The Best-Selling Memoir Ever, Escaping the White House, and More


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.

Having sold more than ten million copies since its release in November, Michelle Obama’s Becoming looks set to become the best-selling memoir in history. (Washington Post)

Meanwhile, sales at Penguin Random House rose 1.3 percent last year, with a total revenue of $3.87 billion for 2018. Parent company Bertelsmann pointed to digital audio and the sales performance of Becoming as important factors in sales growth. (Publishers Weekly)

“A picture’s worth a thousand words. In your case, a hundred thousand words.” At literary agency Javelin, Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn have developed a blueprint for the tell-all-book that has offered authors like James Comey and Cliff Sims million-dollar book deals and an escape route from the Trump White House. (New York Times Magazine)

“You can’t leave the stage while writing a short story. You have to sing, till you’re done! Writing a novel is different. You have to leave the novel now and then. Have a cup of coffee. Earn some money. Let it rest.” At the Rumpus, Danish writer Dorthe Nors describes her transition between both fiction forms and languages.

Oprah Winfrey has announced the formation of “the most stimulating book club on the planet”—an author interview series conducted by Winfrey for Apple TV. (CNN)

More than thirteen hundred writers have backed a petition for Waterstones, the United Kingdom’s largest bookselling chain, to pay its staff a living wage. (Guardian)

New York–based writer and artist Leanne Shapton layers paintings and text to create multiple channels of meaning. “I actually didn’t do really well as an illustrator, at all, until I found the marriage of metaphor and word and image.” (Creative Independent)

“I liked to think that I was getting better at my job, but I’m working on a new book now and on page eighty-seven I figured out something about the narrator that means I have to go back and change a bunch of crap.” Colson Whitehead on approaching human cruelty in his short story “The Match,” published in this week’s New Yorker.