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Author of a newsletter about writing called The Novelleist. About to release my gothic novel via Substack.

And other truths about publishing

Woman looking at her book.
Woman looking at her book.

After I completed my first novel, I had dreams of a beautiful black book, its ivory pages sewn into the binding, the title embossed in gold leaf, a single red ribbon denoting the place where a reader might pause in their reading, adrift in another world.

Perhaps, if I was lucky enough, more than a few readers would love it. Perhaps, in my wildest dreams, Reese Witherspoon would even recommend it to her book club. Perhaps it would go on to become a New York Times bestseller and Hello Sunshine would adapt it into a series for HBO. …

“I make about 2.5x more from my self-published books than I do from my traditionally published ones, and that’s largely due to earning MUCH more on each individual sale,” says the author Michael J. Sullivan in a comment on one of my articles.

Sullivan, as it turns out, secured his publishing deal with Orbit Books around the same time N.K. Jemisin did — his advance was $22,500, hers was $25,000. Initially, he sold more books than she did, but eventually she did, their paths crossing as each attempted mastery over their perspective genres.

But then they diverged — Sullivan decided…

In addition to my fortnightly newsletter, I’ll now be spending the alternating Sundays interviewing successful fiction authors on how they became successful fiction authors. These interviews have been very helpful to me as I get ready to publish my own book this fall — I hope they are helpful to you too.

For my first interview, I asked John McCrae, aka Wildbow, if he would share how he became a full-time writer earning $7,600/month writing fiction online using Patreon. Here’s what he had to say:

How did you get your start writing web serials?

I started writing when I was 13 and wrote a ton. Books-worth of urban fantasy…

My husband and I both enter to win the HGTV dream home every day. It’s ridiculous — most of them are in places I would never want to live and all of them are designed in vehement opposition to my taste — but the whole thing started with a house in Tahoe which of course would be very dreamy and very unobtainable otherwise.

It’s been several years since the Tahoe house, but it has turned into something of a ritual for both of us so we keep the habit around. For my husband, every morning when he enters his email…

But maybe that’s changing

The New York Times caused a stir recently when, in an article about pandemic book sales, it disclosed that “98 percent of the books that publishers released in 2020 sold fewer than 5,000 copies.”

Though this statistic was shocking to many, it is not new information. People don’t read books — and the ones that do aren’t buying them. To make matters worse, “books that publishers released” are only the “success stories” — those books that scored a hard-won Big-Four publishing contracts — and those are already a small piece of the book publishing market.

According to Bookstat, which looks…

There is perhaps no role I identify with more, than the flâneur.

Only the French could come up with such a word-it means “the stroller” or “the saunterer,” or quite simply, “the walker”-someone who wanders down the boulevard with an amiable sense of leisure.

It is also a perfectly underappreciated role. Especially now that we are so hardcore about things-determined as we have become to identify as a “skier” or a “mountain biker.” (Both roles in which I could merely be considered a “dabbler.”)

Indeed, the American counterpart to the flâneur is perhaps best culminated in “the outdoorsperson.” A role…

I recently had a dream. I was living on some island at the far edge of the world, where the sky chased itself through a mirage of pink clouds, and the water hallucinated with dappled drops of purple sunset. It was some strange cerulean paradise.

Only my teeth hurt, so I went to the dentist. She lived in a small pagoda on the edge of a lily pond — only the lilies were pink and purple and the water they drifted upon looked more like the sky. …

Four years ago, Ritch Wood was looking for a better way to grow plants. As the CEO of global skincare company Nu Skin, he ran into ingredient shortages every winter when fields went dormant―and when he moved grow operations to the equator he ran into water and land shortages, along with a host of quality control issues.

Nu Skin needed reliable, quality ingredients for their skincare products. But farming was too unpredictable an industry. “If there was a way to grow indoors,” he thought, “and be able to do that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year―if we could…

After I finished writing my first novel, I spent an inordinate amount of time researching this article on the best way to publish it. What I found is that the current model — publishing through a Big Four publishing house — is still the author’s best bet for attracting readers and earning a living. But even that outcome is highly unlikely — and there could be a better way.

There are starting to be platforms that could disrupt the publishing industry — Patreon, Wattpad, Substack, Twitter’s new Super Follow — where writers can build a following and then monetize it…

Bryan Brandenburg wants to increase our lifespan.

“We recently filed for a patent on an anti-aging device that is basically a human gyroscope,” he tells me.

“It’s based on NASA technology―because when astronauts go into space they start seeing muscular atrophy, so they developed some technologies, vibrational things to restore muscles. We have taken that to the next level, combining it with a device to turn back your biological clock.”

Brandenburg’s idea is based on the twin paradox―the idea that if a set of twins are born on Earth, but one immediately gets in a spaceship and travels away at…

Elle Griffin

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