Criticism, criticism

I enjoyed this article breaking down the recent Sarah Dessen YA dust-up. It’s correct: criticism isn’t hate, and using a large platform to stifle criticism is wrong. I was nodding along until this part:

Conflating constructive criticism with hatred is not only wrong, but extremely dangerous and damaging. Criticism is how we encourage growth and positive change, while shame and hatred serve to stifle both.

I don’t want to put words in the author’s mouth, but this comes very close to something I have heard before: that criticism written for a wider audience is good for an author’s growth. And I want to break that down here, for a moment. I’m going to focus only on arts criticism and not the criticism of an artist’s behavior (which have increasingly become conflated in the wider discussion; I will not be conflating them here myself).

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Mailing List: Interview with Nick Mamatas


Today, my mailing list will feature an interview with Nick Mamatas, the incredibly prolific writer of over 150 published short stories, dozens of articles, and several novels. He writes weird, smart genre fiction with broad influences (Lovecraft to noir to literary and experimental fiction). You’re missing out if you’ve not checked him out yet. His latest novel, Sabbath, is out today (you may also use the site of evil, if you must, to buy it). The publisher’s calling it Seven meets Highlander, so jump on that.

Book cover with a flaming sword with skulls on it, titled SABBATH

I asked Nick a little bit about the book, and how his politics and experience inform his reading and writing. Subscribe here so you’ll have the interview in your inbox within the hour! What an unmitigated treat! Alternatively, if it is already the future and you have missed this shining opportunity, do not fret. All is not lost: the subscriber greeting email will include a link to past letters.


I have a book I’d trunked, which I decided to dust off after a lead. Of everything I’ve written, it’s the thing I’m most nervous about showing people.

There are good books about good people making good decisions. I don’t write those books. If I am writing a character, unless they are a very peripheral character, it is an anti-endorsement for their behavior. And often, I write about abuse, a tricky subject to get right. I worry less about my ability to write it than I worry what other people will do with it.

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Social Capital in Publishing, Pt 1

Fiction publishing is a relationship industry. Whether you are published, where, and how your book gets publicity is largely driven by who you know and how much they’re willing to do for you, and it’s only getting more unequal. As a marginalized person, I think about this a lot. Socioeconomic status is an intersection of a number of factors–  disability status, race, gender, education, etc.– but I want to talk today about specifically social capital. I’ll talk about what it is, how it fits into publishing, why it is vital to build it, and why the Internet’s not really a good place to do it. In Part 2, I’ll talk about potential strategies for marginalized creators to build it in the service of their careers.

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Publishing as a “business”

Publisher’s Weekly recently started writing about the widening gap between front-of-list titles and the midlist (that is, bestsellers and everyone else; “backlist” refers to older books who publishers have the rights to which still sell reliably). Publishers are increasingly paying debut authors less and frontlist authors more.

Here’s the goddamn problem: nobody knows how to sell a book.

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