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Posts Tagged ‘publishing

Scott McClanahan talks book tours, performance, and publishing

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This interview first ran on The Rumpus. You can read it in full here. Below are a few excerpts.

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Collected WorksI first became aware of Scott McClanahan when Lazy Fascist Press released his short story collection, The Collected Works of Scott McClanahan Vol. 1, in May of 2012. The cover looked a lot like a Penguin Classic and it made me laugh. Who was this guy, risking a lawsuit? I asked myself. It was clever, reckless, and endearing. However, it wasn’t until a year later, with the release of Crapalachia, published by Two Dollar Radio, that McClanahan’s words were put in my ears.

The subtitle, “A Biography of a Place,” highlights one McClanahan’s strengths—capturing place. Many of his stories are set in West Virginia, the state from which he hails, but to think of him as a regional writer would miss the point. McClanahan, in all his work, explores people—and those people exist everywhere. A keen observer of the world around him, McClanahan often taps into the characters who populate his family, breathing life into them, and exposing their motivations, their frustrations, and their struggles with the day-to-day.

Through the stories of his Grandma Ruby, a true matriarch; his uncle Nathan, wheelchair-bound from cerebral palsy; and the neighborhood kids who play pranks on unwitting strangers, Scott draws readers into a world that is both harsh and relentless, but also full-hearted and smirky—a cold reality with a sense of humor. Now, just out with Hill William, a short story collection from Tyrant Books, McClanahan shows once again that words can mesmerize.

Defying the laws of geographical assumptions, Scott spoke with me from California—early in the morning on the East Coast, a punishing hour on the West. He assured me that I hadn’t made him get up; he still hadn’t been to sleep.

Rumpus: No one has to go out on tour unless you get paid a lot of money for your book and the publisher says, “You need to go do this,” so what made you decide to take the trip?

McClanahan: Well, I did that kind of Southern leg with my friend Chris Oxley. He played the guitar part of the time. It’s a good show—you’d love it if you saw it. Then I also did, with some friends of mine, what we call the the Future Dead Friends tour last fall, and that was through the Midwest. People were smoking crack, but why do I do it? It’s um…oh gosh…yeah, that’s a good question. Maybe I should think about it a little bit more and I wouldn’t have the financial difficulties that I’m having. ‘Cause they’re not big tour budgets by any means.

Crapalachia

I stayed in a place in Mississippi called the Ole Miss Motel and it was a den of prostitutes and pimps. It really was. I’m talking P-I-M-P as pimps. I almost went into the wrong room one night, and they came and let me know I was going into the wrong room. Big girls with black eyes type of thing.

So it’s fun that way but, this is my answer: I think it’s important for writing to connect back to actual people rather than somebody—you know, a big publisher in New York telling you you should like something. Because you know this is a game, you’re a publicist as well. We know it’s a game. Somebody knows somebody who knows somebody, and all of a sudden you’re in Cosmopolitan or something talking about your book. I don’t want to be in Cosmo. Well, that’s not true. I do, but only if I’m on the cover.

I think it’s important to connect back to individuals who are out there—and by “out there” I mean, we’ve had cultural movements that have been in the middle of nowhere—Memphis, Tennessee in the 1950s, right? Absolutely nowhere, and they’ve not only changed American culture but they’ve changed the culture of the world. These bunch of country boys at Sun Studios. And so I think when you are out there and you read for people and you see people, there’s not that disconnect of literature with a lower case L—it’s not literature, the oral word. It’s Carl Sandburg, it’s V. Lindsey, it’s Dylan Thomas. It’s attempting to get back to that place…oh, I don’t know.

Shit, that answer makes no sense.

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Hill WilliamRumpus: Your stories have a darkness to them—or they could be very dark—but there’s something that keeps them from going to this place where you’re buried. I’m going to reference that movie again but you were saying how you had this story about a dog that you thought was fun, but the whole audience was devastated.

McClanahan: Yeah. It’s a different perspective. You bring up a dog that committed suicide and some people aren’t going to find that humorous. But it’s all those things together. It’s like your daily existence. Are you in New York?

