This week in the apocalypse! I mean books!
Well, in my interview with Mike Shatzkin earlier in the week we speculated that a wave of layoffs would hit the industry in the wake of the pandemic, and it didn’t take long for that to bear out. Macmillan announced an unspecified number of layoffs, as well as temporary pay reductions.
This is a tough time for everyone in the book business, and the New York Times summarized what’s happening across the publishing industry, with anticipated books having released dates pushed back, publishers withdrawing from BEA I mean Book Expo, layoffs, shuttered warehouses, fears that closed bookstores won’t return, and deeper fears of the loss of book and reading culture.
One bright spot is that book sales have not yet declined, and there’s some evidence that people are opting for “bucket list” novels that are challenging and long.
In news that seriously angered the living crap out of me, the Internet Archive announced a “library” that’s nothing more than scanned books being made available for free. No, this is not a library, which buys books from publishers and maintains restrictions on digital content. This is nothing more than piracy. There’s a special place in hell for who take advantage of a pandemic for a rights grab that steals from authors who are already being hit hard.
In happier news, the wonderful Dolly Parton will be reading children’s book stories weekly.
Angie Thomas, author of the excellent The Hate U Give announced her third novel, Concrete Rose, which will tell the story of Maverick Carter as a teenager. Thomas says she expects it to get banned. (Also check out my interview with Angie Thomas).
The Booker Prize announced its 2020 shortlist. It’s mostly women.
Need some marketing help? David Gaughran has 13 ways to increase your email open rate.
And when you’re approaching literary agents, don’t try to hide a self-published book. Just be up front about it.
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:
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben
- The Sinner by J.R. Ward
- The Last Odyssey by James Rollins
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
- Educated by Tara Westover
- Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner
- The Great Influenza by John M. Barry
Young adult hardcover:
- Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
- Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
- One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Wings of Fire: Legends: Dragonslayer by Tui T. Sutherland
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney
- Ali Cross by James Patterson
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:
- Only show characters crying when they’re truly at their wits’ end
- What do you need help with? Complete this survey for a chance to win $50 to your favorite bookstore!
- Interview with Mike Shatzkin on how coronavirus will change the publishing industry
- Don’t begin query letters with empty rhetorical questions (query critique)
Comment! of! the! week! goes to Luisa Adam, who offers some perspective on the indie bookselling landscape in Australia:
Thank you for this information. As a boutique publisher in Australia, we have found that the bookshops who have survived hardship after hardship, (including one that outlived a Borders store that opened across the road in direct competition) are the ones who know their local market and stock according rather than trying to stock ‘everything’. Their retail spaces are getting smaller and smaller but are beautifully fitted out and a joy to visit, like a free trip to an art gallery. Often they are owner-operated so the person on the floor, always a bibliophile, knows the customer and is committed to the store. Even with some of the smaller chains, their stock will vary from store to store depending on the local community. On other details, as a children’s book publisher of board books etc., print-on-demand is not really an option for us yet…
And finally, huge congratulations to my friend Tahereh Mafi on the publication of the the final installment of her Shatter Me series. If you need something to read this week, check out Imagine Me.
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 guide to writing a novel and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: View from the Aomori Stove Train. Photo by me. Follow me on Instagram!