Friday Links: Make Writing (and Reading) a Priority

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s a crisp fall-like morning here in SoCal (though we’re definitely looking at summer temperatures by lunchtime), and it has me completely energized. Which is a great thing, given my laundry list of to-dos for the weekend. I have serious plans involving work-related reading, a library visit to donate books, a fun run on the calendar for Saturday morning, dust bunnies to battle, and if I’m very good, a bit of time with my personal TBR stack. Depending on the whims of the weather, I will try to spend at least part of my reading time outdoors, because this week was nose-to-grindstone and I’m feeling pale and confined.

So what do you all have plotted out for this weekend? Chores? Family jaunt? Time with a good book? I hope you have at least a little writing time scouted out. Remember that putting it on your official calendar/schedule/day-planner/whatever can be very helpful when it comes to maintaining that commitment to yourself. If it’s important to you, make it a priority. Don’t let the other responsibilities of life throw you off your goals.

While you’re busy scheduling your next couple of days, be sure to leave a little window of time for checking out this week’s links. I’ve got a great lineup and I hope you find them entertaining, edifying, and just plain inspirational. Enjoy, and happy writing!

21 Novels by Women to Add to Your TBR This Fall – Great list. I’m itching to read more than a few of these.

This Ebook Publisher Doesn’t Have Authors. It Has Writers’ Rooms – A peek at the concept and the people behind Serial Box.

Introducing: Bookselling in the 21st Century – A new series from Lithub about independent bookstores.

2016 National Book Awards Longlists – This year’s nominated books, by category. Yes, more things to add to your already topping TBR pile.

Craft Thoughts: Why You Should Edit As You Write – One theory on the writing/editing process from Lincoln Michel.

Roald Dahl: Long-lost poem recovered by Tyrone school – Yet more unknown work by an author of note coming to light after years. This seems to be a weekly occurrence, but I say keep them coming.

My Best Writing Tip by William Boyd, Jeanette Winterson, Amit Chaudhuri, and more – Pretty much as described. Nice round up, followed by a few additional tips from an agent and an editor.

How to Interview a Writer (and How to Be Interviewed) – Some helpful tips for any of you running blogs and/or podcasts, or who have been invited to guest on one by someone else.

Friday Links: A Few of Publishing’s Many Faces

Happy Friday, everyone! This week flew by, which means I’m looking at a busy weekend of things I didn’t quite manage to fit into my week. I hope you all had a good one and that your weekend looks a little bit more relaxing than mine.

For this week’s links, I have a few interesting looks at the publishing industry from very different angles — writers new and experienced, a long-time reviewer, technical innovators, and more, along with a few other fun odds and ends. Together I hope they form an intriguing mosaic and illustrate the way that there is no single story when it comes to this industry. You have to find the journey and the space that works for you.

Have a wonderful weekend, and happy writing!

Moneyball for Book Publishers: A Detailed Look at How We Read – How e-books report back to publishers, and what they might do with the data.

24 Things No One Tells You about Book Publishing – Author Curtis Sittenfeld on her publishing experience.

The Rumpus Interview with Jessa Crispin – Crispin, the long-time publisher of Bookslut (which I am sad to say will be shutting down in May after 14 years), discusses her two recent books and her take on the publishing industry.

The Literary Fiction Drinking Game – From the pages of McSweeney’s. Because it was there, and I was amused.

A Fairytale for all Aspiring Writers – interviews Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest, about her “overnight” success.

2015 RT Award Winners – Romantic Times announces this year’s winners of their Reviewers’ Choice and Career Achievement Awards.

How to Beat Writer’s Block – An interesting article that might help you shake your story loose.

Friday Links

This has been a long week filled with sad and tragic and angering events in the media. I’m hoping for a calm and peaceful weekend with a stack of good books and, possibly, a couple of cocktails. Wishing you the same.

But first, I have links! I’m quite pleased with this selection and I hope you all find something here to inspire you. There’s a mix of words of wisdom and good, strong kicks in the rear. So please check them out, and have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy!

How Rainbow Rowell Turned a Bomb into a Best-selling Novel – That’s the tick-tock type of bomb, not the failure sort of bomb.

David Foster Wallace on Writing, Self-Improvement, and How We Become Who We Are – Some really thoughtful and considered ideas.

Vintage Books Offers New E-book “Vintage Shorts” – Both new and classic shorts, essays, etc. to be released as low priced short e-books.

Inside Junot Diaz’s Class at MIT:What the Writer Wants His Students to Read – Diaz pretty famously criticized American MFA programs for their lack of diversity, and here shares the reading lists for his own classes to show what he considers a more even set of works.

Writing Around a Day Job – Author Tom Pollock shares his thoughts on how to manage regular writing time while holding down a full-time job.