Rumpus: I am.

McClanahan: So, you know, you’re about to get on the train and go into work and probably within an hour, an hour-and-a-half, you’re going to have all different experiences. Oh my god, like whoa fuck, whoa haha, that’s hilarious, but that happens anywhere really. But I think those are the good things. It’s like being in a relationship. Like, you hate the person, you love the person. There’s darkness there, there’s lightness. That’s part of any relationship—a real, a real relationship.

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Rumpus: What are you working on now?

McClanahan: The Sarah Book. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. The hardcover is going to cushy like a pillow. You know how some children’s books are like? So you can dream on it or use it as a sex aid. Sometimes people need to sleep instead of reading.

Written by Gabrielle

January 15, 2014 at 7:06 am

Favorite Podcasts of 2013

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headphonesMy good buddy David over at Largehearted Boy every year rounds up year-end lists featuring books and music. On his suggestion, here’s my list of the podcasts I couldn’t stop listening to.

By the Way with Jeff Garlin
Possibly the best find of the year has been By the Way, Jeff Garlin’s new podcast. Recorded live at Largo in Los Angeles, Garlin sits down with his talented friends to discuss all sorts of things. Garlin’s laugh alone makes this one infectious but the conversations will keep you coming back. If you’ve not been listening to it, your 2013 has been a wash.

Longform Podcast
Longform journalism has been making some noise lately and, along with Longreads, the site Longform has done much to propel it into the public consciousness. What might not be as known is that they have a weekly podcast where they interview journalists about their work. The conversations range from particular stories the writer has worked on to how they make ends meet between jobs. I look forward to it every week.

Other People
Just over the 200 episode mark and still going strong, Other People, hosted by Brad Listi, is one of the best author interview podcasts out there. Not content with a simple conversation about the writer’s latest book, Brad delves into childhood memories, the writing process, and anything unique to his guest’s experience that they’re willing to discuss.

Book Riot
Literary website Book Riot started a podcast this year and it quickly became one of my favorites. Every weekend I look forward to the bookish banter of co-founder Jeff O’Neal and Senior Editor Rebecca Schinsky. Together they parse out the week’s publishing and literary news, discuss the latest book gadgets, and go over the week’s new releases. Always fresh. A must-listen.

Late Night Library
If you’re reading this site, there’s a good chance you can never hear enough about publishing. Late Night Library is an organization based in Portland dedicated to promoting book culture, especially the indie sort. On their podcast Late Night Conversation, along with writers they interview industry people about their various positions and how it works within the chain of events, manuscript to bookstore.

Pop Culture Happy Hour
Hosted by NPR editors, producers, and critics, Pop Culture Happy Hour is a casual conversation about the week’s pop culture news. The chemistry of the co-hosts, their familiarity with each other, is most-endearing. Perfect way to kick off the weekend.

Design Matters
I became aware of Debbie Millman after Maria Popova highlighted her book, Brand Thinking, a collection of interviews with design and advertising creatives. A look into these minds was fascinating, in large part due to Millman’s knowledge of the industry and her subjects. On Design Matters, a podcast hosted by Design Observer, Millman brings her impeccable research and optimism to the conversation.

Slate
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Slate has perfected the podcast. Duration, format, everything. They’ve nailed it. While there are four main shows — the Political Gabfest, the Culture Gabfest, the Double X, and for all you sports fans, Hang Up and Listen, hosted by Stefan Fatsis, Josh Levin, and Mike Pesca — they continue to explore themed series. There’s Lexicon Valley, which discusses language, the monthly Audio Book Club, and, most recently, Mom and Dad are Fighting, a frank and honest look at parenting.

Gweek
The popular site Boing Boing has a number of podcasts on their roster. One of my favorites is Gweek, a show where editor Mark Frauenfelder and friends bring authors, artists, and other creative types on to discuss their work. Some recent shows include interviews with Clive Thompson for his book on the Internet, book designer Chip Kidd, and Wired magazine founding editor Kevin Kelly.

Six Pixels of Separation
If you’re the least bit interested in where business and creativity meet, Mitch Joel’s interviews are a goldmine.

