including essays and academic/scholarly publishing.
• Organizations for nonfiction writers
• The craft of successful nonfiction
• Books on the craft of nonfiction writing
• The art of nonfiction: Paris Review interviews
• Flash nonfiction
• Teaching young people to write good nonfiction
• Ideas and observations, well expressed
• True crime
• True crime podcasts
---Personal essays, how to write better
---Personal essays, great examples of
---Other types of essays
---Essays on modern love (the wonderful Times series)
---Academic writing and publishing
---Adjuncts: The universities' slave system
---Blogs of academia
---Citation boosting and manipulation
---Footnotes, endnotes, references, and citations
---Resources for textbook and academic authors
---Open access, open science--and how to identify predatory OA publishers (see also next category)
---Authors Guild vs. Authors Alliance (author royalties vs. broadest possible distribution, free)
Film, plays, and documentaries
Food and beverage writing (moved to specialty and niche writing)
Memoir, Biography, and Corporate History
Narrative Nonfiction (a/k/a creative or literary nonfiction)
Science and Medical Writing
Specialized and niche writing For writers who specialize in animals, children's books, food, gardens, family history, resumes, sports, travel, webwriting, and wine, etc.
• Deep Dive into Short Forms: Flash Nonfiction (Brenda Joyce Patterson, diyMFA, 3-5-19) 'The term “flash” refers to the form’s length, which can vary anywhere from six to 2,000 words. Most published flash falls between 300 to 1,000 words. Flash nonfiction, specifically, usually runs between 500 to 1,000 words.... Flash nonfiction focuses on memoir, essay, and factual writing. It’s also called by more than one name, such as micro essay, flash creative nonfiction, and flash memoir.'
• Four Techniques of Effective Flash Nonfiction Writers (Donna Margara,The Artifice)
• 100 Word Story magazine
• Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction by Lee Gutkind. See also
---In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction
• Brevity Magazine (Dinty W. Moore, editor)
• Writing Essays with Brevity (Dinty Moore, Brevity,
• What's a Flash Essay? (Martha Nichols, Talking Writing, 1-20-15) The Mind at Work—in a Thousand Words. "In the twenty-first-century, of course, there are practical reasons for essayists to stick to a thousand words."
• Kelly Sundberg’s Eight Flash Nonfiction Writers (Vela, exceptional nonfiction writing by women)
• Flash (Hippocampus Magazine) Memorable creative nonfiction.
• 4 New Ways to Tell Your Stories (Nicole Breit, Craft, Hippocampus, 4-1-17)
• 10 Amazing Examples of Flash Creative Nonfiction (Michael and Sara Biggs Chaney, 8-17-2020) Creative nonfiction or cnf is the art of truth telling. Flash cnf is the same thing at blender velocities.
• Top ten literary magazines to send very VERY short flashes (Michael Alexander Chaney)
True crime podcasts
He comes as everything you've ever wished for...”
• American Crime Writers League (for writers of crime fiction & true crime)
• Public Safety Writers Association
• CrimeCon. national true crime convention for those who want to do more that watch the news. Meet the key players in big cases, learn how detectives, investigators, and attorneys work, and be the first to see new documentaries and films.
• Writing True Crime: Q&A with Janis Thornton (Cathy Shouse on Jane Friedman's blo, 9-30-2020) The author of No Place Like Murder: True Crime in the Midwest, a modern retelling of 20 sensational true crimes, and Too Good a Girl: Remembering Olene Emberton and the Mystery of Her Death "While the research was intensive, the most challenging aspect of the project was breaking through my self-doubt. The closer I came to wrapping up the research phase, the more I heard myself asking: Am I the right person to tell this story? Have I crossed a line? Will the book cause the family pain by opening old wounds?" She discusses the logistical, ethical and legal issues around writing true crime.
• Posse Comitatus Lawyer Jessica Pishko's newsletter focuses on investigating and reporting on sheriff’s departments around the country--"digs deep into history to give readers greater insight into America’s fractured law enforcement apparatus."~ quoting an investigative journalism award site.
• A Brave New World for Nonfiction Writers (Mark Bowden, CrimeReads, 4-2-19) In an era when everything is recorded, researchers and authors face new challenges—and new opportunities to find the truth.
• The Dark Art of Interrogation (Mark Bowden, The Atlantic, Oct. 2003) The most effective way to gather intelligence and thwart terrorism can also be a direct route into morally repugnant terrain. A survey of the landscape of persuasion.
• Victims, Families and America’s Thirst for True-Crime Stories (Britt Peterson, Washington Post Magazine, 7-30-19) What happens when one family's tragedy becomes entertainment for everyone else? For Bill Thomas and other family members of murder victims, CrimeCon — an annual true-crime festival sponsored by the TV channel Oxygen, now in its third year and hosting a sold-out crowd of 3,600 (up from 1,000 its first year) — represents a major and unprecedented opportunity. Twenty years ago, if victims’ family members wanted to draw media attention to a crime in hopes of shaking loose new leads and motivating law enforcement, there were just a few options. Today, there are thousands.
• The Art of Investigation by Chelsea A. Binns and Bruce Sackman
• How to Write & Sell True Crime by Gary Provost
• How does the ‘true crime’ genre impact criminal investigations? (Nora Daly, PBS News Hour, 3-19-15)
• ‘Serial,’ Podcasting’s First Breakout Hit, Sets Stage for More (David Carr, NY Times, 11-23-14)
• How to write a true crime tale, according to bestseller David Grann (Ellizabeth Flock, PBS News Hour, 1-31-18)
• Why our true crime obsession is bad for society (Laura Bogart, The Week, 1-31-18)
• The Con Man Who Became a True-Crime Writer (Rachel Monroe,The Atlantic, 7-19-19) Appears in the August 2019 print edition with the headline “The True-Crime Writer in Cellblock B4.” In his old life, Matthew Cox told stories to scam his way into millions of dollars. Now he’s trying to make it by selling tales that are true. Interesting insights into the genre.
• The Worst of the Worst (Patrick Radden Keefe, New Yorker, 9-14-15) Judy Clarke was the lead defense lawyer representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, on trial for the bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013—the worst domestic terrorist attack since September 11th. 'As the Tsarnaev case began, Clarke told the jury that she would not contest the “who” or the “what” of the case. She would focus on the “why.” Clarke is driven by an intense philosophical opposition to the death penalty. She once observed that “legalized homicide is not a good idea for a civilized nation.”
A training guide that Clarke helped prepare for defense attorneys in 2006 notes, “In capital cases, appropriate physical contact is frequently the one gesture that can maintain a defendant’s trust.” Under the terms of his confinement, Tsarnaev was not permitted to touch any visitors, even relatives, so the casual contact of his attorneys likely represented his only remaining form of tangible human connection.
• “I Was in a Violent Girl Gang, Now I’m Helping Others Get Out” (as told to Sue Russell, The Independent, UK)
• The Real Lolita (Sara Weinman, Hazlitt LongReads, 11-20-14) The story of 11-year-old Sally Horner’s abduction changed the course of 20th-century literature. She just never got to tell it herself.
• True Crime (On the Media radio show, WNYC)
• True Crime (The Guardian's pieces about true crime are a notch above the rest.)
• Serial Killers, Versace, and Me (Sarah Weinman, Paris Review, 1-29-18)
• Why Fingerprints Aren’t the Proof We Thought They Were (Sue Russell, PSMag.com)
• True crime (Wikipedia's overview) Helter Skelter (1974), the true story of the Manson murders by Vincent Bugliosi, is the biggest selling true crime book in publishing history; Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (1966) is number two. Other classic titles:
---And The Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi with Bruce Henderson (four people set sail for a South Pacific island and only two return)
---Columbine by Dave Cullen (this book about a horrific school shooting and massacre tries to answer the question, Why did it happen?)
---The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (who entertwines the true story of two men: the architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and a cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death)
---Fatal Vision by Joe McGinnis (the story of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the handsome, Princeton-educated physician convicted of savagely slaying his young pregnant wife and two small children)
---Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi with Kurt Gentry (the true story of the Manson murders)
---In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (the cold-blooded murder of the Clutter family, in a small town in Kansas)
---The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm. (Using a strange and unprecedented lawsuit as her larger-than-life example -- the lawsuit of Jeffrey MacDonald, a convicted murderer, against Joe McGinniss, the author of Fatal Vision, a book about the crime -- she delves into the always uneasy, sometimes tragic relationship that exists between journalist and subject.)
---Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil 'by John Berendt (Savannah socialite Jim Williams stands trial for the murder of Danny Hansford, a moody, violence-prone hustler--and sometime companion to Williams; to improve the story, Berendt didn't stick to the true chronology)
---The Other Side by Lacy Johnson (memoir of her brutal kidnapping and imprisonment at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, her dramatic escape, and her hard-fought struggle to recover)
---Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People by Tim Reiterman
---Shot in the Heart by Mikhal Gilmore, brother of the murderer Gary Gilmore, who asked to be executed by a short in the heart. Norman Mailer covered Gilmore's story also, in The Executioner's Song
--- Small Sacrifices by Ann Rule (a powerful account of the destructive forces that drove Diane Downs, a beautiful young mother, to shoot her three young children in cold blood)
---The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule (about Ted Bundy)
---Son of a Gun: A Memoir by Justin St. Germain (a memoir of a mother-son relationship that is also the searing, unflinching account of a murder and its aftermath)
---The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist (Rich Schapiro, Wired Magazine, 12-27-10) A magazine-length true crime story, for when you want the story and the suspense but don't have time for a whole book.
• The fugitive and the chameleon (Ciara O'Rourke, Deseret News, 8-2-21) The story of one of the longest manhunts in U.S. history. “Like a modern Inspector Javert, forever in pursuit of his Jean Valjean, the cop didn’t let up.” H/T Jack El-Hai, Damn History.
• A Lawyer’s Deathbed Confession About a Sensational 1975 Kidnapping (Alex Traub, NY Times, 8-12-21) Samuel Bronfman, heir to the Seagram fortune, was abducted by two men who confessed to the crime. But then their story evolved wildly, and the jury believed it. Was it all a lie?
• The Crime Victim Who’s Obsessed with True Crime Shows (Taylor Schumann, Memoir column, Narratively, 6-25-2020) After I was injured in a school shooting, I found unexpected comfort in binging grisly TV shows and podcasts. And I’m not the only one.
