Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 14, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers and Readers 11-14-2019

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! It’s gotten very cold here, so it is perfect weather for curling up with a hot drink and some writerly links!

This second week in November is National Young Readers Week, so go encourage the young readers in your life! For those of us perhaps not so young, Steven Spatz explains why you should set a reading goal for 2020.

Perhaps read some of the works of these two writers who passed away this week: William Branch, a leading black playwright of the 1950s, died at age 92, and Stephen Dixon, prolific writer of experimental fiction, died at age 83.

In world author news, publishers and writers welcomed the release of imprisoned Turkish novelist Ahmet Altan.

Timothy Inkelbarger examines how the Chicago Public School strike affected Chicago school librarians.

Lots of writers enter their work in contests or award competitions, either before or after publication. Victoria Strauss cautions people entering the very lucrative Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award contest—they get rights to your story even if you don’t win, so weigh if that is worth it to you. Meanwhile, Kimberley Woodhouse explores the more positive side of the world of author awards.

Daphne Gray-Grant questions if you should do your MFA in writing?

If you are in the midst of National Novel Writing Month, Jami Gold has these NaNoWriMo resources if you need help.

CRAFT

If you are a memoirist, beware this common problem that confronts memoirists: an overabundance of material.

We all want to write a page-turner, but how to you do it? Jodie Renner shares a workable plan for adding tension, suspense, and intrigue, while Janice Hardy shows how to keep readers hooked through story revelations.

Compelling characters are another way to keep readers reading. Donald Maass talks about the two types of archetypes, James Scott Bell suggests giving your character a dream, Chris Winkle has 18 ways for protagonists to contribute, Kristen Lamb discusses crafting a villain of legendary substance, and Sharla Rae gives us a comprehensive guide to writing about hair.

Predictability will kill your story…or will it? Chris Winkle looks at how predictable a story should be, and Becca Puglisi explores saving your story from predictability.

Writers often struggle with what to cut from their novel when editing. Nathan Bransford discusses how to know what to cut from a novel, but Dario Ciriello alerts us when NOT to kill your darlings.

When editing, attention to detail counts. Christina DesMarais has 43 embarrassing grammar mistakes even smart people make, Dana Isaacson has infographics of often-used crutch words, Toni Susnjar explains how to get your fantasy fortifications right, Beth van der Pol urges us to stop trying so hard to impress our readers with big words, and Roz Morris tells us how to find the editor that’s right for you.

If you are looking for ways to be more efficient, Writehacked lists 3 helpful tool types for writers.

BUSINESS

Michelle Rial gives us Publishing a Book by the Numbers, while Steph Coelho ponders the current state and future of Goodreads.

In Amazon news, Jim Milliot reports that Amazon is reducing orders to publishers, and Ed Nawotka shows that translations pay off for Amazon.

If you are a self-publisher, there’s lots of nuts and bolts elements to understand. Michele DePhilippo explains typesetting and why it matters, Melinda VanLone gives us tips for book cover typography, Andre Calihanna lays out what goes in the front matter of your book, and Tracy Atkins continues her series on preparing your manuscript for publication.

Self-publishers and small press publishers also need to understand what’s happening in their markets. David Wogahn dissects Bowker’s Self-Publishing Report, while Rachell Gardner has questions to ask a small publisher. David Kudler guides us in pricing your book, and Christina Hoag explains the importance of genre.

But not all authors want to self-publish. Karin Beery discusses why she chose the long road to publication.

The long road usually involves querying agents or editors. Janet Reid evaluates the first sentences of potential query letters for novels, while Nathan Bransford has an example of a good nonfiction query letter.

Most queries include comps (competing titles). Penny Sansevieri shows how to find and use competing book titles, and Paula Munier has a know your comps quiz for you.

If you are pitching articles, Robert Lee Brewer lists 3 ways to make your nonfiction article pitch stand out.

Once you’ve got your book, the marketing starts. Ray Flynt has tips to build your indie author brand, but Eliza Green ponders what happens when readers rebel.

In person events can be a great way to get the word out about your work. Boni Wagner-Stafford shows how to engineer your book launch success with a DIY strategy, Elizabeth Ducie explains how to promote books and have fun on the radio, and Karen A. Chase describes getting speaking engagements.

Other ways to market are effective, too. Sandra Beckwith has 6 ways to promote your book as a holiday gift, and David Wogahn tells us how to use endorsements well.

Online, there are many ways to reach readers. Stacey Corrin defines what a blog is in an essential guide for beginners, while Dave Chesson walks us through how to create a Facebook author page and how to use it wisely.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Here’s a job for you poets out there: Benjamin Aleshire on writing poetry on demand at a New Orleans tech convention.

How many have you read? BBC’s list of 100 novels that shaped our world.

K.M. Weiland has 23 tips for a zero waster home office.

Early writing was often a male domain, but Alison Flood finds that women’s writing began much earlier than previously supposed.

Speaking of women writers, intrepid reporter Nellie Bly committed herself to an insane asylum just to get the story.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay warm and we’ll see you next week for more literary links.


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