This Week in Publishing 7/16/10

by | Jul 16, 2010 | Uncategorized | 83 comments

This week in double rainbows I mean publishing…

Stephen Parrish pointed me to a NY Times survey of the world of book trailers, those magical creatures that use video to convince us we should read books. While only 0.1% of everyone out there decided to purchase a book via a book trailer, the kids these days seem to love them according to an online survey at Teenreads.

And speaking of viral, the I Write Like app was positively ubiquitous this week, though if anyone can prove that it’s more than a random author generator I’d love to see it. I plugged the first chapter of JACOB WONDERBAR in and it said I write like James Joyce. So….. yeah. Thank goodness ULYSSES is the most popular novel of all time among children eight to twelve.

William Faulkner speaks!! Some of Faulkner’s lectures to students have been uploaded and can be found here. I actually needed some occasional translation help from my Southern wife due to Faulkner’s incredible accent, but was totally hooked by his lecture on What Makes Man Endure especially. Faulkner’s vision for the last sound on Earth during the end of times: two people arguing about where they’re going to go in their spaceship. Oh, actually three, because one will be writing a book about it.

Author Janet Fitch wrote a really terrific Top 10 Tips for Writers, which I thought was way better than most Top 10 Tips for Writers lists. Some of my favorite parts: Write the sentence, not just the story, Kill the Cliche, and most importantly: Write in scenes. (via Jacket Copy)

Society of Authors chair Tom Holland spoke out against industry standard e-book royalties, calling them “not remotely fair.”

And over at the Guide to Literary Agents blog, Chuck Sambuchino put together a great overview of the different sections in a nonfiction book proposal.

This week in the Forums: insanely cute kittens, a study shows that competition may impact creativity, which character is the favorite you’ve ever written, and, of course, how did you come up with that?

Comment! Of! The! Week! goes to Kerry Gans, who I thought had some good insight on the question of why it’s so hard to tell whether our own writing is good. Could it be a visual thing?:

Maybe because my typed Word document looks the same as everyone else’s typed Word document. What I mean is that you can see that you can’t jump as high as the NBA guys, or that the person you drew looks more like freaky tree, or hear that your guitar riff sounds like your cat scratched it out. But my words typed on a page look pretty much the same as JK Rowlings’.

I also think it might be because writing is so much a “felt” art — you are so invested in what you write that it “feels” good to you. How could you work so hard and put so much of yourself into it and have it NOT be good?

And I think the industry itself makes it hard, because so much of it is subjective. There are some truly awful books that have made it to print, and some very good ones that probably have not. This subjectivity makes it hard to measure how good your work is. As Jon VanZile said above: “There’s no way to keep score.”

And finally, after linking to everyone’s favorite Double Rainbow video yesterday, I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug the Double Rainbow song, which is also incredibly incredible. If only I could figure out WHAT DOES IT MEAN:

Have a great weekend!


  1. Cameron

    I will say that the "I write like" app is consistent. I put in over a chapter each from 3 different works in progress of mine, and every time it told me I write like Stephen King.

    Then again, maybe it just looks for key words and since I write mysteries with "death," "murder," and "body" in the first couple of chapters, it made a mistake.

  2. howdidyougetthere

    Comment of the Week man has brilliant insight. Well done.

  3. cheekychook

    I can't prove that "I write like" is anything more than a random author generator, but I can offer up a result that gave me pause. I entered everything from blogs, to posts, to excerpts from my WIP and came up with results ranging from Shakespeare to Wallace to King to Atwood. I was completely thinking the results were random. Then, on a whim, I entered a piece of Twilight fan fiction and I got the result Stephanie Meyer. So, coincidence? Maybe. But her name didn't come up with any of the other things I entered….

  4. Ina

    Apparently my first paragraph is Stephen King, my first chapter is James Joyce, my second chapter is Agatha Christie and my third Douglas Adams.

    Oh dear me.

  5. Melanie

    "It's so intense-tense."

    (I may be driving my husband crazy listening to this on repeat.)

  6. Samuel D. Grey

    I decided to put three different chapters of one of my WIP's into that "I write like" app and was given two Dan Browns and an H.P. Lovecraft.

    I then did the same thing with my other WIP and was told that I write like H.G. Wells, James Joyce and Vladimir Nabakov.

    I don't really know what that says about my writing.

