“I have a theory. A theory about why boy v. girl books are so popular with the youngsters. It goes like this: When you’re a kid you find that sometimes the only way to feel real and included in a group is to point out the other kids that (for whatever reason) cannot be included. Now kids cannot help but notice too that human beings are neatly divided into two groups: men and women. By dint of your sex you instantly belong to a group of like-gendered people. And if you band together against the other group then it’s even better because you immediately have easily identifiable “enemies” and “allies”.”—Review of “Bobby vs Girls”
Book publishers actively market and promote authors, of course, particularly the big names, but for thousands of writers it’s a figure-it-out-yourself world of creating book trailers, Web sites and blogs, social networking and crashing on friends’ couches during a tour you arrange.
"Being an author has become much more of an ongoing relationship with your audience through the Web, rather than just writing a book and disappearing while you write the next one," says Liate Stehlik, publisher of William Morrow and Avon Books. "You have to be out there in the online world, talking and participating."
“Drafting and revision typically proceed across four basic stages: Following an inspiration for a work, a writer usually begins by establishing a form for the work, sketching it out and assaying a beginning, and then across a draft, or drafts, he or she accumulates the substance of the work. After the draft reaches a critical mass, or an approximate degree of completeness, the author revises to achieve correctness in every element. Progressive stages of revision eliminate incidence in favor of essence.”—A Brief Handbook of Revision for Writers
To look at schoolbooks from 1890 or 1910 can be scary; the level of literacy and general cultural knowledge expected of a ten-year-old is rather awesome. Such texts, and lists of the novels kids were expected to read in high school up to the 1960s, lead one to believe that Americans really wanted and expected their children not only to be able to read but to do it, and not to fall asleep doing it.
Literacy was not only the front door to any kind of individual economic and class advancement; it was an important social activity. The shared experience of books was a genuine bond. A person reading seems to be cut off from everything around them, almost as much as someone shouting banalities into a cell phone as they ram their car into your car—that’s the private aspect of reading. But there is a large public element, too, which consists in what you and others have read.
Promotionally, the Internet is like the Wild West: boundless, lawless, and full of opportunity for the inventive, the hungry, and the risk takers. Unfortunately, “hungry” and “risk-taker” are not adjectives typically associated with an industry whose end product is best consumed by a reader curled up beside the fire. Books are sedate; they go well with tea. Like knitting.
Yet knitters are actually thriving online, thanks to the platform, advocacy, and community provided by innovator Etsy.com. Good stories, like mittens, will always be welcome in a decent home. The question is, can independent publishers get them there?
“Will there one day be 50-year-old blogs? Blogs that someone has kept updating, daily, for decades? Blogs that bloggers’ grandchildren look through, culling information after their grandparents have sunk into dementia? Century-old blogs that show up in multimedia museum exhibitions? And imagine how many dead blogs there will also be by then, vast cemeteries of them, bigger even than the whole Internet is now.”—Hooray for Our Side
“I love Brain [Krakow] precisely because I understand how sad you feel when you’re trapped by a fear of being humiliated or rejected or that your words will be misunderstood—something I think everyone can identify with on some level, some of us more strongly than others. Brain also expresses that typical (at least it was for me) high school feeling of “nothing important or exciting will ever happen to me.”—There’s Hope for Brian Krakow
“One day, I stumbled across a description of a mythical monster called a karkadann, a type of unicorn from the Turkish peninsula who sounded—to be honest—more than a little like a rhinoceros. A one-horned beast, it was ravenous and deadly, could kill lions, eat people, and could never be captured or tamed, except by a select few, like maidens…or Alexander the Great. Seems some people had a few theories about Alexander’s famous and beloved warhorse, Bucephalus. Man-eating Bucephalus. Enormous Bucephalus. Bucephalus, which meant “ox-head” in Greek. He may have been called that because he had a horn and was not really a horse at all, but this deadly Macedonian monster.”—Diana Peterfreund on unicorns
“It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends. I can remember now, with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me, but I cannot lay my finger upon the moment it ended, can never cut through the ambiguities and second starts and broken resolves to the exact place on the page where the heroine is no longer as optimistic as she once was.”—Joan Didion, Goodbye to All That
