Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 13, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 08-13-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Mid-August is upon us already and the summer doldrums are here. Break your heat-induced ennui with some cool writerly links.

Check out the 2020 Hugo Award winners.

Lisa Tener brings us good news data about reading. And if you’re looking for something to read, get happier by re-reading your childhood favorites.

Anthony Breznican examines how black storytellers are using horror to battle hate.

Tired of working for “exposure”? William Deresiewicz says we need to treat artists as workers, not decorations.

Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware warns us of problems cropping up at Filles Vertes Publishing.


Artificial intelligence—friend or foe? Farhad Manjoo examines GPT 3 AI automation and wonders if writers will survive, while J.D. Lasica discusses how artificial intelligence can help authors write a better novel.

Tips for specific genres: Damyanti Biswas tells how to write an international thriller, and Angela Ackerman shows how to put a fresh twist on the office romance.

If you are thinking about writing a series, William L. Hahn delineates 3 types of series to choose from, and if you want to break from the linear writing path, Nathan Bansford shares tips for non-linear narratives.

Every story has a plot arc, and the writing process does, too. Paula Munier dissects the anatomy of a story idea, Larry Brooks reveals how to mine the facets of premise for story gold, Jody Turchin urges us to drive through the muddy middle of our novel, Gabrielle Pollack demonstrates how to write a happy ending that doesn’t seem contrived, and Debbie Burke discusses the power of poignancy to give your ending a lasting punch.

There are many “intangibles” that make a story compelling. Stavros Halvatzis looks at how we make stories feel real, Ronan Hession says the quest for kindness is one of fiction’s greatest challenges, and Donald Maass deals with suspense.

You can’t have a story without characters, so we need to find ways to make them interesting. Katharine Grubb lists 9 things your characters need from you, Stephanie Churchill explores intuitive writing and character formation, and TD Storm shares 2 imperatives for compelling dialogue. Lisa Hall-Wilson tells us how to research mental health and trauma for your characters, and Linda S. Clare discusses writing supporting characters.

When reviewing your draft, there are things large and small to consider. Sean Gray looks at worldbuilding and the role of secret societies in revolutions, while Robert Lee Brewer considers the differences between compliment vs. complement vs. supplement.

Sometimes it’s really hard to get motivated to write. Janice Hardy explains why you should edit that last scene before moving on, Melinda Copp advises what to do if you’re struggling to write your book, Jenny Hansen has 3 writing tips from Nora Roberts, and Jennifer Baker reminds us that Toni Morrison let us know that we are more than the work we do.


Publishing goes on, even in a coronavirus world. Jeva Lange looks at how book publishing has filled the coronavirus entertainment void, Jim Milliot shows how some big publishers are finding ways to cope, and Publishers Weekly reports that print unit sales end July with a 15% increase.

Self-publishing is an entire ecosystem unto itself. Roz Morris answers 4 questions posed at a self-publishing conference (covering editing, cross-genre publishing, and author control), and Meg LeTorre lists the best self-publishing companies for novels in 2020.

Steve Laube has 12 steps to publication, Rachelle Gardner says to get an agents’ attention write another book, and Denise Massar answers the question: are editors responding to submissions during the pandemic?

Marketing covers a lot of ground, and it changes as the times change. Amy Collins discusses changing your perspective on marketing during the pandemic, V.F. Sharp has 7 tips for marketing your book from a fantasy author, and Kristina Olegovna has 6 marketing tips from a 12-year-old author.

Branding and image are central to marketing. Melinda VanLone explores updating your books cover, Sandra Beckwith shares 5 common book press release mistakes, Sherry Howard has suggestions for getting the word out about your book release, and Eldred “Bob” Bird walks us through how to give back to our readers.

Blogging and social media are a prime way to reach people now. Dave Chesson tells us what to write about on our author blogs (with blog topics), Cristian Mihai has a pre-publishing checklist for your blog article and 7 tips from famous authors that will make you a better blogger, while James Scott Bell sends us notes from the social media deportment department.


Roz Morris discusses how to write books for children and young adults, while Joanna Penn interviews Susie K Quinn about how to write a bestseller.


Leslie S. Klinger and Lisa Morton resurrect the weird women: the forgotten female horror writers of the 19th century and beyond.

We can learn how to tell a story from many different sources. Odie Lindsey talks about learning to write from Willie Nelson.

If you’re looking for something to fill your quarantine time, Olivia Rutigliano ranks the 35 most iconic caper movies.

Bob Blaisdell examines Pushkin’s influence on Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

Where we write can have a profound influence on what we write. Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle discusses writing in the ancestral Cherokee homeland.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more literary links!

Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 6, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 08-06-2020

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of August! Tropical Storm Isaias just blew through here and knocked out our power, but nothing stops the delivery of our literary links to you! Also, August 9th is National Book Lovers Day, so let’s all celebrate by talking up our favorite books.

Eddie S. Glaudie Jr. explores the vow James Baldwin made to young civil rights activists, while Amy Stolls and Jessica Flynn announce that Lucille Clifton’s Baltimore home will becomes a sanctuary for young artists.

Overseas, Italy’s publishers hail new COVID relief fund for small publishers, and Stacy Mattingly looks at a new generation of writers in Bosnia and Herzegovina narrates life beyond war.

As the world tries to regain its footing, literary museums are reopening amid uncertain futures.


If you like precision and nonfiction, Karen Babine outlines a taxonomy of nonfiction.

Tim Waggoner discusses the many faces of horror and its revitalization.

Every genre comes with its own expectations, and Leslie Budewitz looks at the cozy mystery writer and the conundrum of keeping it clean.

Each writer has a different process, but they all aim at the same result: a solid story that keeps the readers turning the pages. Jael R. Bakari describes a process that develops a coherent story, while Laurie Schnebly Campbell explores how to keep the tension going.

Don’t overlook the sentence-level stuff. Mary Kole warns against overusing the simile, and Elizabeth S. Craig has a quick reminder on transitions.

Description can be a stumbling block for writers. Firn Hyde shares 7 ways to spice up your description, and Bonnie Randall shows how to weave setting into deep point-of-view.

Your characters have to be realistic in how they act and how they sound. James Scott Bell suggests doing a best day and worst day for your characters to get to know them, Nathan Bransford tells us how to spice up relationships in novels, and Stavros Halvatzis explores how to write memorable dialogue.

