Thursday, December 02, 2010

Silverfish Writing Programme - new intake

It has been quite some time since we last ran this programme. (We have been a little busy and we also wanted to rethink the individual modules.) To those who have been writing to us to inquire about our next intake (and there have been quite a few of you), please note that the next programme will begin on Saturday, 15th January 2011, at Silverfish Books in Jalan Telawi, Bangsar. The programme will be revamped to include different modules and exercises.

The proof of a writing programme (or any other) is in the results. The aim is to discover serious writers, not those looking for magic solutions or pills. Not everyone will be interested in getting published (a surprising many aren't) but most are interested in writing well, be it for pleasure, to entertain friends or even  therapy -- fiction or non-fiction. Writing is hard work, but there is a method to the madness. We prefer not to call it a creative writing course for a reason;  we do not believe that's what it’s all about. It is about telling stories in  written form, about engaging your reader and about being relevant. There is absolutely no reason an author living in Malaysia cannot be world class, as Shih-Li Kow has proved.

Registration (with full payment) can be done either in person at Silverfish Books at 58-1, Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur, or online at our website. (There is a link on the home page, Fees for the entire ten-week programme will be RM1000.00, but there will be 10% early-bird discount for those who register before the 1st of January 2011. Please bring a laptop if you have one, and you find it easier to write on one. Otherwise, simply bring a good pen.

Read more about the programme ...

Silverfish Writing Programme

Does publishing need the Silicon Valley way?

Publishing used to be a simple straight forward affair: get your author, edit, proofread, do the layout, design the cover, choose your paper, send it off the the printer, and pray. But things have become complicated, so complicated that there doesn’t seem to be a publisher in the world who seems to know what’s going on. Ebooks, agency models, self publishing, POD, Google editions, dead-tree editions, e-readers, tablet computers, smart phones, etc., are all conspiring to make the world an unsafe place. And with so many of them being incompatible with one another, every one seems to have an opinion, including tech magazines.

In his story, Why book publishing needs the Silicon Valley way in Computer World, Mike Egan argues why, “Book publishing would thrive by working more like the technology industry .”

“The book publishing industry is in trouble. Book sales are declining, and the quality of books is in a precipitous freefall. The reason is that the industry is clinging to an obsolete business model. And the whole process of discovering new talent is broken beyond repair,” he says in the first paragraph.

Is the book industry in trouble? I guess it is, except for those still whistling in the dark. Book sales are declining. But are the quality of books in freefall? Although I wonder sometimes why some books get published, I am not sure I agree with that. The industry is clinging to an obsolete model. Agreed. And the whole process of finding new talent is certainly broken; and it’s about time publishers got rid of those agents and started doing their jobs.

It is a strange piece but he has some interesting points. “Browsing a bookstore is like picking through trash in a garbage dump looking for something of value. Meanwhile, entire generations of brilliant authors never get the investment necessary to enter the system.”

The first point is true. Entire generations of brilliant authors being ignored? True, publishers often make appalling decisions but Egan has, obviously, never been a publisher: reading through manuscripts is not much different from browsing a bookstore, and far more painful. There are very few gems in there.

Computer World

Social reading

Martyn Daniels asks in his blog Brave New World, So What Is Social Reading? “... (social reading) is somewhat of a challenge to understand and some would suggest nonsensical because of the multiple interpretations that can be applied.”

When I was much younger, reading was, indeed, a social activity, as much as music was. We didn’t read aloud to one another, but we shared books (just as we shared records.) “This is very good,” was all the recommendation that was required. The challenge was to find new books, new authors, and new genres, before your friends. Now that I run a bookshop, reading remains a social activity: we recommend books to our customers, and they suggest books to us.

I Googled the term and got 208,000 hits, though not all relevant. This story caught my eye: “Goodreads has opened its API that will give partners free access to the book lovers' social network and the book reviews, meta data, and literary discussions ... Developers using the API can pull Goodreads ratings for over 2 million different titles and reviews for over 500,000 titles. Goodreads has more than 4 million members and more than 110 million books cataloged. While other online stores may offer customer book reviews, Goodreads members are (not surprisingly) active with their review contributions,” said the ReadWrite Hack.

Digital Book World said, “Americans spend nearly a quarter of their time online on social networking sites and blogs, according to the latest Nielsen research, and the most conservative estimates predict eBooks will represent at least 10% of book sales by the end of the year,” which does raise questions about the average American’s time management (or boredom), and the rather optimistic (or wishful) ebook sales forecast. (After 10 years, digital music downloads account for only 10%).

As Enhanced Ebook University website says, “Books are social. It’s rare to meet someone who reads and doesn’t care to tell anyone what he’s read.”

Since we are such suckers for buzz words, expect to hear the term more often.

Brave New World
Digital Book World
Enhanced Ebook University