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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Interview With Larry Light, VP of Mystery Writers of America

1. As the Executive VP of Mystery Writers  of America, what trends are you seeing in your genre? There is a definite trend toward e-books. The demise of Borders, which didn't take electronic publishing seriously, is a testament to that. Barnes & Noble, encountering its own financial challenges, has a hit with its Nook. That said, e-books are still just a fraction of books sold. That will change, although I expect print books will be with us for a long time because people like the look and feel of them. But fewer actual bookstores will be around to sell them.
2.  Where do you see book publishing is heading? The industry is gradually going digital. All the majors now publish electronically, and some independents have sprung up that do it exclusively. Competition from video games and the like has hurt book selling overall, but hard economic times are a factor, too. Once decent prosperity returns, book sales should benefit. The heartening thing is that kids seem to like reading, giving us hope for the future. Thanks be to Harry Potter.

3. What do you love about helping writers grow their craft? Usually, your first manuscript is lousy. For me and many of my writer friends, it is a heady tonic to give someone advice, to point out weaknesses in his or her approach and make suggestions. Mystery Writers of America has started a new program called MWA University that in one day (a Saturday) covers the basics of craft: plot, character, dialogue, setting, on and on. The course, held throughout the country, costs only $50. There are many workshops like this, but MWA-U is the best I have ever seen. 

4. As a thriller writer, what advice do you have for struggling writers? Attend how-to sessions like MWA University. Read a lot -- know the classics like Hammett and Chandler, the modern masters like Elmore Leonard and Robert Parker, and the newer stars like Harlan Coben and Sandra Brown. Write all the time, and relentlessly edit yourself. Have an experienced novelist review your work. The big one: Despite the inevitable rejections, never give up. Learn from your mistakes and forge on.

5. You are also a financial journalist who has written for the Wall Street Journal. How would you compare the changes of the print media with the changes in the book publishing industry? At some point, everything in both industries will go to tablets. For the next five to ten years, though, both printed newspapers and books will be with us. I enjoy reading the printed formats because I grew up with them. The younger generation is more comfortable with the screen. And so it shall be.

16 Web Sites For Writers

You Think Twitter’s 140-Character Limit Is Hard?
Most of what’s posted on Twitter is probably stuff no one needs to know, such as where your friend is eating or that you’re annoyed about a late train.  But people manage to type things within the strict limitations imposed by Twitter’s 140-character demand.  Others can post memoirs using just six words.  Check out www.smithmag.net/sixwords.  Others can tell a story in six sentences. Just check out www.sixsentences.blogspot.com.

Need A Literary Agent?

Looking for a Writing Gig?
Check out job postings on these sites:


Need To Find Some Money?
A great site for finding writer grants, contests, awards, fellowships, etc. is www.fundsforwriters.com

Probably the mother of all writing-related things is www.WritersDigest.com and its sister sites www.digitalbookworld.com, www.writersmarket.com and www.writersdigestuniversity.com.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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