Traditional Publishing

Writers' News

Long-standing literary magazines are struggling to stay afloat. Where do they go from here? – Wednesday February 9, 2022

The Believer was once at the top of the literary magazine game.

A leading journal of art and culture, The Believer published the work of icons like Leslie Jamison, Nick Hornby and Anne Carson. It won awards, it launched careers -- it created a home for off-beat, quirky writing. When the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada bought the magazine, observers spoke of Las Vegas as a potential new hub for literary arts.

Then, in October of last year, the college announced it was shutting the magazine down in early 2022, citing the "financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic." In a statement explaining the decision, the dean of the school's College of Liberal Arts called print publications like The Believer "a financially challenging endeavor."

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New Literary Agent Listing: Sian Ellis-Martin – Wednesday February 9, 2022

Enjoys reading books with a broad range of themes, such as mental health, sexuality, coming-of-age, race, class and gender. Particularly keen to read books by authors from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, especially LGBTQIA+ authors, or stories with LGBTQIA+ characters and themes.

[See the full listing]

“I do not think it is a good story.” Never ask Charles Dickens for writing advice. – Tuesday February 8, 2022

Today marks the 210th birthday of Charles Dickens—novelist, critic, and, from 1859 until his death, editor of a weekly literary journal called All the Year Round. As literary journal editors will presumably understand, the responsibilities stressed him out to the point of dispensing with politeness. We know this because when Dickens’s friend Captain Frederick Marryat’s daughter Florence submitted a piece and asked him for writing advice, he roasted her to hell for even asking for feedback:

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'JK Rowling is a gold-plated hero': Author Anthony Horowitz blasts cancel culture and says writers are 'under siege' and should 'lead the agenda, not be cowed by it' – Monday February 7, 2022

Writers are ‘under siege’ from cancel culture and should be able to express their views ‘without the world falling in on you’, according to best-selling author Anthony Horowitz.

The man behind hit children’s book series Alex Rider and ITV series Foyle’s War said Harry Potter creator JK Rowling, who has been targeted by trans activists, was a ‘gold-plated hero’ who had done a lot for children’s literacy and charity.

Horowitz, 66, admitted that when writing a character who had a different ethnicity, sex or gender to his own he started ‘worrying’ what the reaction would be. 

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Does the feedback in creative writing workshops make for better writing? – Sunday February 6, 2022

When Yi Wei was a young child, she would write down snippets of English conversations and phrases she heard while watching television. And soon this practice followed her to her early classrooms, where her written responses in her schoolwork would come in fragmented sentences.

“At the time my teachers would be like, ‘Oh, this is a poem.’ And it was because when I was growing up, I kinda learned to speak through the TV.”

Wei is a Chinese immigrant, and she said this is an experience she shares with many immigrants in the United States. She has been writing for years, and now she’s a graduate student in New York University’s poetry MFA program. But Wei didn’t begin writing poems until high school. And she says there was little opportunity for feedback, with the exception of small, informal writing groups she started with close friends.

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How to Read a Play as a Manual for Novel Writing – Saturday February 5, 2022

Several years ago, I ran into a neighbor—a fiction writer and essayist—in a coffee shop, where he was reading Harold Pinter’s The Dumbwaiter. “I like to read plays before I write fiction because they remind me how to start writing,” he said.

At the time, I didn’t understand what he meant—I thought the prose I wrote and the plays I wrote were diametrically opposed. I teach playwriting to undergrads, and I tell my students early and often that a play has more in common with a song or a poem than with a novel. In playwriting groups it’s often a veiled insult to be told that your plays are “novelistic”—that’s when you know your play is overwritten and not theatrical. I always thought if I wanted to write a novel—which I did—I had to push what I knew about playwriting away: that other than both being made up of words the two forms were at best distant, and at worst, incompatible.

In March 2020, when I had a big theatrical project postponed indefinitely, I began working on the novel that would become my debut. From the start, I could tell there was something different about my writing, something that excited me—it had an energy, a voice. Once I finished the first chapter, I knew I could keep going. And as I continued to write Vladimir, the story of an English professor’s captivation with a younger colleague,  I realized that I was pulling directly from what I knew about playwriting. Here are three aspects I considered:

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Tell this AI your story's themes, and it'll write the first paragraph for you – Saturday February 5, 2022

Writing, I can tell you as a professional, is the most important yet difficult thing anyone has ever done in the world. I am therefore extremely grateful for Narrative Device, a browser-based AI doodad which generates the opening paragraph of a story based on two themes or things you feed into it. Finally, some help for the writers of the world! It's potentially interesting and useful, or at the very least it is fun to make a computer say silly things.

Narrative Device offers to provide "inspiration for a story from an AI", eating the themes you suggest to write the opening paragraph. Its creator, Rodolfo Ocampo, explains, "I am doing this to explore creative augmentation using AI, and human-AI creative collaboration" (the topic of his PhD research). It uses the much-vaunted OpenAI GPT3 API, which is trained in natural language from terabytes of text from websites, books, and Wikipedia pages. You know, the AI behind the latest version of AI Dungeon. That one. But here it's used to help the poor, struggling writers of the world, who I think we can all accept are the real heroes.

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Paradigm Hires Voltage Pictures Film Exec Babacar Diene, Ups Four To Agent – Saturday February 5, 2022

Paradigm on Thursday said it has hired Babacar Diene, the veteran film financing, sales and production executive who had been a VP at Voltage Pictures. He will become a Content Agent at Paradigm, which also said today it has promoted four staffers to agents.

Diene, based in Los Angeles, was most recently VP Acquisitions & Development at Voltage, the international finance, production and distribution company he joined in 2012. During his tenure he co-produced titles including Ava, starring Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, John Malkovich, Common and Geena Davis; Good Kids starring Nicholas Braun, Zoey Deutch and Julia Garner; Fathers & Daughters, starring Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried and Aaron Paul; and Pay the Ghost starring Nicolas Cage. His executive producer credits at Voltage include Time Is Up, Archenemy, Safer at Home, Redemption Day, Follow Me and Drive Hard.

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Interview: Publisher aims to revive short story market – Wednesday February 2, 2022

For new writers, short story anthologies are a wonderful way to explore a range of styles and get a sense of what editors are looking for in contemporary fiction. For spouses, Mark Wish and Elizabeth Coffey developing an anthology was a way to help keep the short story form alive and offer something new and interesting to readers. They created Coolest Stories Press and put out a call for Coolest American Stories 2022, which was just released. They share their process here:

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New Literary Agent Listing: Amberley Lowis – Wednesday February 2, 2022

Actively building a diverse list, across a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles. Looking for commercial and reading group fiction, literary fiction and a broad range of non-fiction. Interested in lively and original non-fiction, particularly in the areas of narrative non-fiction, biography, memoir and cookery. Also looking to represent children’s and young adult fiction.

[See the full listing]

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