Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 1, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 10-01-2015

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of October!

Good news! A museum to celebrate American writers will be opening in Chicago in 2016.

In rebuttal to last week’s New York Times article saying that ebook sales were declining Matthew Ingram of Fortune makes the case that ebook sales are not falling at all.

While ebook sales may or may not be falling, C. Bramkamp gives an eloquent defense of print books and their importance in our lives.

Smashwords’ CEO Mark Coker argues that Kindle Unlimited is killing single-copy sales, and also addresses the demise of subscription platform Oyster.

The New York Public Library’s monthly podcast deals with storytelling as a powerful tool. The very power of story is why the problem with rape portrayal in fiction exists.

Book Zone 4 Boys discusses the power of the library, while the new Open Library of Humanities officially launches with support from 99 institutions.

If you are considering using a Native American story in your work, respect Native voices and the protocols in place for using those stories.


We all have to start somewhere—and it’s usually on page one. Clare Langley-Hawthorne shares insights into the dreaded first page. Once we begin, we’ve got to keep up the tension. Janice Hardy explains why every plot needs a ticking clock.

Emotional connections are important to keep your readers engaged. K.M. Weiland says your fiction might be failing because you are not being honest, while Robin Patchen tells us how writers can avoid underwriting emotions.

Specifics add to the immersive quality of your writing. Ellen Mulholland shows 5 ways to add details to your writing. Sometimes, though, being too specific can cause you to lose a powerful moment. K.M. Weiland explains how to use foreshadowing and misdirection together to empower your fiction.

We all want to be successful. Judith Briles lists 7 rules to be successful as an author; Jami Gold explores the importance of how you handle criticism; and Martina Boone shows how to reclaim the joy of writing.

When dealing with series, some stories are “canon” and others emerge from fandom. Chuck Wendig discusses the Star Wars canon, its value and its danger. Chuck and co-writer Adam Christopher discuss extending the comic book canon by revitalizing the Spirit of America, The Shield.

Kevin Henkes discusses why some kids’ books are worth the wait, and Kerry Winfrey explains how Meg Cabot influenced Winfrey’s writing philosophy.

Elizabeth Gilbert explores creative courage and how to live in a state of uninterrupted marvel, while Margaret Atwood shows her creative courage in her newest novel The Heart Goes Last, which grew out of her obsession with new forms of digital narrative.


When authors are wrestling over self-publishing vs. traditional for their book, sometimes the option of a small press is overlooked. Janet Reid explains how to evaluate a small publisher to see if they’re legit and a good fit for your project. Small presses often give authors more input over the publishing process, as Jennifer Laughran explains in her post about author input and the cover-design process.

Rachelle Gardner reminds us to make sure we can be easily contacted, Janet Reid talks about what it means to be “previously published,” Patrick McDonald shares 7 things every query letter must have, and Jennifer Laughran gives us the correct way to format manuscripts when submitting to agents.

Launching a book or series is an overwhelming process. James Rose lays out a 12-month strategic plan for marketing your book before release, Colin Dwyer looks at the history and efficacy of book blurbs, and James Scott Bell details how to launch a thriller series.

You can improve your marketing by leveraging all the channels possible and by researching the best channels to focus on. Savvy Book Writers shares a passive book marketing checklist, and Frances Caballo tells us how to create shareable Facebook content and how to use the new Pew Center research to better reach your readers.


Toni Tipton-Martin has scoured 200 years of African-American cookbooks and reveals how we stereotype food.

So, which character from Thomas Hardy’s novels are you?

Isabella Bradford brings us fashions c. 1870 spawned by Charles Dickens’ fictional character Dolly Varden.

Check out Mark Twain in Istanbul in 1867.

Oxford Words examines Jane Austen and the art of letter-writing.

Finally, in case you missed National Punctuation Day this week, here’s a 15th century manuscript with early pilcrows (paragraph marks).

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week!

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