• The 15 best new true crime podcasts (Jess Joho, Mashable, 5-13-2020)
• 50 True Crime Podcasts We've Been Hooked On This Year (Bianca Rodriguez and Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, 6-25-2020)
• Best True-Crime Podcasts of 2018 (Laura Barcella, Rolling Stone, 12-31-18) True crime helped create the podcast revolution — and they’re still leading the way
• The Life and Death of Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer (YouTube video)
• The True Crime Edition (Medium newsletter) The guilty, the dead, the missing...
• The Most Infamous Crimes Committed in Every State (Insider)
• Best True Crime Podcasts (Samuel Thomas Davies)
• 20 True Crime Podcasts That’ll Make Your Commute Go by so Fast (Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping,12-18-19)
• Beyond ‘Serial’: 10 True Crime Podcasts You Need to Follow (Elisabeth Garber-Paul, Rolling Stone, 7-22-16) From L.A. comedians riffing on murder to full-on 1940s-style radio dramas, there’s hours of earbud entertainment to keep you on edge
• True Crime podcasts (Player FM)
• Are True-Crime Podcasts Ready for the #DefundthePolice Era? (Marisa Meltzer, Vanity Fair, 7-9-2020) Some of the most popular podcasts have relied on a paternalistic and trusting relationship with the criminal justice system—one that seems increasingly out of step with the current moment.
• The 10 True-Crime Podcasts That Changed Everything (Rebecca Lavoie, Vulture, 10-1-19)
---Academic writing and publishing
---Adjuncts: The universities' slavery system
---Blogs of academia
---Citation boosting and manipulation
---Footnotes, endnotes, references, and citations
---Open access, open science--and how to identify predatory OA publishers
(author royalties vs. broadest possible distribution, free)
• Scholars Talk Writing In this continuing series for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Rachel Toor interviews scholars about their writing process and influences. Linking here to only a few of the many excellent columns:
--- Should You Keep Working on That Book Manuscript? (Rachel Toor, Scholars Talk Writing, Chronicle of Higher Education, 4-20-2020) Presses she talked to "were moving forward with their planned fall 2020 lists, especially for scholarly books. Most said they expected to maintain their scholarly output but wouldn’t be expanding any time soon."
--- T.J. Stiles (Scholars Talk Writing, Chronicle of Higher Education, 10-1-19) "Academic writing usually lays out the questions and the answers at the outset, then proceeds to demonstrate... it strands a reader alone, without the happy company of mystery and suspense, the crew who sail every plot forward. Narrative generally centers on characters....There are other aspects of writing narrative, and of incorporating argument and interpretation, but we always begin with plot and character. As to why, it’s that narrative is inherently part of the historical enterprise, thanks to the element of time. It’s one reason why many academic historians turn out to be very good writers."
--- How a Literary Agent Views Academic Books (interview with agent Susan Rabiner, 7-14-19) "If you don’t understand the need to make an argument in scholarly writing, you don’t understand scholarship....Young scholars have difficulty getting a precise handle on exactly what argument entails because it refers both to how you move through facts to reach a conclusion and to the conclusion you reach ...argument is also what allows even the most densely intellectual material to be successfully shaped and structured into a narrative — which is another way of saying it provides the connective thread that takes the readers from facts to resolution in a way that holds their attention, indeed keeps them wanting more."
--- How Does a Book Editor Find Projects? (Toor interviews Naomi Schneider, of University of California Press, 7-2-18) For editors at both trade and university presses, "the single most important question is: Should I acquire this book? And related to that: Who is the audience for it? And do I know how I can get that audience excited about it? We often need to think about an audience bigger than the one that’s on the author’s mind. That is, the author may be more worried about a tenure committee than about the New York Review of Books."
--- Christie Henry (9-4-17) Christie Henry left the University of Chicago Press after 24 years to take over as director of Princeton University Press. She says, “Most scientists I know are wonderful storytellers, but they are taught from early in their careers to edit out the story, to redact the personal."
---Scholars Talk Writing: James M. McPherson ( 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."
--- 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.
• Buying Off an Academic Journal? (Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Education, 7-13-21) E-cigarette maker Juul funds a special issue of an academic journal (American Journal of Health Behavior) about use of its product. Editor in chief says normal review processes were followed. See also Juul Is Fighting to Keep Its E-Cigarettes on the U.S. Market (NY Times, 7-5-21) The New York Times reported "that the company paid $51,000 to sponsor the special edition of the journal, including a $6,500 open-access fee to make it freely available to the public. Three editorial board members resigned over the arrangement." The company faces declining sales and thousands of lawsuits claiming it knowingly sold its trendy vaping products to minors. Soon the F.D.A. will decide whether it can keep selling them at all.
• How Kent Anderson became a watchdog over the scholarly publishing industry (Simon Owens, Simon Owens's Media Newsletter, 2-9-21) "What made the Scholarly Kitchen so readable, according to Anderson, was its “bullshit detector.” He didn’t see his role as merely an industry promoter, but rather acted as an investigative journalist that rooted out bad behavior. In 2014, for instance, he wrote an article about how Wikipedia editors were abusing their influence to seek retribution against reporting they didn’t like; Anderson’s reporting forced the editor-in-question to reverse his deletions of several pages. A few years later, Anderson pressured the authors of a widely-cited scholarly article to admit that their research was flawed." Excellent newsletter--there are free and paid versions.
• The public’s access to scholarly writing (Jessica Martinez, University of Idaho Libraries, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, 6-5-21) Libraries are on the forefront of making research and scholarship more accessible to everyone, but face three obstacles: the scientific publisher Elsevier, which is reluctant to lose its 36-percent profit margin; the prestige of journals that faculty publish in to make a case for their tenure and promotion; and inertia “this is how things have always been done”). Academic libraries are encouraging and helping authors "to publish articles in open access journals and providing support and infrastructure for open access publishing efforts."
• Becoming a Stylish Writer (Rachel Toor, Chronicle of Higher Education, 7-2-12) Attractive prose will not make you appear any less smart.
"Accustomed to having to justify and support every thought, back up every assertion, and hedge every idea, academics learn to distrust their guts. They hem and qualify until they don't know what they think and don't want to say anything for fear of being wrong.
'We creative writers are privileged,' Hugo wrote, 'because we can write declarative sentences, and we can write declarative sentences because we are less interested in being irrefutably right than we are in the dignity of language itself.' ... In my recovering-editor mode, I finally took the first step and allowed myself to admit that most scholarly manuscripts read as badly as many first-year composition papers. In my work for a publisher, I had perpetrated on the world a whole lot of garbled ideas expressed in jargon and in meaningless, incomprehensible, and never-ending sentences."
Toor also writes that in an essay called Professional Boredom William Cronon, president of the American Historical Association, "warned that, when taken to an extreme, the values and practices of good history—rigorous, complex, and nuanced argumentation; accuracy; grounding in primary research; awareness of the field—can make the discipline accessible to only a small group. He warns about writing that keeps readers out rather than inviting them in. Cronon suggests that his peers tell stories, and he cautions them not to be boring."
• Academics Historians vs. Popularizers (David Greenberg, Slate, 5-17-05) Academic vs. popular history. Monographs vs. synthesis. Narrative vs. analysis. “Conservative” political history vs. ” radical” social history. Jargon vs. Clear Writing. See also his follow-up essay: That Barnes & Noble Dream: Are Popular Histories Vapid? (Slate, 5-18-05) "In short, professional historians select their areas of research not by looking at history but by surveying the historiography—the ongoing debates among scholars about what are often highly refined or technical points of a subject—and then staking out a new sliver of the established academic terrain....Although we need critics who will expose the perils of the historical blockbuster trend and show us more substantial ways to think about the past, we should also recognize the two modes have different functions, different aims."
• Writing for review: Prepping pundits to painlessly publish peer-reviewed papers, Part 1 (Geoffrey Hart, An American Editor, 4-7-21) How editors can help authors prepare their manuscripts for peer review (also useful for authors!). And Part 2 (4-20-21) Things to expect during peer review and how to respond to peer review. See also Hart's Writing for Science Journals: tips, tricks, and a learning plan.
• What Constitutes Peer Review of Data? A Survey of Peer Review Guidelines (Todd A Carpenter, Scholarly Kitchen, 4-11-17) Peer review of data is similar to peer review of an article, but it includes a lot more issues that make the process a lot more complicated.
• Why do academics choose useless titles for articles and chapters? Four steps to getting a better title. (Patrick Dunleavy, London School of Economics, 2-5-14) "An informative title for an article or chapter maximizes the likelihood that your audience correctly remembers enough about your arguments to re-discover what they are looking for. Without embedded cues, your work will sit undisturbed on other scholars’ PDF libraries, or languish unread among hundreds of millions of other documents on the Web."
• Textbook Publishers’ Changing Product Strategies (Sean Wakely, Academic Author Advisors, 11-24-14) Companion piece to series on ("Forming a Publishing Relationship," 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."
• The Pandemic Hasn’t Stopped This School District From Suing Parents Over Unpaid Textbook Fees (Ellis Simani, ProPublica, and Kim Kilbride, South Bend Tribune, 12-12-2020) ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.
• Community Action Publishing (CAP): Broadening the Pool (Richard Poynder, Open and Shut, 11-4-2020) "We are today seeing growing dissatisfaction with the pay-to-publish model for open access. As this requires authors (or their funders or institutions) to pay an article-processing charge every time they publish a paper it is felt to be discriminatory, especially for non-funded researchers and those based in the Global South." (Article processing charges (APC) and Book processing charges (BPC) are payments Open Access (OA) publishers charge an author or her/his institution to cover various publishing costs.) "As a result, various alternative approaches are emerging intended to move away from APCs, including crowdfunding and membership schemes. Here institutions are asked to commit to paying an annual fee to a publisher, with the aim of pooling sufficient funds to cover the costs of making all the papers in a journal open access." Etc. Worth a look.
• Industry Notes: AAP Flags Declining U.S. Student Spending on Textbooks (Porter Anderson, Publishing Perspectives, 9-12-19)“The statistics make it clear that students are taking full advantage of the new, cost-effective options that publishers have made available, which has led to a significant decline in student spending....Twenty-one percent of students surveyed said they preferred print with a digital component, which includes print books with online access or support, making the category the second most popular option."
• Authors, Keep Your Copyrights. You Earned Them. (Authors Guild, 8-13-15) 'Most trade publishers do not ask for an outright assignment of all exclusive rights under copyright; their contracts usually call for copyright to be in the author’s name. But it’s another story in the world of university presses. The problem is that most academic authors—particularly first-time authors feeling the flames of “publish or perish”—don’t even ask.' See The Authors Guild Fair Contract Initiative. Academic authors often feel they have no choice but to accept those terms as it is "publish or perish" in academia.
