Traditional Publishing

Writers' News

Peter James reveals thought process in writing his novels – Tuesday May 30, 2023

Best-selling writer Peter James is better known for words than numbers and has confessed he didn't care much for maths at school.

But now the Grace author has teamed up with the charity National Numeracy - and revealed how numbers have become key to his work.

In an exclusive interview to support National Numeracy Day, Brighton-born Peter gave a unique insight into how he writes his best-selling books.

How do you use numeracy in your work?
When I’m starting a new book – and I’ve done this for years – I set myself a target for each week. I find the first 20 pages are very slow because I go back and back and back, and then as I progress with a book it gets quicker and then towards the end it slows down again.

I started the 20th Roy Grace novel on April 24 so for that Saturday, 29, I put a target of page 5. Then the following week, page 15, then the following week, page 30. Then I go slightly bigger – up to page 50. Every book of mine is around about 450 pages long.

Depending on if it’s a busy week or a quiet week I’ll set myself a target of either ten, 15, 20 or 25 pages. I go through week by week until I get to what I call ‘page 500’ and that’s the finish. So at the moment, the target for page 500 is November 25. My pages are double spaced and about 250 words.

Each week, if I’m over my target I feel really happy but if I’m under then I know I’ve got to write more the next week. It really works for me, I can tell where I am every week in terms of the schedule for the book. Numeracy really helps me with keeping on track in terms of scheduled writing.

[Read the full article]

Writing for TV is nothing like you (probably) thought – Monday May 29, 2023

The entertainment industry’s fourth wall is crumbling as more than 11,000 unionized writers picket for the first time since the 2007 strike, venting more than a decade’s worth of frustrations about the experience of working behind the scenes in Hollywood.

TV writers, whose projects are most immediately affected by the strike, have been trying to undo misconceptions about their jobs, which they say were never particularly glamorous even in the heyday of network TV. In the age of Netflix and Disney Plus, many writers say, grueling workloads and vanishing job security threaten the entire profession.

The Washington Post spoke to writers, union organizers with the Writers Guild of America, studio representatives and experts to debunk some persistent myths about TV writing.

[Read the full article]

Rebecca F Kuang rejects idea authors should not write about other races – Monday May 29, 2023

The author of Babel and The Poppy War, Rebecca F Kuang, has said she finds the idea that authors should only write about characters of their own race “deeply frustrating and pretty illogical”.

Speaking at the Hay festival, the author, who was born in China but moved to the US when she was four, said that there is a “really weird kind of identity politics going on in American publishing”. She is “sympathetic” to an extent, as it is coming from “decades of frustration of seeing the same racist, uncritical, under-researched, shallow stereotypes”.

The problem is, Kuang thinks, is that this has now “spiralled into this really strict and reductive understanding of race”. As a result, a movement that began as a call for more authentic stories about marginalised communities “gets flipped around and weaponised against the marginalised writers to pigeonhole them into telling only certain kinds of stories”.

[Read the full article]

My Novel Was Rejected By 41 Literary Agents Before Becoming a Bestseller. Here are 8 Truths About Perseverance I Want Everyone With a Big Dream to Know – Sunday May 28, 2023

When I tell my story, it’s the ending that gets attention.

New York Times bestselling author! Both of my books are being turned into movies! I’m adapting my first novel for the screen! Five separate seven-figure deals!

It’d be easy to conclude that with all that incredible success, the path to get here must have been smooth and clear.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As a young twentysomething, I spent years pursuing my Broadway dreams in New York, which ended with me and my embarrassingly thin resume buying a one-way ticket back home to Arizona. My mid-twenties were spent sleeping in the twin bed in my childhood bedroom at my parent’s house, trying to figure out what a person with a degree in musical theatre (who failed at working in musical theatre) was supposed to do with the rest of her life. For years, I wrote “figure out my life” on every to-do list I created. I meant it sincerely. It never got scratched off.

[Read the full article]

I tried the AI novel-writing tool everyone hates, and it’s better than I expected – Wednesday May 24, 2023

Last week, generative fiction tool Sudowrite launched a system for writing whole novels. Called Story Engine, it’s another shot in the ongoing culture war between artists and AI developers — one side infuriated by what feels like a devaluation of their craft, the other insisting that it’s a tool for unlocking creativity and breaking writer’s block. Neither answered the question I was really curious about: does it work?

Well, I didn’t take on Sudowrite’s pitch of a full novel in a few days. But over the weekend, I generated a novella written entirely inside Story Engine — it’s called The Electric Sea at the AI’s suggestion, and you can read the whole thing on Tumblr.