Also recommended:
Stuff You Should Know
Recommended if You Like
Next Market (a podcast about podcasting)

Written by Gabrielle

December 24, 2013 at 7:11 am

Week in the News for November 18

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Here are this week’s interesting publishing and media stories. Add your favorites to the comments section.

E-books, E-readers, and Apps

  • In Russia, 95% of e-books are pirated. A company has developed an app to stop the trend. All Tech Considered
  • Self publishing is big in Germany and has helped Amazon dominate the e-book market. Publishing Perspectives
  • E-books are increasingly popular holiday gifts. Forbes

Tech

  • The Internet is a valuable distraction for this writer. New York Times
  • How technology changes language. Prospero
  • 18 games for typography fans. Mashable

Social Media

  • 10 surprising social media facts. FastCompany
  • 5 tools for identifying online influencers. PR Daily
  • Derek Thompson reviews the video sharing site Upworthy. The Atlantic
  • The semantics of online advertising. The Guardian

Media and Publishing

  • Publishing experts debate the future of the book. Publishers Weekly
  • A roundup of independent print magazines and interviews with the editors. New York
  • Brief interviews with very small publishers. The Morning News
  • Five female writers discuss sexism in the literary world. Brooklyn Based
  • Reality TV shows for writers are cropping up around the globe. The Guardian

Lifehack and Business

  • How to build a strong team at work. Fast Company
  • How to build a balanced creative team. 99u
  • 10 brands that changed the world. AdWeek
  • Coca-Cola is aiming to kill the press release. PR Daily

Writing and Grammar

Podcasts

  • Author, publisher, and Powell’s bookseller Kevin Sampsell talks to Brad Listi. Other People
  • Media strategist Ryan Holiday talks to Mitch Joel. Twist Image

For fun

Written by Gabrielle

November 22, 2013 at 10:25 am

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Week in the News for November 11

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Here are this week’s interesting media and publishing stories. Add your favorites to the comments section.

Social Media

  • Daily Facebook activity among younger teens is in decline. AdWeek
  • Jenna Wortham wonders if Facebook is fading. Bits
  • Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, talks about his new venture, Medium. NYT

Media and Publishing

  • John Oliver leaves the Daily Show for HBO. AdWeek
  • BuzzFeed Books promises positive coverage. CJR
  • 10 technological innovations in TV broadcasting. Stuff of Genius

Lifehack and Business

Writing and Grammar

Podcasts

  • Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper and lead developer for Tumblr. NextMarket
  • Tim Stevens, Engadget’s former Editor-in-Chief. RIYL
  • Tech columnist David Pogue talks about leaving The New York Times for Yahoo! NextMarket

For fun

  • The experiment that led to the concept of “thinking outside the box.” io9
  • Do our brains find certain shapes more attractive than others? Smithsonian

Written by Gabrielle

November 17, 2013 at 11:39 am

Link roundup for the week of October 28

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Here are some of my favorite stories and news items from this week’s publishing, media, and tech reporting.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

Tech

  • Researchers and designers are proposing new keyboard layouts for thumb typing. The Atlantic
  • How to crack a Wi-Fi password (and protect your own) Lifehacker
  • You don’t have to leave your gadgets behind to get away from it all. GadgetLab

Social Media

  • Facebook dominates in logins; Google makes gains [infographic] SocialTimes
  • At 300 million users, Google+ activity remains in question. Digits
  • Is Facebook failing marketers? Digiday
  • Facebook is looking to develop better consumer tracking technology. WSJ
  • Has Twitter changed the role of the literary critic? NYTBR

Media and Publishing

  • World Book Night US announced their 2014 selections. WBN
  • Random House acquires Figment, an online writing community for young readers. Jacket Copy
  • Editor & Publisher’s 2013 EPPY Award winners. E&P

Writing and Grammar

  • Five best free online word processors. Mashable
  • How to polish your writing. Poynter
  • When to use the passive voice. CJR
  • Tim Kreider on writing for free. New York Times

Lifehack and Business

  • How anxiety leads decisions astray. HBR
  • Top 50 executives who make wheels turn.  AdWeek
  • The structure of a 60 second pitch. Fast Company
  • Tick is a new to-do app. Lifehacker
  • 7 apps for a faster commute. Mashable

Podcasts

  • Former editor at Esquire and GQ, now editorial director of nonfiction at Random House, Andy Ward. Longform

Misc.