As AG member Bert Krages recently wrote: "Signing over your copyright is a bad proposition, even if the contract has a provision stating that the copyright will be returned to you once the book goes out of print. The reason is that if the press sells or otherwise transfers ownership to another party, that party will own the copyright free and clear of any obligation to return it to you or pay you royalties. On the other hand, if you retain the copyright and license it to the press, then even if another party assumes ownership of the contract, that party is still obligated to comply with the terms of the publishing agreement. Publishers don't have a compelling business need to acquire the author's copyright. A license gives the publisher every freedom it needs to profit from publishing the book."
• Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, a documentary about the hidden costs of academic publishing and the need for open access to research and science.It dives into the need for open access to research and science, questions the rationale behind the $25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit academic publishers, examines the 35-40% profit margin associated with the top academic publisher Elsevier and looks at how that profit margin is often greater than some of the most profitable tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google. It "argues that “academic publishers are burdening the higher education market, contributing to the rising tuition fees at all universities . . . and, ultimately, limiting science and progress.”
• University of California boycotts publishing giant Elsevier over journal costs and open access (Alex Fox, Jeffrey Brainard, Science, 2-28-19) “It’s hard to overstate how big [UC’s move] is for us here in the U.S.,” says Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a Washington, D.C.–based group that advocates for open access. “This gives institutions that are on the fence about taking this kind of action a blueprint.” For more on Elsevier's price-gouging and behavior about Open Access, see Open access, open science--and how to identify predatory OA publishers.
• Forming a publisher relationship (Sean Wakely, TAA Online, blog of the Text and Academic Authors Association, 11-20-14). A three-part series:
---The acquisitions editor (Wakely, TAA, 9-4-14) Address editors knowing what their needs are.
--- 3 Steps for submitting your project (Wakely, TAA, 11-20-14)
--- 6 Strategies for building rapport (Wakely, TAA, 1-15-15)
• Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA)
• Academic & textbook writing grants offers grants to both members and nonmembers that "provide reimbursement for eligible expenses directly related to bringing an academic book, textbook, or journal article to publication."
• White papers, working papers, research articles: What’s the difference? (Denise-Marie Ordway with Matthew Baum, Journalist's Resource, 5-3-18)
• Calvin & Hobbes cartoon, The Purpose of Writing
• How to tell good research from bad: 13 questions journalists should ask (Denise-Marie Ordway, Journalist's Resource, 3-21-17)
• The Book Proposal Book: A Guide for Scholarly Authors (Laura Portwood-Stacer, Princeton UP's Skills for Scholars series). "The scholarly book proposal may be academia's most mysterious genre. You have to write one to get published, but most scholars receive no training on how to do so―and you may have never even seen a proposal before you're expected to produce your own.
• 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.
• Textbook contracts: How to determine a good royalty rate offer (Textbook Authors Association, 5-18-09) Read and absorb the comments from 5 "experts" before signing your contract!
• Academic Ethics: Should Scholars Avoid Citing the Work of Awful People? (Brian Leiter, Chronicle of Higher Education, 10-25-18)
• The Coming Copyright Clash in Higher Education (CopyCense, 11-1-12) With college costs in the stratosphere, nonprofit higher education institutions are being questioned about "authorizing salaries of $1 million or more for their presidents and chancellors." "[T]uition often is the main – sometimes the sole – source of a college’s income. Most schools pay all their costs from that sole stream of tuition income." "One other significant cost colleges and universities incur is the cost of scholarly publication....The scholarly publication business process begins with a system – fully supported by higher education institutions – that demands “high impact” publication as a condition of achieving the holy grail of academic tenure" High impact means "that the academic work must be published in a very specific, narrow set of journals." "Many of these 'high impact' journals, once independent, have been absorbed into larger, multinational, publicly-held corporations. In that absorption, these journals’ primary purpose underwent an important evolution. Instead of knowledge dissemination, profit became the journals’ primary purpose. These profit pressures have led to a steady increase in subscription rates over the past three decades." "Increasingly, institutions are saying “Don’t pay whatever price a journal wants for access to an article.” At the same time, though, the institutions have changed nothing in their tenure criteria so that scholarship outside of “high impact” journals and teaching count as much toward a favorable tenure recommendation as publication in a 'high impact' journal." Food for thought.
• Writing for a Mass Audience as an Academic (Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, 5-11-18) Professors explain why it's hard to write online. They’re not wrong.
• The Needless Complexity of Academic Writing (Victoria Clayton, The Atlantic, 10-26-15) In academia, unwieldy writing has become something of a protected tradition.
• 10 point guide to dodging publishing pitfalls (Times Higher Education, 3-6-14) Veteran academic authors share their hard-won tips. E.g., go first to a first-tier academic publisher, for the peer review. Geared to British reader, but invaluable advice if your book is geared to academic publishers. (Authors: Richard J. Evans, Tim Birkhead, Jos Boys, Barbara Graziosi, Martin McQuillan, Susan Bassnett, Alan Ryan, Cary Cooper)
• How a Digital Textbook Initiative Achieved Liftoff (Mark Lieberman, Inside Higher Ed, 5-2-18) Indiana University wants other institutions to absorb insights gleaned from its fast-growing digital textbook initiative. "Under the inclusive access model, publishers offer their content on a digital learning platform for significantly less than the cost of a physical textbook. Instructors choose before the beginning of the semester whether to secure and assign an etext. If they do, students pay the lower cost as a required course fee, in exchange for access to the textbook for the entirety of their academic career at Indiana."
• The Authors Guild Calls on Cengage to Treat Authors Fairly (AG, 8-23-19) "For the second time in a little over a year, Cengage has been sued by a group of textbook authors. The authors are pursuing a class action lawsuit against Cengage for violating the terms of their contracts by unilaterally changing their payment structures from a traditional per-sale royalty to a relative use share, thereby lowering their income dramatically. We applaud the lawsuit and hope that the class is certified.
When Cengage launched its Cengage Unlimited digital subscription service for students, it changed its payment basis to relative use of an author’s title as compared to other titles in the same revenue pool, instead of paying the author a traditional per-sale royalty provided for in the publishing agreement. Cengage made this change knowing full well that it was violating its terms with authors.... Cengage argues that the new model—which gives its subscribers access to a group of titles for a flat fee (per semester, per year, or per two-year period)—is necessary today because students are not buying expensive textbooks....Taking money from authors without their say is not the proper way to address changing markets. It’s theft."
• How Academics Survive the Writing Grind: Some Anecdotal Evidence (Helen Sword, Literary Hub, 9-7-17) "The bottom line is that it tkes most academics a long time—whether at the front end of the writing process, at the back end, or both—to produce high-quality work. Apprentice academics may regard the enormous effort involved as a symptom of their own inadequacy, especially if they have been led to believe that writing is supposed to be easy.
"From the cadence of a paragraph to the structure of a book, I learned, stylish academic writers sweat the details." They think about elegance, concision, structure, voice, identity, clarity, accessibility, vocabulary, syntax, agency, audience, telling a story, "the big picture." They even think about visual issues such as typography, pagination, and layout." On each of these topics you'll find thoughtful, helpful, well-expressed brief advice from various writers.
• How a Literary Agent Views Academic Books (Rachel Toor interviews Susan Rabiner for Chronicle of Higher Education, 7-14-19). Rabiner is co-author of Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction – and Get It Published, which explores how to think through a serious nonfiction book (and to understand an editor). "Their book lays out in blunt, unvarnished prose how to write a proposal that will win over editors and shows why 'because it's interesting' is never reason enough to get someone to buy a book." An invaluable Q&A about writing a serious nonfiction book.
She says: If "you don't understand the need to make an argument in scholarly writing, you don't understand scholarship. That's what my many years as a university-press editor taught me. Young scholars have difficulty getting a precise handle on exactly what argument entails because it refers both to how you move through facts to reach a conclusion and to the conclusion you reach — as in, 'What argument does the book make?'...argument is also what allows even the most densely intellectual material to be successfully shaped and structured into a narrative — which is another way of saying it provides the connective thread that takes the readers from facts to resolution in a way that holds their attention, indeed keeps them wanting more."
"So what makes a scholarly work commercially viable? Two things: the strength of the narrative and, even more important, whether the proposed book has explanatory power to answer the questions disturbing us today. The subject matter can be as old as time. The topic can be one that has been written about again and again. But the message has to be about something that matters now."
• What's happening to academic freedom
• 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.”
• Academia: in the upside down of publishing (Eiko Fried) To simplify: Taxpayers pay the salary of most researchers, but researchers spend a considerable amount of time working for free (as writers, reviewers, editors) for academic mega-publishers who make a ton of profit, so they have less time for their research. We also give much of that taxpayer money set aside for research, and give it to scientific publishers. Yet, while most research is funded by taxpayers, most research papers are not available to the taxpayers or scientists; research is usually hidden behind paywalls of scientific publishers. Universities ‘rent’ subscriptions to journal (subscription fees totaling about US$10b a year globally) but most labs cannot afford subscription fees.
• 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 (McNees round-up of articles on Elsevier and other big science publishers' fight against the Russian woman who put many science articles online free, where people who could not afford pricey science journals could access them. 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." As of June 2017, Elsevier et al. won $15 million in damages from Alexandra Elbakyan.
• 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."
• The Dangers of English as Lingua Franca of Journals (Mary Jane Curry and Theresa Lillis, Inside Higher Education, 3-13-18)<
• "May your manuscripts be accepted, your syllabuses respected, and your Oxford commas unmolested."~Academia Obscura (Facebook page)
• 10 point guide to dodging publishing pitfalls (Times Higher Education, 3-6-14) Veteran academic authors share their hard-won tips, from the British viewpoint--but in principle many of them apply for U.S. academic presses also.
• 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)
• Undisclosed Conflicts of Interests among Biomedical Textbook Authors. (Piper BJ, Lambert DA, Keefe RC, Smukler PU, Selemon NA, Duperry, PubMed. 2-5-18) An appreciable subset of biomedical authors have patents and have received remuneration from medical product companies and this information is not disclosed to readers. These findings indicate that full transparency of financial pCoI should become a standard practice among the authors of biomedical educational materials.
