Happy September, writer friends!
I like hearing rejection stories and I think we don’t tell them enough. When my novels started getting rejected, I felt more alone than I ever have in this writing life. It seemed like the normal experience for writers was to have hundreds of rejections, finally get an agent, and then land a publishing deal. The agent was the hard part.
For me, getting an agent has been the easiest part of the entire process, including the writing. I’ve always had multiple offers for each project, from the biggest agencies. But then… nothing. So, imagine my surprise when, quietly, in DMs and closed writing circles, I started hearing about how common this really is. The writer who had six books rejected by publishers until the seventh was finally published and became a New York Times bestseller. The author whose first book was a NYT bestseller, the fourth led to their publisher dropping them, and that ended up in production for a major movie. The author who had a 10-year gap between publishers.
I’ll be sharing some of these stories in a “Rejection Inspiration” section at the end of this newsletter over the course of this month. I hope they inspire you as they have me.
Enjoy the issue!
NEWS & VIEWS
The trending art of book charts
There’s a new bookish trend that’s making my nerdy little heart very happy: book recommendation flowcharts.
It started when Fawzy Taylor, the social media and marketing manager of
a small bookstore in Wisconsin
called A Room of One’s Own, started designing and posting these flowcharts on the store’s social media accounts. One of the flowcharts is titled, “Never read Toni Morrison before?” and then rates her books by “messiness,” “how much ur gonna cry,” and “level of craft.”
Other users have gotten in on the act by creating flowcharts titled “I wanna be fictionally destroyed” (books rated on “level of sad”) and “Never read Baldwin before?” (the option under I wanna be happy says “go read a different author.”)
While book charts are hardly new, they’re suddenly resonating on a much larger scale. Naomi S. Baron, an emerita professor of linguistics at American University and the author of “How We Read Now” told the New York Times she believes it’s because they fulfil a need for the specialized book recommendations that readers used to get at independent bookstores.
“I think it’s important if you want to talk about what’s going on over the last couple of years, we need comfort food,” she noted. “And these are friendly and welcoming.”
The 9 biggest myths about nonfiction trade publishing, debunked: What really happens when you “get a book deal,” publish your first book, and go on tour to promote it? It may not be what you’ve always imagined!
This novelist abandoned her toddlers. I wanted to know why: “When I first started looking at the lives of mother-writers and mother-artists, I said I wanted to write about creative women who left their children. I was thinking of how, when my own two children were small, every move I made away from them was a shock, both to me and to our fragile balance as a family. Motherhood challenged and changed my sense of an independent self, and I imagined I could understand that field of tension by looking, among others, at Doris Lessing.”
Sutherland House Nonfiction Prize
Sutherland House is establishing an annual prize for the best nonfiction book project, open to both new and experienced writers anywhere in the world. The winner will receive a contract for publication with Sutherland House including a $10,000 (Can.) advance.
The prize will emphasize works of narrative non-fiction that require substantial research or subject matter expertise. It will be awarded to a work in progress, either a well-developed proposal or a first-draft manuscript. This will allow our editors to work with the prize winner, providing editorial guidance toward the project’s completion. At minimum, entrants should have a written overview of the book, a sample chapter, and a thorough chapter-by-chapter synopsis.
Deadline: September 30, 2022
THE WORDLING PARTNER
Learn how to write a bestselling science fiction novel from award-winning authors like Andy Weir (The Martian) at this free online summit taking place from August 29 – September 2.
If you didn’t want anything in return, what is the most generous thing you could do for a fellow writer today?
Go do that.
NICARAGUA: With virtually no independent media left inside the country and foreign reporters banned from entering, Nicaragua has become “an information black hole,” said Natalie Southwick of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Government propaganda is all that remains. The Ortega family and its allies own multiple television and radio channels that portray the United States as “the Yankee empire” and pro-democracy protesters as “coup plotters,” “terrorists” and “termites.”
AFGHANISTAN: “When the Taliban returned to power last year, few expected Afghanistan’s first 24/7 news channel to survive. The first time the group was in power, in the 1990s, radios mostly carried Islamic programming and propaganda, and TVs were banned. After they were toppled in 2001, the Taliban spent the next couple of decades staging deadly attacks, often against journalists. In 2016, seven TOLO TV employees were killed by a Taliban suicide bomber. Despite that history, the Taliban have let this democratic institution stand. But every day is a struggle for the journalists who still work there.”
PAKISTAN: “A journal titled Critical Pakistan Studies has been announced by Cambridge University Press, which describes the forthcoming publication as the first international journal devoted to the study of Pakistan and its people.”
Academy award-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro Gómez has directed films such as Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and The Shape of Water (2017).
In a tweet thread a few years ago, he shared the 17 screenplays he wrote over a decade that never got produced.
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