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Writers' News

Lasting reputations: why have some authors dominated the publishing industry?

theboar.org – Sunday December 31, 2023

Life Before ManThe Cement GardenGrimus. Whilst this may just seem like a list of books published some five decades ago, all these books have one thing in common. Their authors, who found fame in the 1970s, are still being revered for their literary efforts in 2023. Atwood, McEwan, Rushdie – all stalwarts of the “Old Gang” who are still finding their books in best-seller lists today. When so many new authors are fighting to be seen on bookshop shelves and to be promoted on social media, it may seem absurd that we are still returning to books by older authors, but nevertheless, their works have a longevity that have allowed them to continue selling thousands of copies in the 21st century, whether this seems detrimental to the literary industry or not. 

The 1970s was a time of change across the literary scene. In the backdrop of a more turbulent political and social landscape, authors were honing in on a reflective style with texts encompassing an awareness of the changing world they formed a part of. The youthful voice was being captured with the emergence of upcoming authors like Toni Morrison and Martin Amis. Literature was being used as a vehicle for political and social change. Yet, ironically, the call for modernising which was ever present in the 1970s is something that is being halted today by the authors of that era outlasting many of their contemporaries. 

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Writers: Now Is The Time To Set Your Goals For The New Year

nofilmschool.com – Saturday December 30, 2023

As the New Year unfolds, it's a time of reflection and renewal, not just in our personal lives but also in our creative endeavors.

For writers, this period holds a unique significance. The turn of the year is an ideal moment to set intentions, to chart a course for the months ahead in their writing journey.

Every December, I sit down and make a list of what I want out of the New Year, and I think it has helped me move my career forward in wonderful ways.

So, I'm here to share that strategy with you.

Whether you're a seasoned author or just starting to dabble in the art of words, setting intentions for the New Year can be a transformative practice.

In this post, we'll delve into why it's particularly crucial for writers to set their intentions and offer practical strategies to ensure these goals are not just set but also achieved.

Let's get started.

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The Fine Art of the Paperback Makeover

nytimes.com – Thursday December 28, 2023

Redesign? Relaunch? Regret? Take a look at the ways publishers aimed to seduce new audiences by changing up the covers of notable books.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” the humorist Will Rogers once said — which tells you he wasn’t a book publishing executive. In that world, the paperback edition is the second chance, an opportunity to market a book at a lower price and, in many cases, with new cover imagery aimed at new audiences.

Goals can include getting big-box stores to display the book, Instagram browsers to pause before swiping, or readers to rethink what’s between those covers. “The shift in perception can be quite dramatic or quite subtle, but the energies are redirected,” says Mitzi Angel, the president and publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Here are the stories behind eight intriguing 2023 paperbacks (and a sneak peek at the new look for Eleanor Catton’s novel “Birnam Wood,” coming in 2024), with behind-the-scenes insight into what you see — and what you may not, unless you pay close attention.

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Skyhorse Is Buying Regnery Publishing

publishersweekly.com – Saturday December 23, 2023

Salem Media Group’s sale of its Regnery Publishing division, which was said to be dead in late November, has been revived. On December 21, Skyhorse Publishing announced that it had signed an agreement to purchase Regnery, one of America’s best-known publishers of conservative authors. Terms were not disclosed.

“We are so pleased to acquire this legendary publishing company, founded over 75 years ago, and are committed to building on the strong foundation that the Regnery staff has developed,” said Skyhorse president and publisher Tony Lyons in a statement. Regnery, which has a list of about 1,550 titles, will become an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing and will maintain its own identity, Skyhorse said. According to Skyhorse, Regnery’s sales in 2023 are projected to be approximately $10 million.

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Farnham Literary Festival launches ‘First Five Thousand’ writing competition

petersfieldpost.co.uk – Thursday December 21, 2023

Farnham Literary Festival has launched a new ‘First Five Thousand’ writing competition.

Writers aged 18 and over are challenged to submit the first 5,000 words of their novel with a 300-word synopsis. The work does not have to be finished.

One lucky winner will receive £100 and a literary critique of their work, the runner up will get £75 and three shortlisted entries will receive £50.

The judging panel consists of Louise Morrish, BA Paris, Gill Thompson and Melanie Whipman.

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Romance publishers to launch string of 'spicy' books aimed at TikTok users

itv.com – Thursday December 21, 2023

The popular romance publishers Mills & Boon are set to launch a string of "spicy" books targeting TikTok users.

From 2024, two titles will be released each month under the umbrella series, named Afterglow, starting in January.

Afterglow will offer “a trend-led, trope-filled list of books with diverse, authentic and relatable characters, a wide array of voices and representations, real world trials and tribulations, all the tropes you could possibly want," says Katie Barnes-Wallis, marketing director at Mills & Boon.

