This week! Books!
This week has been a heck of a decade. I don’t really know what to say about the incredibly distressing events of this week that others haven’t said more forcefully and eloquently, so I’m just going to move on to the books links.
One consequence of the insurrection at the Capitol this week (I can’t believe I just typed those words) was that Simon & Schuster canceled Senator Josh Hawley’s book deal, citing “his role in what became a dangerous threat.”
In response, Josh Hawley launched a threat to pursue legal action against the “woke mob at Simon & Schuster” (a similar lawsuit against S&S did not go well for Milo Yiannapolous), and called the cancellation both Orwellian (which is actually more Orwellian than the book getting canceled) and “a direct assault on the First Amendment.”
You know, I didn’t graduate from Yale Law like Josh, but I always thought the First Amendment prevented Congress from abridging free speech and doesn’t actually force publishers to give senators lucrative book deals. Then I took another look at the text of the first amendment:
Huh. Guess I was mistaken.
(For those reading by email who can’t see the embedded tweet: this is a joke).
While publishing industry consolidation is continuing apace with the anticipated merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, there is also movement in the other direction. The literary imprint Spiegel & Grau, which was shuttered by Penguin Random House in 2019, will be reconstituting as an independent publishing house.
Also, there was a surprise ending for publishers in 2020: business was good, although the news is much less rosy for bookstores. As Mike Shatzkin notes about a recent survey of the impact of COVID on the industry, 2020 saw the continued rise of big box stores like Costco as booksellers, sales may be shifting from frontlist to backlist as more bookselling moves out of bookstores and online, and publishers are working on their direct-to-consumer infrastructure.
A bizarre and sophisticated phishing scam has emerged that has targeted literary agencies to try to dupe people into sending unpublished manuscripts. The motive is unclear, but some suspect a rogue literary scout, who keep eyes on books coming down the pike for film studies.
A provision in the recent COVID-19 relief bill will facilitate the creation of a copyright claims board at the U.S. Copyright office, which will streamline copyright infringement disputes and facilitate small claims cases. The idea is to help independent creators protect their rights without having to pay huge legal fees.
Speaking of copyright, books published in 1925 or earlier are now in the public domain, which includes The Great Gatsby and Mrs. Dalloway.
Meanwhile in France, there is a stirring of a reckoning over its even-less-diverse-than-the-US publishing industry and the lengths to which the insular industry has corrupted literary awards and coddled an openly pedophilic author.
In writing advice news, I really liked this post on the joy of native storytelling structures, and rejecting things like trickster characters learning a lesson.
And a timely reminder from literary agent Jessica Faust as many people get ready to query anew in 2021: remembering that publishing is a business will help you succeed.
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
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- Hush-Hush by Stuart Woods
- The Invisible Life of Addie Laurie by V.E. Schwab
- The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- A Promised Land by Barack Obama
- Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
- Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
- The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk
Young adult hardcover:
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- The Cousins by Karen M. McManus
- Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- Essentially Charli by Charli D’Amelio
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling
- Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure by Jeff Kinney
- The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- A Tale of Witchcraft by Chris Colfer
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
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 Dana, with another trick for how to visualize your 2021 goals:
I like the idea of tracking time instead of words, or maybe a combination. Not every writing session is going to give you a lot of words, but it’s important to acknowledge the effort.
Another thing I’ve seen suggested is to write next year’s ‘family’ letter. Imagine writing a letter sharing your accomplishments to your family and friends that you’d put in a Christmas card. This helps narrow down your most important goals.
And finally, Shigeru Myamoto, the legendary creator of Nintendo games like Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda, gave a truly fantastic interview with the New Yorker. Check it out.
Have a great weekend!
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
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Tricia Copeland says
Love the first amendment! Nice!
Neil E Larkins says
I’m thankful for the right to free speech and I believe no one should be forced to provide a soapbox for anyone to stand on to exercise that right. I believe in free enterprise and publishers fall into that category. They have the right to print or not print whoever or whatever they want. It’s not censorship. Breach of contract is another thing. If there was a contract and Hawley feels S&S illegally broke that contract then he has the right to sue. But he should never be given deferential treatment because of who he is or the position he holds.
Chris Henderson says
Yes, thank you for referring back to the whatever the written contract says. That’s the key. If the contract already approved the purchase, then he is due his monies according to the terms set out. Whether or not you like Hawley is irrelevant to a signed document.
JOHN T. SHEA says
But Nathan! That looks like Alexander Hamilton’s handwriting on the First Amendment. Though maybe he had some other Josh in mind…