“It makes you think you are just about to write, for once, something brilliant.” Everyone knows that Moleskines don’t really affect your writing, but they nevertheless represent a kind of literary standard. As we step into the future and doodling goes digital, will products like electronic writing tablets put the leather-bound versions out of business? Somewhere Hemingway is turning in his grave.
Few people have heard of Iceberg Slim, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been important. His autobiography, published in 1967, tells the story of his life as a pimp, and one of his novels, Trick Baby, was made into a 1972 movie. He’s been called “the Mark Twain of hip-hop.” At Salon, Scott Timberg talks with Justin Gifford, the author of a new biography of Slim.
Is all publicity good publicity? Are all reviews—even bad ones—good for books? The answer, according to a new study [pdf] by the journal Marketing Science, depends on whether the writer is well known or unknown. The study examined the impact of a New York Times review on the sales of more than 200 hardcover titles. For books by established writers, a negative review led to a 15% decrease in sales. For unknown authors, a negative review increased sales by a healthy 45%.
Though major publications like The New York Times are still questioning the importance and power of female essayists, Lucy Scholes argues that women are producing “some of the best writing today” and as proof lists several of the best recent essay collections by women in a piece for The Daily Beast. Incidentally, that list includes titles such as The Empathy Exams and The Opposite of Loneliness, both of which were reviewed for The Millions (here and here, respectively).
“Always practice basic online etiquette, or ‘netiquette.’ Consider including emoticons to help add personality to your message and set the right tone. Also, be sure to stay on topic in a conversation and avoid writing in all caps, which is the online equivalent to shouting.” The Amazon Author Insights blog (full disclosure: Amazon helps us keep the lights on around here!) has a list of guidelines for authors looking to engage with their fans (and critics) on Goodreads. More recommended reading: our own Emily St. John Mandel on how to respond to your critics.
“Do you know the philosopher Slavoj Žižek?” asks John Jeremiah Sullivan in his interview for the LA Review of Books. “He has this thing about love, the evil of love, and he says, I really don’t like love, because what love says is: I pick you out from everything, and I’m going to give you special attention, meaning that everything else is denigrated, and he says there’s something a little evil in that, and in the same way I think that there something a little philistine about lists.”