Academic writing and textbook and journal publishing

Textbook Publishers’ Changing Product Strategies (Sean Wakely, Academic Author Advisors, 11-24-14) Companion piece to series of three below, in TAA's blog. "...higher education publishing is in the midst of profound change. As a result, we should expect to see many new product strategies and business models launched in coming years. The advantages of the big higher education publishers are great, and they’ll certainly continue to be major forces in the marketplace for a long time to come. However, the likely changes in their overall product strategies could open up attractive niches for smaller publishers, startups, and content sharers while creating exciting new opportunities for savvy authors and content experts."
Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA)
Scholars Strategy Network (SSN) an association of academics and researchers who coordinate efforts to make their research findings accessible to those outside of academia--to improve public policy and strengthen democracy. See for example The GOP Civil War over Medicaid Expansion in the States.
Citation-boosting episode leads to editors’ resignations, university investigation (Retraction Watch, 3-3-17) Heart of story is about an editor violating ethical guideline: “any manipulation of citations (e.g. including citations not contributing to a manuscript’s scientific content, citations solely aiming at increasing an author’s or a journal’s citations) is regarded as scientific malpractice.”
Guidelines for Ethical Editing of Theses /​ Dissertations (download PDF, Editors Canada)
The crisis in non-fiction publishing (Sam Leith, The Guardian, 6-26-15) When it comes to high-calibre non-fiction, risk-averse trade publishing houses are producing too many copycat ‘smart thinking’ books that promise more than they deliver. But praise should be given to the university presses. "So the upfront costs of non-fiction – plates, photographs, indexing and subsidising the research – are becoming increasingly out of proportion to the likely payoffs. “Enter the university presses stage left,” says Mundy. “Most are non-profits – they don’t require the 15p in the pound margins that the likes of Penguin Random House do. They often operate globally. Academic presses love librarians, and university libraries still buy books. And they are able to be much bolder with higher cover prices. So they are able to take those risks. Big conglomerates are very effective brand management systems – they can make comedians into novelists. And they can sell the big names – the Pinkers and the Schamas and so on. But the nursery slopes – the future stars – are now more and more on the lists of the university presses.”
10 point guide to dodging publishing pitfalls (Times Higher Education, 3-6-14) Veteran academic authors share their hard-won tips.
Revolution in academia: Copyright and open access (Pat McNees, Writers and Editors blog, 11-29-15). In academia a wide-ranging discussion about open access is weakening academic journals' monopoly on profiting from publishing research findings. Are academic authors, who have long abandoned claims to copyright on many of their scholarly articles (in the "public or perish" world of university faculty-making), less docile about publishing rights, with tenured faculty positions scarcer and scarcer? A round-up of links to key pieces, including "Elsevier Mutiny: Cracks Are Widening in the Fortress of Academic Publishing."
The Hubbub about Sci-Hub. Why did they put all those scientific papers and articles online? " Elsevier, like other journal publishers, pays nothing to acquire researchers’ studies. Moreover, publishers don’t pay for the volunteer peer reviewers or editors. But they charge those same researchers, reviewers and editors, not to mention the public, whose tax dollars most likely funded the study in the first place, to read the resulting articles. Revolution in academia!
Revisiting: Governance and the Not-for-profit Publisher (Joseph Esposito, The Scholarly Kitchen, 3-29-17) "NEJM, AAAS, ACS, OUP, and so on — try to find the equivalent of such NFPs [not-for-profits] in the auto or consumer electronics industries. One would think that with such a strong group of NFP organizations, there would be stronger challengers to the for-profit leaders of Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, John Wiley, and their kin. The fact is, though, that for all the prestige of some of the NFPs, this is an industry dominated by commercial entities."
An Adjunct Professor’s Tale Of Low Wages (Here and Now, NPR, 5-3-16) More than half of all college instructors in the United States are adjuncts—part-time contract workers who don’t enjoy the same benefits or compensation as their full-time counterparts. Jeremy Hobson talks with Pamela Lalande, an adjunct professor at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida, about working for low wages in academia.

Forming a publisher relationship: 3 Steps for submitting your project (Sean Wakely, TAA Online, blog of the Text and Academic Authors Association, 11-20-14). A three-part series:
---Forming a publisher relationship: The acquisitions editor (Wakely, TAA, 9-4-14)
---Forming a publisher relationship: 3 Steps for submitting your project (Wakely, TAA, 11-20-14)
---Forming a publisher relationship: 6 Strategies for building rapport (Wakely, TAA, 1-15-15)
The Thesis Whisperer (great title for an editor of academic papers) has a blog, which links to such interesting items as YouTube videos of 3-Minute Thesis Finalists (Australian National University--here's Emily Johnston, talking about Mosquito Research: Saving Lives with Pantyhose and Paper Clips, and here's 3MT: the three most common mistakes .
Textbook contract Q&A with attorney Lisa Moore (TAA Online 11-2-12)
Rights and contracts for academic authors (another section on Writers and Editors website)
Contract terms (especially but not only in book publishing) (separate section on Writers and Editors website)

