writers internationally. There's a £17.50 entry fee and £10,000 for the winner of each prize.
  • Our four-part series from Tom Chalmers, MD of Legend Press, gives a Publisher's view of the submission process and what a publisher is looking for: 'Often a few simple changes in approach can change a manuscript from getting no attention at all to standing out...' He covers Submissions, Judging a book by its covering letter and synopsis, The writer's X-Factor and The changing face of publishing.
  • Mixed fortunes for world's 50 largest publishers are shown in a recent report but more recent figures for US audio downloads show that they have been booming. News Review looks at some recent figures.
  • Our Services for Writers - just a list of 20 services to help you get your work ready for publication. Browse though the individual services pages or use Choosing a service to have a look at what's available.
  • Our links: ten years ago, while sitting at my computer in my sparsely furnished office, I sent my first email to a literary agent, Why I'm Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years - The Atlantic; reactions to the just-announced shortlist for the Prize, Man Booker shortlist gets mixed response, Mozley calls for more regional diversity | The Bookseller; for the first time, half of the six nominees for Britain's most prestigious literary award are Americans, Has Britain's Man Booker Prize become too American? Yes. - The Washington Post; and "If you knew the world was going to end in two days, what would you do?" the writer Sara Davidson was once asked. "Take notes," she said without hesitating, Crossing Over: Making Peace with Self-Publishing | HuffPost.
  • From our Endorsements page: 'As a total neophyte as a writer, I have been doing a huge amount of research suddenly as to what services are available to writers, on both sides of the Atlantic, and am amazed that you are able to have someone read a whole book and give a serious critique for just 180 pounds. I think that is incredible value for money, compared to other similar services that appear to be available out there. I hope to be back to you again for more assistance, once I've cleaned up my work! Martin Humphries, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
  • More links: planning an ambitious trip covering four states as a first-time indie author, Creating a Successful Book Tour: Five Tips From an Indie Author; David Lagercrantz's continuation of Stieg Larsson's Millennium series, The Girl in the Spider's Web, The Pitfalls of Continuing a Series After Its Author's Death | Literary Hub; more on the bestseller list scandal, No, I Didn't 'Game' The New York Times Bestseller List | HuffPost; and a bitter family feud over John Steinbeck's estate escalated this week, when a Los Angeles jury awarded the novelist's stepdaughter, Waverly Scott Kaffaga, $13.15 million in damages in an intellectual property dispute, Steinbeck's Heir Wins Lawsuit - The New York Times.
  • From Kurt Vonnegut, this addition to our Writers' Quotes: 'Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.'

4 September 2017 - What's new

September 2017
  • Authors' services for writers have been in the news lately, with an article in Goodreader last week, Driving Down the Price of Publishing, showing how competitive the market has become. But what should writers be looking for when they shop around for copy editing or other editorial services? Authors' services and what you should be looking for.
  • You've only got till 18 September to enter the MslexiaStylish and lively site for quarterly UK literary magazine read by 12,000 'committed' women writers. Good range of quality writing, information and advice with news, reviews, competitions and interviews, all presented in a friendly fashion. Praised by Helen Dunmore as 'astute, invigorating and above all an excellent read.' www.mslexia.co.uk Women's Novel Competition 2017. It's open to women of any nationality and age, and the entry fee is £25. It's for novels of at least 50,000 words written for adults (and young adults) in any genre by previously unpublished women novelists and you need to send 5,000 words of a completed novel. This well-respected competition has a First Prize of £5,000.
  • From Tom Chalmers, formerly of IPR, two articles about rights for self-publishers, Self-publishing - the rights way and How to get your book in the hands of an international audience. 'It's a fact that most self-published authors understand the process that takes them from a written manuscript to a published book, but few realise the additional elements that make publishing a profitable business. Rights licensing is arguably the most vital element in this equation. Whether it's selling translation rights, audio rights or optioning the film rights, these all help balance the book's books...'
  • ‘There are things about writing that can be taught. I would say there are fewer people who want to read seriously now, and more people who want to write. But if you can use writing to get people reading, that is exciting... In the last few years I have come to feel that maybe in 50 years there won't be novels, that people won't have the attention for it. Then you feel it's like the last trace of a culture, like the Lascaux paintings or something...' Claire Messud, author of The Emperor's Children and just-published The Burning Girl, provides our Comment from the Observer.
  • Finding an agent and Working with an agent - two practical checklists to help set up and maintain this vital relationship. 'Try to find an agency which is ‘hungry' for new clients. To keep their workload under control, an established independent agent might take on something like four new authors a year (this figure came from two agents), but only to replace four departing clients. This may seem obvious, but whether or not an agent is actively looking to build their list of clients is probably the single most important factor affecting how closely they are looking at unsolicited submissions...'
  • A robust view of the agent's role, from the late super-agent Ed Victor: 'I think agents mediate and enhance and improve the publishing process. I regard my role as being independent, I will say to an author, 'No, no, the publisher is right in this case.' It is not my job to blindly support the author. I think you support them better by telling them what you regard as the truth...'
  • Our links: can anyone wonder at the fabulous sales success of these books? Hogwarts as Never-Never Land: Stephen King on The Goblet of Fire | Literary Hub; every writer wishes they could write more, some writers who think 1,000 words a day is amazing, and others who think it's average, 7 Habits You Need to Adopt if You Want to Write More; will the novel continue to exist in the future when competing against new entertainment trends such as online streaming and television box sets? Authors question the novel's future in face of declining attention spans | The Bookseller; and, adding flame to the fire on ebook pricing, Amazon's Naggar tells publishers to slash e-book prices | The Bookseller.
  • Do you want some help with your writing but don't quite know what you want? Are you a bit puzzled by the various services on offer, and not sure what to go for? Choosing a service helps you work out which service is right for you.
  • More links: Amazon is coming to Australia, is it justified for the book trade to feel apprehensive? The arrival of Amazon and the future of Australian publishing | Pursuit by The University of Melbourne; you may want to carry out research for your writing - to supply some period colouring, or historical detail, or simply to prevent howlers like having Romans eat tomatoes, Want Tips on Conducting Research for Your Project? #amwriting; and from the founder and director of Digitalback Books, an online platform dedicated to African writers, 5 things inspiring Digitalback Books' Gersy Ifeanyi Ejimofo right now | The Bookseller.
  • 'If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally new writing, obey it-wholeheartedly - and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.' Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch in our Writers' Quotes.

28 August 2017 - What's new

August 2017
  • Two recent developments highlight what's happening to book reviewing and coverage. The New York Times' celebrated and influential bestseller lists have been the focus of controversy this week, with accusations that an author has been trying to get her book to the top of the lists. In the UK, crowdingfunding publisher Unbound has become so concerned about the lack of newspaper reviews that it is launching its own literary magazine. News Review
  • ‘To begin with, the novelist does not rely on someone to give them a job. They can pick up their pen, or add to a document, whenever they like. They can squeeze it around the day job, the nappy changes, the school day, the boiling of potatoes. There's no immediate pressure to "get it right" as there is with an audition...' P K Lynch, author of just-published Wildest of All, provides this week's Comment Actor to writer in Bookbrunch.
  • A must-read for children's authors - Suzy Jenvey's special series for WritersServices, the 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. The second part is - Before You Write: What is My Story Going to be? The third part deals with Starting to Write and the fourth part is about Submitting Your Work to Agents and Editors.
  • From the first article: 'Children's publishers divide their editorial departments according to age group. The editors and designers in each division are expert at the language, content, word length and style for their particular age group. As a children's writer, you have to aim for a specific age group, and show through your writing that you understand the requirements...'
  • And, talking about writing for children, our Children's Editorial Services can help you get your work ready for publication or self-publishing. Have you found it difficult to get expert editorial input on your work ? Do you want to know if it has real commercial potential? Or are you planning to self-publish? Three reports and copy editing are available from our particularly highly-skilled children's editors, including essential advice on age groups and vocabulary.
  • Our links: the crime writer discusses her own writing and what got her going, Val McDermid: 'Even on a romantic holiday my thoughts turn to murrrder' | Books | The Guardian; a pragmatic approach to making a success of your writing career, 14 Habits Of Highly Successful Authors | HuffPost; however it started, however you define it, and whether or not you read it, at this point you've probably heard of fan fiction, The Promise and Potential of Fan Fiction | The New Yorker; and is this reasonable pricing for author services? Driving Down the Price of Publishing.
  • 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 brief guide to the essentials your self-publishing business needs - because it is a business, even if you only publish one book!'
  • More links: an interesting perspective from a real authority on writing for writers, Jeff VanderMeer, The 7 Writer Types You Should Avoid Becoming - Chicago Review of Books; is it time to abandon 'the unwieldy off-the-rails woman', Why We Should Stop Searching for the Next Gone Girl; a great poet, who has been overlooked in the West, Before Dylan, Tagore: on the erasure of Indian literature | Overland literary journal; and another poet, but this time a young female one who is currently judging the T S Eliot Prize, Interview with Poet and Man Booker Prize judge, Helen Mort.
  • Finally, from a great poet of the past, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in our Writers' Quotes: 'Poetry has been to me 'its own exceeding great reward'; it has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude; and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me.'