When writing characters, getting their jobs right is important. Brian Andrews reveals the secret to writing about the Secret Service, E.L. Skip Knox delves into carpentry with history on tree-wrights and others, John Gilstrap demystifies firehouse slang, and Garry Rogers instructs us how to speak cop.

Editing can seem a never-ending process. Beth Barany gives us a checklist to edit for our reader, Debbie Burke list 12 tips to write tight, and Lori Freeland reveals how to process critiques effectively by tuning in vs. tuning out.

If you want to edit, critique, or review other people’s work, there are some things to consider. Jane Friedman shares 3 keys to freelance editing success, while Olivia Folmer Ard explains how to leave a kind review.

Writing a book is never easy. Writing a book in the current times is even harder. Olga Khazan shares how to write a book without losing your mind, Kris Maze has 4 steps to better writer self-care, Bethany Henry gives us 7 ways to deal with burnout, Kim Bullock shows how to use uncertainty to enhance your writing, and Janice Hardy has tips for getting your mojo back in a corona-colored world.


The pandemic has not yet killed publishers. Jane Friedman says US book publishing remains resilient, with print and ebook sales growing, while Jim Milliot looks at publishers playing the pandemic waiting game.

Elizabeth Della Zazzera looks at how The Bookman invented the best seller.

If you write non-fiction, Anne Trubek tells us how to write an email well enough to land a book deal.

When it comes to trying to sell your book to agents, Nathan Bransford reminds us that there’s no excuse for not knowing where your book fits in the market.

Authors are often asked for blurbs. Greer Macallister shares 4 ways to answer a blurb request.

Marketing has moved heavily online with the pandemic. Kate Reed Petty says instead of mimicking in-person events, virtual book readings should make use of the possibilities of the internet. Chrys Fey tells how to do honest and legal giveaways as an author, and Erik Nilsson outlines how book summaries make sales for nonfiction authors.

Katharine Grubb lists 10 local resources that could help you sell books, and M.C.A. Hogarth wonders if Kickstarter is right for you.

Christian Mihai shares 3 creative strategies to grow your blog’s audience in 2020, Nicola Blue has the blogger’s guide to writing better headlines, and Sarah Bolme shows how to engage readers in your book marketing strategy.


This week’s podcast finds:

On The Literary Life with Mitchell Caplan, Susan Wiggs discusses the power and magic of bookstores.

On The Creative Penn, Joanna Penn shares writing and business lessons learned from 500 episodes and 11 years of the Creative Penn Podcast.


For those of us who like to write outside the home, Emily Temple wonders if the coronavirus is the end of us writing in cafes.

If you loved The Little Prince, check out these reviews of the original English release of Saint Exupery’s classic.

Every comic strip has an origin story. Jeet Heer looks at the complex origins of Little Orphan Annie.

Take a peek at the unfortunate and unlikely tale of the world’s “greatest literary sisters,” the Bronte sisters.

David Crystal reveals that some of the earliest written dialogues were in Middle English literature.

Ever wonder where certain words and expressions came from? Merrill Perlman explores the literary etymology of “cake”, while Dan Nosowitz traces the long linguistic journey to “dagnabbit.”

In the era of cell phones, Sophie Haigney pens an elegy for the landline in literature.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for more literary links.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 30, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 7-30-2020

Welcome to the final Top Picks Thursday of July! As the summer heat settles in, find a cool spot and enjoy some literary links.

In awards this week, check out the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Longlist, and Walden, Takei, Telgemeier, and Tamaki win the 2020 Eisner Awards in an online ceremony.

Sadly, award-winning author Robert Hellenga died at 78.

Wondering what to add to your reading list? Emily Temple collected what 100 writers have been reading during quarantine.

Also consider reading these 50 most impactful black-authored books of the last 50 years. Then listen as 10 BIPOC creators discuss turning racism into art.

There’s always someone trying to take advantage of you. Debbie Burke highlights some scams that target writers, while Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware looks at some troubles developing at Lethe Press and Seventh Star Press.

If you are searching for a critique group or critique partner, hop over to Janice Hardy’s twice-yearly group to match people together.


Getting started can be the hardest part of a work. D.I. Hughes reviews the elements of a solid novel, plus steps to take before you even start writing; Jennifer Kerslake has a 10 step guide to planning your novel, and once you’re ready to go, Brian Andrews reveals how to write a powerful, enticing, intriguing, amazing opening line to your novel.

Terry Odell examines foreshadowing in our work by discussing breadcrumbs in writing and making the reader buy the premise.

Our characters bring our story to life. Bob Hostetler talks naming characters, Jami Gold thinks about characters’ jobs, Stavros Halvatzis stresses the importance of finding the viewpoint character in your story, Antonio del Drago examines intelligent and immoral villains, and Ellen Buikema explores creating memorable animal characters.

Editing takes up a large chunk of time—and sometimes money. Christina Consolino lists 10 tips to help you self-edit, Melissa Donovan suggests referring to the Chicago Manual of Style, and Sue Coletta shares keyboard shortcuts to help keep us in the flow when writing.

Writers always strive for some sort of resonance or relevance in their writing. David James Poissant questions how to write a timely novel in a world that won’t stop changing, Jessica Faust discusses the changing world and your writing, and Marion Roach Smith tells us why to write memoir right now.

Anne R. Allen looks at what to write when you can’t write what you know, Jasmine Guillory admits she can’t be a writer if she doesn’t write every day, and Sandra Beckwith urges writers to start their book publishing journey with knowledge.

Writers are often readers. Rachelle Gardner explains why you should be if you are not, and Sacha Black explores the true meaning of “read more to improve your writing.”

Sometimes the writing comes hard. Chrys Fey looks at what writer’s block is, Stan Parish tells us how he cured his writer’s block with techno, and Austin Kleon laments that he forgot how to write again.

In these disruptive times, Lisa Tener explains how to stay focused and write, while Barbara O’Neal explores how to write during a pandemic even if it feels like you can’t.


Audiobooks and podcasting are on the rise, according to Duncan Stewart, Mark Casey, and Craig Wigginton.

A popular self-publishing platform, PublishDrive is moving to an all subscription model. David Kudler breaks down what that means to authors.

