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What Watching Younger Can Teach You About The Publishing Industry

In case you’ve living under a rock for the last four years, TV Land’s hit show, Younger, was just renewed for a seventh season. When 40 year old Liza’s marriage ends, she struggles to find work in the publishing industry. With a daughter in college and bills to pay, decides to lie – get it, Liza lies – about her age. With the help of her oldest friend Maggie, and her years of wisdom, Liza passes as a 26 year old and gets an assistant’s job at Empirical Press.

Set in the New York publishing industry, Younger combines excellent storytelling, a talented cast, and a lot of books. To celebrate the show being renewed for season seven, here are 7 things the Younger TV show taught me about the publishing industry.

1. Print is not dead

Printed books and bookshelves full of your favorite reads are still more trendy than ever. If you need anymore proof, there’s a hot TV show all about books.

Beautiful bookish backdrops

Younger highlights the value of printed books using bookshelves, piles of manuscripts, book readings, signings, book fairs, and countless scenes with characters simply reading books.

Empirical’s offices have elegant shelves displaying classic and modern literature and sets have books on coffee tables and desks. Their Season 7 announcement graphic also has the cast in posing in front of rainbow bookshelves.

You can’t take shelfies with an ePub

The show runners have done an amazing job integrating the online book community into the script. From explaining what a shelfie is to referencing Book Twitter and Bookstagram, Younger is a reminder that book covers can be art.

Younger is a reminder that book covers can be art.

Take a Cassandra Clare cover for instance, though I’ll probably never read any of her books, I would buy them for the cover alone. In fact, I have a number of books bought solely for the covers.

You can’t take create spine poetry with a Kindle. Well, I suppose you can, but it’s not the same.

2. Opening sentences matter

In the episode, “I’m with Stupid”, Liza reads the opening lines from different manuscripts – each more disappointing than the last. She finally stumbles on a captivating manuscript and keeps reading. Publishers and editors receive hundreds of submissions daily. It’s their job to read.

Your book needs to stand out from the very first line.

3. It’s just not Empirical

Branding is important

Publishing houses have brands too. Your book might be amazing, but if it doesn’t match a publisher’s, they probably won’t look at it. In the show’s first season, Kelsey pitches a book based on a popular tumbler feed. The book was trendy, had an existing audience, and with their capable marketing department could sell. Empirical’s publisher, Charles, passed on the book because it wasn’t on brand.

Research before you query

Reading some of the books on a publisher’s roster can help you write compelling query letters – especially if you read books similar to yours.

Scanning through anticipated releases lists on Goodreads is another tactic you can use to identify publishing houses that are interested in books like yours. It might take some time but you’ll spot trends making it easier for you to find a potential fit.

Don’t give up

Sometimes it’s not the book, it’s just the timing. If you’re an avid reader, you’ll notice themes in each year’s anticipated releases list. 2019, for example, is the year for Afrocentric speculative fiction. Earlier this year N.K. Jemesin released a short story collection called “How Long Till Black Future Month” and After all, you wouldn’t want to submit your YA contemporary to Orbit Books, now would you?

Your book might be amazing, but if it doesn’t match a publisher’s, they probably won’t look at it.

There are hundreds more tips and tricks I could mention. Younger is a somewhat exaggerated but fairly realistic look into what it takes for books to be successful in 2019.

What are your favorite bookish movies and series?

Why I Quit My Job To Start A Ghostwriting Business

Yes, I left my corporate job to start a creative business. I had no plan, no clients, and no idea what I was getting myself into. 10 months later, I am a wiser, happier, more dedicated writer. Here’s how it happened…

I loved my job. As an instructional writer in the heart of Cape Town, South Africa, I scripted online courses for a leading e-learning platform. My career was fulfilling, my colleagues were friendly, and my bosses pleasant. Additionally, the office was within walking distance of coffee shops and art galleries – a benefit relished. My role also afforded me the opportunity to live out my one word – dream. Through my writing I helped make people’s dreams come true. A health and safety course meant someone would receive a certification needed for their job. Business skills courses improved skill sets. I even got to read, summarize, and review books! It was the perfect job – until it wasn’t.

Although I  loved the diversity that came with my position, I felt stifled creatively. My attempts at applying to other learning design firms in the area proved disappointing. I grew frustrated, disappointed, and my confidence dropped. Was I a bad writer? Was I a bad hire? These and other thoughts plagued my mind leading me down a rabbit hole no creative should venture into: self-doubt. There was more! Other areas of my life came undone too. I faced harassment on my commute to work almost daily causing depression and anxiety to hit. It escalated to the point where I would have anxiety attacks EVERY MORNING. All the turmoil eventually effected my once stellar performance at work which added to an already stressful time.