14 August 2017 - What's new

August 2017

7 August 2017 - What's new

August 2017
  • ‘The basic challenge for the writer can be very simply explained - it is to create an imaginary world and then draw the reader into that imaginary world. All novelists are trying to do that. Once we get there, different writers may have different concerns. Personally, I want to entertain you...' Ken Follett, author of The Kingsbridge Series and The Century Trilogy, whose latest novel is Edge of Eternity, in the Introduction to his helpful online Masterclass. This week's Comment.
  • Closing on 28 September 2017, the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2018 offers a generous First Prize of £30,000 and five shortlisted prizes of £1,000. Authors ‘must have a record of prior publication in creative writing in the UK'.
  • Have you got something you'd like to say to our community of writers? My Say gives writers a chance to air their views about writing and the writer's life. So we have Natasha Mostert: "There are few things as satisfying as typing THE END to a manuscript;" Richard Hall: "Write about what you know - does this adage always make sense?" and Jae Watson's Magic formula. Contributions should ideally be 300 to 500 words in length and of general interest. Please email them to us.
  • Reports of sparkling growth from the UK's Northern Fiction Alliance show the strength provided by working together, the importance to small publishers of international rights and book sales, and how public subsidy can make a difference. News Review
  • Our links: a young woman in a bar asked me if my novel, which she had heard about from the bartender, was fiction or nonfiction, So You've Decided to Write: Is Your Novel Actually Fiction or Non? | Literary Hub; prepared for Vulture's Dark Futures week, a huge but useful list, Best Dystopian Books; one of the things that keeps a reader engaged is creating compelling characters and putting them in engaging situations, It's all about characters - How do you create compelling ones? | Author Don Massenzio; and the economic power of reading women was on full display Friday night at Politics and Prose, at their first romance event, Stop dissing romance novels already - The Washington Post.
  • Which service should I choose to help me get my work into good shape for submission or self-publishing? This is the question our page Which service? answers and it then goes on to give a quick rundown on our 20 editorial services for writers, the biggest you can find on the internet.
  • More links: a diffferent perspective, "what if we make books more like TV?" 13 Reasons why Serials are Better than Books | Read It Forward; before I saw the cover of my second novel, I worried about it, The Millions : Sexy Backs and Headless Women: A Book Cover Manifesto - The Millions; her particular brand of celebrity is more akin to that of a pop star like Ariana Grande than a traditional poet, The Problem With Rupi Kaur's Poetry.
  • Are you struggling to get someone to look at your poetry? Our Poetry Critique service for 150 lines of poetry and our Poetry Collection Editing, to help you prepare your collection for submission or self-publishing, can provide the professional editorial input you need.
  • 'I rather agree with C. S. Lewis that a book that isn't worth reading when you're sixty isn't worth reading when you're six.' Richard Adams in our Writers' Quotes.

31 July 2017 - What's new

July 2017

24 July 2017 - What's new

July 2017
  • 'A powerfully-argued article in the Bookseller's Futurebook has highlighted how the explosion in social media and freemium games means we have reached saturation point - what the author defines as ‘peak attention', where the time we have available has run out and we have to cut down on something, which will very probably be books...' News Review
  • 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.
  • ‘A short story... can be held in the mind all in one piece. It's less like a building than a fiendish device. Every bit of it must be cunningly made and crafted to fit together perfectly and without waste so it can perform its task with absolute precision... The ideal short story is like a knife - strongly made, well balanced, and with an absolute minimum of moving parts.' Michael Swanwick, author of many short stories and a number of SF novels including Chasing the Phoenix, provides this week's Comment.
  • Advice for Writers is a really useful page which takes you into our archive and helps you explore our 6,000 pages of information for writers.
  • Our links: from a writer who doesn't believe in rules, 10 Writing Rules You Can (and Should) Break; a thoughtful article which shows how the literary world is already being hit hard by the Trump administration, Is Trump Ruining Book Sales? | New Republic; a third piece from editor Terry McDonell, So You've Decided to Write: Will You Tell the Truth? | Literary Hub; and you should probably not write a book. And you shouldn't pay someone to write one for you either, Not everyone on the internet should write a book - Quartz.
  • Under 24 different headings we have hundreds of recommended links to sites for writers, including Poetry Sites and Writers Online Services. Share with us any new links you'd recommend.
  • More links: a long but elegant article on writing memoir, Literary Style and the Lessons of Memoir | The New Yorker; sometimes I want an opening to slap me in the face; other times I'd rather it come on like a creepy hand across my shoulder, Top 10 opening scenes in books | Books | The Guardian; and a writer whose many thoughts on writing have been widely shared, taught, studied and adapted, Kurt Vonnegut's Greatest Writing Advice | Literary Hub.
  • If you need to get your material typed up, but can't face doing the job yourself, Typing manuscripts is a service for writers who have an old or handwritten manuscript or audio tapes, which need typing before they can proceed with reworking, submission or publication.
  • 'The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible.' Mark Twain in our Writers' Quotes.

17 July 2017 - What's new

July 2017
  • 'The meaning of a story emerges in the meeting between the words on the page and the thoughts in the reader's mind. So when people ask me what I meant by this story, or what was the message I was trying to convey in that one, I have to explain that I'm not going to explain...' Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials and the forthcoming The Book of Dust, provides our Comment, from his website.
  • The Galley Beggar Press is having an open submission which is open to all with no entry fee, with possible publication as the prize. They are looking for adult literary fiction and narrative non-fiction till 31 July  and again from 15-30 November 2017.
  • Are you writing for the children's market? Have you found it difficult to get expert editorial input on your work ? Do you want to know if it has real commercial potential? Or are you planning to self-publish? Our four Children's Editorial Services are provided by skilled children's editors and will help you get your work published.
  • Our May Magazine is now ready, offering easy access to a range of recent articles and links, such as 'Show me the money!': the self-published authors being snapped up by Hollywood | Books | The Guardian and The Most Common Entry-Level Mistake in the Writing Game | Jane Friedman.
  • Figures quoted by China Daily show that publishers in China are benefiting from 300m users of mobile devices who read electronic books. The market is up 25% year on year and reached $1.7 billion in sales last year.... Difficult though it can be to get western books into China, this presents a huge opportunity for international publishers and their authors, although of course the biggest potential is for Chinese writers reaching readers in their own country and beyond. News Review
  • From our Archive, Writing for Children: Rule Number One - Read More than You Write by Sarah Taylor-Fergusson: 'Author opinion falls into two camps on this one, with some writers maintaining that reading fiction while writing is a very bad thing. To this I might say that if you have been working for years as a published author, and you have that degree of sophistication, dexterity and confidence, then maybe sometimes yes. But for the majority of us who are not at that level...'
  • Our links: perhaps you're considering self-publishing, and want to have a thorough understanding of each part of the process, 10 Steps To Self-Publishing Your Book | HuffPost; being a published author is still widely considered a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field, but Will Writing That E-Book Really Boost Your Business? Contract clauses giving publishers the right to drop authors who act "immorally" are becoming more common, Authors warned not to sign 'morality' clauses | The Bookseller; and a pragmatic article about how to approach Twitter etc, So You're an Author Without a Social Media Presence: Now What? | Jane Friedman.
  • How to market your writing services online is a useful article 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 about selling yourself as a writer. 'Recently someone commented to me that I seem to be doing a pretty good job of promoting my writing services on the internet. I was touched by the observation - we writers get so many rejections that a little praise is especially gratifying. And I began to wonder - what does it take to market yourself successfully as a jobbing writer today?...'
  • More links: another article with an editor's thoughts: So You've Decided to Write: When to Drown Your Darlings | Literary Hub; unlike Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, The Girls, Luckiest Girl Alive and others, Final Girls is written by a man, Forget George Eliot: now  it's male authors disguising their sex to sell more books | Books | The Guardian; and, not if you like your crime fiction hardboiled and noir-ish, Crime in the City: Singapore, World Capital of the Cozy Mystery | Literary Hub.
  • Authors often find it difficult to write their own synopsis for submission to publishers, which is where our Synopsis-writing service can help. If you're preparing to self-publish and having difficulty with your blurb, our Blurb-writing service is what you need. They are all part of the biggest range of services offered on the web, Our Services for Writers.
  • 'People are certainly impressed by the aura of creative power which a writer may wear, but can easily demolish it with a few well-chosen questions. Bob Shaw has observed that the deadliest questions usually come as a pair: "Have you published anything?" (loosely translated as: I've never heard of you) and "What name do you write under?" (loosely translatable as: I've definitely never heard of you).' Brian Stableford in our Writers' Quotes.

