Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 26, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 04-26-2012

The indie vs. traditional publishing wars broke out big time this year, with a lot of heel-digging and vitriol on both sides. Laura Drake and her fellow Writers In The Storm bloggers call for détente in the author wars.

World Book Night, where volunteers give away free books to people, was on April 23rd. What’s not to love about free books?

The LA Times Festival of Books drew over 100,000 readers this year, proving that people still love books, no matter what the format!


Every writer has a different way of starting a writing project. Gabriela Pereira shares a unique view toward designing a story, while Helen Dring lays out several ways of planning your novel.

If your writing style includes using “difficult” or obscure words, Will Self leaps to your defense.

There’s a lot written about beginning a writing project, but C.S. Lakin talks about the emotional shifts that happen to writers when they reach the end of a writing project.

Everyone wants to write something fresh. Janice Hardy lists 4 ways to add a new twist to an old plot, while James Bruno touts verisimilitude as a way to make your work shine.

Allyson Marrs details the different formulas for showing literary love, and Natalia Gortova goes the other way by exploring how to revamp your fight scenes.

In the devil-is-in-the-details department, Constance Hale dissects make-or-break verbs, while Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty demystifies dashes, colons, and commas.

Nick Harkaway brings us two rules of writing; Libba Bray blogs about the joys of researching for historical novels; and Kassandra Lamb wonders if the real draw for mystery readers is not the crime, but the characters.

So what about those characters? Becca Puglisi explains how to create fascinating characters; Misty Massey explores the flawed villain; and C.S. Lakin reminds us that ordinary people are too boring to make good characters.

Kristin Lamb shares the key ingredient for dramatic tension—understanding the antagonist, while Tim Kane believes that the antagonist should define the protagonist.

Jody Hedlund shares two tests that can help writers sort through feedback, while Jami Gold wonders why feedback hurts so much.

Good news, writers! We live in the 21st century, and there are lots of computer tools around to help us improve out writing. Kat Latham shares a few tools for trimming weak words from your writing, while Aeon Timeline, a tool for tracking character arcs, subplots, you name it, will be released soon.

Even the coolest app can’t give us more than 24 hours in a day, so Gabriela Pereira shows us 5 pockets of time you never knew you had. When you grab those precious minutes, you have to make them count. Chris Rosales shares 3 possibilities for defeating writer’s block, and Tonya Kappes tells us how to keep the creativity flowing when we need it.

All writers have times when we doubt ourselves. Marcy Kennedy talks about worrying that you won’t succeed as a writer, while The Bluestocking Blog explores that heart-breaking chasm between writing intentions and execution. When we’re feeling down about ourselves, Jennifer R. Hubbard reminds us of the importance of a writer’s friends in picking them back up.


Peter Osnos takes a look at the ebook wars that will occur in the wake of the DOJ agency pricing lawsuit. Charlie Stross makes the case that dropping DRM will ultimately allow more competition in the marketplace. Macmillan seems to be thinking the same way, because Tor/Forge announced that their ebooks will soon be DRM-free.

Meanwhile, Boyd Morrison talks about his experience being rejected by the Big 6 after a three-book run with them, and why this rejection is no longer a death sentence for a book.

Queries and submissions cause outrageous angst among writers. QueryShark reiterates that queries must give the agent a sense of what’s at stake—what choices does your character face, and what are the consequences of each? Jennifer Laughran tells writers to relax and not overthink the font of your manuscript. Tim Kane relays what he’s learned from agents: literary agents are not only fine with simultaneous submissions, but want them.

Once you get that agent, Janet Kobobel Grant advises how to kill your agent relationship without really trying. And author/agent Marie Lamba talks about Why Writers Win in this new Age of the Author publishing world.

Agents and publishers are attracted to authors who already have a platform, so Laura Howard explains how to find what works to build your platform. Nick Thacker advises writing guest posts to sell more books, and Ezra Barany tells how to write and get great reviews, complete with example book review.

Guest blogs, book review, platform—that all adds up to one thing: social media. Rachelle Gardner warns to be professional and smart when on social media, a sentiment echoed by Nathan Bransford listing the top 5 social media blunders people make.

Jane Friedman shares 5 mistruths about social media that drive her crazy, and Ashley Barron shares a humorous but true view of the recent changes to Twitter.

Gary McLaren explains how you sign an ebook (you know you were wondering).

In genre-related posts, Bookalicious defines YA, although The Hub points out that YA can successfully depict strong families, instead of depending on the absent or abusive parent trope. Charlie Jane Anders lists science fiction and fantasy creators who became their own genres.

All this business stuff driving you crazy? Chuck Wendig maintains that insanity is part of the writer’s job description, and we should relish it.


Writer’s Digest brings us 23 Timeless Quotes About Writing from famous authors.

The Examiner lists the 50 Best Author vs. Author Put-downs of All Time.

Bram Stoker died 100 years ago—here’s 10 facts about the author of DRACULA.

What authors can learn about engaging the audience from video games, from Moody Writing.

That’s it for us today!


  1. Wow Kerry – thanks for the WITS mention! I’m saving this for my next 10 lunch hours at work, so I can go through all the wonderful info! Thank you for this.


    • I think a lot of authors are tired of the mud-slinging. And many of us realize that going forward our careers will likely be a combination of traditional and indie pubbing. So why fight about it?

      Better read fast – you only have 5 lunch hours at work before the next Top Picks comes out! 🙂


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