01/06/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Palgrave Macmillan. 774 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: £14.99 (UK), $29.95 (US). ISBN: 978-0-0230-57324-6.
check out website: www.palgrave.com and www.thewritershandbook.com
If you're going to take writing seriously then looking at and even buying such books as 'The Writer's Handbook' becomes an essential guide to the present state of publishers not just in the UK but also in America.
Quite what happens in the rest of the world, for those living there, you'll no doubt and I hope have some sort of books of your own there. Saying that, as witnessed by an article about book fairs here, foreign reprint rates are often spun from these publishers listed in these pages.
Of special interest in this edition is a very depthy article on dealing with the British tax system and accounting. I think the biggest lesson is if you do have a secondary career (few writers over here write full time after all) is keep below £67,000 (although I suspect few will reach such heights) to keep things under regular tax than as a taxable person. It is interesting as to what you can claim and there are some similarities to what Lester Del Rey wrote in his book for the American situation back in the 70s in keeping receipts and log of expenditure for anything related to your storycraft and get a decent accountant to do the work for you.
Saying that, you still have to get on the first rung of selling a book to a publisher which is what most of this book is about, covering publishers of not only books, newspapers and magazines but radio, audio, theatre, TV, film and a couple pages even on the Net. Considering many publishers are currently reviewing their views on e-books, I suspect the latter will develop in the future. Also bear in mind that many publishers will not take on a new author without an agent, there's also a list of these, too, although I should point out that in our genre, having a track record in the semi-pro or amateur field isn't a bad idea. I would strongly recommend you really do read the thirty pages of articles at the beginning of this book and the importance of having not only completed work but also remember the importance of raising the standard of grammar and punctuation in your work or not get past the trash-bin. Get that sorted and it'll be the quality of your ideas and storycraft that can raise you from the crowd.
What is worrying is how few in number are the agents and publishers who deal with our genre. Science Fiction, horror and fantasy is still regarded by many in the industry as being very specialised and there are few, especially agents, who have a feel for it and if anything, still have a 1950s attitude to it being all about spaceships and aliens. If you're thinking of breaking into the industry, then don't go for the top end of the market but the smaller press first to build your reputations up.
Read, digest and learn.
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