LA Times reports that beloved novelist Chuck Kinder, who was also the inspiration for the central character in Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, has passed away.
Kinder was regarded as a literary force with a larger-than-life personality, and published many titles, including Snakehunter, The Silver Ghost, Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale, Last Mountain Dancer: Hard-Earned Lessons in Love, Loss, and Honky-Tonk Outlaw Life, and last year’s Hot Jewels.
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Honeymooners was Kinder’s most popular book, and tells the story of two bad-boy writers, who were inspired by real-life friend Raymond Carver, and himself.
He was also famous for mentoring Michael Chabon when the Pulitzer Prize-winning author was still an undergraduate student in the 1980s. The late author was believed to be the inspiration for the character Grady Tripp, the disheveled, pot-addicted writer and professor in Chabon’s Wonder Boys (The character was portrayed by Michael Douglas in the 2000 adaptation).
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Kinder’s former student, novelist, and screenwriter, April Smith, praised her teacher, “[Kinder’s] work was and remains outstanding and fresh. He was a born storyteller with an instinct for myth, which was not exactly in favor compared to pared-down modernists like John Updike.”
Image via LA Times
Another former student, Carl Kurlander, posted as well, reminiscing about Kinder’s warmth and creation of a safe space for fellow writers during his 40 years as a teacher:
“When I first came back to Pittsburgh for what I thought would be a one year Hollywood sabbatical, I met a great teacher/writer/human being named Chuck Kinder who embraced me so warmly, it was one of the reasons I felt like staying.”
After a number of health issues including two strokes, a heart attack, and triple-bypass surgery, Kinder retired as the director of University of Pittsburgh’s creative writing program in 2014, and settled in Key Largo, Florida, with his wife, Cecily.
Kinder was seventy-fix-years old. He will be remembered by admirers and all whose talents he helped foster.
Writing can be a worthwhile profession, but some believe that it doesn’t pay as much as other jobs. New research shows that writers do make enough, but not just from writing.
Research conducted by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Study found that writers on average earn about £10,500 a year. While that number does seem small, the average writer’s household is more than £81,000 a year.
Why is that number so high? This is usually attributed to other sources of income, such as a second job by the writer or the income of their partner.
The Collection Study states that the reliance on other sources of income highlights a growing problem amongst the writing profession. Having to survive on additional sources of income can turn writing into an “elitist” profession. The Collection Study attributes this to a lack of diversity amongst the writing community.
“There is a danger of writing becoming an elitist profession which excludes new and diverse voices,” said Society of Authors chief executive Nicola Solomon. “This report should act as a wake-up call for the industry.”
What do you think about this? Is writing becoming an elitist profession?
Literary agents are the glue that hold the publishing world together—from shopping manuscripts at international book fairs, to negotiating the most lucrative publishing deals for their authors, to securing foreign publishing rights and film deals, they are the essential go-between, connecting authors with the industry.
But how does one become a literary agent? And just how crucial is the role of an agent to the career of a writer? We caught up with Trident Media Group’s Mark Gottlieb who answered all this and more!
q: How does one become a literary agent?
A: Book publishing was historically something of an accidental profession where people stumbled out of the humanities into book publishing. Although that has begun to change in recent years, even for those on the literary agent side of the book business. In recent years, more colleges have been offering undergraduate studies in book publishing. I attended Emerson College in Boston to study in their Writing, Literature and Publishing program, where I helped found the Undergraduate Students for Publishing club, as well as the small press at the school, Wilde Press. From there, I went to work at Penguin Books for a short stint, before coming over to the Trident Media Group literary agency.
Q: What does a day in your life look like?
A: You’re asking what a day in the life of Trident Media Group literary agent Mark Gottlieb is like? One of the things I love about being a literary agent is that there really is no average day in the life of a literary agent! Anything exciting can happen. I learned that my very first day at the job. It’s also very interesting and dynamic to be able to work with creative people such as authors. Certain things can be expected to happen on a regular-basis, though. For instance: reaching out to potential writers, reading/editing manuscripts, pitching books to publishers, negotiating book deals, contract review, pitching our books for film/TV adaptation in Los Angeles, pitching our books to foreign publishers from around the world throughout the year and at the London, Bologna and Frankfurt Book Fairs.