  • The science of a great subway map. FastCoDesign
  • Best Longreads accounts on Twitter. Mashable
  • Paintlist, a new app by Dutch Boy, recommends paint colors based on songs. New York Times
  • New iPhone app Knoala is a repository for toddler playtime ideas. Techland

Written by Gabrielle

November 1, 2013 at 6:42 am

Link roundup for the week of October 21

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Lots of interesting media, tech, and publishing news this week. Here are just a few things that caught my eye.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

  • Competition in the tablet market is increasing. NYT
  • 97% of newsstand apps are now free. AdWeek
  • New moms spend more time on smartphones than other adults. LA Times
  • Using metrics to boost e-book sales. MediaShift

Social Media

  • Five tips for promoting your online events using social media. Social Times
  • Facebook rolls out a new feature to help publishers increase engagement. Facebook

Media and Publishing

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

Podcasts

Misc

  • Most popular coffee brands on Twitter [infographic] All Twitter
  • Abraham Lincoln liked infographics. Elements

Written by Gabrielle

October 25, 2013 at 6:46 am

Link Roundup for the Week of October 14

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TelegraphHere are just a few things in the media and publishing world that caught my eye this week. Add your favorites in the comments section.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

  • Oyster iPad app has arrived. GalleyCat
  • Judge appoints monitor to keep eye on Apple’s e-book business. CNET
  • Five useful apps. Aliza Sherman

Social Media

  • One year later, Medium is changing the way writers write and readers read. MediaShift
  • Video sharing site Upworthy pairs emotional content with catchy headlines to spread social awareness. New York Times
  • Online mentions: New York Times vs. Mashable [infographic] SocialTimes
  • Twitter revenue more than doubles in third quarter. Bloomberg
  • Does real-time marketing work? AdWeek

Media and Publishing

  • Debut ratings for MSNBC’s “Up Late with Alec Baldwin” TV Newser
  • Willa Paskin reviews “Up Late with Alec Baldwin” Slate
  • A look inside the life of New York City newspaper hawkers. CJR

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Five prefixes to use in your email subject lines. 99u
  • Use your email autoresponder for maximum productivity. FastCompany

Podcasts

Misc

Written by Gabrielle

October 18, 2013 at 6:49 am

Link Roundup for the Week of October 7

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Here’s this week’s tech, media, and book publishing news.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

  • E-book singles are on the rise. AppNewser
  • McDonald’s is teaming up with UK publisher DK to distribute free e-books to diners. Forbes
  • Kindle Paperwhite reviewed. Wired

Tech

  • Young people are not as digitally native as many believe them to be. Bits
  • How to get better Internet connection in your hotel room. GadgetLab
  • Silicon Valley novels blur fiction and nonfiction. Bits

Social Media

Media and Publishing

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Sourcing talent for the workplace of the future. Wired
  • Tame your Twitter feed by turning off retweets. GadgetLab
  • What multitasking does to your brain. FastCompany

Podcasts

Misc

  • A breakdown of Twitter’s 200+ million users (funny). Geek Culture
  • Edgar Allan Poe’s obituary. The Paris Review
  • “Doctor Who” fans petition to light the Empire State Building in Tardis blue. CNET
  • Geek vs. Nerd, this hip hop offers help with definitions. Social Times

Written by Gabrielle

October 11, 2013 at 6:47 am

Link Roundup for the Week of September 30

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Here’s the week’s interesting tech and publishing news.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

  • Scribd teams up with HarperCollins and several smaller publishers for an $8.99 all-you-can-read subscription service. Salon
  • The American Library Association talks about e-books in libraries. Forbes
  • The Kenton County Public Library has an e-book mascot. Overdrive

