News & Updates - September 2022

Check out the Policy Advisory Committee's monthly column, "News & Updates," rounding up news and articles of importance to writers.


Legal News

Virginia State Court Dismisses Obscenity Case

Virginia state judge, Pamela Baskervill, has ruled that nothing in Virginia’s statute permits the court to deem a book “obscene” for minors or allows it impose a prior restraint on protected speech. Judge Baskervill declares the Virginia law unconstitutional.

Bookends & Beginnings, LLC v. Inc., et al.

Bookends filed suit in March 2021, alleging “defendants’ anticompetitive conduct has depressed book sales in the U.S. market.” Judge rules “Plaintiff has not plausibly alleged the existence of a conspiracy either among the Publishers or between the Publishers and Amazon ….”

Publishing Activities

HarperCollins Publishers

Leadership changes have been made at HarperCollins. Abby West is now V.P. and editorial director at Amistad, effective September 12. Tara Parsons was promoted to V.P. and deputy publisher for Amistad. And Laina Adler is now V.P. and deputy publisher for HarperOne.


A deep drop in sales and orders at Amazon have some of us worried. Sales plummeted about 80% in the last few weeks.

Walmart launches book club – Walmart Book Club. It will feature five titles annually for adults, one for each season and one Pick of the Year.

Tom Doherty Associates has rebranded itself Tor Publishing Group, effective immediately. They will not only continue to represent science fiction and fantasy, but other genres as well.

The Washington Post’s book section, Book World, has returned. Beginning September 25, the Sunday paper will contain a separate section entirely devoted to book reviews and literary features. What’s that old saying: What goes around comes around. WELCOME BACK, Book World!

Distribution and Supply Chain

Distributing books is taking twice as long as before and is causing delays in academic publishing. Also, expect books to cost more during the holiday season and prepare accordingly.

Must be a subscriber:

Barnes & Noble lost $57.3B in the first quarter of their FY23.

Publishers Group West (PGW) added 10 new publishers: Aeon Books, Barbican Press, DeVorss & Co., Erewhon Books, Golden Notebook Press, The Hero’s Journal, Jawbone Press, Medicine Wheel Press, ScienceWiz and Shoemaker & Co.


Anitra Budd is stepping down as executive director and publisher of Coffee House Press on August 26, after less than one year in the role.

Zando has partnered with Ayesha Curry to launch a new imprint, Sweet July Books. It will feature warm, timely books focused on family, female empowerment, and underrepresented voices.

Indigo reports high FY23, ending July 2; sales up 19% from $172.1M last year.

Quarto sells toy imprint Smart Lab. The cost-of-living crisis is expected to reduce sales in the second half of the year.

Are You Interested?

Know the Meaning of Soft Censorship – books that are flagged or restricted in some way.

Writers Critique Groups

Inked Voices - $32/mo. or $85/year.

NaNoWriMo – free; a very engaging and intense writing group that challenges you to write a first draft in a certain amount of time.  

Reedsyblog – free; Reedsy has hit a goldmine here. If you’ll sign up for their weekly short story Writing Prompt Contest, you will receive constructive criticism on your story. Read all about it on their blog.   

Beta Readers and Critique Partners - free; this group started two years ago and has grown to almost 7,000.  

Critique Circle - free; Premium, $59; Premium Gold, $95.

Absolute Write - free

Writing Tips

Misused Words

Becoming a writer is hard work.  Depending on the genre you’re writing for, this profession comes with a host of rules to abide by, along with many things to learn (and sometimes unlearn).
With every chapter I write, it seems I learn something new, or I forget to implement what I’ve learned.  My most common mistake is using the wrong words.  It’s embarrassing.
I have written on the malpractice of misused words on my website listed below. I hope it helps.

--Donna Comeaux


Fun Facts

Misconceptions About Publishing

There are many boogie-man stories and old wives’ tales about publishing that have been passed from one generation to another. Over time, the wise have questioned these tales and discovered most of them are without merit.

Nina Greimel has written an article titled, "6 Misleading Facts About Book Publishing That Will Cost You Time and Money," that will help you rethink the tales you have heard over the years.

Latinos Underrepresented

Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro met with Penguin Random House executives to discuss the underrepresentation of Latinos. He commissioned a report in 2021 that revealed Latinos represent 18% of the U.S. workforce, but account for only 8% of the publishing workforce.

Native American Authors

Angeline Boulley is Chippewa (Ojibwe). Her debut novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter, is a YA thriller. It was named one of the top 100 young adult novels of all time by Time Magazine and was a New York Times bestseller. Firekeeper’s Daughter will be adapted into a miniseries by Higher Ground Production. Higher Ground is an American production company founded in 2018 by former United States President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Angeline is known for her tireless work to improve education for indigenous children in her Ojibwe community in the state of Michigan.

African American Authors

Leslye Penelope is an African American best-selling fantasy author, filmmaker, and podcaster who has written her first new series titled Bliss Wars. The first book in this series is Savage City.

Wil Haygood, an African American author of multiple non-fiction books, has won the Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. Haygood wrote The Butler which was made into a movie by the same title, starring Forest Whitaker; Showdown which is about the nomination battle of the nation’s first African American, Thurgood Marshall, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Michelle Obama will publish her next book, The Light We Carry, globally by Crown on November 15. This will be an insightful story of reflection, change, challenge, and power, with great emphasis on the idea that if we light up others, we can illuminate the world, discovering deeper truths as we progress.

Famous Quotes and Advice

"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write." -- Saul Bellow

RWA includes links that may be useful or interesting to members and are for informational purposes only. The inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement or approval by Romance Writers of America of any products, services, or opinions of the corporation or individual.