“White privilege is a set of advantages that white people benefit from on a daily basis not afforded to people of color. White privilege can exist without white people’s conscious knowledge of its presence and it helps to maintain the racial hierarchy in this country. The biggest problem with white privilege is the invisibility it maintains to those who benefit from it most. The inability to recognize that many of the advantages whites hold are a direct result of the disadvantages of other people, contributes to the unwillingness of white people, even those who are not overtly racist, to recognize their part in maintaining and benefiting from white supremacy.”—White privilege in the LGBT community
“When a man yearns for a woman’s body, then starts to care about her mind, he fools himself into believing that he’s in love. Only after possessing her body can he forget her soul. This may be the only way to free himself.”—Eileen Chang, Love in a Fallen City
“How do you write a page-turner? By making each chapter end with a cliffhanger. What’s a cliffhanger? A cliffhanger is when the action reaches a feverish pitch and then the chapter ends with the protagonist hanging on a limb or about to kiss the boy or about to open the secret safe—but not revealing what is inside. It has to keep people reading to find out what happens next!”—Melissa de la Cruz
“If Oz and its sequels are shaped by Baum’s sharp eye for the theater of commerce, they are also shaped by his wishful revisions of social conflict. Notably, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz offered a paean to strong women at a moment when suffragettes were agitating for the vote. The book’s hero-protagonist, obviously, is a girl. In Kansas, her lively laugh repeatedly startles her worn-down aunt. In Oz, she effortlessly (and intuitively) kills the evil witches subjugating the natives. Indeed, all of Oz’s strongest figures are women—Glinda, the Good Witch of the South; the Good Witch of the North (not in the film); and the two Wicked Witches.”—The Man Who Made Oz
“The Referendum is a phenomenon typical of (but not limited to) midlife, whereby people, increasingly aware of the finiteness of their time in the world, the limitations placed on them by their choices so far, and the narrowing options remaining to them, start judging their peers’ differing choices with reactions ranging from envy to contempt. The Referendum can subtly poison formerly close and uncomplicated relationships, creating tensions between the married and the single, the childless and parents, careerists and the stay-at-home. It’s exacerbated by the far greater diversity of options available to us now than a few decades ago, when everyone had to follow the same drill. We’re all anxiously sizing up how everyone else’s decisions have worked out to reassure ourselves that our own are vindicated — that we are, in some sense, winning.”—The Referendum
“He used emoticons in his text messages. I have a theory about emoticons. Usually if someone is really expressive in text messages, they aren’t in real life. It’s totally true. Take my father. He loves the smiley face and he is a very quiet guy. Then there’s me — I’m a pretty expressive, talkative person. I hate emoticons. Texts should be short and sweet.”—Date Six: The Nerd
“I wonder why China attracts so many weird foreigners. Before I moved to China I spent six months in London, more than three years in Australia, and another year in Finland, and I’ve never experienced meeting as many weirdoes as I do over here. People that are comparing themselves to others, competing against others, and people that take every single chance they get to express how d*** good and successful they are and how bloody well they are doing. Maybe I’m simply too low-key for China, because I never talk about myself as if I was some kind of expert?”—SHE in China
“A few months ago, sitting on a bunch of advance copies of my new book, The Adderall Diaries, copies that were supposed to go to well placed media outlets, I decided to start The Adderall Diaries Lending Library. My plan was to allow anyone who wanted to read an advance copy of the book the opportunity to do so, provided they forwarded the book within a week to the next reader. I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I was doing played right into the new publishing environment, an environment that is still uncharted and mysterious. A brave new democratic book world where everyone is a potential reviewer.”—Notes On Book Publishing in a Socially Networked World
“The first time I cheated on my husband, my mother had been dead for exactly one week. I was in a cafe in Minneapolis watching a man. He watched me back. He was slightly pudgy, with jet-black hair and skin so white it looked as if he’d powdered it. He stood and walked to my table and sat down without asking. He wanted to know if I had a cat. I folded my hands on the table, steadying myself; I was shaking, nervous at what I would do. I was raw, fragile, vicious with grief. I would do anything.”—Cheryl Strayed, “The Love of My Life” (2002)