10 July 2017 - What's new

July 2017
  • ‘The rise of nationalism, including in the United States, but also through Europe and even in Asia, has underscored the importance of internationalism - as a subject and as an approach to the markets for the publishing community and for writers. This has been coming for a while, although it arrived as a great surprise to many people. The seeds of it have been planted earlier...' Andrew Wylie of The Wylie Agency in Publishing Perspectives, quoted in our Comment column.
  • The Winchester Poetry Prize 2017 is open to all poets over 16. Entry fee £5 and £4 for further poems. First Prize £1,000, Second Prize £500, Third Prize £200. Enter now to get your poems in by the 31 July deadline.
  • Getting ready to publish your book - are you planning to self-publish your work? WritersServices offers a suite of nine services which help writers get their work into shape before they self-publish. Services for Self-publishers.
  • This week's News Review: 'Figures from the US continue the trend in book sales which shows children's books doing well and hardback sales outpacing trade paperback and mass market segments. It's good to see positive figures - unit sales for 2017 are 3% higher than in the first 6 months of last year...'
  • 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.'
  • Our links: some more good news from the US, Bookstores holding their own against digital onslaught - CBS News; at what point does a writer earn the right to declare they are A Writer without a self-deprecating smirk? When does a writer become a professional? | The Bookseller; you keep telling yourself you're going to "get around to it" but you blink and days, weeks, even months have gone by without typing a single word, How to Write Even When You Don't Feel Like Writing | HuffPost; and why it's fast becoming the preferred choice of writers from the neighbouring countries, India is the new publishing haven for writers from Pakistan, Sri Lanka. Here's why | books$ht-picks | Hindustan Times.
  • Getting Your Poetry Published has some suggestions on how to get started with this. 'Don't even try to approach publishers until you have a collection-length amount of material to offer. Your chances will be much better even then if you can point to publication of your poems in magazines. Don't waste any time trying to get a literary agent to represent you...'
  • More links: depending on how well you write and how often you publish or change jobs or assignments, other writers come in and out of your life, So You've Decided to Write: Advice from a Great and Notorious Editor | Literary Hub; when Bushra al-Fadil landed in London to receive the 2017 Caine Prize for African Literature, he spent a day perusing the library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Sudan's Caine prize winner wants Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa to supports the arts in Africa - Quartz; and, to prove we're now in the silly season, in the northern hemisphere at least, Your Literary Idols and Their Wardrobes - The New York Times.
  • Writing Biography & Autobiography is a serialisation from our Archives of the book by Brian D Osborne published by A & C BlackClick for A & C Black Publishers Publishers References listing. In the first excerpt, Managing the matters of truth and objectivity, the author says: 'Just as you need to remember that letters, reports, census forms, legal documents and so forth were not created simply for our convenience, so you also need to remember that what is written in them may not be true...'
  • 'No poet, no artist of any art has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.' T S Eliot in our Writers Quotes. For the elegant website devoted to the poet, see tseliot.com.

26 June 2017 - What's new

June 2017
  • 'Good news all round this week, with spectacular audiobook sales increases in the US and surprising figures showing that Millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries. In the UK children's titles are continuing to outperform the market...' News Review
  • The fabulous and highly prestigious Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2017 is open to everyone aged 11 - 17 on 31st July, when it closes. Spread the word to any teenage poets you know! There's no entry fee and the top 15 winning poets will have their poems published in an anthology and are also invited to attend a week's residential creative writing course with Arvon or receive a poet residency in their school.
  • From our 19-part Inside Publishing series, Subsidiary Rights: 'My first job in publishing was in a subsidiary rights department. I'm ashamed to admit that I accepted the job without having much idea what subsidiary rights were. Many writers may feel just as vague about this part of publishing, so here's a quick breakdown...' and Vanity Publishing: 'It is natural for writers to be eager to get published but it pays to be wary of the vanity publishers who will take your money and give you very little in return...' Vanity publishing is quite distinct from Self-publishing, you need to be aware of the differences.
  • 'The real world is full of wild, outlandish coincidences that we can't use because fiction has to be realistic. There's nothing realistic about the world now, politics-wise, everything-wise. You couldn't make it up - it's a problem for fiction writers.' Ian Rankin, author of Rather be the Devil, Knots and Crosses and many other novels, in the Sunday Telegraph, provides this week's Comment.
  • 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.
  • Our links, heralding in the summer season in the northern hemisphere: although it has synonyms - vacation book, summer read - the beach read has no single, standard definition, which is precisely part of what makes it such a fabulous marketing term, When Totally Normal Books About Girls Turned into 'Beach Reads' - Broadly; crafting fictional narratives starring their idols has been a foundational fangirl activity for decades... but now the practice has made the transition to the YA genre proper, One Direction Fanfiction Is Having a Moment in YA Books | Pitchfork; starting a blog can be overwhelming. Too much technical terminology and lots of unnecessary social media statistics may put you off forever, Nine practical tips for new bloggers on the block | The Media; Online retail wars, legal battles and vibrating broomsticks ... two decades of JK Rowling's boy wizard, Twenty years of Harry Potter - the 20 things we have learned | Books | The Guardian.
  • 'Discovering our authentic voice, writing with lasting impact, and standing out from the crowd are high priorities for most of us who write. But how do we go about achieving these intentions? Conscious Writing is a new approach to deep writing with full awareness which takes us into the core of what we're really here to write, and in the process, opens the way for us to realise our true potential as authors in the world...' Julia McCutchenJulia McCutchen is an intuitive creator, writer and mentor who guides people to share their unique gifts through creating, writing and living from a conscious and vibrant connection to Truth. A former international publisher, Julia experienced a life-changing accident in 1999 which triggered a series of major quantum leaps in her spiritual awakening. She subsequently developed a tried and tested holistic approach to access the present and aligned state required for original creative expression in all areas of life, especially writing. She is the founder and creative director of the International Association of Conscious & Creative Writers (IACCW) and the author of two books including, Conscious Writing: Discover Your True Voice Through Mindfulness and More (Hay House). For more information and a free video series visit www.JuliaMcCutchen.com and www.iaccw.com on Conscious Writing.
  • More links: this family we make -  a branching original family tree  -  is where many of us turn when reckoning with The Big Questions, Literature's Great Alternative Families - Electric Literature; a Twitter storm erupted last week over the lack of people of colour speaking at the Chalke Valley History Festival, Controversy as author pulls out of history festival in diversity protest | The Bookseller; with a different view, on Friday, while most of the country was settling down to watch Radiohead perform in a field in Somerset, a row was breaking out in another field in Wiltshire, History should never be exclusively white and male | David Olusoga | Opinion | The Guardian; and the US edition of journalist Naomi Klein's latest book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need (June), bears Haymarket Books's logo instead of one from the bigger houses that typically publish her books, How a Small Press Landed a Big Fish in Naomi Klein.
  • 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'.
  • 'Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.' Neil Gaiman's contribution to our Writers' Quotes.

19 June 2017 - What's new

June 2017

12 June 2017 - What's new

June 2017

5 June 2017 - What's new

June 2017
  • 'I think the themes that I am interested in writing about are similar in my crime fiction and in my poetry. I want to write about people, the way they behave, their psychology, the whole gamut of relationships - romantic partnerships, family, friendships. Even formally, I think poetry and crime fiction have a lot in common. In a tightly plotted crime novel and a highly metrical poem, for instance, structure is crucially important...' Sophie Hannah, author of Did You See Melody? plus 18 other novels and 5 poetry collections, provides our Comment from the Guardian.
  • If you're quick, there's still time to enter the V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize 2017 for a short story of 2,000 to 4,000 words by 14 June but it's open to UK residents only. There's an entry fee of £5 and a prize of £1,000.
  • 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.
  • BookExpo and the appointment of a new UK Children's Laureate have dominated the book trade news agenda this week. BEABookExpo America, commonly referred to within the book publishing industry as BEA. The largest annual book trade fair in the United States's move to New York last week was reckoned to be a great improvement over Chicago and Lauren Child said she wanted: 'to inspire children to believe in their own creative potential, to make their own stories and drawings and ignite in them the delight of reading for pleasure. In an increasingly fast paced world, children need the freedom to dream and imagine; to enjoy reading, drawing and telling their own stories without value judgement or restraint.' News Review
  • Our links: If there's one thing most writers agree upon, it's the fact that creating something original is hard, but choosing to unleash it into big, wide world is even harder, So, You Want To Be A Writer? There's Never Been A Better Time Than Right Now... | HuffPost UK; News of the writer's death sparked a moving reminiscence, Denis Johnson's Lasting Advice - The New Yorker; in many ways, the worst thing to happen to book publishing has been the persistent strength of print books and the drop in sales of ebooks, Print sales might be rallying, but don't get complacent | The Bookseller; and from a tribute to the author, 'The best historical fiction delivers emotional truth through the lives of imaginary but ordinary people,' Remembering Helen Dunmore's The Siege | Literary Hub.
  • See also this link to a story about her last book. Helen Dunmore: facing mortality and what we leave behind | Books | The Guardian.
  • Earlier this year we launched our latest new service, 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.
  • More links: after you have a draft, the work is still just beginning because for most novels revision is the key to success - as is finding enthusiasm for revision to make your manuscript everything you want it to be, 5 Writing Tips: Jeff VanderMeer; the idea of the country's best fiction writers - specifically, its most refined stylists - writing only hard-core erotica in a new quarterly, Tour de Raunch - bookforum.com / current issue; what Rushdie has called "a significant public stand against racism and xenophobia", Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood lead campaign for displaced writers | Books | The Guardian; and, making it all sound very straightforward, John Grisham's Do's and Don'ts for Writing Popular Fiction - The New York Times.
  • WritersServices editor Kay GaleWritersServices editor who has worked for many years as a freelance editor for number of publishers. She is also a practising homeopath and her website is www.twickenhamhomeopathy.co.uk 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..'
  • And from Helen Dunmore, who died this week, two quotes in our Writers' Quotes, one about writing novels and the other about poetry: 'A novel, in the end, is a container, a shape which you are trying to pour your story into.' and 'I have learned so much from working with other poets, travelling and reading with them, spending days discussing poems in progress. There is the sense that we are all, as writers, part of something which is more powerful than any of us.'