The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered by Clive James (NY Times, 7-24-07) (delightfully honest poem by Clive James)
How Readers Discover Content in Scholarly Journals (PDF, Simon Inger, Renew, May 2013) The results from a large-scale survey (and a few other observations)
Scholars Talk Writing: James M. McPherson (interviewed by Rachel Toor, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2-21-16). "To be called a ‘popularizer’ is the kiss of death for an academic only if the actual writing is sloppy and sensationalized." Toor interviews a series of scholars: Laura Kipnis (1-24-16: 'Ideally you want to be an id on the first draft and a superego on the second'); Camille Paglia (11-9-15: "Good Lord, I certainly learned nothing about writing from grad school!"); Sam Wineburg (8-17-15: How a Stanford professor, known for his work on "historical thinking," learned to trust his own voice); and others.
Academic Publishing: An Overview (Charles Henry Editing). This is as helpful a description of academic publishing (both books and journals) as anything I've seen. Here are only a couple of many points the author makes; s/​he also points out the implications of some of the changes going on, and points up some of the problems in this field--among them that three firms collect most of the profits from academic publishing, provide very little added value, and rely heavily on two virtually free inputs: the articles and the peer review process. Journal prices keep going up, library budgets keep going down, teachers depend on academic publishing to achieve tenure, and the peer review process is definitely not foolproof.
~The part of academic written output that is not formally published but merely printed up or posted on the Internet is often called the “grey literature." Most scientific and scholarly journals, and many academic and scholarly books, though not all, are based on some form of peer review or editorial refereeing to qualify texts for publication. Peer review quality and selectivity standards vary greatly from journal to journal, publisher to publisher, and field to field."
~"Currently, an important trend, particularly with respect to scholarly journals, is open access via the Internet. There are two main forms of open access: open access publishing, in which a whole journal (or book) or individual articles are made available free for all on the web by the publisher at the time of publication (sometimes, but not always, for an extra publication fee paid by the author or the author’s institution or funder); and open access self-archiving, in which authors themselves make a copy of their published articles available free for all on the web.
The Politics of Subvention: Crisis in the Humanities II (by Jeffrey R. DiLeo, American Book Review, via Muse) "Your publisher informs you that your scholarly book won't have an index unless you create it. Permission or copyright fees for works you used in your book will not be covered by the press; you are expected to finance them. If you want your book to be copyedited by someone other than yourself, you'll have to pay his or her fees. It is one thing to request increased authorial assistance in the book production process; it is quite another to request that authors pay the cost of book production—and then some....many of the most prestigious journals in business and the sciences regularly require subvention fees of their authors. In fact, most colleges and universities who support publication from their faculty have subvention funds—and even policies regarding their allocation."
Textbook contract Q&A with attorney Lisa Moore (Textbook & Academic Authors Association, 11-2-12)
Authors, Keep Your Copyrights. You Earned Them. (Authors Guild, 8-13-15). As the AG's model contract emphasizes: “CAUTION: Do not allow the publisher to take your copyright or to publish the copyright notice in any name other than yours. Except in very unusual circumstances, this practice is not standard in the industry and harms your economic interests. No reputable publisher should demand that you allow it to do so.” "Yet the copyright grab remains endemic among university presses."
Guidelines for Ethical Editing of Theses /​ Dissertations (Editors' Association of Canada)
Keeping Your Thesis Legal (UK-oriented, but with helpful advice for American scholars, too.)
Why Academic Writing Stinks (Steven Pinker, The Chronicle Review, Chronicle of Higher Education, 9-26-14)
The Shadow Scholar ("Ed Dante," Chronicle of Higher Education, 11-12-10) The man who writes your students' papers tells his story, now a book (by Ed Tomar, apparently his real name: The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat. ("A fascinating exposé of the remarkably robust industry of academic ghostwriting." Wall Street Journal)
My new mission: From PhD to Life, the book! (Jennifer Poli, University Affairs, 9-23-15) Consider hiring a life and career coach, someone who specializes in “unhappy academics.”

Blacklists are technically infeasible, practically unreliable and unethical. Period. (Cameron Neylon, Science in the Open, 1-29-17). "We already have plenty of perfectly good Whitelists. Pubmed listing, WoS listing, Scopus listing, DOAJ listing. If you need to check whether a journal is running traditional peer review at an adequate level, use some combination of these according to your needs. Also ensure there is a mechanism for making a case for exceptions, but use Whitelists not Blacklists by default." And then he recommends in particular Think. Check. Submit (choosing the right journal for sharing your research results) and Quality Open Access Market (QOAM, a 'market place for scientific and scholarly journals which publish articles in open access. Journals scored for quality through academic crowd sourcing; price information includes institutional licensed pricing.'

