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Writers' News

Scots poet 'hounded' by Scotland's snobby literary elite for her views on toxic trans debate – Saturday May 13, 2023

Jenny Lindsay says Scotland's proud literary culture is in danger of being destroyed because too many well-paid authors are afraid to speak out – or even join in with the trans bullies

One of Scotland's leading writers has warned the country's literary culture is being "destroyed" by the failure to stand up to extremist trans activists.

Ayrshire poet Jenny Lindsay weighed into the debate following the high-profile row over SNP MP Joanna Cherry's cancellation by The Stand comedy club.

The venue – owned by fellow Nat Tommy Sheppard – was forced into a humiliating climbdown on Friday after she threatened legal action.

But Lindsay, who was abused by a "seemingly endless army of misogynists" after being labelled a "terf" by trans activists in 2019, said the "damage has already been done".

Writing in the Daily Mail, she said: "This is a systemic issue, affecting hundreds. As the knock-on effects of the Cherry episode show, 'cancel culture' affects more than just the person targeted. This is not a healthy atmosphere for any literary culture in a democracy."

[Read the full article]

George R.R. Martin Addresses Mini-Rooms, Calls Them An “Abomination” – Wednesday May 10, 2023

George R.R. Martin has no patience with mini-rooms and how they make it impossible for new writers to succeed.

In his latest blog post, the author talks about how he got his start in TV by writing for The Twilight Zone in 1985. Had it not been for the old system where writers worked their way up, he never would have learned how to actually make a series.

“For the first fourteen years of my career, I wrote only prose; a few novels, and lots of stories for Analog, Asimov’s, and various other SF magazines and anthologies. Much as I enjoyed television, I never dreamt of writing for it until 1985, when CBS decided to launch a new version of The Twilight Zone, and executive producer Phil DeGuere invited me to write an episode for them. A freelance script; that was how you began back then. I decided to give it a shot… and Phil and his team liked what I did. So much so that within days of delivery, I got an offer to come on staff. Before I quite knew what had happened, I was on my way to LA with a six-week deal as a Staff Writer, at the Guild minimum salary, scripts against. (In the 80s, Staff Writer was the lowest rung on the ladder. You could tell, because it was the only job with “writer” in the title).”

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Ripley-Duggan joins The Theseus Agency as literary agent – Wednesday April 26, 2023

Louise Ripley-Duggan, founder of the the Ripley-Duggan Agency, has joined The Theseus Agency as a literary agent.

Ripley-Duggan started her career in literary management at the Blake Friedman Literary Agency after graduating from university. She set up her agency in 2019 and built up a list of clients, most notably Isabelle Schuler, for whom she secured a two-book deal with Raven in 2021 for Lady MacBethad. 

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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.

[Read the full article]

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.

[Read the full article]

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.

[Read the full article]

'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.

[Read the full article]

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.”

[Read the full article]

O’Grady and de Pass promoted to agents at The Soho Agency – Tuesday April 18, 2023

Niamh O’Grady and Marina de Pass have both been promoted to agents at The Soho Agency.

De Pass represents commercial, book-club and literary fiction and has just concluded a 12-way auction for her first non-fiction project One Pot, One Portion by Eleanor Wilkinson (Ebury).

Other highlights include Carole Hailey’s BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick The Silence Project (Corvus) and Joanna Miller’s debut The Bee Orchids, pre-empted by Fig Tree just ahead of the book fair and already sold in a number of international territories. 

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