So, I handed in my resignation with no plan. Well, I had a plan – sort of. I would teach English online (something I had done before) while building a career as a travel blogger because my personal Instagram was travel focused. There’s still an article on here somewhere. That was not the wisest choice.

Eventually, I found a niche that would work for me, ghostwriting. I also created content on Instagram doing what I do best – inspiring others and creating cute graphics.

It’s been eight weeks since I launched my ghostwriting business. Since then, I’ve signed my first client, I have a byline guest posting book reviews, I have a stronger work ethic than ever before. My confidence in my skill and creativity have been restored and I’m happy. I’m not the same person who left the office months ago. I’m more confident, more resourceful, and more determined to help others chase their dreams.

Productivity Hack: How to Win the War Against Resistance

Have you ever sat down eager to write your latest masterpiece only to remember a hundred  billion other things that require your immediate attention? Well, you are in good company.  Ironically, distraction was a constant companion during the creation of this post. I had laser  focus until I opened a blank page – the dreaded blank page. Why does a new canvas or  document feel so intimidating? Why do those interrupting thoughts choose to plague you only  when you write? And is there a solution?

Resistance: the real enemy to your creativity

In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield introduces one of your ultimate foes, Resistance.  Imagine for a moment two forces. One, your inner creative force, longs to fill the world with  words, images or scented candles. The other force, Resistance, seeks to silence the inner  creative. While the inner creative is propelling you forward in your pursuit of artistic greatness;  Resistance pushes you back, keeping you stagnant.
According to Pressfield, Resistance is why  your to-do list suddenly multiplies the instant you open the word processor. It’s the cause of all  those interrupting emails. It’s the voice that whispers, “This is stupid. You’re no good. No one  will read this. Give up and do something else”. Resistance is unrelenting, unforgiving, and  seemingly unstoppable. So how do you win against such a formidable opponent?

Write like a professional even if you’re not one

 

Productivity hack How to win the war against resistance
You needn’t be a professional writer in a corporate building to reap the benefits. There are key  three advantages the professional has over an amateur: a work space, office hours, and good work ethic. The good news is you can have too. By implementing three core actions, you can  beat resistance and increase your productivity.

Cultivate a writing space

The professional knows what is expected of him. Every day he gets dressed, goes to the  office, and does what is expected. If you’re going to defeat resistance and procrastination, you  need a place to write. Writing is a sacred act and deserves an equally sacred space. So, set  aside a designated writing area. This could be in your home, your room, or at a coffee shop.  Find something that works for you. This is where your inner creative will play. However, you won’t want Resistance to tempt you to clean up or get some water. Therefore, regularly declutter your writing space, make sure it’s well lit and free of  potential distractions – including your phone. Also, have everything you need to work close at hand. 

Establish writing hours and stick to them

Once the professional arrives at the office, he has a singular focus. Dinner, phone calls, and  anything not related to work becomes secondary. Similarly, you could benefit from scheduling regular periods to write.  Whether it’s for eight hours or 30 minutes, morning or evening, every day or twice a week, the  key is to carve out time for your writing project and honor it. This might mean sacrificing a few hours of Netflix or sleep, but it’ll be worth it once your writing habit becomes automated.
Productivity hack: How to win the war against resistance
Now, don’t be fooled thinking this will be easy. On the contrary, Resistance will show up to  tempt you but stay the course, do not be swayed. You are a  professional writer and resistance can’t win if you stick to the plan. You may want to keep a notebook, or piece of paper handy  to jot down any interrupting thoughts, ideas, or prompts. If you like, you could label the paper  “Later” or something else. When you’re reminded of things that you simply have to do, write  them on the Later note and attend to those tasks when your writing time is over.  

Develop a killer work ethic

Finally, a professional does what is expected regardless of obstacles that come. He may miss a  deadline or two. He may win an award or a few. Still, he gets the job done despite praise or  criticism. Yes, its great to be honored and validated. But what happens when the praise  disappears? He might do a happy  dance or buy a cupcake if the boss says well done, but it  neither adds to or subtracts from his  motivation. The professional is internally motivated and validated. He produces excellence because its in his nature to excel. And when he falls short, which he does, he gets back up, takes a few notes, and continues on to the next task. Conversely, amateurs are motivated externally. Praise validates their work and inspires them to create more. Criticism sees the amateur give up.

Final thoughts

 

It’s time to retire the amateur and approach your work like a pro. It’s the best way to  overcome self-doubt, procrastination, and pride and show Resistance who’s boss.

Three Action Questions

 

If you’re looking to make a real change in your productivity here are three questions to help you  to the next level:
  1. Where can you create an office space?
  2. How much time can you realistically set aside for writing today?
  3. What can you say to respond to the lies Resistance whispers?
Share your answers in the comments and let the conversation continue.

Harper Lee Review: Is Go Set a Watchmen Worth the Read?

