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The Authors Guild

New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming books by our members include titles by Hester Bass, Sallie Bingham, Betty G. Birney, Lewis Buzbee, Jules Feiffer, Lucy Frank, Sabine Heinlein, Brian Heinz, Michael Largo, Kirby Larson, D.M. Pirrone, Douglas Preston, Elizabeth Rusch, and David Ezra Stein. Titles below the jump.

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Bulletin Board

This week’s batch includes three residencies, including the well known MacDowell Colony, the oldest artists’ colony in the U.S. Deadlines range from Sept 4-15.

The Hambidge Residency is currently accepting applications for the mid-February through April residency period. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the residency allows artists to explore, develop, and express their creative voices. Residencies last from two weeks to two months depending on availability and the residency fee is $200 per week. All new applicants will be considered for the NEA Fellowship which provides a $700 stipend and waives the $400 residency fee for two week residencies. Other scholarships are also available. Applicants should submit a 300 word bio, a resume, and a writing sample of up to 30 pages of prose or 5-8 poems. Application fee: $30.Deadline: September 15, 2014. For more information, please visit the website.

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Navigating the Amazon-Hachette Dispute

It has been a lively week in the book world. Many of our members have been asking what we’re doing and how we feel about the ongoing dispute between Amazon and Hachette, in which Amazon has played a tough game of hardball, slowing or blocking the delivery of thousands of titles.

This weekend a group of some 900 authors published a two-page ad in the New York Times criticizing these tactics. The organizer, Douglas Preston, is a member of our board, and several of his fellow Council members, along with many members of the Authors Guild, signed the letter, which you can read here. It said: “As writers—most of us not published by Hachette—we feel strongly that no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from ordering or receiving the books they want. It is not right for Amazon to single out a group of authors, who are not involved in the dispute, for selective retaliation.” That’s something we all agree with. And it’s not right for Amazon to claim that they were forced to do this: no one made them do this.

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Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

“Google and Barnes & Noble Unite to Take on Amazon,” said a headline in The New York Times. The two were zeroing in on a fast, cheap delivery of books in Manhattan, West Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area. Customers can get books through the Google Shopping Express.

The Times explained: “Amazon poses a persistent and growing threat to Google and Barnes & Noble. Its rise has contributed to lagging sales and diminished foot traffic in Barnes & Noble’s physical stores, and it dominates the online market for print books.”

Google uses couriers who pick up products from local stores and deliver them in about three to four hours. Service is free to subscribers of Google Shopping Express, and costs $4.99 per delivery for others. Amazon charges $5.99 for members of its Prime program and $9.99 for others.

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming books by our members include titles by Dori Hillstead Butler, Frances O’Roark Dowell, Jules Feiffer, Nina Wolff Feld, Kate Flora, Katherine Howe, Robin Hutton, Alison Lurie, Gerald W. McFarland, Richard O’Connor, Henry V. O’Neil, Hampton Sides, and Caryn Huberman Yacowitz. Titles under the jump.

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Along Publishers Row

By Campbell Geeslin

Words are being replaced. Our joined-together alphabetic symbols for absolutely everything are giving way to a growing tribe of little pictures.

Jessica Bennett, a multimedia journalist, wrote in The New York Times, “The roots of smiley faces and emotions go back to the 1880s, but the story of the emoji, those little pictorial icons on your cell phone, began in Japan in the mid-1990s when it was added as a special feature to a brand of pagers popular with teenagers.” Apple adopted it in 2011.

And it’s spreading. “Emoji was crowned as this year’s top-trending word by the Global Language Monitor, and it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.”

Well, I think I can promise that you will never, ever see a smiling, frowning or tear-streaked little face in this blog. No wine glasses or pizza slices. Just words.

A POET’S JOB: Edward Hirsch is author of a book-length elegy, Gabriel. Alec Wilkinson’s profile of the poet appeared in the August 4th New Yorker.

