You couldn’t make this up if you tried

A guy has been squatting on Patrick deWitt’s website (author famous for often looking like he’s just leapt from one timeline to another and is in the process of figuring out what year it is), holding it for ransom. The price? He wants deWitt’s publishers to read his manuscript. As you can imagine, the response from deWitt has been definitive: meh.

I shit you not. I am almost dehydrated from cry-laughing.

There are traditional ways to get a book published—pitches, queries, agents, enduring months and years of soul-crushing work and silence—and then there’s blackmail.

A writer is currently squatting on Patrick deWitt’s website, which they’ll return to the award-winning author if he reads their “very unpublished novel.”

The squatter has not identified themselves (they call themselves a “bad boy” on the contact page), but their demands and motivations are clear:

“Mr deWitt, If you want the site back, just let me know. I’m not trying to blackmail you, your producers, the publishing house or your literary agent. I just want y’all to read my manuscript.

“Oh fuck, I just realized that’s the dictionary definition of blackmail. Sorry, I guess I just meant I don’t really give a fuck about money.”

D&D as a foundation for being a storyteller

Cartoonist Jim Zub on how D&D made him the storyteller he is (audio). I have an article that’s similar (about foundational values) over at The Walrus. Daily I am amazed at how popular the game has become. I walk the streets freely now wearing D&D tshirts that advertise my geekiness for the entire world to see and never once to I experience name calling, stomach punches, wedgies, or even the dreaded “Read Admiral”. At least, not about D&D.

Jim Zub is an award-winning Canadian comic book writer who says he learned a lot about life — and found his future career — by playing Dungeons and Dragons as a kid. Now, he’s writing guidebooks as well as hosting a podcast about the role-playing game. He joined guest host Laurie Brown live in the q studio to talk about the effect Dungeons and Dragons has had on his career and why the game is exploding in popularity again.

On Marketing Books

Should the writer be thinking about marketing while writing? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Sorry, that was the poet in me laughing. This is me thinking about marketing after I’ve finished a poem: “I wonder if Mark will like it….”

Book marketing, generally speaking, falls on the shoulders of your publishing team. So while marketing shouldn’t be your primary focus, you do need to be mindful of it. In terms of your work’s “marketability,” I’ll explain it this way. An editor I knew would often speak of her desire to acquire books that hit a “sweet spot.” She meant that she was looking for books that checked off a number of desired categories. This could include hot trends and genres (think Fifty Shades of Grey and Gone Girl), as well as books that dealt with timely issues.

While that may be how she evaluated the books that crossed her desk, many writers don’t write thinking about sweet spots. That’s because the creative process is often messy and doesn’t always fit neatly into categories. Nor should it, IMHO.

America’s dirt gets dirtier each day

So, the American Dirt scandal has all the hens and roosters clucking. Even a few foxes. The publisher has tried to address the situation (though the letter goes off the rails) and has cancelled the book tour citing safety concerns. What a time to be alive. That says, the Guardian takes a highroad stance and offers an article on books you SHOULD read to understand Latinx culture.

I believe the publishing industry made a profound mistake publishing Jeanine Cummins’s wannabe narco-novel American Dirt. While we wait for the industry to change, here’s what to read if you really want to understand Latinx culture.