What was the very first ebook? It’s hard to say with any degree of precision, but a pretty good candidate is Peter James’s Host, which was copied and stored on a floppy disk back in 1993. At The Guardian, a look back at the early life of the format. You could also read David Rothman’s tribute to the ebook pioneer Michael Hart. (h/t The Paris Review)
When I edit, I try to look at the big picture first. What is this book trying to do? In some cases, it’s telling an exciting story, in others it’s exploring a fascinating set of characters, or in others teaching the reader something new. My job is to make suggestions on how the author can take what he or she is already doing and make it even better. Mostly, I try to think about how the reader will react to the text. Is there something a reader might not understand? If so, the author should probably clarify it. Is there something that will make this a more page-turning read? If so, let’s do it. And of course, along the way, you’ll catch smaller things — plot and character inconsistencies, grammar errors, etc. — but it all leads to the same goal of making it the best possible experience for the reader.
Do you want to start a small press? Take advice from Spencer Madsen of Sorry House. In his article “I Made the Mistake of Starting a Small Press and So Can You” at The Toast, Madsen recommends making the book look “better than a breakfast burrito” and listening to 2 Chainz to get started. Pair with: Our article on how Curbside Splendor became a small press to watch.
Yesterday, VIDA released its annual count of women in prominent magazines, and while they found that most of the magazines they looked at still publish significantly more men than women, they reported that The Paris Review and The New York Times Book Review published many more women in 2013 than they did in 2012. Amanda Hess takes a look at VIDA’s findings at Slate.
Because I read slowly, I also remember odd little details that provide a strong visual image, and so as I read along, if my visual image is jarred by a description, I’ll backtrack to figure out if there’s some inconsistency. I remember more details about characters in novels I’ve copyedited than I remember from my own life.
Edan Lepucki, “Style Sheet: A Conversation with My Copyeditor”
I have built my life in such a way that my many side jobs still allow me time to write fiction. No great hand reached down from the sky and made me a writer. I made myself one, by writing. So if this book doesn’t sell, or if it sells and nobody reads it, I’ll write another. And another. And another. Until I write a book that feels truly necessary, that people read not because I want them to, but because it gives them some news about the human heart they can’t get any other way. And then what will I do? That’s easy. I’ll start writing another one.
"While I wouldn’t presume to single out one of [E.L.] Doctorow’s dozen novels or story collections as his ‘best’ book, I do think it is fair to say that, so far, his best known and best loved work is the novel Ragtime. And I would argue that this has also been his most influential book, the one that has done more than all the others to change the way American authors approach the writing of novels.”