Archive for the ‘Writers – Living’ category

Twitter Novel By Arjun Basu

December 24, 2008

arjunbasutweet122408b

Wonderful.

Follow Arjun Basu on Twitter.

Update: Arjun basu writes in the Comments:

Thanks. But it’s not a novel. I just want to clear that up. Each tweet is a single story. At the max 140 characters. I’m calling them Twisters. Thanks for the support.

That makes what I screensnapped above even more remarkable!

The Taqwacores: Free Sample Chapter

December 24, 2008

I noticed several people who were led to this blog under the search term “taqwacores pdf” and I contacted publisher Soft Skull Press.

I hope that search term doesn’t indicate a pirate edition of the book is on the Internet. Isn’t stealing from writers haram according to The Quran?

Soft Skull Press has given me an URL for the first chapter of The Taqwacores. That should be enough to incite interest in the book and let people know if they want to legitimately buy it.

PDF link.

Previously here:

Writer Michael Muhammad Knight In NYT
Two Books To Read By Michael Muhammad Knight

This Is The Future Of Book Tours

December 23, 2008

I need to do this again because people weren’t listening the first time — and, frankly, many still had jobs in the dying printed books industry and so were too smug to pay attention.

This is what the book tour of the future — the future being 2009! — will look like:

probloggervid01
Click = big

That’s Darren Rowse of ProBlogger doing a special “Christmas party” live streaming videocast via UStream.

What was his big outlay to do it? His existing MacBook Pro! And the connection was via WiFi too!

He was in Australia. There were people all over the world tuning in. One person was from Brazil!

The dying dinosaurs of print have asked: “Well, how can we do an author tour for an eBook? There’s no … um, book for people to bring to a store!”

That’s how. The author doesn’t go to any store. He goes to where the eBook store is — the entire Internet.

People can type questions. See and hear the writer respond. No one has to deal with bad weather or bad schedules. And the videos can be archived for people to see again later.

What about autographs? I did that earlier too.

Instead of sending a writer out on bad plane (or train or bus) trips to bad hotels and the mercy of weather, everyone can stay where they are — the writer at home, the readers at home (or likely stealing bandwidth from work!). It’s all win.

The writer can even, if so inclined, show the missus and child:

mrsproblogger
(Happy holidays, Mrs Rowse!)

Previously here:

Reference: Internet Video Chat
How Our Future Does Things
I Am Internationally Persecuted!
Live jkk & Chippy!

Dying Dinosaurs Of Print Slow Suicide

December 23, 2008

Read it and weep
The economic news couldn’t be worse for the book industry. Now insiders are asking how literature will survive.

The end of days is here for the publishing industry — or it sure seems like it. On Dec. 3, now known as “Black Wednesday,” several major American publishers were dramatically downsized, leaving many celebrated editors and their colleagues jobless. The bad news stretches from the unemployment line to bookstores to literature itself.

“It’s going to be very hard for the next few years across the board in literary fiction,” says veteran agent Ira Silverberg. “A lot of good writers will be losing their editors, and loyalty is very important in this field.”

Who was it that said, “If you want loyalty, get a dog”?

Yes, writers who are treated well are loyal. Stupid us. The rest of the world runs on money.

This is key:

Finally, experts suggest that publishers missed crucial opportunities to cope with digital books, Internet innovations and economic pressures. “The big houses proved incapable of looking at the future. I’ve always been struck at how relatively un-nimble the big houses are,” says Tom Engelhardt, a consulting editor at Metropolitan books and the author of the prophetic novel “The Last Days of Publishing.” He recently wrote an essay about the crisis at his Web site, TomDispatch.com, and says he predicted the crash for years — but no one would listen.

Emphasis added by me.

He’s right. Just ask the newspapers.

