By Lakshmi Raj Sharma
Novelist and Professor of English
firstwriter.com – Wednesday December 28, 2022
Literary agents and their meticulous work fascinate me. I presume several other authors feel the same about them. Perhaps agents are equally immersed in and captivated by the publishing process. Theirs is most definitely a labor of love. Agents have to be fervent about good ideas, unstoppable at the bargaining table, shrewd in judgment and advice, and brilliant at editing. There's no doubt that we authors need literary agents in the contemporary publishing scenario. Without them we are like fishes out of water. They know things that authors do not. They, therefore, bridge the gap between publishers and them, and, in some cases, become protectors. Authors feel insecure in their professional worlds without supportive agents. Of course not all agents are the same. Some who fall into the wrong profession can become the cause of authors dwindling into nothing.
I propose to hold the mirror up to agents and do for them what they have very kindly been doing for authors. Fully realizing the complexity of their job, I will try to suggest how agents might help authors even better. I believe I can do this because the work of literary agents lures me and I read with interest virtually everything related to them. What I say here will include some of the problems faced by authors living in countries like India. Living in such countries and writing to the world at large is no easy task because of confusions that arise because authors and agents belong to different cultures.
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Some of this month's news for writers from around the web.
thebookseller.com – Friday January 20, 2023
New Writing North has launched a series of online courses for writers in partnership with the Professional Writing Academy.
New Writing North Academy courses start in March 2023 and enrolment is now open for courses including life writing with Richard Benson, crime fiction with Marnie Riches and short stories with Susmita Bhattacharya, as well as CPD-accredited courses in screenwriting with John Yorke and writing for work with Piers Alder. More details can be found here.
The courses will be taught in small tutor-led groups over four to 16 weeks. Through a mixture of independent work and workshop learning, New Writing North said students would explore the techniques used by leading contemporary writers, learn to feed back on work in progress, develop their own voice and hone their writing craft.
Writers' Handbook 2023 - Out Now!
npr.org – Wednesday January 18, 2023
While many Americans were nursing hangovers on New Year's Day, 22-year-old Edward Tian was working feverishly on a new app to combat misuse of a powerful, new artificial intelligence tool called ChatGPT.
Given the buzz it's created, there's a good chance you've heard about ChatGPT. It's an interactive chatbot powered by machine learning. The technology has basically devoured the entire Internet, reading the collective works of humanity and learning patterns in language that it can recreate. All you have to do is give it a prompt, and ChatGPT can do an endless array of things: write a story in a particular style, answer a question, explain a concept, compose an email — write a college essay — and it will spit out coherent, seemingly human-written text in seconds.
The technology is both awesome — and terrifying.
"I think we're absolutely at an inflection point," Tian says. "This technology is incredible. I do believe it's the future. But, at the same time, it's like we're opening Pandora's Box. And we need safeguards to adopt it responsibly."
thebookseller.com – Wednesday January 18, 2023
Literary agent Rebecca Carter has launched Rebecca Carter Literary after 10 years at Janklow & Nesbit.
The new agency, which is already up and running, is working in collaboration with PEW Literary in Soho, London, for contracts, accounting and translation rights. Carter can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Margaret Halton can be reached at email@example.com for foreign rights enquiries.
The agency has already closed two deals: with Kaiya Shang at Chatto & Windus for a new memoir by Xiaolu Guo, and with Sarah Braybrooke at Ithaka for a “powerful” narrative non-fiction book about Ukraine by the BBC’s Andrew Harding. More information on these acquisitions will be forthcoming from the publishers, The Bookseller understands.
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A selection of the new listings added to firstwriter.com this month.
firstwriter.com – Tuesday January 10, 2023
Publishes children's books, middle-grade and young-adult fiction. Send a query letter, a one-page synopsis of your story, and the first three chapters of your novel or the first fifty pages, whichever is more, via online submission system.
firstwriter.com – Wednesday January 4, 2023
Seeks short stories of all genres and styles - as long as it's a story, we'll consider it. We prefer shorter fiction, but will accept up to 10,000 word pieces. We are concerned only with the quality of the story (both by the author's ability to write clean prose and their ability to in how to tell a story), and not by their pedigree (or lack there of).
firstwriter.com – Friday January 20, 2023
Passionate about finding writers with unique voices and points of view and is looking for steamy romances, out of this world fantasies, and YA and MG that touch on vital topics that can’t be ignored.
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Some of this month's articles for writers from around the web.
npr.org – Sunday January 15, 2023
George Saunders is one of the most acclaimed fiction writers alive, but he didn't grow up wanting to be a writer. In fact, he didn't start seriously writing short stories until he was almost 30. So kids, if you want to end up winning a MacArthur Genius Grant and the Man Booker Prize, put down the notebooks filled with angsty poems and take off the turtleneck and go work in a slaughterhouse for a while.
theguardian.com – Saturday January 14, 2023
“Countdown to DEATH”, “MURDERED by my boyfriend”, “Falling for a KILLER” … the language of true crime lost its potential to shock long ago, yet we continue to be drawn in. High-profile cases, solved or unsolved, seem to provide a bottomless well of fresh evidence and further mystery. What drives so many of us to consume true crime is a need to understand the extremes of humanity from the safe distance of the page or headphone. But for those who write in this genre, a “safe distance” can be hard to find.
Michelle McNamara is the most recent, and most tragic example. In 2013 McNamara, a journalist and writer, took up the case of the Golden State Killer, a term she coined to bring together a series of murders committed over a wide area of California during the 1970s and 80s. She opened up a trail of cold cases, made links police had missed at the time and often felt herself close to uncovering who the prolific serial killer might have been.
irishtimes.com – Saturday January 14, 2023
As the word ‘resolution’ is everywhere these weeks, I looked up the meaning to see what all the fuss was about and this is what I found – ‘a firm decision to do or not to do something’. Sounds a bit Shakespearean to me. And also – ‘the act of solving a problem or finding a way to improve a difficult situation’. That sounds a bit more like it.
The difficult situation being the idea of coming up with some writing resolutions for the new year that I will actually stick to and not get bored of within a week.
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