The Last Few Weeks in Books 11/30/12

by | Nov 30, 2012 | Uncategorized | 10 comments

Um. November went where? I’m filing a missing person’s report.

And speaking of which: Last day of NaNoWriMo!! How did you guys do?!

Now then! Lots of links! It was a hectic month and I missed a lot so as always, please be sure and fill in what I missed in the comment section.

Machines can already beat us at chess. Could they ever write a novel?

Meanwhile, NO COINCIDENCE AT ALL, the University of Cambridge is forming a unit to assess whether developments in artificial intelligence pose a threat to humanity. (Disclosure: Link is to CNET, I work there).

So yeah. It’s been a month since Hurricane Sandy, and even aside from the fact that it proves that Mother Nature has turned psychotic, many people remarked on how social media changed the experience of going through the storm. It certainly felt that way for me – I kept tabs on friends here and heard from lots of people wondering how I was doing (I was fine). New York Magazine had what I thought was the best take on that phenomenon.

Speaking of hurricanes, (and let me get the disclaimer out of the way first: I work for CNET, which is owned by CBS, which owns Simon & Schuster. All opinions expressed on this blog are my own, I don’t have knowledge of S&S’s publishing operations, and linking to outside blogs doesn’t necessarily mean I endorse the opinions espoused therein), Simon & Schuster has entered into a relationship with controversial publishing operation Author Solutions. Friend-of-the-blog David Gaughran launched a broadside against the arrangement.

Ken Liu’s short story ‘Paper Managerie’ has won pretty much every award ever, and you can read it over at io9.

A new app called Litragger has launched, which aggregates all kinds of literary journals in once place. Pretty cool.

After previously removing e-books from libraries, Penguin has embarked on a new pilot e-book lending program in a few libraries (link is to CNET, you know the drill).

I found this very interesting: In June, Kindle devices (e.g. Kindles, Kindle Fire, etc.) represented 55% of e-book reading, while the iPad clocked in at 12%.

My former client Jennifer Hubbard wrote an awesome post on good and bad uses of supporting casts in a novel.

The last few weeks in the Forums: writerly things to do in New York, why do you want to get published anyway?, where have all the review blogs gone?, what to do when you’re desperate for inspiration, and what’s your editing style?

And finally, I seriously have no idea how this photographer pulled off this time-lapse of the leaves changing in Central Park, but it’s utterly spectacular:

Fall from jamie scott on Vimeo.

Have a great weekend!


  1. Jaimie

    I won NaNoWriMo on my first year! Yay! And I will never be doing that again. (That I know of, heh.)

    Really difficult to do with a full time job.

  2. Anonymous

    Writer Beware has a lot to say about the Simon and Schuster deal. The whole thing looks questionable, but it really bothers me if S&S plans to send unsolicited manuscripts directly to a dubious company.

  3. abc

    Oh man, that story! I am crying and I am at work and now I have to pretend my allergies are bad. A good example of how one doesn't have to be so writerly or use flowery language to tell a wonderful story.

  4. ADominiqueSmith

    It was my first year doing NaNoWriMo and I went in completely terrified, having only written short stories in the past. But I passed the goal and almost tripled the goal. I learned a lot from the experience. The number one revelation being that I can get out 4000 well thought out words each day, easily.

    I am really glad I went for it. Now I have a manuscript and a half that are ready to go into revisions and edits. Best experience ever.

  5. Jennifer R. Hubbard

    Thanks for linking!

    Congratulations to all the NaNoers. Remember, even if you didn't reach your goal word count or finish a draft, you ended the month with a lot more words than you started!

    And thanks for the video of the Annual Retreat of Chlorophyll. What, nobody else thinks of fall in those terms? 😉

  6. Donna OShaughnessy

    Wow. What a jam packed blog post. And about that NaNoWriMo…I joined three years ago and started a great novel. Might even finish it now. At least it got me started!

  7. Bonnee Crawford

    The time-lapse video was amazing, and thanks for the link to Ken Liu's short story. I thought it was amazing, but golly gosh, all of those negative comments about it just shocked me to death!

  8. Mira

    Great links, Nathan! Thanks! 🙂

    That video is incredible. I also have no idea how he could have done that! Amazing!

  9. Anonymous

    What has been written about the S&S deal says it best in the link you provided. But I think it is important for all writers who are thinking of indie/self publishing to know that they don't have to spend that kind of money and they should be concectrating on e-books not print. And being that most sales come from Amazon, like them or not, it stands to reason that KDP would be the best choice. I can only conclude that S&S went into this because they just don't get it. Nothing else makes sense. Any self-publishes author making money now is laughing at S&S.


    In my humble opinion, writers are like gold miners. Each struggles to find the elusive big strike, but often times to no avail. Along the way, tradesmen selling everything from food to clothing to picks and shovels make money regardless of the miner's outcome. Same can be said for the poor unfortunate author who rarely sees success, but his editor, cover artist and publisher make money regardless of the sales.

    The only constant is that the writer will still write as the gold miner still mines. There are a few who find immense riches and popularity, but they are a fraction of the multitudes who don't even see a return on their time and investment. However, if one believes in their art, their claim if you will, they can not stop. To do so is a declaration of their loss of the passion and desire that binds one to the initial art and all that it consumes…


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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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