29 May 2017 - What's new

May 2017
  • Did you know that China publishes more books per year than the US? Or that it's in India that people devote the most time to reading books? Some interesting but rather bald figures from Goodreader.com show that the US with 304,914 books published a year comes second to China's 440,000, the world's highest number. Russia is third with 120,000, followed by the UK. News Review
  • We have two Writing Opportunities this week, the MslexiaStylish and lively site for quarterly UK literary magazine read by 12,000 'committed' women writers. Good range of quality writing, information and advice with news, reviews, competitions and interviews, all presented in a friendly fashion. Praised by Helen Dunmore as 'astute, invigorating and above all an excellent read.' www.mslexia.co.uk Women's Poetry and Pamphlet Competitions 2017, which are open to women of any nationality from any country. Entry fee: £7 for up to 3 poems and £20 for a collection of 18-20 poems of 20-24 pages. The prizes are: Poetry Prize £2,000 plus two optional extras, Pamphlet Prize: Publication of the pamphlet by Seren BooksClick for Seren Books Publishers References listing in 2017. Closing on 19 June.
  • Other Writing Opportunities which are still open.
  • Two more articles from our Inside Publishing series: Children's publishing - 'Long regarded as the Cinderella of the publishing world, children's publishing has enjoyed a remarkable rate of growth and is now seen by many as one of the most exciting areas to work in...' and Vanity Publishing - 'It is natural for writers to be eager to get published but it pays to be wary of the vanity publishers who will take your money and give you very little in return... the author is effectively conned into paying over a sometimes quite substantial sum by the publisher's willingness to publish their book. Once the money is handed over, the publisher produces the book, but often very little is done to market it and the sales can be minuscule...'
  • 'But what is just as obvious - and what is too often overlooked - is the fact that from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, that fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, that they continually cope with frustration as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things...' the great Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of Where the Wild things Are, in his 1964 Caldecott Medal Acceptance Speech for that book provides thsi week's Comment.
  • 'Hardly any authors can copy edit their own writing. It is notoriously difficult to spot the errors in your own work. So 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...' Getting your manuscript copy edited
  • Our links: websites are in no way old hat. You may not need a fax machine in the 21st century, and you can certainly manage without a photocopier - but a website should still be as important to a writer as their laptop, notebook and thesaurus, Has social media made author websites obsolete? | The Bookseller; a new approach to your book being out of print, My book went out of print, but I have a plan to revive it - The Washington Post; for nine decades, the New York Times bestseller lists have been the industry gold standard when it comes to obtaining a seal of approval that will make readers sit up and pay attention, but now Online top ranking: what does Amazon Charts mean for the book industry? | Books | The Guardian; and hungry players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are spurring on the number of dramatic rights deals being struck, Trade rides boom from TV and film | The Bookseller.
  • Our Services for Writers - just a list of 20 services to help you get your work ready for publication.
  • More links: with all of the glamour and glitz that can come out of the YA world, it's easy to forget about the rest of children's literature. No, not board books or picture books: I'm talking about middle grade, Spotlight on Middle Grade - Publishing Trends; thoughts on writing from 'a fearless, clear-eyed writer, with a pure approach to her craft and an irreverent, passionate take on life', Jamaica Kincaid on How to Live and How to Write | Literary Hub; with the expectation that geekiness is an embrace of whiteness, what happens when you are in fact not white? The Millions: Dragons Are for White Kids with Money: On the Friction of Geekdom and Race - The Millions; and do you really need hushed page-flipping; the sound of two covers sliding against each other as a book is returned to its spot on the shelf; the quiet murmur of, "Have you read this one?" Amazon (AMZN) bookstore in New York City: The first one sucks the joy out of buying books - Quartz.
  • The latest addition to our Writers' Quotes is an especially cynical one from Dorothy Parker: 'If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they're happy.'
  • And if Quotes float your boat, try More Writers Quotes and Even More Quotes.

15 May 2017 - What's new

May 2017
  • 'If you're ever lucky enough to score an early success as a writer, as happened to me with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, for the rest of your life there's a before-the-fall and an after-the-fall. You look back at the books you wrote before the searchlight picked you out and they read like the books of your innocence; and the books after it, in your low moments, like the strivings of a man on trial. ‘Trying too hard' the critics cry...' John le Carre, author of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, in an excerpt from his new memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel, in the Guardian provides this week's Comment.
  • 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!'
  • Backlist titles, because they are always available, offer opportunities to benefit from new publicity. The effect of changing exchange rates on publishing is shown by price increases at Wordsworth Editions. Backlist titles kept in print or available for print on demand are always in stock, meaning that all titles are effectively in play now, as Mike Shatzkin has just pointed out. News Review
  • Our links: you've heard it before: write what you know. I wonder what you think of that, because, frankly, I don't think much, "Write What You Know" is Not Good Writing Advice | Literary Hub; over the years, I've written/co-authored and/or ghosted 16 books, all published in the traditional way-with a signed contract from a well-known publishing house and an advance, Self Publishing: It Takes An Army | ASJA Confidential; so, what if your editor has played a major part in fashioning your book? The delicate author-editor relationship as seen in The Insect Dialogues, reviewed; and by the end, I was so exhausted I might as well have read the damn thing. But I think I got away with it, James Bond, Lord of the Rings, Narnia - the books we most pretend to have read | Books | The Guardian.
  • '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: this informative article shows the importance of rights income to publishers - and potentially to authors too, Rights Income For Uk Publishers In 2016; bestselling self-published authors attract producers because they have a proven track record if they stay on Amazon sales charts over time, 'Show me the money!': the self-published authors being snapped up by Hollywood | Books | The Guardian; writers love the idea of writing groups. Writing is, after all, a very lonely pursuit. You sit alone in a room wrestling your ideas onto the page, struggling to fend off the constant attacks of doubt, The 4 Hidden Dangers of Writing Groups | Jane Friedman.
  • '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...' A useful checklist on Working with an Agent.
  • If you haven't got to this stage yet, try our page on Finding an Agent: 'Try to find an agency which is ‘hungry' for new clients. To keep their workload under control, an established agent might take on something like four new authors a year (this figure came from two agents I spoke to recently), but only to replace four departing clients. This may seem obvious, but whether or not an agent is actively looking to build their list of clients is probably the single most important factor affecting how closely they are looking at unsolicited submissions...'
  • From our Writers' Quotes: 'Writing for me is just like building a chair, making an artifact. The idea is that you build, create a story and cobble it together. If it stands up, that's good. If it stands up, it's comfortable, it's a good story, a good chair.' Scott Smith

