Traditional Publishing

Writers' News

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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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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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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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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Staróg Prize launched for Irish writers of children’s fiction – Monday April 17, 2023

Walker Books, PaperCuts Literary Consultancy Ltd and the Sunday Independent have teamed up to create a new writing prize, open to writers of Irish nationality and those resident in Ireland and Northern Ireland.  

The Staróg Prize will award an international publishing contract with Walker Books, representation with PaperCuts, and coverage in the Sunday Independent to a new voice in children’s fiction. Two runners-up will also receive a one-year mentorship from Gráinne Clear, senior commissioning editor at Walker Books, and Polly Nolan, founder and m.d. of PaperCuts Literary Consultancy, to further develop their work.  

The award will be open to submissions from 1st May 2023 via an online form, and will close on Sunday 16th July 2023, with the longlist, shortlist and winner announced in October 2023. Submissions must be completed works of fiction in English aimed at readers between seven and 13 years of age.   

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Publishers rewrite Jeeves and Wooster books to remove 'unacceptable' prose by PG Wodehouse with trigger warnings added to revised editions telling readers characters may be 'outdated' – Sunday April 16, 2023

The light-hearted escapades of Jeeves and Wooster have become the latest victims of the seemingly relentless march of literature's word police. 

PG Wodehouse's books on the pair's aristocratic misadventures have been identified as having what the publishers describe as 'unacceptable' prose. 

The comic novels have had passages cut or reworked for new editions by Penguin Random House, as well as trigger warnings added to warn readers of ‘outdated’ themes.

They are latest in a growing series of classic works which have been quietly purged by woke publishers, alongside the books of Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming’s James Bond series.

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Former Picador publisher Gwyn Jones joins Greyhound Literary as associate agent – Tuesday April 11, 2023

Philip Gwyn Jones, formerly publisher at Picador, has joined Greyhound Literary as an associate agent, starting today (11th April).

Gwyn Jones, who joined the literary Pan Macmillan imprint in June 2020 from Scribe UK, departed the company by mutual agreement last year to be succeeded by Mary Mount.

During his time as publisher of Picador he led commemorative activity and new publishing around two major anniversaries – Picador’s 50th and Picador Poetry’s 25th – and the imprint saw several titles top the bestseller lists and compete for literary prizes. 

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Martin McDonagh: I'll use my will to block Roald Dahl-style edits to my work – Sunday April 9, 2023

Martin McDonagh made the comments after publishers removed references in Dahl's classic children's books to minimise offence to readers

Martin McDonagh, the filmmaker and playwright, has suggested he could use his will to block Roald Dahl-style posthumous edits to his work.

He warned that some theatre companies have refused to put on his plays in recent years because he refused to sanction changes to make the language more “palatable.”

But when asked about the potential for his work to be edited after his death, the 53-year-old indicated his will would prevent any changes. 

It comes after publishers and sensitivity readers removed references to weight, height, mental health, gender and colour in Dahl's classic children's books to minimise offence.

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