This week! Books!
Book scammers continue to prey on unsuspecting authors, and one of the latest versions involves people impersonating real literary agents, sending fraudulent contracts, and then asking for money. These scams have been around for a while, but seem to be reaching new levels of sophistication.
Remember: no reputable agent will ask you for money up front. Agents do occasionally approach authors out of the blue if the author has achieved a certain level of success and attention (it helps to be honest with yourself here). If an agent does approach you, be absolutely, positively sure that the agent you’re communicating with is the genuine article. Do your research to make sure the agent is reputable. Particularly these days, no agent is going to just offer you representation out of the blue. Don’t be paranoid, but do be cautious.
Back in August, Alex Reisner was able to verify that ChatGPT has been trained on at least 170,000 books for which OpenAI never secured permission, including ones by Stephen King, Zadie Smith, and Michael Pollan. Multiple lawsuits are working their way through the process, which will establish whether OpenAI’s use of the books falls under fair use or was a copyright violation.
The Fault in Our Stars author John Green is fighting a very personal fight against book bans in his home state of Indiana. The public library who had moved to ban more than 1,800 young adult novels suspended the policy, but the ultimate status of the novels remains unresolved.
Canadian bookseller Indigo has experienced a tumultuous last couple of years, and Ken Whyte dishes on the latest drama, including CEO Peter Ruis’s resignation after just one year.
The LA Times has yet another incredible profile of science fiction legend Octavia Butler, this one by Dakota Kim, who traced Butler’s walks around Pasadena, where her keen observations of the landscape influenced her prophetic fiction.
The latest journalist to notice that the state of Utah has a unique hold over YA fiction is Abby Aguirre, who delves into the reasons behind the state being such an enthusiastic producer and consumer of teen novels.
Two awesome author interviews for you: Grace Lin talks about how she turned an idea to create a picture book about Asian-American food into the finished project, and Min Jin Lee has some fascinating thoughts on using an omniscient voice to capture a society and a passionate defense of objective truths. I particularly enjoyed her exhortation about what it means to be a writer:
We have these absurd romantic ideas about the modern writer. In America, it used to be that you had to be a Jack Kerouac type of person, always on the road, sleeping with women and drinking. I think it’s bullshit. As a matter of fact, I know so many good writers in America who are very serious about their work and live soberly, resisting all the foolish distractions. You have to be that way because most of the world doesn’t care about books. That doesn’t bother me as much because I’ve already made the decision that writing is important to me, and I’ve come to terms with that choice. If you’re trying to chase the things that the world values, then becoming a writer is not what you want to do. If you want to be famous, don’t be a writer. If you want to be rich, I’d avoid being a writer. But if you want to write and you have things to say, then I’d say, Sit down and do your work. For whatever it may be worth, I’m rooting for you and your sublime vision.
A podcast host undertook quite a search for the artist behind a quite bizarre paperback cover for A Wrinkle in Time.
And I really enjoyed this post by David Corbett about how to find authenticity in characters and as a writer.
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:
- Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
- Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer
- Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
- The Coworker by Freida McFadden
- The Breakaway by Jennifer Weiner
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- Outlive by Peter Attia with Bill Gifford
- American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin
- The Wager by David Grann
Young adult hardcover:
- Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross
- Foxglove by Adalyn Grace
- Solitaire by Alice Oseman
- House of Marionne by J. Elle
- Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Sun and the Star by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- A Horse Named Sky by Rosanne Parry
- The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- It’s harder than ever to rise above the noise. It’s also a golden era for writers
- Repetition–repetition is distracting (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!
And finally, Ben Thompson tracks ESPN’s fascinating rise and fall, which follows the overall trajectory of the cable industry. As we hurtle toward our streaming future, it’s a fascinating case study in what we’re gaining and losing.
Have a great weekend!
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For my best advice, check out my online classes, my guide to writing a novel and my guide to publishing a book.
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Photo: Kakum National Park, Ghana. Follow me on Instagram!