Every author wants to get on the best-seller list. David Barnett wonders if it is fair for an author to get higher on the bestseller lists by buying his own books?

There has been talk of compensation equity in publishing of late. Paul D. Marks shares his view on whether comparing contracts is helpful or not. In self-publishing, Kristine Kathryn Rusch examines the Kickstarter game changer that could shake the foundations of publishing.

In this time of limited travel, Karen Seiger discusses a guidebook editor’s dilemma.

If you want to reach audiences around the world, you need your book translated. Linda Ruggeri has 6 tips to translate your work effectively.

Marketing means getting the word out about your book. Dan Blank explains the concept of human-centered marketing, Sabrina Ricci gives us 176 resources and tools to market and launch your book, and Sharon Bially promises that “spoilers” won’t spoil your book if used properly in book promotion.

Online is the way to go these days. Chrys Fey walks us through how to create a free book trailer using Adobe Spark, David Hartshorne compares the 7 best managed WordPress hosting companies, the AskALLi Team posts the ultimate guide to content repurposing, and Cristian Mihai urges us to blog outside the box with 18 unconventional ideas to help you bed the rules.


We are finding more podcasts of interest now, so any week we have more than one podcast in our list we will break them out into their own group. Some podcasts also have a transcript attached, if you prefer reading to listening. Here are this week’s:

Roz Morris discusses how to write a sequel and when not to.

In an interview, Joanna Penn asks Nick Thacker about writing action adventure fiction and systems thinking.

Penny Sansevieri examines how to reach Bookstagrammers.


PJ Grisar investigates why Dorothy Parker’s ashes were interred at NAACP headquarters.

Books are windows into the soul. Shelia Liming shares what Edith Wharton’s library tells us about her reading habits.

Rachel Cohen delves into Jane Austen’s politics of walking, while Sophie Gee writes about the consolations of Jane Austen.

Want a challenge while in quarantine? Don Vaughan gives us literary world records for books and authors.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay cool, stay safe, and we will see you next week.


Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | July 23, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-23-2020


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, Island Beach State Park, beach dunes and grasses


Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’re suffering through another week of high heat and humidity — a perfect time to stay inside and check out the writerly links below. And since today is National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, fix yourself an ice cream treat to enjoy while you read. The great thing about vanilla ice cream is that it goes well with any other flavor, as well as all kinds of toppings. Enjoy!

Regular readers of our blog will notice that we’ve added a new category today: Podcasts. We’ve been finding a lot more video offerings — interviews with authors and podcasts about writing or literary topics — so we decided to include some and give them their own special section. Hope you find the new section useful.

Nature has long provided a source of inspiration and creative renewal for authors. Because the pandemic has restricted traveling, local parks and open spaces have become more important than ever, and not just for creative people. We hope the revival in appreciation for such places will spur setting aside even more natural areas for people’s enjoyment. [Note: All the photos in today’s post were taken at New Jersey’s Island Beach State Park.]

The pandemic continues to impact our daily lives as we seek creative ways to cope. Alison Flood looks at how a literary festival becomes a drive-in event, while Alistair Black delves into how libraries have been vital in times of crisis — from conflict to Covid-19, and Tim Coates suggests libraries could be leaders once again.

Good news for parents: Andrew Albanese tells us that Penguin Random House is extending its open license for online story time and read-aloud videos through December 31, 2020.

For your quarantine reading pleasure, Preety Sidhu recommends 11 novels starring essential workers, and Guaraa Shekhar writes about the birth of quarantine zines.

If you like to write, Bill Ferris takes a tongue-in-cheek crack at rating writing instruments.

In Memoriam: Joanna Cole, author of the beloved Magic School Bus books, dies at age 75 [reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer]; and Australian novelist Elizabeth Harrower dies at age 92 [reported by Jason Steger in The Sydney Morning Herald].


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, Island Beach State Park, seagull taking flight, beach scene




Having a career as an author is not easy. Several blog posts offer helpful suggestions: Tanya E. Williams talks about maintaining steam as a fulltime author, Jenny Hansen considers finding your inner creative badass, Aletheia provides reasons why you should keep writing your story, and Jim Dempsey contemplates writing and napping.

Andrew Noakes enumerates 6 guidelines for writing historical fiction, and David James Poissant ponders how to write a timely novel in a world that won’t stop changing.

Jan O’Hara gives us a plotstorming technique, and Patty Jansen shares her notes from a Worldcon panel with Kaaron Warren, Jack Dann, and Kim Stanley Robinson: write what you know.

Stavros Halvatzis advises authors to add powerful emotions to their stories, and Jessica Strawser supplies 5 ways to power up your story’s momentum.

Scenes are the building blocks of stories. Winnie Griggs talks about making a scene, Peter von Stackelberg presents an intuitive 4-step process for creating vibrant scene structure, and Emily Golden and Rachel May delve into how scene choices determine successful character arcs.

Whether you’re writing nonfiction or fiction, Patrice Gaines recommends nothing less than honesty when writing your book.

For those wondering about narrative voice, Mara Purl compares two book series versus the TV series that came from them, narrative voice versus scripted scenes, and Katharine Grubb identifies 12 mistakes you could be making when creating narrative voice.

Crafting your characters? Annie Sullivan explains why every female protagonist doesn’t need to wield a sword to be strong, Angela Ackerman delves into how emotional wounds can steer a character’s job choice, and SCBWI’s Lee Wind recommends getting more body-positive books by doing better by fat characters. Also, for a resource on writing characters whose perceived flaws are a matter of perspective, check out this infographic from wholeheartedschoolcounseling.

Robert Lee Brewer clarifies larger vs. bigger vs. greater vs. higher, and Katharine Grubb discusses using metaphors to strengthen your prose.

When you’re revising that draft, James Scott Bell urges writers to stir your echoes (close repetition of a word or phrase), while Barbara Linn Probst goes into editing for theme.

If you write in the mystery genre, Adam Croft reveals why readers love crime thrillers.

Sophie Masson reveals what she’s learned about presenting online writing workshops.

With some technology tips, Laurence MacNaughton shares 4 free must-have writing apps, and Jami Gold supplies ideas for protecting our data: how to keep our stories and notes safe.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, Island Beach State Park, osprey landing in next box

Osprey landing on its nest.