In “Go Set a Watchman” Scout discovers the racial tensions that have shaped her society, her family, and herself.

Is Harper Lee Go Set a Watchmen Worth the ReadFrom the moment I finished reading “To Kill a Mocking Bird,” I ached for another Harper Lee title to devour. So when I passed an Exclusive Books store and saw the bright orange covers decorating their  display, I had to have a copy – especially since my birthday was days away.

Jean-Louis Finch returns to Maycomb

By the author of “To Kill a Mocking Bird”, Go Set Watchmen chronicles Jean-Louis Finch’s homecoming after pursuing a career in journalism in New York. But when she gets home, Jean-Louis, aka Scout, finds that her beloved town and the people she holds dear have changed. Or have they?

 

Revisiting the beloved world of To Kill a Mockingbird

The nostalgia of “visiting” with Jean-Louis, Aunt Alexandra, and Atticus was a highlight. I could relate with Scout’s journey home and seeing everyone with a new perspective.

I also enjoyed the moments when Scout reminisces about her youth, her rows with Cal, and annoyances with Jem. 

 

A different side of Attichus Finch

Harper Lee Go Set Watchman Quote

Nostalgia aside, Chapters 18 and 19 were okay. In these chapters, Scout, who is angry that her father and fiancé are opposed to the civil rights movement, shares her vexation with her uncle, Jack. But instead of a sympathetic ear, he make her see the light. Uncle Jack spends two chapters explaining why conservative white Americans are “justified” in opposing the civil rights movement and its aftermath.

Though I don’t agree with any of his claims, Go Set a Watchman, and these chapters in particular, voice the other side of the civil rights discourse. We seldom hear, see, or read literature that shed light on why these movements are opposed. Although I don’t hold those views, I feel it’s important that such voices exist in literature.

 

Go Set a Watchman was disappointing

Harper Lee Go Set a Watchman Quote

I found it unnecessarily long, and there was no clear plot to speak of. It dragged. I didn’t appreciate how all the characters told Scout “You don’t understand”, or “Try looking at things from my perspective” – which is fine but it felt like everyone was telling Scout, “We are right, you are wrong.” Also after her conversation with her uncle Scout is so vexed that she wants to leave town. However, her uncle slaps her and she suddenly has an epiphany and everything makes sense. In two sentences she goes from “I’m leaving don’t stop me” to “It all makes sense now” which is unrealistic and disappointing. After that paragraph, I skipped to the last page and ended my misery.

 

Final Thoughts

I would recommend Go Set a Watchman as a collector’s piece. It’s Harper Lee’s original manuscript and thus has literary and sentimental value. The orange cover will also liven up any bookshelf. Having said that, I would not recommend reading it as fiction. Perhaps as a literary insight into an author’s refining process.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐

Buy this book | Read it on Scribd

What is your favourite historical fiction book?


About Harper Lee

Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She is the author of the acclaimed novels To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and numerous other literary awards and honors. She died on February 19, 2016.

 

Stephen King Book Review: The Shawshank Redemption

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption is a story about hope, friendship, identity, and unwavering determination in the most hopeless of places – a prison.

Stephen King's Shawshank Quote

 

I’ve watched the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novella, The Shawshank Redemption, so much that I could probably quote the opening narration verbatim. It’s one of my favourite movies of all time. Yet, I never noticed the graphic text that read “Based on the novel by Stephen King” – talk about attention to detail. In fact I stumbled across an e-Book version of the novella while google something that was clearly important at the time. So of course I had to read it. Continue reading “Stephen King Book Review: The Shawshank Redemption”

Why The Fifth Season is My Favorite Book

Weekday Adventures (1)I’m reading The Broken Earth series with the lovely folks over at the Fantasy Buddy Reads Group on Goodreads.  Beyond Middle Earth and Westeros, I haven’t explored the world of fantasy fiction much. Nevertheless, since I enjoy the genre on both the big and small screens, I took the plunge. And am I ever glad I did.

 

 

Initial Insights

The Fifth Season is the first book in The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin. In this epic dystopian fantasy, Jemisin narrates the events that led up to the end of the world and the effect it had on the inhabitants of the Stillness.

In The Fifth Season, Jemisin gracefully explores what it means to be human and how ignoring our innate worth can have severe consequences.

 

Weekday Adventures (2)

As a start to the series, it introduces the geography, history, and politics of the Stillness. The Fifth Season also shapes the main characters, giving the reader a look at their humanity and brokenness. It also provides an intro to orogeny which is a valuable but dangerous super power. By the end of The Fifth Season, the reader knows that the world has ended, who caused it and why.

 

What I Liked

I enjoyed Jemisin’s narrative style – which switches between second person and third person depending on the POV. It reminded me of Toni Morrison’s style in The Bluest Eye, which I’ve actually missed in the books I’ve read of late. Jemisin’s ability to weave story lines and arc in an engaging way is remarkable.