• 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)
• On Not Writing a Book Right Now (Chandra Manning, Chronicle of Higher Education, 5-14-17) Sometimes we book writers go to the well and it's dry. "Ultimately, for a spring to start bubbling up and refilling your well, you need a good question. In particular, you need the kind of question that just won’t let you go, not necessarily because its importance or relevance is obvious to anyone else, but because you feel like you need — really need — to discover an answer to it."... "Marathons, childbearing, and writing require neither superpowers nor excessive alarmism, but they do demand a willingness to admit that forces more powerful than oneself are sometimes in control of things."
• 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)
• 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.
• 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.
• Higher 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 (Geoff-Hart.com, on his useful Resources page.
• 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)
• The Death of an Adjunct (Adam Harris, The Atlantic,4-8-19) Thea Hunter was a promising, brilliant scholar. And then she got trapped in academia’s permanent underclass.
• 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.
• There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Adjuncts (Caroline Fredrickson, The Atlantic, 9-15-15) Students are paying higher tuition than ever. Why can’t more of that revenue go to the people teaching them?
• The Adjunct Underclass: How America’s Colleges Betrayed Their Faculty, Their Students, and Their Mission by Herb Childress
• How to Fix the Adjunct Crisis (Sara Matthiesen, David Perlmutter, Terry McGlynn, and Jennifer Ruth, Four Views from the Tenure Track, Chronicle of Higher Education, 5-30-18) "If you think that paying someone $1,500 (or less) and no benefits to teach a semester-long course has no impact on the value of your job because you’re on the tenure track, you are simply wrong." "Treating talented professionals badly is industrially foolish and budgetarily short-sighted."
• Professors in the Gig Economy: Unionizing Adjunct Faculty in America ed. by Kim Tolley. The Uber-ization of the classroom and what it means for faculty.
• How the Right Weaponized Free Speech (Joan W. Scott, Chronicle of Higher Education, 1-7-18) An incisive critique of how the right has wielded “free speech” as a weapon against academic freedom and in favor of the corporate university. "The right’s reference to free speech sweeps away the guarantees of academic freedom, dismissing as so many violations of the Constitution the thoughtful, critical articulation of ideas; the demonstration of proof based on rigorous examination of evidence; the distinction between true and false, between careful and sloppy work; the exercise of reasoned judgment. To the right, free speech means an entitlement to express one’s opinion, however unfounded, however ungrounded, and it extends to every venue, every institution."
• Abstract (TAA blog)
• Chronicle of Higher Education blogs (The Ticker, Wired Campus, Profhacker, Lingua Franca)
• The Chronicle Review For example: "The New Humanities: Once-robust fields are being broken up and stripped for parts."...even as traditional majors like English and history are indeed shrinking, the past decade has also seen the rise of a new kind of humanities, including a wave of hybrid fields such as the digital humanities, environmental humanities, energy humanities, global humanities, urban humanities, food humanities, medical humanities, legal humanities, and public humanities."
• Explorations of Style (Rachael Cayley's blog about academic writing)
• Get a Life, PhD (sociology professor Tanya Maria Golash-Boza) "Succeed in Academia and Have a Life Too"
• GradHacker (Inside Higher Education blog to build community among graduate students)
• James Hayton (see page listing blog contents)
• Nick Hopwood
• Oxford Editing
• Patter (Pat Thomson's blog, "sound advice with a dash of whimsy" (e.g., on writing for journals)
• PhD Comics (Jorge Cham)
• PhD Talk (Eva Lantsoght)
• Research Voodoo (Katherine Firth -- some categories: academic writing, hyper-anxiety and academic honesty series. the doctoral journey, voodoo, working in higher education, writing the article series)
• The Research Whisperer ("like the Thesis Whisperer– but with more money")
• The Scholarly Kitchen
• Scholars Talk Writing (an excellent series!)
• Science in the Open (Cameron Neylon)
• The Thesis Whisperer
• Writing for Research (Patrick Dunleavy) See, for example, How to write a blogpost from your journal article
Lying is done with words and also with silence." ~ Adrienne Rich*
“Don't let your boy's schooling interfere with his education." ~ Mark Twain
• Textbook and Academic Author Association (TAA) (the organization to join if you're writing textbooks)
• Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts by Stephen A. Gillen (48 pages)
• Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW)
• Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP, provides community, opportunities, ideas, news, and advocacy for writers and teachers of writing.)
• Teachers and Writers Collaborative (TWI, a New York group whose volunteers boost the teaching of writing, the educating of imaginations)
• National Association of Science Writers (NASW) , for popular and academic authors (but not about academic publications)
• PLoS, a nonprofit organization of scientists committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature freely accessible to scientists, researchers, educators, and patient advocates. One of PLOS’s goals is to show that open access publishing is a sustainable way to publish peer-reviewed research.
• Open Library of Humanities (OLH), website provides background to, and rationale for, OLH's vision of building a low-cost, sustainable Open Access future for the humanities.
• Public Books An American book review website that publishes accessible reviews written by academics and public intellectuals. Its mission: to publish writing that is erudite without being esoteric and brings scholarly depth to discussions of contemporary ideas, culture, and politics. We publish one essay or interview a day, five times a week. Explore the site: sections of essays, interviews, and podcasts, organized and findable by (e.g., sections (e.g., anthropology & religion, capitalism, children's & Ya literature, climate change, global black history, speculative fiction, systems and futures, TV, urbanism, and video games) and by series (e.g., the big picture, crisis cities, an engineer reads a novel, and B-sides, or great books that time forgot).
• A Taxonomy of University Presses Today (Roger C. Schonfeld, Scholarly Kitchen, 10-13-16)
• University Presses Are Thriving, Not Broken (John Warner, Inside Higher Ed, 10-1-18)
• Closing the Gap Between University Presses and Libraries (Lindsay McKenzie, Inside Higher Ed, 10-18-18) Two leading university presses are changing the way they sell their digital collections to libraries -- cutting out the middlemen. Will others follow suit?
• Will E-Books Feed University Presses — Or Eat Them? Part 1 (Karin Wulf, Scholarly Kitchen, 7-30-19) What roles are e-books now playing, and what roles will they play, in scholarly disciplines for which books are a primary, often the apex, scholarly form? The first of two posts about e-book publishing and university presses.
• Scholarly E-Books and University Presses, Part 2 (Karin Wulf, Scholarly Kitchen, 8-6-19) The second of two posts on the roles of e-books in scholarly publishing, focused on how e-books fit into the mission and the business model of university presses. :As mission-driven, not for profit organizations, university presses are dedicated to the production and dissemination of scholarship. For the field of scholarly communications, it’s important to understand where university presses stand in relation to commercial publishers, but also the space that books occupy as opposed to journals....Rather than a complement, which might imply subsidiary, I see e-books and aggregated digital content as equally important to print for scholarly books," writes Lisa M. Bayer of the University of Georgia Press. John Sherer writes: "At one of the last O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conferences I heard a smart person say, 'The page is no longer primary.' For most of our customers, print books are still primary. But university presses operate in a file-based ecosystem....I think 10 years ago we all imagined we were converting from vinyl to CD and we’d sell e-books instead of print books. But we were actually going from vinyl to Spotify, with a robust market for analog."
• 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.”'
• Stanford Moves to Stop Supporting Its University Press (Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Education, 4-29-19) Scholars question decision -- particularly as it comes from one of the world's wealthiest universities and will limit publishing by a highly respected press. "The Stanford press actually brings in about $5 million a year in book sales, a sum that is impressive compared to sales of many scholarly publishers. But it has also depended on support from the university, which in recent years has provided $1.7 million annually."
• Authors, Keep Your Copyrights. You Earned Them. (Authors Guild, 8-13-15) 'Most trade publishers do not ask for an outright assignment of all exclusive rights under copyright; their contracts usually call for copyright to be in the author’s name. But it’s another story in the world of university presses. Most scholarly publishers routinely present their authors with the single most draconian, unfair clause we routinely encounter, taking all the exclusive rights to an author’s work as if the press itself authored the work....the copyright grab remains endemic among university presses...And yet every author we know of who requested to retain copyright was able to get the publisher to change the agreement. The problem is that most academic authors—particularly first-time authors feeling the flames of “publish or perish”—don’t even ask.' See The Authors Guild Fair Contract Initiative. Academic authors often feel they have no choice but to accept those terms as it is "publish or perish" in academia. 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."
• How a Digital Textbook Initiative Achieved Liftoff (Mark Lieberman, Inside Higher Ed, 5-2-18) Indiana University wants other institutions to absorb insights gleaned from its fast-growing digital textbook initiative. "Under the inclusive access model, publishers offer their content on a digital learning platform for significantly less than the cost of a physical textbook. Instructors choose before the beginning of the semester whether to secure and assign an etext. If they do, students pay the lower cost as a required course fee, in exchange for access to the textbook for the entirety of their academic career at Indiana."
• Rights and contracts for academic authors (another section on Writers and Editors website)
• Citation and reference styles (on footnotes, endnotes, documentation) (for trade books--those published outside academia, by Knopf, etc.)
• A Farewell to Ibid (Cathy Hannabach and Sarah Grey, ACES, 4-26-19) The Chicago Manual of Style (the bible for book copyeditors) has released its 17th edition. CMS is retiring ibid., the abbreviation (short for Latin ibidem, or “in the same place”) used to tell readers that the endnote or footnote they’re looking at refers to the same source as the previous note. Ibid. has confused generations of young readers. Now: use shortened citations on repeats. Some of us oldies will miss Ibid.
• Citation Style Chart (PDF, OWL, Purdue Online Writing Lab) A side-by-side comparison of APA, MLA, and CMS styles. Download the Adobe Acrobat Reader (free) to read PDFs.
• How to Cite an Author and Editor in APA Style (Joan Whetzel, Pen & the Pad, 4-17-17) The American Psychological Association (APA) requires in-text citations tied to a List of Works Cited and is specific about how it wants sources cited.
• Council of Science Editors Documentation Style (The Writing Center, U of Wisconsin-Madison)
• MLA Formatting and Style Guide (OWL, Purdue Online Writign Lab)
• The Complete Guide to MLA & Citations (Citation Machine)
• Style Manuals and Citation Guides (PDF, Sam Stevens and Emily Werrell, Duke University) Guidelines for undergraduates, graduates, and professionals, in various disciplines, forms of publication, etc. An excellent overview, guidelines, and bibliography.
