This week! Books!
First up, I’m going to be going on a midwinter hiatus for the next few weeks, and the blog will return around the end of the month. In the meantime, keep on reaching out if you’re looking for editing or coaching.
A perennial publishing flashpoint flared up again this week as Rebecca Jennings from Vox delved into the expectations placed on authors and artists to be social media mavens #TheseDays, assessed the state of the Gen-X bête noir of “selling out,” and found some (very ahistorical in my opinion) quotes from people indulging the myth that it has ever been anything but thus.
Jane Friedman pours a Stanley cup-sized glass of cold water on the post, reminding everyone that platform is important for (most) nonfiction and merely a “nice to have” for fiction and children’s books, and delves into what it really means to have a platform.
In case you’re wondering if this is a new debate, might I direct you to my post from the black and white era of 2011 entitled The Thing About Self-Promotion is That Self-Promotion Sucks (But You Have to Do It Anyway)? Want to go farther back to 2009 for The Myth of “Just An Author?” It’s almost always been necessary to have a platform for nonfiction, and it’s extremely helpful (but still not mandatory) for fiction. And authors have always been relied upon for marketing.
The only laws of the publishing industry are that the sky has been falling since the invention of the printing press and the true Golden Era was precisely twenty years ago before the present. I already can’t wait to see people waxing nostalgic about this era of publishing in 2044. My guess is that they’ll look back and think “Wow, there used to be a time when individuals could become popular online without needing to invest the resources of a small country’s GDP in production costs and immediately being drowned out by A.I. copycats.”
Adam Morgan at Esquire delved into the controversy at the Hugo Awards and the failure to nominate R.F. Kuang, Xiran Jay Zhao, Neil Gaiman, and Paul Weimer. While there isn’t yet a smoking gun, insiders point to either human error or interference by the leadership rather than overt censorship.
In writing advice news, September C. Fawkes has a great post on mastering turning points in character relationships, Rebecca K Reilly discusses the pressure to Americanize (Americanise?) stories, and Karen Outen talks about the pain of killing off your characters.
And in addition to being a fantastic novelist, you can’t really beat Neal Stephenson for prescience either. Matteo Wong talks to Stephenson to get his thoughts on the current state of A.I.
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:
- House of Flame and Shadow by Sarah J. Maas
- Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
- Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros
- House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
- The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
- The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- The Wager by David Grann
- Oath and Honor by Liz Cheney
Young adult hardcover:
- Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross
- Ruthless Vows by Rebecca Ross
- Powerless by Lauren Roberts
- Murtaugh by Christopher Paolini
- Nightbane by Alex Aster
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris
- Wonka by Sibéal Pounder
- The Sun and the Star by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison
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, speaking of Stanley cups, there have been a lot of takes online about their sudden popularity, but I particularly enjoyed Kyle Chayka’s, who treats it less like random mass hysteria and more like the highly corporatized and of-the-moment marketing campaign that it is.
Have a great weekend! Happy Lunar New Year’s Eve to all who are celebrating!
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
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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