This week! Books!
I was a bit unplugged from the news and social media this week, but I still saw a few links to share with you.
Amanda Gorman’s stunning poem The Hill We Climb is one of her three upcoming books that will be released in 2021, and Penguin Random House is planning on first printings of one million for each one.
The NY Times has a fascinating profile of Michelle Burford, who has written 10 books over the last 8 years with celebrities, including 5 bestsellers. Just don’t call her a ghostwriter.
Michael Cader at Publishers Lunch has a very interesting breakdown of the good and bad of 2020 book sales ($ link). Some of the conclusions: overall book sales are strong driven by children’s books and backlist titles, but it keeps getting harder to break out new titles.
Agent Kate McKean breaks down what to do if you receive an offer from a publisher before you get an agent.
You often hear that there are too many books out there. Well, it turns out these complaints are as old as the printing press itself (link via LitHub).
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 Duke and I by Julia Quinn
- Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
- The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- A Promised Land by Barack Obama
- Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
- Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
- On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder
Young adult hardcover:
- Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
- Lore by Alexandra Bracken
- Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling
- Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison
- Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure by Jeff Kinney
- This is Your Time by Ruby Bridges
- The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- Get in tune with your writing goals
- Demonstrate emotions to show a character’s personality (page critique)
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
Comment! of! the! week! goes to Ken Hughes, who has some good follow-up advice on showing not telling a character’s emotion:
So true, emotions are the classic need to be Shown rather than Told. Especially, the name of an emotion is an instant red flag: any character who’s thinking “scared” or “happy” sounds too removed from the emotion to actually feel it.
One subtler trick I love about showing emotions, is to use exactly *what* a person notices in that moment and what they ignore. Think of a documentary camera zeroing in on one part of the picture — that choice tells so much about the director’s “viewpoint” (a useful word in itself). “The bartender sees the crowd, the decorator sees the barstools, and the Marine is counting the exits.” Here, would the character be watching the exact gestures of the Watcher that are the first clues how much food is coming? glancing at the family and using those to prompt “he worked so hard” or “can we feed them all”? Those would ground the information, and bring out the razor-edged moment of being just about to hear if they’ll starve.
And finally, prior to the pandemic a lot of people were embracing periodic numbness and isolation as an antidote to digital life, but the pandemic has brought a new kind of nothingness. Kyle Chayka has a fascinating article on the phenomenon of numbness during the pandemic.
Have a great weekend!
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Josh Kelley says
Hey Nathan! I’d love your take/coverage on the whole Colleen Oefelein/Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency thing. Is it appropriate for an agent to be fired just for being on Parler? Even more important: How widespread is JDLit’s response?
Nathan Bransford says
I haven’t been on social media much this week so I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about?
Josh Kelley says
Sorry for the delayed response. I didn’t get a notification of your reply.
In short, Colleen was fired from de Chiara because she had a Parler account. Wish I could say that was a right-wing spin, but she was literally fired for having an account, not anything she said therein.
Nathan Bransford says
I always feel in these situations like these it’s hard to know the full story. It certainly doesn’t seem typical for someone to be fired merely for their political beliefs, and there are plenty of conservative people within the publishing industry. Whether this was just a particular agency with a particular mission, it was a misunderstanding or overreaction, or there’s more to the story, I don’t really know enough speculate, even after reading more articles about it.
JOHN T. SHEA says
Thanks for the roundup, Nathan, and congratulations to Ken Hughes.
The case Josh outlines is truly bizarre and has attracted much criticism, not least from NYT’s Thomas Chatterton Williams, who described it as “absolute madness”. I have no experience of Gab or Parler, but assuming everyone on them is a fascist is like assuming everyone on Facebook or Twitter is a communist.
Deidre Garcia says
I know everyone remembers the RNC buying 100,000 copies of Junior’s book to keep it on a best seller’s list?