March 24, was The Millions’ second birthday. In the year since my last “happy birthday” post, blogs have become firmly mainstream. It’s become difficult to find a person who asks the once common question, “What’s a blog?” The book blog world has become amazingly robust in the last year, meriting frequent mentions in the mainstream media and providing a real alternative to newspaper book coverage that manages, at best, to reach some of the readers some of the time. Based on the many emails I get, book blogs have become a venue of conversation (and a potential outlet for promotion) for authors and publishers. For those who bemoan the stagnation of the literary world – and all of the book bloggers seem to do it from time to time – we are in the midst of a shift, if not yet a revolution, in national (and international) literary discussion, which has migrated from book club meetings and bookstore aisles out into the open. I am regularly delighted when a Millions reader, and book lover, leaves a comment or sends me an email, thus entering the conversation. I also love the loose give and take among the several dozen book blogs and the way themes will propagate across the blog landscape one after another until there is a dense web of conversation floating among us in the ether. The best thing about this is it appears to be just the beginning. I have ten times as many regular visitors as I did at this time a year ago, and new book blogs appear almost weekly it seems, adding further depth to the discourse. When I started, I just figured it might be fun to write about books as a way to make use of all the time I spent surrounded by them at the bookstore. Everything that’s happened beyond that has been gravy. Thanks for two great years, Millions readers (and contributors)!
Join us in welcoming our newest regular contributor at The Millions:Kevin Hartnett lives in Philadelphia with his fiance Caroline. He works as a community organizer for public education reform and enjoys his days most when they are full of people. He spends his off hours running along the Delaware River, and wafting from cannisters of loose tea at a store that recently opened near his apartment.You may remember the two reviews Kevin penned for us earlier this year. His next offering will be up shortly.
The Millions (virtual) back office is looking for some help again. The site continues to grow, and that means we have an opportunity to add another book-loving person to our team.
We are looking for someone who can help us with a few specific things. The new Millions intern will contribute to our “Curiosities” link blog and will help man (or wo-man) our Twitter feed, Facebook page, and Tumblr. Through those avenues, the intern we seek will have an audience of hundreds of thousands and will be introducing The Millions to new readers every day.
In return for a very modest time commitment, our intern will also join a great group of creative thinkers and have the opportunity to get their work edited by the working writers among us and potentially see their pieces published at The Millions. As is the case with our crew of regulars, our intern will be compensated for the pieces he or she publishes on the site. Several past interns have also transitioned into other roles on our staff.
Posting to our “Curiosities” link blog
Posting to our Twitter account
Posting to our Facebook page
Posting to our Tumblr
Posting to our G+ page
Coming up with new ideas for fun ways to utilize the above
Here’s what we’re looking for:
A voracious reader – Our ideal candidate will be well-read and have a solid knowledge of contemporary fiction.
A social media superstar– Again, Twitter, Facebook, (Tumblr, blogging, etc.)
Experience with WordPress is a huge bonus.
Experience with Photoshop would be enticing, but is by no means required.
More details: This isn’t going to be anything close to a full-time gig. We’re thinking 5-10 hours a week realistically, plus as much time as you want to spend writing for us. We think the internship would be a great fit for a college or grad student, but are certainly open to hearing from non-students of any age whose schedules will allow them to do this. We’re looking for a one-year commitment, though we can be flexible on the duration. The Millions has no dedicated office, so this is a remote position and can be done from anywhere in the world.
The position is unpaid, but any long-form pieces that you write for the site and are approved for publication will be compensated using the same system we use to compensate our regular writers. And there will most probably be some free books here and there and also opportunities to attend interesting literary events.
Why should you do this? The Millions is read by hundreds of thousands of people every month. Our readership is a laundry list of influential, brilliant folks in the publishing and media industries as well as in academia, not to mention the most engaged, avid readers of literary work that you’ll find anywhere. Aside from learning about how a site like The Millions operates, you’ll have an opportunity to write for all these people, and you’ll get experience running a Twitter account with 175,000 followers.
How to Apply:
Please send the following to [email protected]
Three sample Curiosities, using the format we use on the site
If applicable and you are willing to share, we would like to see the following: Twitter account(s) you use; any Facebook pages you’ve had the opportunity to run for schools, publications, companies, etc.; your Tumblr(s) (Essentially, show us that you have experience using these, even if it’s just your own sparsely followed, but very entertaining Twitter account.)
In addition, show us the other cool stuff you are responsible for online, your blog, etc.
The deadline is one week from today: 4/23.
We look forward to hearing from you!
For nearly half a century, Elaine Kaufman ran a restaurant in New York City that was a haven and a clubhouse for writers of all hues — brand names, up-and-comers, wannabes, and unknowns, the gregarious and the lonely, the elegant and the scruffy, the prolific and the blocked. The one thing they shared, other than thirst, was the desire to get out of their own skulls and into an interesting conversation.
At Elaine’s, with remarkable regularity, they succeeded. They found not only fellow writers, but cops, actors, gangsters, comedians, tourists, celebrities, and colorful nobodies. A young New York Times reporter named Gay Talese started going there in 1964, when the place was in its infancy. Here’s how he described its allure in 1993, on the occasion of its 30th birthday: “Among other things, Elaine’s is a therapy center, a halfway house for husbands between wives, a late-night talk show without cameras and microphones or commercial interruptions, a place that caters to the nocturnal needs and nourishments of New Yorkers who, as evening approaches, are not sure with whom they wish to dine, or with whom they wish to sleep after they dine, or even if they wish to sleep.”
