Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 31, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 01-31-2013

We’re always looking for ways to support authors and bookstores. Rachelle Gardner has 8 ways to help your favorite author—including, of course, buying their books. A novel way to help local businesses like your local bookstore is a “cash mob”—a group of people who get together, agree to spend a certain amount of money per shop, then go into locally owned shops and give them a cash injection by buying from them. Fun and helpful! But what about if you need a book in the middle of the night? If you’re in Beijing, you’re in luck—they just opened their first 24-hour bookstore.

The 2013 Youth Media Awards were announced this week: here are the top winners, and here’s a fuller list of nominees. The UK has a new literary prize worth £10,000 for a book that “opens up new possibilities of the novel form,” and the Costa Short Story Award nominees include 3 unpublished authors this year.

Libraries are much more than warehouses for books. A Pew study shows a rising reliance on libraries for computer and internet access (other Pew reasearch about libraries can be found here). Libraries also teach, and the San Antonio Public Library’s Teen Services division has been awarded $50,000 to implement the News Know-How program, which teaches teens how to differentiate between fact and opinion in news stories. But do teens really read non-fiction? The statistics say yes, no, and maybe. You be the judge.

Libraries are also innovators—Nova Scotia university libraries are testing ebook sharing. Libraries are also great settings for films, as can be seen in these 16 great library movie scenes.

Looking for a job? Publishers Lunch is looking for an assistant—see if you match up.

We’re celebrating 200 years since the publications of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and her publication experience will sound familiar to authors of today. As for other famous dead authors, Zoe Triska celebrates Edith Wharton’s birthday by listing 11 ways Edith Wharton was a badass.

Peter Carsin, former Penguin Editor-in-Chief, has passed away.

Earl Martin Phalen examines what it takes to raise the next generation of readers. He finds that it’s very simple: “Read to your children every day.”


Sometimes the things that make a novel stand out aren’t the obvious things like character or plot. Mary Kole tells how to connect secondary elements to give a more meaningful reading experience, and Tim Kane gives a wonderful example of pacing using a story about a guava.

No matter how well you write, there is always room for improvement. Kay Honeyman talks about how to deal with writing critiques and revision notes, and Kelsey Sutton shares secrets for staying sane during revisions.

Character names are important. They are often fraught with hidden meaning. So much so, in fact, that Esther Inglis-Arkell suggests that some character names should be banned forever. Myke Cole explains why he finds himself rooting for the bad guy more now than as a child.

Chuck Wendig gives us 25 hard truths about writing and publishing, and Chuck Sambuchino gives direction on the ever-worrisome word count for each genre.

Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton shares 6 reasons being a pirate is like being a writer; Diana Bletter with 7 easy rules to writing your best chapter (rule #1: write your worst chapter); and Tom Young has 7 tips on how to research a novel.

Victoria Grefer advocates discovering your strengths as a writer by doing—which sometimes means pushing beyond your comfort zone. Kristin Lamb tells us that fear can be good, as she tackles the enemy of art known as F.E.A.R.

Jami Gold reminds us that the internet is forever—bad author behavior or plagiarism will not be forgotten. The story of Terrell Mims is a case in point.

Sarah Mae discusses the struggle to fit writing into your life when your writing life is nothing like you dreamed it would be, and Tim Kane ponders the process of creative starvation.

Ever wonder how reading has impacted well-known authors? Newbery award winner Clare Vanderpool shares her favorite children’s books, and a panel of authors discuss how sci-fi/fantasy has influenced their lives (panelists: Tobias Buckell, Chris Holm, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mark Wandrey, Harry Connelly, Zachary Jernigan, Lee Battersby, Kat Kenyon, Scott Lynch, Jack Campbell/John G. Hemry, Paul Kemp, Lev Grossman).


Independent Book Publishers Association president Florrie Binford Kichler will step down in June after a 10 year stint.

The cover designer for Penguin Civic Classics, Gregg Kulick, talks about the inspiration and process for deciding on the new cover designs for classic books.

The Query Shark tears into a query opening with rhetorical questions.

More and more, the author is the brand, rather than the writing itself. Jami Gold examines branding 101—who do we want to be online and in public? Once we decide on a brand, Uttoran Sen has 40 ways to develop and protect your writing brand.

Marketing to teens and middle grade is a little different than marketing adult fiction. Natalie Wright has tips for writing and marketing YA and middle grade.

Seeking an audience abroad? Anne Korkeakivi talks about finding an audience abroad—what makes American authors appealing, and what doesn’t.

We’ve all been told to blog as part of our marketing strategy, right? Sarah Pinneo makes a case against blogging, arguing that it does not benefit all authors equally. Meanwhile, Nathan Bransford is wondering: where have all the bloggers gone? Is the blogging phenomenon dying?

If you’ve got a blog, Tech Tricks World has 10 tips to get instant traffic to your blog. Guest posts on other blogs can be a great way to generate traffic to your blog. Ryan Biddulph explains why you’re terrified to write a guest post and how to beat the fear. And Jason Hensel has 5 tips on how to write a good bio.


Ever wonder what The Hobbit would look like if it was done in the style of Madeline? Me, neither. But someone did, and it’s pretty funny.

Patti Smith is holding a benefit to raise money for the preservation of the Brontë sisters’ home.

Medieval manuscripts are beautiful, but hard to read if you don’t know how. You can learn the basics with this interactive album of Medieval Palaeography, or go deeper into manuscript studies with a free online course on Palaeography.

Finally, for those who love words, from the OED: Our earliest recorded example of the verb ‘bedazzle’ is found in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

That’s it for this week—and for January! See you in February!


  1. Great collection of links! Thanks for including me. 🙂 I’ll definitely be checking out some…er, several…lots! of those links.


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