With some positive publishing news, Porter Anderson discusses the NPD BookScan report that, spurred by sales of politically related biography and memoir and children’s books, the U.S. book unit sales rose 2.8 percent in the second quarter, and Ed Nawotka informs us that $3.5 million in grants is available to nonprofit publishers and literary arts organizations through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s establishment of the Literary Arts Emergency Fund.

Jim Milliot writes that new Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt talks about reopening stores after lockdowns, layoffs, and a major redesign.

Using the internet is not without problems. Porter Anderson reports that Wattpad says it’s resetting passwords following a reported data breach, and Victoria Strauss warns writers about scammers impersonating legitimate agents.

Trying to sell your book? Sue Coletta sums up how to craft an elevator pitch that sells.

Marketing has many facets. If you haven’t thought of using videos, Cristian Stanciu shares 5 ways to use videos to promote authors and their books.

Dave Chesson explores Amazon editorial reviews and wonders if you’re using this incredible section, while Neha Yazmin sets out 3 reasons to revise and re-publish your backlist.

Diana Urban tells us about 35 authors using Pinterest for book marketing & inspiration, and Brian Jud suggests other places to sell your books: supermarkets and pharmacies.

For author bloggers, Sandra Beckwith lists 5 reasons why guest blogging is smart for novelists., and Cristian Mihai offers writing tips from great writers to help you become a phenomenal blogger and sets out 9 things you should know about blogging before you decide if it’s worth it.

With tips for your author website, Penny Sansevieri explains how to market a book with 5 simple website upgrades.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, Island Beach State Park, yellow cactus fowers, bee on flower




In an interview with Nathan Bransford, David Gaughran shares marketing tips for reaching your first readers.

Joanna Penn talks about how to share the ideas and research behind your novel.

Interviewed by Courtney Balestier of WFMA, Wayétu Moore focuses on storytelling as an act of love.

On the How to Proceed podcast, Linn Ullmann talks to Ali Smith on what to do when you lose faith in the writing process.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, Island Beach State Park, brown pelican flying low over the water

Brown pelican.




How much impact do writers and their writings influence society? Jeff VanderMeer reveals how fantasy literature helped create the 21st century, and Maren Tova Linett discusses viewing literature as a lab for community ethics.

More specifically, Nick Ripatrazone looks into the poets vs. the police on standing your ground in a Toronto park, and Aya de León asserts that crime fiction is complicit in police violence — but it’s not too late to change.

Ashawnta Jackson mentions that the first black-owned bookstore in the U.S. was opened in 1834 by black abolitionist David Ruggles.

Ikechukwu Ogbu speaks about the Igbo art of storytelling.

David Karashima writes that five Japanese authors share their favorite Murakami short stories.

For fans of the iconic spy, William Boyd reveals how he found James Bond’s precise address.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, Island Beach State Park, shore shrubs on sand dune


That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Keep cool, and come back next week for another roundup of writerly links.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, Island Beach State Park, empty beach looking south toward Barnegat Light




Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 16, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-16-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! It’s mid-July and it’s hot, so here are some cool links to check out.

In awards news, Colson Whitehead was awarded the 2020 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, while the National Book Awards makes the move to digital November 18.

This week, renowned author and UW creative writing professor Brad Watson died at age 64.

Writers are often the victims of piracy and scams. The AskALLi Team examines if copyright is broken in their guide to managing piracy, while John Doppler shares case studies of how victims of vanity presses become repeat victims.

Rachel Deahl explores how #PublishingPaidMe exposed racial inequalities.

If you are missing your library, you can virtually visit some of Europe’s great libraries.

Looking for something new to read? The final Terry Pratchett never-before-published stories are to be published in September.


For those who love poetry or who are just finding their way to poetry, Melissa Donovan looks at finding meaning in poetry.

If you want to sell your story when it’s done, understanding genre is important. Stavros Halvatzis describes what genres are, and Mary Kole examines the feasibility of writing in different children’s books genres and categories.

When you are in the beginning stages of your work, planning and brainstorming, there are many big-picture elements to handle. James Scott Bell suggests drawing your plot, while Kris Maze lists 7 unstoppable YA plot ideas to make your novel fabulous. Eleanor Konik advises crafting a myth cycle by thinking of your deity as a celebrity, and Kathryn Craft zeros in on identifying and crafting your inciting incident.

When dealing with your characters, Nathan Bransford reminds us that shy characters don’t have to be passive, and Katharine Grubb has 13 mistakes you could be making in narrative voice.

We discussed some big-picture issues above, but there’s a myriad of tiny issues to be aware of as well. Dana Isaacson has 14 rules for writing numbers in fiction, Robert Lee Brewer demystifies creak vs. creek, Terry Odell tackles roaming body parts, and Elaine Viets flags words we love to hate.

Editing is vital to getting a good product out into the world. Terri Nixon discusses the process of editing, Henry McLaughlin has the art of self-editing (part 3), and John Peragine looks at the importance of the triple edit.

Sandra Beckwith reminds us why quality counts in the writing business. Reedsy examines typography and how you can get it right, Katharine Grubb shows how to enhance your prose with poetry, and Becca Puglisi takes lessons on improving your writing by studying the brothers Grimm.

Writing is a very mental profession—it can be a struggle to get words on the page for various emotional and psychological reasons. Jami Gold suggests organization for our creativity and our career, Glenn Leibowitz urges us to consider “the curse of knowledge” in our writing, Laurisa White Reyes gives us tips to help  us finish, and Melanie Conklin examines the huge psychological difference in writing book two.


In the publishing world, it’s all about the numbers. Jim Milliot reports that print units posted a surprising increase in the first half of 2020, and Anne Trubek explains how publishers decide what books to publish.

For those of us in the query trenches, Tamela Hancock Murray tackles the question: how long should writers wait for an answer?

Marketing means getting your book out there into the world. Julie Glover reveals your very best author marketing plan, Brian Jud tells us how to make inroads into the homeschool market, Ilham Alam shares 6 steps to get your self-published book into libraries, Ed Nawotka shows how book launches are getting more creative, and Carol Newman Cronin walks us through creating a virtual book launch.

There are a ton of online ways to present your work to best advantage, if we know how to get the most out of each avenue. Dave Chesson lays out how to best use the Amazon editorial review section, Nate Hoffelder explains why you need a template for your newsletter and what to put in it, Anne R. Allen shares Yoast SEO secrets, and Cristian Mihai lists the 5 most overlooked habits of extremely successful bloggers.