This includes "small-town settings, fake relationships, grumpy versus sunshine, enemies to lovers - and all with a generous dose of spice in every story”.  

According to the Mills & Boon website, it sells a romantic fiction book every ten seconds, but it's yet to capture the hearts of contemporary readers.

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The Year That A.I. Came for Culture

newrepublic.com – Thursday December 21, 2023

The events of 2023 showed that A.I. doesn’t need to be that good in order to do damage.

This March, news broke that the latest artificial intelligence models could pass the LSAT, SAT, and AP exams. It sparked another round of A.I. panic. The machines, it seemed, were already at peak human ability. Around that time, I conducted my own, more modest test. I asked a couple of A.I. programs to “write a six-word story about baby shoes,” riffing on the famous (if apocryphal) Hemingway story. They failed but not in the way I expected. Bard gave me five words, and ChatGPT produced eight. I tried again, specifying “exactly six words,” and received eight and then four words. What did it mean that A.I. could best top-tier lawyers yet fail preschool math?

A year since the launch of ChatGPT, I wonder if the answer isn’t just what it seems: A.I. is simultaneously impressive and pretty dumb. Maybe not as dumb as the NFT apes or Zuckerberg’s Metaverse cubicle simulator, which Silicon Valley also promised would revolutionize all aspects of life. But at least half-dumb. One day A.I. passes the bar exam, and the next, lawyers are being fined for citing A.I.-invented laws. One second it’s “the end of writing,” the next it’s recommending recipes for “mosquito-repellant roast potatoes.” At best, A.I. is a mixed bag. (Since “artificial intelligence” is an intentionally vague term, I should specify I’m discussing “generative A.I.” programs like ChatGPT and MidJourney that create text, images, and audio. Credit where credit is due: Branding unthinking, error-prone algorithms as “artificial intelligence” was a brilliant marketing coup.) 

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Not taking “no” for an answer

niemanstoryboard.org – Thursday December 21, 2023

A freelancer persisted through multiple rejections and 17 edits to land an article in a favorite magazine

I’ve been both accepted and rejected by Nature Magazine.

For the same submission.

It all started when I met a bumblebee veterinarian at the UPOD Writer’s Conference this past January.

Some people keep a bucket list.  I keep a publishing bucket list.

Nature had been on my publishing bucket list for pretty much forever. I had no real business being in Nature. I write a lot of personal, usually humorous essays for places like HuffPost and Newsweek; quirky, in-depth, forgotten-by-time pieces I call history-mysteries; culture/trend stories, including book reviews; and occasionally a health story, though not much in the sciences, and Nature is the creme de la creme of science publications.

But I had gotten smug of late, which I blame on my incongruous acceptance a month earlier of a lengthy, history-mystery piece in Smithsonian Magazine, another magazine in which I have no real business appearing.  And I was an avid, almost fanatical reader, of Nature.  I was particularly enamored of their short “Where I Work” pieces on the last page, which feature an interview with a scientist in a particularly unusual, sometimes bizarre, job, written in the first person. Truth to tell, I also loved it because it was the only part of the magazine I could consistently understand.)

So when we went around the room and did introductions at the writing conference, and Elizabeth Hilborn introduced herself as a veterinarian for honeybees, I immediately flashed to Nature Magazine. In my voracious readings of the “Where I Work’ column, I’d never read about a bee veterinarian or anything similar. It seemed a perfect fit.

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Begum joins Greyhound Literary as literary agent

thebookseller.com – Monday December 18, 2023

Salma Begum, formerly an editor at Bonnier Books UK, has joined Greyhound Literary as a literary agent, starting today, 18th December. 

Begum has also worked for Picador, where she acquired debut authors and worked on the poetry list, and The Good Literary Agency, where she represented a number of emerging talents.

Founder and director Charlie Campbell said: "The last two years have been the most enjoyable and fulfilling of my career and that is down to the colleagues and writers with whom I work."

Co-owner and director Sam Edenborough said: "We’re so proud to welcome Salma to the Greyhound team. Her superb eye for great writing and her excellent network put her in an ideal position to find talented new clients. I can’t wait to get to work selling translation rights for her writers as she develops her list."

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Five years and 2m copies later, self-published author lands UK book deal

theguardian.com – Sunday December 17, 2023

In 2018, JM Dalgliesh was a stay-at-home father when he sent his first crime novel to six literary agents, only to receive polite rejection letters – or no response at all. Refusing to give up, he found inspiration in a friend’s suggestion that he try self-publishing. The advice could not have been better.

That novel, Divided House – the story of a detective’s path to redemption – was to become the first of 22 self-published crime thrillers, comprising three series of police procedural novels that have sold more than 2m copies in total.

Now Dalgliesh, whose first initial stands for Jason, has been taken on by a traditional publisher, and will be able to reach even more readers, partly via the sale of rights worldwide.

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