Josh Hawley and the right to be published

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Simon and Schuster cancelled its book contract with Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, and he’s pretty upset. Here’s what Simon & Schuster announced in a statement: After witnessing the disturbing, deadly insurrection that took place on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Simon & Schuster has decided to cancel publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s forthcoming book, The Tyranny of … Continued

The moral conundrum of Books by the Foot

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A Maryland bookseller will outfit your bookshelf with books of any description — liberal history, musty old tomes, or just “green.” What are the moral implications of treating books as objects and not content? Politico describes Books by the Foot‘s business. Its clients vary. Some are set decorators for movies and plays. Others are people … Continued

A 2021 New Year’s resolution for authors

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Is writing a book in your list of 2021 New Year’s resolutions? Your friends may be encouraging you. “This is your year! You can do it!” If you’ve subscribed to emails from any of the “we help you publish” services out there, they’re telling you the same thing. Maybe you need a push. Or perhaps … Continued

What the Penguin Random House-Simon & Schuster merger means to authors

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The biggest publishing house, Penguin Random House, is merging with the number three publisher, Simon & Schuster. Here’s what that means for you as an author: lower advances, less service, more publisher nickel-and-diming, and still more of the responsibility for success landing on you. Publishing houses struggle to maintain profits and market power in a … Continued

Don’t crowdsource editing (but you can crowdsource these other things)

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Last week, two different authors told me they were sending chapters to a bunch of their friends to get feedback. One planned to send it to 40 people. This is terrible way to edit. Consider what happens when you crowdsource an edit Anyone who’s ever read a Wikipedia article has seen the incoherent and personality-free … Continued

Trademarks in books and other prose: how to mark and when to claim them

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Trademarks confuse writers. Here are some tips on how to address trademarks in prose — and whether you ought to protect your own special names for things with them. Start with this: I’m not a lawyer. I hope you find this helpful — it’s based on decades of experience as a writer — but if … Continued

Nonfiction writers: Start every chapter with a story

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I don’t care whether you’r writing a memoir, a historical narrative, or a business book full of advice. You should start every chapter with a story. Why? Because stories draw people in. It’s that simple. Here are the starts of some chapters in my first book Groundswell. Would you want to read these chapters? When … Continued