"If Shirley Jackson’s intent was to symbolize into complete mystification, and at the same time be gratuitously disagreeable, she certainly succeeded" - The New Yorker takes a look at the over 300 letters in reaction to The Lottery
What Is the Business of Literature?
Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the “business of literature.” Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself. We have come to believe that the taste-making, genius-discerning editorial activity attached to the selection, packaging, printing, and distribution of books to retailers is central to the value of literature. We believe it protects us from the shameful indulgence of too many books by insisting on a rigorous, abstemious diet. Critiques of publishing often focus on its corporate or capitalist nature, arguing that the profit motive retards decisions that would otherwise be based on pure literary merit. But capitalism per se and the market forces that both animate and pre-suppose it aren’t the problem. They are, in fact, what brought literature and the author into being. [more inside]
Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff
, a podcast in which writer and game designer Robin D. Laws
, The GUMSHOE system
) and game designer and writer Kenneth Hite
(Tour De Lovecraft
, GURPS Horror
) talk about stuff. Stuffs include: Why vampires are assholes and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
, stopping WWI and Beasts of the Southern Wild
, Margaret Atwood and the difference between a mystic and an occultist
, why no invented setting is as interesting as the real world and Woodrow Wilson
, Gencon and sundry RPGs
, Neil Armstrong, HP Blavatsky and theosophy
, the ebook prcing settlement, what big publishing could learn from RPG publishers, and the many crazy fictional possibilities of Charles Lindbergh and his UFO investigating chums
, and Dungeons and Dragons edition wars and Aliester Crowley
"Amazon’s markup of digital delivery to indie authors is ~129,000%"
- author Andrew Hyde reviews the take for the most popular digital publishing platforms
, former owner of the influential Grove Press
and Evergreen Review
, boundary-shattering publisher
of Tropic of Cancer
, Waiting for Godot
, and Naked Lunch
, and U.S. distributor of I Am Curious (Yellow)
, died yesterday
at the age of 90.
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these.
The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth
-- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect,"
a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger
. More: Table of Contents
- Publishing history
- Technical discussion
- Buy a paperback copy
- Podcast interview
- Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace"
- possible sequel discussion
All told, Updike has published more than a million words on books. ... In Picked-up Pieces (1975), Updike’s second collection of essays, he lists his rules for reviewing... Without coyness, Updike renders a stern judgment based on telling quotation. He builds toward his findings in plain sight, earning him an authority that is based on his presentation of a plausible case. [more inside]
Q.R. Markham's just-published Assassin of Secrets
, hailed as an "instant classic" by at least one blurber, has been withdrawn by its publisher
. Why? Extensive plagiarism
. The author who blurbed the book explains how he was duped
"See, lots of people love comics. Lots of people make comics. Most of us aren’t included in the mainstream. Now with our own books, we can reach a far broader audience than capes comics or art/autobiographical comics can."
Comics creator Alex de Campi
talks about digital comics, the realities of funding indie comics, and bypassing the mainstream
- finding the Self-Publishing Holy Grail
. De Campi is not new to digital comics, and has written at length about the nuts and bolts of publishing a story in a dizzying array of languages and formats
. She is now using crowdfunding
to publish Ashes
, the follow-up to her Eisner nominated graphic novel Smoke
is "a new space for writers to share, read and sell". [more inside]
Launching today is Byliner
, both a portal to the best narrative nonfiction from around the web, and a publishing platform for original works
. Some additional background here
The Guardian has a new series
of webchats with various people in the publishing industry starting with literary agent Karolina Sutton
. Also various writers are asked: Can you teach creative writing?
Aboriginal Science Fiction
was started in 1987 to rethink the look and feel of SF magazines; Charles Ryan published it in full sized magazine format, on glossy paper, with four-color interior illustrations and it sold well. Aboriginal
kept up a full schedule
through 1991, when a personal financial crisis nearly shut him down. He kept putting out the occasional issue until 2001, but the irregularity made it hard to find.