Here comes the future:

Neelan Choksi, Lexcycle’s chief operating officer, agrees that the midlist will suffer in coming years. “There’s going to be less support for smaller writers in the traditional publishing model, in the big buildings in Manhattan,” he explained. “But self-publishing and digital books haven’t been considered. This upheaval will cause many authors to look at the alternatives more seriously.” The Stanza reader, for instance, stocks thousands of e-books at varying prices, from free public domain books to self-published titles to 40,000 titles from Fictionwise, one of the leading digital book vendors. That list includes a variety of bestsellers like David Wroblewski’s “Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series and the nonfiction hit “Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.”

Emphasis added by me.

Lexcycle will wind up with a store of its own at some point. I hope they do it right, unlike Apple. (Stanza, by the way, just got a glowing PC Magazine review.)

What’s needed is a WordPress-type thing, where authors can set up a site to flog their books. Basically, a blog with transactional capability. It has to all be blogging-easy, too. Writers don’t want to be techies and web designers. In fact, I’m surprised WordPress itself hasn’t added this yet.

This bit was a surprise to me. Writer Iain Levison (who still lacks a new website) alerted me to it via email this morning:

Rumors of publishing’s demise are probably overstated, but the future of publishing may depend on what those laid-off editors, publicists and industry leaders do next. The morning after Black Wednesday, a publishing blogger and e-book aficionado named Mike Cane stirred up his readers with a bite-size manifesto on Twitter: “If the FIRED NY pubstaff are such hot fucking shit, let them coalesce and form an EBOOK-ONLY IMPRINT to crush their fmr employers.” However callous this Twitter-versy seemed at the time, it posed an interesting challenge: Can the publishing world channel all of this collective anger, bewilderment and fear into industry-altering strategies?

Emphasis of me by me.

But really, that guy is a pain in the ass! I should know.

Still, that challenge holds. I’d like to see those book people get back into books — as eBooks. Apple isn’t doing writers any favors and we need book people.

We just don’t need Big Corporate Dying Dinosaurs of Print book people.

And neither do the Big Corporations, either.

Writer Michael Muhammad Knight In NYT

December 23, 2008

Young Muslims Build a Subculture on an Underground Book

CLEVELAND — Five years ago, young Muslims across the United States began reading and passing along a blurry, photocopied novel called “The Taqwacores,” about imaginary punk rock Muslims in Buffalo.

“This book helped me create my identity,” said Naina Syed, 14, a high school freshman in Coventry, Conn.

A Muslim born in Pakistan, Naina said she spent hours on the phone listening to her older sister read the novel to her. “When I finally read the book for myself,” she said, “it was an amazing experience.”

The novel is “The Catcher in the Rye” for young Muslims, said Carl W. Ernst, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Springing from the imagination of Michael Muhammad Knight, it inspired disaffected young Muslims in the United States to form real Muslim punk bands and build their own subculture.

Emphasis added by me.

I just wanted to emphasize once again that this was a direct publishing Win. From photocopied novel to printed book to New York Times coverage and a movie. (And I await Soft Skull Press doing the eBook versions!)

“I’m a Muslim and I’m 100-percent American,” Ms. DeWulf said, “so I can criticize my faith and my country. Rebellion? Punk? This is totally American.”

The novel’s title combines “taqwa,” the Arabic word for “piety,” with “hardcore,” used to describe many genres of angry Western music.

For many young American Muslims, stigmatized by their peers after the Sept. 11 attacks but repelled by both the Bush administration’s reaction to the attacks and the rigid conservatism of many Muslim leaders, the novel became a blueprint for their lives.

Emphasis added by me.

There’s the power of a writer.

Mr. Muhammad Knight was born an Irish Catholic in upstate New York and converted to Islam as a teenager. He studied at a mosque in Pakistan but became disillusioned with Islam after learning about the sectarian battles after the death of Muhammad.

He said he wrote “The Taqwacores” to mend the rift between his being an observant Muslim and an angry American youth. He found validation in the life of Muhammad, who instructed people to ignore their leaders, destroy their petty deities and follow only Allah.

After reading the novel, many Muslims e-mailed Mr. Muhammad Knight, asking for directions to the next Muslim punk show. Told that no such bands existed, some of them created their own, with names like Vote Hezbollah and Secret Trial Five.

