Litbaits, a clickbait like ploy to encourage people to read more books

Monday, 20 March, 2017

With online publishers playing a part in the demise of printed books, and bookshops, The Wild Detectives, an indie bookstore located in Dallas, Texas, is finding a way to fight back, by playing online publishers at their own game.

Enter Litbaits, a campaign designed to encourage people to read books, by enticing them with clickbait style copy. For instance, the title “Teenage girl tricked boyfriend into killing himself”, takes anyone clicking the link, to a webpage containing the full version of Romeo and Juliet.

So far only classic, out of copyright, books can be accessed, but it will be interesting to see how Litbaits plays out.

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The I.O.U., a short, previously unpublished story, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Wednesday, 15 March, 2017

Brilliant, a hitherto unpublished short story by US novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, titled “The I.O.U.”, and written in 1920, has only now been published by The New Yorker. A chance to lift my reading rate a little this year, I think. I hope.

The above is not my real name – the fellow it belongs to gave me his permission to sign it to this story. My real name I shall not divulge. I am a publisher. I accept long novels about young love written by old maids in South Dakota, detective stories concerning wealthy clubmen and female apaches with “wide dark eyes,” essays about the menace of this and that and the color of the moon in Tahiti by college professors and other unemployed. I accept no novels by authors under fifteen years old. All the columnists and communists (I can never get these two words straight) abuse me because they say I want money. I do – I want it terribly.

Fitzgerald had written the story for Harper’s Bazaar magazine, but later asked for the draft back, so he could revise it. And there it remained on his desk, becoming forgotten. The full story behind its rediscovery is here.

Via Kottke.

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Self publishing a book in 2017, a guide by US author Zack Hubert

Friday, 3 March, 2017

Zack Hubert, a Seattle based developer, and science fiction aficionado, is self publishing his first novel, Singular, on 31 March.

Writers who have thought about self-publishing, as I have, but been deterred by the apparent enormity of the process, as I have, ought to familiarise themselves with Hubert’s methods, which he has set out in detail.

Advice on writing software, publishing in paper and ebook formats, and listing on Amazon, are among points he covers. This is great stuff. Now to get back to writing my novel, which has been a work in progress for the merest two and a bit years.

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On writing with style, some advice from Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, 14 February, 2017

An article penned by late US author Kurt Vonnegut, in 1999, offering his tips to writers. A must read, but here are the main points:

  • Find a subject you care about
  • Do not ramble, though
  • Keep it simple
  • Have guts to cut
  • Sound like yourself
  • Say what you mean
  • Pity the readers

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Back to the Future, pulling apart top notch story-telling

Monday, 7 November, 2016

Back to the Future is a film I watch once a year, and part of its enduring appeal is down to the structure of its story. Screenwriters and authors take note, this is how to write successfully. Parts two and three are ok, but they really don’t hold a candle to the original.

Also, revisit Back to the Future’s opening sequence. It’s incredible just how much of the story is set up from there.

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The cook, the writer, and the food photographer, Flora Shedden

Monday, 22 August, 2016

Photo by Flora Shedden

Nineteen year old Scottish art history student Flora Shedden has led an eventful life. According to the about page on her website, she has already worked as a gallery assistant, a researcher, a photographer, a costume seamstress, and also a waitress. Though not all at the same time. Presumably. Unless this was an instance of extreme slash careerism.

Photo by Flora Shedden

Now writing can be added to that list, even though Sheddon’s not entirely on unfamiliar ground here, she was once the editor of her primary school’s newspaper. As if that’s not enough, it’s also obvious she is a dab hand at photography as well. Something that becomes apparent after looking through her website and Instagram page.

Photo by Flora Shedden

It was the food photography that caught my eye though. Here her work varies a little from others in the same field, in that she often prepares the food in question herself. I only say that, because in the course of writing this post, I discovered she is also writing a cookbook. Taking photos as she goes. It won’t be long then, until she can add author to that list of occupations.

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For all the written works in the world there are two types of writers

Thursday, 7 July, 2016

There are two types of writers, bashers and swoopers, says Ollie Campbell.

Bashers write one sentence at a time, and do not move onto the next one until they are finished. After that they never come back to it. As far as they’re concerned, it is ready to go.

Swoopers, on the other hand, might write different parts of the story during a single sitting. They might start by working on an idea in the middle, then go to something near the beginning, then jump to another towards the end of the story. That sounds familiar.

For Swoopers, writing is about gradually getting a jumble of ideas into shape. And these kinds of writers are used to working around the limitations of their tools. A writer I spoke to recently said “I normally have six different Word documents open at once with different parts of what I’m writing. Then it’s just condense, condense, condense.”

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Why would a writer want to be rejected 100 times each year?

Tuesday, 5 July, 2016

New York City based author Kim Liao suggests that aspiring writers should strive to have their work rejected one hundred time each year. That may be one hundred too many rejections for some of us, but to collect that many knock-backs hopefully means one or two ideas end up being accepted.

Last year, I got rejected 43 times by literary magazines, residencies, and fellowships – my best record since I started shooting for getting 100 rejections per year. It’s harder than it sounds, but also more gratifying.

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When content was king, blogging like it is 1999

Friday, 10 June, 2016

1999.io allows writers to blog like it is 1999, that is, using a simple interface, free of the bells and whistles of some latter day content management systems.

Other blogging software can be hard to navigate for writers who want to quickly record an idea and get back to what they’re working on.

Sounds like fun to me.

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Not for publication, the book title of your choosing

Friday, 27 May, 2016

Are you writing a novel, and have an idea for the title? It may not make it to publication however, if it’s not deemed marketable enough. A shame, as I think an author would be the best person to title their book, in that they probably have the best understanding of the subject matter.

When I was readying my first novel for publication, it struck me that writers have far more control over what’s in their books than what’s on them – the cover art, blurbs, jacket copy, but especially the title, where the author’s concerns overlap with marketing ones. Deciding on a name for your life’s work is hard enough; the prospect of changing it at the eleventh hour is like naming your newborn, then hearing the obstetrician say, But wouldn’t Sandra look amazing on the certificate?

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