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Writers' News

Salman Rushdie: allow writers to create characters outside of their own experience – Monday October 23, 2023

Booker prize-winning author said that if ‘only women can write about women and straight people about straight people’ then it signals the ‘death of art’

Salman Rushdie has said that if authors are only allowed to write characters that mirror themselves and their own experiences, “the art of the novel ceases to exist”.

“If we’re in a world where only women can write about women and only people from India can write about people from India and only straight people can write about straight people … then that’s the death of the art,” the novelist said, according to the Times.

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Should You Write Something Different?

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach – Sunday October 22, 2023

The obvious answer to that simple question would seem to be yes, but it’s not the answer I’m going to give you—since I care about the outcome for you. I’ll, instead, give you a qualified yes and tell you to write something different than everything that’s out there if you can’t help yourself—if the urge is too strong to resist.

Rather a while back I wrote a wholly different novel about Jesus the Christ. Quite different, in fact. That is to say an actually spiritual novel based on my training in a secret spiritual lineage: an original novel. (Which you can find currently on Smashwords—Jesus of Nazareth.) I knew I had only a few publishing houses I might approach and very few agents, but I was impelled to produce this rather different novel due to the materialistic understandings offered in a few contemporary novels. Jesus starting out as an anti-Roman revolutionary? Seriously? I had to utter a resounding no to something missing the mark by that far. Or a Jesus so fully human that not a touch of the divine might be found within his suffering. Puzzling. From a Christian publisher, I got “If we want a book about Jesus, we’ll have one of our own people write it.” So then, forget about originality and creativity. Apparently people only want their own opinions played back. Yeah, no surprises there.

Or picture me hunting down an agent amid the negatives directed at my latest production of human wisdom (if I may say so myself). An agent I knew through other means told me, “You write well, but I don’t like the book.” Yes, I’m quoting. Never mind “Not for my list. Best of luck.” You know, the typical phrases that agents use to convey a pinch of faux humility. This guy had none of that.

The book my agent acquaintance hated (though he probably read no more than a page or two), is Rescued, now out on Amazon from an honest-to-goodness publisher, having been rejected by the very few agents willing to even have a peek. And all would no doubt have thrust book two in the Rebirth series, Re-Live, aside as well—a wholly different book from what is being published these days, certainly suited to follow Rescued, both presenting transforming protagonists who are deep into the martial arts and have some appearance of contemporary heroes. Are you, like me, the victim of your own inspiration and what an editor I listened to recently called the flatness of our culture?

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Want to write a novel? National Novel Writing Month celebrates 25th anniversary – Saturday October 21, 2023

On November 1st, hundreds of thousands of people around the world will suddenly start crouching over their laptops, keyboards, notebooks, journals and tablets as they try to destroy and rebuild relationships, craft the perfect murder, create a thrilling adventure, devise a winning courtroom argument, help plucky kids discover their true destinies and find new and unusual ways to dispose of a body.

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, and this year marks the 25th frantic, caffeine-driven year for millions of otherwise perfectly sane people. If you've always wanted to write but lacked motivation, commitment or plot, that pressure has now been replaced with a simple deadline. The event begins at 12:01 on Nov. 1 and it stops at the stroke of midnight, Nov. 30.

Your goal: producing a 50,000-word novel in a frustrating, exhilarating time during which you’ll push yourself to the limit of your endurance and get over the psychological fear of writing a book by whomping out something that at least looks like one.

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New Publisher Listing: Sapere Books – Friday October 20, 2023

Looking for full-length Historical Fiction (including Crime, Mysteries, Thrillers and Sagas), Action and Adventure (Military, Naval and Aviation Fiction), Crime Fiction, Mysteries, Thrillers, and History. Currently only accepting previously published books that are either out of print, or not yet available as ebooks.

[See the full listing]

Craft your scary story with these 4 writing tips from Bryant’s Meher Manda – Thursday October 19, 2023

Whether it’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Stephen King’s The Shining, horror stories have spellbound readers since Greek and Roman times. The genre seeks to create feelings of fear, dread, and terror, and takes skill and patience to perfect. 

“Horror is most successful when it unsettles the reader with the ordinary,” says History, Literature, and Arts Lecturer Meher Manda, MFA, who’s teaching the College of Arts and Sciences’ “Fiction Writing Workshop.” “People talk about Stephen King as the great bastion of American horror, and many of his novels revel in suburban disturbance where this well-meaning town of well-meaning people has a darker underbelly.” 

As a writer, editor, and cultural critic, Manda enjoys horror — especially the stories that shock readers into imagining fears they never knew they had. To help individuals who are creating their own bone-chilling stories, she offers the four following writing strategies. 

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Outside Frankfurt’s LitAG: A New Report on Agenting – Thursday October 19, 2023

A new survey on American literary agents’ experience surfaces concerns about the business model’s viability, diversity, and burnout in a demanding job.

‘An Industry in Flux’

This year’s Literary Agents and Scouts Center has been a quick success, with all 584 tables sold out long before the fair opened.

With its tables and chairs turning quickly between rights meetings, a lot of lore—almost a romanticism—has made itself part of the mystique of Frankfurter Buchmesse.

Easily one of the biggest smiles in the LitAg this year will be on the face of Gina Winje, the literary agent whose Winge Agency in Porsgrunn, Norway, represents Jon Fosse, who recently won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Winje was touched, she said, to be hearing from co-agents, scouts, co-publishers and others in the industry: “I’m overwhelmed by the warmth and happiness,” she told Publishing Perspectives.

But as much as the industry understands and appreciates the LitAg as “the beating heart” of the world’s largest international book fair, a report that arrived early this month indicates that many literary agents may be struggling in their work as the industry evolves, many markets’ economies go into flux, and making ends meet gets harder.

