For me, summer means travel — cross-country car rides and long lay-overs, peaceful hikes and glorious evenings away from home with (hopefully) a bit more time to relax. All this makes for a great time to catch up on podcasts. Although I’m still loyal to my old favorites, which focus on short SFF fiction and writing advice, I’ve been trying to learn more about the business side of things. So here are a few recommendations that give insight into the minds of agents, editors and publishers:
This is my new favorite podcast. Rarely do you hear authors openly talk about money, yet hosts Sunyi Dean and Scott Drakeford arm writers with the data and dollar figures needed to have more realistic expectations about the very fickle publishing industry.
Even rarer is their (and their guests’) candid discussion of success AND failure. What happens when you get dropped by your agent, your publisher does nothing to market your book, your sales come in much lower than expected or an obscure clause in your contract comes back to bite you? This podcast offers helpful advice on how to prevent, pivot or at least laugh at such bumps in the road.
For writers who wish editors would just tell them WHHhhhhyyyyyy they’ve rejected their latest masterpiece, may I present this new show on YouTube. As a moderator reads submissions, Apex editors raise their hands at the point they would stop and reject, then explain their reasoning. Scary brutal stuff? Yes, sometimes. But also amazing and enlightening, too. There are six episodes so far, but I’m hoping for many more.
The past few years in publishing have been a tumultuous time to say the least. Covid closures, mergers, lawsuits, strikes, shortages and scandals have dominated industry headlines and sent many a curveball to authors. This podcast gets into it all in the form of two experienced literary agents having a candid and timely happy-hour conversation.
Spending years writing your 100,000-word opus only to realize that no one will buy it unless you can effectively summarize it in a single sentence is a horrifying realization many authors experience. What sets this long-running writing podcast apart from so many others is how it helps you do just that by reading and critiquing query letters, as well as a novel’s opening pages. Listening to real-life examples is a wonderful way to translate advice into action.
So this show on YouTube isn’t about publishing, but I’ve included it anyway because it’s sort of related and just plain hilarious. As the name suggests, How It Should Have Ended skewers lazy writing by shining a light on plot holes, cliches and obvious-yet-unexamined consequences of story choices in recent and classic Hollywood films. The accompanying animation adds a lot, so this is one you should watch, not just listen to when you drive. Try not to laugh too hard.