For the last of my special posts during my lovely week off, I’m delighted to bring you an interview with Chris Holifield, founder and managing directer of Writers’ Services. This brilliant website has been a source of information and inspiration for writers for many years, and recently had a fantastic revamp – you can check out the site here. Writers’ Services also has excellent taste in guest contributors 😉 and I’m currently part way through a series of articles on self-publishing exclusively for the website. I wanted to find out more about Chris, and about what Writers’ Services had to offer today’s indie author.
Chris Holifield is the founder of WritersServices. She has spent her entire working life in publishing, employed by a wide range of publishers, from large global corporations to small start-ups, and was most recently Cassell & Co. She has also been involved in a paperback publishing start-up and has set up and run her own literary agency, and is currently the director of the Poetry Book Society.
- Tell us a bit more about WritersServices. How did you come to set up the website and what’s its history?
WritersServices was set up in 2001, after I’d been made redundant from a publishing job for the second time in two years – and decided it was time to do something different. The usual story, I guess, but those were the early days of websites and the writers’ revolution had yet to start up.
- What sets your site apart from the many writing communities out there today?
It is a very big site and delivers a lot of information for writers across a wide range of subjects. It started off as a bridge between writers and publishers and has gradually become a place offering more on self-publishing.
- I always knew you offered such services as editing etc, but until recently didn’t realise you offered a complete self-publishing package. Can you tell us more about that? How does your self-publishing model work?
The editorial services do keep growing – there are nineteen at the moment and we’ve recently added in two covering editing a poetry and PhD editing. We’re just working on more services for self-publishers because that’s more and more what writers want. WritersServices Self-publishing service is for people who don’t feel confident about putting their work out there on their own and want a customised service which will help them through the process in a friendly and supportive way.
- WritersServices has been around for many years – I remember the old website, it was the go-to place for writing advice back when few people even had home computers! How are you managing to compete and stay visible now the market is so saturated?
In the summer we launched – not before time I admit! – a huge new website with a fresh design of course but also a new structure which would enable people to bore down into the site to find what they wanted quickly. The agents’ listings, reviews on books for writers, several series about writing and getting published and the mass of information on offer gives us an edge, as do the weekly updates and newsletter.
- What advice would you give to new authors trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace today?
Everything has changed in the publishing and writing worlds over the last ten years and it will continue to do so. Writers really need to do their best to come up with something unique and then to make it as good as it can be. Then they should be prepared to promote their writing and themselves in every way they can, whether they have a publisher or are self-publishing their work. That means social networking and the web, and being a tireless promoter for your book through local bookshops and local, national and specialist media. Of course it’s easier for non-fiction writers to do this and fiction writers have to work hard to get people to try their work.
- Do you write? What’s your personal history in this field?
No, I don’t write personally but I have spent all my life in book publishing, on the editorial or publishing side and you do pick up a bit about it under those circumstances!
I’d like to say a massive thank you to Chris for taking time out of her super-busy schedule to let me pick her brains. I think her advice to new writers (and existing writers, I’d add) is spot on – Chris really knows what she’s talking about and I hope you’ll help me in getting the word out about the services Chris and her team offer. The Writers’ Services website is huge – you should really set aside a couple of hours to work through it if you want to get a handle on all they have to offer. There is also a really active and supportive community.
I hope you enjoyed this week on the blog – I’ll be back to my usual random ramblings on Monday. Bye for now!
- New Column for Writers’ Services (joannegphillips.wordpress.com)