Like many people I am aghast at the recent events in Israel and Gaza and my heart is with everyone affected. In a social media environment where people now feel pressed to make their own statements as if we all have our own personal PR departments and where silence is viewed by some as complicity, I honestly don’t have very much that feels constructive to add beyond wishing safety for all innocent people, justice for all criminals, and wise leadership that prizes common humanity, creative solutions, and painful compromises over bloodshed.
I’m going to keep going with my posts, but if you and/or your loved ones are personally affected, you have my utmost sympathies.
Transition to the book stuff.
The term “literary fiction” is a surprisingly recent publishing industry invention and has only been in common parlance since the 1980s as a signifier of artistic ambition. In another article adapted from his forthcoming book Big Fiction on the effect of corporate systems on novels, Dan Sinykin argues that the term literary fiction might have already been squashed back into meaninglessness.
In a distressing reflection of the state of free speech in India under the Modi administration, novelist Arundhati Roy has been charged with offenses related to provocative speech over remarks she made in 2010 about Kashmir.
Fantasy novel tropes have historically been bound up in colonialist Euro-centric elements like castles and hetero- and cis-normative character archetypes, and I really enjoyed this look at how Jasmine Walls and Teo DuVall resisted those to create a fresh environment for their graphic novel Brooms. (via Cynsations)
Publisher Ken Whyte gives an excellent peek at the unglamorous sausage-making of sales conferences, where publishers pitch their books to their sales reps, who will then pitch the titles into the “accounts” they cover, like bookstores, libraries, and chains. In his case, Ken is actually pitching to a US sales agency who handles sales operations for multiple small publishers. The pitches are brief, and the sales reps ain’t reading all the books. This is how your lovingly crafted novel ends up on a shelf at Barnes & Noble, if you’re extremely lucky.
Comp titles can be tricky to come up with (here’s my advice on comp titles). Agent Kate McKean advises you to think about comp titles in terms of vibes + sales, but whatever you do, don’t compile Dr. Frankenstein comps that leave an agent scratching their heads.
I haven’t read Michael Lewis’s new book Going Infinite on Sam Bankman-Fried, but it seemed like such a fortuitous choice of subject matter. Lewis had an up close look at FTX’s implosion and a publication date that coincides with Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial. But Lewis, who specializes in plucky hero narratives about people who succeed by going against the grain, seems to have been ill-equipped to change gears. It’s remarkable that two recent reviewers, Gideon Lewis-Kraus and Helen Lewis, wrote almost identical takes on Going Infinite: ridiculously readable, but Lewis himself is making a risky bet to treat Bankman-Fried with so much credulousness. Just as Lewis seems unable to see The Blind Side subject Michael Oher in anything other than an uncharitable light, he seems unable to see Bankman-Fried as anything other than a boy genius.
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:
- Judgment Prey by John Sandford
- Wildfire by Hannah Grace
- Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
- Second Act by Danielle Steel
- Holly by Stephen King
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Going Infinite by Michael Lewis
- The Democrat Party Hates America by Mark R. Levin
- Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
- Killing the Witches by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
- Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson
Young adult hardcover:
- Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross
- Curious Tides by Pascale Lacelle
- This Winter by Alice Oseman
- Night of the Witch by Sara Raasch and Beth Revis
- Long Live the Pumpkin Queen by Shea Ernshaw
Middle grade hardcover:
- Wings of Fire: A Guide to the Dragon World by Tui T. Sutherland
- The Sun and the Star by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Rosie Frost and the Falcon Queen by Geri Halliwell-Horner
- The Official Harry Potter Cookbook by Joanna Farrow
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, RIP to Charles Feeney, a billionaire who went from having palatial residences around the world to giving away nearly his entire fortune, anonymously, before he passed away. Someone worth emulating.
Have a great weekend!
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