Each storyline developed at a great pace filled with action, romance, and suspense. Each character developed through the challenges they faced and the secrets they discovered about the world, the Stillness.

The visuals were great too, from the obelisks to Yumenese and the islands, Jemisin paints lovely and gruesome pictures that allow the reader to escape into Stillness and experience life with the characters. The nature of orogeny and the extent of an orogene’s capabilities is revealed in stages, which lets the reader discover new capabilities with the character.

The foreshadowing in the novel is another well-written feature. There’s an appealing balance between what is revealed and what remains a mystery.

Alabaster was definitely my favourite character other than Syenite. Reading the Fifth Season was also fun because it felt African. The dreadlocks and complexion aside. For instance, there’s a scene where Damaya’s mother calls her “Dama Dama” and it felt like reading something homegrown. It was refreshing.

 

What I Didn’t Like

 

It took a while for me to realize that the story is set in three eras. This made the geography confusing at times. I didn’t care much for the love triangle, mostly because I prefer fantasy without romance – more adventure please. Having said that, Jemisin handled it well, subtly weaving in the romantic subplot without distracting from the actual story. For that, I credit her. However, if you enjoy reading about poly-amorous characters and open relationships, this aspect of the novel will be perfect.

 

Final Thoughts

The Fifth Season starts with the end of the world and then moves on to more interesting things. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the Stillness and its people, and Jemisin’s writing. The Fifth season is definitely making my top ten list. The Prologue was also confusing at first. However, when I finished I re-read portions of it and it made more sense.

 

Favourite quotes

This read had so many memorable moments and tweetable quotes. Choosing my favourites proved difficult. But here they are:

“He takes all that, the strata and the magma and the people and the power, in his imaginary hands. Everything. He holds it. He is not alone. The earth is with him. Then he breaks it.”

“Nothing to do but follow your crazy, though.”

“The source of the glow is beyond the mountains, as if the setting sun went the wrong way and got stuck there.”

“neither myths nor mysteries can hold a candle to the most infinitesimal spark of hope.”

Rating:  ⭐ 


Buy this On: Exclusive BooksAmazon

About the Author

N. K. Jemisin is an author living and writing in Brooklyn, NY. This is fortunate as she enjoys subways, tiny apartments, and long walks through city parks. Her short fiction has been published in a number of magazines and podcast markets, and has been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula award. She won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.

Why I Love this Authentically South African Anthology

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Growing up in a multilingual country has it’s advantages. Most South Africans are fluent in at least two languages, so it’s not uncommon for people to code-switch in everyday conversation. And it’s not always because you can’t find the English or Afrikaans word for something. No, we simply fuse different languages into one. In her debut short story collection, Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories, Jolyn Phillips captures the multilingual heart of average South Africans.

 

Initial Insights

Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories is a whimsical collection of tales set in the fishing villages around Gansbaai, South Africa. Using memorable characters, witty dialog, and a charming background, Jolyn takes the reader on a journey of loss, laughter, and sheer calculated silliness.

 

An Imaginative Approach

Jolyn’s writing style is unique and inventive. In a world of dragons, hobbits, and dark lords, it’s refreshing to find writing that feels like home. Each story filled me with nostalgia for childhood days spent playing in my neighborhood until streetlights signaled it was time to head indoors. Her tales of nosey neighbors, unfortunate dogs, and the messiness of small-town life, is relevant and relatable .

 

Reading Between the Lines

Moreover, Jolyn explores themes like mental illness, secrets, poverty, rape, and molestation with an authenticity and sensitivity that I appreciated. In a world that calls for justice and trigger warnings, it can be difficult to shed light on social ills without offending the reader. Philips achieves this flawlessly.

My favorite stories in this collection were The Photograph, Secrets, The Fire, The Big Box, and The Legend of Tjieng Tjang Tjerries.

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What I Didn’t Like

 

This collection is multilingual and although I understood the references other readers may not, so I would have liked to see a glossary. At times Phillips translated phrases and colloquial sayings into English which was annoying at times. Some of the stories fell flat and could have used a bit more punch.

 

Final Thoughts

I believe good writing should invite the reader to visit the locations described in the prose and Jolyn did just that. Her words painted landscapes on the canvas of my imagination. For the brief moments between the pages of Tjieng Tjang Tjerries, I traveled the streets of the small fishing villages of the West Coast. I would definitely recommend Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories.

Rating:


About the Author

Jolyn Phillips was born and bred in Blompark, Gansbaai, South Africa. Her debut collection of short stories, Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories, won the 2018 Best Fiction (Single Author) award at the third annual Humanities and Social Sciences Awards, hosted by the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS). She is currently studying towards a PhD at the University of the Western Cape. She lectures part-time and is also known as a singer. Radbraak is her first collection of poetry.