Friday, June 29, 2012


"In the past, publishers and authors had no way of knowing what happens when a reader sits down with a book. Does the reader quit after three pages, or finish it in a single sitting? Do most readers skip over the introduction, or read it closely, underlining passages and scrawling notes in the margins? Now, e-books are providing a glimpse into the story behind the sales figures, revealing not only how many people buy particular books, but how intensely they read them. For centuries, reading has largely been a solitary and private act, an intimate exchange between the reader and the words on the page. But the rise of digital books has prompted a profound shift in the way we read, transforming the activity into something measurable and quasi-public.
     The major new players in e-book publishing—Amazon, Apple and Google—can easily track how far readers are getting in books, how long they spend reading them and which search terms they use to find books. Book apps for tablets like the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook record how many times readers open the app and how much time they spend reading. [...]
     Pinpointing the moment when readers get bored could also help publishers create splashier digital editions by adding a video, a Web link or other multimedia features [Jim Hilt, Barnes & Noble's vice president of e-books] says. Publishers might be able to determine when interest in a fiction series is flagging if readers who bought and finished the first two books quickly suddenly slow down or quit reading later books in the series. [...]
     Others worry that a data-driven approach could hinder the kinds of creative risks that produce great literature. 'The thing about a book is that it can be eccentric, it can be the length it needs to be, and that is something the reader shouldn't have anything to do with,' says Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 'We're not going to shorten 'War and Peace' because someone didn't finish it.'"
—Alexandra Alter, The Wall Street Journal

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Head Games

How to Build an Android [:The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection] is the honest title of an earnest book, the first by David F. Dufty, a senior research officer at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It explains how a team of researchers at the University of Memphis collaborated in 2005 with an artist and robotics expert, David Hanson, to create what was then the most sophisticated android anywhere, a replica of the science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick.
     They called him Phil. [...]
     [Hanson] left Phil’s head in a carry-on bag in the overhead bin. He didn’t realize what he had done until he got to San Francisco. The bag continued on to Orange County, and has never been recovered. Where did Phil go? To many people the disappearance sounded like something out of Philip K. Dick, whose lurid, drug-enriched work inspired Hollywood’s dark science-fiction thrillers Blade Runner, Total Recall and more."
— Lawrence Downes, The New York Times

Get this book, and of all of Philip K. Dick's books here...

The Fictive Dream

"The first Blyton book I remember reading, as a child of Sri Lankan immigrants growing up in small-town Canada, was Five on a Treasure Island. In it, four kids and a dog search for a cache of gold while avoiding grown-ups, dungeons, and other dark forces. I read other Famous Fives and Adventure books before coming to a disorienting realization. The kids in these stories were supposed to be white. I had assumed they were brown. These were, after all, stories my mother had read while she was growing up in Sri Lanka. I naturally assumed they were set there, and I populated them accordingly.[...]
     [David Rudd, a professor of Children’s Literature at Bolton University in the UK] told me that 'Most adults look on Blyton as someone they loved, but when they go back and try to read her they find her reprehensible in many ways,' which include simplistic, repetitive stories and bland characters. Formal weaknesses aside, I asked him if he also thought she represented British children’s holiday adventures as the impossible-to-have ideal of childhood experience itself, particularly for young readers in the colonies. He allowed that the books are based on 'a British middle-class sort of place from the 1950s and 1960s,' but the colonial readers he interviewed 'didn’t see England as such' in them.
     Instead, many tended to 'supply their own local vegetation, etc.' When I told him that I once thought Blyton’s books were full of brown kids like me, he wasn’t surprised. 'Everyone sort of inhabits the hero’s role.' "
— Randy Boyagoda, The Paris Review

Buy all of Enid Blyton's books here...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fantastical Realist

"A new book from the - hugely prolific - Godmother of British fantasy fiction [Diana Wynne Jones] is always a cause for celebration in Verbal HQ. Long before Philip Pullman’s Lyra first blundered her way into a parallel world, Wynne Jones’s characters had them explored, mapped and settled. Before Harry Potter and Hogwarts were a twinkle in J K Rowling’s eye, this underappreciated author was penning captivating stories about boy (and girl) wizards that enchanted any child lucky enough to stumble across her novels in the local library or bookshop."

