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What Does It Mean to Be a "Real" Writer?

newyorker.com – Thursday July 4, 2019

Talent is like obscenity: you know it when you see it. It’s something that can’t be defined, only recognized—an irreducible and unteachable entity, like charisma or humor, and its confirmation all the more coveted for being so. In his fundamental study, “The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing,” Mark McGurl detailed how, in postwar America, anointing and cultivating literary talent became the purview of creative-writing programs and how, in turn, certain modes of writing came to be privileged above others. With this professionalization—indeed, institutionalization—of a nation’s art form, three injunctions popularized by the M.F.A. became holy writ. Write what you know; show, don’t tell; find your voice. Of this trinity, only the second speaks explicitly to craft and seems readily practicable. It’s the first and last dicta, however, that have proved the most influential, not through their utility but through their confounding simplicity. The question isn’t whether you should cultivate knowledge or voice. The question instead is a screamed “Yes, but how?”

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Why Fiction And Non-Fiction Are More Related Than You Think

forbes.com – Wednesday July 3, 2019

In my late twenties, after graduate school and a few semesters teaching English at the College of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas, I decided to spend a period of time writing fiction. My artist mom, Stella Waitzkin, had a messy art studio on 14th Street across from S.Klein’s at Union Square in Manhattan, mostly a place where she stored her large abstract canvases. She loaned it to me to kick off my career as a novelist. It was a chilly soulful place—just perfect for an aspiring writer. My next door neighbor was an Andy Warhol actor of some acclaim, Taylor Mead. Just passing Taylor in the hall on my way into Mom’s studio was inspiring or should have been. He had the most astonishing drooping face that always mirrored a mixture of emotions. Maybe I could write a story about Taylor Mead…but no, that’s not what I wanted to do. That would be cheating, or so I imagined. I wanted to create a grand design of a novel like Tolstoy. So I blasted jazz most afternoons while I sat at my desk trying to pull arresting plots from my brain. Forget Tolstoy, I couldn’t think of a single plot.

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The Biggest 5 Mistakes When Self-Publishing A Book

forbes.com – Sunday June 30, 2019

When I first set out for a book deal, I was apprehensive—and for good reason: by all accounts, it’s tough to sell a book these days.

There’s a reason people think of the word “struggling” when they think of writers, and I’ve been on a mission to prove to myself that this doesn’t have to be the case.

I either got lucky or happened to have hit on something because, after a nerve-wrangling month, my agent let me know that Hay House—among a couple of other publishing houses—made an offer on my book and soon I had a bidding war, which inspired a solid book deal.

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Death of the novel is greatly exaggerated, say UK booksellers

theguardian.com – Saturday June 29, 2019

The death of the novel has been pronounced for more than a century, in a series that stretches back from Will Self through VS Naipaul as far as Jules Verne. But the latest rumblings of its demise, which come courtesy of a drop in fiction sales in 2018, have been comprehensively dismissed by the books world, with new books from Margaret Atwood and Philip Pullman expected to drive a return to growth this year.

The Publishers Association’s yearbook suggested this week that sales of fiction dropped in physical formats last year, down 7% to £359m. The fall was not offset by a 4% rise in digital fiction sales, to £229m, with overall fiction sales down 3% in 2018 to £588m.

By contrast, sales for non-fiction rose 1%, to £954m, with digital revenues up 10% and physical sales remaining level. The Publishers Association noted a “standout” performance from non-fiction, which it said had grown by almost 30% in the last five years, as well as the “phenomenal” growth of audiobooks, up 43% between 2017 and 2018.

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Fall in Love with Criticism

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach

firstwriter.com – Wednesday June 26, 2019

Let’s raise our glasses to our true friends who can tell us that our participles are dangling and that our story is too soft. And let’s try to be the type of writers who are brave enough to accept and utilize criticism!–Nancy French

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Judith Krantz shared her formula for writing millions-selling ‘sex and shopping’ novels

thenewdaily.com.au – Monday June 24, 2019

When Princess Daisy author Judith Krantz was writing her steamy million-selling 1970s and ‘80s blockbusters, one of her iron-clad rules was that at least one character had to lose their virginity.

Another was that nothing was to be held back.

“If you’re going to write a good erotic scene, you have to go into details,” Krantz, who died of natural causes on June 22 at her Bel Air home at the age of 91, told the Los Angeles Times in 1990.

“I don’t believe in thunder and lightning and fireworks exploding. I think people want to know what’s happening.”

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4 Must-Read Dark Fiction Magazines

bookriot.com – Thursday June 20, 2019

Literary magazines need love too. Which is why we like to celebrate them here on Book Riot! We’ve had a Literary Magazines 101 to get you started, discussed general short fiction magazinesscience fiction/fantasy magazines, and we’ve even had a how-to post on reading (and writing for) science fiction magazines in particular. But today I want to give a little love to my current obsession: dark fiction. Though you can find dark fiction stories in a lot of different literary magazines, including most of the SFF magazines above, this post is a tribute to those literary magazines that specialize in the macabre, whether it’s horror, dark fantasy, or positively grim science fiction.

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In dropping Linda Fairstein, the book industry reveals its cowardice

nypost.com – Sunday June 16, 2019

When Galileo Galilei finished writing his last work, “Two New Sciences,” he had trouble finding a publisher.

Galileo had been branded a heretic, and his work was prohibited by the Inquisition. A patron arranged for the book to be published in Venice and then chickened out. The House of Elzevir (whose name lives on in the modern publisher Elsevier) arranged for the manuscript to be smuggled out of Italy and published in the Netherlands, then as now a stronghold of free thinking.

That defiance could very well have brought a death sentence. But a few publishers once had the grit to stand up to the Inquisition.

In our time, most of them cannot even stand up to Twitter, a measly and miserable inquisition of another kind.

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Short-story writers are infinitely more creative than novelists

irishtimes.com – Saturday June 15, 2019

“I deeply detest short-story collections – grotty binbags stuffed with the aborted novels of writers too lazy to bring their progeny to full term.” That was Frankie Gaffney’s intro to his review of June Caldwell’s Room Little Darker, which he went on to praise, but I can’t help thinking some novelists should put an end to their flabby oeuvres. Modern novelists remind me of disreputable farmers injecting their cows with growth hormones to earn a few extra euros. By Frankie’s assessment, if I had been assiduous enough to gestate my short stories, I’d have 41 novels by now, which would be some going.

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DIY: How to Avoid Self-Publishing Scams

publishersweekly.com – Saturday June 15, 2019

The booming growth of self-publishing has been great news for authors as well as providers of all variety of self-publishing services, including editing, designing, and consulting. But as services have proliferated, promising all variety of benefits and recipes for boosting sales, it’s more important than ever for indie authors to have a discerning eye when seeking out assistance. Being able to identify when a particular service is overcharging—or just overpromising what they are actually able to deliver—is an important skill for any author to master.

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