Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 25, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-25-2019

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of April! Looking ahead, Saturday, April 27th, is National Tell a Story Day and Sunday is National Great Poetry Reading Day!

Ed Nawaotka reports that Independent Bookstore Day gets even bigger this year. If you want to buy something at your local bookstore, check out NPR’s Book Concierge’s Best Books of 2018 for suggestions.

Jennifer Baker highlights new literary festivals that lead the way by celebrating diversity.

As book coverage in major media outlets is declining, Bookmarks has a letter from Laurie Hertzel, the president of the National Book Critics Circle.

Wondering how American reading stacks up against other countries? Andre Calilhanna has an infographic of reading habits around the world.


Do you like to read or write essays? Jamie Canaves lists 21 of the best living essay writers.

Playwriting is an art form in its own right, but it can also provide cross-training for fiction writing. Sharon King-Campbell shares 5 ways playwriting improved my fiction.

Sarah Ditum explores why authors are still sniffy about sci-fi.

Big picture craft elements drive a lot of your story. Audrey Wick and Julie Sturgeon discuss the anatomy of Chapter One, Roz Morris describes how to discuss brilliant ideas without killing your story, Jordan Dane shares tips on writing believable conspiracies for thriller fiction, and Lisa Cron examines plot, inner change, evocative writing and what really rivets readers.

Character pulls in readers. Janice Hardy brings a trifecta today: 2 reasons why your protagonist isn’t driving your plot, raising your stakes by narrowing the focus, and how your setting can affect your characters. Jodi Turchin talks about writing realistic teenagers in YA, and Kathleen McCleary looks at the flip side of your characters emotions.

Creativity comes to us in many ways. Scott Hale explains why writing yourself into a corner can improve your writing, Savannah Cordova weighs the pros and cons for writing prompts, and Sherry Howard discusses maximizing your author senses.

All writers are trying to reach that next level of artistry and craft. K.M. Weiland aims to help authors become artists, Mary Kole examines 3 writing motivation flags and what to do about it, and Kim Bullock looks at the positive side of envy.

Writers tend to focus on the negative when it comes to our writing. Colleen M. Story discusses the one thing writers miss when trying to improve, and Janice Hardy advises to make note of what’s good in your writing.

We’re all looking for ways to work with less stress and better health. Judith Briles urges us to not reinvent the publishing wheel and discover the freedom of repurposing, and Melissa Donovan gives us health tips for writers.


Michael Kozlowski explains the big reason we don’t own ebooks.

When choosing fonts for your cover and marketing material, consider this: Helvetica, the world’s most popular font, just got a facelift.

Authors do a lot of marketing writing for their work. Bill Ferris shares the hack’s guide to writing a synopsis, while Stephanie Chandler lays out how to write sales copy for the back of your non-fiction book.

Confused about what exactly you should license when you sell a short story? Janet Reid explains the licenses short story publishers should ask for.

In an interview with Sangeeta Mahta, two agents discuss what matters most beyond good writing.

When writing a query to an agent or a publisher, it can be hard to know exactly what to say about your qualifications—especially since most of us suffer badly from Imposter Syndrome. Katherine Swarts tells us how to make ourselves look good without lying, while Janet Reid stresses that when you query be very clear about what you want or why you are writing, otherwise you may not get a reply.

Marketing our books takes us far from the comfortable world of the printed page. Brian Jud explains how to get your words’ worth when being interviewed, D.J. Williams shares how to pitch your book for TV and film, and Sandra Beckwith lays out how to get around the “we don’t review self-published books” roadblock.

Our social media is often our marketing portal to our audience. Anne R. Allen has 10 tips to use social media and avoid the cesspool, Camille Franc lists 6 effective ways to brand yourself on social media, and Rachelle Gardner urges us to look at what your online activity says about you.

Blogging is a popular way for writers to stay in touch with their readers, but Steven Spatz asks: does an author need a blog? Meanwhile, Cristian Mihai reminds us that blogging is all about adding value to people’s lives, and Jenny Hansen gives us 5 easy steps to improve your SEO.

Instagram is another high-powered outlet for reader connection. Scott La Counte shares tips for Instagram for authors, and Frances Caballo has 7 simple secrets to totally rock your Instagram account.


Why you should always be willing to help clean out the in-laws’ attic after they pass away: A woman on Antiques Roadshow discovers she’s found a ring with a lock of Charlotte Bronte’s hair.

And look inside picture frames: two previously unknown poems by Daphne du Maurier were discovered hidden in a picture frame.

The good people of Literary Disco discuss Jane Austen’s enduring genius.

Debbie Burke discusses another enduring female—Nancy Drew, immortal female detective.

A messy legal battle in Switzerland could reveal long-lost Kafka works. Because our world isn’t absurd and dystopian enough.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for the first Top Picks Thursday of May!



  1. Thanks for the blog love, Kerry!


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