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The Guardian view on BookTok: a welcome disruptor of the status quo

theguardian.com – Monday September 5, 2022

The bestselling book in the UK last week, and of the year so far, is an American novel that was published in 2016. If that sentence sounds implausible, the odds are you have not yet caught up with the latest social media sensation. It is called BookTok and it is a strand on the video-sharing platform TikTok that was started by young book lovers at the height of the Covid pandemic.

One of its standout successes is Colleen Hoover, a 42-year-old former social worker from Texas, whose young adult romance It Ends With Us has sold an astonishing 427,000 copies in the UK so far in 2022, according to the market analyst Nielsen BookScan. This outnumbers any other book in any format or genre.

[Read the full article]

Sterling Lord, uniquely enduring literary agent, dies at 102

uk.sports.yahoo.com – Monday September 5, 2022

Sterling Lord, the uniquely enduring literary agent who worked for years to find a publisher for Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and over the following decades arranged deals for everyone from true crime writer Joe McGinniss to the creators of the Berenstain Bears, has died. He had just turned 102.

Lord died Saturday in a nursing home in Ocala, Florida, according to his daughter, Rebecca Lord.

“He had a good death and died peacefully of old age,” she told The Associated Press.

Sterling Lord, who started his own agency in 1952 and later merged with rival Literistic to form Sterling Lord Literistic Inc., was a failed magazine publisher who became, almost surely, the longest-serving agent in the book business. He stayed with the company he founded until he was nearly 100 — and then decided to launch a new one.

[Read the full article]

New Magazine Listing: Atlantic Northeast

firstwriter.com – Monday September 5, 2022

A magazine dedicated to exploring the history, culture, and spirit of the Northeastern United States and Canada.

[See the full listing]

So you want to write a bestseller? Try these top tips

smh.com.au – Sunday September 4, 2022

Everyone, they say, has a book in them. But where do you start? With the Melbourne Writers Festival about to open, we asked leading authors to give their tips on how to create a literary triumph.

Fiction: C.S. Pacat

Write the book that you want to read. This is a cliche, but few people actually do it. Imagine that you are walking into a bookshop or a library. There is a book you are looking for but never find. The reason you never find it is that this book doesn’t exist on the shelves. This book exists only within you.

This is the book you must write. You will know some things about it instinctively. Imagine yourself searching for it seriously. Close your eyes. You know what genre it is. You know how you want it to make you feel. Write those things down. Do you know anything more? The type of characters it might have? The setting? The type of journey it takes you on?

[Read the full article]

Five Steps to Writing a Crime Novel Inspired by Your Family (Without Making Everyone Hate You)

crimereads.com – Saturday September 3, 2022

“Write what you know.” It’s the second-oldest piece of writing advice there is, right behind “show, don’t tell.” There’s a long rich history of authors weaving details of their personal lives into stories, to varying degrees and with varying regard for subtlety. There are full-on roman à clefs. Protagonists who just happen to be depressed, struggling authors. Stephen King books set in Maine. 

It’s an old piece of advice because it works. The more you pull from real firsthand experiences, the more your writing feels… real. Revelatory stuff, I know. But pulling from life can get complicated in a darker genre like crime. At least horror authors like King can mask their real-life inspirations with the supernatural and over-the-top: ex-lovers transform into vampires; a cocaine addiction becomes a rabid dog (in Maine) or a deranged fan (of an author); grief is an Indian burial ground. Crime offers no such crutch. The genre is too grounded in real life for us to mask much, if anything. The way I see it, crime fiction equals horror plus realism. Every character is human and usually irredeemably flawed, even the good guys.

What I’m getting at is that writing a crime novel is a uniquely great way to piss off the real people you end up writing about. Especially if they’re family. And what else is a young, inexperienced author supposed to write credibly about?

[Read the full article]

Elisa Gabbert on Writing and Capturing Beginner’s Luck

lithub.com – Saturday September 3, 2022

For a period in the late 2010s, I had the good fortune of belonging to a regular poker game. Whenever someone new would join us, confessing they didn’t really know how to play, my friend Mike and I would tell them, “That means you’re going to win.” And they always did.

Beginner’s luck is real. Poker always depends on luck, but there’s something else, beneath the luck, that feeds the luck, a root system. Beginners aren’t afraid. They have no performance anxiety, because they have nothing to live up to. They don’t know the other players’ habits, so they have no distracting expectations. And they’re not afraid of their own cards, whether they’re especially good or bad, because they don’t know how good or bad their cards are; they have no internalized sense of the odds. They’re unafraid out of ignorance—you might say, unafraid for the wrong reasons—but fearlessness is still an advantage, and it’s a skill you have to relearn. Most players, after their beginner’s luck runs out, stay mediocre because they never do.

People say “Trust the process,” but I’ve found there’s a danger in trusting my writing process too much. Once a process becomes fully routinized, I’m not learning anything. I know I can write a short literary essay—what a friend of mine calls an “I noticed a thing” essay—of a thousand or so words. I wrote a book of those. I know I can write a research-based essay of about four thousand words, generally in three sections—almost three subsequent essays that become a super-essay. I wrote a book of those too. I know there’s a certain amount of material, mostly books and other writing, I can consume to have enough interesting thoughts to build an essay around. I didn’t always know that—I had to try and succeed many times in a row first. (The only measure of success: I liked the effect.)

[Read the full article]

When is a bestseller not necessarily a bestseller?

bbc.co.uk – Friday September 2, 2022

Authors and publishers all want to sell enough books to have a bestseller. But is a bestseller always actually a bestseller? Not necessarily if a publisher has paid to get on a shop's bestselling shelves, or staff base the rankings on what they predict might be popular.

Books are big business, and 2021 was a boom year. With more people buying and reading books during the pandemic, sales reached a record £1.8bn.

BBC Radio 4's Front Row programme has found that publishers often pay booksellers to be in their stores and, in one case, on its bestselling list.

WH Smith has racks of books in numbered positions under the heading "new and bestselling".

One publisher shared an email trail with Front Row that details its negotiations with the high street chain over a new book.

In the email, WH Smith asked for £2,000 in exchange for promotional space, including a position in the fiction chart - for as long as sales warranted it - and the book of the week slot.

The chain says its book charts are not solely based on how many copies have been sold.

[Read the full article]

When is a bestseller not necessarily a bestseller?

bbc.co.uk – Friday September 2, 2022

Authors and publishers all want to sell enough books to have a bestseller. But is a bestseller always actually a bestseller? Not necessarily if a publisher has paid to get on a shop's bestselling shelves, or staff base the rankings on what they predict might be popular.

Books are big business, and 2021 was a boom year. With more people buying and reading books during the pandemic, sales reached a record £1.8bn.

BBC Radio 4's Front Row programme has found that publishers often pay booksellers to be in their stores and, in one case, on its bestselling list.

WH Smith has racks of books in numbered positions under the heading "new and bestselling".

One publisher shared an email trail with Front Row that details its negotiations with the high street chain over a new book.

In the email, WH Smith asked for £2,000 in exchange for promotional space, including a position in the fiction chart - for as long as sales warranted it - and the book of the week slot.

The chain says its book charts are not solely based on how many copies have been sold.

[Read the full article]

How do you know if your writing is considered “literary fiction”?

authorlink.com – Thursday September 1, 2022

Generally, genre or category fiction is more plot-driven, while literary fiction is more character-driven. In either case, the story needs an arc or shape. However, I think of commercial or category fiction as being driven largely by action than by the character’s introspection. In literary fiction one usually finds more detail about how each character thinks and feels as it relates to the storyline. I’d be interested to know how others define the difference.

Wikipedia defines it this way:

[Read the full article]

New Publisher Listing: Ad Hoc Fiction

firstwriter.com – Thursday September 1, 2022

An award winning small independent publisher specialising in short-short fiction since 2015. Publishes anthologies of micro fiction, novellas-in-flash, and individual collections of flash fiction by local and international authors.

[See the full listing]

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