Literary agents—so critical to the international industry’s viability and health—could use some attention, as members of the profession report they’re experiencing more burnout than before, not least because the job entails so much “invisible labor,” for which agents aren’t paid.

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Inque Magazine is a literary force that will memorialise our time – Wednesday October 18, 2023

Editor-in-chief Dan Crowe, and Pentagram partner, designer and former New York Times Magazine art director Matt Willey uncover the process behind issue two of the magazine that will only have ten.

Who doesn’t feel it? Being perplexed at how we’re going to define this generation. Living in the age of information, where stories from near and far are accessible at just a click, and the allure of the most revered crumbles under increased access to their lives and methods, it’s no wonder that a highlight reel may not be so easy to assemble. But, in the case of Inque magazine, literature is a powerful force that can remind us of the power of our collective now, in just ten years, with a projected ten issues, in a feat to memorialise the 2020s. “Every issue is its own adventure; tracking down new writers, or finally getting in touch with someone I’ve always wanted to work with,” Dan Crowe, the magazine’s editor-in-chief tells us of his journey to commissioning the likes of Annie Ernaux, Sheila Heti and Stephen Fry for its second issue.

Dan, as with all of us, has seen an increase in writers, publishers and magazines throughout the literary sphere. “But, sometimes I wish for there to be an explosion of a new and interconnected group of authors, like a new Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes and Salman Rushdie hegemony, a diverse and younger school,” he tells us. “And, this seems to occur when there is a coherent force to fight against, a common enemy, and everything just feels so fractured now.” In an effort to bind this generation’s efforts, designer Matt Willey creates with the knowledge that Inque may never make sense until the decade-long ride is over. “It takes on a shape; there’s a beginning, middle and end. Like in Agnes’ photo booth series; she will change over the course of a decade, she will age, life will change and things will be different,” Matt adds.

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The next wave of indie publishing – Tuesday October 17, 2023

The founders of 5 independent publications join Document to discuss the past, present, and future of the little magazine

“It’s not exactly a fun time to start a magazine, nor is it a convenient one,” wrote Rebecca Panovka and Kiara Barrow in the inaugural issue of The Drift, a leftist literary magazine founded in 2020. “A magazine is by definition an optimistic, social project. The list of reasons for despair is long. The list of arguments against starting a magazine isn’t terribly short.”

Three years later, the statement still rings true—but it hasn’t stopped a new generation of founders from doing just that. From worker-run journalism outlets like Hell Gate and 404 Media to online publications like BylineDirt, and Cashmere to print-only projects like The Whitney Review of New Writing and Forever Mag, a wave of grassroots publishing projects are springing up to fill the gaps in today’s media ecosystem—not in spite of the existential crisis facing modern media, but because of it.

“Working in media, you get this suffocating feeling that you’re expendable—that at any point, your Slack emoji could disappear, and you have to return your laptop at 5 p.m.,” says journalist Max Rivlin-Nadler. It’s why he co-founded Hell Gate, a scrappy, subscriber-funded news outlet that is run by its worker-owners, all of whom earn the same salary and contribute equally to the company’s editorial direction. “We were witnessing a real disconnect in the industry: The people doing the work were being treated as disposable, at the same time that everyone was like, We need journalism more than ever,” says Nadler. “We thought, What if a company’s resources just went toward journalism, and it wasn’t beholden to private equity firms or tantrum-prone billionaires? What if we did it ourselves?

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You wrote a book! Now make a viral TikTok about it. – Sunday October 15, 2023

Authors can no longer succeed in their craft by writing alone. They must embody multiple roles: writers, publicists, digital marketers, and social media managers. They must be rabid in their self-promotion and steadfast in their personal branding. They have to produce viral tweets, create viral TikTok videos, and optimize their Instagram accounts so that they can get paid to do the work they want to do. 

In 2023, writing a book is the easy part.

That's not to say that self-promotional branding is a novel concept for writers. In the 18th and 19th centuries, authors pulled off some wild stunts to build their brands in newspaper column inches. In the 1920s, Virginia Woolf went shopping with VogueErnest Hemingway did photo ops on safaris and fishing tripsJohn Steinbeck posed for beer ads. And beyond that kind of classic self-branding, promotion in the 1900s involved a significant amount of personal networking. Anne Sexton, for instance, became a literary star not only because she was an exceptional poet, but also because she was the daughter and wife of salesmen and excellent at self-promotion, as Joy Lanzendorfer pointed out in LitHub. Sexton, who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967, tried aggressively to get her work seen. She was ambitious, sending her poems to dozens of publications at a time and hunting down poets she admired, flirting with them, and then demanding they mentor her. 

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Frankfurt-Bound Nermin Mollaoğlu Opens a Press in the UK – Saturday October 14, 2023

It’s not every day that a literary agent tells you she’s opening a publishing house. But that’s the case today (October 12), with a message from one of the best-known regulars in Frankfurter Buchmesse‘s (October 18 to 22) sold-out Literary Agents and Scouts Center, the “LitAg.”

Nermin Mollaoğlu—who tells Publishing Perspectives that her Kalem Agency in Istanbul now has 13 team members—is working with Tasja Dorkofikis and Geraldine D’Amico to establish Linden Editions in London, a publishing house with a mission to promote translation, internationalism, and “cross-cultural understanding.”

“It came out of our joint desire to publish outstanding literary works of fiction, narrative nonfiction, reportage, and essays, as well as some modern classics primarily in translation from Europe, the francophone world, and the Mediterranean region.”

In an exchange with us today, Mollaoğlu says, “I will definitely go on with Kalem. I love working as an agent.”

But the new press, she says, “will give me more opportunity to try another side of agenting, as we’ll buy some titles for the world rights and I’ll be selling them to the world, as well.”

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