Using Anecdotes to Hook a Reader (Theresa MacPhail, Vitae, 5-29-15) "One of the biggest reasons that an editor will pass on a scholar’s submission is – and prepare yourself for some tough love here – it’s more than a little boring. The writing is too dull, too dry, too navel-gazing, too 'academic,' or it’s all four of those things put together. In other words, it’s not for a general audience."
The Conversation (US pilot) Academic rigor, journalistic flair.
How We Make Money From Books (Claire Potter, Tenured Radical, Chronicle of Higher Education, 3-7-15) Wise practical advice: what is more important than the size of your book advance.
Roles and Responsibilities of Authors, Contributors, Reviewers, Editors, Publishers, and Owners: Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors (PDF, International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)
From Dissertation to Book by William Germano (a Chicago Guide)
The Thesis and the Book: A Guide for First-Time Academic Authors (ed. by Eleanor Harman, Ian Montagnes, Siobhan McMenemy, and Chris Bucci
What Editors Want: An Author's Guide to Scientific Journal Publishing by Philippa J. Benson and Susan C. Silver (University of Chicago Press)
Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success (Wendy Laura Belcher)
Document Types in Grey Literature (Grey if British; Gray if American).
Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books by William Germano. One of the Amazon reader reviews gives a fairly thorough summary of the book, if you aren't sure if it's right for you.
University Presses Under Fire (Scott Sherman, The Nation, 5-26-14) How the Internet and slashed budgets have endangered one of higher education’s most important institutions.
University Presses: “Under Fire” or Just Under the Gun (Like the Rest of Us)? (Rick Anderson, The Scholarly Kitchen blog, "What's hot and cooking in scholarly publishing" 5-19-14)
Can the University Press Be Saved From Itself? (Aden Nichols, The Digital Warrior-Poet, 5-26-14). The "publish or perish" principle in academia creates pressure to write and publish books nobody will read in a setting with few tenure track positions. Why not publish books people want to read? "Demoting and digitizing the monograph, turning scholars into masterful storytellers, and aggressively marketing those stories to a general audience may not single-handedly rescue the university press from oblivion, but it sure can’t hurt."
Steps Down the Evolutionary Road | Periodicals Price Survey 2014 (Stephen Bosch and Kittie Henderson, Library Journal, 4-11-14). "Budget compression, price inflation, and questions of value will collide with open access trends, government mandates, new evaluation tools such as altmetrics, and the increased distribution of information offered by research platforms and social networks."
University Presses: Homes for Tomes (The Economist, 10-29-13) An often ignored part of the publishing industry faces unique challenges. Many university presses are under financial pressure—after all, “academic monographs are considered a splash today if they sell just 800 copies in their first year”—but they are not-for-profit arms of their universities whose job is to publish works of scholarly importance. This forces them to balance intellectual impact with commercial interest." They face the same problems as commercial publishers, such as digitization and the decline of bookstores, plus some of their own: the rising cost of scientific journals (competing for library $$), increasing scrutiny of press subsidies. "Most will survive thanks to the machinations of the university system. To win tenure, academics need to publish their research, and university presses are hungry outlets. However, no press wants to be mistaken for a vanity publisher, so most of them try to publish academics from other institutions."
The magazine argues that “the machinations of the university system” will keep many presses afloat. This is because “to win tenure, academics need to publish their research, and university presses are hungry outlets. However, no press wants to be mistaken for a vanity publisher, so most of them try to publish academics from other institutions.”'
MFA literary fiction vs. NYC (links to many interesting stories about the two cultures of American fiction)
Why the British Library archived 40,000 emails from poet Wendy Cope (Mic Wright, Wired UK 5-11-14). (on the benefits and difficulties of capturing an author's digital life, what researchers of the future will have to root through, and some of the problems of digital preservation)
Academic and Professional Publishing , ed by Robert Campbell, Ed Pentz, and Ian Borthwick (a comprehensive look at what publishers do, how they work to add value, and what the future may bring). Read this interesting review of authors' expectations for future developments (Judy Luther, Scholarly Kitchen, 3-18-13)
The Future of the Ph.D. (Mary Ann Mason, Chronicle of Higher Education, 5-3-12) "We need doctoral programs that take fewer years to complete, and ones that enroll fewer students if the jobs in that field are scarce. At the same time, we need an academic environment in which young adults with family responsibilities can thrive."
The illustrated guide to a Ph.D. (Matt Might). A one-minute read.
igher Learning Poster Woman: Meet Graduate School Barbie (Women You Should Know, 4-8-16) Graduate School Barbie comes in two forms: Delusional Master’s Barbie™ and Ph.D. Masochist Barbie™.
A PhD Is Not Enough!: A Guide to Survival in Science by Peter J. Feibelman
Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success especially for humanities and social science journals, by Wendy Laura Belcher (University of Chicago Press)
Good Books for Science and Medical Writers (Writers and Editors)
Medical and scientific images and illustrations (a partial list of sources)
Guidelines for preparing journal manuscripts (, on his useful Resources page.
Footnotes, Endnotes, & References: Uses & Abuses Rich Adin, An American Editor, 3-29-10) A philosophy of citations.
BibMe(a free online site for searching for bibliographic information, creating a custom bibliography, and downloading it in MLA, APA, Chicago, or Turabian format), dependent on Amazon's database (which might limit scholarly uses)
Clearing rights and finding rightsholders (Writers and Editors website)
Editage Insights . Dr. Eddy explains the basics of publishing in English language journals, sharing knowledge he has built over years of experience as a researcher. Each week, he writes about important aspects of journal publication.
From Academia to Amazon: Is a bestseller hiding in your academic papers? (Alan Rinzler, The Book Deal,3-23-10)
Are University Presses Missing Out on Sales? (Rich Adin, An American Editor 5-14-14) Maybe they should give ebooks a try.
Publish and Prosper Editage blog, with tips for researchers whose first language is not English but who submit their papers to journals published in English. Touches on writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, and style) and everything else relevant to publishing research papers that journal editors wish their authors knew.
The Scholarly Kitchen (blog, What's hot and cooking in scholarly publishing)
Virtual Private Library (Marcus Zillman's annotated links to competent academic and scholarly search engines and sources)
Writing History in the Digital Age (a born-digital, open-peer-reviewed volume edited by Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki, available online here and forthcoming in print and open-access digital formats from the University of Michigan Press for the Digital Humanities Series of its digitalculturebooks imprint)
Online subject guides (AcademicInfo) A round up of the best and most useful links and resources within a specific subject area. In most cases they list both printed reference works and electronic resources.
Get Together to Write (Jennifer I. Friend and Juan Carlos González, American Association of University Professors, Jan.-Feb 2009)
New Faculty Writing Groups (Billie Hara, Chronicle of Higher Education, 9-29-09)
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Predatory journal publishers

