Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 23, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 08-23-2012

The Internet was list-happy this week!

First, Porter Anderson analyzes Digital Book World’s Ebook Only Bestseller list – the first of its kind.

These teen and kid lists are must-sees: YALSA is still accepting Reader’s Choice nominations – here are the latest, check out the whole list and nominate your faves if they’re missing; REFORMA’s Teen Latino Titles; and the top 10 children’s and teen books for fall from the Kirkus Review.

We love libraries and bookstores! MentalFloss brings 24 Library-Related Websites they fully endorse, and here is an awesome 13th century church that got new life as a bookstore. Gives new meaning to the phrase worshipping books.

Health is important to all of us. Suzannah Windsor Freeman wonders if the strident “butt-in-chair” mentality of writers might be impacting our health for the worse.

You think figuring out Word is hard? These guys wrote a book using DNA!


Nathan Bransford gives another reality check to those still waging the self-pubbed vs. traditional pubbed war: No, agents and traditionally published authors do not “work for” the publishers.

Molly O’Neill reminds us that whatever our route to publishing, the only thing that is really important yet seems to get lost in the marketing is CRAFT.

Craft starts with the very first scene. C.S. Lakin recaps the five months she’s spent blogging about the first scene, while Marissa Graf gives us 5 reasons first scenes are like first dates.

Kristen Lamb has a double today with how to use setting to add dimension to your fiction and explaining in medias res.

Jody Hedlund shows us how to rein in an out-of-control story, while Mary Jaksch lists 7 instant fixes to help us write better.

Writing is a partnership with the reader. Moody Writing says that a good story requires incomplete exposition, and Jane Lebak agrees that we need to trust our readers—and ourselves.

Characters can be so hard to make realistic and engaging. Janice Hardy outlines guides for using inner conflict that make sense (based on Michael Hauge’s workshop at RWA), and Jami Gold picks up where Janice left off with more Michael Hauge tips for making emotional journeys and external plots work together. And once you think you’ve got your character nailed, consider Emilia Plater’s suggestion that your characters are not who you think they are.

Dave Bricker describes why you need a professional editor for your manuscript, even after you and a bunch of your trusted friends have combed through your book multiple times.

Chuck Wendig answers the age-old question: How do I write what the audience wants to read?, and Marcy Kennedy tells us what the Olympics can teach us about being a successful writer.

Famous writers step up with the advice this week: Erik Larson shares his top 10 essentials to a writer’s life, while over at BuzzFeed they have 30 indispensible writing tips from famous authors.

A huge impediment to success can be the dreaded writer’s block. Psychologist and author Sarah Fine addresses the various flavors of writer’s block, and then gets down to a specific flavor with what to do when life gets in the way of your writing.

Another roadblock to success is doubt. Krissy Brady answers the doubt-filled question: Are you really meant to be a writer?

And if you’re not writing because you feel your creative well is dry, Katie Ganshert shares how to spark your creativity.


Brad Frazer demystifies copyright for writers.

Apple slams Justice Dept.’s proposed agency pricing settlement.

YA’s been in the news a lot lately. Here is a great breakdown of who publishes YA and their imprints; and Salon wonders if YA is a prestige-free zone—and is that why women dominate the genre?

QueryShark shows us a “mess to yes” query in five revisions, while Mary Keeley gives us 8 tips for writing a powerful hook for your book proposal (or query). Once you’ve got that query sparkling, shoot it over to new agent Carly Watters of PS Literary seeks literary, women’s, commercial fiction, memoir, YA, pictures books & nonfiction.

When querying your book, you should know what books out there are comparable to yours—and why. Agent Janet Reid talks about using Amazon rankings to judge comp titles, and author Annie Neugebauer shows how to use Goodreads to find comps.

We’re all so caught up in social media’s world-wide reach, sometimes we forget to curry fans in our immediate vicinity. Jen Blood lists 5 ways to make lifelong fans in your own backyard.

Got a blog? Rachelle Gardner shares 13 simple tips to a better blog, and Jean Huffman lays out how to hire a blog designer that fits your needs.

Are you an academic just wading into the world of Twitter (or afraid to)? Check out this detailed article full of tips for academics making the leap to Twitter.


Let’s hear it for originals!

Bodleian’s Conveyor blog shows off the earliest known dust wrapper, from an 1829 gift book.

The original ad for The Great Gatsby.

Finally, a very original series of break-ins: Vermont libraries are broken into—but nothing is stolen.

That’s all for us!


  1. Kerry,
    You guys have the BEST writing round-up on the net. Bar none!


    • Thanks, Laura! I think it comes from having a group of us scouring the net. We find all sorts of really cool things!


  2. Thank you for including my post! Also, love the one in that paragraph from Janet Reid; I asked that exact question on Twitter just this week. Great timing!


    • Yes, Janet’s usually on top of things! And I never would have thought to use Goodreads the way you did. I’m going to try it for my WIPs.


  3. Thanks so much for the mention! It really means a lot! Have a fabulous weekend. 😉


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