  7. Anonymous

    I just went to "I write like…" and typed in:
    "double rainbow double rainbow double rainbow"

    Like the magic eight ball, it answered!!

    It said:
    I write like Ian Fleming!

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN!!!!!!!!!????????

  8. Livia

    That double rainbow song is actually pretty good? I'm so buying it on itunes.

  9. Michelle

    Well, Cameron, that app said I write like King, too. I plugged in the first 250 from my middle-grade. Maybe it was the use of "bony," and "enemies." idk

    I do know I've never read a King novel. Having seen Carrie in Jr. High was enough to freak me out for life.

    Nathan, I forgive you for posting that video. I may never get the song out of my head, but I forgive you.

  10. Em

    Okay, this has been my big science experiment/game this week.

    I Write Like isn't completely random, but as Cameron said I think it's as much about keywords as anything else.

    If you fill the writing sample box with just one keyword over and over, you can start to see how it "thinks."

    Fill the sample text box with "elephant," it'll say you write like Kipling. "Magic" gives you Rowling, "ring" gives you Tolkien, "Volvo" gives you Meyer, and so on.

    So while it says it looks at your writing style, I think it's mostly looking at your keyword frequencies compared to the frequencies in number-crunched works by the authors it compares you to.

    And now a certain part of If on a Winter's Night a Traveler is nagging at the back of my mind…

  11. Lia Victoria

    I got James Joyce in the I Write App too. Then I put, "Magic fun ha" in about 50 times, and suddenly I was JK Rowling.


  12. Felicity

    I plugged in the exact same blog post two different times at I WRITE LIKE and had two different answers: Kurt Vonnegut and David Foster Wallace.

  13. Anonymous

    This is one of the most entertaining This Week in Publishing blog posts ever.


    (just tell us that double rainbow guy isn't your evil twin!!)

  14. Anonymous

    bwaaa haaaa haaaa

  15. aspiring_x

    i was sure iwl was random, so i tried to fool it. i took several passages from my book and entered them multiple times randomly. the authors it correlated the passages with were always the same. so, it's not completely random. but as to WHAT data it uses to make its claims, i have no idea!

  16. Anonymous

    I think other people are right, with the IWL app not being random, but having to do more with the use of certain key words. Plug in Harry Potter fanfiction and you get JKR, but the same thing happens if you just write "Harry" over and over again.

    I put in "The Nightingale and the Rose," and got Neil Gaiman. Putting in The Picture of Dorian Gray gave Oscar Wilde…

  17. Morgan

    I actually got Chuck Palahniuk (why do I still have to google his name every time I spell it?) for several different pieces. Now, I'm not saying I write like him, but at least the thing's consistent! And consistently entertaining!

  18. Anonymous

    I'd love to watch the Faulkner lectures, only the library at UVA insists on using Quicktime, which doesn't work in Linux.

    Are librarians supposed to support open formats so that these things will be easily watchable in fifty years time?


  19. Bane of Anubis

    Yes, I'm hoping that app is not too accurate :)… 1st Chapter – Dan Brown (which I've actually heard before from an agent… not in a good way 😉 — I can handle Dan Brown…

    But chapter 2 — Stephenie Meyer… I'm hoping it's because of the romance words 🙂

    Chapters 3 – 5… David Foster Wallace… at least getting some consistency 🙂

    Thanks for the links.. A nice distraction.

  20. Melanie

    "The best is the best, and the best is to put inside the covers of a book the complete turmoil and experience and insight of the human heart…" – Faulkner

    This library of lectures is fantastic. I will be busy with this for days…

  21. Anonymous

    Wow,I write like sure is distracting. I'm relieved to see I'm not the only one who got different writers, especially when I'm just about finished with my editing. I'm mostly James Joyce and David foster, chapter by chapter, but when I put is all in (yes, I really am that sad) it came up with Chuck Palaniuk, so not sure how that works. It kept me distracted for a while though, thanks Nathan!

  22. Other Lisa

    I wrote like:

    Stephen King, Chuck Palahnuik and J.K. Rowling!

    Um, right.

  23. Christi Goddard

    I put in chapters individually of two MSS and individual short stories I'd written. I think it analyzes SOMETHING, but what I don't know:

    Lesser Evils: 46% Dan Brown, 30% James Joyce, 6% H P Lovecraft, and 3% each Stephen King, Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, Mario Puzo, J K Rowling, and (wtf?) Edgar Allan Poe.

