writing

How Self-Publishing Made One Author a Best-Seller

The Editors

"I wanted more control over not just the creative writing, but also the marketing strategy, cover art, and other business aspects of publishing. I grew frustrated being unable to make these decisions going the traditional publishing route," she says. "I'm both a writer and entrepreneur, and I'm enjoying more creative and financial rewards than I ever have." For Michaels, who says the initial idea of going indie was "taking a leap off a cliff and hoping you can fly before you crash," the resulting benefits have exceeded her expectations.

My Real Education at Berkeley

Andrew Lam

Yet if I didn’t learn how to write at Cal, it was certainly here that my literary life really began. A refugee boy from Vietnam at age 11, I barely spoke a word of English. I lived in a crowded apartment full of refugees where Mission Street ended and the working class of Daly City began. It wasn’t until I was a junior at Lowell High School in San Francisco, when a few of my Vietnamese friends were applying to Cal, that I first heard of the school. And I thought that maybe I, too, should apply. 

Messages in a Bottle: Listening to an Old Answering Machine

Andrew Lam

I bought my first apple computer at 20 when it was available at Cal for a steep discount, and because I was disenchanted with biochmestry, started writing, and I haven't stopped. In my box of college things, there are dozens of floppy disks whose contents contain amateurish writing of a broken hearted young man, but that, as they say, is another story. The answering machine was a novelty when I went to college in the mid 80's but has now become a relic, an oral journal of sort, going on history's shelf next to old postcards and the handwritten letters.

Why Ralph Ellison Still Matters

Greg Thomas

Never out of print since it became a best-seller in 1952, and winner of the National Book Award in 1953, Ellison’s fictional masterpiece is generally recognized as one of the most influential novels of the 20th century. This is the tale of the often slapstick (mis)adventures of a nameless African American protagonist whose blues-drenched, pinball-like journey from the South to the North and from rural to city not only mirrored the historical trajectory of black folk, but whose search for identity resonates, even today, with all.

Between the Covers with Wendy Lesser’s ‘Why I Read’

Lee Polevoi

As the founder and editor of The Threepenny Review, a prominent American literary magazine, Wendy Lesser is uniquely positioned to explore the pleasures and strategies of reading. In Why I Read, she embarks on a free-ranging and broad analysis of certain novels, stories, plays, poems and essays that have resonated with her over a lifetime of reading. “ … When I ask myself why I read literature, I am not really asking about motivation,” Lesser writes. “I am asking what I get from it: what delights I have received over the years, what rewards I can expect to glean.” 

Philip Schultz and the Perceived Conundrum of the Dyslexic Writer

Kara Krauze

When we think of failure, our thoughts do not first adhere to beauty, emotional truth, and the deep resonance that introspection allows; the timbre of an experience that can call to us in life’s darkest hours be they night or despair. But this is precisely what poet Philip Schultz’s work pulls forth, whether poems such as those in his collection Failure winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, or Schultz’s beautifully told account of his childhood in the “dummy class” and life as an adult with a learning disability in My Dyslexia.

A Decline in Black-Owned Bookstores Signals a Worrisome Publishing Trend

Frederick Lowe

The number of African-American-owned bookstores has dropped significantly since the late 1970s and 1980s due to a variety of factors, including corporate control of the Internet, waning literacy and fiscal mismanagement. In the 1970s and 1980s, more than 1,000 black-owned bookstores were in business in the United States. Now only slightly more than 100, possibly 116 to 117, if that many, remain open.

André Aciman and the Writer’s Craft

Kara Krauze

In founding The Writers’ Institute more than six years ago, Aciman established working editors from heralded publications and publishing houses (The New Yorker, The New York Times, Norton, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and Granta now among them) as instructors. These professional editors serve as edifiers and mentors, instead of those typically teaching within the MFA model: writers. While the program is finite, lasting two semesters, the model has proved successful enough in nurturing engagement with craft.

All About Me: How Memoirs Became the Literature of Choice

Veronica Giannotta

Memoirs are the great equalizer of writing. In a genre utterly non-denominational, there is room for any story in any pattern of prose. The Christian Science Monitor reports that memoirs have seen sales increase from $170 million to $270 million since 1999. Most nonfiction MFA writing programs are geared substantially towards the genre; Hunter College even requires prospective students to submit a memoir proposal as part of their application. 

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