Emphasis added by me.

He imagined it and readers created it.

At school, her Koran teacher threw chalk at her for requesting literal translations of the holy book, Ms. Arzay said. After she was expelled from two Muslim schools, her uncle gave her “The Taqwacores.”

“This book is my lifeline,” Ms. Arzay said. “It saved my faith.”

Emphasis added by me.

It just takes one writer to say the things he or she really feels to start something. That something can be helping people not see themselves as alienated or it can be creating an entire social movement.

That is the power of writers and writing.

This is an interesting report about writer Michael Muhammad Knight and the sub-culture his book has helped to form:

Previously here:

Two Books To Read By Michael Muhammad Knight

Apple Approves Of Shooting Nurses In The Face!

December 23, 2008

mj via Twitter informed me of a game available on the UK iTunes App Store, called Silent Hill: The Escape.

This is the listing at the UK App Store:

silenthillappstore
Click = big

In this not-so-charming little game, one of the things to do is shoot nurses in the face:

silenthillnursejpg

Don’t look for it in the American App Store. I already did. It’s not there.

That raises several questions:

1) Was it rejected for inclusion in the American App Store?

1a) If so, how can Apple approve it for the UK App Store?

2) If it’s still pending approval for the American App Store, will it now get it?

3) How is shooting a nurse in the face not worse than using “objectionable” language?

4) If an argument is made that the nurse is “imaginary,” guess what? So are the characters in an eBook!

5) Is provoking people to actively shoot nurses in the face better than passively reading, say, the word fuck in an eBook?

6) Does Apple at this point have any leg to stand on in terms of defining what’s “objectionable” and what’s not?

7) How can Apple claim a moral high ground in terms of eBooks when it continues to make epic profits from music and movies that are far worse than language in eBooks?

8) When will Apple stop making itself a hypocritical laughingstock?

Supplemental:

Silent Hill on App Store

Previously here:

God Bless Writer Derek Raymond
How Many Of THESE eBooks Will Apple Ban?
Apple Bans ANOTHER Book From App Store!

Caliban’s End Is POD Available

December 22, 2008

Following up on an earlier post, after Lulu sorted out all the problems they caused him, Paul F. Stewart reports he has a satisfying POD copy of his novel, What Lies Beneath, in his hands at last.

It looks like this:

whatliesbeneathcover

Happy ending?

No, not near.

When you use a service such as Lulu, you are at its mercy.

If Stewart wonders why he’s not getting any sales, it could be due to the fact Lulu apparently hasn’t found time to actually list it.

Look at this pathetic search result:

lulusearch
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Despite searching both by title and “creator” (WTF?) name, what came up was not his book. Not even close. (I’ve redacted the result because the guy in it is not the subject of this post and can damn well get his own post pimpage somewhere else!)

This is not good for any writer.

Does Lulu care? Ya think?

They Keep Trying To Kill The Long Tail

December 22, 2008

Long Tail theory contradicted as study reveals 10m digital music tracks unsold

The internet was supposed to bring vast choice for customers, access to obscure and forgotten products – and a fortune for sellers who focused on niche markets.

But a study of digital music sales has posed the first big challenge to this “long tail” theory: more than 10 million of the 13 million tracks available on the internet failed to find a single buyer last year.

Emphasis added by me.

And:

However, a new study by Will Page, chief economist of the MCPS-PRS Alliance, the not-for-profit royalty collection society, suggests that the niche market is not an untapped goldmine and that online sales success still relies on big hits. They found that, for the online singles market, 80 per cent of all revenue came from around 52,000 tracks. For albums, the figures were even more stark. Of the 1.23 million available, only 173,000 were ever bought, meaning 85 per cent did not sell a single copy all year.

Emphasis added by me.

On the face of it, those figures are devastating and disheartening.

But I wondered: Was any marketing done for the unsold portion? Did anyone know they were there to be had?

And: What services were measured? I’d like someone to do a study of how much music is sold via MySpace and compare those bands against, say, the iTunes Store and Amazon’s MP3 Store.