Tech

  • The benefits and challenges of digitizing library collections. The Atlantic
  • How to fix music discovery sites. FastCoDesign
  • NPR’s news app editor on designing for the mobile screen. MediaShift
  • Top 20 tech hangouts in New York City. The Next Web
  • 50 people in the New York tech scene you should know. The Next Web
  • Technology and the college generation. NYT Style 

Social Media

  • Who are the most social publishers on the web? DataBlog
  • Facebook made it easier to find old status updates. Here’s how to reconfigure your privacy settings. Huffington Post
  • Important facts about the Twitter IPO. Quartz 

Media and Publishing

  • Top 30 news shows for the third quarter of 2013. Huffington Post
  • Four things trade publishers can learn from scientific, technical and medical publishers. DBW
  • Penguin Classics editorial director Elda Rotor answers questions about publishing. Reddit
  • Author website tips. Jane Friedman
  • 25 independent publishers. Flavorwire 

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Career advice from top media editors. Digiday
  • How effective people handle email. 99U
  • How to establish a personal brand when you’re an introvert. Lifehacker
  • Work, life balance advice from neuroscientists. Fast Company 

Podcasts

  • Media and fashion entrepreneur Marc Ecko talks about sincerity in branding. Twist Image
  • In their second segment, the Culture Gabfest discusses the state of literary criticism. Slate
  • Reddit founder Alex talks about startups. Leonard Lopate Show 

Misc.

  • Michael Kimmelman says we should use libraries as storm shelters. The New York Times
  • 50 years of headlines from The New York Review of Books. NYRB
  • From the archive, Ursula K. Le Guin reviews Italo Calvino’s “Italian Folktales” (1980). The New Republic
  • A girl quit her tech job through a skit on camera, it went viral. Speakeasy

Written by Gabrielle

October 4, 2013 at 6:54 am

Link Roundup for the Week of September 23

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printing pressHere are just a few articles on publishing, technology, and other geeky things that caught my eye this week. If you follow me on Twitter at @contextual_life you’ll find some of these and many more. Link to your favorite stories of the week in the comments section.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

  • Jeff Bezos talks about the new Kindle Fires. Businessweek
  • Apple now holds a patent for a digital autographing app. TechCrunch
  • Earlier this summer HarperCollins invited app developers to reimagine how we discover books. The submissions are in. LitReactor
  • Best apps for serious readers. Gaget Lab

Tech

  • If you can’t operate your gadget, it might be the designer’s fault. The New York Times
  • What web developers need to know about iOS 7. Nieman Lab
  • Interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Businessweek
  • Tips for making the change to iOS 7. Bits

Social Media

  • Six Word Memoirs held their first Six Word Festival on Twitter. GalleyCat via Six Word’s press release
  • The government is cracking down on deceptive online reviews. Bits
  • A growing number of journalists are using Pinterest. Poynter
  • Apple used Twitter to send out their Kindle Fire press release. All Twitter

Media and Publishing

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

Podcasts

  • A discussion about John Steinbeck’s life and work. Great Lives
  • Cord Jefferson, West Coast editor at Gawker, talks about journalism. Longform
  • American Icons: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Studio 360

Misc.

  • Syllabus for MIT’s science fiction course. MIT
  • A.J. Jacobs 3-D prints his dinner. NYT Opinion
  • Farhad Manjoo says email will never die. Slate
  • Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (dubstep remix) YouTube
  • Follow Little, Brown on Tumblr. Here

Written by Gabrielle

September 27, 2013 at 6:54 am

Link roundup for the week of September 16

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Carnival BarkerHere’s this week’s roundup of publishing and tech news. Link to your favorite stories in the comments section.

