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This month we have expert advice from Simon Whaley on providing extra information for publishers; be inspired by our students' successes; find inspiration and something of use in useful websites, plus Ten Top Tips highlights how to make your website work for you.

E-zee Writer
Top Tips For Writers

E-zee Writer Top Tips for Writers Issue 108

Hello again,

I can literally feel the gentle breeze created by the sighing of relieved parents as the kids go back to school following the summer (although we’ve had very little sun in the UK) holidays. This usually leads to a rush of assignments as, once again, there’s time to concentrate on studying.

So, as we all settle back into a routine again I thought I’d have a look at the numerous societies there are, and there are, literally, hundreds of them. Societies can be a good way to get to know more about your chosen subject and meet other people with the same interests. For those of you with a copy of The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, have a look at the Societies, Associations and Clubs section – page 551 in the 2010 edition – to see just how many there are connected to the areas of writing and art, for example the Thomas Lovell Beddoes Society, The British Fantasy Society, Circle of Wine Writers and the Francis Brett Young Society are just a fraction of what’s available. I am pretty sure there is a society for just about anything you can think of these days – just typing ‘society of’ in Google returned over 350,000,000 results including The Society of Exploration Geophysicists, The British Society of Dowsers and The Weed Science Society of America. As well as being a place for you to mix with other people with the same interests, societies could also be an easy way to get in touch with experts if you require confirmation of facts for your novel or expert quotes for your article.

Student successes come from Phill and Gideon this month and both are quite considerable achievements so should be encouraging to all those who feel stuck with their writing. Simon Whaley gives his expert advice on boxouts, side panels, side bars and further information panels and Ten Top Tips looks at how you can make your website work for you. Useful websites includes two requests from readers who are also in the ‘business’.

If you are mobile this month you may want to mosey on over to The Farncombe Estate in the Cotswolds on the 27th September for a day of spontaneous storytelling which is, according to their website a “proven cure for writer’s block”. The day course costs £55.78, including refreshments and a three course lunch. More details are available here.

If you are in Toronto, Canada you could attend the monthly meeting of the Canadian Authors Association on the 18th September, held above the World’s Biggest Bookstore, 20 Edwards Street. The aim of the monthly meetings is for writers to help writers. More information here.

National Poetry Day takes place on the 8th October and this year’s theme is Heroes and Heroines. You can take part by submitting images of poems you’ve located in strange and unusual places or read blogs of famous poets. There is also a huge range of events taking place all over the country, for example Carol Anne Duffy is reading from her collection at The Winchester Discovery Centre, Winchester or you can see poet Ian Bland perform for free at the Andsell Library, Lancashire. See here for more details.

And finally, I’d like to bring our Twitter flash fiction competition to your attention. You have to write a short story, on any subject, in 140 characters or less – should be fun. The closing date is September 30th and see here for rules and entry instructions. The winner will receive a copy of our Writing for Competitions course.

Have a fun month!

Shelley x


“To say that undertaking the Writers Bureau Course is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made is an understatement. It has yielded results that have far exceeded my modest investment.

“I had been writing short stories for years with little success. I lacked confidence in my ability, having had no formal teaching since doing A-level English at school many years ago. I felt stuck in a rut, not knowing how to progress. Then I decided to try the Writers Bureau.

“With the help of my personal tutor I soon noticed an improvement in my writing style, which became concise and effective; and my approach to the business of writing grew more disciplined and efficient.

“Dust, the first short story I wrote after starting the course, won a cash prize in a competition and was published on the internet. A few months later it was performed on stage in Manchester.

“Encouraged by this, I followed the guidelines in the Writers Bureau Course and wrote a three-act play called Water Wings. I never dreamed I had the ability to write a full-length play!

“My increased self-confidence, plus the guidance I received from my tutor, enabled me to complete my first novel, which is currently being considered by a literary agency. Without the Writers Bureau I would never have been able to develop the plot lines, character profiles and all the other supports that underpin the construction of a novel.

