by Steve Laube
I’m of the generation that remembers the day after Labor Day being the first day of school. But no more. All through August kids of all ages have been headed back to the classroom. When our daughters were in Marching Band they had rehearsals on the field twice a day, starting two weeks before school began…which put their practices into the month of July…in Phoenix….where it was 114 degrees yesterday.
But while you may be past having to go to school you should still have a learning mindset. We all need to be open to new ideas and expand our understanding of the world around us. For writers, agents, and editors it may mean going to a writers conference or it could mean some self-study by reading something about this industry. Let me suggest a few books that could do the trick.
The Publishing Industry
Hot House: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art in America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar Straus & Giroux by Boris Kachka. While the subtitle is long it is descriptive. What you have here is the history of a publishing house whose roster of authors include such liminaries as Isaac Bashevis Singer, Flannery O’Connor, and Aleksandr Sozhenitsyn. Over the years their authors won 25 Nobel Prizes. The book exposes the inside story of what happened inside this major New York publishing firm. It includes such detail as the blow-by-blow events which surrounded Jonathan Franzen when he spurned Oprah’s interest in his novel The Corrections. At times profane (warning!) it provides depth to your own understanding of how the industry works.
The E-Book Revolution
Burning the Page: The Ebook Revolution and the Future of Reading by Jason Merkoski. Written by one of the digital pioneers who invented the Kindle while working at Amazon, this book is designed to chip away at your preconceived notions. At times it may infuriate you but ultimately it will cause you to think. Intentionally the ebook edition of the book was available months before the paper edition was available. Let us know your thoughts on this after you’ve read it!
The Craft of Writing
The obvious area to read is in the craft of writing. This Fall consider reading To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction by Phillip Lopate. Patirica Hampl’s endorsement says it so well I’ll let her words speak: “At last — a reliable guide to the signature genre of the age. Impossible now to imagine a nonfiction course that does not include To Show and To Tell in its syllabus. This is the rule book. But it’s much more than a ‘craft book’ for writers. It’s a delight in itself, a fascinating exploration for readers, for anyone wondering why personally voiced nonfiction is so popular. The range is impressive, and the voice here is immediate, fresh, witty, winningly honest. An indispensable book.”
Marketing Your Book
Your First 1,000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book by Tim Grahl. This little book, only 140 pages with lots of white space, is perfect for your brainstorming. Simple, practical, down-to-earth it is guaranteed to give you at least one or two things you can start doing for you book today.
I think I just heard the bell ring. See you after class?