Genres in publishing: advice for writers


Historical fiction

We love historical fiction. A fair few of our editors have written it, and some of our most successful clients have done the same. Words of wisdom here.

Also, because settings are so important to historical fiction, we recommend you ponder our thoughts on creating a sense of place in your writing.


Crime fiction and thrillers

The Writers’ Workshop founder Harry Bingham writes crime, as do many of editors. Words of advice here.

And, needless to say, any half-decent crime novel needs a strong concept and a killer plot.


Women’s fiction

Women’s fiction is a broad, broad area. Although it does include traditional romance, it really includes any book written by a woman for women, and that has a relationship (not necessarily a romantic one) at its heart. To sell in this most crowded of marketplaces, you need to get intimate with your characters and their inner worlds. You need to be funny, warm and moving.


Fantasy, sci-fi and horror

Fantasy and science-fiction are probably the hardest areas in which to find acceptance from a literary agent. But good writing will nevertheless find both an agent and a publisher. Words of wisdom below.


Literary fiction

Literary fiction is the hardest genre to give advice on. You simply have to write superbly. And with originality. And hang all that around a concept that will get the sales and marketing folk on a publishers’ acquisition committee sitting up with excitement. So everything on this website, more or less, matters to you. Instead of trying to index that all, here are some literary authors, agents and publisher talking about what matters to them.


Short stories

There’s not much of a market for short stories, but that doesn’t mean there’s no market. And of course it remains true that writing powerful short fiction remains the first step for many writers on their way to producing their first novel.



Travel remains a perennial seller in the bookshops. But you do need to be aware of the market. It’s not enough to scribble up your backpacker adventures. You need to know what books are already out there and to have a clear sense of how your book adds something new to the mix. And of course, whatever your tale, sense of place is absolutely crucial.



More and more people are writing memoirs. And every life deserves commemoration. But if you want to get your work commercially published, you do need a stunning concept and stunning execution. (Our bestselling clients Barbara Tate and John Fenton achieved that with their memoirs, West End Girls and Please Don’t Make Me Go.)



Writing poetry is the most fulfilling branch of writing, but getting it published is unquestionably the hardest. We are here to give professional, detailed and constructive feedback on your verse. We can also guide you as to your publication options. In short, if you write poetry and want help, then you’ve come to the right place.


Book proposals

If you’re writing non-fiction, you may (joy of joys!) be able to get an agent and a book deal on the back of a proposal instead of a full length manuscript. Subject-led non-fiction (How to Train your Horse, for example) can normally be sold with a proposal alone. More creative non-fiction (memoir, for example) will usually need to be written at full length. More info here.


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