E-books and Readers

  • Trade e-book sales growth continues to slow through first half of 2013. DBW
  • Digital publishing in the developing world differs from that in the US. Publishing Perspectives
  • The future of art e-books. The Guardian

Apps and Tech

  • Laura Miller beta tests Oyster, the forthcoming iOS e-book rental app. Salon
  • So does Ian Crouch. Page-Turner
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of cell phone owners now use their phone to go online. Poynter
  • TV producers are experimenting with second-screen viewing opportunities. DBW

Social Media

Media and Publishing

  • Next year Americans will be allowed to enter the Man Booker prize. Telegraph
  • Netflix looks to pirating sites to see what shows to buy. Telegraph
  • Nick Bilton on online piracy. Bits
  • A House judiciary subcommittee hearing on intellectual property and piracy is set for Wednesday. AdWeek
  • The New Yorker, redesigned. New York Times

Writing and Grammar

  • Is it possible to “transcend genre?” a debate. io9
  • 25 things you should know about worldbuilding. Chuck Wendig
  • Grammar Pop: a word game app. Grammar Girl

Lifehack and Business

  • Wharton puts first-year MBA courses online for free. Businessweek
  • Retailers say Gmail’s new filtering system harms e-mail marketing efforts. New York Times
  • Tim Harford on mastering the technology around you. Financial Times
  • The upside of a messy office. Well

Podcasts

  • Mitch Joel and Michael Hyatt talk about the importance of building a platform. Twist Image
  • The Slate Culture Gabfest answers listener’s questions, one on media consumption. Slate
  • Good e-Reader has a radio show. Good e-Reader

Misc.

  • Clive Thompson talks about the benefits of tech; Joshua Glenn talks about reviving old scifi novels. Gweek
  • Ray Dolby, inventor of the Dolby noise-reduction system and Dolby digital surround sound died. New York Times
  • So did Hiroshi Yamauchi, President of Nintendo since 1949. Wired
  • Brooklyn Book Festival party at Greenlight tonight. Greenlight

Written by Gabrielle

September 20, 2013 at 6:57 am

Link roundup for the week of September 9

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gossipLots of interesting publishing news and opinions this week. Share your favorite articles in the comments section.

E-books and Readers

  • 71% of travelers prefer to fly with printed books. Good E-Reader
  • Tablet sales will outpace PC sales for the first time in the final quarter of this year. Traditional PC companies are without a viable strategy. The Guardian
  • If you have an Android you can customize the font on your e-reading app. TeleRead
  • An all-digital library opened in Texas. Good E-Reader

Apps and Tech

  • Apple’s App Store is not affected by the Justice Department ruling on price-fixing. Businessweek
  • Oyster, Apple’s iPhone App, will offer all-you-can-read e-books for $9.99/mo. ZDNet
  • On Monday, the F.C.C. and Verizon went to court over Net Neutrality. The New York Times
  • Timeline of Net Neutrality. Public Knowledge
  • The Readmill app allows e-book owners to share marginalia. Damien Walter wonders about future copyright issues. The Guardian
  • Twitter to sell ads on mobile app. Bits

Social Media

  • Facebook’s new Page Insights will allow businesses to track social media engagement. Poynter
  • Social analytics platform Topsy has archived every tweet in existence. Here are 10 ways to use it as a publicity tool. PR Newser
  • Rachel Fershleiser is leading Tumblr’s new book club. GalleyCat
  • Successful real-time marketing campaigns. AdWeek
  • How publishers can get the most out of Facebook marketing. Publishing Perspectives
  • The perfect social media post for multiple platforms [infographic]. All Twitter

Media and Publishing

  • What publishers can learn from the music industry about subscription models. Music Industry Blog
  • NewsHour Weekend reviewed. CJR
  • Sponsored content is on the rise. Digiday
  • Percentage of time given to reporting vs. opinion at CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Poynter

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Is there really such a thing as a ‘workaholic’?  The Atlantic
  • Five tips for better public speaking. 99u
  • A short tutorial on “Bullet Journal,” a new system for to-do lists. Co. Design

Podcasts

  • Cal Morgan spoke about publishing with Brad Listi. Other People
  • Alec Baldwin is getting his own show on MSNBC. Listen to his podcast Here’s the Thing. WNYC
  • What marketers need to know about Google+ Hangouts. Social Media Examiner
  • Mind and Machine, Part I. CBC Radio Ideas

Misc.

