Ann Patchett Versus Lev Grossman, Bestseller Secret Formula, and More

Evan Smith Rakoff

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today's stories:

Bookstore sales dropped over 4 percent in February. (Shelf Awareness)

More on the Pulitzer Board's decision not to award its prize in fiction: Publishing-industry reporter Julie Bosman details the backlash (New York Times); novelist and bookstore owner Ann Patchett voices her unique view (New York Times); and author and Time book critic Lev Grossman explains why he's okay with it.

Meanwhile, Ann Patchett was among the few literary figures that made the cut of Time's one hundred "most influential people in the world."

And Letters of Note discovered a gleefully contemptuous letter written by A River Runs Through It author Norman Maclean (whose book was rejected by the Pulitzer Board in 1977) to an unfortunate, yet bold, editor at Knopf.

In light of the current economy and the enormous expense of life in New York City, the Awl adjusts for inflation and analyzes what it cost eight famous women writers to arrive in the Big Apple, including Patti Smith, Shirley Jackson, and Zora Neale Hurston.

With a large sign that reads, "POEMS—Your Topic, Your Price," Zach Houston, a poet in San Francisco, is attempting to earn money from poetry by composing (to order) on a typewriter and selling each poem directly to his readers. (NPR)

If selling poems isn't rich enough for you, Sarah Weinman reveals the secret formula for a mega-bestselling novel. (NPR)

Tip: Do not ask Adam Mansbach for a book blurb. (New Yorker)