Aboriginal courted new writers, one of whom was Robert A. Metzger
, an electrical engineer and laser specialist who wrote quirky, fun hard SF stories. After Aboriginal mostly folded and he got shafted on his first book deal
, he mostly walked away from writing. He's drifted back in a bit since 2001, but fortunately at some point along the way he decided to put some of his boomerang era pieces
online. And that's how it's possible for you to read one of the most haunting, breathtaking short stories I've ever read:
In the Shadow of Bones
Amanda Hocking is 26 years old. She has 9 self-published books to her name, and sells 100,000+ copies of those ebooks per month. She has never been traditionally published. ... And it’s no stretch to say – at $3 per book/70% per sale for the Kindle store... there is no traditional publisher in the world right now that can offer Amanda Hocking terms that are better than what she’s currently getting, right now on the Kindle store, all on her own. (related)
- an anthology of short fiction published on a USB flash drive shaped like a penis. Sample story
. More on the concept without pictures of plastic penises
. (Safe for workness may vary)
Warren Ellis on the grim future of science fiction magazines
. Some of the previous posts
he mentions, and response
to one from Cory Doctorow (unsuprising short summary: Blogs!). Jason Stoddard on 5 small things
and 5 big things
Science Fiction can do to improve its image.
Remember Philip M. Parker
, the much-reviled "author" whose system churns out ultra-long-tail books on ultra-niche topics? Well, here's video of his software, in action
National Novel Writing Month
) starts Nov. 1. The goal: complete a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, Nov. 30.
If you'd like to start, or are otherwise working on a novel, Sean Lindsay and others would like you to please
. [more inside]
is a 19-year-old Harvard student whose first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life
, just cracked the New York Times bestseller list. The problem? The Harvard Crimson
and SF Gate
assert that the author plagiarized
much of it from two books by Megan McCafferty
. Of course, it's not like this kind of thing hasn't happened before with young writers.
How much money do first-time novelists make?
Author and upcoming first-time novelist Justine Larbalestier
is constantly asked by aspiring writers what first-time novelists should expect in advance payment for their beloved texts. So she asked some of her author friends what they got for their first novels. The responses ranged in time from 1962 to 2004. What didn't change in all that time was the basic amount: Not much. Quoth Larbalestier: "The life of a novelist is, financially speaking, a mug's game. Enter at your own peril."
In the newest issue of Bookforum
, critic Sven Birkerts ruminates on what he considers to be the regrettable rise of the snarky book review, taking as his starting example Dale Peck's hatchet job on Rick Moody, written in 2002. "Psychologically [the literary] landscape [is one that is] subtly demoralized by the slash-and-burn of bottom-line economics; the modernist/humanist assumption of art and social criticism marching forward, leading the way, has not recovered from the wholesale flight of academia into theory; the publishing world remains tyrannized in acquisition, marketing, and sales by the mentality of the blockbuster; the confident authority of print journalism has been challenged by the proliferation of online alternatives. [...] All of this leads, and not all that circuitously, to the question of snark, the spirit of negativity, the personal animus pushing ahead of the intellectual or critical agenda. Snark is, I believe, prompted by the terrible vacuum feeling of not mattering, not connecting, not being heard; it is fueled by rage at the same."
Anonymous midlist author tells horror story
(Salon: viewing of annoying ad required, but it's well worth it) "In the 10 years since I signed my first book contract, the publishing industry has changed in ways that are devastating [...] to midlist authors like me. [...] What once was about literature is now about return on investment.
What once was hand-sold one by one by well-read, book-loving booksellers now moves by the pallet-load at Wal-Mart and Borders -- or doesn't move at all." (more inside)
Here's an interesting story for people who like to write and post stuff on the internet
Judge Diana Lewis of Circuit Court in West Palm Beach issued an order that forbids Mr. Max to write about Ms. Johnson. That prohibition is not limited to his website
. She ruled on May 6, before Mr. Max was notified of the suit and without holding a hearing. She told Mr. Max that he could not use "Katy" on his site. Nor could he use Ms. Johnson's last name, full name or the words "Miss Vermont." The judge also prohibited Mr. Max from "disclosing any stories, facts or information, notwithstanding its truth, about any intimate or sexual acts engaged in by" Ms. Johnson. Finally, Judge Lewis ordered Mr. Max to sever the virtual remains of his relationship with Ms. Johnson. He is no longer allowed to link to her Web site.
All this as a result of a lawsuit in which Ms. Johnson maintained that Mr. Max had invaded her privacy by publishing accurate
information about her.
is writing an open source novel
that readers are encouraged to leave footnotes on. These footnotes can contain comments, suggestions or discussion about other footnotes. Is this the future of publishing or a cheap gimmick?