Hirsch grew up in Skokie, Ill., and he is quoted: “Why would I have Skokie in a poem? But you become resigned. Your job is to write about the life you actually have.”

A LESSON: Joyce Carol Oates was editor of Prison Noir, a book of 15 stories written by U.S. prison inmates. It’s due out in September.

Oates told PW: “Serious fiction always breaks down the barriers between people—allows us to see, think, and feel as others do. We learn to sympathize with others unlike ourselves. We learn to feel pity—and terror—even to recognize hopelessness as an illuminating experience. . . .”

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Along Publishers Row

By Campbell Geeslin

It’s vacation time, and Emma Straub’s new novel is The Vacationers. The Guardian took note of the season by inviting her to list some favorite vacations in fiction.

Straub wrote, “I’ve always liked taking my fictional characters on vacation. As in life, I think it shakes characters out of their routines, which in turn leads to more zippy contradictions and conflicts and, yes, sex.”

Among Straub’s selections were:
Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, “a portrait of a group of friends, starting one summer at camp and stretching out over the following several decades.” Choices are made that “set the course for the rest of their lives.”
Elaine Dundy’s The Dud Avocado, an American takes a trip to Paris in the 1950s and discovers “that Paris can’t solve all one’s problems.”
Courtney Sullivan’s Maine, in which a family’s cabin is the setting for three generations of women. The landscape is so lovingly described that “you will curse your own ancestors for not thinking to purchase a similar parcel of land.”
Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad has an African safari with “complicated family dynamics, irritating fellow tourists, and a proper animal attack: all the trappings of an excellent holiday.”

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Bill Gates Hails Book by Former President of the Authors Guild

On Wednesday, The New York Times “Bits” blog reported on the surprising resurrection of John Brooks’ Business Adventures, a 1969 book long out of print. On his Web site, Bill Gates called it “The Best Business Book I’ve Ever Read” and added that he still has the copy Warren Buffett lent him. Behind the scenes, Gates helped coordinate an effort that led to the book’s republication and instant bestsellerdom.

As it happens, John Brooks, who died in 1993, was not only the “masterful storyteller” Gates hailed, but also a tremendously influential figure in the history of the Authors Guild. He served as our President from 1975-1979, and before that as Vice President and Treasurer. In a time of upheaval in the publishing industry—consolidation among publishers, new copyright legislation, changes in tax law—Brooks made sure the Guild was one of the strongest voices defending American writers.

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Bulletin Board

This week’s batch of prizes includes fiction and poetry. Deadlines range from Aug 8-31.

The Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize is open to residents of Upstate New York. Submitted work must be a book of poems in English, at least 48 pages long, published between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. Books may be submitted either by the author or the publisher. The winner will receive $3,000 and publication by Red Hen Press. Writers who have been previously published by Red Hen Press are not eligible. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: August 31, 2014. For complete guidelines, please visit the website.

The 11th Annual Gival Press Short Story Award is now accepting submissions of previously unpublished original short stories written in English. Stories must be between 5,000 and 15,000 words. The winner will receive $1,000 and publication on the Gival Press website and in a future anthology of short stories. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: August 8, 2014. For complete guidelines, please visit the website.

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Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors

The Authors Guild is committed to an inclusive, big-tent approach to its mission as the published writer’s advocate. The recent clash between Amazon and Hachette Book Group has called attention to the contrasting viewpoints of traditionally-published and self-published authors. During this dispute the Guild has spoken out against Amazon’s tactics—which needlessly imperil the livelihoods of authors who are not involved in the negotiations—while also challenging the major publishing houses to revisit the parsimonious stance they’ve taken on authors’ e-book royalties.

The Guild recognizes all authors’ rights to make a living from their books and to pursue the most suitable audience for them. It is a sign of the strength and diversity of our membership that two of our Council Members, Douglas Preston and CJ Lyons, have taken different public stands in defense of serious authors.

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