• Citation boosting, manipulation, and the "impact factor" (a mini-section under Academic Publishing, not-to-be desired approaches)
• Macros and software for references, citations, footnotes and endnotes Reference management systems automatically renumber references when they are moved around but endnotes need to be finalized before importing from Word to InDesign (design software).
Design of references
• All About Footnotes and Endnotes with InDesign (carijansen.com)
• InDesign scripts (Peter Kahrel), including this: Various foot- and endnote tools, including Convert footnotes to endnotes
• Citation and Reference Styles (footnotes, endnotes, documentation--elsewhere on this website)
• Macros and software for references, citations, footnotes and endnotes (elsewhere on this website)
• 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.”
• Citation Performance Indicators — A Very Short Introduction (Phil Davis, The Scholarly Kitchen, 5-15-17)
• Footnotes, Endnotes, & References: Uses & Abuses Rich Adin, An American Editor, 3-29-10) A philosophy of citations.
• Title Suppression from Journal Citation Reports . What Journal Citation Report measures to consider if a journal is citation stacking.
• Citations, self-citations, and citation stacking (Editor Resources, Taylor & Francis) Citation metrics, the impact factor, self-citations, and citation stacking.
• When a Journal Sinks, Should the Editors Go Down with the Ship? (Phil Davis, The Scholarly Kitchen, 10-6-14) "The equivalent of a shipwreck happens each year as Thomson Reuters suspends dozens of journals from the Journal Citation Report (JCR)–an annual publication that reports the Impact Factor for thousands of titles–for engaging in publication behaviors that distort the citation record. This year, 38 titles were suspended from receiving an Impact Factor: 23 for high levels of self-citation and 15 for “citation stacking” an ambiguous label to what most would consider unambiguously as a citation cartel." "Is there a way to target those who are responsible for gaming the system without punishing innocent authors?" And he proposes a system. Do read the comments.
• When your opinions conflict [with] your employer’s position on open access (Heinrich Mallison, SpotOn, 10-17-12)
• Somewhat off-topic:Macros etc. for finalizing references, citations, footnotes and endnotes
• Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). This is the opposite of the "blacklist" of predatory journals (Beall's List); it is a "whitelist," a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
• Beall's List of Predatory Journals and Publishers (it was down; now it is up again!) Predatory publishers claim to have a working peer review, but actually it's either not present or it's substantially flawed. Along right side see links to related categories.
• Prestige Journal Publisher, Nature, Slaps Scientists In The Face (Steven Salzberg, Forbes, 12-7-2020) A few weeks ago, 'the publishers of Nature announced that they will charge authors €9,500 ($11,500) to publish a paper as open access, meaning readers can get the paper without a subscription. They called this, without a trace of irony, their “gold open access option.”...What’s truly outrageous is that they’re asking for this payment from a community that does all the work for them for free. If Nature is going to treat scientists like suckers, it’s time we stopped playing along....All of this–the scientific experiments, the writing, and the reviewing–is done for free, from the journal’s perspective. Journals then publish the papers behind a paywall and charge fees to anyone who wants to read them. Not a bad deal for them: virtually all the labor is free. Scientific journals, most of which are owned by a small number of large, for-profit publishers, are very, very profitable.... Rather than a move to support open access, this new fee is little more than a money grab.' See also How Prestige Journals Remain Elite, Exclusive And Exclusionary (Madhukar Pai, Forbes, 11-30-2020) "The problem with the publishing industry goes well beyond the latest Nature announcement. There is growing frustration within the scientific community about the current publishing model which clearly serves the publishers by delivering them outrageous profit margins. But does the model work well for tax-payers, funders, universities, and scientists who do the actual science? A majority of scientists, funders and universities would argue the current model is not working for them and is ready for disruption....
• Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science? (Stephen Buranyi, The Guardian, 6-27-17) "...The way to make money from a scientific article looks very similar, except that scientific publishers manage to duck most of the actual costs. Scientists create work under their own direction – funded largely by governments – and give it to publishers for free; the publisher pays scientific editors who judge whether the work is worth publishing and check its grammar, but the bulk of the editorial burden – checking the scientific validity and evaluating the experiments, a process known as peer review – is done by working scientists on a volunteer basis. The publishers then sell the product back to government-funded institutional and university libraries, to be read by scientists – who, in a collective sense, created the product in the first place....It is an industry like no other, with profit margins to rival Google – and it was created by one of Britain’s most notorious tycoons: Robert Maxwell."
• Investigating journals: The dark side of publishing (Declan Butler, Nature, 3-27-13) The explosion in open-access publishing has fuelled the rise of questionable operators.
• ArXiv (Open access to 1,625,070 e-prints in the hard sciences: physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering and systems science, and economics)
• To Catch a Predatory Publisher (Bill Sullivan, PLoS blogs, 10-4-17) "What separates a predatory publisher from a legitimate science publisher? Both charge you large sums of money for you to do all the work, but the latter employs a rigorous peer-review process that ensures the articles they publish have been properly vetted. Sting operations have revealed that predatory journals will publish absolute gibberish, proving they are phonies who just want to make fast cash." See also Retraction Watch
• The “problem” of predatory publishing remains a relatively small one and should not be allowed to defame open access (Tom Olijhoek and Jon Tennant, London School of Economics, 9-25-18) "The investigation and many press releases and media attention suggest a link between predatory publishing and open access publishing, or at least traditional publishing models and research integrity." "To Tom Olijhoek and Jon Tennant, the profile afforded to investigations of this type causes some to overstate the problem of predatory publishing, while often discrediting open access publishing at the same time. The real problem here is one of education around questionable journals, and should not distract from more urgent questions around the shifting scholarly ecosystem."
• A New Kind of ‘Big Deal’ for Elsevier (Lindsay McKenzie, Inside Higher Ed, 11-22-19) 'Carnegie Mellon University has signed an open-access deal with Elsevier -- the first of its kind for the publisher in the U.S. Instead of paying separately to access Elsevier’s catalog of paywalled content and publish open The deal means that starting on Jan. 1, 2020, all principal investigators publishing in Elsevier journals will have the option of making their research immediately available to the public, at no additional cost.-access articles in Elsevier journals, Carnegie Mellon will pay one flat fee for both. The “read-and-publish” deal is a first with a university in the U.S. for Elsevier...[which] struck a similar deal with a consortium of Norwegian research institutions earlier this year.'
• Coalition of 125+ Scientific Research and Publishing Organizations Sends Letter to Administration (Association of American Publishers, 12-18-19) More than 125 Scientific Research and Publishing Organizations Join Together in Opposition to [Trump's] Proposed Administration Policy Forcing Immediate Free Distribution of Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles.
• Paywall Watch Reporting wrongly paywalled articles.
• How to Access Paywalled Scientific Journal Articles (Beth Skwarecki, Lifehacker, 7-11-18)
---Open Access Button (Avoid Paywalls, Request Research--available through this website or as a browser extension)
---Unpaywall (an open database of 22,463,209 free scholarly articles, harvested from Open Access). Get the extension.
---PubMed (health and medicine-related articles). If the paper is available through PubMed Central, there will be a link. You’ll also often find a link to the paper where it lives on the journal’s website, and some of these are free anyway.
---Google Scholar Search through Google Scholar. If there’s a free full text version available, it will be listed in the right-hand column of the search results. Or do a search for the authors--their name plus the name of their institution should get you to the right person--and see whether they link to their papers.
• The 10 Principles of Plan S (DOAJ, 9-11-18) The key principle of Plan S is: “After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.” (These principles only cover Europe and focus on science and that they may not be applicable on all continents or to the humanities.)
• Elsevier are corrupting open science in Europe (The Guardian, 6-29-18) Elsevier - one of the largest and most notorious scholarly publishers - are monitoring Open Science in the EU on behalf of the European Commission. Jon Tennant argues that they cannot be trusted. "First, Elsevier has a notorious history of campaigning against openness in order to protect its paywall-based business.... Second, many EU member states are currently turning against Elsevier due to its anti-open business practices, high and ever-increasing prices, and dangerously powerful size as a commercial publisher....The European Commission should remove Elsevier as sub-contractor and look into better options such as an independent group with no conflicts of interest. It is time to stand up to these ruthless mega-corporations before they corrupt Open Science."
• Open Science MOOC (founded by Jon Tennant--a mission-driven project to help make ‘Open’ the default setting for all global research) See its box on "Why Open Science."
• 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 Journals Hit by 'Star Wars' Sting (Neuroskeptic, Discover, 7-22-17)
• Avoiding Predatory Publishers in thePost-Beall World: Tips for Writers and Editors (PDF, Ray Hunziker, Journal of the American Medical Writers Association, Vol. 32: 3, 2017, pp. 113-15) Made public access by AMWA because of demand.
• Some journals say they are indexed in DOAJ but they are not DOAJ is the Directory of Open Access Journals.
• Why do authors publish in predatory journals? (Serhat Kurt, Wiley, 1-18-18) Four main themes: social identity threat, unawareness, high pressure, and lack of research proficiency.
• 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).
• 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.'”
• Charles Oppenheim Asks How Big a Problem Are Articles That Should Be OA but End Up Behind Paywalls (Scholarly Kitchen, 5-15-17) Oppenheim investigates a report on Ross Mounce’s blog about commercial scholarly publishers failing to make freely available open access articles for which the authors paid a hefty article processing charge. He interviews people at Paywall Watch, which published Are commercial publishers wrongly selling access to openly licensed scholarly articles?, which says: "The question really boils down to: Who owns the copyright to the article? And did the copyright holder grant permission to Elsevier for commercial use?" The "Paywallwatch site has recorded instances, especially by Oxford University Press, Wiley and Elsevier, of such problems."Authors of those articles rightfully claimed refunds, but readers paid for access to open access articles (which limited the audience for the articles). Retraction Watch interviews patient advocate and open-access advocate Graham Steel, the editor of Paywall Watch, about How upset should we get when articles are paywalled by mistake? Among other things, retractions are also often behind a paywall.
• Diamond Open Access, Societies and Mission (Robert Harington, Scholarly Kitchen, 6-1-17) Of the many varieties of OA journal, Gold OA has taken root as the primary model, but is less than a perfect model, and sits alongside Green OA, emerging as a flawed alternative to Gold. And then there is Diamond OA, a form of Gold OA that does not include a requirement for authors to pay article processing charges (APCs). The economics of society and journal funding.
• 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)
• A listing of predatory academic journals and publishers. (an open source list)
• 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."
