Monday, October 01, 2007

5 Free Ways to Access Publishing News

It’s important for writers to keep current on what’s going on in the publishing world – at least as much as possible without searching for news all day long.

Regular readers of Straight From Hel will remember that I wrote a post about my group of friends who participated in a week of No Lying. The same friend who instigated that week has another idea: a week of No News.

I did pretty good on the week of no lying. I’m gonna have to pass on the week of No News. I like keeping up with what’s going on in the world. Sometimes I catch the morning news, but you have to turn on your TV between 7 and 7:05 – after that it’s all celebrity, fashion, or cooking stuff. I try to catch the evening network news. During the day, I’ll check out the BBC online. Plus, I daily try to keep up on what’s going on in the publishing world. Besides, I’ve gone a month without news before. In 2005, the Brown Foundation gave me a full fellowship to go to the Vermont Studio Center. I spent four weeks with no access to TV, radio, newspapers or Internet news. Coming home, I felt like a hibernating bear emerging into a foreign world.

I could probably give up the TV and Internet news. It’s only for a week after all. But publishing and writing news? That would be much harder. First of all, when I come across something interesting, I post it here. And news in the publishing world is integral to my weekly e-newsletter, Doing It Write. I have set things I put in each newsletter, two of which have to do with news. One is a Quote. Sometimes it’s just something someone said about writing; often it’s news about agents moving to different agencies. Another is a condensed article about writing or publishing. So, in order to do this blog and the newsletter, I have to keep up on the news.

Sure, if you subscribe to my newsletter, Doing It Write, you get a bit of news delivered free to your ebox every week. But there are other things you can do.

1. Subscribe to Publishers Lunch. There’s an expanded version, if you want the complete information, that’ll cost you. Publishers Lunch goes out to over 24,000 people involved in the publishing world. You get information on book deals, stories from the publishing field, plus original stories from Publishers Marketplace. But there’s also a free, mini, version that can be delivered to your ebox daily.

2. Google Key Words. Pick out words that relate to the kind of information you’re looking for, like agents, editors, writers, authors, mystery, romance, whatever. Instead of doing a regular google search, do a google news search. A list of relevant articles (and some not so relevant articles) will come up. Pick the ones you want to read.

3. Read Blogs. Find blogs about writing or publishing or your genre and bookmark them. Of course, you’ll want to read Straight From Hel, but there are a lot of other ones out there. Spend some time browsing blogs. You’ll find some here in my sidebar. Those will lead you to others. Note the ones you like. Eventually you’ll narrow it down to a manageable number you can keep up with.

4. Set up Google Alerts. Searching online yourself for news will get you tons of sites to look at. It can also be time consuming. A faster way to search, although not as comprehensive, is to set up Google Alerts. You go to Google and tell it to search for you – you set the search terms and tell it how often to send you results. You can search for something simple like “writing,” but expect to get a lot of results since many blogs and articles might have that word in it. It’s not perfect, even when you are more specific. I have an alert on my name, Helen Ginger. Sometimes the items Google sends me are actually about me. Often it’s recipes with “ginger” as an ingredient. I also Google Doing It Write and usually get a list each day of about ten to twenty links. Out of that list, two or three are ones I’ll go check out.

5. Check out Blogosphere. You’ll notice that I’ve added a widget to this blog. It’s the box on the right in blue. This is a quick way to check out blog posts about writing. Since I’m preaching keeping up on publishing news, I’ve tried to make it easy for you. All you have to do is come to Straight From Hel and if you see an interesting article listed in the blue box, click on it and go directly to that blog. Each article will be something related to writing.

There are plenty of other ways to keep up on publishing news. I chose these five to get you started. They’re easy and they’re all free!

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