“My next story, Johnny Jackstraw, was published by a magazine, and soon afterwards was performed at a literary event in Manchester. Some of the people at this event asked me to autograph their programmes. Can anything be more exciting for an aspiring author?

“The highlight of my writing career so far was when my short story, Pond Life, won second prize in the Writers News Annual Ghost Story Competition. I received a cash prize and was invited to the presentation ceremony at the Grand Hotel in Harrogate. I never imagined that one day I would be standing on a podium with flashlights popping all around me, while celebrities from the literary world applauded my modest efforts.


“I would never have been able to achieve all this without the help of the Writers Bureau and my tutor.”


Phill Campbell, UK


“When I started my course in Freelance Journalism, I had an intense desire to write for local newspapers in my country. The Certificate of Achievement I received in July 2004 really motivated and inspired me to write more and more. The Writers Bureau helped me to achieve the certificate by teaching me the techniques for successful writing and my tutor corrected my assignments to give me a more comprehensive understanding of the art of freelance journalism.

“I have had publishing success in my country and abroad. My work has been published in the local newspapers in my country such as the Kaieteur News, The Stabroak News and the Guyana Annual Literary Journal. I have also has a book of poetry published in Guyana by B&H printing Press. This year I’ve earned $3000 US dollars from a variety of writing jobs including book sales and royalties.”

Gideon Cecil, Guyana

Below is an abstract from the press release for Gideon’s new book The Revelation of Love:

“The Revelation of Love, published by Outskirts Press, is a fascinating collection, exploring the relationship of love between a man and woman, and the love stemming from a deep religious faith.

“Gideon Cecil also incorporates poems about hot political and philosophical topics. Motivated by the political climate of his native Guyana, Cecil tackles unjust social and political situations. But beneath his criticism shines a love and respect for his homeland.”

Thanks, as always, to Phill and Gideon for sharing their inspirational stories with us. If you would like a prospectus for the Comprehensive Creative Writing Course or our Freelance Journalism Course please email us here with your full name and postal address.

Or, to share your success stories with others, just send an email to with 'Success Story' in the subject line.


FREELANCE MARKET NEWSFreelance Market News Magazine
an essential guide for freelance writers


For up-to-date market information, Freelance Market News is invaluable.

Issued 11 times a year it's packed with information on markets in Britain and around the globe, plus you get all the latest news and views on the publishing world.

Every subscription comes with FREE membership of The Association of Freelance Writers. Your membership also entitles you to discounts on books and competitions, a free appraisal worth over £30 and a Membership Card which confirms your status as a Freelance Writer.

FREE sample copies are available to view at the website, along with more details about the magazine and how you can subscribe.


Learn how to write Black Horse Westerns, plus all the usual information on markets and competitions. And don’t forget our NEW UPDATED WEBSITE

Have a look at our new website using the link below to grab a sneak peak at what’s coming up in the next issue, read success stories, plus access a whole host of useful resources.



Boxes, Boxes, Boxes

By Simon Whaley

The end of your article is not the end of your article. Confused? Well not for much longer, because I’m going to lift the lid on boxouts, side panels, sidebars and further information sections. But what exactly are these strange things and what should they contain?

When you view an article in a magazine, take a closer look at what lies in front of you. Is it just a series of paragraphs printed on the page, or is there something else? Articles need to be visual, to stimulate the readers' eyes as well as their minds, so editors often use pictures and images to help break up the page. However, this isn’t all they have at their disposal. It’s possible to add visual interest with text too – and that’s where a boxout, a sidebar or a further information panel comes in. In fact, practically every travel article has one or more of these and many regular articles do too. Take a look at any magazine and see.

A boxout is literally some extra information contained within a box, which the editor places somewhere on the page. It could be at the end of the article, down the side of the page, in the middle of the page, in fact it can be anywhere. You, as the writer, do not need to worry about its location. If you provide this information, you do not have to worry about the box. That’s not your job.

