Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 15, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-15-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We are midway through June already. Where did the time go?

Frank Deford, one of the great in American sports writing, has died.

Money in the publishing business can be hard to come by, but some does exist. Audible created a $5 million fund for emerging playwrights, while James Patterson increased his “holiday bonus” program to booksellers by $100,000.

And you think you publish slowly. J.R.R. Tolkien’s book Beren and Lúthien will be published after 100 years.

The Bronx has no bookstores. Noëlle Santos wants to change that.

If you can’t get to a bookstore, check out this list of 100 must read middle grade books for the summer.

Joe Canon says there’s no better place to write than the library. To that end, New York Public Library is publishing a zine that will “showcase works from the diverse communities the Library serves.

Books can save our sanity. An 18-year-old Syrian refugee discusses the books she read to escape the horrors of war.


For budding memoirists out there, Jane Friedman has some tough love while explaining why your memoir won’t sell.

On the other hand, Ian Stephen tells how to write about real-life adventures.

All writers get story ideas (often floods of them). How do we know if those ideas can go the distance? Janice Hardy walks us through turning inspiration into a story, Melissa Donovan defines story concept, and Larry Books explores the nuanced difference between concept and premise.

Once you’ve got your idea, you dive into your process. K.M. Weiland has 5 ways to write a perfect first draft (or nearly), while Bryan Collins lists 7 common writing mistakes that will stop you finishing your book.

Craft involves so many different techniques. Kathy Steinemann talks filter words and phrases to avoid, Daphne Gray-Grant discusses the magic of three, Kathryn Craft explores early hints of backstory, Zoe M. McCarthy defines metonymy & synecdoche: something called by another name, and Janice Hardy reveals the real problem with passive voice in fiction.

Characters bring our novels to life, so we’d better make sure we get the details right. Jami Gold discusses why Wonder Woman is the essence of a strong female character, Piper Bayard details the art of physical surveillance, John Gilstrap talks knife fighting, and Donald Maass reminds us that all of our characters live in a world with class “rules” and what that means to the conflict in our story.

Once writers have written, we must edit. Diana Hurwitz finishes her proofreading series, and Roz Morris reminds us to treat synonyms with care.

Productivity is always a concern for writers. Jami Gold asks: should we follow the advice to write every day?; C.S. Lakin has little hacks writers can use to be productive, Jillian Sullivan discusses closed doors and open pathways, Daphne Gray-Grant tells how writers can change self-doubt into idea doubt, and Nicole Avery has 5 rules to help you work more productively at home.

With a topic that bridges craft and business, Tracy Gold gives us a walk-through of the Revise & Resend (R&R) process.


David Gaughran explores Amazon’s fake book problem.

Jane Friedman has a detailed primer on how to get your book traditionally published.

Joel Pitney runs through the steps it takes to launch a book.

Many writers want a publisher, but how about this one? Meet Tunglið, the small Icelandic press that prints its books in batches of 69 on the night of a full moon —and burns every unsold copy.

If you are looking for an agent, you need a query letter. Rachel Stout explains how to personalize a query letter, while Jane Friedman shows how to immediately improve your query letter. Janet Reid tells us what happens to our money when we part ways with an agent, and also explores the idea of submitting excerpts of novels to literary magazines prior to getting an agent.

To get into literary magazines, you need a cover letter, so Elise Holland lays out how to write the perfect cover letter for a literary magazine.

Sometimes writers just don’t know what to make of the responses they get from literary agents and acquisition editors. Lisa Tener discusses how to interpret responses from literary agents and editors, and Julia Kite explains how to deal with non-constructive criticism from agents and publishers.

There’s a lot of business-side stuff to publishing, especially if you are self-publishing. Savvy Book Writers tells how to get multiple sales of your manuscript via subsidiary rights, and Susan Spann explores the legal side of writing for anthologies.

Marketing is a boogieman for a lot of writers. Chris Syme tells how to sell more books with less marketing, Frances Caballo has 5 skills every writer should develop, and Catherine Dunn and Nikki Halliwell give us 3 steps to know your audience for increased book sales.

Sometimes in marketing bigger is not always better. Richard Lowe shares what smart indie authors know about local networking, and Sharon Bialy reveals the secret promo power of obscure media outlets.

Much of our marketing focuses online. Beth Bacon shows how to write an author Q&A that compels readers to buy, Rachel Thompson explains how to reach your readers without spamming, and John Doppler explores identifying and managing online trolls.


With all the talk of Wonder Woman lately, get inspired by these 19 real life women heroes from World War I.

Meet England’s first blogger: Samuel Pepys.

Speaking of diaries, snoop inside Henry David Thoreau’s journals at this new exhibit.

Scholars rediscover a forgotten Edith Wharton play.

Play “guess the handwriting” with scholars trying to match scribes’ penmanship.

Check out Jane Austen’s 1817 grave: Sweetness, purity, but no mention of anything tatty like writing novels.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! As school comes to an end, enjoy your summertime activities.


  1. This is an excellent compilation. It’s clear you put a great deal of work into it. Thank you for the link.


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