The glue that held it all together was Elaine herself, an outsize personality with a sharp tongue and a sharper wit, who was usually installed opposite the bar at Table 4, dressed in her trademark round eyeglasses and flowing dresses. She was a magnet, a matchmaker, a traffic cop, a den mother, and, yes, an unlicensed head shrinker.
She died on Dec. 3, 2010 at age 81, and less than six months later the restaurant, starved of the oxygen of her personality, closed. By then it had become apparent that there would never be another Elaine’s — or another Elaine.
“What we liked and enjoyed about the place for more than 40 years was that it’s not replaceable,” Talese told me recently. “In New York you feel everything’s replaceable. The reason Elaine’s is irreplaceable is that when Elaine died there was no one who could make you feel that there’s no place else you’d rather be. An empty place has existed in our hearts since the place closed.”
Several Elaine’s regulars, part of the diaspora of the dismayed and bereft, started discussing ways to repay Elaine for all the encouragement she gave to writers and other creative people. They decided to form The Table 4 Writers Foundation, which has just announced that it is giving out its first batch of $2,000 grants to writers who live in New York City.
“The grants are for all New York writers, not just young and struggling writers,” says Jenine Lepera Izzi, a jewelry designer who met her husband at Elaine’s, became a close friend of the proprietor, and is now chairwoman of the foundation. “My core belief is that I’d love to wave a wand and bring the Jack Kerouacs back. That creative energy was what New York was built on — until the 1980s and ’90s, before rents and costs got so high — and it’s pretty much been squashed.”
I was introduced to Elaine’s — and to Elaine — by Peter Khoury. He and I wrote for the same North Carolina newspaper in the 1990s before moving, separately, to New York. Khoury, now the night metro editor at The Times, became a regular at Elaine’s and, eventually, a close friend of Elaine. One night, as he and I walked into the restaurant together, Khoury received a hearty ovation from the crowd– because the Times‘s metro desk had just broken the story that New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer had a taste for high-dollar prostitutes. It was the only time in my life I’ve heard people applaud a journalist. No wonder Khoury — and so many other writers — liked going to Elaine’s.
“We’re trying to get the word about the grants out at places where writers congregate — writers’ rooms, libraries, bookstores,” says Khoury, who sits on the Table 4 Writers Foundation board of directors and has published several short stories in literary journals. “Elaine was a force of nature, a large, large personality. She instinctively knew if you needed a hug, a Heineken, or a kick in the heinie. We can’t replace her, but through the grants we can give New York writers a little recognition, a little leg up. It’s a way to celebrate and remember her.”
The foundation plans to award five $2,000 grants to New York writers, age 21 and up, at a gala in February of 2013. Entries, fiction or non-fiction, must be post-marked by Oct. 15, 2012.
Image Credit: Wikipedia
Thanks to an onslaught of comment spam, which until now I’ve been dealing with manually, I’ve decided to turn on Blogger’s “word verification” to put a stop to it. It’s annoying because it adds an extra step to commenting here, but it’s the best solution right now. If a better way of dealing with the spam problem comes along, I’ll switch it off. For now though, it’s been added to the Commenting at The Millions primer (if anyone needs a refresher.)
I’d like to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to invite our New York-based readers to come out this Friday, November 2, to celebrate the launch of my first book of fiction, A Field Guide to the North American Family. The release party will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the lovely and capacious Housing Works Bookstore & Cafe on Crosby Street in SoHo.I’ll be reading from the book for about half an hour and showing slides of the illustrations. During the remaining hour and a half, I’ll be signing books and Max and I will be hanging out and drinking free booze with you. We always enjoy meeting our readers, and I’d love to see any and all of you there. (I need all the support I can get!)
First, the answer to the question you want answered: When will you publish your second-half preview? The answer: tomorrow! By this time tomorrow, you will be diving into our unparalleled preview encompassing dozens of the most hotly anticipated titles coming in the next six months.
The preview is a big effort with many people spending many hours to make it happen. And that’s also true of The Millions as a whole.
The Millions has been around for more than 14 years and has never made a living for anyone, but it has thrived. For a while there, it seemed to thrive almost against all odds. Even as economic realities closed in on other online magazines, The Millions had stayed a couple of steps ahead.
Last fall, however, we saw that these realities might soon catch up with us, as we became concerned that The Millions was becoming increasingly reliant on fewer and fewer revenue streams. Like everyone else, we saw that we were at the mercy of the usual suspects: Amazon, Google, Facebook. One small change from any of these giants could send The Millions hurtling to oblivion.
So we decided that we had to try something new: to protect our future, we invited our readers to supports us. Many did, and we are deeply grateful, but we know that many more have not.
Since we wrote in November 2016, the revenue situation has become that much trickier, as changes to the programs we rely on have further eroded the revenue picture and we have scrambled to make up the shortfall. The more we can get our readers to contribute, the more stable our footing will be.
It’s a very quick and simple process and we have a number of tiers that should be manageable for any budget. The three main tiers are annual recurring donations. There is also a monthly option.
And please note that we have a Sponsor tier on our Support page that allows for contributions at a higher level. This tier is for corporations and institutions as well as for individuals in the books and publishing ecosystem who are thriving. We rely on their support especially.