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Wow... Tuesday's events left us all reeling with shock. Our thoughts are with all those affected by tragic events in New York and Washington D.C. I suspect few writers managed to put many words on paper yesterday.

This newsletter is dedicated to those writers scrambling to put those events in words for people around the world eager for news and any members of the WritersNet community touched by yesterday's tragedy. We publish today as our very small contribution to efforts to restore normalcy and with utmost respect for all victims of yesterday's terrorist attack.

So, what's in our fourth newsletter?


We have to do the housekeeping even when we have never felt so inspired and the book seems to be writing itself through you. Life gets in the way.

What's news? Well:

  • The numbers are great and bad - for me, at least. For no particular reason, I added up posts to all our forums last week. Today, 9 days later, I did the same exercise and found that the number had grown by nearly 1000 (982 to be exact). The forums have never been more vibrant and more time consuming to monitor. Thankfully, the vast majority of writers visit WritersNet for information rather than to cause trouble. Please resist the urge to respond to flammable posts.
  • August has been our biggest month by far. Visitor numbers, approaching 70,000, are up 10% on July and 24% on June. When you visit WritersNet you get to share knowledge with a larger and larger pool of writing talent.
  • We are making good progress on the critique forum but we have to work around the billable stuff that supports our WritersNet endeavors. My daily efforts to keep up with discussion forums leave me acutely aware how welcome this facility will be when we introduce it. We are on the job; when the work that pays the bills allows, you understand. Remember, patience is a virtue that writers should cultivate.
  • Got your WritersNet free email address yet? It's a great way to keep all your writing correspondence in one place and keep in touch with writing friends and contacts you make in our forums.

Forthcoming in the newsletter:

  • I will be reviewing a number of writing related books I have felt compelled to buy lately. (Does anyone have the number for bookaholics anonymous?)
  • We bring you the first subscriber submitted newsletter contributions. More please!

We are always keen to hear about your content ideas. Get in touch with us if you have a writing story to tell or some knowledge to share. But please note that we can't afford to pay for content at present.

Got your own ideas for the newsletter? We'd love to hear them. Contact us

Thoughts to Provoke

Vulgar Literary Prostitution, Natural Progression or No Big Deal?

The Bulgari Connection, the latest novel from Fay Weldon (celebrated author of over 20 books including the The Life and Loves of a She Devil) had an interesting genesis. It was commissioned by luxury jeweler Bulgari as a limited edition to be given to selected customers.

Weldon was well paid to create the book, which was to include 12 favorable mentions of the jeweler's precious product. She chose the title herself, made the product placement blatant and the product a key element of story she told. She is proud of the result.

Her agent has managed to convince Weldon's wary publishers of the books literary merits and, presumably, market potential. Those of us who cannot afford Bulgari will be able to read about it courtesy of our local book stores in October.

The sometimes controversial author, an ex-copywriter, told Salon that: "It always seemed to me that in advertising you were making up little stories and using language to sell products. And with novels you were making up little stories and using to sell ideas. So for a while I sold products and then I moved on and sold ideas -- like feminism. And now I've done a book that is mostly one but a little bit of the other."

Heavy weight dailies around the world latched on to the story... [more], [more], [more] and [more]

Is Weldon a "she-devil" herself, prostituting her art to mucky commerce and selling out her muse or is she "a jobbing writer like everyone else" as she told The Times of London?

Join the discussion: here

(Come across a thought provoking article on writing? Tell me about it.)

Epublishing Lead

I draw on the US's "paper of record" for my epublishing lead. The New York Times took a look at the state of the ebook world last week. The article wonders why ebooks haven't fulfilled the promise they showed this time last year and offers many good insights in the process. It is well worth reading (you will need to subscribe to the NYT online - its relatively painless and free).

The article also spotlights a royalty paying epublisher that is making a profit. Hard Shell Word Factory has a small editorial team - whose credentials seem a little thin, it has to be said - and specializes in genre fiction. They report 8,000 sales for their best selling romance novel.

Check them out here. But remember author beware: make sure you enter any contractual arrangement with any publisher with caution (I merely bring Hard Shell to your attention I do not endorse them).

The WritersNet Forum Word on Writing

What are they talking about in the WritersNet forums? Well...