So what sort of information do these further information panels contain? Well, practically anything relating to your article. However, it needs to be short and succinct. This is not the place to write War and Peace! Think short paragraphs. Examine the magazines and you’ll see that bullet points are popular, as are numbers. Your article about how to de-clutter your house could include a boxout called, “Five Top Tips to De-clutter the Kitchen.”

Travel articles need to give readers information on how they can follow in your footsteps. In an article I produced for Heritage magazine, I had to provide the information for their ‘Follow the Trail’ sidebar. This contained all the information a reader needed to know to attend the visitor attraction I was writing about. It stated: 

- opening times, 
- admission prices, 
- how to get there, 
- what facilities were on offer, 
- what else to do in the vicinity that may be of interest.

If you’re writing an article about a health problem for example, consider offering a boxout containing information detailing website addresses, contact details for self-help support groups, charitable organisations or registered clubs. For the walking routes I provide to Country Walking magazine, the boxout has to contain details of how many stiles my readers will encounter, where to park, where they can find public toilets, which bus will get them to the start of the route and which maps to use.

Boxouts give practical information. Editors love articles that enable readers to act upon what they read and boxouts can help do that. Looking in the September issue of BBC CountryFile magazine, the writer, Mark Rowe, has written an article about spending a day with a Falconer, someone who uses birds of prey for flying display purposes, or to hunt small animals. There are three boxouts that accompany this article.

1. The Birds. The first boxout lists the six different birds of prey that the writer encountered on his day with the falconer. He provides a short paragraph, (no more than 50 words) explaining the different abilities of each bird.

2. A Brief History of Falconry. The clue is in the title – ‘brief’. It’s only 170 words, but it explains the art of falconry from its beginnings in early Egyptian civilisation through to its existence today.

3. Experience Raptors Up Close (raptor is another word for Falcon). This is the practical section for the reader. Here, the writer lists four places across the UK where readers can go and see falconry for themselves. There are full postal addresses, telephone numbers, website addresses and a brief paragraph (20 words) about what each facility offers.

So these boxouts or further information panels give the reader more - more information, more practical knowledge, or ways of finding out more for themselves. Remember, magazines love numbers so give readers six things to look out for when visiting an area, four shortcuts to a healthy, happy life or seven ways to recycle your garden waste.

Boxouts can work just as well for interview pieces too. I interviewed the writer of 100 Ways For A Chicken To Train Its Human and I sold the piece to Practical Poultry magazine. I included two boxouts with this piece, the first giving full details of the book (publisher, ISBN, price) and the second was the author’s own top ten tips for keeping chickens.

When writing an article that entails a lot of research, it’s tempting to include as many facts as you can. But this can make your article cumbersome and heavy going for the reader. The solution is the boxout. Whilst researching information about the Royal Yacht Britannia, I came across numerous fascinating facts. I wanted to use as many as I could, but chose carefully which ones to include within my article. The rest I put in a boxout, which I called ‘A Flotilla of Facts’. The title was a nice bit of alliteration, whilst also playing on the boating theme.

The writer who offers an editor boxout information in addition to the main article is providing added value to that editor. Do this, and you’re offering a better package than the writer who doesn’t supply this information. Give the editor more and publication of your article could be, as they say, ‘in the bag’. Or should that be, ‘in the box’?

Boxing Clever 

- Boxout information is short and succinct. Think bullet points.
- Give your boxouts a ‘title’ like this one. 
- Put them after your main article text, but before the final words – The End. 
- On your title page, quote your article length WITHOUT the boxouts. 
- You can mention on the title page that you have provided additional boxout information. 
- The editor may not use all the boxout information you provide. 
- And remember – don’t put your boxout text inside a box. That’s not your job!

Simon Whaley is a freelance writer and tutor for the Writers Bureau. He is a regular contributor to Country & Border Life and Country Walking magazines and hundreds of his articles have appeared in publications like Heritage, In Britain, Hotel, Self-Build & Design and The Lady. Simon tries to include boxouts with every article he writes! You can also follow Simon’s other writing tips and advice on his blog, which can be found at  




10 Top Tips for Making Your Website Work for You

If you are a budding author or have self-published a book that you want to sell, here are some tips on making your website work for you.