  • Emily Nussbaum on Pivot, a new TV channel for the Internet generation. New Yorker
  • “The purpose of multitasking had gone from supporting multiple users on one computer to supporting multiple desires within one person at the same time.” Elements
  • Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video recreated with LEGOs. DesignTaxi

Written by Gabrielle

September 13, 2013 at 6:52 am

Interview with Nathaniel Kressen, author of Concrete Fever

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This is an excerpt from an interview that ran on The Rumpus. Read it in full here

Concrete FeverWhen I first saw Concrete Fever on the front table of a local bookstore, I knew it was something special. With e-books on the rise, smart publishers are taking more care to create physical books that are also art objects. With its colorfully-splashed, slightly-ribbed cover, French flaps, and interior illustrations, Nathaniel Kressen’s debut novel stood out among the sea of many new releases.

Kressen, a playwright, screenwriter, and a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, brings to his fiction a love of acting, a knowledge of stagework, and a desire to tell stories without waiting for permission.

We met up at Café Grumpy in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and talked about Kressen’s experience creating the book from start to finish, the importance of editing, the difference between self-publishing and independent publishing, and what writers can learn from musicians.

The Contextual Life: I saw your book in the store and found myself picking it up over and over again. It’s so gorgeous. It’s well-designed and the textured cover feels so great when you handle it. I immediately needed to know who published it. When I looked on the spine, I saw it was a small press I’d never heard of, Second Skin Books. On closer look I noticed it was you who was behind it. You are also the author. To me, this felt like it was more than self-publishing, like you were taking it to a whole other level. In my mind, it’s more like indie publishing rather than self-publishing.

Nathaniel Kressen: I think that’s definitely a phrase that’s worth noting: independent publishing versus self-publishing. I think the difference is, an author by themselves who can’t wait to get their stuff out to people might not necessarily take the time to edit everything, think about the design and the materials. They’re just so happy about finishing their product they want to get it out to people, which is totally valid, but I think that’s what self-publishing is. Indie publishing is where you do research and look at other small presses. You see what fits what you’re trying to do, what you would like to explore. You make sure it’s edited to a T, no typos. Make it tight as can be. You give it out to people to look it over and give you notes, and then you make the best possible product you can; make something that people will pick up off the table time and time again. That’s what I think the main difference is.

There are a lot of people doing that around this area. I’ve spoken on a couple of panels about indie publishing, at Spoonbill and WORD, where there are a few people coming from the same place I am. Authors who aren’t necessarily writing stuff that’s so outside of what the mainstream wants, but for whatever reason it doesn’t get the initial traction. So we decided maybe we’re chasing the wrong dream; let’s just make this the best possible thing we can, make it look sexy as all hell, and get it out to people.

………

The Contextual Life: A stage is public. Performing is public. Do you see the novel as a stage? Is there any connection?

Kressen: Recently, I’ve been thinking about novels as physical art objects, with everything from judging a book by its cover to how it feels in your hand; we chose this textured stock because I wanted something that feels really great in your hand. I mean, I’m a no-name author at this point; I need this to be my marquee. You walk by a restaurant and you see a great typeface on the awning and you think, Oh, I bet they have good food.

………

The Contextual Life: What have you learned about publishing from doing this?

Kressen: Tons. One thing is that it’s accessible. It’s not this monster out there that one day you hope to get into as a writer, that somebody believes in your piece. Nobody is going to fight for your piece as much as you. It’s like anything else. As long as you write the hell out of your book, get somebody to look it over, take notes, and revise it fully, as long as you pair up with a designer who understands your vision and really makes it fly, and as long as you’re willing to work your tail off, go around the stores, talk to people, come up with really unique events, just work tirelessly on behalf of your product, at the same time making new writing because that’s the only way you grow, and just go ahead and do it. Nobody has to give you permission.

Written by Gabrielle

September 11, 2013 at 6:54 am

Link roundup for the week of September 2

with 2 comments

MegaphoneHere’s some of the publishing and book news that caught my attention this week. Link to your finds in the comments.