Q: You must get so many manuscripts and inquiries sent your way— what makes a manuscript stand out?
A: When it comes to fiction, the first thing I always look at as a literary agent is the hook contained within the pitch or query letter. As with the plot and character development, that’s really where the meat and potatoes of a story will be. From there, I turn my attention to the quality of the writing itself, in looking at sentences by-the-line. Lastly, I look at the comparative/competitive titles in doing some market research to see how similar books are performing in the book publishing landscape. In the case of nonfiction, I first look at the author’s platform before making an evaluation of the subject matter of the manuscript and the quality of the writing.
Q: The job of a literary agent is very diverse— from attending international book fairs, to dealing with foreign rights and audio book companies— do you have a favorite part of the job?
A: One of my favorite parts of being a literary agent at Trident Media Group is our regular meetings and yearly trips to Los Angeles, where we meet with studio heads, producers, managers, lawyers and agencies in Hollywood to get our books turned into movies or television shows. Some of our recent book-to-film/TV projects at TMG include: Dune (2020), The Passage (2019), A Dog’s Journey (2019), Wonder (2017), among many others.
Q: You’ve spoken of ‘interesting or comical’ occurrences at your agency Trident Media such as “Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi [coming] into the office with a box of cannoli for the staff”— what other instances come to mind?
A: I have seen lots of celebrity memoir clients around our offices. One of our newest clients is Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando in the original Star Wars franchise, in addition to many other roles!
Q: How important is the role of a literary agent to a writer’s career?
A: I would say that a literary agent is central to the career of an author. A literary agent will advocate for an author at every turn since literary agents exist to provide services to authors. Some of these services include but are not limited to: Book Sales, Editorial, Film and TV Sales, Foreign Rights, Contract Negotiation / Business Affairs, Accounting and Information Tracking, Audio Books, eBook Sales and Marketing, Publishing Management
Q: What have been some of your greatest achievements as an agent?
A: A search for my name, Mark Gottlieb among literary agents in places such as Publishers Lunch will yield my dealmaker page. There you will see over 150 book deals performed and some six-figure deals. I’ve previously ranked first among literary agents across book publishing in overall volume of deals and I’ve ranked just as highly in other individual categories by volume of deals. Along the way I have represented numerous bestselling and award-winning authors and have sold a number of projects into the book-to-film/TV market.
Q: What would be your advice for aspiring writers who might be ready to start sending out enquiries
A: Write a knock-out query letter to really grab the attention of literary agents and aim high: start from your top list of literary agencies and work your way down the list.
Mark Gottlieb is a highly ranked literary agent both in overall volume of deals and other individual categories. Using that same initiative and insight for identifying talented writers, he is actively building his own client list of authors in fiction and nonfiction. Mark Gottlieb is excited to work directly with authors, helping to manage and grow their careers with all of the unique resources that are available at leading literary agency, Trident Media Group. During his time at Trident Media Group, Mark Gottlieb has represented numerous New York Times bestselling authors, as well as award-winning authors, and has optioned and sold numerous books to film and TV production companies. Mark Gottlieb is actively seeking submissions in all categories and genres and looking forward to bringing new authors to the curious minds of their future readers.
If you are someone who already has a job that concerns writing then you know how many words a day you should be writing… but stick around! Hopefully, this will help you to write that novel, short story, or heck, even a how-to book, in the most time-effective manner.
Every day writers of all kinds—new to the scene or established and successful—ask the same question: “How much should I write each day?”
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It’s understandable, we all have our own lives, and different writing routines. It’s challenging to write a lot when you are in college, finishing up that term paper, and studying for finals while you are maintaining a job and a social life. I can’t imagine being a parent, especially taking care of younger children and trying to find the time to write an entire book. But people do it!
What’s the solution? Stop having huge expectations of yourself. Don’t give yourself an enormous daily word count to reach in order to feel like a legitimate writer. You don’t need to be Anne Rice who writes three thousand words a day or Stephen King, who writes two thousand.
IMAGE VIA PHOTO BY JOANNA KOSINSKA ON UNSPLASH
How many words should you write then?