With many of us still seeking in-home entertainment, Paula Munier has her top 10 documentaries about writers (part 2).

Brian Castleberry writes on Saul Bellow’s celebration of the messy and manic.

Shakespeare is classic, but Michael Glover explores what’s so hard about painting Shakespeare.

On the literary anniversary of Frog and Toad, Phillip Maciak compiles author and illustrator reflections on what Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series means to them.

Alex Ross comments on Willa Cather’s quietly shattering war novel.

For those of us feeling trapped at home, Andre Aciman chases literary ghosts in St. Petersburg.

In these days of political upheaval Kristian Williams examines the men who brought political radicalism to Oscar Wilde.

For a bit of fun: Electric Literature has a handy infographic for writing your “leaving New York” essay.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’ll see you all next week for more literary links.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 9, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-09-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We hope you all enjoyed a safe and happy 4th of July.

We all know the 4th is America’s birthday, but July 1st is the anniversary of America’s first free public library in 1731.

When you’re at the library, let your kids get audiobooks if they want. The UK’s National Library Trust research finds benefits of audiobooks for kids.

A founding father of Chicano literature, Rudolpho Anaya died at age 82.

Mary Kole is looking to hire an editorial assistant.

In these troubled times, writing can sometimes feel useless or frivolous. Donald Maass reminds us that writing is of utmost importance when we are unsafe; Lisa Tener says when writing for social change, meet your readers where they are; Greg Mitchell shows us the power of writing in unsettled times by revisiting John Hersey’s groundbreaking “Hiroshima” article; and Priya Satia reveals that George Orwell’s time as a police officer in colonial India shaped his views on freedom of speech and individualism.


To some of us, poetry can seem like another language. Susan D’Agostino explains why some mathematicians think they’re poets, and Katharine Grubb debunks the 5 lies she believed about poetry writing.

Writers hope their writing changes readers, but sometimes our writing changes us. Sophie MacKintosh writes in praise of the dream-logic of speculative fiction, and Lucy Mitchell explores the magic that comes from writing about resilient characters.

Getting started can be the hardest part for some of us. E.G. Radcliff lays out a 3-level strategy for researching a book, Stavros Halvatzis explains using twin premises to plan your story, and Katharine Grubb has 6 more requirements for the first pages of your novel.

Writers need to move the reader through the story without jarring them out of the fictive dream. Janice Hardy shows how to write smooth transitions, and Tiffany Yates Martin demonstrates how to weave in backstory without stalling your story.

Characters need to grab the reader and not let them go. Nathan Bransford reminds us that even minor characters need to want something, The Right Writing urges us to vary characters’ reactions to tragedy, and Becca Puglisi suggests using the conflict of failing at something and tells us the character-building detail writers shouldn’t overlook.

First we write, then we edit! There are many ways to get the feedback we need. Linda S. Clare looks at critique skills for writers, Andrea Merrell explains why a professional edit costs so much, Robert Lee Brewer demystifies canon vs. cannon, Anne R. Allen warns of the dangers of episodic writing, and Jami Gold discusses how we can learn and improve our writing skills.

Thankfully, in the age of the internet, we have many resources to writing advice open to us. Garry Rogers tells us how not to write a police report, Emily Temple shares Vladimir Nabokov’s best writing advice, Larry Brooks does writing math (craft plus art equals performance), and James Scott Bell urges us to write what is unreal but true.

To motivate us, Robert Lee Brewer collates 10 terrific quotes from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Elizabeth Hartl shows how to overcome imposter syndrome, and Sherri Leimkuhler lists 7 tips for writing success and sanity.

Success isn’t always easy, but hard work will get you pretty far. Melinda Copp tells us how to make this your best writing year ever, Paula Munier has publishing proverbs you should know, and Shanna Swendson explores writing through difficult times.


Jim Milliot reports that Ingram is investing millions to upgrade its global printing and distribution network.

Love books but don’t want to buy from Amazon? Sandra Beckwith lists where you can buy books online besides Amazon.

If you dream of seeing your story on the big screen someday, Matt Knight explains the difference between a film option vs. a shopping agreement.

Whether you are looking for an agent or self-publishing, you still need to be able to “sell” your story to people. Ericka McIntyre has tips and tricks for pitching like a pro, while Lorraine Mace gives us tips on writing a synopsis.

Marketing has many elements to master. Barbara Linn Probst shares a 3-tiered approach to book launches, Sandra Beckwith tells us not to confuse a book endorsement with a review, and Dave Chesson walks us through how to set up a sponsored products ad in Amazon.

Blogs are still a good way to connect with your readers. Adam Connell has 11 time management lessons every blogger should learn, Lyn Wildwood explains how to create engaging audience surveys readers won’t ignore, and Cristian Mihai reveals the most underrated blogging technique ever.


Rachel Kramer Bussel examines why a retired Cincinnati teacher started The Book Bus, a bookstore on wheels.

It’s all electrons now, but Anthony Grafton reminds us that in early modern Europe, reading and writing meant getting your hands dirty.

Leo Robson delves into the unruly genius of Joyce Carol Oates.

You can’t judge a book… Dylan Mulvaney looks at 50 years of covers of Camus’ The Plague.

Patrik Svensson investigates the uncanny figure of the eel in literature and art.

Writing may be a lonely pursuit, but few writers make it a success alone. Alice Miller looks at the partners behind great writers in literature.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay safe, stay cool, and join us next week for more literary links.


Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 2, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-02-2020

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of July! We have reached summer and it’s hot out there! Read on for some cool links to writerly stuff.

SCBWI announced the 2020 Crystal Kite Winners.

The book world has lost some literary lights. Eminent biographer Robert Richardson dies at age 86, and author of The Graduate Charles Webb dies at age 81.

The protests against racial injustice continue in America, and the effects are being felt everywhere. Hillel Italie reports most board members have resigned from the Thriller Writers Association, Rafia Zakaria warns us to beware the allies of whiteness, Cree Myles says if you really want to unlearn racism, read black sci-fi authors, and Rachelle Gardner addresses a concern many are struggling with: should authors “stay in their lane”?