E-books and Readers

  • Amazon is launching KindleMatchbooks, a program that bundles print and e-books. It’s retroactive. Forbes
  • The history and future of color e-paper. Engadget
  • Cory Doctorow has some thoughts on libraries and e-books. Locus
  • Esquire is launching a weekly tablet edition to reach a younger audience. The Guardian
  • Tablet owner demographics 2013. Pew Internet
  • Nicholas Carr talks about the history of paper and how we read digitally. Nautilus Magazine

What we’re learning now is that reading is a bodily activity. We take in information the way we experience the world—as much with our sense of touch as with our sense of sight. Some scientists believe that our brain actually interprets written letters and words as physical objects—a reflection of the fact that our minds evolved to perceive things, not symbols.

Apps and Tech

  • Apps are on the rise, possibly because they match the way our brain works. Wired UK
  • Google just launched “Chrome Apps.” Techland
  • Clive Thompson on Google Glass New York Times Magazine
  • Farhad Manjoo heads to The Wall Street Journal to report on tech. Digits

Social Media

  • Heineken and Weiden + Kennedy New York devised a scavenger hunt using Instagram. Digiday
  • Twitter is preparing to go public. Bits
  • You might be tweeting your location. Huffington Post

Media and Publishing

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Advice to freelancers for pitching stories. Useful for placing op-eds and articles. The Atlantic
  • Magazines are experimenting with various subscription models. People is the latest. AdWeek

Podcasts

  • BookRiot has a podcast. It’s good. BookRiot

Misc.

  • Rebecca Solnit on technology’s influence on time. London Review of Books
  • Joan Juliet Buck on interviewing Bashar al-Assad’s wife for Vogue. Newsweek
  • Frank Bruni on bringing your digital comforts with you while traveling. New York Times
  • Take the Ishihara Color Perception Test. io9

Written by Gabrielle

September 6, 2013 at 7:01 am

Link roundup for the week of August 26

with 4 comments

Breaking NewsHere are this week’s best links collected from my daily scouring of the Internet. Share your favorites in the comment section.

E-books and Readers

  • Kobo keeps pushing boundaries. Techland
  • Kobo will offer magazine service on their devices starting in October. Good Ereader
  • Does it make sense to bundle print and e-books? Publishing Perspectives
  • The Oxford English Dictionary is not for sale (in e-book) but you can rent it. The Guardian

Apps and Tech

  • The paradox of wearable technology: can devices augment our activities without ­distracting us? Technology Review
  • Three apps to help declutter your work and life. Aliza Sherman
  • Five apps to help you dress for fall. AppNewser

Social Media

  • J Crew put their catalog on Pinterest a day before it was available elsewhere. BusinessWeek
  • Twitter will allow retailers to sell products and services within tweets. Bloomberg
  • Shoppers are turning to YouTube for product research before buying. AdWeek
  • Alexis Madrigal deconstructs the new blogging platform Medium. The Atlantic
  • How to choose a hashtag for your campaign [infographic]. All Twitter
  • How to get your client’s content into Google’s new “In-Depth Articles” PR Newser

Media and Publishing

  • NewsHour at a crossroads. CJR
  • Al Jazeera America began broadcasting last week. Here’s how to measure their success. Poynter
  • Al Jazeera America’s launch ratings. TV Newser
  • Four journalist secrets every PR person should know. Cision
  • Slate launched an LGBTQ blog, Outward. June Thomas is heading up the effort. Slate

Writing and grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Shut down your browser tabs by accident? If you’re using Chrome, here’s a keyboard shortcut for full recovery. Slate
  • 5 ways to perfect an author reading. Huffington Post
  • Four steps to creating a documented procedure for delegation. Michael Hyatt
  • Public speaking lessons learned from touring college campuses. Fast Company
  • Four things to do before the end of each work day. MediaJobsDaily
  • LinkedIn etiquette. Good.co

Podcasts

Misc.

  • 35 innovators under 35. Technology Review
  • Three bookstores got into a Twitter fight. BuzzFeed
  • 101 best writers, reporters, and thinkers on the Internet. Wired
  • Five websites for your photojournalism fix. CJR
  • Are tech firms the new pop culture villains? GigaOm
  • 20 online talks that will change your life. The Guardian

Written by Gabrielle

August 30, 2013 at 7:01 am

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