A Scholarly Sting Operation Shines a Light on ‘Predatory’ Journals (Gina Kolata, NY Times, 3-22-17) A group of researchers created a sting operation to draw attention to and systematically document the seamy side of open-access publishing. "Traditional journals typically are supported by subscribers who pay a fee while authors pay nothing to be published. Nonsubscribers can only read papers if they pay the journal for each one they want to see. Open-access journals reverse that model. The authors pay and the published papers are free to anyone who cares to read them. Publishing in an open-access journal can be expensive — the highly regarded Public Library of Science (PLOS) journals charge from $1,495 to $2,900 to publish a paper, with the fee dependent on which of its journals accepts the paper....The open-access business model spawned a shadowy world of what have been called predatory journals. They may have similar names to legitimate journals, but exist by publishing just about anything sent to them for a fee that can range from under $100 to thousands of dollars."
Predatory open access publishing (Wikipedia). Predatory open access publishing is an exploitative academic publishing "business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not)." You can learn a lot from this Wikipedia entry (as it was when I read it).
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). This is the opposite of the "blacklist" of predatory journals (which Beall's List used to be); it is a "whitelist," a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too) (Gina Kolata, NY Times, 4-7-13) Some "researchers are now raising the alarm about what they see as the proliferation of online journals that will print seemingly anything for a fee. They warn that nonexperts doing online research will have trouble distinguishing credible research from junk. 'Most people don’t know the journal universe,” Dr. Goodman said. “They will not know from a journal’s title if it is for real or not.'”
The future of publishing (A special issue of Nature). After nearly 400 years in the slow-moving world of print, the scientific publishing industry is suddenly being thrust into a fast-paced online world of cloud computing, crowd sourcing and ubiquitous sharing. Long-established practices are being challenged by new ones – most notably, the open-access, author-pays publishing model. In this special issue, Nature takes a close look at the forces now at work in scientific publishing, and how they may play out over the coming decades.
Avoiding fake journals and judging the work in real ones (Beryl Lieff Benderly, Science, 10-13-15). Beryl guides you to Think. Check. Submit., a site that "offers a checklist for evaluating a journal’s legitimacy." She concludes: "In a sense, both the challenge of overflow and the existence of predatory journals have at least one cause in common: the need for academic scientists to maintain a high publication rate in order to build reputations, win funding, and secure jobs or promotions."
• This is the site (now taken down) long maintained by academic librarian Jeffrey Beall: , Beall’s List: Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers On Facebook: Beall's List of Predatory Open-Access Publishers. See "Why did Beall's List of potential predatory publishers go dark?" (Retraction Watch, with 70 comments), which as of 1-31-17 links to some cached pages. (However, when I accessed them I got a warning from Symantec that there was danger accessing them and other "phishing" sites.) And Mystery as controversial list of predatory publishers disappears (Science, 1-17-17) and No More Beall's List (Carl Straumshein, Insider Higher Education, 1-18-17) Librarian removes controversial list of "predatory" journals and publishers, reportedly in response to "threats and politics," including threatened lawsuits. Some argue against blacklists like Beall's, preferring whitelists (listing accepted journals), because being accidentally listed as predatory could be so damaging. Whitelists include DOAJ
What Happened to Jeffrey Beall’s List of (Allegedly) Predatory Publishers? (Emil Karlsson, Debunking Denialism, 1-16-17)
stop-predatory-journals/​ (an open source list of predatory journals)
Missing those lists? Never fear.... (Walt at Random, Jan. 2017) Recommends a reliable alternative to Beall's list of "pppredatory publishers and journals."
Feds Target 'Predatory' Publishers (Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, 8-29-16) The Federal Trade Commission is "marking a line in the sand" with its first lawsuit against publishers that take advantage of scholars wishing to publish in open-access journals.
OMICS International Totally Sucks (Jeffrey Beall, scholarly communications librarian at the University of Colorado at Denver. on his blog Scholarly Open Access, 7-5-16): "I call on the Indian Government to take action against OMICS International and all India-based publishers who exploit and victimize researchers. Not carrying out a bona fide peer review in journals claiming to be peer reviewed is an act of publishing misconduct, a breach of publishing ethics."
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Authors Guild vs. Authors Alliance
(trade authors vs. academic authors)

What is the Authors Alliance? May 15 note from Authors Guild board member T.J. Stiles to the San Francisco Writers Grotto, criticizing the Authors Alliance. AG sent out a note later that week: "Some of our academic authors have written to make clear they don’t share the radical copyright views this organization espouses....Far too often, copyright is used to separate scholars and scientists from their intellectual property. Scientific and scholarly journals frequently insist on seizing the author’s copyright as part of the price of publication. For scientists in particular this can be galling: their work is usually publicly funded, yet privately locked up."
Founder of Just-Launched Authors Alliance Talks to PW (Peter Brantley's interview with law professor Pamela Samuelson, Publishers Weekly 5-15-14)
Authors Alliance launches, to the chagrin of the Authors Guild (Kirsten Reach, Melville House, 5-28-14). The problem: "the Authors Alliance—founded by Berkeley academics interested in providing support for authors interested in sharing their content for free—is causing some disruption at the Authors Guild, an advocacy group for published writers...focused on copyright and fair contract terms." Find a way to work together, writes Reach.
Authors Guild, Authors Alliance Battle Over Speaking for Writers (Mercy Pilkington, goodEreader, 5-18-14) Open access is the slippery slope T.J. Stiles was attacking.