"Like many good writers, Diana Wynne Jones, who [...] died [March 26, 2011] aged 76 of cancer, worked for long years in relative obscurity, in her case sustained as a children's fantasy author by a modestly sized but devoted young readership. That obscurity provided the freedom to develop her own voice without the distractions of having to build on perceived success. By the time real success found her, in Jones's case almost by chance, she was a mature writer with a solid and varied body of work that was ready to be appreciated by a much bigger new audience. Her intelligent and beautifully written fantasies are of seminal importance for their bridging of the gap between 'traditional' children's fantasy, as written by CS Lewis or E Nesbit, and the more politically and socially aware children's literature of the modern period, where authors such as Jacqueline Wilson or Melvyn Burgess explicitly confront problems of divorce, drugs and delinquency.
     [...] Both [her] parents were intellectuals and progressive educators, but were stingy not only with money but also with warmth and attention. The skinflint father bought the children a complete set of Arthur Ransome books as Christmas presents, but doled them out at a rate of one a year. In self-defence Jones began to write stories for her sisters and herself. When the second world war broke out Jones and her family were evacuated to the Lake District, eventually living in the house once inhabited by the Altounyan children, on whom Ransome had based his Swallows and Amazons series. The great children's author was still around, one day complaining angrily that the children were making too much noise.
     On another occasion, Diana's younger sister and a friend had their faces slapped by a second Lakeland author who hated children but who was rich and famous because of them: Beatrix Potter. Jones's distinctive scepticism about conventional children's fiction must have started to set in early."
— Christopher Priest, The Guardian

Monday, June 25, 2012

Writing With Nothing Up Your Sleeve

" [...] Take something as seemingly unrelated as fiction—or any writing, for that matter. Read all the books you will on the craft of writing, comb through as many interviews as you can with your favorite writers, collect as many ‘how to write a bestseller’s as you can get your hands on, and still, the writing you admire will not lose its magic or its grip on your imagination. Even knowing the entire plot, that surprise ending or that give-away spoiler—arguably the closest approximation to finding out the trick of a magic act—is unlikely to limit your enjoyment in any way. In fact, it might even make the process of reading more enjoyable.
     In a 2011 study, psychologists from UC San Diego found that individuals who had seen a spoiler paragraph prior to reading a short story rated the story as more, not less, pleasurable. And that held true even of stories where the plot, the 'trick' so to speak, was seemingly the center of the experience, such as one of Roald Dahl’s signature ironic twist tales or an Agatha Christie mystery.
     Why? When we know the plot, the twist, the surprise, we become more able to focus on everything else: language, character, the intricacies of rhythm and technique. We may even pay closer attention than we otherwise would, trying to wrestle with elements that we hadn’t even noticed the first time around. While it may seem that the surprise is the epicenter of the experience, that initial perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Focus too much on trying to figure out what the twist will be and you miss the art of the telling. Know the twist, and even if you’d previously thought that the knowledge would ruin your experience, you find your attention free to take in a much richer panorama than it otherwise would—and your mind enjoying itself far more as a result."
— Maria Konnikova, Scientific American

Holmes for the Holidays

"Midwinter is a potent time for fans of Sherlock Holmes. Along with its evocative weather and palliative hearths, readers can expect the latest slew of biographies, criticism, reissues, bastardizations and assorted Sherlockiana that publishers traditionally lavish on the public in the long run-up to Christmas.
     [...] Only Charles Dickens has greater seasonal appeal and this winter, despite a bicentenary, even he can barely compete with the enduring attraction of 'the world’s foremost detective mind' and his oft-reluctant creator. Three 'forgotten' Doylean manuscripts, two fictional, one real, including the first 'official' Holmes novel since the author’s death, join a film, a memoir, a biography and a glut of other literature, some of it ingenious, some strained, and all too bounteous to be given due notice here, from Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy, a selection of essays edited by Josef Steiff, which explains, among other things, why the celebrated sleuth is 'like a good hip-hop song,' to Kim Newman’s Moriarty: The hound of the D’Urbervilles, which attempts a Frankensteinean splicing of gothic expectations.
     [...] With such a daunting legacy to live up to, surely only a very bold person would take on the first 'official' Sherlock Holmes novel since the author’s death in 1930. Fortunately, Anthony Horowitz is that person and The House of Silk is a worthy addition to the canon. Like the best Holmes stories, it treads the line, in both narrative and language, between cliché and creativity, and is by turns gripping, playful, tortuous and cosily predictable, though the great detective himself would doubtless dismiss it as nothing but 'vulgar romanticism.'"
— Toby Lichtig, The Times Literary Supplement