The Last Bookshop

If you’re looking for about a 20 minute break over the next couple of days, grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy this little film. It somehow manages to be funny and charming, sly and sweet, sad and a bit scary, all with just a couple of characters. Filmed in London and Kent, England. Enjoy!

Friday Links

Happy Friday, all! It’s the last day of November — how the heck did that happen? — and therefore the last day of NaNoWriMo. Good luck to those of you in that home stretch, writing feverishly to churn out your 50,000 words.

Whether you’re finishing up your Nano novel or working on something else entirely, be sure to check out my December Writing Challenge, which I posted yesterday. Any sort of writing counts, whether you’re deep in novel mode, starting a new project, working on essays, blog posts, poetry, etc.

Beyond that, I have some fun links to help you kick off the weekend, including thoughts on used books, input versus output, and more. I hope they inspire and entertain you. Happy weekend, and happy writing!

On Input Mode, with Music – Author Erin Morgenstern on refilling the well.

Used Books – Michelle Dean talks used books, and what they mean to her, over at The Rumpus.

17,500 Readers with a Corrupted E-book File – Tale of woe from self-published author Lenore Skomal, who explains what she did wrong and how she tackled correcting her problem.

Dispatch from the Edge of Literary Culture – A look at finding yourself outside the traditional literary scenes.


Friday Links

Happy Friday! Does everyone have plans for the weekend? Mine involve setting up my shiny new computer in the interests of transferring all my files before I get too many more blue screens of death. Ah technology, you make our lives so interesting.

Of course I have a few links for you all, so if you’ve got a spare moment or are just looking for some procrastination inspiration, I hope you’ll check them out. Have a terrific weekend, and don’t forget to get some reading and/or writing time in!

The Do-It-Yourself Lit Degree – Book Riot brings you some ideas on how to catch up on that academic reading.

Writing LIAR with Scrivener – Author Justine Larbalestier gives a great overview on how she wrote her young adult novel, LIAR, using Scrivener software. I’m linking to this because I was discussing the program with some writers in Denver last weekend, so it seemed like a good time to share this for anyone curious about how the program might help them.

How to Write a Manuscript: 5 Key Tips – A few ideas that might help you plow through.

HarperCollins Reaches New Agreements with Amazon and Others on E-Book Prices – An overview of how the DOJ settlement is starting to play out.

William Gibson, The Art of Fiction No. 211 – A great interview from The Paris Review archives.

Happy New Release Day!

Looking for something new to read? Check out Shannon K. Butcher’s exciting, stand-alone eSpecial, available today: FORGET ME NOT.

It’s a race against time for two lovers—star-crossed and desperate—in Shannon K. Butcher’s astonishing new romance of electrifying danger and desire…. 

The last thing Adria expects to find when she arrives at her vacation rental is a man in her front yard—unconscious and stark-naked. But something else sets him apart from most strangers. He is no ordinary man. Toren is new to Earth, framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and banished to this planet to serve his sentence. He’s desperate to return to his planet, because the magic that is part of him will soon disappear and, along with it, all of his memories. Adria is his only hope to help make his escape for home—and as fate would have it, his reason to stay. 

Traditional Publication vs. Going It Alone

Last week’s RWA conference was a wonderful event, featuring workshops, panels, parties, pitches, meetings and more. There were writers at every stage of their career, from newbies working on their first novel to multi-published pros who have been in the business for decades. There were editors from the major New York publishing houses, as well as from small presses and electronic publishers. And most everyone was weighed down by this year’s red-and-white conference tote bag, loaded with books they had acquired at the literacy signing, in the goody room, from publisher giveaways, or at the conference bookstore. That’s right. Books. Actual paper books.

Yet the most common questions I received during the conference focused on digital publishing, and most specifically the rise in self-publication in that format. I had authors ask if I thought traditional publishing was on the way out, whether I feared for my career, and why anyone should bother following the standard route to publication. And I kept turning around in circles, looking at all the books piling up around me, most from major New York publishing houses, and wondered if I was the only one who saw the disconnect.

Digital publishing is here to stay. So is self-publishing. They are both viable aspects of the marketplace. However, the existence of e-books does not negate the importance or appeal of the more physical format. Plenty of people still want hard copies of their books. They love filling their bookcases with beautifully bound volumes, enjoy having matched sets of their favorite series, and want something they can read on an airplane while taking off or landing. After a day at the beach, it’s far easier to dust sand out of your paperback than out of your e-reader, and few people are brave enough to carry their Kindle into a bubble bath. E-books are portable, environmentally friendly, space savers, and a great way to try out new authors at lower price points. And for some readers, they are sufficient. But for others, they are merely an additional way to enjoy their preferred reading material, not a replacement.

