- The biggest publishers are so big that it creates bad working conditions for employees. Canadian Publisher Kenneth Whyte writes, “Having some experience in management at large companies, I think the big five publishers are now too massive—too many imprints, too many functions, too many employees—to function as anything but ruthless machines. The first priority is to return value to shareholders. In order to do that, a company must grow its profits every year. That can be done by increasing revenues or cutting expenses or both. With little revenue growth in the last two decades, managers have been hyper-focussed on the expense side, demanding more and more of inexpensive junior employees.” There’s also some interesting advice about slush piles and getting noticed by an editor. Read at SHuSH.
- The disappearance of the hit-driven business model. A movie producer reflects how much the industry has changed because of streaming: “The current subscription-based business model removes the opportunity to create a hit.” One can see parallels to publishing. Read Chris Moore at Dear Producer. (Hat tip to reader Sara K.)
- A guide to AI art for authors. This is a straightforward and practical look at three major AI art generators and how authors can access and use them. Read Jason Hamilton at Kindlepreneur.
- Cover artist accused of using AI. It’s a weird case, but likely to become very common. Read Chris Stokel-Walker at BuzzFeed News.
- Microsoft can now simulate anyone’s voice with a 3-second sample. Not only the voice can be simulated, but also the acoustic environment. The potential misuse of such technology is endless. Read Benj Edwards at Ars Technica.
- To protect its business in the US, TikTok offers to share its algorithm. The company hopes to convince the US government that it can operate independently of its Chinese ownership. Read Laurie Sullivan at MediaPost (free account required).
- TikTok ads drive profits in six months. According to new research, 78 percent of small businesses that run ads on TikTok realize a return on investment in six months. Read Colin Kirkland at MediaPost (free account required).
- The Best of Writer Beware in 2022. A helpful recap and cautionary overview for any author as they move forward this year. Read Victoria Strauss.
- Literary magazines that launched in 2022. There are 34 of them. Browse at Lit Mag News.
- Top 10 publishing trends in 2023: Leading voices in the indie community (including yours truly) discuss what’s ahead. Read Clayton Noblit at Written Word Media.
- An agent’s take on what’s ahead for 2023. This Twitter thread touches on myriad issues; perhaps the most interesting prediction is that authors and publishers will embrace trade paperbacks because of increased costs. “Trade paperback is the new HC.” Read Carly Watters.
- An autopsy on PRH’s failed bid to buy S&S. A nuanced and measured look at why the attempt failed and the ramifications of that failure. Read Shawn McCreesh at New York.
- The infamous manuscript thief obtained more than 1,000 manuscripts. Filippo Bernardini pled guilty and must pay restitution of $88,000. He will be sentenced in April (maximum sentence: 20 years in prison). Read the government’s press release.
- The ghostwriters behind celebrity memoirs: Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, was ghostwritten, as are most such books. Read Elizabeth A. Harris at the New York Times (gift link).
- The literary prizes are rigged. According to recent research, writers with an elite degree are nine times more likely to win an award; those who attend Harvard are 17 times more likely to win. And half of the prize-winners with an MFA went to just four schools: Iowa, Columbia, NYU, or UC Irvine. Read Dan Sinykin at LA Review of Books.
- Your Amazon follows can be a big sales and marketing help. Author Monica Leonelle describes how Amazon uses the Follow function on its site and where to find out how many people are following you on Amazon. Read Aggressively Wide.
- Amazon’s current ordering policy is likely to hurt independent authors and small publishers. A veteran book marketer and publicist discusses how Amazon may order zero copies of a new title unless there is pre-order demand. Ultimately, it means that traditional distribution may be less helpful than ever before and not a step above print-on-demand distribution. Read Claire McKinney.
- Amazon announces it will lay off 18,000 employees. That number represents about 1 percent of its workers. Read Bobby Allyn at NPR.
- Should you accept returns for your POD books? Indie author Darcy Pattison offers a look at the pros and cons. Read at Indie Kids Books.
Culture & Politics
- Learn about the books banned in your state’s prisons. You can search by title and author, but not all states are available to search. Visit the Marshall Project.
- How a novelist dealt with her own death. Cai Emmons’s ALS diagnosis came as her career was flourishing. Read Lorraine Berry in the Los Angeles Times.
- Romance author fakes her own suicide. Book critic Laura Miller says that rather than being a story about the book world, it’s a story about an insular online community. Read at Slate.
- New York Public Library faces budget cuts. Mayor Eric Adams is under fire for cutting funding to libraries—$13 million this fiscal year and $20 million next. Read Emma G. Fitzsimmons in the New York Times.
- A conservative group that started to influence school boards is now going after school libraries. Moms for Libraries is an offshoot of Moms for Liberty, and they claim that libraries are discriminating against Christians. Read Melissa Gira Grant at the New Republic.
- Why we need new stories on climate: Rebecca Solnit argues that the climate crisis is, in part, a storytelling crisis. Read at the Guardian.