This is really just a place to link to interesting, persuasive, or well-written articles and even paragraphs that don't fit other categories. '
• Common Reasons Nonfiction Books Don't Sell (Jane Friedman, 11-2-2020) Not a big enough platform? don't have recognized authority or credentials on the topic? the idea or story doesn't resonate? your target audience is too wide and amorphous? the writing isn't good enough?
"Not every nonfiction book requires a platform. For example, it's conceivable to sell a memoir without a platform; some agents and editors consider memoir the same way they consider a novel. A platform is nice for memoir, but not always necessary if the story premise resonates in the current market and is compellingly written.
"It's also possible (if not probable) that a smaller or independent publisher would be willing to take on an unknown author with solid credentials and a strong book idea or manuscript, especially the project is a great fit for the mission of the press. Academic or university publishers will likely be most concerned with degrees, credentialing and research—credibility among one's peers—rather than platform."
• Economists are more like storytellers than scientists – don’t let the Nobel for ‘economic sciences’ fool you (Carolin Benack, The Conversation, 10-10-2020) Being "aware of the similarities between economists and novelists helps us to better evaluate the claims they make. Both are telling stories. Understanding that empowers us to judge the credibility of what they’re saying for ourselves....without the novel first teaching us how to deal with worlds that are not technically true but still believable, theoretical models might not exist in the way they do today."
• "One tried-and-true biographical format is chronological: the subject is born on page one, and the story ends with mourners. Or, less conventionally, a writer can reverse the chronology, starting with the subject’s death and working back toward birth, as the late Edmund Morris did in Edison. But Zachary Carter, in his life of the economic philosopher John Maynard Keynes, decided to kill his subject partway through the tale....Carter argues that a thinker of Keynes’s caliber lives on through his intellectual legacy. “I knew I wanted Keynes to die early. I wanted to explore how his ideas had changed over time.”
Zachary 'Carter credits his wife and his editor with aiding his transition from financial journalist to biographer, helping him “stop writing so much for financial professionals and academics” and focus on the book’s tone, accessibility, and rhythm. Journalism sometimes needs bombast to “break through the clutter of celebrity,” Carter said. “You can’t just write a beautiful sentence and let it be. But in a book, you don’t have to hit the reader over the head. You can be an artist.”'~ Jane Lincoln Taylor, Shaping a Biography, The Biographer's Craft, Nov. 2020.
• Who Really Lost Iraq? (Dominic Tierney, The Atlantic, 1-21-16) Obama didn’t turn victory into defeat. There was no victory.
• When ideology or special interests hijack science topics (Susan D'Agostino, National Association of Science Writers, Nov. 2019)'“It’s our job to try to evaluate the world around us, decide what’s true, and then disseminate that,” said panelist Tamar Haspel, a columnist for the Washington Post who writes about food and health. However, she added that “confirmation bias rules the human psyche.” That is, individuals are often partial to arguments that resonate with their preexisting values and affiliations. Science training and education often exacerbate the problem. That is, Haspel reports, that those with more education are often more adept at confirmation bias....Haspel noted that changing minds does not often resemble a Hollywood-style “ah-ha!” moment. Rather, minds typically change from hard-and-fast positions as part of a slow process that involves listening with humility.'
' “Universities present themselves as great bastions of liberal humanistic values,” said panelist Beryl Benderly, a prize-winning journalist and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She quickly added that, in reality, universities are “systemic exploiters on a massive, massive, disgraceful scale of cheap labor and the aspirations of idealistic young people.” The latter is a fact-based assessment of universities’ swelling ranks of contingent faculty who do not earn living wages and doctoral students who serve as cheap labor before graduating into flooded job markets. In citing the false narrative put forth by university administrators and tenured faculty, Benderly did not suggest that they lie with intention. Rather, all panelists emphasized human adeptness in dismissing information that conflicts with one’s own worldview.' [Emphasis added.]
• By Heart (The Atlantic) Authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature.
• The harsh reality of non-fiction writing (Mark Medley, Globe and Mail, 2-27-15, updated 2015) For a Canadian writer, "For a lot of serious non-fiction, the audience is maybe 3,000 to 5,000. And that is not going to earn a large advance." An academic job helps; the magazine industry (traditionally "both incubator and funder") is in decline. Finding an American publisher helps.
• Poverty isn't a lack of character; it's a lack of cash (Rutger Bregman, TED Talk, April 2017) He makes the case for guaranteed basic income.
• 19 Surprising Facts I Learned When I Became a Dad (Dave Mosher, Business Insider, 6-19-17) No. 7. Loud noises can damage a foetus' hearing. No. 8. Babies open their eyes inside the womb and can see light from the outside.
• It’s not pain but ‘existential distress’ that leads people to assisted suicide, study suggests (Ariana Eunjung Cha, WaPo, 5-26-17)
• Understanding Islam (Matt Davies, video of a lecture, 1-10-16--Part 1 of 3). See also Part 2 of 3 and Part 3. (H/T Pat S., who said, "This is the best exposition of Islam I've seen.")
• The lonely journey of a Palestinian cancer patient (William Booth and Sufian Taha, WaPo, 5-26-17) "The Israelis can refuse permits to younger family members, especially males, for security reasons. Doctors at the Victoria hospital said sometimes even mothers and fathers can be denied permits to accompany their sick children."
• Born Before Stonewall (Barry Yeoman, Medium, 6-1-17) "This month marks the 48th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, a defining moment in the struggle for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender equality. LGBTQ Americans still face isolation and discrimination. But we in the Baby Boom are also helping redefine what it means to grow older."
• Touching the Void: Making Sense of Russian Jews’ Views on Russian News (Danielle Tcholakian, New York Jewish Life, 6-1-17) "Soviet immigrants tend to favor the Republican party in national elections, balking at the “big government” elements of the Democratic platform that resemble socialism—welfare, immigration, access to healthcare and education. Love of Trump, as a paragon of free-market capitalism, makes sense. But how is that reconciled with those same immigrants’ distaste for Russian President Vladimir Putin..."
(trade authors hoping to earn royalties from book publishingvs. academic authors who want broadest possible free distribution)
• 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. "However, if you are an academic, or scorn the idea of making a living from writing as a quest for “fame and fortune,” the Authors Alliance may be the organization for you. If you think, in our digital age, that the biggest problem facing authors is how hard it is to give your work away for free, it’s for you. If you think you’ve got too much power over people who copy and distribute your work without your permission, by all means sign up....It’s an astroturf organization. It was not organized by authors, nor is it governed by them. The four directors are Berkeley academics. The executive director and her right-hand-woman are law professors who have made many proposals to reduce copyright protections for authors and restrict remedies for infringement. (I take that wording from the writings of Prof. Samuelson.) As Samuelson stated in Publishers Weekly, the organization is intended to represent the interests of authors who don’t write for a living—academics and hobbyists. See my comments below on the financial interests they represent, and how they are at odds with those of authors who write for a living."
The Authors Guild 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. "AG’s feelings about a group that supports access to information by the masses should come as no surprise given its lawsuits against both Google and the Hathi Trust for scanning and digitizing rare works that have been locked away in academic libraries all this time....Authors Alliance co-founder Pamela Samuelson gave an interview to Publisher’s Weekly that very clearly illustrates how the organization isn’t even on the same radar as the Authors Guild, instead planning to advocate for authors who are interested in making their works available on a widespread, no cost basis [that is, free]."
How to write better personal essays
Great examples of personal essays
Other types of essays
Essays on modern love
• The Silver Age of Essays (Phillip Lopate, Paris Review, 8-3-21) Lopate's new essay anthology, The Contemporary American Essay, collects works by forty-seven American writers that exemplify the diverse styles and subject matters explored within the form throughout the past twenty-five years. In his introduction, the editor and writer Phillip Lopate considers the boom of literary nonfiction amid times of uncertainty.
“When the century began, essays were considered box office poison; editors would sometimes disguise collections of the stuff by packaging them as theme-driven memoirs. All that has changed,” writes Phillip Lopate.
• Nailing the Personal Essay (by Adair Lara) She writes in particular about the elements and structure of the narrative essay. Often the structure of the essay is a story (with these elements: character, problem, struggle, epiphany, and resolution). The character is you. In an essay, the moment of change is an epiphany (what magazines call the payoff, or take-home point).
• How I Won My Third Essay Contest (Tammy Delatorre on Jane Friedman's blog, 4-24-19), Excellent on the process of revising an essay from "almost won" to winning status -- and getting to the heart of the matter.
• Michelle Nijhuis’s Brief Guide to Writing Reported Essays (The Open Notebook, 2-23-16) By the author of The Science Writers' Essay Handbook: How to Craft Compelling True Stories in Any Medium.
• Craft Essays (Brevity, several helpful essays on the craft of writing essays). For example, in The Ethics of Empathy: Techniques for Portraying Antagonists in Contemporary Memoir, Wendy Staley Colbert explores seven techniques for portraying antagonists in such a way that readers feel both empathy and antipathy for them, after quoting Vivian Gornick: "In all imaginative writing, sympathy for the subject is necessary not because it is the politically correct or morally decent posture to adopt but because an absence of sympathy shuts down the mind...For the drama to deepen, we must see the loneliness of the monster and the cunning of the innocent."
• Revising the Personal Essay – 8 Tips to Self Edit for Success! (Amy Paturel, on Beyond Your Blog, 4-18-16). “Watch for throat clearing in your opening. Most early drafts come with at least three lines of throat clearing that can easily go...” and "As an essayist, your job is to move beyond the personal and capture the universal." See also her piece 8 Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Writing Personal Essays (Paturel, Beyond Your Blog, 1-25-16)
• Essay Daily (a blog and a filter for, and an ongoing conversation about, essays and magazines of interest, #EssayDaily). Great blogrolls: Homes for the essay; Essays and Resources. Here's a sample: Deep Roots (Thinking About “Koreans With Guns”) (Julija Šukys, Essay Daily, 12-8-18) The text for this essay about an essay (Sam Cha's "Koreans with Guns") is only 619 words long, but the 61 footnotes total 2695 words. The real essay is in the footnotes. "Cha reminds us that the real story often lies buried, hidden from the surface. You have to excavate to find it. You have to dig for nuance." "In the end, what does an essay about a shopkeeper shooting a young girl in 1991 have to do with a mass college shooting in 2007? What connects these two events beyond the fact that both shooters were Korean?"
And do look at the many essays contributed to The Midwessay: The Midwest Essay.