    Postmortal: 65% Stephen King, and 7% (a chapter a piece) Douglas Adams, H P Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, and Vladimir Nabokov.

    I won't do a chapter by chapter breakdown of Lesser Evils since it's boring, but I will share the breakdown of Postmortal because I find it very interesting.

    Chapter 1: Kurt Vonnegut
    Chapter 2: Douglas Adams
    Chapter 3: Vladimir Nabokov
    Chapter 4: Stephen King
    Chapter 5: Stephen King
    Chapter 6: Stephen King
    Chapter 7: Isaac Asimov
    Chapter 8: Stephen King
    Chapter 9: H P Lovecraft
    Chapter 10: Stephen King
    Chapter 11: Stephen King
    Chapter 12: Stephen King
    Chapter 13: Stephen King
    Chapter 14: Stephen King

    It suggests that I tried a variety of influences before settling on a Stephen King style.

    As for my short stories, the results are this:

    BOOM – Chuck Palahnuik
    The End of the World – Margaret Atwood
    A Typical Morning – Stephen King
    You Are – Stephen King
    Bitter Hands – Stephen King
    We Are – Arthur Conan Doyle
    I Am – Oscar Wilde
    Peeping Tom – Chuck Palahniuk
    Solo Pillow Talk – Dan Brown
    Language is a Playground – Margaret Atwood
    Eight True Things – Chuck Palahniuk

  24. Candyland

    You're right. It is incredibly incredible…

  25. Phyllis

    I don't believe IWL is deliberately bogus, but for all purposes, it's a random name generator. Comparing the vocabulary of a couple of paragraphs to a text of novel length can hardly produce relevant results.

    I just thought it was funny.

  26. Anita Saxena

    I'm in the process of rewriting my WIP. So I plugged in Chapter 1 from the old version and apparently it said I wrote like David Foster Wallace. But then I plugged in my rewritten Chapter 1 and it said I wrote like Ursula K. Le Guin.

    Is Le Guin an improvement over Wallace? A digression? Or just a whole different ball game? Who knows.

    Haven't read either author. Perhaps, now I should….

  27. Dana

    LOL, I got Charles Dickens & Stephen King. What a combination.

  28. Kristin Laughtin

    This week has been SO INTENSE.

    I used the I Write Like app on a couple different pieces, and there were a few passages where I could understand the comparison to X author, but I'm mostly inclined to agree that it's a random generator with only about ten authors' names plugged into it.

    Go Comment of the Week! I never really thought about the fact that all our manuscripts look pretty similar, just looking at the screen. Of course we tend to think they're all equal.

  29. Kelly Wittmann

    Yeah, "I Write Like…" is probably b.s., but you know what? I just needed someone to tell me I write like Kurt Vonnegut and to believe it for two seconds. Now it's back to reality.

  30. Carolyn Abiad

    I'm apparently Kurt Vonnegut or David Foster Wallace like Felicity. Perhaps the app can't make up it's mind because we write in different voices for different purposes? And if we all accept that there isn't really anything new, just the same things presented in a new way, then it makes sense. We write according to our influences and there are other people in the universe who share our perspective. Did we need a computer analysis to tell us?

  31. Lauren

    Nathan, I am swooning — SWOONING — over the mere idea of listening to Faulkner lectures when I get home from work today. I believe the only Faulkner recording I've heard until now has been his Nobel acceptance speech (which I love).

    Thanks for inspiring me to get the rest of my pesky report for my day job finished.

  32. Robert

    I agree that "I write like," if nothing else, is consistent. I plugged several different chapters of my work in there and they all came up either Joyce or Vonnegut (we all know that Joyce and Vonnegut are peas in a pod, right?). I also plugged the same chapter in a few times, and it always came up with the same response. I wonder why it never comes up with some crap author?

  33. Kate

    I do love Janet Fitch. I especially love the way she never criticizes other writers. A real class act.

  34. Courtney Cook Hopp

    I write like "Fight Club" author Chuck Palahniuk. Never would have guessed that one in a million guesses.

  35. Tom M Franklin

    i was Lewis Carroll. considering i'm writing humorous MG Steampunk, that's somewhat close enough.

    neil gaiman put in two chunks from Anansi Boys and got Steven King and J.R. Tolkien. (

    go figure.