8 May 2017 - What's new

May 2017

24 April 2017 - What's new

April 2017

17 April 2017 - What's new

April 2017

10 April 2017 - What's new

April 2017
  • 'Two new initiatives from Amazon are worth checking out, one which may help get your books out there and one which seems largely to benefit Amazon's drive to grow its Amazon Prime business. Plus there's also an author outlining how you can get your own ebooks out to an international audience...' News Review
  • You've got until 21 May to enter the Virago/The Pool New Crime Writer award, open to women writers resident in the UK who have not had a book published or self-published. There's no entry fee and the prize is a publishing contract with Virago including a £7,500 advance.
  • From our 19 part Inside Publishing series, The Relationship between Publishers and Agents: 'Why do publishers need agents? Actually they don't need them, although they have come to rely on them. In many ways publishers would prefer to deal direct with unagented authors. It's authors who need agents. Writers need someone to sell their work and then to look after their relationship with their publishers...'
  • Print on demand is a now widely-used printing technology which delivers, literally, print on demand. It has the power to change the way books are published radically, and even publishers are using it on a very much greater scale. Some writers are still not yet familiar with its possibilities. Print on demand.
  • 'I actually say I write books about adults or about young people. I think it's an important distinction. But in the young people's books I've never tried to use simpler language, simpler stories or simpler themes. I've written the book I would normally write, but with a young person at the centre of it. Most writers for young people these days aren't thinking about children as being little kids. They're tackling serious subjects, writing about issues that are really faced by young people today, and that's what they want to read....' John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Heart's Invisible Furies, in the Observer provides this week's Comment.
  • Getting your poetry published: 'Don't even try to approach publishers until you have a collection-length amount of material to offer. Your chances will be much better even then if you can point to publication of your poems in magazines. Don't waste any time trying to get a literary agent to represent you. Only the best-known poets have literary representation, because there is just so little money in it that agents don't bother. If you can muster any kind of contact or referral, it is a way of getting your work noticed, but it is still a long, hard road to publication... You may feel that it is better to go the self-publishing route...'
  • Our links: I read your piece in the Guardian last weekend - about being a "failed novelist" - with a mounting sense of disbelief, Do two unpublished books make you a failed author? No, you're a quitter | Books | The Guardian; a long but fascinating interview with Canada's most famous writer, Margaret Atwood, the Prophet of Dystopia - The New Yorker; it is actually self-published indie authors that are taking over the book market, The Inequality of Indie Authors - The State Times; and forget plot or characters. Don't worry about voice or structure. If you believe the internet, there's nothing more important in fiction than worldbuilding, Against Worldbuilding - Electric Literature.
  • Do you want some help with your writing but don't quite know what you want? 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.
  • More links: while writing her first memoir, The Liar's Club, Mary Karr was so exhausted she napped every day like a cross-country trucker, What Happens to Your Memories When You Write a Memoir -- Science of Us; an annual summing-up from a veteran of the Fair, Bologna Report 2017 By Mary Hoffman; there was the usual flurry of excitement about various titles announced at the London Book Fair last month. But what has been the fate of titles that were similarly hyped at previous fairs? Whatever Happened To The Last Big Things; once your voice is real and audible, people's attitude to your writing will change, Finding Your Voice As A Writer | Writing Advice | BookBaby Blog.
  • For some lighter reading over what may be the holiday weekend for you - Rotten Rejections: The Letters that Publishers Wish They'd Never Sent. - Most of these are taken from Andre Bernard's wonderful little book Rotten Rejections: The Letters that Publishers Wish They'd Never Sent. This extraordinary collection of rejection letters sent by publishers to writers - many delivered to now famous authors of classic books - will make you laugh and provide comfort in the face of your own struggles to get published. Do send your own rejections.
  • 'There ain't nothing more to write about and I'm rotten glad of it, because if I'd knowed what a trouble it was to make a book, I wouldn't a tackled it.' Mark Twain in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn provides a great addition to our Writers Quotes.

3 April 2017 - What's new

April 2017

27 March 2017 - What's new

March 2017
  • The recent death of Colin Dexter has produced plaudits from fellow-authors and editors alike. In the UK he was one of our best-loved crime writers inspiring a uniquely affectionate response amongst readers and the publishing world alike. Quoted in Bookbrunch, fellow crime writer Peter James praised him highly: 'I think Colin Dexter truly changed both the landscape of British crime fiction and also its stature in the canon of literature...' News Review on the Death of a crime writer.
  • Our Comment is some advice from Selina Walker, Publisher of Century and Arrow, which starts with: 'Once you have your idea for a story, write yourself a rough outline and You will need to work out who your characters are, what type of ‘journey' you're taking them on, what's going to kick their story into gear (your opening), and how it's going to end...'
  • 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...'
  • Our links of the week: several years ago, as an aspiring novelist with stardust in my eyes, I used to spend most of my waking hours in Yahoo's Books and Literature chatroom in the company of fellow aspiring writers, Why publishers might reject your next book, even if it's a good one; Vancouver-based author Sharon Rowse was thrilled when after years of trying she finally landed a book deal with a New York publisher, 'It's no longer about the vanity press': self-publishing gains respect - and sales - British Columbia - CBC News; the giant online retailer is trying to take advantage of millions of Amazon.com customer ratings and reviews and use its big data to offer in-store customers new ways to discover and purchase popular books, both physical and digital, Amazon Books opens new Chicago neighborhood location - Business Insider; and, a fun piece, there are millions of books in the world (and almost definitely hundreds of millions - last they checked, Google had the count at 129,864,880, and that was seven years ago), How Many Books Will You Read Before You Die? | Literary Hub.
  • Are you writing for the children's market? Have you found it difficult to get expert editorial input on your work ? Do you want to know if it has real commercial potential? Or are you planning to self-publish? Our Children's Editorial Services provide three levels of report, so you can get your work assessed, and Copy editing by specialist children's editors.
  • More links: a cri-de-coeur from an editor at Writer's Digest who is also an aspiring author, Every Writer Needs an Editor, Especially if that Writer is Also an Editor; another article about the way publishers are signing up celebrities to write children's books, How celebrity deals are shutting children's authors out of their own trade | Books | The Guardian; and a fascinating picture of the revered editor of authors such as Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood, who as the wife of Gay Talese, is also one half of one of publishing's most glamorous and mysterious couples, How Nan Talese Blazed Her Pioneering Path through the Publishing Boys' Club | Vanity Fair.
  • 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.
  • From our Writers' Quotes this gem from Jean Rhys: 'All of a writer that matters is in the book or books. It is idiotic to be curious about the person.'

20 March 2017 - What's new

March 2017
  • 'I used to worry that I'd run out of ideas. But as I get older I know it's not ideas; it's energy. As long as the job involves words and story - and it's what I really want to do - I'll give it a go. I enjoy the contrasts between the different forms. Writing a film script is so different to writing a novel, I find it quite easy to give proper attention to both in the same working day...' Roddy Doyle, author of The Commitments and The Guts provides this week's Comment from Bookbrunch.
  • 'World Poetry Day has been marked by the publication of some encouraging sales figures from the UK, showing sales up 16% on last year in the first quarter. But a lot of these sales seem to be driven by social media and to feature poets who are appealing to a young female audience. Rupi Kaur's self-published Milk and Honey, which was mentioned on WritersServices last September in link to an article entitled How To Sell Nearly a Half-Million Copies of a Poetry Book, is a case in point and her sales spiked after International Women's Day... News Review on World Poetry Day and new ebook platform Bookgrail.
  • An Editor's Advice is a series of seven articles by one of our editors on really useful subjects for writers such as Dialogue, Manuscript presentation and 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...'
  • The International Rubery Book Award 2017 is open to all books by indie writers, self-published authors and books published by independent presses. Entry fee £36 and First Prize £1500 plus guaranteed read by London agent MBA.
  • 'Are you writing for the children's market? Have you found it difficult to get expert editorial input on your work ? Do you want to know if it has real commercial potential? Or are you planning to self-publish? Over the last few years there has been an increasing emphasis on children's writing, previously the Cinderella of the publishing world. Opportunities are now much greater and there are many children's writers who command big audiences...' Our experienced children's editors can help you get your children's book ready for submission or publication. Children's Editorial Services.
  • Our links: the first of two links marking World Poetry Day, "This" - each poem telling a small part of a larger story - "isn't the way to be writing a book of poems, like those ones you wrote before." Jacob Polley: ‘I'm a fool as a writer - you have to take risks' | Books | The Guardian; what does an anthology of poems do? It lets you - it makes you - experience in words the feelings of others. And then it makes you do it again, poet Nick Laird on Why poetry is the perfect weapon to fight Donald Trump | Books | The Guardian; I was extremely lucky. I've had a biographical fiction manuscript accepted and published as a novel, 4 Questions to Ask Before Writing Your Life's Story | The Huffington Post; and (with apologies for Guardian overkill) I knew I needed help to avoid it being just a stack of paper that sat in my bedside drawer, How to finish a novel: tracking a book's progress from idea to completion | Books | The Guardian.
  • Do you need to get your material typed up, but can't face doing the job yourself? We can provide a clean typed version of your work at very competitive rates. Our service offers help for writers who have an old or handwritten manuscript, or audio tapes, which need re-typing before the writer can proceed with submission or publication. Typing Manuscripts
  • More links: Earlier this month, my nine-year-old son came home from his bilingual school in Shanghai having vandalized his Mandarin textbook, Children's Books and China's Crackdown on Western Ideology - The New Yorker; as an author and social media marketer, I spend a lot of time thinking about the intersection of books and social media, Stop Focusing on Follower Count: 5 Better Approaches for Improving Social Media Use | Jane Friedman; and it's a bit of an advertorial but nonetheles interesting, What Goodreads' Explosive Growth Means for Writers and the Broader Economy.
  • ‘First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about. Revision is working with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to re-form it... Revision is one of the true pleasures of writing.' Bernard Malamud in our Writers' Quotes.

