Resources for Writers—Industry News

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraigOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ll be the first to admit that reading industry news can be…stressful.  I’m one of those people who avoids confrontation at all costs, so I rarely weigh in, although I follow trends and news very closely.  I form opinions and those opinions evolve as circumstances evolve.

But it’s vital that we keep abreast of developments. News stories help us make smart decisions with our career paths and contracts.  So I thought I’d provide some reputable sources here for news and information.  Some of these sites frequently display bias toward self-published/indie authors and some are most-often biased toward traditional publishers.  I read them all.  I remember studying abroad in London during college and being told I should read The Times, The Independent, and The Guardian to get a balanced view of my own.  So I’m following in that tradition.

First off, journalist Porter Anderson’s site.  If you don’t have time to follow various sites but want to keep up with industry news…he pulls everything together for you in his reports.  He curates news and does a nice job bringing different viewpoints together in each of his posts.  Porter writes for different sites, so it’s probably best to follow his site’s RSS feed so you can keep up with him.  Or, if you’re on Twitter, just follow him there to receive the most current information—and to also pick up his live feeds from the different conferences he covers.

If you’re looking for breaking industry news, reporter Laura Hazard Owen at Gigaom does a nice job keeping writers current.  Her stories can be found here.

Jane Friedman’s weekly feature, “The Smart Set,” is excellent for sharing excerpts of well-written posts on current hot topics and raising questions culled from the content.

Attorney David Vandagriff ‘s Passive Voice Blog serves as an aggregator of industry news and industry discussion.  Reading the comments is a must.

Hugh Howey is doing an amazing job speaking on behalf of self-published writers and appears to be on the verge of sparking what Porter Anderson termed a labor movement.  He always has something interesting and thoughtful to say.

Joe Konrath’s posts can get heated, but his thoughts on problems inherent with traditional publishing frequently fascinate me.

David Gaughran’s blog reports on industry upheaval but also helps writers wade through tough issues and helps provide guidance on areas writers might be debating (should we go on Wattpad? Should we try KDP?  What does the breaking news from Amazon mean for me?).  He’s also done some nice reporting on publishing scams.

Digital Book World reports industry news and holds a yearly conference for publishers and other content providers on adapting to the digital landscape.

Mike Shatzkin’s blog, The Shatzkin Files, offers in-depth analysis of publishing-related issues from an industry perspective. (Mike Shatzkin has spent nearly fifty years in the business in many different roles.)

So…if you want to keep up with industry news, there are plenty of options.  What are some of your favorite sites?  Read any of these?

Image: MorgueFile: Alvimann

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30 thoughts on “Resources for Writers—Industry News

  1. I follow practically all you mentioned except for two (Porter Anderson and Laura Hazard Owen) that I am now adding to my list, thanks to you! Very useful post.

    I would only add one observation: while I find Passive Voice’s website a must read because of the content (he always zeroes in on the latest news), I don’t agree that the commentators on his site are that interesting. It seems to be the same people over and over again, they are of one mind, very rah-rah and enthusiastic about self-publishing and constantly defending what they see as their turf. This one-sided approach to news makes me very uncomfortable. With the Amazon-Hachette spat the level of indignation has risen there as well as on Konrath’s blog.

    Personally, I prefer a world that is calmer, more balanced…There are always two sides to a question and if you get too excited, you can’t properly analyze the impact of an event and you fail to see the consequences!

    1. Claude–That’s definitely a fair observation. You’re right that there isn’t a lot of real *debate* there among commenters. It’s mainly that the commenters are debating the post’s topic. To me it’s a good way to get a grip on the pulses of indie writers. Like with Joe Konrath’s site–it’s good to look at the info through a lens, objectively, as analytically as possible. That helps keep the stress level down.

  2. Thanks for this list Elizabeth. There is such an overwhelming amount of information out there that it is difficult to sort out what can be helpful versus what is “noise”.
    As always I find your posts extremely helpful.
    Rose

  3. I get daily email updates from Book Business Magazine. If I need blog post fodder, I scroll through the latest headlines and usually find something of interest.

  4. Elizabeth – Your post is such an important reminder that we need to know what’s going on in the industry. If we’re going to be a part of the industry, we need to understand it. And anyone who’s approaching an agent or publisher needs to know what those people know, if I can put it that way. That’s not to mention the myriad business decisions we have to make that are better informed if we know what’s going on in the industry. By the way, you should take some credit for your weekly Twitterific links on that score. I find it a fabulous resource.

  5. I read everyone mentioned above except Porter Anderson, Gigaom, and The Shatzkin Files. I tend to hear about the latest post from Anderson and Shatzkin on either Passive Voice Blog or Joe Konrath’s blog. Well, the ones deemed to be controversial anyway ;)

    And Margot makes a great point. Although I sometimes begrudge the amount of time keeping up with industry news and generally interacting on my media platforms takes from my writing, I know I cannot be the writer I want to be if I live in a bubble. I am still finding ways to fine-tune things so that I become more efficient at the non-creative part of my writing career, but it’s a challenge to say the least. And what works for one person may not work for another. Feedly, Hootsuite, and the Nuclear Option on Stay Focusd have been godsends!