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The Art of Nonfiction: Paris Review Interviews

Joan Didion, The Art of Nonfiction No. 1 (interviewed by Hilton Als)
Gay Talese, The Art of Nonfiction No. 2 (interviewed by Katie Roiphe)
John McPhee, The Art of Nonfiction No. 3 (interviewed by Peter Hessler)
Janet Malcolm, The Art of Nonfiction No. 4 (interviewed by Katie Roiphe)
Emmanuel Carrère, The Art of Nonfiction No. 5 (interviewed by Susannah Hunnewell)
Geoff Dyer, The Art of Nonfiction No. 6 (interviewed by Matthew Spektor) "Fiction, nonfiction—the two are bleeding into each other all the time."
Adam Phillips, The Art of Nonfiction No. 7 (interviewed by Paul Holdengräber)
Jane and Michael Stern, The Art of Nonfiction No. 8 (interviewed by Sadie Stein).
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Writing personal essays

Nailing the Personal Essay (by Adair Lara)
Craft Essays (Brevity, on the craft of writing essays)
How to Write a ‘Lives’ Essay (Hugo Lindgren, The 6th Floor, Eavesdropping on the NY Times Magazine, 3-8-12). For examples, see the archive: The Best of Our Lives Column.
What’s an essay, what’s journalism? (Richard Gilbert, 1-10-12)
• First, an essay: Two on Two by Brian Doyle. Then, an interview about it: Interview with Brian Doyle: From Toughness to Tenderness (Karen Rosica, Creative Nonfiction, Issue 9, 1998)
The Personal Touch: Using Anecdotes to Hook a Reader (Theresa MacPhail, Vitae, 5-29-15) If "you have a timely topic for an 800-to-1,200 word nonacademic piece, and you want to grab an editor’s attention, the first thing you should be thinking about is the 'hook' for your lede....The trick is to make the “I” universal enough that readers can invoke themselves in the narrative." Thread the anecdote throughout the piece and consider ending in a "callback," "gesturing back to the beginning."
Of Bedrock: Reading Michel de Montaigne's “Of Practice” (Micah McCrary, Essay Daily, 7-2016). Montaigne's own wandering mind took him to a place of reflection in order to better make sense of the death-subject, and in many of our own essays today we can see what we've learned from Montaigne's writing moves in “Of practice”: 1) that essays, by their very own meditative nature, employ narratives without necessarily becoming them, 2) that a linear (and non-digressive) form is difficult to maintain if an essay is going to essay, and 3) that in order to write our “honest-to-God” essays we need to make meaningout of our narratives—because that's what essays are supposed to do. Otherwise, we might as well try our hands at short stories."
The internet is an ideal home for the essay (Lorraine Berry, The Guardian, 11-5-15) "[E]ven as the internet has wreaked havoc on literary culture, American women have been fomenting a renaissance in the essay....Way back before the dawn of Netscape Navigator, the future for public intellectuals looked grim. The academy was clotted with jargon that excluded all but the privileged few. They read each other’s essays, but the rest of us did not. The internet provided the space where writers could re-establish the essay’s importance to the general reader."
When Structure Sets You Free (Nell Boeschenstein on Jane Friedman's blog, 8-27-15)
Picturing the Personal Essay: A Visual Guide (Tim Bascom, Creative Nonfiction, Issue #49, Summer 2013)
The Essayification of Everything (Christy Wampole, Opinionator, NY Times, 5-26-13). "I believe that the essay owes its longevity today mainly to this fact: the genre and its spirit provide an alternative to the dogmatic thinking that dominates much of social and political life in contemporary America."..."When I say 'essay,' I mean short nonfiction prose with a meditative subject at its center and a tendency away from certitude. Much of the writing encountered today that is labeled as 'essay' or 'essay-like' is anything but."
Essay and Memoir: writing about what changed you (by Adair Lara)
Crafting The Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction (Dinty W. Moore)
On Essays
Essay Prize
Essay Daily (a blog and a filter for and an ongoing conversation about essays and magazine of interest). Great blogrolls: Homes for the essay; Essays and Resources
The Wayward Essay (Parul Sehgal, NY Times, 12-28-12).
The Greatest Nature Essay Ever (Brian Doyle, Orion Magazine Nov.-Dec. 2008)
Playing for Keeps: Intensity and Creativity in the Lyric Essay. Margaret Kimball's notes on a panel discussion at the AWP conference. Panelists: Steven Harvey, Kathryn Winograd, Robert Root (in absentia), Rebecca McClanahan (posted on Brevity's blog)
A Midlife Crisis, By Any Other Name (Jess Zimmerman, Hazlitt, 7-20-15) "Existential collapse is often treated as the domain of men coming face to face with their mortality. For me and other women, our crisis wasn’t how much life was left, but how much of it we gave away." Refreshingly honest, beautifully written.
The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present, ed. by Phillip Lopate. Two collections of Lopate's essays: Against Joie de Vivre: Personal Essays and Bachelorhood: Tales of the Metropolis. Among notes students of his memoir classes (in this case Roger Martin) have taken: To turn yourself (your “I”) into a character, distance from yourself. To give “I” a meaning requires building the self into a character. People must be knowledgeable enough about themselves, and free-willed enough, to surprise us.
Writing a Winning Personal Admissions Essay (by Jim Bock, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Swarthmore College), on PBS)
What Can Sonnets Teach Us about Essays? The Benefit of Strict Form (Chelsea Biondolillo Brevity, 9-12-13)
A Student's Guide to Writing a Scholarship Essay (
Winning personal essays in 500 words or less (application help, i-studentglobal)
The Power and Glory of Sportwriting (Nicholas Dawidoff, NY Times 7-28-12). "...for really good writers, sports offer an opportunity to express all the pleasure and passion of life."
Personal Essays. The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present, ed. by Phillip Lopate. Two collections of Lopate's essays: Against Joie de Vivre: Personal Essays and Bachelorhood: Tales of the Metropolis. Among notes students of his memoir classes (in this case Roger Martin) have taken: To turn yourself (your “I”) into a character, distance from yourself. To give “I” a meaning requires building the self into a character. People must be knowledgeable enough about themselves, and free-willed enough, to surprise us. See also
Writing the Personal Essay (by Adair Lara)
Essay and Memoir: writing about what changed you (by Adair Lara)
Between Song and Story: Essays for the Twenty-first Century, ed. Sheryl St Germain and Margaret Whitford (46 writers explore the range of the contemporary essay)
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Good personal essays (some examples) and venues for personal essays

