Traditional Publishing

Writers' News

R.L. Stine says writing from your heart is overrated – Wednesday January 17, 2024

R.L. Stine has maintained the same routine for decades. Every day, the author of the phenomenally successful Goosebumps and Fear Street series writes at least 2,000 words, which explains how he's been able to pen more than 350 books over the course of his career.

"I used to be twice as fast," Stine tells Q's Tom Power in an interview. "I'm old now. I used to do 4,000 a day."

The 80-year-old master of fright has now released his first non-fiction book, There's Something Strange About My Brain: Writing Horror for Kids, in which he shares everything he knows about crafting a scary story that kids will love.

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New Literary Agent Listing: Katie Williams – Tuesday January 16, 2024

Represents drama and comedy writers in television, theatre and film.

[See the full listing]

New Publisher Listing: SRL Publishing Ltd – Monday January 15, 2024

We don’t care about your colour; we care about your words.

Writers will never be asked their sexuality, race, or religion – only if the author wishes to disclose, and we will never use this information to generate sales. We advise anyone who is thinking of submitting their work to us, to not put their race in the subject heading. We view all submissions as equal and will not prioritise any submissions from certain minority groups.

We love stories – fiction or non-fiction. We will consider most genres, topics, or formats.

No graphic or eroticised incest/rape; necrophilia; paedophilia; bestiality; erotica, fetishes or porn; or anything that encourages violence, hate, or racism. No poetry, self-help titles, short story collections, anthologies, or faith-based books. No AI-generated submissions in any form. These include works that are written or co-written by AI technology.

[See the full listing]

Author productivity is a publishing problem – Saturday January 13, 2024

Writers struggling to hit their deadlines are a sign of deeper issues in the industry.

George R R Martin was late delivering the sixth instalment of his A Song of Ice and Fire novel series. Over the years, frustrated fans speculated on his delay and procrastination, with one taking to the internet to ask advice of fellow writer Neil Gaiman. The fan, Gareth, complained: “It’s almost as though he is doing everything in his power to avoid working on it. Is it unrealistic to think that by not writing the next chapter Martin is letting me down?” Gaiman’s witty response was simple: “Writers and artists aren’t machines.”

I’ve worked in and around publishing for 20 years and over that time had many different roles. Thinking back, I’ve been guilty of treating authors like machines – sorry Neil.

Take one example where I had responsibility for a list of 200 titles. With forthcoming titles represented as a line on a spreadsheet an author was reduced to a unit of production. Publishing margins are increasingly tight, so the hard commercial reality was that each title, and by extension author, was assessed in terms of financial viability.

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Buckley joins Hannah Sheppard Literary Agency after three-year break – Friday January 12, 2024

Louise Buckley will join the Hannah Sheppard Literary Agency (HS-LA) this month as associate agent, returning to publishing after a three-year break.

Working alongside its founder, Hannah Sheppard, Buckley joins the agency on 15th January and will build a new list of authors with a focus on upmarket and book-club fiction, as well as further developing the agency’s links with co-agents. Both Buckley and Sheppard will be at London Book Fair in March, a year after the agency was launched.

Buckley was most recently an associate Literary Agent at Zeno Agency Ltd where she represented a roster of commercial and literary fiction, including Anne Griffin’s When All is Said (Sceptre), which spent five weeks at number one in Ireland and sold into 17 territories.

[Read the full article]

Professor wins national writing competition with new novel – but AI wrote it – Thursday January 11, 2024

A professor at at Beijing’s Tsinghua University won a national writing competition with a sci-fi novel, using the power of AI.

Chinese Journalism professor Shen Yang weaved together his story of the futuristic realms of the metaverse and humanoid robots to great acclaim and he has pledged to outline how others can emulate him, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

With artificial intelligence well and truly upon us, it is a reminder of the tremendous accessible opportunities and a stark reminder of the threat posed by rapid technological advances.

Shen is said to have initially turned to AI for assistance with his writing. Still, the outcome was a full text generated online, which was so impressive – and challenging to detect – that it won a vote from three of six judges on the contest panel hosted by the Jiangsu Science Writers Association.

One judge was said to have been informed that AI had been deployed in the novel Land of Memories, while another believed that it had been used and did not select the book as the content “lacked emotion.”

