This week! Books!
The antitrust lawsuit over Penguin Random House’s proposed acquisition of Simon & Schuster is in full swing. Shira Ovide writes about how the threat posed by Amazon is looming in the background of the trial, and Publishers Lunch ($ links) has some extensive recaps of the testimony so far.
The latest prominent writer to insinuate that publishers don’t want books by white men (in the face of all evidence to the contrary) is brought to you by Joyce Carol Oates. No, it’s not true, and this type of thing is particularly tiresome when it could be disproved by simply walking into a bookstore and opening one’s eyes. As I posted last year, no one is taking your spot and more work still needs to be done to level the playing field for marginalized voices.
Fifty-two books by forty-one authors, including Judy Freaking Bloom, have been removed from the libraries of Utah’s largest school district. A great reminder from Nicole Chung: you can try banning books, but kids will still read them.
In writing advice news, author and agent Donald Maass writes about capturing a character’s crucial inner moments, and agent Kate McKean talks about getting the bare minimum right when you’re approaching literary agents (and worrying less about the rest).
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:
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- Verity by Colleen Hoover
- Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- The Big Lie by Jonathan Lemire
- Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris
- Finding Me by Viola Davis
- Thank You For Your Servitude by Mark Leibovich
Young adult hardcover:
- Star Wars: Padawan by Kiersten White
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen
- Family of Liars by E. Lockhart
- Loveless by Alice Oseman
Middle grade hardcover:
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman
- Ground Zero by Alan Gratz
- The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
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!
And finally, Evan Osnos’s deep dive (get it?) into the world of superyachts is equal parts fascinating, horrifying, and infuriating.
Have a great weekend!
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Ron Seybold says
Joyce has got us talking, doesn’t she? I’m all for equity, Nathan. Can’t we research something beyond that glance at your bookstore’s shelves? Go to the leading page for new deals at Publisher’s Marketplace. Do a search on “debut” for fiction authors: 22 deals were announced just in the last week. Three authors are white men; one was having his fiction debut, after having a nonfiction book published.
It’s time to talk about the merit of the author’s work. Kate McKean has a great Substack article that says, from her agent perspective, “It’s the books” when judging who an agent will sign. I think the industry is already correcting for sins of the past. When the white male author team goes 3 for 22 on one page, it looks like the corrections for equity are really dug in.
Getting signed as a white male is nothing like already having a book in a store. Frankly, Joyce Carol Oates was talking about a debut problem. It seems that in the debut-signing department, we’re at equity and probably beyond. Maybe you have data from someplace else, for agent signings, that shows otherwise. Let’s just cheer for good books. That’s what the good agents want to sign and sell.
JOHN T. SHEA says
Interesting. Though Joyce Carol Oates was repeating something an agent told her. I always wonder how people figure out the sex, race, sexual orientation or other details of an author. Most of the many books I’ve read have no pictures of the author and names are nothing to go by, as the famous example of the SF author James Tiptree Junior shows us (SHE was a woman and a CIA agent!)