  36. Ben

    I played around with the "I Write Like" app as well. I'm pretty sure it's based on some kind of formula, though I have no idea whether it is accurate or not.

    Arthur C. Clark was my first result. I tried two different chapters (one that is more subdued and another action scene) and got two different results. I removed one sentence from each chapter and got the same result. Then I plugged in most of my manuscript and got Arthur C. Clark again.

    I'm intrigued about this man I write like…

  37. John Jack

    Visual sense is one of four common writers' writing senses.

    Visual writers miss out on stronger sensory feedback.

    Reading aloud or along while writing tastes, hears, and feels the words, gustatory, aural, and tactile senses. Observe a group of writers reading or writing, some of their lips move, they hum along in accompaniment. Odds are they're the better writers, too, than the ones whose lips don't move.

  38. Jenny Brown

    When I gave it a paragraph, I Write Like told me I wrote like James Joyce. When I fed it dialogue, it said I wrote like Mark Twain.

    A friend who got the kind of advance we all dream of reports that it gave her 13 different authors ranging from Joyce to Stephanie Meyer.

    Even NPR fell for this. You cannot go wrong flattering authors. It is undoubtedly table driven and it isn't a very fancy table.

  39. swampfox

    Wouldn't it be better if the "I Write Like" thing came up blank?

  40. Francis

    Oh my… my kittens made the front page! haha, that's golden 😀

  41. Jil

    I write like Margaret Atwood – so app says. Well I am Canadian and my book is about oppressed women, although I don't know if any of that showed in what I sent.

  42. Kay

    OMG!! I tried out that app. FUNKY OUTCOME! I don't know what to think.

    Sample from my first chapter (which I just revised drastically a couple of weeks ago): Stephen King (Whaaaaa??? I've only read 1 King book, and I didn't really enjoy it that much. Is that a bad sign??)

    Sample from chapter three: David Foster Wallace (Huuuuhhh? I must be a loser, b/c I don't know who that is.)

    Sample from smack-dab in the middle of my novel (which was a love scene I wrote last summer, btw): Stephenie Meyer (saaaay what???)

    Sample from a section toward the end of my book (which I JUST RECENTLY wrote a month ago, takes place in the wilderness of Croatia): Robert Louise Stevenson…wait! Robert Louise Stevenson????? YIPPIEEEEE! Tee-hee, sorry, I love RLS.

    And finally, the last few paragraphs from the VERY LAST CHAPTER of my novel (which I wrote last summer): Margaret Mitchell (WHOA.)

    Hmmm…wonder what this means.

    Nathan, do you have any insight since you're an agent? My story's in first person, so could it depend on my characters, uh, mood or surroundings or something? Like whether she's using a lot of dialogue or more narrative or there's an action sequence???

    Or, is it more likely b/c I wrote all these different scenes at different times (last summer vs more recently)?

  43. Mike

    I plugged in the sample from my "page critique" entry and five samples from my blog. The only author who came up twice was Edgar Allen Poe.

    Yeah, the one who died broke. Swell.

  44. Robert

    "Robert Louise Stevenson"


    You love him?



  45. lauradroege

    Like several hundred other people, I apparently write like Stephen King. But if Stephen King put some of his own work in this app, would he still write like himself?

  46. D.G. Hudson

    The I Write Like app is fun, but I agree with Cameron regarding how it selects the author's name if it's not totally random.

    With a mystery, it gave me H.P. Lovecraft, but with my sci-fi, the author's name was I. Asimov (yeah sure).

  47. John Jack

    I suspect the I Write Like app is a rudimentary keyword analyzer that cross compares user input with samples from a pool of published works. The lack of any Hemingway hits to date suggests the pool of comparison samples is very limited and probably code writer biased.

  48. k10wnsta

    As fun as it is, the 'I Write Like…' program is fundamentally flawed in that no matter what's plugged in there, the result will always be 1 of 40 wildly successful authors.

    In order to be more useful, it should incorporate some rudimentary spellcheck of simple words and when a piece is submitted that's riddled with errors, it should just spit out a badge that says:

    I write like a retard

    It could also factor in some bad authors. I mean, the developer could work some really bad Twilight fanfic (I know, 'really bad' and 'Twilight fanfic' is redundant) into the algorithm. It wouldn't have to use their names, but it could say something like:

    I write like shitty author #3

    Hmmm, I wonder…would getting swift and brutal criticism be more or less difficult coming from an automaton?

