This week! Books!
As thousands of people around the world continued protesting injustice and brutality in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and at the start of Pride month, J.K. Rowling decided to double down with views on transgender people widely seen as transphobic, first in a series of tweets, then on a more extended personal post on her site where she connected her opinion on these matters to experiencing past abuse and, among other things that jumped out at me, expressed a fear of using a bathroom with trans women.
Let me be absolutely clear where I stand on this one: trans women are women, trans men are men, and non-binary people are non-binary. You don’t know someone’s gender better than they do. Love people for who they are and believe them when they tell you who they are.
My heart goes out to everyone distressed by the rhetoric this past week. Here are some resources for supporting trans authors during this time:
- The New York Public Library has an extensive list of trans and gender non conforming books for all ages.
- Here’s a list of trans and non-binary science fictions and fantasy authors you can support.
- Here’s a list of Black trans authors to support.
- Here’s a list of organizations to support Black trans people.
Feel free to add your favorite authors and resources in the comments!
People aren’t just marching for injustice in the streets, they’re going home and reading about it too. The New York Times bestseller list this week is almost totally dominated by books about race and antiracism.
If you’re looking to have conversations about what’s happening with your children, here’s a list of books to help you explain racism to kids.
In case you missed my post on #PublishingPaidMe on Monday, the NY Times had a good summary of the reactions to authors revealing their book advances.
The Internet Archive shuttered its so-called “Emergency Library” after four publishers sued them for mass copyright infringement
In writing advice news, here are six ways to incorporate a dash of a foreign language into your novel.
And in publishing advice news, Janet Reid talks about when to pull the plug on querying agents, Jane Friedman has a list of questions to ask your publisher before you sign the contract, and agent DongWon Song is launching a streaming show with Seth Fishman to help educate and train aspiring literary agents.
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:
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- The Guest List by Lucy Foley
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- The Lies That Bind by Emily Griffin
- Hideaway by Nora Roberts
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Young adult hardcover:
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
- Star Wars: Queen’s Peril by E.K. Johnston
Middle grade hardcover:
- The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
- Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison with Kwesi Johnson
- Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Wonder by R.J Palacio
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:
- #PublishingPaidMe is just the tip of the iceberg
- Listen to your characters, but don’t let them run away
- Every word counts in a query letter (query critique)
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
Comment! of! the! week! goes to Terin Miller with a rumination on the extent to which publishers over the years have long confused its role and why we should be skeptical whether things will now change:
My point is, for too long, it seems to me, the publishing industry in the US has gotten away with the fallacy that it is an imprimatur of “good” or even “great” writing, as opposed to just another business interested in making money off of a product it knows it can sell, or it pays booksellers to sell.
At one point, it appeared to be common knowledge among writers with good agents that, if the bookbuyer for Barnes & Noble only allowed an “elevator pitch” (seconds) of description, and passed in the meeting on carrying the book, the book would NEVER be a “best-seller.”
And where is B&N now?
That’s the reason, even now, I expect we are unlikely to see any kind of reassessment of publishing, any kind of fairness in either advances or even acceptance of books by non-white, non-“traditional” authors, until those in the industry realize that literary tastes, as well as societal tastes, change and broaden with experimentation, with taking a chance, risking a print run on an unknown writer, or even a previously unwritten story – and maybe one that doesn’t fall into or fit preconceived stereo-types of what it will be or, more to the point, who will buy it.
That’s why the ideal agent, or publisher, is the one willing to take a risk on a writer because of his/her/their writing, as opposed to how to “market” it or what “market” to pigeon-hole it into.
And finally, The New Yorker had a retrospective on the great painter Edward Hopper for this recent time of American solitude.
Have a safe weekend!
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For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: Brooklyn protest. Photo by me.