This week in books!
First off, thank you so much to everyone who chimed in with feedback on our community. One thing I learned: people didn’t really know about the discussion forums! Oops. I’m going to endeavor to make those more visible going forward. But seriously, thank you to everyone who chimed in. (And I’d still like to hear your thoughts if you haven’t already left them.)
Meanwhile, here are some of the best links I spotted in the past week.
The internet has had all sorts of impacts on our culture, but one of the most fascinating to me has been the relationships between superfans and the work and creators they… well, I’m not sure “love” is the right word. Writing in The New Yorker, Michael Schulman takes a look at the lucrative, complicated, and occasionally (often?) toxic relationship between superfans and the objects of their obsession.
Speaking of complicated, One Zero has a rather scathing assessment of Goodreads and the extent to which it has been left to stagnate under the ownership of Amazon.
The SWFA has long provided indispensable resources to help authors safely navigate the publishing process, and they recently updated their overview and recommendations on self-publishing.
I really enjoyed this interview with legendary art dealer Larry Gagosian, which includes many awesome nuggets but especially this anecdote about Picasso:
So [Paul Rosenberg’s] inaugural show was going to be new paintings by Picasso. Can you even imagine that?! Picasso paints a show for him. He sent the paintings over on a boat. Rosenberg and his team opened up the crate. They take a look and Rosenberg was disappointed. So he writes to Picasso and says, “For your first major commercial show in America, these paintings aren’t good enough.” Now, remember, at that time Picasso was already the most famous artist in the world. So what does Picasso do? He paints Rosenberg an entirely new show. My point is that you have to stay open as an artist. Novelists have editors. Musicians have producers. No matter how successful you are, no one should immunize themselves from feedback.
And 14 quotes from William Faulkner about writing? Yes please.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories:
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- Vendetta in Death by J.D. Robb
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Dark Illusion by Christine Feehan
- A Better Man by Louise Penny
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Call Sign Chaos by James Mattis and Bing West
- Educated by Tara Westover
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Radicals, Resistance and Revenge by Jeanine Pirro
- The Pioneers by David McCullough
Young adult hardcover:
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin
- The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
- American Royals by Katharine McGee
- Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee
Middle grade hardcover:
- Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- The Fire Keeper by J.C. Cervantes
- Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
This week on the blog
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- 7 reasons your characters feel flat
- What is hybrid publishing?
- What kind of community should we have?
- Don’t overdo it (Page critique)
Comment! of! the! week! goes to Marilynn Byerly with some succinct advice on the first chapter. I don’t know that I necessarily agree that it has to be in the first chapter, but if these elements aren’t apparent early in the novel you’re really risking losing the reader:
When I was teaching writing the first chapter, first on my list of suggestions was give the main character a goal for the book on the first pages, make that goal emotionally important to them, and also make it important to the reader. Sadly, I read and toss away lots of books whose authors can’t figure out this simple fact.
And finally, I consider athletes to be as much artists as writers or painters, and I really enjoyed this deep dive with Kevin Durant, one of the most fascinating athletes of our time. Worth a read.
Have a great weekend!
• Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
• For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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