Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of February! We have a good line-up of writerly links for you to help propel you into March.
First up, 2 well-regarded authors passed away this week: Harper Lee and Umberto Eco. Here’s a collection of profound Harper Lee quotes. (more Harper Lee coverage—including a radio interview—in The Unique Shelf section below.)
In award news, Terry Pratchett’s final novel makes the longlist for the Carnegie Medal. Here’s a collection of Terry Pratchett’s 50 best quotes.
Once we get published, it seems like everyone wants a piece of us—for free. Kathryn Craft examines how much of ourselves we should give away.
Writer Marjorie Liu discusses writing for Marvel, race and invisibility, and the radicality of romance novels.
It’s Library Lover’s Month! See Marie Antoinette’s Green Library at Versailles, read 5 lovely letters on the pleasures of reading and the benefits of libraries from Neil Armstrong, Isaac Asimov, Hardie Gramatky, Dr. Seuss, and E. B. White, and read why Matt Imrie wants his newborn daughter to love libraries like he does.
Dasha Fayvinova shares 12 reasons why writers make the best friends.
If you write picture books, here is some picture book advice compiled by Elizabeth Bluemle.
John le Carré muses on the various adaptations to film and TV of his books, including the upcoming adaptation of The Night Manager.
If you like to mix romance into your writing, Andrew Sean Greer discusses writing romance outside the romance genre.
Mark Siegel, editorial director of First Second, expounds on the graphic novel’s staying power.
Our characters pull the readers into our books. Martina Boone discusses how to create real and relatable characters, Amanda Patterson has 15 questions authors should ask characters, and Bob Mayer says to give your protagonist an anomaly to generate interest and make your book stand out.
If you’re just getting started, Janice Hardy has tips for writing that first novel. When you return to a completed manuscript for revision, Beth Kephart reminds us of the value of humility, vulnerability, and capability during the revision process. While certain guidelines do apply in writing, Anne R. Allen says beware the “writing rules” police—but do be aware of these things that stop readers in their tracks, from Jen Matera.
James Scott Bell reminds us that everything in life can be research, Lisa Rowan has 4 methods to help you meet your writing goals, Catherine Tucker shares 7 things about writing, and Arnold Weinstein suggests that we not turn away from the art of life.
There’s been a debate raging over when or if writers should work for free (see Chuck Wendig’s opinion—in regards to the Huffington Post—in “Pay the F*****g Writers”), but Jami Gold shows how to, if you do work for free, get the most out of it.
The broad lines of publishing these days are self-published or traditional (there are in-betweens). Janet Reid explains what a publisher pays for, while Marcy Kennedy examines the indie dilemma of what work to hire out and what to do yourself.
If you are seeking an agent, Twitter’s #MSWL is a good place to start. Agent Janet Reid tells us the best way to reference #MSWL in a query letter. On the flip side, Rachelle Gardner explains what to do when your agent isn’t able to sell your books.
Here are some agents looking for clients: Danielle Barthel of New Leaf Literary seeks fantasy, women’s fiction, historical romance, young adult, middle grade & more; Tanusri Prasanna of Hannigan, Salky, Geltzer seeks picture books, middle grade, YA, and some suspense; and Kemi Faderin of Dystel & Goderich seeks historical fiction/nonfiction, literary, some women’s fiction, and some YA.
Once your book is out in the world, you will have to work with your publisher’s publicity department (for traditionally published) or you may consider hiring your own publicist (for self-published and traditionally published). Jane Friedman tells us how to find and work with a publicist, and Andrea Dunlop shares a former book publicist’s advice to traditionally published authors. If one of your marketing channels is Pinterest, Kirsten Oliphant details how authors can use Pinterest to best advantage.
THE UNIQUE SHELF
Did a bad review really kill John Keats?
Social media before computers: the friendship book of Anne Wagner, compiled from 1795 to 1834.
The importance of illustration: Thackery’s original drawings for Vanity Fair reveal information not in the text.
We’re used to seeing celebrities as spokespeople for everything these days—including as medical spokespeople. Dr. Howard Markel thinks Charles Dickens was the first celebrity medical spokesman.
That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you in March!