Ms RA, RAINY or, just plain, RA: Whatever the Moniker, She Is an Asset to the Forums
"Doh!" I had a Homer Simpson moment just after sending out the last newsletter. Why? There was a New York agent answering writer's questions in the forums and I hadn't even mentioned it in the newsletter.

I refuse to make the same mistake twice. Here are some highlights from those halcyon days of summer when most NY agents take a break but one decided to offer her time to WritersNet forum participants.

  • Ms RA's first post and the deluge of questions that followed. [more]
  • Eileen is in the happy position of gaining some interest from a William Morris agent but what exactly is the situation and how should she handle it. Ms RA offers her advice on how to proceed... [more]
  • More agent wisdom in response to some well judged questions from Chris... [more]
  • Elizabeth's question about memoirs from ordinary people generates a series of informative posts and ends up with Steve getting RA interested in his book idea based on a grad thesis... [more]
  • The vexed question of exclusivity: Scribbler2 wonders how long to wait... [more] .
  • RA shares her insight into what publishers are looking for at the moment... [more]
  • Zadie Smith sold a partial but she had heavy weight help. Probably best to finish the masterpiece before hawking it... [more]
  • A thriller writer, drowning in rejection letters, wonders whether it is time to give up. The story sounds intriguing. What is he doing wrong? [more]
  • Carole is putting together a "how to" book. She has her own "how to" question. Her book will need photographic illustrations: what is the best way to sell the book? Ms RA has some advice on rights to photographs and naming brands and some suggestions of agents to query... [more]

Something to try at home

A Guardian leader writer had a little fun with a scene from Austen's Pride and Prejudice in penning Pride and Prostitution.

Have a little fun of your own. Open your local newspaper to a random page and choose a product advertised or mentioned on the page. Then, build a short short story - of, say, 500 words - around the product you choose.

Suggest something for writers to try at home

Words on the Web

They are talking about writing, authors and books all over the Web. Here are some snippets of an ongoing conversation:

What is Being Published? Publisher's Weekly looks at what is new in the book world... [more] While The Associated Press previews fall books... [more]

Let's Get Serious: Beryl Bainbridge and Doris Lessing think it is time to move on from the frivolities of "chick lit." Others aren't so sure... [more] Did Helen Fielding have any idea she was creating a publishing phenomenon when she decided to turn her newspaper column into a novel, which spawned a sequel and a movie and multitudinous imitations pale and otherwise?

How does POD work? Julie McCarroll Duffy used to liaise with authors for Xlibris now she is doing the freelance thing. She offers some great information on the changing publishing world on her site including an extremely informative series of articles on POD. "POD?" Not sure what I mean? Read [this], [this] and [this]

Looking for somewhere to publish articles in your area of interest/expertise? The Web home of the newsletter Writing For Dollars offers a searchable database of guidelines for 650 prospective markets... [more]

The Finalists For the Frankfurt Ebook Awards Have Been Announced: The list is dominated by books from big publishing houses but there are some representatives from outside the bounds of traditional publishing... [more] and [more]

Good Omens and American Gods: Writer Neil Gaiman (famous for the Sandman series of graphic novels and a collaboration with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens) has an acclaimed new novel out. This interview with January Magazine suggests his talent knows no genre bounds... [more]

What Does It Take? Editors agents and authors tell The Globe and Mail's John Allemang what they are looking for in a manuscript. Bottom line: it better start pretty darn well... [more]

Eclassic Anyone? Penguin will soon be releasing a number of old and some recent classics as ebooks... [more]

Not Just For Children: The Hugo Award, for a science fiction novel, has gone to a certain J. K.Rowling for a certain Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire... [more]. Meanwhile Phillip Pullman's, controversial childrens' novel, The Amber Spyglass has been long listed for The Booker Prize an tipped as a possible winner... [more]. More and more adults are willing to see merit in books written for younger readers, it seems. Still not sure what to make of a be-suited CEO type engrossed in the latest Potter on the train.

Heard/read something that would interest writers? Tell us about it.

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Well that's it for now. I hope you have found something of use here. Please don't hesitate to let me in on your ideas for this newsletter and WritersNet. We want to know what writers want from us; so, we can deliver it.

Hoping your thoughts are creative and the words are flowing.

Hamish Gilbertson

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