    It ocurred to me that one might take offense at my use of the word 'automaton', but please understand that that was not my intent. Our programmed brothers will soon be sentient and I, for one, will welcome our new robot overlords…

  49. k10wnsta

    Oh, and for the record, I too wondered how the program made its calculations and I dug up this explanation from the developer:

    'Currently it analyzes vocabulary (use of words), number of words, commas, and semicolons in sentences, number of sentences with quotation marks and dashes (direct speech).'

    Although he said he's keeping the list of authors secret for now, he did divulge there are 40 of them.

    You can read his responses to people's questions in the comment section of his blog:

  50. wendy

    I'd like to jump to the defence of I Write Like especially as it made a comparison between my work and that of Anne Rice. *g* I submitted the same piece thrice and each time it assured me my work was an Anne Rice look-a-like.
    I can dream 🙂

  51. Terin Tashi Miller

    OK. As one of the original introducers (?) of IWL on your blog, I feel duty bound to weigh in.

    To whit: Why do we writers think what we write is any good?

    Submitted a sentence of my first paragraph of my debut novel "From Where The Rivers Come" when a friend suggested I try IWL.

    First result: Ernest Hemingway (so no, there was at least one instance of Hemingway as a name generated).

    Funny thing was, typed the entire first paragraph of my debut novel into IWL.

    Second result: IWL Stephen King.


    Probably would be better if it just took your name when you put in your text and told you "you write like (your name here)." Or maybe, you write like (name of person entering text before you).

    I had no idea Stephen King wrote like Ernest Hemingway until trying IWL.

    It was fun. That's the only reason I suggested people try it.

    And judging by the number of people on just this blog alone who did, I'd say we may not know the complete answer to the question of why we think we can write like "professionals," but IWL certainly doesn't do anything to dispell the delusion.


    Will have to let some time pass before listening to the "Double Rainbow Song." Am already obviously too easily influenced by other peoples' works…

  52. Ishta Mercurio

    In defense of IWL – I blogged about it last night, I had so much fun with it – I'm surprised that some people seem to have taken it so seriously.

    I plugged in a couple of my rhyming stories, and I got L. Frank Baum, which I know is ridiculous. Almost all of my blog entries got David Foster Wallace, which makes a kind of sense. And my PBs got J. K. Rowling and J. D. Salinger (ridiculous both), while the chase scene I wrote for Nathan's contest got Stephen King.

    I think it might give you a sense of whose style you emulate in terms of paragraph and sentence length and word choice, but mostly, I view it as harmless fun. I'm looking forward to reading the Q and A on the creator's blog.

    And Faulkner lectures? REALLY? Nice! I'll definitely be checking those out.

    The Double Rainbow guy was pretty weird, but the song is actually kind of good… I wonder what THAT means?

  53. Wild About Words

    Sent both double rainbow vids to my friend, who was upset when my teen boys couldn't care less when she pointed out a rainbow to them. Now, she'll finally hear someone with the proper reverence for rainbows. Too funny. Thanks for sharing!

  54. jjdebenedictis

    Wish I could read that NY Times article, but alas: I am cheap.

    I actually set up a website earlier this year intending to test whether book trailers work, but I didn't end up implementing it.

    Because my geekiness dictates that code crunching for kicks is fun, but approaching authors to see if they'd like to participate in a study is hella scary.

  55. sensawunder

    I posted text from each of my works, and the first came back as "Dan Brown", the second like "Stephen King" and the third like "James Joyce". Go figure.

  56. treeoflife

    Loved the 10 tips by Janet Fitch… that is except for the first one.

    As a reader, I can't stand it if the author is trying to put fancy or unique sentences ahead of the story. I have put down many a book when I thought the author was more focused on showing off their fancy literary techniques than actually telling a good story.

    Maybe it's a good tip for someone working on their MFA.

  57. Nancy

    While my author friends and I pasted snippet after snippet of our own works into the IWL text window, my IT friend went a step further. Lo and behold, when you give it a section of Jabberwocky, you write like Lewis Carroll! Equally amazing is the fact that the first chapter of Hitchhiker's Guide reads like Douglas Adams.