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Swift Justice

From: Monash University Library

"[...] Thankfully, there have been plenty of fearless female writers prepared to subvert stereotypes, create unique visions at great personal cost and who, despite everything, refuse to be written out of history. The fact we have to search hard to find them speaks volumes for the treatment of those who enriched Irish culture immeasurably. And whilst the idea of individuals triumphing over adversity is an attractive one, all too often history proves it to be just a well-intentioned myth.
     Today, Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745), author of the satirical classics Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal and A Tale of a Tub, is regarded as the father of Irish letters and a writer of international renown. Less well-known is his friend Laetitia Pilkington (1709 - 1750) yet Pilkington is an essential component of what we know about Swift and a fascinating individual in her own right.
     Raised by the talent-spotting Swift into the fashionable Dublin intelligentsia of the time, Pilkington and her reverend husband Matthew were lauded for a time as intellectuals of note yet disaster would soon loom. After relocating to London, Pilkington discovered her husband conducting an affair with an actress and reacted by starting her own dalliance with the hedonistic painter and cad James Worsdale. It would be a costly decision. When news of the liaison (and other reputed incidences with a handsome doctor) became public, the ensuing divorce bankrupted Pilkington and resulted in her being ostracized from high society.
     Cast out of her home in the dead of night, she was denied access to her children, later spending a period in debtor's prison and suffering sustained abuse whilst down and out. Her former mentor Swift ditched her as an acquaintance and sought to blacken her name as 'the most profligate whore in either kingdom'. Yet she would have her revenge. Forced to sell ghost-written poems to vain, talentless poseurs, she began to write gleefully salacious accounts of the private lives of the leading cultural figures she'd associated with, terrifying them (yet capturing them in three dimensions, Swift included, forever) and delighting the public in the process."
— Darran Anderson, Verbal Magazine

"Laetitia Pilkington was tiny. Jonathan Swift, having made her remove shoes and stockings, stood her against a wall, pressed heavily upon her head and announced that she measured three feet two inches. Even allowed to stand up straight, she barely reached four feet, and her husband wasn't much taller. Both were clever and poetically inclined: both – temporarily – amused the author of Gulliver's Travels. He dubbed them 'Mighty Thomas Thumb' and 'Her Serene Highness of Lillyput.' A powerful, whimsical and casually malicious man, Swift raised the Pilkingtons high before dropping them. He described Laetitia as 'the most profligate whore in either kingdom,' and attempted to erase all mention of her from his writings. But she was not so easily beaten and her memory was sharp. Her robust and revealing anecdotes about the Dean of St Patrick's were to become the cornerstone of her fame."
— Norma Clarke, The Independent

Get this book about Laetitia Pilkington, and all of Jonathan Swift's books here...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Writers digest...

"To Mark Twain, San Francisco was coffee with fresh cream at the Ocean House, a hotel and restaurant overlooking the Pacific. He also had a decided fondness for steamed mussels and champagne. But most of all, San Francisco was oysters—oysters by the bushel at the Occidental Hotel, where the day might begin with salmon and fried oysters and reach its culinary climax at 9 p.m., when, Twain wrote in 1864, he felt compelled 'to move upon the supper works and destroy oysters done up in all kinds of seductive styles' until midnight, lest he offend the landlord. Every indication is that his relationship with the landlord was excellent."
— Andrew Beahrs, Smithsonian