Certain genres have certain expected elements. Elizabeth S. Craig explains why funerals are essential elements in cozy mysteries, Kris Maze shows us how to tell if you are writing a YA novel, and Sarah Rexford tackles tropes and how to make them credible, not cliché.

If you are considering (or are already writing) a long-running series, Alison Flood interviews different authors on how they handle the evolution (or not) of their series protagonist.

There are a lot of things to consider when writing your story. Olivia Rana discusses how to get a sense of place in a book—with and without traveling there, Leanna Renee Hieber shares theatrical shortcuts for dynamic fiction, Stavros Halvatzis tells how to write gripping stories, and Katharine Grubb lists 5 requirements for the beginning of your bestseller.

Lots of craft issues can derail your reader’s enjoyment of the book, even craft issues that seem small. Jodie Renner has quick tips for avoiding viewpoint gaffes in your fiction, Jami Gold examines chapter breaks and chapter titles, Robert Lee Brewer demystifies further vs. farther, and Mathina Calliope takes on commas.

All your characters have to carry their weight, and we strive to make them as interesting as possible. Hank Phillippi Ryan explores finding your character’s motivation, Laurie R. King shows how to make your supporting characters shine, Antonio del Drago investigates the shadow archetype and powerful villains, Ellen Buikema has how to develop a memorable character, John J. Kelley looks at writing characters with trauma, and Tamar Sloane has a book list of craft books that delve into psychology.

We always need to edit our work, and learning to self-edit as a first step can save us money when hiring a professional editor. Henry McLaughlin dives into the art of self-editing, Jamie Gold discusses fixing sentence flow and choppy writing, and James Scott Bell looks at how to move from one scene to the next.

All writers are searching for inspiration, but sometimes we find blocks instead. Patricia McAlexander muses on inspiration, Natasa Lekic describes how to overcome creative burnout, and Jacqueline Myers shares the best-kept secret “real” writers use to crush writer’s block.

The writing journey is long and complex. Ruth Harris gives us 5 unforced errors writers make that stand between themselves and success, Martha Alderson examines the emotional roller coaster all writers experience, and Janelle Harris Dixon reminds us that Toni Morrison proved there’s no time limit for success.


Katie Law interviewed literary figures on why booksellers thrived during lockdown and what’s next, while Jim Milliot reports that print sales enjoy an unexpected high. Meanwhile, Olivia Snaije tells us that because of the coronavirus, international language bookshops in Paris formed their own union.

In the US, audiobook market value was up 16% in 2019, but Mark Williams wonders how much the delivery model holds back audiobook sales.

If you are searching for agents, Mary Kole has advice about your query letter hook and revealing the ending, while Tamela Hanclock Murray has tips for writing a timeless author bio that you won’t outgrow.

Marketing is all about reaching people. Jessica White discusses networking as a newbie author, Sonia Frontera shares 5 book marketing lessons learned from her first indie book, and Courtney Link lists 3 ways to think like a book publicist.

Blogging is still a good way to reach an audience. Cristian Mihai talks about the biggest mistake a beginning blogger can make and explains the reason you get lost along the way, while Kim Lochery dives deep into the data to figure out: when is the best time to publish a blog post?


If you love J.R.R. Tolkien, John Garth walks us through the landscapes that influenced Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Masatsugu Ono discusses the phenomenon of translationese.

Martha Ackmann delves into the encounter that revealed a different side of Emily Dickinson.

Great literature is timeless. David Denby examines the lockdown lessons of Crime and Punishment.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for more literary links. Stay safe out there, and enjoy the 4th of July holiday!

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | June 25, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-25-2020


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, catmint



Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of June! Summer arrived here with a surge of heat and humidity. Hope you’re able to get out and enjoy these beautiful days. We don’t want any of you to get sick, though, so please be cautious, wear masks, and maintain social distance.

For those yearning to find books for summer reading in the library, Thomas Wilburn checks out how libraries are dealing with new demand for books and services during the pandemic.

Since children haven’t been able to attend school during this pandemic, many people have been reading stories aloud online; Tomas A. Lipinski investigates whether online storytimes violate copyright laws.

Reading is important for children, but Shelley Blanton-Stroud also asserts that children need to write.

Porter Anderson reports on the Global Association of Literary Festivals’ first online webinar.

Kudos to: AudioFile’s five new Golden Voice Lifetime Achievement Award winners — Julia Whelan, Ramón de Ocampo, JD Jackson, Arthur Morey, and Emily Woo Zeller [reported by Literary Hub‘s Book Marks].

In memoriam: prizewinning biographer Robert Richardson dies at age 86 [from the Philadelphia Inquirer, reported by Harrison Smith], and bestselling author Carlos Ruiz Zafon dies at age 55 [reported by Reuters].


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, chipmunk, buttercup




So many stressful events have happened in the past few months that many are having difficulty writing. Bonnie Randall makes sense of why you can’t concentrate right now, Sue Coletta considers pantsing through the pandemic, Nancy Star offers tips and tricks for writing through tough times, and Kathleen McCleary suggests doing something different (like poetry) when all else fails. In addition, Bill Ferris gives parents the hack’s guide to writing while the kids are at home.

Florence Osmund advises authors to write/right for the market, and Lucy V. Hay goes into how to avoid a half-baked idea.

If you’re working on the opening scene of your book, Katharine Grubb lays out eight awful beginnings you want to avoid.

For those developing their stories, David Bell gives us 5 tips for navigating a successful novel outline, Lori Freeland stresses telling your story forward, and Janice Hardy lists 5 ways to add internal conflict to your scenes.

Character complexity adds to a story. Kristen Lamb takes a look at understanding and harnessing the character’s blind spot, and Nathan Bransford explains that the climax should resolve your character’s desires.

At some point in your story, you may have to deal with a conversation among a group of characters. Dave King addresses crowd control: how to vary attribution in dialogue among a group.

When that draft is finished and it’s time for revision, Stavros Halvatzis recommends striking superfluous words from sentences, Rochelle Melander talks about revising your book for word choice, and Writer’s Digest‘s Robert Lee Brewer clarifies when to use systemic vs. systematic vs. institutional.

Having other eyes read your finished manuscript is vital, but Dario Ciriello suggests picking your beta readers carefully: harsh does not equal honest.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, grain field and trees




For authors following the traditional path to publication, Janet Reid answers the question: when you totally botch your query, how do you recover?