• In Defense of Themelessness (Randon Billings Noble, Brevity, 4-23-19)
• Reflections on Writing the Short Essay: Hesitations and Possibilities (Vanessa Calderon, Casey Dawson, Grant Dufrene, et al, Essay Daily, 2-4-19)
• How to conquer the dreaded college application essay (Emmet Rosenfeld, Wash Post Magazine, 11-13-16) Good before and after examples, showing how essay improved.
•650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing (New York Times, 10-20-16)
• 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) Newspapers need " reporters and writers to provide the emotional reality of the news, for it is the emotions, not the facts, that most engage and excite readers and in the end are the heart of most stories."
• 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 5 Worst Kinds of Freelance Writing Jobs (Carol Tice, Make a Living Writing) and Get Paid to Write: 26 Sites That Pay Freelancers $100+ (also Carol Tice) come to the same sad conclusion: Writing personal essays is not a reliable way to feed the family for most writers.
• 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."
• What Makes a Great American Essay? (Phillip Lopate, LitHub, 11-17-20) In his new anthology, The Glorious American Essay: One Hundred Essays from Colonial Times to the Present, Lopate says, “I wanted to show a wide variety of formal approaches, since the essay is by its very nature and nomenclature an experiment.”
• Claire Messud in Praise of the Essays That Dwell in Uncertainty (LitHub) The author of Kant's Little Prussian Head recommends five essential collections.
• Can the Essay Still Surprise Us? Suzanne Conklin Akbari Rethinks a Eurocentric Tradition (LitHub, 8-14-2020) Washuta and Warburton tell of the basket woven by the Suquamish elder Ed Carriere “through which he told and contained the story of his life.”
• 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 meaning out of our narratives—because that's what essays are supposed to do. Otherwise, we might as well try our hands at short stories."
• How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell. An interesting modern take on Montaigne, including his essays, which Sarah B. puts in historical context. I listened to this and then bought the paperback, so I could go through the book more thoughtfully.
• 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
• 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)
• 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.
• 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."
• 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 (StudentScholarshipSearch.com)
• 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
• 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)
• 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)
• The Right Amount of Real (Natalie Villacorta, Essay Daily, 9-23-19) Here’s how the form’s namers, Deborah Tall and John D’Agata, describe the lyric essay:
'These "poetic essays" or "essayistic poems" give primacy to artfulness over the conveying of information. They forsake narrative line, discursive logic, and the art of persuasion in favor of idiosyncratic meditation.
'The lyric essay partakes of the poem in its density and shapeliness, its distillation of ideas and musicality of language. It partakes of the essay in its weight, in its overt desire to engage with facts, melding its allegiance to the actual with its passion for imaginative form.'
• In Praise of Ambiguity: The Lyric Essay in 2019 (Zoë Bossiere & Erica Trabold, Essay Daily, 3-4-19)
• The Next American Essay (ed. John D'Agata). "A literary tour of lyric essays written by the masters of the craft."
• A Braided Heart: Shaping the Lyric Essay by Brenda Miller, Tell It Slant, in Creative Nonfiction Journal, 3-17-14)
• In Praise of Ambiguity: The Lyric Essay in 2019 (Zoë Bossiere & Erica Trabold, Essay Daily, 3-4-19)
• 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)
• My Semester With the Snowflakes (James Hatch, Medium, 12-21-19) 'A 52-year-old military vet starts Yale as a freshman & finds that his peers don't fit the "snowflake" stereotype created by Fox News. Stereotypes collapse when we leave our bubbles & have challenging but respectful conversations." @openculture
• Fifty Things About My Mother (Laura Lynn Brown, Slate, 5-9-14) She liked to stay and watch the credits. (Orig. published in Iowa Review.)
• Object Lessons An essay and book series about the hidden lives of ordinary things, from Hancocks to flames, negatives to typings. For example, Candy Land Was Invented for Polio Wards (Alexander B. Joy, The Atlantic, 7-28-19) A schoolteacher created the popular board game, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, for quarantined children--for whom it was a welcome distraction, which gave immobilized patients a liberating fantasy of movement.
• How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee, an essay collection exploring his education as a man, writer, and activist—and how we form our identities in life and in art.
• It came from the sewers of London: the utterly disgusting (yet fascinating) fatberg (Joanna Scutts, Nieman Storyboard,4-12-18) In The New York Times Magazine's quirky "Letter of Recommendation" column, Nicola Twilley examines the charms of the "fatberg" -- 'a “monstrous subterranean clot the length of 22 double-decker buses with the weight of a blue whale,” born in the sewers of London.' "The main challenge of the column, Staley finds, is narrative momentum, finding an arc that allows readers to “settle in” to a story. Although 900 words isn’t long, it’s too long to just hear writers simply wax rhapsodic about something they love — it’s not an advertisement, after all, but a hybrid form of the personal essay."
• Let’s Just Lie on the Floor and Scream Together (Jess Zimmerman, Slate, 10-31-2020) Until Election Day, and then after that, too. (Jess's super-honest reaction to life under Trump and in a pandemic)
• 50 Amazing Examples of Short Memoir Essay Writing (The Electric Typewriter) Links to short memoirs by famous essay writers. See also 150 Great Articles and Essays
• The Surprising Story of Eartha Kitt in Istanbul (Hilal Isler, Paris Review, 10-1-18) Do listen to Eartha Kitt singing Üsküdar’a Gider İken” (YouTube), mentioned in the essay (and a good argument for sound-and-visual effects).
• Questionnaire for My Grandfather (Kim Adrian, The Gettysburg Review, Winter 2009) Essay in the form of a questionnaire, disguising a checklist of events and factors that shaped one family's personal history, often in negative ways.
• This is what happened when I Googled “morning after pill” (Abigail Rasminsky, 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."
• Midlife Crisis, Averted (Judith Wagner, Opinionator, NY Times, 6-19-08) 'I’d learned to speak — to emit opinions and to argue them — at the dinner table. Night after night, starting in my late childhood, it was me and my father locked in combat, fighting for the definition of my world. “At least they’re talking to each other,” my mother would tell her friends.'
• 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.
• Neil Armstrong's Words—No, Not Those Words—Have Stuck With Me All These Years (Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, 7-20-19) Read the piece, then this analysis: Romancing the moon in the reality of time (Trevor Pyle, Nieman Storyboard, 8-15-19) Pierce shines light on the "historical transcendence" of the moon landing by framing it in a darker context.
• I, Rodent (Maud Newton, The Awl, 1-5-16) Read it and then read 5(ish) Questions: Maud Newton and her science-meets-personal-essay “I, Rodent” (Kari Howard talks to Maude Newton about writing her essay, Nieman Storyboard, 8-10-17). The writer talks about her touching piece in The Awl, in which she intersperses disturbing facts about genetic engineering with her lifelong identification with mice. “I kept trying to finish the essay, but the end wasn’t congealing. Eventually I asked myself, What am I avoiding here? What am I embarrassed to reveal?”
• As A Native American, Here’s What I Want My Fellow Americans To Know About Thanksgiving (Corinne Oestreich, Huffpost, 11-22-18)
• Kids (Lisa Renee, Hairpin, Medium, 6-9-17) Looking for small, irrational, incompetent, freeloader roommates with rage issues and separation anxiety? Have kids.
• 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 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.
• Trash, the Library and a Worn, Brown Table: The 2019 College Essays on Money (Ron Lieber, Your Money, NY Times, 5-9-19) Each year, we ask high school seniors to submit college application essays they’ve written about work, money, social class and related topics. Here are five that moved us.
• 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)
• Hand Hobbies: A Resource Guide to Writing Basics (Michele Wheat, Whistband Express, 3-25-19) H/T LouAnne Taylor and her awesome Junior Scouts, who wrote,"It covers everything from inspiration and outlining all the way to editing and proofreading, plus great resources to continue research."
• Wonder Farm: my handy-dandy process for helping kids write nonfiction based on other sources (notes from a home-schooling mama)
• The Nonfiction Minute (blog posts for students and teachers)
• Interesting Nonfiction for Kids (I.N.K.). Rethinking nonfiction for kids.
• Teen Ink (By Teens, For Teens) A site/community for young writers.
• The Young Writers Society
• Teaching ideas (for teaching nonfiction writing and literacy)
• 5 Ways to Lift the Level of Non-Fiction Writing (Leah Mermelstein)
"A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people." ~Frederick Douglass
• 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).
• Generally, publications want to see the whole essay -- queries don't make sense because "pulling it off" is as important as the idea for the essay, if not more so. The quality of the writing is particularly important for literary essays.
• The pay range for essays is on the low end of the spectrum, from nothing (for essays published in most literary journals) to 50 cents a word for essays published online to up to $2 a word for personal essays in print publications. For essays published in journals, one hopes to publish enough essays to eventually put together and publish a collection. Whatever you do, do not give up your copyright to the essay.
• Paying Markets for Personal Essays (Carol Celeste's excellent links, Writing to Heal, Writing to Grow)
• If you're an essayist, said a speaker at an ASJA-DC conference, don't blog an essay that you hope to get published as an essay--it will be considered published already. Instead, use your blog as your 'semi-public playground.'
• Duotrope (a subscription-based service for writers and artists that offers an extensive, searchable database of current fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art markets, a calendar of upcoming deadlines, a personal submission tracker, and useful statistics. After a 7-day free trial period, subscriptions cost $5 per month or $50 a year.
• "Submittable 85 percent cheaper for members of CLMP (John Maher, Publishers Weekly, 12-9-19) The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses has negotiated a unique pricing plan for the use of Submittable by CLMP members. The plan, which costs $29/month or $290/year for up to 500 submissions per month, is priced at an 85% discount from Submittable's standard pricing.
• 19 Websites and Magazines That Want to Publish Your Personal Essays (The Write Life)
• Fifteen Paying Markets for Personal Essays and Life Stories (Chryselle D'Silva Dias, Writing-World.com)
• 5 Personal Essay Markets for Parents (Chantal Panozzo, Writer Abroad)
• Eight Good Markets for Writers Abroad, Part Two (Chantal Panozzo, Writer Abroad)
• 20 Great Places to Publish Personal Essays (Meghan Ward, Writerland, 9-20-11)
• Great Sites For Publishing Your Personal Essays (Part 1) (Susan Maccarelli, Beyond Your Blog, 5-3-15) and 10 More Great Sites For Publishing Your Personal Essays (Part 2) (Susan Maccarelli, Beyond Your Blog, 6-28-15)
• Tips to Help You Publish Your Personal Essays (Sheila Bender, Writer's Digest 3-11-08)
• Submittable (submission management software that manages millions of submissions for thousands of organizations).
