This week! Books!
It’s not all doom and gloom out there in book land. Amid the pandemic and , per Jane Friedman book sales in 2020 are poised to be one of the best years in recent memory, with children’s books a particular bright spot.
Stacey Garratt and Jeff Rivera published an extensive look at systemic racism in the publishing industry. Quite a few authors have been asking me lately about what systemic bias looks like in practice, and this is a really good rundown.
It’s quite a fun game to try to spot as many books as possible on celebrity bookshelves. The celebrity bookshelf detective is on the case!
This article by Anne Trubek is one of the best posts on writing query letters I’ve read in years. It’s so important to remember your responsibility as an author and to treat a query letter with the importance it deserves. It’s an email that could land you a book deal.
I’ve joked in the past that pretty much every “Seinfeld” episode revolves around how much it sucks to not have cell phones, but there’s more that’s lost with the disappearance of landlines. Sophie Haigney wrote about what’s lost now that we no longer have devices that “gave fiction surprise, suspense, and uncertainty.”
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:
- Near Dark by Brad Thor
- The Order by Daniel Silva
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump
- The Answer Is… by Alex Trebek
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps by Ben Shapiro
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Young adult hardcover:
- Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Shadow of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- Hawk by James Patterson
Middle grade hardcover:
- The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
- Wonder by R.J Palacio
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- 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:
- Comic-Con literary agent panel!
- How to spice up relationships in novels
- Make your verbs active (page critique)
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
Comment! of! the! week! goes to Ken Hughes, with some advice on deepening relationships in novels that doubles as life advice too. 😂
What I see too often in attempted romances — and sometimes in mentorships, friendships, and other relationships too — is the idea that being in the relationship makes the characters interesting.
A relationship can only build on what personality and goals they already have. Simply pointing two people together and plotting up “Now he loves her but she’s with his rival” is meaningless, unless we already care about what love can *mean* for both of them. Then their connection, or any other plot changes, can multiply that even further.
Stories multiply character appeal. They don’t help when a character’s a zero.
And finally, we lost a true superhero recently with the passing of John Lewis. Adam Serwer argues that Lewis should be considered an American founder who fought for a nation that was a republic for all its citizens.
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 (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: Brooklyn during golden hour. Photo by me. Follow me on Instagram!