This has been another really distressing week in America, and my heart goes out to everyone who has been affected in any way by all the senseless violence. Let’s look out for ourselves and each other, Black Lives Matter, support commonsense gun and police reform, and we all need to do our part to dismantle the structures that hold us back from being the society we can and should be.
Meanwhile, Simon & Schuster came under fire this week because one of the publishers it distributes, Post Hill Press, acquired a book by one of the cops who shot Breonna Taylor. After a major outcry (and some confusion among people who weren’t splitting hairs between publishing and distributing), Simon & Schuster announced that it wouldn’t be involved in the distribution of the book (no word as of this writing on whether that means they have severed their relationship with Post Hill Press entirely).
Just for the record since this is a publishing blog, a publisher is the entity that acquires, edits, and publishes a book. In this case Simon & Schuster was not the publisher, nor is Post Hill Press one of its imprints. Post Hill Press is its own separate entity. A publisher, particularly a mid-size or small one, will often engage a distributor, an entity (sometimes one that is also a publisher, hence the confusion) that provides sales infrastructure and sometimes printing/warehousing/shipping on behalf of the publisher. An analogy would be like if the New York Times rented out its spare sales, printing, and shipping capacity to other newspapers, but they’re not the ones writing and editing what’s in that other paper.
I’m not sure the distinction matters all that much to those who think publishers should be pressured to divest from amplifying and profiting from these types of books entirely, but just FYI. (And please note for the love of books: divestment is not the same thing as censorship).
Are serials the new thing? Amazon announced the launch of Kindle Vella, a new platform that allows authors to serialize stories, and readers spend “coins” to read those stories, and authors get 50% of these coins, only no one really knows what that’s worth yet or how this will be tracked so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Monica Leonelle has a helpful rundown for authors (via David Gaughran’s newsletter, which you should absolutely subscribe to).
Author R.O. Kwon gives voice to something I personally have evolved on in the last few years: don’t kill your darlings (via LitHub). I used to try to enforce more ruthlessness in the editing process, but now, whenever an author yelps when I’m suggesting editing out a very particular line or character or plot point, I try to encourage them to examine why that one hurt. Maybe there’s some essence there that needs to be expanded upon rather than squelched. Make your darlings work for you and your narrative, but don’t kill them. If anything, as R.O. Kwon argues, make more of them.
Agent Jessica Faust makes the case that agents should be compensated more for their time attending conferences and festivals.
And Doreen St. Felix profiled Amanda Gorman in Vogue, which is one of those links you can’t click on fast enough.
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 Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
- The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
- Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile
- Finding Freedom by Erin French
- Broken by Jenny Lawson
- Beautiful Things by Hunter Biden
- The Light of Days by Judy Batalion
Young adult hardcover:
- Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
- Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare
- Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
- Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers by Michelle Obama
- Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
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 Sheila, with a dissent on this week’s page critique:
I really liked the original, for what it’s worth. As a reader I very much prefer not to have everything explained to me in so many words, but to have the essential information revealed to me gradually (and preferably with skill) as the story goes on.
And finally, I really enjoyed this essay by Charlie Warzel about how social media platforms are optimized for insane pile-ons and how you never want to be the “main character” on Twitter for a day. We’ve gotta do better.
Have a great weekend!
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I really love that R.O. Kwon piece. I feel like my favorite books have some darlings that were allowed to live.
JOHN T. SHEA says
Amen to R. O. Kwon re darlings! I’ve long believed the whole “Kill all your darlings” thing was invented and preached by authors who want only OTHER authors to kill their darlings! Books NEED darlings! Particularly Peter Pan books, which are full of Darlings.
Amen also to Sheila. I LOVED the original first page. You always want more info on the first page, Nathan, which is WRONG! First pages should have LESS info. In fact, BLANK first pages would be best of all. Likewise the cover. All blank. Or covered with false and misleading info. Where’s your sense of mystery and paradox? Forrest Gump was right.
Life is like a box of chocolates. We shouldn’t be looking at the flavor guide to avoid all the toffees. And the final stage of editing should be to rearrange the pages in random order. I know my ideas sound bizarre but I intend to revolutionize publishing. And you heard it here first!