Traditional Publishing

Write it All Down by Cathy Rentzenbrink review – an arm around the shoulder for aspiring authors – Monday January 3, 2022

In the weeks after my grandfather died in 2019, I spent a melancholy few days sorting through the “Gramps” section of my filing cupboard, mainly the many letters he’d sent to me over the years. It was a way, I suppose, of continuing the 40-year conversation we’d had about books, of keeping his voice loud in my mind. One letter struck me with particular force, though – a page and a half in response to a short story I’d sent him aged 10. It was typical of his letters about my writing: warm yet forthright in its criticism, even at this early stage showing something that I came to recognise as a gift – the fact that he took me seriously as an author, that this was feedback from one writer to another.

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Using 'to be' weakens writing – Sunday January 2, 2022

"To be, or not to be, that is the question."

Prince Hamlet asked.

My answer: Not "to be."

Why? Because any form of "to be" — is, was, am, are, were, has been, etc. — delivers the weakest verb in the language. Sentences that perch on a "to be" verb tremble like a reed in a soft breeze.

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Tony Birch on writing true characters in fiction – Friday December 31, 2021

Paul Daley talks to Tony Birch about finding affection on the so-called margins of the inner city, the injustice of climate change and Blak humour. Birch also describes why he doesn’t view his fiction as having a political message

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Getting Feedback on Writing: Tricks that Help to Succeed – Thursday December 23, 2021

You have some audience if you are a writer. It is evident that you will get some feedback to your ideas and style of writing. There are different contexts for that: readers’ reviews, editor’s notes, comments from the peer writers, and others. Are you ready to acknowledge that some feedback is going to be negative?

Essay writers are always vulnerable. They are exposed to criticism, judgmental comments, and subjective opinions. It may happen that people will give harsh comments without any explanations. Getting feedback on writing can hurt, and you have to realize this aspect from the very beginning. If you are not ready to deal with negative remarks, you will not feel confident as a writer. Nevertheless, it can be complicated to get the feedback, it is important for you as a writer.

You cannot get an objective picture of what you do without knowing the opinions of other people. Do you want to make your writing more advanced? Then you can focus your primary attention on the areas mentioned in the review.

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The Naked Writer by G. Miki Hayden—in Action

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach – Wednesday December 22, 2021

No matter how gifted a writer you are today, you can become a much better writer than you are now. I know you can because I, myself, have transformed into a greatly improved writer over the years. Recently, I’ve been re-editing a lot of my work from the 1990s, to the mid-2010s; and looking at even more contemporary work of mine to just this year, I see how I’ve grown.

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How to Start Writing Fan Fiction – Wednesday December 15, 2021

I began writing fan fiction in around 2008, when I was 11 years old. So, since I’m 24 now, that’s more than half of my life ago! It was then that I loved Twilight and a few other fantasy novels so much that I was desperate to find more stories in that universe and Google searched for that exact thing. And to my surprise, there were tons of them on a magical but now outdated site called “Fan Fiction Dot Net.”

Through middle and high school, I wrote fanfic for a ton of different fandoms but mainly The Avengers. Fan fiction not only helped me practice character development but also come to terms with my queer identity through pairings I enjoyed, especially since I grew up in a fairly conservative area where being queer wasn’t something I could share without losing friends.

These days, I’m a reader of fanfic more so than a writer of it — in part because I have other writing projects that take up more of my time, and a day job, and non-writing hobbies that help me avoid burnout but also take up time, et cetera, et cetera. But I still enjoy reading it for stress relief and a reminder that writing can be purely for joy and personal fulfillment if you want it to be.

Fan fiction became my gateway to writing original stories. I’m adamant that it can play a positive role in practicing things like character development or even just finding a love of writing. These six tips will help you get started writing fan fiction if you’re a beginner and get the most out of your project.

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Is 'fiction novel' the 'pin number' of books? – Tuesday December 14, 2021

"It's a fiction novel."

When you hear that, does it go right by? Or do you think: "Did you, now? Did you drink some wet water?"

Not everyone has an opinion on "fiction novel," but those who do tend to have strong ones. Benjamin Dreyer, author of Dreyer's English and copy chief of Random House, calls the term "appalling." A novel, as he explains, is by definition a work of fiction. And yet, "[l]ately one encounters people referring to any full-length book, even a work of nonfiction, as a novel," Dreyer observes. "That has to stop."

He's not alone in the opinion. As author Casey McCormick discovered, among literary agents, "'fiction novel' is considered an automatic 'you shouldn't be querying if you don't know why this is wrong' thing." It shows you're clueless about something that is considered core knowledge: Novels have been fiction by definition for more than three centuries, since authors like Daniel Defoe first started writing long, coherent, fictional prose narratives.

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Can “Distraction-Free” Devices Change the Way We Write? – Monday December 13, 2021

For a long time, I believed that my only hope of becoming a professional writer was to find the perfect tool. A few months into my career as a book critic, I’d already run up against the limits of my productivity, and, like many others before me, I pinned the blame on Microsoft Word. Each time I opened a draft, I seemed to lose my bearings, scrolling from top to bottom and alighting on far-flung sentences at random. I found and replaced, wrote and rewrote; the program made fiddling easy and finishing next to impossible.

I’d fallen into the trap that the philosopher Jacques Derrida identified in an interview from the mid-nineties. “With the computer, everything is rapid and so easy,” he complained. “An interminable revision, an infinite analysis is already on the horizon.” Derrida hadn’t even contended with the sirens of online life, which were driving writer friends to buy disconnected laptops or to quarantine their smartphones in storage bins with timed locks. Zadie Smith touted Freedom, a subscription service that cut off the user’s devices—a chastity belt for procrastinators.

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From reporter to the corner office: a self-publisher’s maiden voyage – Monday December 13, 2021

Self-publishing, once derided as ‘vanity publishing’ reserved for losers who couldn’t find a traditional publisher, has gone mainstream.

Four simple questions recently changed my life, and I hope they’ll change yours, too.

As a journalist, freelance magazine writer and author, I’ve been working for publishers for 50 years. They were shadowy figures in suits, sometimes glimpsed in the elevator, but rarely stepping into the newsroom. Often, they were just a name on my paycheck.

Nevertheless, they controlled my life, and the lives of those in the newsroom, and not just through the wages they paid. While leaving editorial decisions to editors, (usually) they ruled over the business side: printing, marketing, promotion, distribution, and all the other work required for the daily miracle of newspapers, monthly deadlines for magazines, and those for books that may stretch for years.

This fall, dissatisfied with the marketing and promotion of my last three books, I decided that it was time for a change. I wanted to control my own publishing destiny.

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Michael Pietsch Looks at Publishing’s (Near) Future – Saturday December 11, 2021

The publishing industry had an unexpectedly good year in 2020, despite the many challenges created by the pandemic. In the essay below, Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch uses lessons from last year to make some educated guesses about where the industry may be heading in the near term.

The essay is part of a larger piece that appears in the Publishers Weekly Book Publishing Almanac 2022: A Master Class in the Art of Bringing Books to Readers. Published last month by Skyhorse Publishing and written in cooperation with PW, the almanac is designed to help authors, editors, agents, publicists, and anyone else working in book publishing understand the changing landscape of the business.

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