I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I’m an enthusiastic, if strictly amateur, fiction writer. I wrote somewhere north of 150,000 words of unpublished fiction last year, so Sudowrite’s “break writer’s block” pitch isn’t that compelling to me. Writing, however, is not a task I hold inherently sacred. The field has a long and proud tradition of hastily written profit-driven trash, from Ed Wood’s churned-out erotica to the infamous pulp publisher Badger Books, known for handing authors a cover and asking them to write a book around it. I enjoy seeing where large language models’ strengths and weaknesses lie, and I’ve long been fascinated by challenges like NaNoGenMo, which asked writers to create an AI-generated novel in the days before modern generative AI. So on Saturday morning I paid for 90,000 words of Sudowrite text, booted it up, and “wrote” a roughly 22,500-word cyberpunk novella by Sunday afternoon.

[Read the full article]

New Literary Agent Listing: Vanessa Campos – Monday May 22, 2023

Looking to help bring more diverse voices to the business, entrepreneurship, and self-help publishing space.

[See the full listing]

5 Tips on Finding a Literary Agent For the Book You've Written – Monday May 22, 2023

When I teach my Intro to Fiction Writing class at Closing Credits, I always start by telling students what to expect in the world of publishing. There’s not much point in writing a book if you don’t know what you’re going to do with it. Inevitably, we end up talking about agents, the gatekeepers of traditional publishing. Here are some tips I hand out.

Figure Out If You Really Need an Agent

I don’t mean “ go straight to the publishers.” They will throw your work in the trash. I mean, is your work better suited for self-release?

The example I always use is Chuck Tingle. There was always a market for weirdly-worded dinosaur erotica with badly-photoshopped covers and overt political commentary, but no agent was ever going to be able to sell that. The industry is focused on a handful of surefire moneymakers. It turns on a $100 bill, not a dime.

If your work is particularly weird or off the beaten path, you may be better off investing in yourself. Agents are for market-ready works.

[Read the full article]

Even Without Book Bans, Publishing Has a YA Issue – Sunday May 21, 2023

Young Adult (YA) literature has found itself under attack from an increase in book banning and censorship. Right-wing groups like Moms for Liberty have set their sights on YA literature, and have succeeded in removing countless titles from school districts and local libraries. Some of the most common targets are books that address topics like abuse, racism, and LGBTQIA issues. Right-wing groups raise outrage by wrongfully classifying YA books as “pornography” to make them inaccessible to readers of all ages. However, book banning is only part of the genre’s continued fight for survival.

Those who oppose YA literature are definitely part of the problem, but those who support it may also be unintentionally harming it. So many adults are reading, publicly reviewing, and commenting on YA literature that YA books are now tailored to adults instead of teens. There’s also the issue of adult books mislabeled as YA literature, and vice versa. The problem isn’t that kids can’t read or handle any content deemed “adult.” It’s that adults and young readers are two completely separate markets, and the needs and interests of each ought to be evaluated separately. Additionally, price hikes in books make YA literature inaccessible to their target audience.

[Read the full article]

Another Major Publisher Caught Using AI-Generated Cover Image on Bestselling Author’s Work – Thursday May 18, 2023

If publishers will cut costs for Sarah J. Maas, no one stands a chance.

We, and many others, have already written at length about the threat AI poses to writers and artists, not because the AI-generated works make good art, but because studios and organizations will use them to undercut and get away with not paying artists. The worst part is that they’re already doing it: Tor got caught buying AI art for an upcoming novel, a U.K. Literary Festival recently used AI-Generated promotional art, and Studios are already trying to use AI to replace their striking WGA writers.

Therefore, this most recent incident isn’t surprising, but it is disappointing.

[Read the full article]

The 'publishing less' conundrum – Thursday May 18, 2023

Yes, publishers are overstretched — but fewer books won’t really help.

Do we need to care for authors better, rethink staff workloads and pay more attention to each book? Yes. But the short answer to "can we publish less, but better?" is: not necessarily.

Most would agree we don’t want lists reduced, teams shrunk and only safe titles published. This wouldn’t be serving readers, writers, the industry or society. So what we need is a situation where authors are better communicated with, books are given more attention, and the changed nature of publishing roles is recognised.

As someone who has tried to do exactly that, from the luxury of a fresh start with a new company, it’s worth highlighting our aims and our realisations. 

[Read the full article]

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