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Writers' News

Debut fiction by women shook up the Indian literary scene in 2019

livemint.com – Monday December 30, 2019

  • First-time women writers dominated the literary fiction landscape in India this year
  • They won prizes, appeared on shortlists, and published thematically daring books challenging patriarchal assumptions and political realities

It may seem superfluous to fuss about literary fiction and its fate in the fractious political climate Indians are living in, but the genre has, since its inception, held a mirror to social change, capturing truths that slip through the cracks of hardwired non-fiction. This year, in particular, has witnessed the triumph of women debut novelists. A series of powerful books by them have disrupted the familiar landscape of English-language publishing in India, usually filled with established names and stars. Thematically daring, crafted with precision and forging distinctive linguistic registers, these books help us experience our political and social realities more keenly. They also capture the collective desires and despairs that complicate our engagement with the India we are living in at the moment.

[Read the full article]

New Literary Agent Listing: Katherine Wessbecher

firstwriter.com – Monday December 30, 2019

Katherine is looking for children’s books (picture books through YA), upmarket adult fiction, and narrative nonfiction for all ages.

[See the full listing]

How Many Characters?

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach

firstwriter.com – Monday December 30, 2019

I never really thought about how many characters might be best in a novel because my characters have always had real and necessary roles, and that’s what I’ve stuck by. But recently I had a student whose novel is off to the races with 10 different third-person point of view characters and about an equal number of secondary characters. The student was struggling with whether that was optimal or whether she needed to ditch the whole project. Hey, wait, never toss a project until you’ve pondered the various implications.

[Read the full article]

Houston-based Romance Writers of America sees board exodus after racism allegations

houstonchronicle.com – Sunday December 29, 2019

Nine board members of the Houston-based Romance Writers of America resigned this week in a startling exodus that took place during a holiday lull. The organization — which represents a billion-dollar industry and celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2020 — will enter the new year with decimated leadership and lingering questions about its focus and future after several romance authors questioned the association’s commitment to a diverse community.

“I knew this kind of thing could happen, but I certainly didn’t see it happening this way, over Christmas week,” said author Piper Huguley. “I knew there was a big push coming, a resistance against this. I believe we’re in a fight for the soul of this organization, which to a number of people who observe it is not unlike what’s going on in the country politically. Right now the big question is, ‘What’s going to happen?’”

[Read the full article]

The 2010s were supposed to bring the ebook revolution. It never quite came.

vox.com – Monday December 23, 2019

At the beginning of the 2010s, the world seemed to be poised for an ebook revolution.

The Amazon Kindle, which was introduced in 2007, effectively mainstreamed ebooks. By 2010, it was clear that ebooks weren’t just a passing fad, but were here to stay. They appeared poised to disrupt the publishing industry on a fundamental level. Analysts confidently predicted that millennials would embrace ebooks with open arms and abandon print books, that ebook sales would keep rising to take up more and more market share, that the price of ebooks would continue to fall, and that publishing would be forever changed.

Instead, at the other end of the decade, ebook sales seem to have stabilized at around 20 percent of total book sales, with print sales making up the remaining 80 percent. “Five or 10 years ago,” says Andrew Albanese, a senior writer at trade magazine Publishers Weekly and the author of The Battle of $9.99, “you would have thought those numbers would have been reversed.”

And in part, Albanese tells Vox in a phone interview, that’s because the digital natives of Gen Z and the millennial generation have very little interest in buying ebooks. “They’re glued to their phones, they love social media, but when it comes to reading a book, they want John Green in print,” he says. The people who are actually buying ebooks? Mostly boomers. “Older readers are glued to their e-readers,” says Albanese. “They don’t have to go to the bookstore. They can make the font bigger. It’s convenient.”

Ebooks aren’t only selling less than everyone predicted they would at the beginning of the decade. They also cost more than everyone predicted they would — and consistently, they cost more than their print equivalents. On Amazon as I’m writing this, a copy of Sally Rooney’s Normal People costs $12.99 as an ebook, but only $11.48 as a hardcover. And increasingly, such disparities aren’t an exception. They’re the rule.

So what happened? How did the apparently inevitable ebook revolution fail to come to pass?

