Why some authors have agents but no books (This week in books)

by | Dec 13, 2019 | This Week in Books | 3 comments

The Arctic! Photo by me. Follow me on Instagram!

This week! The books!

First off, I am very pleased to announce the winner of the Amusingly Humorous Book Title contest! Congrats to Jason, who successfully worked the referee and the voters with his clever play on my newest book: How To Book a Pub: 41 Rules For Successfully Booking A Pub That You Will Love For-a-Beer

Jason and finalists, please reach out to me for your prizes!

Also, one more quick plug for our annual Heifer fundraiser, if you have anything to spare this year please consider donating to this worthy cause or even just spreading the word:

Now then, it was a bit of a quiet week out there as we enter the holidays, but I collected some links for you:

I was very excited to swing by the Write-Minded podcast to talk about finding an agent and writing a query letter, so give that a listen if that’s on your mind.

Ever wonder why some writers have literary agents even though they don’t have a book? Agent Janet Reid helps explain this phenomenon. Often it has to do with agents being entrepreneurial about the long term.

It’s important to be a good self-editor, but as you’re writing it’s sometimes necessary to shut that off for a bit so you can actually move forward and avoid a state of paralysis. Over at The Creative Penn, Heidi Fiedler has some good advice on how to quiet your inner critic so you can move forward.

Another hard thing about writing is that success becomes normative. I call this the “if only” game, where you always move the goalposts on which writing accomplishment will you happy. Over at Writer Unboxed, Rheea Mukherjee writes about this phenomenon and the importance of giving.

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:

  1. The Guardians by John Grisham
  2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  3. The 19th Christmas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  4. Criss Cross by James Patterson
  5. A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci

Adult print and e-book nonfiction:

  1. Educated by Tara Westover
  2. Me by Elton John
  3. Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers by Brian Kilmeade
  4. A Warning by Anonymous
  5. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Young adult hardcover:

  1. Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
  2. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  3. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  5. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis

Middle grade hardcover:

  1. The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
  2. Ali Cross by James Patterson
  3. The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
  4. Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney
  5. A Tale of Magic… by Chris Colfer

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:

Comment! of! the! week! goes to Craig Baker, who left a very good comment on an older post, 32 book marketing ideas:

Set up a writer page on Facebook and a record with Twitter. See what sort of posts and advancements get the most likes, shares, and retweets, and apply the bits of knowledge to expand your online life following and draw in with them better.

And finally, I’ve been thinking a whole lot lately about what the internet and social media is doing to us. One clear manifestation of that is the rise of the “Instagram face,” which Jia Tolentino deconstructs in The New Yorker.

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.

And if you like this post: subscribe to my newsletter!



    Congratulations to Jason and Craig Baker! And thanks, Nathan, for your always-interesting links.

    Janet Reid’s reply is very interesting. It sounds like querying, in its broadest sense, is not just a one-way street. Agents need clients even more than authors need agents, even though there are obviously a lot more authors than agents. Matching them up well is the challenge.

    Amen to Heidi Fiedler re the Inner Critic, the first and worst critic, and sometimes the last critic if he/she/it stops our creation in its tracks! The real danger comes when external critics seem to echo the Inner Critic and/or vice-versa.

  2. David Kubicek

    I loved your interview on the Write-Minded podcast. You gave some succinct and valuable advice for finding and working with an agent. Every writer, beginners as well as more seasoned wordsmiths, can benefit from your comments.


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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