Tasha Seegmiller discusses the fairy tale vs the reality of publication.

Layla Mohamed writes that UK publishing must decolonize, and Sian Cain adds that the Black Writers’ Guild calls for sweeping change in UK publishing.

Porter Anderson reports that Macmillan is making major changes in its management approach to address issues of diversity and inclusion.

Dahlia Adler provides information about editing a YA anthology.

Alexandra Alter takes a balanced look at what Bookshop means to the book industry.

If you’re thinking about self-publishing, the AskALLiTeam presents facts and figures about self publishing, and Michael F. DuBois and Larissa Farrell explore self-publishing a photo book.

Ed Nawotka and Claire Kirch look at how indie publishers are coping with Covid-19, while Mark Coker considers post-pandemic publishing for indie authors.

Anne R. Allen says congratulations on your first bad review! Seriously. All writers get them.

Dave Chesson goes into how to choose the best Kindle keywords for your book and how to create Amazon ads that convert.

Derek Doepker shares 5 reasons to turn your book into an audiobook.

The pandemic has made traditional book events impossible for the present. Ed Cyzewski shares tips for a socially distanced book event.

Author bloggers, Cristian Mihai says if you’re struggling with your blog, this is your wake-up call.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, dawn




Alicia A. Wallace explains why we should have been listening to Octavia Butler this whole time.

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. looks into the history that James Baldwin wanted America to see.

Janie Chang relates the risky journey that saved one of China’s greatest literary treasures.

Willow Curry reflects on the relationship between art and action.

Lee Randall examines Earl Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason, who stood up for the little guy.

David Gianatasio tells us Andy Cohen is narrating summer stories from literary authors for Stella Artois.

Pól Ó Conghaile looks at the secret behind Dublin’s storytelling magic.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, abandoned bird's nest

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Join us next week for a new month and a new roundup of writerly links!


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, evening clouds



Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 18, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-18-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! As school winds down, parent-writers now have the seasonal child-care summer issue, compounded by COVID restrictions and closures.

In a win for copyright, the Internet Archive National Emergency Library has closed its doors under pressure from infringement lawsuits.

Gill Phillips delves into the worldwide threat to journalists and publishers.

On June 16th, a 30-hour-long production of James Joyce’s Ulysses aired across the world. If you missed it, there is a link to the podcast in the article.

On the anti-racism front, a Missouri woman asks Merriam-Webster to update its definition of racism and official will make the change, and Jim Milliot investigates if race issues in publishing have reached a tipping point.

The world is reopening, but many bookstores are following a go-slow approach to reopening.


Some advice is specifically for certain genres (although sometimes it can be extrapolated to fit another genre). Patty Jansen explains why you should write contemporary romance even if you never publish it, Aretha Phiri and Sam Naidu discuss how African crime and detective fiction is reshaping the genre, and K.B. Owen advises on writing real-life historical characters.

Laurie R. King talks about keeping your series fresh, Cassidy Thomas shares things she learned from publishing her first fantasy novel, while the often-fraught genre of memoir is tackled by Sharon Harrigan exploring how to talk about family in memoir, and Marlene Cullen showing how to freewrite about traumatic events without causing more trauma.

Every writer has a different process. Aliza Mann reminds us that re-evaluting your process from time to time is good. For some people, putting a title to their work is a vital part of that process, so Alex from Ride the Pen compiles advice from 17 authors on how to create a good title.

Building the structural elements of your story can be one of the hardest parts of the process. Stavros Halvatzis explores how to avoid being formulaic, Melissa Donovan demystifies story concept vs. premise, and Kay Keppler shows how to build plot in your story.

Writing is a constant learning process. Sacha Black has 10 tips to improve your prose, Terry Odell takes on transitions, Denise Loock urges us to treat adverbs fairly, and Janice Hardy exposes the hidden danger backstory poses for writers (and it’s not the one you think).

There are lots of little things that are intangible but make a big difference to the reading experience. Jeff Vande Zande reveals the power of short sentences and white space, Kathryn Craft shares 6 ways to incorporate a dash of foreign language, Deena Nataf discusses how to handle a phone conversation, Robert Lee Brewer lists 63 grammar rules for writers and using advice vs. advise, and Sue Coletta looks at where, when, why, and how to use block quotes and ellipses.

Characters make readers care about the story. James Scott Bell tells us how to characterize, Neha Yazmin discusses how to describe your main character in 1st person POV, Jami Gold explores making the right impression in a character introduction and gives 4 tips for creating the right character impression, Nathan Bransford says to listen to your characters but don’t let them run away with you, Katharine Grubb has 9 more ways to write an emotionally abusive character, and Elaine Viets urges us to make characters count.

Editing and revision make our stories the best that they can be. Leigh Pierce defines alpha and beta readers and their uses, Katherine Grubb has 10 questions to ask your beta readers, Nancy Wayson Dinan explores the gap between intention and execution, and Ruth Heald explains how writing groups can help develop your writing.

Inspiration can carry us through the hard times in writing. Sandra Wendel has 4 not so silly writing tips to get words on paper, Jim Dempsey shows the connection between writing and hiking, Jessica Strawser shares 23 quotes to fuel your writing all summer long, and Rachelle Gardner asks: are you in this for the long haul?


Niamh Mulvey shows how low pay and low pay transparency undermine the publishing industry.

John Doppler investigates: what is vanity publishing?

Kris Maze has 3 ways to share your writing with traditional publishers.

Joe Hartlaub reminds us that a “pulp” story may end up being your big hit, so go check your rejected file and see what you can revive.

Janet Reid tells us how to answer when someone assumes selling your book means you are now rich.

Marketing involves multiple communication channels. Barbara Linn Probst discusses blurbing and being blurbed, Sandra Beckwith explains how to pitch to radio and become a talk show guest, and David Hartshorne gives us the best MailChimp alternatives for your business.

Judith Briles examines how we can build better book promotion, Colleen M. Story has the one question that you need to ask to boost your readership, and Frances Caballo discusses book marketing while people march for change.

Blogging is still a good way to reach readers. Kim Lochery lists 100+ blogging statistics that will help you create a better blogging strategy, Cristian Mihai shares 96 lessons she learned after 8 years of blogging, and Jordan Peters asks: are you creative (enough)?


Monika Zgustova writes in celebration of bookstores reopening.