[Read the full article]

EU Court of Justice claims selling used ebooks is illegal

goodereader.com – Sunday December 22, 2019

Publishers all over Europe have been fighting Tom Kabinet since 2014 and the European Court of Justice has issued a ruling, reselling used ebooks is illegal. It is basically a violation of copyright law. Tom Kabinet stated that the first sale doctrine should apply to ebooks and users should be able to do whatever they want with them, after they are legitimately purchased.

In 2014, Tom Kabinet launched a website where second-hand e-books could be sold. Publishers immediately filed a lawsuit and sent numerous cease and desist letters against the company. In 2015, the judge in The Hague ruled that reselling was allowed in principle, but that the seller had to be able to prove that the ebooks were legally purchased, instead of downloaded from the internet or stripped the DRM. Tom Kabinet then changed its website: sellers had to be able to submit the download link for the book. However, this could not guarantee that sellers had removed their own copies. Now customers must submit the original download link and delete their own copy. In exchange for the ebooks they receive credits, which they can exchange on the site for other e-books.

[Read the full article]

The kindness of strangers has saved our publishers

standard.co.uk – Friday December 20, 2019

One of the reasons my husband Sam Jordison and I set up Galley Beggar Press, our small independent publishing company, in 2012 was that it would allow us to take risks on publishing the books we loved. 

I’m happy to say that it worked. We haven’t put out many books in the past seven years, but the ones we have, have had a big effect. They’ve won prestigious literary prizes, been translated into dozens of languages and sold around the world. And they’ve also, luckily for us, sold enough copies here in the UK to help keep our little company going.

This year was an especially fortunate one. Our title Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann was shortlisted for The Booker Prize. It’s a big deal — and it meant that Lucy’s masterpiece, which we loved so much, was going to find more readers. 

[Read the full article]

Conversations With Friends (Who Are Also Writers)

nytimes.com – Thursday December 19, 2019

Jenny Zhang was in sweatpants, wrestling one Sunday afternoon with a short story that wasn’t coming together. She typed out an email to seven other writers: “Yo. Can we meet up next week? I have something that I kinda semi-urently” — the g key on her keyboard was broken — “need help on.”

The story, which jumped back and forth between plotlines, was intentionally nontraditional, and she didn’t want to lose that. The peers whose advice she sought, she said, “would let the jagged edges remain” while making the story “better than it was.” When she met with them, they helped her find the thread in the story, which she finished and included in her 2017 book “Sour Heart.”

Writing is often considered a solitary act, but some writers have figured out a way to make the process more collaborative even before editors, agents and other publishing professionals get involved. Zhang’s group, which includes Alice Sola KimKaran Mahajan and Tony Tulathimutte, has been meeting about every month since most of them were undergraduate students at Stanford University. Their sessions are highly structured, with deadlines for submitting drafts and detailed manuscript notes, while other groups gather more informally to talk about their careers, commiserate over deadlines or gossip about the publishing industry.

[Read the full article]

End of an era for book publisher Penguin

news.sky.com – Wednesday December 18, 2019

It is the end of an era for one of the most famous names in book publishing.

Penguin is being sold by Pearson, its owner for the last half-century, as the company focuses its activities exclusively on education.

Pearson today announced that it was selling its remaining stake in Penguin Random House, the book publishing joint venture it formed six years ago with Bertelsmann, the German media group.

The company originally owned 47% of Penguin Random House when the joint venture was set up in 2013.

It sold a 22% stake in the business to Bertelsmann, its joint venture partner, for $1bn in July 2017.

[Read the full article]

Book People collapse plunges small publisher Galley Beggar into crisis

theguardian.com – Wednesday December 18, 2019

Galley Beggar Press, the tiny literary publisher behind acclaimed novels including the Booker-shortlisted Ducks, Newburyport and women’s prize for fiction winner A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, has been forced to make a public appeal for support after the Book People’s fall into administration left it with a £40,000 hole in its finances.

Galley Beggar’s co-director Eloise Millar turned to crowdfunding on Wednesday to ask for urgent help from readers as it faces “the biggest crisis in its seven-year history”. The publisher entered into a partnership with the discount retailer earlier this year when Lucy Ellmann’s novel was shortlisted for the Booker. Galley Beggar produced 8,000 special editions of the novel, costing it around £40,000.

[Read the full article]

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