If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.
Hello again. It is good to be taking another writing break with you. This break features publishing profit updates, a burning publishing house, and an ode to the anti-hero.
The bookstore we are visiting today has a cafe, so let’s head there first for refreshments and to discuss some publishing industry news.ian bookstore. They opened in:
Here are some revenue updates for the first quarter of 2022:
Sales rose and profits fell at HarperCollins. HarperCollins reports that sales rose 5% while profits fell 16%. This goes back to the rising costs we've been talking about this year.
Amazon reports a net loss of $3.8 billion due to a 3% decrease in online sales. Inflation is here, and we all are feeling it.
Meanwhile, Simon & Schuster's first quarter earnings rose a gravity-defying 85%.
There was yet another large and unexplained fire in Russia last week. This one burned books. The warehouse of a pro-Kremlin publishing house caught fire in Moscow last Tuesday. The warehouse is used by a Russian publishing house that publishes mostly educational books for Russian schools. Newsweek reports that soon after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, “the publisher's management ordered staff to minimize the mention of Kyiv and Ukraine in school textbooks.”
On the condition of anonymity, one employee of the educational publisher told an independent Russian media outlet, ”We have a task to make it look as if Ukraine simply does not exist.”
Google Play Books is now allowing authors in six countries—Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, the UK, and the US—to use their free tools in order to generate AI-narrated audiobooks on Google Play Books.
The free tools allow users to create, edit, publish, and sell the audiobooks directly on Google Play Books, but users can also export the audio file and sell it elsewhere.
While most readers, myself included, prefer human-read books, this is one way self-published authors can enter the booming audiobook business for free.
Baker & Taylor, the best-known book distributor with the largest library distribution, has announced the launch of a publishing program called Paw Prints Publishing, which plans to publish books with diverse characters for kids ages three to eight. Every title will be available in English and Spanish and will focus on social and emotional learning.
Publishers Weekly and Barnes & Noble have released their summer reading lists for the year. Links to these reading lists and to all of today’s articles can be found in the show notes of this episode and on writingbreak.com.
I think it’s time to take a stroll among the books and check out an independent author.
Today we’re looking at Getting By by Jaire Sims. Getting By is about Carver Goodman, a 17-year-old African American student with Asperger's Syndrome who is frequently targeted by bullies and is struggling to understand his sexuality while he develops his first romantic relationship. To quote from the book's summary, "When his spot as one of the top students in school is jeopardized under the strain of the increasing challenges in his life, Carver knows something has to change. But what should he do, and how can he do it without getting hurt or hurting anyone else in the process?"
Getting By was named a finalist in the African American Fiction category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
Sims admits he has a lot in common with the protagonist in Getting By, and Sims says that he hopes this book "will reach certain demographics who share commonalities with him and perhaps inspire them to write their own stories while taking inspirations from their life experiences."
Sims also offers an online course that teaches aspiring writers what he learned about writing a book, finding a book editor, and self-publishing. The course is offered for an introductory rate of $97. Check the show notes of this episode for the link to Sims' website where you can learn more about the course and get a free download of the “8 Things You Need to Know Before You Self-Publish a Book.”
Let's take Getting By to the register and then regroup on the Overthinking Couch where I’ll blend today’s overthinking segment with today’s writing tip.
I have anti-heroes on my mind today, that is, the main character of a story who does not behave like an archetypal hero.
They are often title characters in their own novels, for example, Carrie White in Carrie by Stephen King, Emma Woodhouse in Emma by Jane Austen, and Circe in Circe by Madeline Miller.
I like the idea of anti-heroes, but I don’t fall for everyone I meet. To me, Emma Woodhouse is too meddlesome, and by the end of the book, I still don’t like her. Sorry, Austen. Another one that didn’t gain my allegiance is Walter White in AMC’s Breaking Bad. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get it when I’m older. Although, when I was young, I knew I could not be friends with Harriet from Harriet the Spy, another anti-hero title character and possibly my first introduction to this type of character. Regardless of the incompatibility between Harriet and a young America’s Editor, I read the story multiple times. It is a fun read with all of the elements of a proper hero’s journey.
I seek out books with anti-heroes because they are complex characters that, when written well, make me feel a range of emotions for that one character alone. I become more empathetic and more protective of that character as the book continues. My heart softens as the pages turn, and that is such a good feeling.
I think that writing an anti-hero that people will like is more challenging than writing a hero. Why? A hero is a character you can admire and maybe even want to emulate. You expect great things from the hero, and they deliver.
The anti-hero, on the other hand, is presented as a relatable human right from the start. I suppose that, just like in real life, first impressions matter. The first impression we are supposed to get from an anti-hero is a person we can’t feel comfortable with right away. Then it’s the author’s job to tap into the reader’s heart to make us see the shadow parts of ourselves that are like the anti-hero. In order to accept the anti-hero, we must see and accept those parts in ourselves.
Sometimes a hero’s story can make us feel good about the hero but a little worse about ourselves. We have shortcomings that the hero did not exhibit during the story. They were brave, cunning, and charming in ways we’d like to be but are not sure we can be, and we might never be given the chance to find out.
The anti-hero, however, takes us on a more relatable journey. With all of their flaws, they still win. That makes us feel better about our flaws, insecurities, and shortcomings. It makes us feel like we can win just as we are. When Stephen King’s Carrie loses her temper, she doesn’t have to apologize for her behavior or vow to do better. She just has to rage. Wouldn’t we be just as dangerous with a trace of telekinesis?
If you’ve never written an anti-hero before, I encourage you to try it out. Take the week to think about an anti-hero you might like to build a story around. There are many types of antiheroes, and next week we’ll go into the different types to see if anything strikes your fancy.
Follow this podcast to get notified about the next episode as soon as it’s out. And check the show notes of this episode for a link to more free writing tips and free style sheet templates to keep your writing organized and consistent.
Until next week, you deserved this break.
If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.
Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at email@example.com.