Traditional Publishing

This sinister censorship agenda in the publishing world should trouble us all – Wednesday September 6, 2023

Hard on the heels of the news that Ian Fleming’s publishers have “edited” its new edition of the James Bond novels to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Casino Royale (a cracker) to omit some non-current references to race, there arrives a new version of James Bond. On His Majesty’s Secret Service, by Charlie Higson, is Bond as a sensitivity reader might have created him.

As The Spectator reviewer observed, “our hero has somehow become the modern age in arms, a Centrist Dad with a sidearm.” Instead of bad Bond, we get 21st century Bond. Whaddya know? He’s rubbish.

The problem with the censorship of contemporary publishing is twofold: one is that it happens upstream, at the commissioning, writing stage of a book.

The other is that when it comes to the censorship of existing authors, it’s like additives in foodstuffs; you have to read the small print to find it’s there. So, with the edited Bond, you have to be bothered to read the publisher’s note that “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace”. If you’re buying it on Amazon, what chance that you’ll know that you’re getting an expurgated version? What you actually need is a big fat sticker on the front saying: CENSORED.

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The Best Global Magazines for Growing Writers and Artists – Saturday September 2, 2023

Scrolling on Instagram for several hours at a time, to try and get your work recognized? I might have the perfect way for you to get your work recognized while saving your time, simultaneously! Often, the best way to get your creative work to as many people as possible is by submitting to growing magazines.

Yes, it may seem like doing so won't do much good to your work, but trust me, growing magazines are the ones that will eventually rise to the top. With eye-catching aesthetics and magnificent formatting, global magazines are the perfect opportunity for growing writers and artists to showcase their excellent work to the WORLD!

I have personally submitted to a few global magazines myself, such as the Curio Cabinet Magazine and the Poetic Reveries. There is nothing that can match the happiness a writer gets when they see their name in a published magazine with several other talented writers.

Not only is it a great feeling, but it allows you to feel so much better about your skill and, if anything, rejections only strengthen your perspective! At least that is what my major takeaway from reaching out to these thriving magazines was and I hope you, too, step outside of your comfort zone and try these growing, youth-led poetry and art magazines out!

So, here they are, the top five thriving global magazines from the ever-trending platform for skilful, creative and outstanding writers and artists, Instagram.

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My children’s book about India was rejected because I’m white – Saturday August 26, 2023

As you may recall, several years ago I wrote a children’s book called Mr. Das and his Fifty Cats. In 2022, I mentioned it (and my travails finding a home for it) here, where I gave a brief description:

“Mr. Das and his 50 cats”  [is] a fictional work that is actually based heavily on a real person: Birendra Das, one of India’s most famous sweetmakers (his business, K. C. Das and company, is famous in Kolkata).  I stayed with Mr. Das in Bangalore (now called “Bengaluru”) to do “field work” observing his life and his cats, and found that he indeed had around fifty cats, whose names I learned. Around these facts—and the knowlege that Mr. Das took all of those cats in as strays—I wove a fictional tale about the cats invading the factory in times of famine and eating all the milk, cream, and yogurt. (Indian sweets are heavily laden with sugar and dairy products.) The story of how that led to the closure of Mr. Das’s sweet business, and then how the cats fixed the situation in the end, is the subject of my book.

I quite liked the story, as did others, including parents of small children and school teachers to whom I vetted the book (the story is meant for kids from about first to fourth grades).  I got a lot of good suggestions before it arrived at its final incarnation.

Eventually, on the advice of my agent (who doesn’t handle non-science books),  I sent the manuscript to a well known agent in England, who worked with a very famous illustrator. They both liked the book a lot and agreed to provide illustrations, which, given the fame of the illustrator, would almost guarantee publication.

I got a few illustrations, but then: radio silence. This lasted for months, and every six months I’d email to ask what was going on.  I’d get some reply that finding a publisher was still in the works.  Then, more radio silence.  This went on for several years, and I grew increasingly depressed.

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Literary Agents - Unfit For Purpose? – Saturday August 26, 2023

Like many authors, I’ve long wondered what added value agents add to the publishing industry. Disclaimer: I have never had an agent, and I value Independent Publishers.

I shall not mention this agent’s name and I will paraphrase what she wrote to the Twitter (X) Writing Community. So it wasn’t a personal reply, this counts as an announcement.

She said that when a writer is passed over by an agent, the writer shouldn’t assume it was a quality of prose issue. And that she just passed on a “most delightful, well-written manuscript”. One that she felt sure was going to sell. 

An agent’s job is to sell books to publishers. Some also edit. Let’s think for a moment about the art of selling. (Disclaimer: ex sales manager.) If I am trying to sell a product, I don’t give a damn whether or not the salesperson “falls in love with” or “has a special spark” about it. No, I want him to make his quota, preferably more.

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Where are today's modernists? – Wednesday August 23, 2023

A hundred years ago modernism was reinventing the rules of poetry with linguistic innovation and experimentation, pushing readers into a new relationship with the world via the word. Poets found fresh ways of expressing through style and form and publishers provided the engine room to connect their work with readers. So, what happened to this populism of the difficult? Today this tradition of experimentation has moved into underground channels where some of our most dynamic poets are creating incredible work, outside the earshot of major publishers.