13 March 2017 - What's new

March 2017
  • 'A generally buoyant picture has emerged from the London Book Fair, which showed an international publishing business in relatively good shape and double-digit growth in the all-important number of pre-registered visitors to the Fair. The mood of optimism was stoked by the low pound and several new developments. The international book world flocked to London to the second most important global fair after Frankfurt to talk to other publishers and to do deals on upcoming books. Authors were also catered for with a wide range of seminars but did not catch the LBF headlines in the same way...' News Review
  • The 11th Aesthetica Creative Writing Award is open to all with an entry fee of £12 for poetry entries and £18 for short fiction and £1,000 for each winner. It closes on 31 August.
  • Here's a detailed article on how to prepare 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...'
  • The editor of the new imprint in our Talking to pubishers series explains in the eleventh article what her new list is looking for - 'the freshest thinkers and the most successful practitioners in the areas of marketing, management, economics, finance and accounting, sustainable and ethical business, heart business, people management, leadership, motivation, biographies, business recovery and development and personal/executive development'.
  • And, in one of the earlier articles in the series, Talking to publishers 2 Suzanne Ruthven of Compass BooksAn Imprint Of John Hunt Publishing. Focuses on practical and informative ‘how-to’ books for writers interviews her colleague Autumn Barlow, publisher of the new Top Hat historical fiction imprint at John Hunt PublishingExplore the "Our Imprints" section to learn more about our uniquely qualified publishers and their supporting teams. : 'Periodically we are told that the historical novel is dead - and then along comes Hilary Mantel winning the Man Booker for the second time, setting reading fashion on its head again...' These articles show the way editors think and what they're looking for.
  • 'Outside the bubble of hype are authors in various genres quietly working away with large and valuable readerships. They are producing books and working in areas that might raise eyebrows or even a hint of derision at many acquisitions meetings. Yet readers still love it, they will keep coming back for more. In this respect then I think the ebook market can buck mainstream fashion; and the entire book market is all the better for it...' Our Comment is from Michael Bhaskar, Co-Founder of Canelo and author of Curation: The Power of Selection in a World of Excess and is from in PW's London Show Daily 15 March, which is sadly not available online.
  • Links from the London Book Fair: in 2016, British consumers bought more books in all formats - print, digital and audio - than in 2015. And they spent more money on them too, At London Book Fair's Quantum Conference: Stakes and Statistics; what's not to like about fairly strong sales in the UK and the US, with literature in translation growing, children's and digital audio surging, and print books - and bookshops - looking especially resurgent, London Book Fair 2017: For Publishers, Business Is Booming, but Brexit Means Uncertainty; a rookie author's account of what she learnt at the Fair, 10 Writer Learnings From The London Book Fair 2017 #WritersLife #LBF17 #Writer | BlondeWriteMore; and you can navigate from this link to Readers, writers and rejection slips in Publishers WeeklyInternational news website of book publishing and bookselling including business news, reviews, bestseller lists, commentaries http://www.publishersweekly.com/' s Fair Daily to find this article by Nick Wells, Publishers Weekly - LBF Show Daily March 15, 2017 - Page 28-29.
  • 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 detailed approach helps them to get their book right.
  • More links, taking us away from the London Book Fair: placing beautifully drawn characters in a series of self-contained episodic conundrums was groundbreaking, anticipating the blockbuster movie franchises and TV series to come, How I Learned to Create an Effective Sherlock Holmes Pastiche | Literary Hub; Passion! Risk! Zombie Erotica! Two sisters learn just how far they're willing to go to empower women and bring lustful love stories to the masses, A Look Inside America's First Romance and Erotica-Only Bookstore - VICE; and why a bestselling writer on children's food decided to go indie to achieve higher royalties, Annabel Karmel goes self-publishing for next title | The Bookseller.
  • 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 will help. Advice for Writers takes you to the links.
  • 'If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.' Stephen King in our Writers' Quotes.

6 March 2017 - What's new

March 2017
  • Our new page this week is Our Services for Writers, listing all 20 editorial services offered by WritersServices, the widest range available on the web.
  • 'Hachette UK's acquisition of Bookouture is the biggest publishing news of the week, showing how traditional publishers are acquiring the talent and technical nous to enable them to profit from the digital revolution...' But this is a publisher authors can submit directly to. News Review
  • Two more articles from our 20-part Inside Publishing series: The Relationship between Publishers and Agents - 'Why do publishers need agents? Actually they don't need them, although they have come to rely on them. In many ways publishers would prefer to deal direct with unagented authors. It's authors who need agents. Writers need someone to sell their work and then to look after their relationship with their publishers...' Subsidiary Rights - 'My first job in publishing was in a subsidiary rights department. I'm ashamed to admit that I accepted the job without having much idea what subsidiary rights were. Many writers may feel just as vague about this part of publishing, so here's a quick breakdown...'
  • ‘If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories...' Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse 5 and Breakfast of Champions provides this week's Comment.
  • It's a common enough fantasy for writers: maybe now I can leave that dreary job and devote myself whole-heartedly to writing. But how practical is it? Is it something you can realistically aspire to, or just a distant fantasy? What are your chances of making your dream come true? Don't give up the day job.
  • Our links: editor to author, if I had to reduce to one word what caused me to leave book publishing, it would be this: Dread, How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Market and Just Write | Literary Hub; what do you think of when you think about investing in yourself? How to Adopt an Authorpreneur Attitude | The Huffington Post; Terry Pratchett's novels refused to conform to the binary either/or thinking of the traditional publishing world, Be More Terry | The Bookseller; and, an elegaic, beautifully written article, What is left behind by a life? Helen Dunmore: facing mortality and what we leave behind | Books | The Guardian.
  • 'Hardly any authors can copy edit their own writing. It is notoriously difficult to spot the errors in your own work. So 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...' Getting your manuscript copy edited
  • More links: even for the technically challenged amongst us - little did I realise just how much learning code would teach me about language of the other kind, Learning to code can transform your writing, not just your website | The Bookseller; I was in my 50s before I even attempted to pen a novel, and without any background or training in creative writing, Writing As A Second Career; driving home the glaring inability for authors to make a decent living, Sucks for us: Why Barack and Michelle Obama's $65 million book deal is the last thing we need - Salon.com; and 'She went on to write of all the things she was told not to', Sharon Olds, America's Brave Poet of the Body | Literary Hub.
  • Getting your poetry published: Poets are naturally keen to see their work in print but it's actually quite hard to get a first collection taken on by a publisher. This is because most poetry lists are pretty small... Publishers are cautious about what they take on and there are good reasons for this. Poetry is not in general given much space in bookshops and it is difficult to find poetry sections that go much beyond some bestselling backlist and a few new volumes from well-known names. So should you self-publish?
  • 'Writing is a kind of revenge against circumstance too: bad luck, loss, pain. If you make something out of it, then you've no longer been bested by these events.' Louise Glück in our Writers' Quotes.

27 February 2017 - What's new

February 2017
  • 'The successful growth of new British publisher Head of Zeus shows how an international approach to publishing can put a business in a strong position through challenging the traditional approach to publishing markets...' But it's through selling ebooks internationally that the firm is coming up with a new publishing model. News Review
  • ‘I realize how decadent writing a novel is. You really own this world, you can do whatever you want to it. You can go inside people's minds. Gone Girl has a lot of internal monologues, so it was a big struggle to figure out how to have them show you who they were instead of like, "Here's about me." Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl and Dark Places in the Hollywood Reporter gives us this week's Comment.
  • Our 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...'
  • Our links: how a former police officer took a career break, reinvented herself as a freelance feature writer and wrote her first novel, I Let You Go, which was the UK's top-selling crime fiction novel in 2015, 'I See You,' A Conversation with Clare Mackintosh | The Huffington Post; in book reviews, where "readable" has risen to become the preeminent adjective of praise, The Millions: Against Readability - The Millions; and we are not all Neil Gaiman. We can't all just write in whatever genre we want, whenever we want, and hope our audiences will follow us there, How Crowdfunding Allows You to Experiment Outside Your Genre | Jane Friedman.
  • Do you want to self-publish your work? WritersServices offers a suite of services which help writers get their work into shape before they self-publish, which includes Copy editing, Blurb-writing, Poetry Collection Editing, Typing manuscripts. Here's our page on Services for Self-publishers.
  • More links: were the romance fans, with their voracious reading habits, cannibalizing profits under the subscription model? Why the Much-Hyped "Netflix of Books" Model Ended Up Flopping; Jack Henry Abbott was a talented writer and a convicted murderer. What made Mailer believe he wouldn't kill again? Norman Mailer's Fatal Friendship | New Republic; and who would have thought that the new retro spoofs would be so successful? Not Ladybird's own publisher, The Ladybird phenomenon: the publishing craze that's still flying | Books | The Guardian.
  • 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 approach helps them to get their book right.
  • From our Writers' Quotes: 'When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.' Ernest Hemingway. For quotes fans we have More Writers' Quotes and Even More Quotes.