    I do think key words play a large role in the analysis, but it also looks at paragraph structure. A friend got William Gibson and when she read some of his work, she could see similarities in style.

    And in all honesty, who doesn't want to hear that they write like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and J.R.R. Tolkien?

  58. sensawunder

    Over at Making Light, all is revealed about IWL — it appears to be a promotional for a writer and vanity press…

  59. Adam Heine

    The IWL app is at least consistent. If you type in the first page of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, it comes up with JK Rowling.

    Although it may just have good security measures for people like me who like to break things.

  60. Moses Siregar III

    So….. yeah. Thank goodness ULYSSES is the most popular novel of all time among children eight to twelve.So….. yeah. Thank goodness ULYSSES is the most popular novel of all time among children eight to twelve.


  61. nona

    haven't read jacob wonderbar (yet) but could it be that your style also resembles lemony snicket? that would be a good thing, yeah?

  62. sharon clemmons thomas

    I love your blog, Nathan! You teach me much, and you cut my own web-surfing down by half at least!

  63. Alwyn

    A very patient and meticulous (librarian) friend of mine did an experiment with the "I write like" app. She input a book, page by page, and from one page to another of the exact same story she got everything from William Faulkner to JK Rowling. Apparently it's based on key words. Like if it picks up words like "magic" it will go Rowling.

    In my case it told me I wrote like Dan Brown for my first chapter and like Margaret Atwood for my last chapter. This made me form my own (far more insane) theory: that the App is blatantly psychic and picks authors based on their characteristics, not their words! After all, I majored in History of Art at Uni and Dan Brown likes to pretend he knows things about that. And I'm Canadian from Ontario and so is Margaret Atwood. I'm sure if I gave the machine a chance to work out I was living in the UK I would write like JK Rowling *nods gravely*

    Damn that sounded borderline like a conspiracy theory, maybe I do write like Dan Brown.

  64. Marilyn Peake

    Thanks for the links! I’m looking forward to listening to the William Faulkner lectures. How incredibly wonderful that some of his lectures were taped and have now been digitized and published online! We live in amazing times.

    Janet Fitch’s Top 10 Tips for Writers are excellent. I’m currently reading THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE by Aimee Bender. Her writing is exquisite – definitely follows those rules.

    I tried the "I Write Like" site today. Earlier this week, I saw a tweet from Neil Gaiman that he tried the site and apparently writes like someone other than himself, LOL. Based on first pages, I supposedly write like Chuck Palahniuk in one of my adult novels, like Edgar Allan Poe in one of my middle grade novels, and…yikes…like Stephenie Meyer in one of my short stories.

    Have a great weekend!

  65. Leigh D'Ansey

    Thanks for the link to Janet Fitch's writing tips – they're excellent!

  66. J. T. Shea

    I put in 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.' repeated dozens of times, and 'I Write Like' said I write like P. G. Wodehouse! Not Jack Torrance or Stephen King? Maybe Wodehouse's ghost haunts the Overlook Hotel.

  67. k10wnsta

    I Write Like… currently analyzes vocabulary (use of words)…number of words, commas, and semicolons in sentences…and number of sentences with quotation marks and dashes (direct speech). There are 40 authors for the database to choose from and although the list contains more male than female scribes, it is not capable of discerning gender in either the work people input or the comparative works in its database.
    (Oh, and nothing submitted for analysis is retained on the server)

    I thought I should reiterate the info in my earlier post as it seems quite a few people are still frittering away time trying to reverse engineer it by analyzing reams of work.

    As swampfox stated earlier, it would be ideal if you submitted a piece of work and the program was unable to match your style to any existing author.

  68. k10wnsta

    Shouldn't 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy' return James Howell?
    I suppose the database is lacking in british authors from the early 1600's (Oscar Wylde is probably as retro as it gets for the time being).

  69. Marilyn Peake

    After entering the first page of one of my short stories into the "I Write Like" site and getting Stephenie Meyer, I entered the entire short story into the site and got David Foster Wallace. Happy!

  70. Melanie

    Marilyn: I am dying to read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. I love Aimee Bender.