    I would add The Digital Reader and Teleread for a digest of recent articles, The Creative Penn for news and views, and Galleycat for quick soundbites.

    1. AD–True! Yes, they all frequently report on each other, so that can be a good way to stay current, too.

      It’s a huge challenge…the non-creative stuff. The accounting, the contracting out, the promo, the reading. I think timers help me to stay on track. And I use Feedly and Hootsuite, too!

      Good mentions regarding Digital Reader and Teleread...they’re also good sources.

  6. Thanks for the links. I just added some of them. I’ve previously read some of those but found them hard to take either because of tone or bias; I already have to wade through a lot of that in other things.

    I have to put in a recommendation for Dear Author; one of the bloggers is an attorney and has discussed some of the legal issues at length (the price-fixing case coverage was very in-depth) and it’s important to see how our customers aka our readers view the world. I don’t always agree, but the perspectives on pricing have been very informative.

    1. Deb–Jane Litte’s site is another interesting read….thanks for bringing it up. I do like the fact that she brings a reader’s slant into the mix.

      The tone on many of the sites can range from heated to hurt to excitable to wildly optimistic. I have to really, really focus to keep completely objective. But reading all of them does seem to bring me an objectivity…maybe a cynicism? At any rate, I’m able to digest these sites most days. But I’m with you–if it’s already been a tedious day and I’m at the end of my rope then I’m going to want to stay away from the Konraths and focus more on the Gigaom site or Porter’s rational wrap-ups.

  7. I feel like it was a lot easier for me to keep up with industry news much more when I used to work in a bookstore. I’ll have to check out those links!

  8. I’ve read some posts from these folks but not all. Thanks so much for these resources. Actually, your blog should be on every writer’s “must read” list. I learn a heck of a lot here.

    Thanks, Elizabeth!

  9. Hmmmm–whatja do, copy and paste my RSS feed screen??? ;)

    Agree with others that your blog is a must-read, as well, it’s so chock-full of the interesting and the useful.

    Like you, if I’m tired or stressed, I’m less likely to read the Konrants, etc.

    There is a regularly bumped thread on The Passive Voice about writers quitting their day jobs that had 539 comments as of five minutes ago. I’ve stopped reading them because they are mostly by people who claim they were making a living writing within a year or two of starting. There are exceptions in either direction, but the ones by the majority depress the hell out of me, because I know I’ve already lost that stage of the game (I started with nonfiction in 2010). I need to keep my faith in order to keep my nerve–and to keep on writing the next book, then the next one. I believe in the advantages of self-publishing–but the advantages of trad publishing for me at the moment, particularly the editing, door-opening, and reaching the target audience, is greatly to be desired.

    I just hope the big fight between the two camps ends up making both better for writers.

    1. Meg–Sounds like we have the same RSS feed going! Ha!

      Yes, I’ve seen that…think that post is currently on the top now of Passive Voice. I agree with you…it tends to make me anxious even though I’m one of those who is able to make a (much) better living writing than I could with any alternative sources of income (because I’ve been out of the work force for so long and am unqualified to do anything that pays well). It makes me anxious because I’m a worrywart and never know how long current circumstances will continue–and because I’m generally suspicious of hubris.

      I think most writers just want our books to find an audience. We can if we continue writing what we love. BUT! If money needs do intrude (I think they might from time to time for all of us…expensive dental work? Medical bills? A home repair disaster?) then I think we all have the ability to briefly delve into a genre that makes money and write a couple of books in that genre. We all have the ability if we *had* to. It just wouldn’t be as much fun.

      On the upside of all the current brouhaha, I do think that a labor movement might emerge. Better conditions for contracts would be a welcome change.

      1. Oh, yeah, the “had to” work!!! Was a TextBroker slave for quite a long time (I still have nightmares about writing keyword descriptions for furniture wholesalers for weeks on end, and my husband still has nightmares about me emerging from my office starey-eyed and babbling).

        The love of what you write has to be paramount, because there are no guarantees. I think it is a good thing, though, that writers are looking up from the love long enough to assess fairness in the publishing end of things. That labor movement will be very interesting.

        1. Meg–That sounds really ghastly! Ugh. Back in the day I did some admin assistant work before working at a bank. I remember the guy telling me, “You’re the best secretary I’ve ever had!” I thought, “Heck, I’d *better* be the best secretary you’ve ever had! I’m so overqualified for this work…” Bleh. Writing books is so, so much better. I think I was starey-eyed and babbling, too…ha!

          Yes, I’ll be watching to see what comes together as Howey keeps jabbing at publishers…and Amazon, too.

  10. Hi Elizabeth – I know you and Diane will give me links to other sites .. and I vaguely keep up one way or the other .. but the bookshop idea or library .. sound good jobs to have!

    Thanks for all the info you give us – such a helpful resource you provide ..

    Cheers Hilary

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