20 February 2017 - What's new

February 2017
  • 'Coming from the tech arena is a fairly hostile view of traditional publishing, which assumes that it is dead and will shortly be totally replaced by indie publishing. But is this really what is happening at present? It doesn't seem so clear-cut...' News Review on the debate about 'The black hole of modern publishing practices'.
  • Our Comment on the same subject is from Mark Dawson, author of 24 books, including The Cleaner, his latest John Milton title, and the Isabella Rose series: ‘You have to be the writer and get the words down, then you've got to know to take off your writer's hat and put on your business hat. And this is why self-publishing is not for everybody... If you sign up to my mailing list, you get the first two books in the Milton series free - you need to shoot them a pill to get them to sign up... You want to take someone from being a customer to being a reader, then a fan and in the end you consider them friends...'
  • If you're aiming at traditional publishing, Finding an agent and Working with an agent are two practical checklists to help set up and maintain this vital relationship. 'Try to find an agency which is ‘hungry' for new clients. To keep their workload under control, an established independent agent might take on something like four new authors a year (this figure came from two agents I spoke to recently), but only to replace four departing clients. This may seem obvious, but whether or not an agent is actively looking to build their list of clients is probably the single most important factor affecting how closely they are looking at unsolicited submissions...'
  • Our January Magazine is ready, providing a  summary of new material from last month to dip into. There are some great links: Authors Licensing and Copying Society 5 Ways to Make More Money from your Books in 2017, What being an editor taught me about writing and The State of Flash Fiction.
  • Our Manuscript Polishing service is for anyone who wants additional editorial help to prepare their work for publication. Does your manuscript need polishing to get it into shape for submission or self-publishing? Our editors can polish it whilst copy editing it, and make sure it's ready for publication.
  • Our links: a literary agent reflects on the changes in the agency world, Transparency, targeting, Twitter: what it means to be a literary agent now | The Bookseller; judge Andrew Holgate reflects on different ways of judging prizes, The beauty of blind reading - The Sunday Times Short Story Awards; interesting reflections on new opportunities and making novels into games, How, and why, I'm turning The Kraken Wakes into a game | The Bookseller; and there are not many literary genres as loved and loathed as romance fiction. For all its millions of female readers for hundreds of years, it has been dismissed as sentimental, sappy and trashy, as well as mad, bad and dangerous to read, Trashy, sexist, downright dangerous? In defence of romantic fiction | Books | The Guardian.
  • The Web as a Research tool - there are some sensational research resources for writers on the web. The search engines and other directories have made these accessible. But it helps to understand a little about how they work.
  • More links: when we first got Google's virtual reality headset at my house, called the Google Daydream, I can't say I was too excited, Turning the Virtual Page: Virtual Reality and Traditional Publishing - Publishing Trends; the terrible story of a much-loved YA author who was killed for her fortune, Helen Bailey murder: Ian Stewart jailed for at least 34 years for killing author | UK news | The Guardian and Five Pieces of Good Advice for M.F.A. Students.
  • Writing - 'It's the most satisfying occupation man has discovered yet, because you never can quite do it as well as you want to, so there's always something to wake up tomorrow morning to do.' William Faulkner in our Writers' Quotes.

13 February 2017 - What's new

February 2017
  • 'If I've written the screenplay, I get a lot of say, or I make myself an executive producer and at least pitch in with it. I always think of the novel as a visual form. I think of people as visual creatures. It's our strongest sense. The key to an important scene is to get the visual details correct... There comes a moment when you just have to back off. Once it goes into pre-production, all the big decisions are made and you really don't want to be lurking around saying ‘it's not like this in my novel! Our Comment is from 'Ian McEwan, author of The Children Act and sixteen other novels and books of stories in Concrete Online.
  • Closing on 15 May, the ten Winchester Writers Festival Competitions offer something for everyone. They are open to all writers across the UK and around the world regardless of whether or not you attend the Festival. Entry fees mostly £6, various prizes.
  • An Editor's Advice is a series of seven articles by one of our editors on really useful subjects for writers such as Dialogue, Manuscript presentation and Doing further drafts: 'A rewrite is a huge investment of time, and faith in what you're doing, but it can pay dividends in terms of improving the novel. Here's why I suggest doing it. The trouble with writing a novel is that you're living cheek by jowl with the thing, day in, day out. After a while, you lose any sense of proportion where it's concerned.'
  • In a very visible case, highly successful Australian author Kate Morton has accused the agent who kick-started her career of favouring her own interests. Morton is seeking a refund of up to $2.8 million paid to her agent in commission. Her well-respected agent Selwa Anthony is suing her former client for breach of contract relating to books on which she says she was entitled to receive her 15% commission. News Review
  • Our article on How to get your book translated into English (without it costing the earth) asks writers with 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?" This could be a cost-effective way of reaching the international English-speaking market. It's also a good approach if your book is in English but needs polishing up for publication.
  • Our links: for months, Ashton has been posting the same tweet - and getting nearly a thousand retweets each time - about a 19-year-old author from Sheffield's self-published book, Want to sell a bad book? Tap into Twitter's network of "influencers"; how finding out about the stories of real women can pitch you into writing about them, Emma Donoghue and Laird Hunt on Writing Historical Women | Literary Hub; are they playing fair with the average author dreaming of selling a million copies of his or her e-book? Is Amazon Kindle Cheating Self-Published Authors? - Authorlink; and another piece on the death of the novel, but also on a fractured, stupefied publishing industry, Stupid cultures: on our obsession with Literature | Overland literary journal.
  • Top Ten Tips for non-fiction writers is a helpful checklist for writers, compiled by a Creative Writing tutor. No 1 is 'Story, story, story. Make sure that your story can sustain several chapters and tens of thousands of words. Keep asking yourself: Why would anyone want to read this story?' Now doesn't that sound like fiction? But it's not, it's non-fiction.
  • More links: 'Very atypically, I can pinpoint an exact moment where I had a damascene conversion - where poetry very suddenly entered my life properly, for the first time', Rishi Dastidar - The Asian Writer; 'The indie romance community has a great bond between readers and authors. There's a real passion for our genre.' Three Award-Winning Romance Novelists Discuss Their Craft - BLARB; caling for publishers to oppose crackdowns on free speech and the rise of so-called fake news, Faber CEO speaks out after winning indie trade publisher of the year | Books | The Guardian; these advising angels - part fact-checkers, part cultural ambassadors - are new additions to the book publishing ecosystem - how "sensitivity readers" from minority groups are changing the book publishing ecosystem, Is My Novel Offensive?
  • 'I think poetry should be alive. You should be able to dance to it.' Benjamin Zephaniah in our Writers' Quotes.

6 February 2017 - What's new

February 2017
  • ‘Wonderfully, out of that private box of miracles that is a writer's life, I just wrote that sentence [that now opens the book]: "The method of laying out a corpse in Missouri sure took the proverbial cake." The whole damn book was just lying in behind that sentence.' There followed ‘four or five joyous months where, for once in a decade, you are going down to your work room like a 22-year-old instead of a 61-year-old, and being very surprised...' Our Comment is from Sebastian Barry, author of Days without End, which recently won the Costa Award and which paints a fascinating picture of a slice of American history.
  • Short Fiction Competition 2017 is our Writing Opportunity. Open to all published and unpublished authors over 16, entry fee £7, closing date 31 March and First Prize £500 + publication, Second Prize £100 + publication, Third Prize place on their masterclass.
  • 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!'
  • It's been a lively week on the children's publishing and reading front, with an attack on the "joyless education" which is putting children off reading, an intervention from the Children's Laureate demonstrating that drawing and illustrating help children's literacy and authors complaining about celebrity signings for children's books. The week's News Review, is Should celebrities be signed up for children's books?
  • 'Hardly any authors can copy edit their own writing. It is notoriously difficult to spot the errors in your own work. So 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...' Getting your manuscript copy edited
  • Our links: many years as a crime reporter in the UK's historic port city of Hull have provided him with darkly tinted lenses with which to peer through as a crime novelist, David Mark on the Clarity of Good vs. Evil in Crime Fiction | Literary Hub; five critical reasons for spending some of your invaluable "off-writing" time reading advice about the craft and process of writing Why You Should Read About Writing | BookBaby Blog; this dwarfs any other sector for the online retailer, pulling in $861m compared to the $255m Amazon makes in North American sales and the $541m it loses internationally, Amazon Web Services: the secret to the online retailer's future success | Technology | The Guardian; and at twenty-seven  she'd written  three drafts in six months, followed by nearly a decade trying to get it published, here's a really tough writer, Eimear McBride Is Not Afraid of Cruelty.
  • How to put 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...'
  • More links: whatever I'd accomplished in my 20-year career and over five books, the reviewer seemed to imply, I was still apparently a writer of "chick lit," What Was Chick Lit? A Brief History From the Inside | Literary Hub; successful self-published authors are tapping into larger markets, Book Distribution For Self-Published Authors Beyond Amazon & Kindle | BookBaby Blog; for her, reading, writing, and thinking are more than just sources of pleasure. A child of postwar austerity, she embraced literature and history as ways out, A.S. Byatt: I Have Not Yet Written Enough | Literary Hub.
  • Ever wanted to understand what's involved in indexing? The Ins & Outs of Indexing by Joanne Phillips shows how you could produce an index for your non-fiction book yourself or what you might gain by having a professional tackle the job.
  • 'Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.' Neil Gaiman in our Writers' Quotes.