Essay Daily. Subscribe to this and you will get a link to a good essay almost daily, from writers known and unknown, on a range of topics. Excellent blog rolls, too, under these headings: Homes for the Essay: Journals; Homes for the Essay: Books & Chapbooks; Essays & Resources (including essay contests)
This is what happened when I Googled “morning after pill” (Abigail Rasminsky (my goddaughter), MotherWell, 1-13-17) A beautifully written personal essay. "Planned Parenthood knew what questions to answer even before I’d known which ones to ask."
T Clutch Fleischmann and Torrey Peters on trans essays (Essay Daily, 1-4-16). "Essay is, at its core, about figuring out a way to say the things that have not yet been said, that seem unsayable. You don’t get the crutch of fictionalization, there’s no set narrative structure, and despite some appealing attempts at creating an essay canon by D’Agata et. al, there’s not a long-standing formal tradition. In essay, the subject dictates all: form, structure, style. The essay is so incredibly trans: you’ve found some unsayable truth, now throw out all the rules that keep you from saying it."
Personal History (a wonderful series of essays in the New Yorker, series described here.
50 Essays Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person (Emily Temple, Flavorwire, 8-25-14)
The Next American Essay (ed. John D'Agata). "A literary tour of lyric essays written by the masters of the craft."
The Best Magazine Articles Ever (KK, Cooltools)
The Ten Greatest Essays, Ever (lists by various authors--a good reading list!)
The Same River Twice by David Quammen
Mister Lytle: An Essay by John Jeremiah Sullivan (read online at Paris Review) Doctors have bullied me about my weight for years, but obesity has given me the armor I needed to survive
I choose to be fat (Laura Bogart, Salon, 7-24-13)
Ticket to the Fair by David Foster Wallace (read online at Harpers)
17 Personal Essays That Will Change Your Life (Sandra Allen, Buzzfeed)

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Markets for personal essayss

Generally, publications want to see the whole essay -- queries don't make sense because "pulling it off" is more important than the idea for the essay.
Paying Markets for Personal Essays (Carol Celeste's excellent links, Writing to Heal, Writing to Grow)
Fifteen Paying Markets for Personal Essays and Life Stories (Chryselle D'Silva Dias,
5 Personal Essay Markets for Parents (Chantal Panozzo, Writer Abroad)
Eight Good Markets for Writers Abroad, Part Two/a> (Chantal Panozzo, Writer Abroad)
20 Great Places to Publish Personal Essays (Meghan Ward, Writerland)
Tips to Help You Publish Your Personal Essays (Sheila Bender, Writer's Digest 3-11-08)
Aeon (a magazine of ideas and culture. We publish in-depth essays, incisive articles, and a mix of original and curated videos). Love this digital magazine, and post the link because I suspect a lot of people don't know about it. As for submissions, see Contact info.

Essays on modern love

(the wonderful Times series)
The essays in the New York Times' Modern Love series are usually terrific and at least one writing teacher I know has her students read and critique them weekly, to learn how good essays are constructed. Here are some examples from Modern Love:
The Race Grows Sweeter Near Its Final Lap (Eve Pell, NY Times, 1-24-13)
Agreeing to Accept and Move On (Elizabeth Koster, 7-31-14)
A Student of Intimacy, Step by Step (Matthew Parker, 1-23-09). An ex-con learns about love.
My Husband's New Son: A Choice Not as Easy as It Looked (Lisa Schlesinger, 5-30-13)
When the Words Don't Fit (Sarah Healy, 10-27-11). On the difference between fantasy love and real love
Friends Without Benefits (Hannah Selinger, 1-10-13)
Chubby, Skinny, Accepting (Cole Kazdin, 1-3-13)
Three Mothers, One Bond (Jennifer Hauseman, 12-27-12)
After the Affair (Judy Wachs, 11-23-12)
Labels of Married Life, in a New Light (Margot Page, 1-18-13)
A Role I Was Born to Play (Evan James, 11-14-12)
Sleeping with the (Political) Enemy (Sheila Heen, 11-1-12)
A Sister’s Comfort, if Not a Cure (Tara Ebrahimi, 12-13-12, on helping a brother with mental illness)
Married, but Dancing by Myself (Teresa Link, 11-30-13, on marrying, but not for love)
We Found Our Son in the Subway (Peter Mercurio, Townies (not Modern Love, but it belongs there too)< Opinionator, 2-28-13).
The Modern Love Rejects site (essays rejected by the Times) seems to have closed up shop.
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Books on the craft of nonfiction writing