Ezzedine C. Fishere discusses Yusuf Idris, a great Egyptian tragedian.

Jonathan Bate explores the radical afterlives of William Wordsworth.

For fantasy authors, Toni Susnjar lays out the basics of heraldry.

We all have favorite books from the past. Jeffrey Davies explains why you’re allowed to grow out of books and authors.

Bob Greene has a requiem for the printing press.

Check out the 2500 rare texts from the Islamic world to go online for free.

Arika Okrent investigates 12 old words that survived by getting fossilized in idioms.

Libraries store invaluable objects. Sarah Laskow gives us the oldest treasures from 12 great libraries.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for more literary links and writerly advice.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 11, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-11-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! As we slide into summer, kick back with a lemonade and enjoy some writerly links.

PEN America announces that Chinese essayist Xu Zhiyong wins the Barbey/Freedom to Write Award.

Oscar nominated playwright and writer of the movie Splash, Bruce Jay Friedman died at age 90.

The cornavirus is still forcing changes all around the publishing world. Scholastic adjusts its summer reading program, Andrew Albanese looks at looming changes as libraries begin to reopen, and almost 500,000 stream the first online Hay Festival.

On top of the coronavirus, huge protests against police brutality and systemic racism have swept the nation (and the world), causing many to look and see how they can help. Nathan Bransford lists ways to make a difference in the book world, Jason Reynolds’ reminds us that choice of words matter, the PW staff gives us a fiction anti-racist reading list, John Maher reports that workers across the book world are taking collective action against racism, John Mayer looks at poets calling for change at the Poetry Foundation, and Mark Alpert examines writing and racism on an individual level.


Lots of authors are wondering what to do with this pandemic in their writing. Dane Isaacson discusses how to write (or not write) about the pandemic. Much depends on what genre you write in.

Speaking of genre, Paula Munier has a quiz to help you decide if you’re writing in the genre that suits you best.

Specific genres have specific craft elements to think about it. Annabelle McCormack looks at writing the history in historical fiction, Jessica Lynn Jacquez asks: does your memoir has a story the world needs to hear, while crime writers might want to check out Garry Rogers’ day in the life of a coroner.

The various threads of craft that go into a novel can be confusing and seem endless. Jami Gold examines foreshadowing, JJ Barnes handle flashbacks, Janice Hardy tackles both why you should tighten your novel’s focus and fleshing out a too-short novel, and Donald Maass reveals the quest within the quest for most stories.

Michelle Barker warns of the dangers of anecdotal writing, James Preston suggests you visualize your story through storyboarding, Jami Gold discusses formatting non-verbal communication, Chi Luu reminds us of the power of idioms, and K.M. Weiland shares the 5 elements of a resonant closing line.

Character has about as many facets to it as the rest of the craft elements we deal with. Katherine Grubb has 9 ways to write and emotionally abusive villain, Stavros Halvatzis explores spiritual growth and the age of a character, Kristen Lamb looks at how wounds fashion unforgettable characters out of damaged pieces, and Jenny Hansen lists the 8 C’s of character development.

Editing covers quite a lot of ground. It can be word level, with the difference between sight vs. site vs. cite or when to use whom vs. who, or as over-arching as how to navigate negative reviews and critiques. Roz Morris gives us a pain-free way to tackle beta reader comments, and the AskALLi Team has the ultimate guide to self-editing your manuscript.

As writers, we are always looking for ways to work faster and to find inspiration. Stacey Corrin lists 10 quick tips to help you write 5x faster, Laina Turner has SMART goals for the self-published author, Jodi Turchin recommends these 5 ways to put the fun back in writing, and James Scott Bell reflects on some favorite writing quotes.

Robert A. Burton explains that our brains tell stories so we can live, while Bill Ferris suggests the top 5 writing hacks to distract you from the nightmare of your daily life.

Sharon Ledwith aims for the author’s comfort zone, a balance between writing and marketing, Erika Liodice explains how and why to create an author mission statement, and Ellie Maas Davis walks us through how to write a book dedication.


The coronavirus will leave an indelible stamp on publishing. Richard Charkin describes 10 publishing things that will never be the same, Jim Milliot reports that NYC publishers won’t open until September, and Alex Green finds out what it’s like to be a frontline bookseller during a pandemic.

The racial injustice protests are also roiling the publishing world. Nathan Bransford points out that #PublishingPaidMe is just the tip of the iceberg, while Ann Kjellberg explores the hardships faced by black-owned bookstores.

Thomas Key demystifies a 9th circuit court copyright ruling that states that “single unit of publication” registrations require publication as a singular, bundled collection.

For those querying agents, Janet Reid reminds us that your perfect query can get rejected if your pages are not strong, Ally E. Machate tells us how to send the best sample pages to agents, and Jane Friedman has questions to ask your publisher before you sign the contract.

Marketing can be difficult, especially if you don’t enjoy it. Anne R. Allen reminds us that you don’t have to be sleazy to sell books, the AskALLi Team has the ultimate guide to author platform, Penny Sansevieri explains the strategy that leads to more book sales, and James Scott Bell tackles public speaking for writers.

How do you get your name and work out there? Keri-Rae Barnum lays out how to set up a blog tour (plus a list of reputable blog tour companies), and Janet Reid directs us to how to find places to submit short stories and how to start building an email list.

Websites, blogs, and social media are a main way to connect with readers these days. Nate Hoffelder shares 991 web-safe fonts you can use for free, Cristian Mihai explains what she learned about blogging from the masters of literature and why you need a strategy to be successful in blogging, while Katherine Grubb lists 8 tips to help you get attention on Twitter.


BookMarks shares this 1963 review of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.

The New Yorker prints a previously unpublished Hemingway story, “Pursuit as Happiness”.

Kate Siber brings us Mary Austin, the 19th-century writer who braved the desert alone and has been almost forgotten.

Dr. Jin Li investigates how Shanghai became a city of literary experimentation.

Genre-melding is common in all art forms. Alfonso Casas looks at how Freddie Mercury brought a rock audience to opera.

Once travel is safe again, horror/scifi/speculative fiction fans can visit the Frankenstein museum in Bath, UK. Mary Shelley’s museum right near the Jane Austen museum, so you can hit both literary lights in one go.

That’s all for Top Picks Thursday this week! Join us next week for more literary links.


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