30 January 2017 - What's new

January 2017
  • "I've never had writer's block yet, which I attribute, not just to luck, but also to my technique. I would advise anyone looking to ward-off writer's block to start writing something else, a completely different project. I'm always working on about six different projects at various stages of development, so if I don't feel like working on one I just turn to another. Basically, monogamy is hard, in writing as in life!" Our Comment is from Emma Donoghue, author of Room, and of the screenplay for the film, which has just been released.
  • The Kindle UK Storyteller Award is this week's Writing Opportunity. Open to submissions of new English Language books from all authors and genres, but entries must be submitted using Kindle Direct Publishing. Titles must be previously unpublished.There's a Prize of £20,000 and recognition at a central London award ceremony this summer. Entries by 19 May.
  • 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.
  • Nielsen has just reported that ebook sales in the US declined a rather surprising 15% in 2016, as compared with 2015. There seem to have been two reasons for this... Most amazingly, hardback sales have overtaken ebook sales for the first time since 2012. If you look back to the early days of ebooks, this is a long way from the commonly-asserted prediction that ebooks would totally replace print books within five years! News Review reports on this and some good news from children's publishing.
  • Michael Legat's Factsheets are a series of 19 specially commissioned information-packed Factsheets for WritersServices, which cover the essentials for writers from an industry veteran - a former publisher, novelist and author of 12 books on writing. For a quick update on First and Last Pages, Literary Agents or Shall I be Famous? Shall I be Rich? and much more, this is the place to look.
  • Our links: his fictional Detective Inspector John Rebus has as high a profile across the UK as his creator does, Ian Rankin: There's Nothing Crime Fiction Can't Do | Literary Hub; it's an incredible time to be an author. We can now reach readers all over the world and make a diverse income with our words through the internet, Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society 5 Ways to Make More Money from your Books in 2017; an absorbing interview with this week's second-time Costa Award winner about his novel drawing on American history, Sebastian Barry | 'It's terrifying, but fascinating that human groups have these impulses' | The Bookseller; and indie authors and publishers are having to navigate a fast-growing industry filled with new opportunities, but one that also presents challenges related to that expansion, Self-Publishing in 2017: The Year in Preview.
  • Have you ever wondered why you don't win any of those competitions? What can yo do to improve your chances? Our tips on Entering Competitions.
  • More links: the opening lines of a novel act as an invitation for the reader to keep reading, How to Start a Story: 9 Tips From Our Editors • Reedsy Blog; Write a novel: it's on many people's bucket lists, but how does one even begin such a mammoth task? An author reveals what it's (really) like to write a novel | Stylist Magazine; her 20 novels mined her experience as a black single mother in Britain to produce work that inspired a generation of black British writers, Buchi Emecheta, pioneering Nigerian novelist, dies aged 72 | Books | The Guardian; ‘The real increase in sales recently has been the spread of business to Asian countries,' says Lownie Agency author Roger Crowley as new opportunities offer themselves, Agent Andrew Lownie Looks East to More Rights Activity.
  • An entry on our Endorsements page: ‘The site covers EVERYTHING a new writer, established writer, or a wannabe writer could possibly want or need to know.' Hester Mundis, author many books, including My Chimp Friday, Heart Songs For Animal Lovers and The Vitamin Bible.
  • 'A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.' Sidney Sheldon in our Writers' Quotes.

23 January 2017 - What's new

January 2017

16 January 2017 - What's new

January 2017
  • 'As an editor, I'm often asked what sorts of books I am looking for, and my answer is invariably the same. Whether it's crime or fantasy or women's fiction, I am looking for one thing: someone who knows how to tell a story. It should be a story that asks questions of the reader; that takes us from our known world and plunges us into another; it should be filled with believable characters who we care about; and it should have a narrative with a beginning, middle and an end that draws all the different strands together in a satisfying way...' Selina Walker, Publisher of Century and Arrow at Penguin Random House UKPenguin Random House have more than 50 creative and autonomous imprints, publishing the very best books for all audiences, covering fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, autobiographies and much more. Click for Random House UK Publishers References listing provides this week's Comment.
  • A must-read for children's authors - Suzy Jenvey's special series for WritersServices, the 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. The second part is - Before You Write: What is My Story Going to be? The third part deals with Starting to Write and the fourth part is about Submitting Your Work to Agents and Editors.
  • The first major publishing news of the New Year has been the announcement that Pearson, having declared a profit warning because of change and volatility in the educational market and declining sales in higher education, is intending to offload its 47% stake in Penguin Random House - and its partner Bertelsmann is keen to acquire it. News Review
  • 'Hardly any authors can copy edit their own writing. It is notoriously difficult to spot the errors in your own work. So 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...' Getting your manuscript copy edited
  • Our links: Thanks to Hollywood's baffling inability to produce anything that wasn't first a book, a question that gets asked more and more these days is: "Should I read the original?" This year's biggest book adaptations - and which ones are worth reading first | Books | The Guardian; if you're one of those who has always aspired to become a writer but don't even know where to begin, then this list is a good place to start, Tips for aspiring writers from a successful indie author; Why Poetry? Well, yes. Most books of poetry sell a couple of thousand copies, at best. So in a quantitative sense, what's the point of supporting it? A Few Questions for Poetry - The New York Times; and a clear shift in the overall direction of publishing, Indie Author Predictions for 2017 - BookSparks.
  • 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...'
  • More links: Jackself, described by chair of judges Ruth Padel as ‘incredibly inventive and very moving', takes prestigious £20,000 honour, 2016 TS Eliot prize won by Jacob Polley's 'firecracker of a book' | Books | The Guardian; shortlist announced for the top prize in pan-African, award program for debut authors, Stressing 'an African Sensibility,' Etisalat Prize Announces Shortlist; and in 2015, Chinese Sci-fi hit the American literary scene when Ken Liu's translation of The Three-Body Problem by Chinese author Cixin Liu received a Hugo Award and a Nebula nomination, The rise of Chinese sci-fi: Part 1 | Asia Times.
  • Why your book contract needs vetting - 'We've been offering our Contract Vetting service for many years and it's always surprised me how relatively few writers take advantage of it. There are not many ways that a first-time author can get advice of this kind, and lawyers are very expensive and not always up-to-date about what is going on in publishing...'
  • ‘You need to commit to a time to write. If you don't commit to your writing, who's going to commit to you?' Val McDermid in our Writers' Quotes.

2 January 2017 - What's new

January 2017
  • ‘I never felt like I was getting at the truth. I wanted to be told the truth. So when I write for young people I write for the young person I was. And it's only now that I find I have a lot of compassion for that kid and the things that he was worrying about. I was a really anxious kid, and I just needed someone to talk to about it, and nobody would...' Our Comment comes from Patrick Ness, author of A Monster Calls (just released as a film for which he wrote the screenplay), Chaos Walking and Class (a BBC series).
  • In a rare opportunity, Pavilion Poetry, the new imprint of Liverpool University Press, is open for submissions to poets with unpublished first full-length collections only. Submit by post by 31 January.
  • A few weeks ago 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.
  • Amongst the predictions springing up as we move into the new year, a hard figure is the most astonishing. The slowing-down of ebook sales is well-documented but it is quite startling that the first figure of 2017 is that the UK print market sold 195 million books in 2016, an increase of almost 7% on 2015, and volume increased by 4.5%. News Review on The publishing world as 2016 turns into 2017.
  • It's just the right time of year for our Health Hazards series, which looks at all the particular dangers faced by writers, from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to Looking after your eyes, and advises on how to position your desk and chair. This really is essential reading for anyone who spends a lot of time at the computer.
  • Our links: this has been a year of major change and we have lost many great authors, Notable Literary Deaths in 2016 | Literary Hub; the newest developments, achievements and emerging classics in the world of chiseled prose, The State of Flash Fiction; but haven't prize wins been benefting small publishers? On eve of Costa awards, experts warn that top books prizes are harming fiction | Books | The Guardian; and Tom Chalmers looks at the predictions he made last year, Revisiting My 2016 Predictions for the Book Publishing Industry - DBW.
  • Do you want some help with your writing but don't quite know what you want? 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.
  • More links: a wide-ranging exploration of the impulses, movements, and unique voices in twentieth century science fiction, The Rise of Science Fiction from Pulp Mags to Cyberpunk; 'the female writers whose work has most recently come in for enthusiastic appraisal are by no means a homogeneous group', 2016 - a year of celebrating women writers | Books | The Guardian; and 'Reading a book is best done in solitude without a zillion bits and bytes of digital distraction nibbling in from the sidelines', The future is digital book discovery, not distracting gimmicks | The Bookseller.
  • 'Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.' Willa Cather in our Writers' Quotes.
  • And if quotes are your bag, then there's More Writers' Quotes and Even More Quotes, with the many hundreds of wonderful quotes we have featured over the years.