Naomi Alderman Was Writing a Pandemic Novel Before the Pandemic Hit (New York Times)
For two years, Naomi Alderman, the author of the 2017 dystopian novel “The Power,” had been working on her next book. Then in February, with 40,000 words already written, she decided she had to stop. The story she had devised, about tech billionaires fleeing a pandemic, now seemed a little too close to reality. “I just thought, ‘Bollocks! I am not going to be able to write this book,’” Alderman said in a phone interview. “It just felt incredibly disrespectful to the many people who had lost loved ones. And I thought, ‘God knows where this pandemic is going to land, and what is possibly going to be the world that comes after it.’”
However, McLean foresees a substantial change in the workings of the publishing industry from hereon. The stability of supply and distribution channels within the US and overseas has taken a huge hit. That model will have to be reconfigured to sustain future unprecedented calamities. The health of pre-existing businesses in the traditional book industry has been put to test, and these businesses will have to explore new sustainable business models. Economic and civil unrest, and the duration of these crises, will also determine the stability of the industry.
Unlike much of the rest of the media industry, the world of publishing enjoyed a rise in sales as summer reading season kicked into gear in June. But one of the most successful authors of fiction in publishing history, J.K. Rowling, was an exception to that growth, just as she plunged herself into a firestorm of controversy over transgender identity. Last month, sales in print books in fiction overall rose 31.4% in the U.S. from May, according to figures from NPD BookScan, with fiction titles in adult, young adult and juvenile sectors all seeing similar double-digit growth.
Louise Ross cannot believe her luck. Five years ago, she was at a career crossroads, having left behind a lucrative job as a regulatory lawyer to see whether she could make it as a writer. She was not sure she could write one book – yet now she has 19 Amazon bestsellers to her name. It has been an astonishing rise for the 35-year-old, who writes under the pen name LJ Ross and has sold more than five million books to date – not least because she has done it without the help of a publisher and the marketing and distribution they provide.
Bad romance (Vox)
For years, RWA’s members of color had felt stigma and hostility like that experienced by Huguley and Malone; they’d felt unwanted, disrespected, or simply shut out. So had the queer members, and the poly members, and everyone else who didn’t quite fit into the traditional romance mold. And in December 2019, all those years of slights, of aggressions both micro and macro, of implicit and explicit bias, would finally become impossible to ignore. RWA imploded in a spectacular public meltdown, an imbroglio that led to the resignation of the president, executive director, and, eventually, the entire board. It was a wildly convoluted controversy that involved secret backroom committees, public denunciations, and no small amount of schadenfreude from popcorn-munching onlookers in publishing and media.