Self-publication, likewise, is a positive addition to the publishing marketplace, but it is by no means poised to eliminate publishers as we know them. Not all writers wish to self-publish. Not all writers want to invest the time and energy self-publishing requires above and beyond the act of writing the book.

Imagine, if you will, that there are no more physical bookstores. That all the traditional publishers have vanished. You, as a writer, have self-published your book, in digital format, because that is now the only format. How do readers find you? How do they sort through the thousands of other writers who are also producing new digital books every day? It’s fine if you manage to hit the list of top-selling books on any given e-retailer’s site, or if you find a way to get a promotional slot on the front page, but what if you don’t? How does an unknown writer make themselves known in an entirely digital, self-published arena?

There are ways to break out of obscurity, of course. Writers have done it. They develop blogs of their own, with witty posts and high traffic, and visit the blogs of other writers and book reviewers. They host contests and drawings. They haunt social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter and put considerable thought into their marketing campaigns long before they release their books. But as the field grows more crowded, it will become harder and harder to get noticed.

Many of the most successful self-published authors are authors who started in traditional publishing, and who already have a ready-made audience. They are self-publishing backlist that has gone out of print, or writing new material to self-publish in addition to their traditionally published works. They frequently do so with the assistance of their agents or another entity in order to have a partner in the process, someone to arrange for formatting and cover art and to help with promotion. And a number of debut authors who gained a measure of fame and success in the self-publishing arena have signed on with agents and major publishing houses in order to take the burden of marketing partially off their shoulders. They would rather devote the bulk of their time to writing their books.

Publishing as an industry is going to continue to change and shift and morph, but at the end of the day, I believe we will settle on a system that offers writers a combination of formats and venues for getting their work in front of readers. Some authors will choose to work entirely with major publishers and some will self-publish, but the majority, I suspect, will fall somewhere in the middle, making the most of all their opportunities. And as always, success in publishing will come down to a combination of hard work, talent, timing, and luck.

Friday Links

Happy Friday, everyone! I am quite ready for the weekend, even though in my case it will be somewhat truncated as I’m heading off to the Santa Barbara Writers Conference on Sunday for a couple of days of chatting with writers about their work. It’s going to be an especially poignant conference this year, as Ray Bradbury was a frequent participant and supporter of the event. Still, I am looking forward to it. If you’re attending, please do say hello. I’ll be at the Agent Panel on Monday at 4 pm and then at the Wine & Cheese event that follows.

But today is Friday, which means links for the weekend. I hope you enjoy them and that the weekend is filled with fun and books and maybe a bit of writing. All those little bits add up, after all.

The DOJ Settlement and Why We Should Care – A look at how the DOJ ruling regarding e-book pricing affects writers.

Getty Launches Full-Text Website for Art History Research – Regarding a good new resource for any writers interested in art history or looking to research it for a WIP.

L.A. Times Summer Reading Guide – Because I love lists, and yes, it’s that time of year.

A Book Lover’s Guide to Reading and Walking at the Same Time – A valuable skill to cultivate, in my mind.

And 12 pieces of excellent advice for writers, from the wonderful Ray Bradbury. This is a bit long — nearly an hour — but worth every moment.

The Great E-book Kerfuffle

Many people were confused about the decision handed down by the Department of Justice regarding the question of whether Big Publishers had colluded to fix prices of e-books. The argument seems to have shifted from whether they colluded to whether they have the right to set prices at all. While writers may be frustrated with their royalty percentages on electronic editions of their books, the answer is not to take pricing out of the hands of publishers and hand it over to Amazon, or even the DOJ. It’s not the DOJ’s job to determine what a fair or affordable price is for an e-book–only to ensure that there’s nothing dishonest going on regarding the setting of that price.

I’m not here to foist my opinions regarding e-book pricing on the general reading public, but I would like to provide those interested with some additional information. So, for those curious about the hows and whys of the situation, I offer you an excellent blog post by author Charles Stross: What Amazon’s E-book Strategy Means. Stross breaks down very carefully what many of Amazon’s actions translate to in the larger business context. And also, Mike Shatzkin’s After the DOJ Action, Where Do We Stand? Mike links back within his post to previous discussions on the subject, so you can get some further background on why the publishers are so intent on maintaining the agency price model. Finally, Nathan Bransford on Why E-books Cost So Much.

At the end of the day, this situation is about more than what an e-book costs. It’s about the shape of the entire publishing industry, determining how books go from a glimmer in a writer’s mind to the volume on a consumer’s nightstand. I have been a buyer of books far longer than I have been a literary agent, and while I admit to loving the ease of purchase and the attractive discounts offered by, I am not so much a fan as to wish to see them become the only major outlet for purchasing books or anything else.