Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 2, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 08-02-2018

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of August! Today is National Coloring Book Day, and tomorrow is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. So grab a cookie and relax with your favorite crayons—and it’s okay to color outside the lines.

Writers tend to be readers, so this is good news: science says reading a book makes you a better friend.

Alex Preston documents a surge in the popularity of intelligent, challenging nonfiction in the U.K.

English teacher Christopher Schaberg wonders: what is literature anyway?

Looking for a good read? Abby Hargreaves reveals the best book database you’ve never heard of—NoveList.

Publishing can have predators and scandals, so beware. Victoria Strauss details how predatory publishing companies are trying to scam authors, and Janet Reid talks a bit about agent Danielle Smith’s dishonest behavior and the aftermath.

Roz Morris discovers a troubling pattern in book clubs, and urges authors to speak out often about piracy and how it impacts our careers.


Translator and author Lynn Miller-Lachmann shares 2 insights for creators of children’s and teen literature.

Ozan Tortop walks us through how to create a picture book.

Elizabeth Huergo philosophizes on breaking the story open.

There are many big-picture items to consider in writing, and most are present from the very first draft. Janice Hardy discusses planning and writing a first draft and what not to worry about in a first draft. C.S. Lakin shares tips for writing great plot twists, and Heather Webb shows how to build a world and hook a reader.

It’s the characters that readers will remember from your story. Stavros Halvatzis explores minor characters in stories, Becca Puglisi suggests adding a quirk to your characters to add depth, James Scott Bell examines the mirror moment in Huckleberry Finn, and Kim Bullock reminds us that changed perceptions equals character growth.

Most writers have beta readers for their manuscripts. We all know the benefits of having a beta reader, but are there benefits to being a beta reader? Joanna Maciejewska and Jo Ullah both say yes: being a beta reader has made them better writers.

Even if you don’t use beta readers, you should have someone to edit your book. Some things to consider when looking at your story with fresh eyes: June Casagrande’s assertion that grammar purity is one big Ponzi scheme, Lisa Yezak’s 5 simple pacing techniques that grab reader emotions, and Ruth Harris’ list of new opportunities for old manuscripts.

Writers enjoy writing—but writing is not always enjoyable. Lauren Schmelz suggests writing it out longhand for a change, Don Lee advises how to cope with all the drudgery of writing, Lisa Tener has 4 quick summer writing tips, and Bonnie Randall examines the rhythm and reality of treating your writing like a “real” job.

Julie Schooler discusses how to shake off imposter syndrome and write your non-fiction book, Mikey Kuplevatsky reminds us that motivation isn’t everything, and agent Kate McKean urges new writers to come to writing with an understanding of what it really entails.


Writers don’t always love the business side of writing. However, every writer is a small business—so we need to know how to manage that business professionally. Debbie Young discusses how indie authors can learn to love financial management.

Agent Janet Reid answers two authors’ questions this week. First, she outlines what to do if you were unfortunate enough to have signed an employment contract that includes the right of first refusal to any book you write. Then, she addresses the question asking if there is an expiration dating on agents submitting manuscripts to publishers.

On the marketing side of the business, Kristen Lamb looks at the evolution of audiences and marketing, Joan Stewart shows how to recycle, repurpose, and promote your publicity, and Sue Coletta lays out how to write a press release that works.

When we do venture out of our writer’s grottoes, Sandra Beckwith gives us a book signing event toolkit, Elisa Gabbert has networking advice for the antisocial writer, and Penny Sansevieri list 5 ways to sell more books for the holidays.

In online marketing, Izaak Crook tells us how to reach readers through mobile book marketing, Aja Frost shares 5 old school social media tactics that no longer work (and solutions), Cristian Mihai lists 5 mistakes to avoid when writing a blog headline, and Frances Caballo advises us how to get readers to share your tweets.


I love any library I enter, but here is a collection of the world’s most beautiful libraries.

Can’t get to a library in the UK? No problem. IKEAs in the UK will soon have reading rooms, where you can take books home for free.

Ceridwen Dovey investigates if reading can make you happier, and Daphne Gray-Grant asks if you could benefit from bibliotherapy.

Jim O’Grady takes us inside the complicated fight to save Walt Whitman’s sole surviving New York City home.

People always wonder about the stories behind the stories. JoAnna Klein seeks the inspiration for Dr. Seuss’ Lorax.

Reading is a great way to create a connection with the world, with other people, and even with yourself. Emma Court explores what rereading childhood books teaches adults about themselves, while Laura Marie shares 8 ways to make new friends as an adult through your love of books.

David Scott Kastan and  Stephen Farthing demystify the unlikely etymology of “orange.”

Do you experience this? Tsundoku: the art of buying books and never reading them.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us again next week for more literary links.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: