Friday, January 6, 2017

The Literary Losses & Gains Of 2016

You probably are done with the bombardment of annual lists – reviews of 2016, best of this, worst of that prediction for the New Year.  But here’s a list that might not have gotten enough attention:  the great writers lost in 2016.

It seems we lost a lot of Hollywood and musical celebrities, including:  Florence Henderson, Prince, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Alan Hickman, Natalie Cole, George Michael, Abe Vigoda, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Kennedy, Gary Shandling, Patty Duke and Merle Haggard.  The sports world lost Gordie Howe, Muhammad Ali, Joe Garagiola, Monte Irvin, Jose Fernandez, and Arnold Palmer.  But the literary world took a hit with the losses of:

·         Harper Lee – Pulitzer Prize-winning best-selling author, To Kill a Mockingbird
·         Pat Conroy – best-selling author with books – turned movies The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides
·         Elie Wiesel – Nobel Peace Prize-winning author of 57 books
·         James A. McPhersonn – first Black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize
·         Gloria Naylor – National Book Award-winner for The Women of Brewster Place
·         Leonard Cohen – great musician was also a poet and novelist
·         Richard Adams – author of best-selling children’s classic Watership Down; has won Britain’s most prestigious children’s book awards

How should we honor these writers?

·         Read their books
·         Share them with others
·         Keep their words alive
·         Live out their ideals
·         Write about them
·         Dedicate your writings to them
·         Borrow from their writing styles

Great writers come and go all of the time. If an author can be talked about by the generation after their death, that’s an accomplishment.  Few authors get read or discussed a century after their expiration date.

2016 not only marks the loss of writers, but of those involved in the making, marketing, and selling of books.  There are no lists to capture great book editors, excellent book marketers, bookshop owners, or terrific librarians or English school teachers.  But I have no doubt we lost hundreds or thousands of them in 2016.  Let’s honor them as well.

This past year we also have lost things- books were banned, some were denied access to reading what others can read freely, and some writers were threatened by others if they dared publish their truths, ideas, and experiences.  We lost out on a full, free exchange of writing, and for that we should mourn 2016.

There were bookstores that closed their doors this year.  There were publishers that went bankrupt or got consumed in a merger.  There were literary agents who retired or died.  There were book reviewers who got axed because of cutbacks at their publications.  There were cuts to the number of print pages covering books.  Some publications even folded. Let us reflect on these losses as well.

There were manuscripts lost to fire, theft, moving and accidents.  There were digital files hacked, lost or destroyed that could’ve been published. There were libraries that closed or had fires.  There were valuable or rare books that got stolen, lost, or damaged.  Let us think of what is no more.

But so much was gained in 2016 – new authors got published for the first time, great books got recognized by critics or awards, some amazing books became best-sellers, book sales were solid and more bookstores opened than closed.  New readers came to be, and the battle against censorship, illiteracy, and cutbacks in funding for the arts were waged with some successes.

Yes, in the book world 2016, like all other years and in all of life, tallied up wins and losses.  Let’s honor the successes, learn from the failures, and seek out great things for 2017!

All-New 2017 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit 

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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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