The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism , ed. Kevin Kerrane and Ben Yagoda
The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present, edited with an excellent introduction by Phillip Lopate
The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing, by Francis Flaherty
Follow the Story: How to Write Successful Nonfiction by James Stewart
Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft, by Janet Burroway
Vernacular Eloquence: What Speech Can Bring to Writing by Peter Elbow
Intimate Journalism: The Art and Craft of Reporting Everyday Life, ed. Walt Harrington
The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing, ed. Alice LaPlante (how writers create -- for serious writing students and teachers)
The Passionate, Accurate Story: Making Your Heart's Truth into Literature, by Carol Bly (excellent -- you'll have to buy used copies as it's out of print)
Writing the Personal Essay, an excellent quick guide to structuring a narrative essay, by Adair Lara (writer, teacher, writing coach, and author of Naked, Drunk, and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay)
The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative by Vivian Gornick
Story Building: Narrative Techniques for News and Feature Writers by Ndaeyo Uko
Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University, ed. Mark Kramer, Wendy Call (an excellent guide)
Writing a Book That Makes a Difference, by Philip Gerard
Writing Nonfiction: Turning Thoughts into Books, by Dan Poynter (his guide to self-publishing, repackaged)
Books on the craft of narrative nonfiction.
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Organizations for nonfiction writers

Major writers organizations
Authors Guild
American Society of Journalists & Authors (ASJA), professional association of freelance/​independent journalists and nonfiction book writers, who share info about markets, writing rates, contracts, editors, agents, etc. Members have access to samples of successful query letters and book proposals, among other resources. Non-members may attend the annual conference; there is also a more advanced and smaller-group day for members only.
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI
Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA)
Regional and specialty organizations for journalists
Organizations for medical, health, and science writers
Organizations for corporate, government, and technical communicators
Biographers International
Association of Personal Historians (APH)
Washington Biography Group. See more biography groups
Western Writers of America, Inc. (freelance writers of Western fiction and nonfiction)
International Association of Professional Ghost Writers
Groups I know little or nothing about:
National Association of Independent Writers and Editors
National Résumé Writers Association (NRWA)
Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches (PARW/​CC)
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Can we figure out a ‘unified theory of writing’? (Roy Peter Clark, Poynter, 7-6-12). "In a story, it’s Robert McKee’s inciting incident colliding with the safe patterns of daily life; in news, it’s a radical variation from the norm: Man bites dog."

Creating Nonfiction (Rachel Toor, Chronicle of Higher Education, 12-3-07). For more on the subject, see Narrative Nonfiction

Creating Scenes: The Yellow Test (Lee Gutkind, The Opinionator, NY Timnes 8-22-12). "Readers remember information longer — and are more likely to be persuaded by ideas and opinions — when it’s presented to them in scenes. This is why so many TV commercials are narrative."

Dictionaries, clarity, and the Supreme Court:
Skip The Legalese And Keep It Short, Justices Say (Nina Totenberg, NPR's Morning Edition, 6-13-11, audio and transcript). Worth reading for the concluding anecdote alone.
Justices Turning More Frequently to Dictionary, and Not Just for Big Words by Adam Liptak (NY Times 6-13-11).

A Directory of Authors on Twitter (Jennifer Tribe). See the Guidelines.

Doing Documentary Work by Robert Coles. "A challenging exploration of documentary writing and photography, focusing on the ways in which researchers can affect, reshape, or misrepresent what they see." Read a chapter online.

18 strategies for brainstorming a title, an excellent guide to developing great titles, from Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers by Scott Norton, posted on Scrib'd

5 Questions to ask before you start to write your non-fiction book (Paul Lima, 5-26-12)'

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Food writing

Jean Patterson's FAQ about food writing
Ruth Reichl, James Beard award winners cook up the future of food writing (Dawn Failik, Poynter, 5-25-11). Hear from Ruth Reichl, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl (“Being a restaurant critic in Minnesota is relentlessly local”), Holly Hughes (“I love the alternative weeklies; they still devote space to longform writing”), Jonathan Gold, Miriam Morgan, Craig LaBan (“You can’t underestimate how the change in technology has changed food writing”)
Michele Anna Jordan on Food and Food Writing (interesting Q&A on Andy Ross's Ask the Agent blog: Night Thoughts About Books and Publishing)
From Bananas to Blintzes: Writing about Diet, Nutrition and Food by Kelly James-Enger (
Druzzke ^ Drip recipe index (some of Sam Linsell's recipes are worth making)
Advice for Future Food Writers (Amanda Hesser, Food52, 4-10-12) "Except for a very small group of people (some of whom are clinging to jobs at magazines that pay more than the magazines' business models can actually afford), it’s nearly impossible to make a living as a food writer, and I think it’s only going to get worse."
Haute Cuisine (Doug Brown, American Journalism Review, Feb/​March 2004). Food journalism, once a throwaway compendium of recipes and “what’s hot” articles, has gone upscale. Newspapers and magazines are dedicating top talent to the food beat, and they are hungry for sophisticated stories with timely angles. (This was printed in 2004)
Why newspaper food writing is bad (W. Blake Gray, The Gray Report, 11-1-11)
Is Food Writing a Dismal Way to Make a Living? (Dianne Jacob, Will Write for Food, 4-17-12)
Jane and Michael Stern, The Art of Nonfiction No. 8 (interviewed by Sadie Stein, The Paris Review, Winter 2015). The delightful authors of Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 900 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More and their memoir
Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Food. See also their write-ups of road food around the U.S. (on the Splendid Table website). See also Meet Jane and Michael Stern, the Original Culinary Road Warriors ( Sarah Baird, Eater, 12-2-15) and