"Eudora Welty’s fiction includes some of the richest food imagery in Southern literature, as well as some of the richest female characters. Not coincidently, the two are often served together. By constantly placing her female characters in the kitchen and associating them with cooking or baking, Welty’s fiction suggests that women 'belong' in the kitchen. But this is not misogyny, as anyone who really takes the time to think about Welty’s fiction will realize: rather, Welty seems to be suggesting that women—like food—are not only nurturing and central aspects of life, but often the pillars of the family, that which sustains a family unit and community. A woman’s place in the kitchen, along with her 'kitchen rights' so to speak, represents the feminine powers of healing, nourishment, and strength."
— Gabrielle Stanton, OKRA

"The beer was very cold and wonderful to drink. The pommes à l'huile were firm and marinated and the olive oil delicious. I ground black pepper over the potatoes and moistened the bread in the olive oil. After the first heavy draft of been I drank and ate very slowly. When the pommes à l'huile were gone I ordered another serving and a cervelas. This was a sausage like a heavy, wide frankfurter split in two and covered with a special mustard sauce."
— Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast (pg.73, via Apples and Ice Cream)

Buy all these scrumptious books here...

Monday, June 18, 2012

“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”— Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

"But early this year, Grove Press, a venturesome publishing house, felt that the time had come to challenge the taboo and they brought out the book unexpurgated, just as Lawrence wrote it. Literary critics all over the country cheered. Some said it was a masterpiece. Some said it wasn’t all that great, but still it was a good book and a serious one that deserved to be read. Not one important critic felt that the book should continue to be suppressed.
     A bookclub for eggheads, the Reader’s Subscription, thought enough of the book to make it a selection and started to mail it out to members.
     Wham! The Post Office stepped in.
     The fellows who always ring twice refused to ring at all for Lady Chatterley. The P.O. said the book was obscene and couldn’t be mailed.
     This punch not only caught the Reader’s Subscription in the solar plexus (they do their business by mail) but it was also a gasser for the Grove Press, which couldn’t mail the copies out to bookstores.
     So the two companies demanded a hearing. The Post Office gave them one before Judicial Officer Charles D. Ablard. The companies brought in two of the most eminent literary critics in America, Malcolm Cowley and Alfred Kazin, to testify that the book was not obscene, but was a work of art by a serious artist.
     Ablard listened, but passed the transcript and the final decision on to Postmaster General Summerfield. And Summerfield decided that Lady Chattelley’s Lover was filthy."
— Tim Wilkins, "Art Or Filth? – The Prose And Cons Of Lady Chatterley" (Nov, 1959) Mechanix Illustrated via Modern Mechanix

"In its twice-yearly Transparency Report, the world's largest web search engine [Google] said the requests were aimed at having some 12,000 items overall removed, about a quarter more than during the first half of last year.
     'Unfortunately, what we've seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different,' Dorothy Chou, the search engine's senior policy analyst, said in a blogpost. 'We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it's not.'
      Many of those requests targeted political speech, keeping up a trend Google said it has noticed since it started releasing its Transparency Report in 2010.
     'It's alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect — Western democracies not typically associated with censorship,' said Chou.
     [...] in Thailand videos featuring the monarch with a seat over his head have been removed for insulting the monarchy. The country has some of the world's toughest 'lese- majeste' laws.
     In Canada, Google was asked by officials to get rid of a YouTube video showing a citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet. But in that instance the company refused.
     Google and many other online providers maintain that they cannot lawfully remove any content for which they are merely the host and not the producer, a principle enshrined in EU law on eCommerce since 2000."
Reuters (via Huffington Post)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Border Lines

" [...] Ford wants us to imagine, we live at the mercy of larger forces, forces outside ourselves, forces that determine who we are. And yet, he insists by phone from his home in East Boothbay, Maine, that's not the case — or not exactly, anyway. 'Growing up in Mississippi,' he recalls, 'and being told that this defined me, set me on a path away from place as generative. When I started writing, I took the Toulouse-Lautrec attitude that place is background scenery. I didn't want the place I came from to be responsible for me.'
     What Ford is getting at is a dual set of burdens: that of Southern history — '[W]e lived in an absurd racist society,' he told the Paris Review in 1996 — and of the Southern literary tradition, which, encompassing William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers, left him feeling 'there was no place here for me.' With his new novel, Canada (Ecco: 420 pp., $27.99), however, he has come to acknowledge that the issue of place is perhaps less clear-cut, more deterministic, than he may have thought. [...]
     The book, which takes place primarily in Montana and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, is a return, of sorts; set in summer and fall 1960, it is narrated by 15-year-old Dell Parsons, who must learn to fend for himself after his parents are arrested for robbing a bank."
— David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times

Get all of Richard Ford's books here...

