This week! Books!
Big news this week as PEN America, Penguin Random House, and a group of authors have filed suit against the Escambia County School District for violating the equal protection clause in the Constitution by targeting disproportionately nonwhite and LGBTQ authors with book bans. This is a significant legal salvo in the midst of a nationally organized conservative book banning craze. In related news, Jeffrey Fleishman at the LA Times profiles two Florida moms fighting the good fight against the fascists.
Meanwhile, the kids are alright, at least when they’re very cool young writers staging guerrilla literary popups around Los Angeles.
A further update to last weekend’s controversy over New Leaf Literary’s handling of agent Jordan Hamessley’s departure. The Authors Guild released a statement that New Leaf has agreed that authors who are currently on submission, under contract, or pre-contract can choose to remain so with New Leaf or pursue representation elsewhere.
As new information has come to light, I remain of the opinion that New Leaf could have handled the crucial initial communication to authors better, but I don’t think it’s good for anyone involved if agents are forced to represent projects they’re not enthusiastic about, except for agnostic custodial roles like handling contracts and royalty statements. Some unpleasantness is inevitable in these situations. This is also all indicative of a broader publishing game of musical chairs as it’s harder and harder to place new books.
Publishing tongues were a-wagging at AI writing company Sudowrite’s demo of their new Story Engine writing tool for novels. Even as much as I love technology, I just can’t shake my skepticism of the text AI is currently outputting and think it’s an unproductive technological cul-de-sac. Particularly when this is the crappy (and sexist) writing the AI generates in Sudowrite’s own demo:
Harry, the expat from England weirdos insist on calling “Prince” due to the arbitrary nature of his birth, hired J. R. Moehringer to ghostwrite his memoir Spare, and Moehringer wrote an interesting long essay for The New Yorker peeling back the mystery and emotional labor around that arrangement.
Sarah McCarry wrote on light, time, music, and memory, so naturally that’s a must-read.
Emily St. Martin at the LA Times recommends 6 new books to check out during AAPI month.
In agent advice news, Jessica and James at BookEnds discussed the things successful authors do (I love that they start with “they’re well-read”), and Kate McKean has some really good advice about how to know if your agent is the problem. (Here are my entries on how to know if you have a good agent and how to know when to leave your agent).
And RIP to Heather Armstrong, aka Dooce, whose impact on blogging culture, #Influencing, and perceptions of motherhood is hard to overstate. I met Heather a few times back in the blogging heyday of yesteryear and this tragic news was a real punch to the gut.
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:
- Happy Place by Emily Henry
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- The Making of Another Motion Picture Masterpiece by Tom Hanks
- Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
- Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Gamus
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Spare by Prince Harry
- The Wager by David Grann
- The Daddy Diaries by Andy Cohen
- The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
Young adult hardcover:
- Solitaire by Alice Oseman
- Five Survive by Holly Jackson
- Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley
- Imogene, Obviously by Becky Albertalli
- Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Sun and the Star by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro
- The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Skandar and the Phantom Rider by A.F. Steadman
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- What recent publishing controversies say about the industry
- What does the protagonist have to do? (query 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!
And finally, one interesting use I find for AI is in the possibility of being able to have one-on-one conversations with as many people as possible. As an editor: yeah, I can see how this would be useful. Of course, the first use case for this technology is pretty yeesh.
Have a great weekend!
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Neil Larkins says
What a relief to know that AI can pen smarmy junk along with the best – or worst, however you look at it – of the flesh (pant, pant) and blood writers.
For so many years Dooce was a daily must-read. So, so sad.
I’m up for fighting the book banning bigoted fascists. I don’t know how many times since 2016 I’ve said, “I can’t believe this is happening.” Where do we sign up?
I mean this kindly, and I have no especial interest in the royal family, but your continuing hostile asides regarding Prince Harry and the royal family in general are kind of weird and they’re getting a little tiresome.
Nathan Bransford says
Well they amuse me so therefore they stay.