All this is directly applicable to writers.

Any writer, for example, who direct publishes an eBook and expects people to find out about it without any marketing is just asking for a bagful of disappointment.

Previously here:

The Long Tail: Not Entirely Discredited
Google Book Search: Medialoper FTW
More Long Tail Debate
The Long Tail: A Lie?

How Many Of THESE eBooks Will Apple Ban?

December 22, 2008

App Developer Strikes E-Book Deals With Major Publishers

ScrollMotion, a New York mobile app developer, has concluded deals with a number of major publishing houses, and is in talks with several others, to produce newly released and best-selling e-books as applications for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Publishers now on board include Houghton Mifflin, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Hachette and Penguin Group USA.

Having these big names is a big step forward for iTunes itself in becoming an e-book shop and the iPhone in becoming a legitimate e-book reader and competitor to products like the Kindle and the Sony E-Reader.

Emphasis added by me.

Cue maniacal laughter of Doom.

The first official books will begin to roll out Monday and include titles such as Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight,” Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass” and a number of others by Christopher Paolini, Brad Meltzer and Scott Westerfeld.

There are already several e-book readers in the app store, as well as a number of out-of-copyright e-books, but ScrollMotion’s product is unique in that these are stand-alone and newer in-copyright titles and best-selling novels.

Each book is a separate application using Scroll Motion’s new reader technology called Iceberg and is wrapped only in the FairPlay iTunes DRM, putting Apple directly into the e-book business by allowing them to pick up a certain percentage of each sale.

Emphasis added by me.

What? FairPlay DRM on eBooks?

FAIL!

Unlike other e-book applications, each title keeps the same pagination as the print book, while still allowing the reader to zoom in and scroll down as well as skipping ahead with a feature called “Book Skim.” Current functionality also includes note taking, text search and the ability to purchase additional books using a recommendation service over a Wi-Fi connection.

Emphasis added by me.

That’s some coding voodoo there.

On any other day, this news would be exciting.

Given Apple’s propensity for being censorious, book-banning eejits, it’s not.

They plan to eventually roll out the apps on both the Android and Blackberry platforms as well.

And so the eBook ball will be taken away from Apple.

Deservedly so!

Apple Bans ANOTHER Book From App Store!

December 22, 2008

And this time it’s an eBook with nothing but words!

E-Book Banned from App Store for Obscene Content

David Carnoy’s book, entitled Knife Music, was rejected twice by Apple. Yesterday, Apple deemed some of its content objectionable, saying the book does not follow the company’s guidelines in its software-development kit, according to Carnoy (who is also the writer behind CNET’s Fully Equipped electronics column).

One line in particular, where a teenage girl uses expletives during a romantic encounter, is at the core of Apple’s objections.

“The app was resubmitted last week, and the only reason cited for the rejection was because of the obscene content,” Carnoy said.

Emphasis added by me.

Why is he surprised?

“And furthermore, there’s ‘explicit’ content all over iTunes, with lots of rap music (they have the ‘explicit’ bug on those items). And obviously, Apple does serve up some R-rated movies,” Carnoy added. “Beyond that, Apple sells audiobooks through iTunes that feature profanities. It has plenty of best sellers that are in the same genre as my book (Michael Connelly’s Brass Verdict, for instance). So, obviously, the whole thing is hypocritical and unfair. My book is R-rated at best. It’s not porn.”

Welcome to the Apple App Store of Hypocrisy, Carnoy!

Previously here:

Direct Publishing Via POD: A Primer (David Carnoy article)
WHY Freedom Of Speech MATTERS, Dammit! Part Three
Sony eBook Store: Publishers Portal
2010: Back In Your Box, Bitch
WHY Freedom Of Speech MATTERS, Dammit! Part Two
WHY Freedom Of Speech MATTERS, Dammit!
Takiji Kobayashi: Writer’s Revenge
Murderdrome: Eleven Years Old!
Print: Dying. And The Net: No Future?
Apple And A Tale Of Two Bannings
Apple Forfeits eBooks By Banning A Comic Book!