Last year saw the centenary of The Waste Land. There were Eliot-themed events and even a festival called fragments, which took place across twenty-two City of London churches. The 1923 centenary should also be celebrated as a century ago this year was an incredible year for poetry. Wallace Stevens published Harmonium, his first collection of poetry completed at the age of 44. Stevens’ work brought a striking philosophical angle to modern poetry, demonstrating that everything that poetry could do existed in the imagination; not the world as it is, but as the mind – and language – perceives it. 

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The Don'ts And Definitely Don'ts of Writing Stupid-Funny Books – Friday August 11, 2023

Most of my writing advice is questionable, but if you want advice on writing incredibly stupid, incredibly fun books, I’m your Dingleberry. Or Huckleberry. Whatever berry you like, I’m that.

Off to a stupid start already. Let’s keep this rolling.

Quick Definition

A stupid-fun book is a book that's meant to be fun, funny, and when people call it "stupid," you have to agree, it's pretty stupid.

TV is filled with examples of stupid-fun: The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob's Burgers, you get it.

By the way, if you want to argue about how incisive these shows are and how I'M THE STUPID ONE for offering those examples, feel free to DM me on Twitter. Or Threads. Or any of the many social media platforms I no longer use as receptacles for messages about how stupid I am.

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Self-Publishing Update

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach – Monday August 7, 2023

According to an April 2023 survey by the (UK) Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), income of self-published authors increased substantially in 2022 over 2021, coming in at a median amount of $12,749, a figure actually higher than those of authors at traditional publishers. The 2,200 respondents to the survey were from all major English-speaking countries (with more than half from the U.S.).

A quarter of those replying had released their first book in 2020, while 60 percent reported first publishing in 2015-2022. Over half said they’d published more than 10 books on their own, while 20 percent had published more than 30 titles. Romance, fantasy/sci fi/speculative, and crime/thriller/detective novels were by far the most prevalent genres in which self-publishers were active.

Author M. J. Rose may have started the drive to self-publish, or some of it, when in 1998, she self-published her erotic-suspense novel Lip Service about the world of phone sex, a novel that had been rejected by all the agents and publishers she’d queried. Online, she sold 2,500 books (which is quite a lot), and the novel was after that acquired by Pocket Books. Other authors jumped into the self-publishing arena, or tried, and later Rose said, “I couldn’t do it now.” She did it because then the field was ripe and not yet harvested. However, Rose did set a model for other authors to imitate; and following persistently, some authors flourished. Not all thrived, however, and though self-publishing became and stayed “a thing,” the niche not too long after seemed to have lost its luster.

But now, something appears to be going on. Authors are self-publishing again. Some are bringing out their backlists, and others are simply spending a little money and getting into the game. I talked to four self-publishing authors. See if you can identify with or be inspired by any of their paths.

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‘I can’t stress how much BookTok sells’: teen literary influencers swaying publishers – Sunday August 6, 2023

TikTok recommendations are driving sales and launching authors’ careers as the social media app continues to reshape the industry

The famous Waterstones in London’s Piccadilly is a modernist/art deco building. It started life as a menswear store and has the feel of that sort of traditional shop that is fast disappearing. But this bookshop, like many others, is enjoying a very modern sales boost from social media.

Groups of teenage girls regularly gather here to buy new books and meet new friends, both discovered on the social media app TikTok. Recommendations by influencers for authors and novels on BookTok – a community of users who are passionate about books and make videos recommending titles – can send sales into the stratosphere.

But while very much an online phenomenon, BookTok is having a material impact on the high street, with TikTok now pushing people to buy their books from bricks-and-mortar booksellers through a partnership with, which allows people to buy online and support independent bookshops at the same time.

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How I quit my job to be a full-time writer – Sunday August 6, 2023

Earlier this year, analysis of Google search data around job types revealed that the number one dream job for New Zealanders is to be a writer. Writer Isa Pearl Ritchie is living this dream – this is the story of her journey to get there.

Just a few weeks ago, I updated my LinkedIn from “Principal Policy Advisor” to “Novelist”. For many, this is a dream, isn’t it? For years, I convinced myself that I didn’t genuinely aspire to be a full-time writer. Perhaps I was fearful of the idea. I was a university student for over a decade, and subsequently, I embarked on a career in policy — a pretty good choice for someone who enjoys writing.

I’ve been writing from the time I learned how to, which admittedly took me longer than most. I’ve been working on novels all my adult life. Early on, each book would take years, but more recently, I’ve learned how to write quickly which is a skillset I’ve found very useful.

My early novels were more on the literary side of “women’s fiction”. They were time-consuming because I had to get into the heads of all the characters, who changed with each book. However, my first love was fantasy. I grew up reading Goosebumps books and Tolkien, but certain influences (my brilliant grandmother was a huge influence on me, but couldn’t stand the supernatural, so I refrained) led me to less fantastical storytelling. It took me years to give myself permission to write more otherworldly books. In 2018, I got an idea for a lucid-dreaming fantasy book I needed to write, and from then on I’ve predominantly written speculative fiction.

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How to Pitch an Article to a Magazine – Friday August 4, 2023

As a writer, you want to get your words in front of as many readers as possible. But this can be challenging when the competition from other writers is so great—to say nothing of the competition from other media like TV, social media, and smartphones.

But you must start somewhere. And one of the best ways to get your name out there as an author is to pitch articles to magazines.

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