Friday, June 15, 2012

"No haircuts just before traveling. No talking about living authors."

Mavis Gallant (from: Granta)

"I have never read or heard about anything to do with the writing of fiction that fits, exactly, my own experience, and I now believe it must be difficult. If fiction grows out of the layers of time, memory, imagination and invention, it ought to be possible to dig into the foundation and analyze each element, down to the bedrock. But the truth is that it resists analysis, all but the most shallow and humdrum, and cannot be tested or measured or, really, classified and contained.
     Once, it must have been at about 1992, when I happened to be working all day, every day, on a story set in the Paris of 1953, I was stunned and bewildered to step outside and discover the shape of the cars, the casual clothing and clean facades of the 1990s. This shock – a true shock, for it brought me to a standstill – lasted no more than a couple of seconds. Had it gone on I might have believed that part of my mind had been severed and sent adrift. As it was, I accepted it as a fragment of the power of memory to influence time."
— Mavis Gallant, Granta

"[...] It was 1994, and I was in my second year at Washington College. Located in Chestertown, Maryland, the school is well-known for its Rose O’Neill Literary House, which has hosted hundreds of authors and poets over the past thirty years. Robert Day, founder and former director of the Literary House Press, loves to talk about the college’s literary pedigree. His story of how Allen Ginsberg once tried to levitate Bunting Hall is rivaled only by the legend of James Dickey’s drunken, angry, naked streak up and down Washington Avenue. Indeed, Lit House mythology and the lure of the Sophie Kerr Prize were the primary reasons I attended Washington College.
     During my sophomore year, the college invited Mavis Gallant to Sophie Kerr Weekend, an event where prospective students participate in a weekend writing workshop with a famous author. At the time, I was taking a class with Bob Day in which we read Gallant’s Across the Bridge. I loved the book, and so when Day asked for a volunteer to pick the author up at the airport, I jumped at the chance.
     Unfortunately, I didn’t have a car—the single requirement for the job. The only one I could think to borrow belonged to Steve Kim, an extremely tall Asian kid who’d driven down to the Eastern Shore all the way from Alaska. Steve’s half-painted boat of a Buick (or maybe it was a Pontiac Grand Prix) was the QE2 of beat-up pieces of shit—but it would have to do."
— B. E. Hopkins, Translated from the Gibberish

Get all of Mavis Gallant's books here...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Here's my baby... now tear it apart. Please."

The first page of George Orwells's Nineteen Eighty-Four (from: Wikipedia)

"We have witnessed, in the past 15 years, the close of an era of great editors such as Diana Athill, Jenny Uglow, John Blackwell and Charles Monteith; they seem to have been replaced by more modest souls who often spot the literals but dare not open their mouths regarding more substantial matters. Perhaps they are ill-equipped, or lack the gravitas to be heeded when they do?
     But this over-simplifies what actually happens. Writers who fiercely insist that their publishers print exactly what they have submitted will often have subjected their work to the scrutiny of trusted readers, whose judgments they are prepared to accept. I suspect Ian McEwan is not much edited at Cape, but he and Craig Raine read each other's work before its final submission, forensically tweezering cliches as they go. Surely it is better to enlist the opinion of one's most respected peers, than that of a house editor, however much one admires their acuity?
     Most of us, though, do both. After all, one wants to publish the very best version of the text that is possible. If anyone – friend, relative, fellow writer, editor – can improve my work by as little (or as much) as the necessary substitution of a semi-colon for a comma, I am grateful to them. Editing is what we need, and if we have any sense at all, what we want. That's pretty obvious, isn't it?"
— Rick Gekoski, The Guardian