First, set a goal for yourself, a realistic goal. The practical goal can be as small as fifty to a hundred words a day.
Math is not my strong suit but if you write fifty words five days a week, that adds up to 250 words, and within the year, 365 days cumulative would be 91,250 words.
A typical novel length is 55,000 words. To reach your big goal, you must be willing to travel in a thousand miles in small steps.
IMAGE VIA PHOTO BY JOHN JENNINGS ON UNSPLASH
And you cannot stop walking when your feet start hurting. Write in the morning, write in the evening before bed; it doesn’t matter, as long as you get the words on the page.
It doesn’t have to be at home that you write; you can write in your notes app on your phone while you commute to and from work. Take a walk, or walk your dog, to boost your creativity, since exercise does help out your hippocampus, thus producing creative fluids! Science is not my strongest suit either, it turns out suits are not really my thing, apparently.
Now that you finished reading close this window and open up that Word document and start writing! But of course, let’s not be too rash here, it’s best to meet your goal every day by marking it down on your calendars.
Ultron was a dick. Hal 9000 was a liability. Wintermute + Neuromancer= bad. The eternal struggle of man vs. machine has inspired a plethora of literature regarding the topic. If there is one thing we have learned from the cautionary tales of science fiction—it’s that artificial intelligence is probably not a good thing. Worst case scenario, human beings create self-aware machines that ultimately rebel and replace us as the dominant species.
The sometimes swift and other times comfortingly slow (if the predictions that exist in popular fiction are any indication) advancement of artificial intelligence has startled some of the greatest minds in history. People who rely on technology. Stephen Hawking wasn’t pleased, Bill Gates has expressed fear and Elon Musk once urged people at the highest levels of government to slow the f down. Still, no group of people has been able to better articulate the growing concern of artificial intelligence than writers. Stan Lee, Samuel Butler, William Gibson, Frank Herbert, H.G Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card, Ann Leckie, Martha Wells, and Mary Shelly; all of these writers and MANY more played with themes of technology and the danger of playing God.
Ironically, things have now come full circle. Writers are needed to aid with the development of Siri—the “chick” is a dial tone (I’m going to put every pronoun in quotes because she’s technically not a she). Apparently, the female-voiced ominous agent of societal collapse lacks relatability. In an article published on Thinknum Media‘s website, it was reported that Apple is looking to hire teams of writers and editors to help improve the way their virtual assistant, Siri, communicates. The goal is to make Apple’s low-key mischievious “madame” more engaging. Siri’s popularity is in peril as she lacks the amount of sports knowledge, anecdotes and incidental information necessary to succeed as an A.I. I guess people are just doing things themselves due to a lack of interest in Siri’s narrative? God/secular tyrants built by us forbid. The adjectives “witty” and “funny” were used to describe the way in which they would like “her” to be improved.
Thinknum Media has tracked hiring data over the past few months and found job posts that revolve around making the digital assistant more entertaining. Various job listings aim to recruit engineers with a deep knowledge of and appreciate for particular subjects; however, the top postings are of the literary variety—-a Siri Editorial Manager and an International Creative Writer, as seen above.
Siri, along with her cohorts Alexa and Google, have helped us play our favorite songs, schedule various appointments, and order food (for which we are forever grateful)…It’s worth mentioning that I am more of a Droid fan and have no idea what Siri is capable of…Should the literary community lend “her” a pinch of the quirkiness that is invaluable and unique to human beings? Maybe we owe it to “her.” I for one think that this particular form of magic should not be lent to a potential threat. The kind of magic that is often a beautiful result of chance or sometimes something that took hours of hair pulling, chain-smoking, and rewriting to lend to a fictional character conceived in our mind.
So I implore writers and editors reading this to harbor their wit. Don’t apply to those available positions. Save it for your friends, family members, and star-struck groupies who follow you on your book tour when you inevitability publish the next great cautionary tale of scientific corruption. Save it for the page.
…but if you are unemployed and REALLY need some income…I guess go for it. I mean I did apply; although this article probably offsets any good my brown-nosing cover letter did.
Featured Image Via Apple.com/Images Via Media.thinknum.com