1. Make sure the site is clear and easy to navigate.

2. Your home page should be eye-catching but not so garish or ‘busy’ that it puts people off.

3. Try to change at least some of the content regularly so that visitors keep coming back. You can serialise a story so that people have to return for the next gripping instalment!

4. If you’re selling an e-book make it easy to order and pay. Also, supply the book in as many formats as possible to suit all tastes. If you’re not selling the book direct, provide a clear link to Amazon or wherever else they can buy it.

5. Make sure you proofread your site – nothing looks worse than a site that has lots of typos. It undermines your credibility as a serious author.

6. Why not incorporate a blog to make your site more interactive and encourage communication? But if you go down this route, ensure that you post regularly and don’t be long-winded. Again, you need to keep those visitors returning!

7. Tell people a bit about yourself – the professional you – but don’t bore them with your grandchildren’s exploits and what you had for supper last night.

8. Make samples of your work available online as a ‘taster’ so that people can see what your style and content is like.

9. Have plenty of good links to interesting – but non-competitive – writing sites. This will help to make your website more visible to the search engines.

10. Finally, spend enough time to get it right but don’t spend so much time tweaking content, blogging and interacting that you don’t get any writing done.

It really is essential to have a web presence these days. If you don’t feel confident to do it yourself (or you don’t have the time) then make sure that you get two or three quotes from the professionals before you choose one. Also, talk to them before going ahead to ensure that you speak the same language and always ask to see examples of websites they’ve designed for other people. 

Talking of societies here’s one for you, The Society of Literary Excellence, which is “dedicated to the art of great writing (and reading)”. Here’s what you can do on the website and there should be something for everyone amongst this little lot, “Dip a toe into TSLE pool of literature. Luxuriate, rest a while and replenish your soul. Read and write poetry, short stories, book reviews, speeches, bios and much more. Enter TSLE monthly short story and poetry contests. Submit manuscripts for TSLE annual competition. TSLE has many competitions check the contest page regularly for details. Become a member of TSLE and display your work on your own TSLE web page. Submit bios on famous authors, poets or personalities and post them for others to enjoy. Send in your favourite quotes, famous epitaphs, anecdotes or any other tit-bits you come across.”
This is a website dedicated to short story competitions and they describe themselves as “an initiative to invite absolutely anyone to write. Everyone likes to hear a story, and tell one too. We welcome writers of all ages, experiences and styles to get involved in our short story writing competitions.” You can register to be kept up to date with all the latest news and events plus online entry for featured competitions. The Outright Day, details in the WriteInvite tab, sounds fun and interesting.

Remember, if you run a website that you think may be of use to our readers, let me know. If I like it, I’ll publish a link to it giving you a free plug. What could be better than that?

END NOTE and a little inspiration


Could you write an article about ...

1st March 1953

Joseph Stalin suffers a stroke and dies three days later. 

2nd March 1969

Concorde is tested for the first time in Toulouse, France. 

3rd March


Hinamatsuri takes place in Japan – a day of celebration of girls.

4th March 1957

American Journalist and Pullitzer prize winner Jim Dwyer is born in New York City.

5th March 1836

The first .34 calibre production model revolver is manufactured by Samuel Colt.

6th March 1927

The silent science fiction film Metropolis by Fritz Lang is released.  

7th March


Nyepi, the Day of Silence, is observed in Indonesia.

8th March

International Women's Day.

9th March 2006

Enceladus – Saturn’s sixth largest moon – is found to have liquid water.  

10th March 1831 

King Louis Phillipe establishes the French Foreign Legion to assist his campaign in Algeria.

11th March 2004

Madrid, Spain is the scene of 192 killings as simultaneous explosions occur on rush hour trains.

12th March 1946

Liza Minnelli – best known for Cabaret – is born in Hollywood, California.  

13th March 1989

A geomagnetic storm knocks out the Hydro-Quebec power grid leaving six million people with no power for nine hours.