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How I quit my job to be a full-time writer – Thursday January 11, 2024

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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The secret to getting a book published, according to agents – Wednesday January 10, 2024

Getting your book published is a slog, but you'd be surprised by how many successful authors had to push through rejection and burnout before writing their hit

If you’re reading this then I imagine you’ve thought about writing a novel, are in the process of writing a novel or have indeed written one.

Having been a literary agent for well over a decade, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s now much easier to get your work published—it just takes some perseverance.

Many writers are riddled with self-doubt, haunted by negative feedback or rejection, and give up on their dreams prematurely.

The problem lies in the fact that the business of reading is subjective and therefore it’s not only a question of your book resonating with readers, but getting your book into the right hands at the right time. This takes commitment, persistence and also an element of luck.

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Minding the ‘Brand,’ for Better or for Worse – Tuesday January 9, 2024

Branding has forever changed the publishing industry and, in the process, what it takes for ambitious authors to break in.

Over the last year, three books of mine have been published. The first, from a large indie press, was a philosophical takedown of woke subjectivism. The second, from a U.K. press specializing in rock star memoirs, was a middle-grade novel about a traumatized kid who begins to hallucinate the ghost of John Lennon. The third, from a conservative-libertarian startup press, was a comic novel set at the dawn of the social media age, about a 30-something mom whose ne’er-do-well husband convinces her to post risqué photos on the internet.

You’d think three books in one year would be a cause for celebration. Yet I’m driving my loyal-to-a-fault literary agent crazy… because I don’t have a brand.

Brands are shorthand devices to convey clusters of information. Most large corporations have a brand. Pepsi has one. So does Burger King. So do Nike, Cadillac and Citibank. Each brand has an instantly recognizable logo, intended to differentiate the business from its competitors and remind you that you’re dealing with an established, credible entity. But a brand also limits the brand-holder’s relevance. If Pepsi, for example, announced it developed a kiwi-infused cola, I’d be intrigued. Pepsi does a fine job with colas, so its processes should work with kiwi flavor. On the other hand, if I’m shopping for auto parts and see Pepsi snow tires, I’m going to pass since that’s not what Pepsi is known for. The company may produce a hell of a tire, but why go that route when you can go with Goodyear—a brand specifically known for tires? It would be like buying Goodyear ginger ale. Or Cadillac cotton swabs.

So it makes sense for businesses to develop a brand. Yet there’s something counterintuitive and vaguely philistine about the notion that writers should develop one. What is a writer’s brand? Essentially, it’s a cross between a credential and an identity. It’s the way the writer is viewed by potential readers and the public face by which he’s already known or will be known; it provides a roadmap for publishers to market his book. Here is the reality of publishing in 2023: Absent a discernible brand, a writer’s chances of finding a commercial publisher are severely diminished. Brands are a particular concern of the marketing departments at publishing houses, as you’d expect. But they’re also on the mind of editors at every stage of the publishing process, figuring prominently not only in getting the book into readers’ hands but also in the decision to acquire a manuscript in the first place.

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ChatGPT for Creative Writing: Unleashing Your Imagination in 2024 – Friday January 5, 2024

In 2024, the landscape of creative writing has been revolutionized by the advent and integration of advanced AI technologies, with ChatGPT at the forefront. This tool, built upon the sophisticated GPT-4 architecture, has emerged as a powerful ally for writers, poets, playwrights, and other creative professionals. Its ability to generate human-like text, brainstorm ideas, and assist in the writing process has opened new avenues for creativity and innovation in the literary world.

The Evolution of ChatGPT in Creative Writing

To appreciate ChatGPT’s role in creative writing, it’s essential to understand its evolution. Initially, AI writing tools were primarily used for generating short, formulaic text. However, as these models became more advanced, they started showing potential in aiding more complex and creative writing tasks. With the introduction of GPT-4, ChatGPT became capable of understanding and generating nuanced, contextually rich, and stylistically varied text, making it an invaluable tool for creative writers.

Understanding ChatGPT’s Capabilities

ChatGPT’s strengths lie in its ability to process and generate language in a way that closely mimics human thought and expression. Its training on a diverse range of texts enables it to offer stylistic suggestions, and narrative ideas, and even help with character development. For instance, a writer struggling with dialogue can turn to ChatGPT for examples of how a conversation between characters might flow. Moreover, its capacity to understand and emulate various writing styles allows it to provide targeted assistance, whether one is writing a hard-boiled detective story or a romantic sonnet.

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