  71. Michael

    I think it's more than just random. It gave me David Foster Wallace pretty consistently for the contemporary sections of my novel. For the historical thread, it gave me Defoe, Stevenson, and Tolstoy. Can't complain about that. But here's the funny thing: I typed in the first sentence of García Márquez's Hundred Years of Solitude and Cervantes' Don Quixote–in Spanish–and for both it gave me Dan Brown!

  72. Mira

    Cool links, Nathan!

    The double rainbow video is soooo funny. The funniest part is at the end, where the band plays. I love how one video about rainbows, has now become a community project. Everyone is getting in on the rainbow road.

    That was an interesting article about book trailers. When I write a book, I'm hiring Angelina Jolie to play me. That ought to sell a few books.

    The I Write Like app is broken! No matter how many times I put my writing in, it never said I wrote like Mira. Duh. Even I know that I write like Mira. Just goes to show you, I'm smarter than a machine.

    Are Faulkner's lectures good? I'm not in the loop, but I'll take your recommendation for it, Nathan, and listen to the one you recommend.

    That is a good list of top 10 tips. I like that she really addresses the writing. Most people talk more about publishing.

    Advocacy! Yay! I'm so glad that writers are fighting for their e-book rights. My main concern is locking in rates for all time, and I'm glad that's being fought for. You go, Authors' chair!!

    I'm off building my platform by getting an M.S.W., but I'll need information about how to do a non-ficiton proposal. I appreciate it. I noticed that most agents adress fiction writers. I guess the path to non-fiction is, in some ways, more straightforward…?

    Those kittens are the cutest thing ever. I can't look or I'll want one. That's is actually not true. If I look, I'll want them ALL. So cute.

    I liked Kerry's comment, good points. Actually, I thought that whole discussion was really interesting. Some smart people come to this blog.

    Thanks for the interesting reading, Nathan! Your Friday wrap-ups are wonderful.

    Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

  73. Shannon Chamberlain

    Well, don't feel too bad. I'm trying to write for teenagers and it says I write like David Foster Wallace. I don't even like David Foster Wallace. Damn.

  74. Liam

    Fantastic blog Nathan. Just got caught up with all the old posts and feel about a thousand times better informed. Great to see someone so passionate about their work, optimistic, and eager to share and educate writers.

  75. Kristi Helvig

    I apparently write like Douglas Adams which works for me. 🙂 Thanks for the links and Happy Weekend.

  76. ntrwst

    I tried the I write like app and it said I write like Vladimir Nabokov which is unfortunate only because I was trying to write like Jane Austen!

  77. Ink Spills

    Every time I tried the "I write Like" app, I put in a different piece of work. Apparently my blog sounds like Cory Doctorow, my WIP sounds like Kurt Vonnegut, one of my short stories is written in the vein of Hemingway, and another in that of Stephen King… Oh, and my poems sound like Vladimir Nabokov.
    After this experiment, I have concluded that I sound like myself, famous or not. And I didn't really need the internet to figure that one out.

  78. Matthew Rush

    I can't listen to auto tuned lyrics anymore, they make my ears bleed.

  79. Anonymous

    I'm really not sure why people took a meme like this so seriously–how is it different than any other meme with a couple choices (only this one was all about white men with a couple white women thrown in for variety)?

    Anyway, Nathan, here's the truth about the meme, via Making Light. (The second link is the more useful one.)

  80. Greg Mongrain

    I tested the app by putting in some of my early–terrible–stuff, and I still got Doctorow, Dan Brown, and Anne Rice. The reason it cannot be trusted is that it never returns, "No one who was ever published," when occasionally, it should.

  81. Marla Warren

    Concerning book trailers, it is interesting to note the two very different video trailers for Michael Crichton’s posthumously published novel Pirate Latitudes.

    Harper Collins UK had their trailer up on October 19, 2009—28 days before the UK release of the novel on Nov. 16. They also posted a video on the making of the promotional trailer.

    Harper Collins had the trailer for the US edition up on Nov. 18—six days before the Nov. 24 release.

    I have a blog on Michael Crichton, and the digital marketing department of Harper Collins UK sent me an email asking me to post the link on my blog, which I was happy to do. The trailer for the US edition I discovered myself when visiting the Harper Collins website.

    The US trailer is beautifully done, but is more general in its approach. The UK trailer set up the plot and introduced many of the characters. Both videos whet my appetite for the novel, but I prefer the UK trailer, because it was more informative.


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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