14th March

White Day, Japan and Korea – similar to St Valentine’s day with one difference, men only give gifts to women.


15th March

Ides of March – the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar by Brutus, Cassius and Casca.


16th March 1936

Marguerite Durand, a French journalist and feminist, dies leaving a legacy of feminist works, some dating back to the 17th century, to the city of Paris. 

17th March 

St Patrick's Day. 

18th March 1989

A 4,400 year old mummy is found in the Pyramid of Cheops, Egypt. 

19th March 1932 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge opens to the public.

20th March 

World Story Telling day.

21st March

World Poetry Day. 

22nd March 

World Water Day. 

23rd March 1956

The first Islamic Republic in the world is formed in Pakistan. 

24th March 

World Tuberculosis Day.  

25th March 1955

Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl is seized by US customs for being obscene – see end note. 

26th March 1934

The UK introduces the driving test.

27th March 1970

Concorde sets off on its first supersonic flight.

28th March 845

The Viking Ragnar Lodbrook sacks Paris and collects a huge ransom in exchange for leaving.

29th March 1973

The Vietnam war is finally over with the withdrawal of the last US troops. 

30th March 1842

Dr Crawford Long used anaesthesia for the first time to remove a tumor from the neck of his patient.

31st March 1889

The inauguration of the Eiffel Tower takes place.  


Judge for yourself as to whether you think Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl is obscene or not – be
warned, this is a really long poem. You can either read it here
or download for free and listen to it, read by Ginsberg himself, here

This month’s game is Dark Cut. This made me laugh as the aim of the game is to perform surgery whilst causing the least pain possible and trying not to kill the patient.

And finally, if you found something of use to you in this issue please pass the word on to all your writer friends – and even those who don’t! You never know, you might inspire them to take it up. They can sign up here

See you next month.

Shelley x

P.S. Don’t forget, Chapter and Verse - The Writers Bureau magazine written for students by students - is waiting for your submissions. It's a great way to get yourself in print and can be used in your portfolio of published work. The closing date for submissions is 15th October.      Details of the theme and how to send your work can be found if you log into the student area.

As usual, if you've any suggestions or would like to comment on anything you have read then please contact me at:




Annemarie Munro Writers Bureau's Student of the Year 2022

"I have seen my writing journey as an adventure: What can I write? What am I best at? What new aspects of writing can I discover and contribute towards? I have welcomed the wide range of modules covering different types of writing, challenging me to try new aspects in style and content, pushing me gently outside my comfort zone with encouragement.

"I signed up for the course in December 2020 as a Christmas present to myself and I started the first module in January 2021. I have had eight pieces published: three paid earning £1080 and a star letter where I won a £250 hotel voucher."

Annemarie Munro - Writers Bureau Student of the Year 2022

Read Annemarie's full story

Lou Carter"After completing the course I began writing as much as I could and in 2014 I was finally signed by my agent and within two months I had a contract with Bloomsbury.

To date I have nine picture book contracts all at various stages of publication. There Is No Dragon In This Story (Bloomsbury) and Pirate Stew (Orchard) both published last summer and Oscar The Hungry Unicorn (Orchard) is due to be released on Sept 20th 2018. "

Lou Carter

Sarah Leavesly"Since starting The Art of Writing Poetry course, I have been published many times under my pen name Sarah James, won competitions and made money."

Sarah Leavesley


Noel Gama"I was so excited about the immense potential of the Internet that I enrolled for yet another Writers Bureau course, ‘Writing for the Internet'."

Noel Gama


Gilian Atack

"The course has helped me write a story that evokes strong emotions; the constructive but motivational feedback I received from The Writers Bureau has helped me knock down the barriers to self-doubt. Recently, I held my first book launch where I talked about how and why I wrote my story."

Gillian Atack

Read Gillian's Story

Cathal Coyle

"My short-term intention is to continue combining writing for newspapers and magazines with my current job. I'm enjoying my writing 'sideline' but I may find as time goes on that I want to make the transition to full-time writer."

Cathal Coyle


Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

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