Publishing School
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Nine Writers And Publicists Tell All About Readings And Book Tours

Author readings and book tours are not an essential component of the writing or publishing processes, and so these events have long been associated with a kind of miasmic purposelessness. Go to your basic reading and sit in the back row, where if you squint, you will see above the head of almost everyone involved—the writer(s)/reader(s), the audience, the publicist, the bookseller, the sales clerk(s) who set up the chairs and must wait around to take them down before heading out to an indie-rock show, the local reporter doing a trend piece on the decline of readings—a clump of thought bubbles bumping up against each other like trapped balloons, [...]

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Five Writers Talk About Their Book Editors

It’s a fact of life for writers that at a certain point, beyond a personal blog, to reach a larger audience your work will need to be vetted or massaged or reshaped (or sometimes, rejected or violated) by an editor. In publishing houses, moreover, it’s generally the editor who serves as your advocate or at least liaison with the other departments (generally, production and sales/marketing); he or she is the person who not only introduces you to those who will eventually sell your book, but also has to make the case as to why they should care when they undoubtedly have many, many others vying for their attention. The [...]

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Four Writers Explain How They're Writing Novels

Believe it or not, some percentage of the world's population likes to write novels. (I'm one of them.) Or maybe "like" isn't the best word, considering that it often feels more like a compulsion or an addiction, although there are more destructive compulsions or addictions, as we'll explore in some detail below. To put a slightly more positive spin on it, novels are the LTRs of prose writing: never easy but on balance probably worth doing. (Although just to be clear: writing a novel, like being in a relationship, doesn't make you "better" than anyone else, that's for sure.) From a mechanical perspective, novels generally range from about 60,000 [...]

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Four Writers Tell All About Titles

The title of a book, along with maybe the cover, is most often what’s going to lead a potential reader to pick up your baby book. Which isn’t to say coming up with a good one is easy. To the contrary, it’s the sort of thing, like naming a band, that can cause everyone involved a lot of agony, particularly when an author has settled on something very early in the process and someone else (usually involved in selling it) however many months or years later decides that the book might be better served with something different.

So, how do we know if we have a good title? According [...]

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Hurry Up And Start Hooking If You Want To Sell That Memoir

More advice on getting published: "Well, have you smoked crack? Been a prostitute? Homeless? Had any kind of addictions to overcome? Disease? That’s what makes a memoir work. That’s what people want to read." [Via]

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Six Writers Tell All About Covers and Blurbs

Writers by definition spend a lot of time on the inside of books, which is why what happens on the outside—namely, cover art and blurbs—can feel precarious and daunting. Often these elements are beyond an author’s control or expertise, which can be painful to admit, particularly when the "expertise" of graphic designers and marketers seems so subjective or at odds with an author’s “vision” for a book.

To get some advice on navigating these issues, we asked a handful of writers—including Kate Christensen, Bennett Madison, Stefanie Pintoff, Mark Jude Poirier and Tom Scocca—who have been through the process these questions:

  • How important are covers in terms [...]
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Five Writers Explain How They Got, Kept and Fired Agents

Let’s say that after a certain amount of time, probably more than a year (and possibly more than a few), you’ve finished your novel and want to find a publisher; or perhaps at the other extreme, five hours ago you started a high-traffic Tumblr, which people are telling you needs to be made into a printed book. Either way, chances are you’re going to need an agent. Agents are the gatekeepers of publishing, which may seem kind of pointless and inefficient until you understand that these days, agents not only negotiate contracts but often also do the lion’s share of the editorial heavy lifting (leaving actual “editors” more [...]