"The rumblings about editing that have reached me out here in my small seaside village boil down to one thing; time. Editors and agents have less time nowadays to devote to the actual editorial process and the manuscript itself. And because of this, manuscripts need to arrive in pristine form because in many cases, they won’t be thoroughly edited. Editors are looking for complete works rather than partials and they are more critical in their assessments. They want it ready to go. For many, the time is just not there to devote to a brand new writer and their book. This is a sea change from years back. Authors that have been in the business a long time will probably tell you they spend less time than in the past talking with their editor about the quality of the writing. If messing with the book is going to take up time but won’t in the end, contribute to selling more copies, then it isn’t always done. Sales and marketing and publicity plans can be a larger focus for an editor. Editors are encouraged to focus on new acquisitions and how to get the best talent. Who can they lure away? What marketing gimmicks are working? Editors can spend more time in meetings than at their desks. Free time for some only comes late at night."
— Caroline Tolley, Writer Unboxed

Friday, June 8, 2012

May 27, 2012 — six of the best


The Festival Writing Competition winners who were in attendance at the Elora Writers' Festival on May 27 to receive their prizes—and of course a rousing round of applause. Mary Ellen Sullivan, whose poem From This Place, won first place in Category 1 - Poetry, came all the way from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

For a complete listing of competition results, go here...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ray Bradbury: August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012

"Ray Bradbury died in Los Angeles, California, on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91, after a 'lengthy illness,' coincidentally during a rare transit of Venus. The New York Times' obituary stated that Bradbury was 'the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream.' The Los Angeles Times credited Bradbury with the ability 'to write lyrically and evocatively of lands an imagination away, worlds he anchored in the here and now with a sense of visual clarity and small-town familiarity.'
     Bradbury's grandson, Danny Karapetian, stated that Bradbury's works had 'influenced so many artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and it's always really touching and comforting to hear their stories.' The Washington Post hallmarked several modern day technologies that Bradbury had envisioned much earlier in his writing, such as the idea of banking ATMs and earbuds and Bluetooth headsets from Fahrenheit 451, and the concepts of artificial intelligence within I Sing the Body Electric!."

"His influence can be seen and felt in the labyrinths of Lost, in back episodes of X-Files — in fact, every time you see a movie or TV show that shades from nostalgia slowly toward terror or wonder, you’re seeing a little bit of Ray Bradbury. For six decades, his name was enough to tip you to the reading experience awaiting you below the byline. When you saw it, you knew you were going to be taken someplace you’d never been, shown things you hadn’t seen, given vision of a future or a past or another world just enough like your own to give a smile of recognition, just different enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. [...]
     In all his fiction, Bradbury’s concerns were with his characters, rather than with whatever science-fictional idea those characters were arrayed against. There’s more mood than melodrama in his work, more filigree than flash. In some ways, his work anticipated the character-driven concerns of Philip K. Dick in the later '50s, or, in the '60s, Harlan Ellison or Ursula K. LeGuin or Robert Silverberg. Stephen King clearly learned Bradbury's lessons, particularly his early stories such as The Body.
     If he is best remembered today as a science fiction writer, it's not only because his sci-fi was among his finest work, but also because he brought to science fiction the gifts and concerns of a mainstream literary writer."
— Keith Ferrell, ReadWriteWeb

See a related article here...

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Best of a Bad Lot

From: The School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, UBC

"[...] And unlike musicians, authors are not commonly charged for production expenses.
     A recording contract typically requires musicians to sell enough to pay for all the production, publicity, and marketing before they see a penny in royalties. In publishing, the publisher pays these expenses out of its pocket, and the author isn’t expected to pay it back.
     Finally, authors’ advances are (usually) only charged to their current books, or sometimes across a single deal. Unlike musicians, who are often required to pay back shortfalls from their last project before they can start earning on their latest one, authors’ balance sheets are zeroed out with each new book. If your last book tanks, your next book usually doesn’t have to pay back its advance. Publishing doesn’t do debt slavery."
— Cory Doctorow, Publishers Weekly