The works of prolific writers are often viewed as less-than-literary, like the largely forgotten books of mystery novelist John Creasey, author of 564 books. Even serious novelists like Joyce Carol Oates, author of more than fifty novels, can write so much they lose the critics’ interest....more
Posts Tagged: Publishing
No matter how many times you tell them not to, people will judge a book by its cover. This Italian publisher has capitalized on our weakness for pretty things with iconic cover art that toes the line between literature and fashion:
Italians have always known the importance of making una bella figura.
Over at the Ploughshares blog, Cathe Shubert discusses the historic nature of sexism in the publishing industry, and urges her readers to keep searching for an early canon of women writers:
Despite the many gains we have made in including women in our understanding of the history of literature, many students graduate with the false understanding that women did not really write until the nineteenth century–that they just couldn’t.
The process of selling writing can do funny things to people, like the male authors writing under female pseudonyms. Catherine Nichols went the other way, taking on a male persona to sell her novel:
I sent the six queries I had planned to send that day.
Independent Irish publisher Tramp Press requests that writers submitting manuscripts list their influences. Co-founder Sarah Davis-Goff had a suspicion that she was only seeing male names among the influencers, so she tallied up the influences of 100 submitters. Only 33 percent of the listed influences were women writers....more
For Electric Literature, Adalena Kavanagh has a conversation with poet Elisa Gabbert on Google Chat about how to advise white male writers to publish ethically. Their conversation also explores topics related to power structures in the publishing industry, and the implications of white authors writing from the perspective of a different race:
There is a long tradition of male novelists writing female characters, and that doesn’t feel *necessarily* problematic to me.
These days, a trade nonfiction title that manages to sell probably does so by trafficking in broad questions and big ideas, often explored through pop science or panacea:
From William Carlos Williams’ notion of “no ideas but in things”, we’re moving towards “no things but in ideas”.
But let’s talk about it! What if? What if we changed things or at least considered changing things?
The percentage of literature in translation put out by British and American publishing houses is pretty dismal. Hispabooks, a new publishing company in Madrid, wants to bring the richness of Spanish literature to a wider audience through English translations....more
When the Chinese government created a China-themed pavilion at this year’s BookExpo America, several writers protested the event. Writer Andrew Solomon argued that the Chinese government used that expo as a platform to present their “approved literature to the world.” Now, for the New Yorker, Christopher Beam shares his experience visiting the controversial China pavilion, and explores why Chinese publishers struggle to attract American audiences:
The problem, from what I could tell, was that publishers didn’t seem to know what American readers wanted….
Jami Attenberg: I feel like I could talk to you about vaginas all day, Judy.
Is there anything you wish you could change about publishing? Is there anything where you think, god they’ve been doing this forever, why can’t they just figure it out already?
Amazon uses the BS Machine to sell us sweetened fat to live on, so we begin to think that’s what literature is. I believe that reading only packaged microwavable fiction ruins the taste, destabilizes the moral blood pressure, and makes the mind obese.
The strange case of the “Literature Litterbug”—a mystery perp who’s been dumping used books along a Colorado highway for a year or more—has come to a close, bringing with it a pun-filled police report and plenty of finger-pointing. Glenn Plasden admits that the littering citation was “by the book,” and explains that he simply couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the huge stock he acquired when a Boulder bookstore went out of business eight years ago; he’d been dumping them a few at a time from his moving car, figuring nobody would notice....more
If anything, other people’s success should only encourage me: if they did it, so can I. But that’s where the self-doubt steps in and says, They can do it BUT YOU NEVER WILL BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT A REAL WRITER. It’s the same voice that tells me submitting to writing contests is a waste of money.
The Writing the Future report . . . found that the “best chance of publication” for a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) writer was to write literary fiction conforming to a stereotypical view of their communities, addressing topics such as “racism, colonialism or post-colonialism as if these were the primary concerns of all BAME people.”
When literary gatekeepers and publishers continue to overlook the vast diversity of writers, the special few who make it into elite spaces are constantly compared to one another in both flattering and troubling ways.
Over at Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth shares a fantastic long form piece on the rise of the Harlequin romance novel, and how the brand became synonymous with a wildly lucrative if critically dismissed genre. From the original formula for woman-centered, alpha-male page turners to Harlequin’s relentless advertising tactics to the question of exactly how much sex sells best, Faircloth presents a sociological study....more
For all our worrying about essay-writing robots, it’s easy to overlook the Fordist production models already in place in the publishing industry. Over at Flavorwire, Jonathon Sturgeon considers the implications of literature that is ghostwritten and consumer-driven:
Under automation, fiction loses the power to alter what we think is possible.
Guernica speaks with literary agent Chris Parris-Lamb, who built a career around selling Chad Harbach‘s debut novel The Art of Fielding for a reported $665,000. Since then, he has sold novels like Wolf In White Van and coming later this year, City of Fire, a 900-page tome for a rumored seven-figure sale....more
Many of us choose to pursue MFAs; many of us are also plagued with doubts about the value of a degree in creative writing. Former teacher Ryan Boudinot shares his thoughts about programs, publishing, and the unlikely chance that you’re the Real Deal:
I think the instant validation of our apps is an enemy to producing the kind of writing that takes years to complete… If you’re able to continue writing while embracing the assumption that no one will ever read your work, it will reward you in ways you never imagined.
Television is a great way to sell books. Oprah’s Book Club is the best known example, but Edan Lepucki‘s bestselling debut California certainly owed some of its success to the Colbert Bump. But The Colbert Report has ended, and Jon Stewart, another populist book advocate, is leaving The Daily Show....more
(v.); to think out, devise or invent; to study intently in order to fully comprehend; from the Latin ex (“out of”) + co (“together”) + agitare (“to turn over”)
“Many authors dream of a happy ending in which, having delivered their magnum opus, they sit back and enjoy an endless stream of royalties.