Many publications ask that you submit through Submittable (widely used submission management software). See How do I submit?
---Aeon (a magazine of ideas and culture. "We publish in-depth essays, incisive articles, and a mix of original and curated videos.") Contact info for submissions.
---Blunt Moms (Honest. Direct. Surprisingly Hilarious.)
---The Bold Italic (focus on California's Bay area, looks for strong POV and compelling personal style)
---Boston Globe Magazine
---Brain&Life (compelling personal experience about living with a neurologic disease or disorder—or caring for a person who does)
---Bustle (gear to women and lifestyle stories)
---Catapult (American and international fiction and nonfiction)
---Christian Science Monitor (The Home forum seeks upbeat, personal essays from 400 to 800 words and short poems)
---Club Mid (about life in the "messy middle")
---Coffee + Crumbs ("stories about motherhood, love, truth, and the good kind of heartache")
---Dame (for women who know better)
---Essay Daily. See excellent list and links to "Homes for the Essay" along lower right (gathered in three categories: Journals, Books & Chapbooks, Essays & Resources).
---Extra Crispy (about breakfast, brunch, or the culture of mornings)
---Full Grown People (the other awkward age)
---Kveller (about Jewish parenting)
---Lives (the New York Times magazine series of incisive personal essays or as-told-to-accounts)
---Modern Love (New York Times, 1,700 words max, a highly desired place to publish an essay)
---Motherwell (telling all sides of the parenting story)
---Narratively (original, untold true stories, told boldly)
---New Statesman America (rarely accept freelance)
---On Being (essays, columns, poetry, and more)
---Possibility of Change
---The Rumpus (a platform for marginalized voices and writing that might not find a home elsewhere; stories that build bridges, tear down walls, and speak truth to power)
---Slate (pitch to the appropriate section)
---Slice Magazine ( short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry--fresh voices)
---The Sun (celebratory, fierce, unflinching, thoughtful, truthful, dark, darkly funny, tender")
---Tin House (alas, this fine literary magazine has stopped publishing essays)
#Midwessay: the Midwest Essay has a long list of venues for the essay along the right side of its website.
• I Know My Grandma Loved Me. But In Another Life, She Wouldn’t Have Had My Mother. (Jess Zimmerman, Buzzfeed News, 9-14-21) A beautiful example of an essay that probably needed to be long.
• These Precious Days (Ann Patchett, Harper's, Jan. 2021) Ann Patchett's long, absorbing story/essay about the friendship that develops during the COVID-19 pandemic when Patchett offers to host Sooki Raphael, the actor Tom Hanks' assistant, in her home in Nashville, while Sooki is treated for advanced pancreatic cancer.
• Sidney Award winners (Hillman Foundation links to the winners) a monthly journalism award given out by The Sidney Hillman Foundation to "outstanding investigative journalism in service of the common good." It is awarded to work published in an American magazine, newspaper, on an online news site or a blog or a broadcast by an American television or radio news outlet. It focuses on deeply reported investigative work that has impact.
• The Sidney Awards Wikipedia's helpful links to the monthly winners of the Hillman Foundation's Sidney awards.
• Sidney Award winners for 2020 (David Brooks, opinion writer for the New York Times, 12-24-2020) Brooks has his own set of Sidney Awards, awarded annually, for the best long form essays.In 2004 Brooks created an award to honor the best political and cultural journalism of the year. Named for philosopher Sidney Hook and originally called "The Hookies," the honor was renamed "The Sidney Awards" in 2005.
The Brooks Sidney Awards are presented each December, announced in the New York Times. See awards for 2020, 2019, 2018 (part 1) and part 2 2017 (part 1) and part 2, 2016 (part 1) and 2016 (part deux), 2015 (part 1) and 2016 (part 2), and so on.
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. Read From ‘Lives’ to ‘Modern Love’: Writing Personal Essays With Help From The New York Times (Katherine Schulten, Lesson Plans, NY Times, 10-20-16)
Here are some examples from Modern Love:
• An Optimist’s Guide to Divorce (Elizabeth R. Covington, 11-24-17)
•We Didn’t Have a Plan, but the Baby Did (Carlos Kotkin, 6-12-14)
• 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.
• Write Useful Books (Rob Fitzpatrick) Smart analysis of what works and what doesn't, for someone who put his own advice to a test. This page alone is worth spending time on, but this page leads to a gold mine of good advice. Which I came to through word-of-mouth, one of the best strategies for finding readers. Buy his book, but while you wait, here below are some nuggets from his practical wisdom.
• Writing a book? Get better reader feedback that goes beyond the typos. (Rob Fitzpatrick, Writing Useful Books) Rob "wrote a short book called The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you to teach entrepreneurs to ask for better customer feedback. In its first month, it earned a paltry $535. Six years later, thanks to steady word of mouth, it passed $10k in monthly royalties and has continued to grow from there....Help This Book nudges your readers with a set of high-value reactions to reveal where they are becoming confused, bored, or loving it. It's a simple change that hugely increases both the quantity and quality of feedback....We aren't trying to change where you write; only to improve how you get feedback....to create something truly useful, impactful, and potentially even life-changing.
See also Fitzpatrick's Don’t bet your book's success on “winning the PR lottery” How to unlock long-term organic growth by designing around a strong Recommendation Loop. "Word of mouth can carry nonfiction to success in two wildly different ways....Firstly, your book must make a clear promise about what it will accomplish for the reader. It should be delivering a result, not just ruminating on a broad topic. Use beta readers: "Before anyone can recommend your book, they need to have read it, loved it, and received massive value from it."
• Alex Hillman's Hard-Won Business Lessons Distilled Into a Pocket Guide The Tiny MBA didn’t start as a book, it started on Twitter as a response to a challenge.
• April Dunford on Nailing Positioning. (Rob Fitzpatrick, Write Useful books) "Treating the book like a product...She did about 50 cust. dev. interviews and started seeing patterns after 15. E.g. She learned that most founders find books because they are recommended to them. And that most founders only make it half-way through. This motivated her to make the book short (3h read) and focus on word of mouth as an important channel. It also further strengthened her convictions of not going with a publishers because they assumed she needed to be in bookstores."
• Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee. "[Draft No. 4 is] not a general how-to-do-it manual but a personal how-I-did-it of richer depth―not bouillon cubes, but rich stock . . . McPhee lays it all out with the wit of one who believes that 'writing has to be fun at least once in a pale blue moon.'" ―Publishers Weekly
• Jeff Gothelf on Becoming Forever Employable. (Rob Fitzpatrick, Write Useful Books) "Small authors need to promote themselves. Engage in discourse and actively try to market the book. Just like growing vegetables, you need to start working on this long before you want to eat....I like to write about problems that people are gonna have for a long time. What isn’t gonna change over the next 5 to10 years."
• Alex Hillman's Hard-Won Business Lessons Distilled Into a Pocket Guide (Rob Fitzpatrick, Writing Useful Books) Starting with Tweets, he wrote a tiny, useful book (The Tiny MBA), a 40m read. Not only is that valuable for busy people (like entrepreneurs) but he positioned it as such by framing that as a positive value proposition. He had success with podcasts as well as advertising in small, relevant newsletters, “micro-influencers”--people with an audience of 500-1000. See also his Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters (Rob Fitzpatrick, Writing Useful Books) Why so much “right advice” fails to stick and how to teach better.
• If you like his posts, check out Rob's YouTube channel, "an ongoing series about identifying the ideas that are a BAD fit for you, so that you can happily either adjust or reject them until finding something that suits your strengths and goals."
• Why most nonfiction fails to make money (Rob Fitzpatrick, Writing Useful Books) Four royalty-wrecking blunders & how to fix them. "Savvy authors have recently been choosing to self-publish their first ten thousand copies and then transition afterwards into a publishing deal. This preserves full royalties from the early sales (which you hustled on your own in either case) and then allows you to negotiate with publishers from position of strength since your book is already proven."
• 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
• Books and articles on the craft of narrative nonfiction
• Guide to Genealogical Writing by Penelope L. Stratton and Henry B. Hoff
• 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)
• So You Want to Publish a Book? by Anne Trubek. Concrete, witty advice and information to nonfiction authors, prospective authors, and those curious about the inner workings of the industry. See also her How to Write an Email Well Enough to Land a Book Deal (Anne Trubek with Practical Advice on What Works, LitHub,7-28-2020)
• 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 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)
• Writing Nonfiction: Turning Thoughts into Books, by Dan Poynter (his guide to self-publishing, repackaged).
• 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.
• Biographers International Organization (BIO--holds a great annual conference, publishes an excellent online newsletter)
• International Association of Professional Ghost Writers
• Nonfiction Authors Association (NFAA, Stephanie Chandler's organization, "an educational community to monetize your author business"), which attracts members with its free reports for authors annual Nonfiction Writers Conference. See directory of local chapters and blog.
• Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI
• Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA)
• Vixens of Non-Fiction (a Facebook group that promotes and advocates for women non-fiction writers)
• Washington Biography Group and other biography groups
• Western Writers of America, Inc. (freelance writers of Western fiction and nonfiction)
• Major writers organizations
• Regional and specialty organizations for journalists
• Organizations for medical, health, and science writers
• Organizations for corporate, government, and technical communicators
• 6 Questions to Help Nonfiction Writers Find Their Niche (Erica Meltzer on Jane Friedman's blog, 9-11-18) How saturated in your market? Where are the niches? Are any successful titles self-published, and so on.
Groups I know little or nothing about:
• National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE)
• National Résumé Writers Association (NRWA)
• Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches (PARW/CC)
“Book sales in the UK hit record levels in 2019, driven by a surge in audiobook and nonfiction titles, according to new figures released as publishers warn of the huge impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the industry....In an age of often unreliable sources, people are increasingly looking to books for trusted information and are reading nonfiction voraciously across formats,” Hachette chief executive David Shelley told the Publishers Association."~ Alison Flood, Book sales hit record highs in 2019, but publishers ‘now need help’ (The Guardian, 7-22-2020)
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).
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)'
• 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.
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
Literati.net (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://www.newyorker.com/archive/2003/03/24/030324crbo_books1.
Top 5 Reasons Nonfiction Authors Should Be Speakers, Too (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, 11-12-12)
Top Ten Works of Journalism of the Decade, 2000-2009 (NYU Journalism Institute)
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.”