Book Beat: Women in Comedy Writing, Chapbooks and Badly Behaving Authors

Happy Thursday book lovers! Welcome back to Book Beat. It’s been a busy few weeks for me, your editor Christa. I went on and survived my first conference/business trip since breaking my ankle, and it was a great success. While busy, it was great to be back out and chatting with people about all things publishing. And speaking of all things publishing, there’s been some interesting news this week, so let’s dive in!

Women in Comedy Writing Longlist

Lately, I’ve been trying to choose my reading based on what I think will make me happy/bring me joy, so this year’s Women in Comedy Writing Longlist couldn’t have come at a better time. This is the second year that the prize will be awarded after being created to address the gender imbalance in comedy writing. The team at University of Hertfordshire, who are partners for the prize, had the following to say about this year’s list:

In spite of the widely differing themes, what emerged most strongly is the reader’s connection with the protagonists and their stories.  The readers were engaged, and could recognise and empathise with the protagonist’s struggles, women who were often trying to conform to expected gender norms and to fit in, whilst trying to overcome anxiety, adversity and generally being perplexed by the challenges of the modern world. It was truly heartening to read the works of so many witty women and be part of the fabulous Comedy Women in Print prize.

There were a few books on this list that were already on my TBR, such as Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce and Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. But there were a few titles new to me as well, so I’m curious to check them out. I’m especially interested in Hot Mess by Lucy Vine, which is recommended for fans of Fleabag, and Killing It by Asia Mackay, which is about a working mom in Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Killing It, Asia Mackay, Zaffre, 2018

Chapbooks: A New Marketing Trend?

Publishers are always looking for new marketing ideas to help get their books in the hands of readers. There is a lot of competition in the market, after all, with so many things (and not just books) competing for everyone’s attention. One traditional method, however, seems to have found a second life—the chapbook.

One example is Farrar, Straus, and Giroux’s new Celadon Books imprint. They put out chapbooks for two upcoming titles: the English-language translation of Italian author Edoardo Albinati’s The Catholic School and R.L. Maizes’s short story collection We Love Anderson Cooper. These chapbooks are then sent to select booksellers and people with high social media followings. Other publishers have implemented similar campaigns and plan to have some of these chapbooks available at trade shows as well such as BEA.

I’m curious to see how this trend progresses and if it is something more publishers will continue to adopt. Personally, I was never a fan of the short samplers publishers would hand out in the past. They were usually only 15-20 pages and weren’t enough to get a real sense of the book. However, I did receive something similar to a chapbook a few weeks ago, and I actually found myself sitting down to read the whole thing to gain a better sense of whether I wanted to review the full book or not.

Natasha Tynes shames DC Transit Worker for Eating on Train

Earlier this week, author Natasha Tyne tweeted a photo to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority of one of their employees eating on the train. Eating, drinking, and smoking are banned on the trains and in stations, but this particular worker was taking her meal break on her way to her next assignment. Employees only have twenty minutes to take their lunch, and her train had been running late at the time. That being said, no matter why she was eating on the train, it was inappropriate for Tyne to tweet out of the photo and put someone’s livelihood at risk. And as an aside: only 20 minutes for lunch is ridiculous. Do better Washington Metro.

The Transit Authority has confirmed that no disciplinary action will be taken against the employee. Tyne has since apologized for her actions, but nevertheless, her publisher Rare Bird Books has decided to no longer distribute her upcoming work.

Out This Week

A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra
The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta
The Candle and The Flame by Nafiza Azad

The Candle and the Flame, Nafiza Azad, Scholastic, 2019

Happy Thursday!

Christa Seeley

Christa Seeley

Books Editor. Maple Flavoured Darth Vader Fangirl.