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Writers' News

Inaugural SciFidea Award – Dyson Sphere Science Fiction Writing Contest – Tuesday April 25, 2023

The SciFidea Writing Center has announced the inaugural SciFidea Award – Dyson Sphere Science Fiction Writing Contest. SciFidea is based in Singapore, and aims to “encourage and develop science fiction and help authors monetize their works”. The top 10 winning stories will be awarded $20,000, with shortlisted authors winning $2,000. Winning stories will additionally be “recommended to be published and adapted to other art forms/media (such as animation or movie); some outstanding works will be translated into other languages and be showcased in foreign countries.”

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Agent Elizabeth Roy to retire – Tuesday April 25, 2023

Elizabeth Roy, founder of the Elizabeth Roy Literary Agency, is retiring after nearly 50 years working in publishing. The business will pass to Emily Talbot at United Agents at the end of April.

Roy started her publishing career as Mark Collins’ secretary at Fontana, William Collins’ paperback list and work at Eyre Methuen, Hamish Hamilton Children’s Books and Knight Books, Hodder & Stoughton’s children’s paperback imprint, followed.

Twelve years later she started her agency at a time when there were few children’s specialist agents. She launched the careers of the late Marcus Sedgwick and Jackie Morris among others and has proudly overseen the development of many other writing and illustrating careers, including that of Steve Antony, Nicola Killen and Nicola Morgan.

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Military vet in debt after paying publisher £14k for novel they printed full of mistakes – Tuesday April 25, 2023

A military veteran claims he paid a publishing house £14K to bring out his book - which they printed full of mistakes. Granddad Joseph Hentosz, 79, says AuthorHouse promised his novel would get the 'Hollywood treatment' and promoted around the world.

He had spent nine years writing his autobiographical story ‘From the Brink of Death and the Gates of Hell’. It tells the incredible story of how in 1947 his mother met a Polish soldier in Blackpool and took her two young sons to live with him in Poland - but forced to live in a cellar.

Joseph says he paid the publishers 14K over three years - who said the money was for 'scriptwriting services', promotion and exhibits. He says the self-publishing firm also promised him it would be shown to TV producers and movie executives.

But when the book came out Joseph says they had published his rough manuscript which was full of incorrect dates and spelling and grammar errors. He says he only discovered the mistakes when he spotted the book for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Waterstones.

The book then only generated $79 in sales - and Joe claims the publishers told him it was too small amount to pay him. The Royal Air Force vet of Bridlington, Yorkshire, says he has been left in debt and with a stress-related illness as a result.

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New Literary Agency Listing: Hannah Sheppard Literary Agency – Tuesday April 25, 2023

I represent both adult and children’s fiction (as well as a small amount of non-fiction) and, more than anything, I want to be entertained by a great story while caring deeply about your characters. In general, I love bold, distinctive voices, intriguing stories with a strong hook and flawed characters with something to learn. I want characters who are truly diverse – let’s be inclusive, body positive and joyful in our representation. I also like big, mind-bending ideas and combinations of genres that feel fresh and create something new…

[See the full listing]

Bookseller survey finds debut authors struggle with lack of support – Monday April 24, 2023

More than half of authors (54%) responding to a survey by The Bookseller on their experiences of publishing their debut book have said the process negatively affected their mental health. Though views were mixed, just 22% of the 108 respondents to the survey described a positive experience overall with their first publication.

Of the survey’s respondents, 61% primarily wrote adult fiction, followed by 19% non-fiction and 17% children’s fiction. Around half of respondents (51%) had been published by an independent publisher while 48% were published by one of the Big Four (Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan and Hachette). The remaining 1% selected “other” and were a mix of self-published authors and “hybrid publishing”.  

Of those who described a negative impact on their mental health 47% were published by an independent publisher while 44% were published by one of the Big Four with the remaining 9% citing “other”.  

Among the majority who said they had a negative experience of debut publication, anxiety, stress, depression and "lowered" self-esteem were cited, with lack of support, guidance or clear and professional communication from their publisher among the factors that contributed.

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'If you start the nitpicking, you never stop': Author Sir Michael Morpurgo warns publishers against rewriting classics to suit modern sensibilities following row sparked by edits to Roald Dahl's books – Monday April 24, 2023

Sir Michael Morpurgo has warned publishers against rewriting classic books to suit modern sensibilities following a row over 'woke' edits to works of fictions by authors including Roald Dahl.

The award-winning children's novelist, whose works include War Horse, Private Peaceful and Friend or Foe, argued that if publishers 'start nitpicking' language now deemed controversial they will 'never stop'.

In an interview with Times Radio today, Sir Michael said the focus should be to 'tell the same story' in a new way.

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New Publisher Listing: Fighting High – Monday April 24, 2023

We specialise in non-fiction books that focus on human endeavour, particularly in a historical military setting. We also consider other stories of human enterprise and adventure.

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Hay-on-Wye and beyond: 5 of the UK & Ireland's best spring literary festivals – Sunday April 23, 2023

Literary festivals are all over the UK and Ireland this month, in locations just as appealing as the books they showcase.

1. Hay Festival

Set on the beautiful Wales-England border, this year’s packed festival includes travel writer Kapka Kassabova delivering the 2023 Jan Morris Lecture, Ray Mears discussing the British woodland, and Bear Grylls and Ranulph Fiennes celebrating a love of wild spaces. Author-led tours with Wayfair Walks explore the Brecon Beacons, while the Lviv BookForum brings Ukraine’s biggest book festival to Wales. 25 May to 4 June.

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Never too late: over-50s urged to write fiction with prize for debut novel – Sunday April 23, 2023

London book fair, which concluded earlier this month, always brings with it a flurry of headlines about debut authors signing six-figure publishing deals. Most of these have at least one thing in common – their youth.

As a result, anyone with an ambition to be a novelist might think that the ship has sailed once they leave their 30s. But fear not: there’s an increasing drive to encourage those who come to writing past the first flush of youth that it’s never too late.

At this year’s fair, literary agency Jenny Brown Associates launched an award for debut novelists in the UK aged 50 and above..

“The bestseller lists are full of debut novelists who are older, but the perception is that you have to be young when your first book comes out,” says literary agent Lisa Highton of Jenny Brown Associates.

“But being a debut is not just about being a shiny, sparkly, young person. The reason we launched the award was to say to people over 50 yes, you too can be a shiny, sparkly, new writer– just older.”

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Margaret Atwood and Mona Awad on Writing Outside the Lines – Saturday April 22, 2023

Margaret Atwood: I’ve been an admirer of Mona’s novel “Bunny” (2019) for some time. It’s a form of Gothic satire, and she sets it at a writing school. It’s very funny, kind of horrifying and quite far outside the lines. You think, “She’s not going to go there … yes, she is.”

Ideas about writers were so thin on the ground when I decided to be one. I was talking to somebody else about this recently and said, “People like you and me went into it out of ignorance.” And she said, “Had I only known, I never would have!” It was kind of like walking across Niagara Falls blindfolded without knowing it. And then people would say, as they did in my presence, “Well, of course women can’t write.” This was the mid-60s. Luckily, I was in Canada, and Canadian writers were so bottom of the heap they were willing to become friends with anybody, even if they were female. So writers of my generation in Canada were making it up as we went. We made up small publishing companies. We made up little magazines. We made up writers’ organizations. Because few of those things existed. Creativity moves in to fill a vacuum.

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