This week! Books!
There are so many publishing scams out there it’s hard to keep track of them, but Anne R. Allen has a really great post on 10 new publishing scams to watch out for in 2020. Be careful out there, people!
The Authors Guild released its 2020 report on the writing and publishing landscape and… wow. There are lots of different things you could take away from it but I couldn’t shake this one: more people are writing and fewer people are reading.
The Atlantic has been on a fan fiction kick lately. Not writing it (though I would love to see that), but rather with two deep dives on fan fiction. For instance, did you know that there was erotic 18th century fan fiction based on, uh, Gulliver’s Travels? They also took a look at deathfic, the apparently oddly satisfying fanfic where people write the deaths of their beloved characters.
Before he was a president he was a writer, and before he was a writer he was a reader. I found this look at Barack Obama’s early adult reading life really fascinating, and it includes details I didn’t realize about his first memoir, Dreams from My Father, including that he had to return the advance on his first book deal because he couldn’t get around to finishing it.
In industry news, Penguin Random House (I’m still not used to that name) announced that they are making progress on their green initiatives and they pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Do you need to have your manuscript professionally edited before querying? As agent Jessica Faust points out: it’s not required. (Here’s some advice from me on how and whether to find one).
I also loved Jessica’s advice for authors who are planning to write in multiple genres: focus on the present you.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Golden in Death by J.D. Robb
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Open Book by Jessica Simpson with Kevin Carr O’Leary
- A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig
- Profiles in Corruption by Peter Schweizer
- Educated by Tara Westover
- On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder
Young adult hardcover:
- One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus
- A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
- Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Middle grade hardcover:
- Legacy and the Queen by Annie Matthew. Created by Kobe Bryant
- Epoca: The Tree of Ecrof by Ivy Claire. Created by Kobe Bryant
- The Wizenard: Training Camp by Wesley King. Created by Kobe Bryant
- Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison with Kwesi Johnson
- Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney
This week on the blog
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- One of the fastest paths to rejection: implying you don’t read much
- Clear out the clutter around your verbs
- Sharpen your characters’ choices in a query (query critique)
Comment! of! the! week! goes to Jon, who chimed in on this week’s query critique. Good copyeditors never fail to blow my mind.
FYI to all:
A citizen of Atlantis is an “Atlantean”, not “Atlantian”.
And finally, if you have ever worked in an office, particularly in the tech world, you probably found yourself using seriously strange words or normal words in seriously strange ways. I loved this article by Molly Young about corporate speak, or, as she calls it, garbage language.
Have a great weekend!
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my online classes, my guide to writing a novel and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: The “snow monsters” of Zao Onsen, Japan. Photo by me. Follow me on Instagram!
Luisa Adam says
Hi Nathan, love your blog and liked the warning to self-publishers about publishing scams — but just would like to balance it by saying not all publishers are crooks and scammers and some, especially small independents, are prey to exactly the same scams self-publishers are (fake fee-paying reviews, etc.). I’m a half of a tiny 2-person, hard-working and fully self-funded independent, and I’ve been shocked over the years how many new authors have come to us with so much prejudice against publishers, assuming we are crooks looking for ways to take advantage of them when in reality we are sinking our own personal borrowings (we don’t have surplus funds so need to borrow to put projects into production) and our own professional editing and design and marketing work into launching their book, at considerable personal risk as, just like problems faced by authors, there is no guarantee we will get our investment back let alone get paid for our work. There’s also a common misconception,at least in our area, that publishers get paid the full retail price from bookshops (not the wholesale price), and that someone other than the publisher takes care of the substantial printing bills and freight bills (not so) which are payable by the publisher more-or-less upfront, long before the publisher is paid, if ever. I’m only writing this because I know from experience articles about ‘publishing frauds’ trigger a whole lot more negativity about publishers, so just think some balance is a good idea; everybody has to do their background checks on who they are thinking of working with, and there are dodgy publishers out there, but it’s a common mistake for at least some authors to become prejudiced against publishers they are the same time hoping to work with, and not surprisingly the publisher that ruins a potentially good relationship before it’s even got off the ground.
Nathan Bransford says
I don’t want to cause offense as I take you at your word that you are hardworking and reputable, but I think it’s perfectly fine and wise for authors to approach a publisher of your size with a great deal of skepticism. There are a lot more publishers of your size who are either 1) scammers or 2) well-intentioned but can’t do much more for the author than they can do on their own than there are publishers of your size who represent genuine value adds.
I personally think you should welcome their worries and even paranoia, as it’s a pretty rational paranoia, and find clear ways to demonstrate your value and clarify the process. Sure, authors may need some educating on how the nuts and bolts work, but I don’t think they should stop being skeptical and careful.
I’m sure it’s not fun to fight uphill battles when you already feel like an underdog, but try to see if from an author’s perspective.
Neil Larkins says
Love this post, Nathan. A treasure trove of source and information.
Luisa Adam says
Hi Nathan, thanks for your considered reply. We work to a traditional publishing model where we fund the projects at our personal risk (not the author, notwithstanding the occasional partnership), so we don’t take money from anyone. The warnings relate more to self-publishing scams, but traditional publishing can be tainted by that. We always refer authors to the local author’s society for clarity on publishing terms, not least because they can explain things more clearly to the author (who may not trust what we are saying). We also refer them to your blog! We agree with healthy skepticism, too — but it has to be professionally courteous and not accusatory, as happens from time to time — or the relationship and project is doomed before it even begins.