Food critics group updates its guidelines and ethics code (Jim Romenesko, 5-14-13) See also Why One Food Writers Group Updated Its Ethics Guidelines (Katie Bascuas, Associations NOw, 5-20-13)
The Greenbrier Food Writers Symposium (Kurt Michael Friese, HuffPost, 9-20-10)
Organizations for food writers (elsewhere on Writers & Editors site)
Food for Thought (and for Publishing!) (Kavitha C. Reinhold, Chicago Women in Publishing, Feb. 2009). The Food Publishing panel comprised Carol Haddix, Chicago Tribune food editor and editor of Chicago Cooks; Doug Seibold, president of Agate Publishing, whose Surrey imprint publishes books on food, dining, and entertaining; Laura Bruzas, founder and publisher of Healthy Dining Chicago, a community education and outreach effort; and guest moderator Tom O'Brien, of O'Brien Culinary Communications and Kendall College food writing faculty.'
Food pieces by David Hochman (scroll down to find links to some interesting stories). He also runs Upod Academy (Upod stands for “under-promise, over-deliver”), a workshop at which to learn learn the ropes about freelancing successfully.
Can a recipe be stolen? (Joyce Gemperlein, Washington Post, 1-4-06) "Copyright law specifies that "substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions," such as a cookbook, can be copyrighted but that a mere list of ingredients cannot receive that protection. The International Association of Culinary Professionals guidelines "focus on giving proper attribution to recipes that are published or taught." The association advises using the words "adapted from," "based on" or "inspired by," depending on how much a recipe has been revised.
Copyright Office on recipes Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook. Only original works of authorship are protected by copyright. “Original” means that an author produced a work by his or her own intellectual effort instead of copying it from an existing work.

If you buy any books from Amazon after clicking on one of these links, we get a small commission (which helps support the site).
Recipes Into Type: A Handbook for Cookbook Writers and Editors by Joan Whitman and Dolores Simon (who was copyeditor at Harper & Row when it first started publishing the big cookbooks)
• “People ask me, ‘Why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don’t you write about the struggle for power and security, about love, the way others do?’. . . The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it. . . There is communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk.” ~ M.F.K. Fisher, from The Gastronomical Me
Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More by Dianne Jacob
Food memoirs and biographies (a list of recommended reading)
Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Nicole S. Young
Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling by Helene Dujardin.
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Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd (also good on the author-editor relationship). See The Special Relationship by Scott Stossel (WSJ book review, 1-17-13). A Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and his longtime editor offer a guide to the craft of nonfiction.

Hijacking History: SBOE Conservatives Rewrite American History Books (Brian Thevenot, The Texas Tribune, 1-12-10). A fascinating study of political influence shaping Texas social studies textbooks.

A Historian's Code by Richard W. Stewart (10-13-10)

The Historian's Gaze. Blog for the Masters Seminar in History in 2009 at Dalhousie University houses, with entries such as False Memory and Historians' Fallacies.

Learning to Do Historical Research: A Primer for Environmental Historians and Others . William Cronon surveys essential stages of the research process and different kinds of documents that can offer information and insights about the past (an online community--by invitation only--of published book authors, both fiction and nonfiction)

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. The key elements of a sticky idea, they write, are simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions, and stories. Practical strategies for creating sticky ideas.

Max Holland on Nov. 22, 1963 (Neely Tucker, Wash Post, 7-24-08 on Holland's VERY thorough research on JFK's assassination)

Menand, Louis. Excellent New Yorker essay, The Historical Romance: Edmund Wilson's Adventures with Communism ( 3-24-03), in which Menand writes: "Intuitive knowledge—the sense of what life was like when we were not there to experience it—is precisely the knowledge we seek. It is the true positive of historical work." Read full essay at http:/​/​​archive/​2003/​03/​24/​030324crbo_books1.

Nonfiction book genres (agent Mark Malatesta's list).

When journalists become authors: a few cautionary tips (Peter Ginna for Nieman Storyboard)

When the author isn't a writer: bringing in a ghost (Alan Rinzler, The Book Deal, 8-5-08, on getting experts published). See also section on Book collaboration and ghostwriting.

Will the E-Book Kill the Footnote? (Alexandra Horowitz, NY Times, 10-7-11)

Writing History in the Digital Age (a born-digital, open-peer-reviewed volume edited by Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki, available online here and forthcoming in print and open-access digital formats from the University of Michigan Press for the Digital Humanities Series of its digitalculturebooks imprint)

Your Brain on Story: Why Narratives Win Our Hearts and Minds (Michele Wheldon, Pacific-Standard, 4-22-14) "Our craving and connection to story is so much more than a haphazard preference."
“The power of anecdote is so great that it has a momentum in and of itself.” Ira Glass contends, “no matter how boring the facts are,” with a well-told story, “you feel inherently as if you are on a train that has a destination.”