concept to publication

Month: July 2010

1616: The World in Motion accepted for publication

avercamp: colf

Colf Players on the Ice, ca. 1620­–1625, by Hendrick Avercamp. Edmund and Sally Speelman Collection.

Now that I have a preliminary commitment from a publisher I feel I can finally talk about my new book, tentatively planned for publication in fall-winter 2011 from Counterpoint Press. It’s basically a global history of the world in the year 1616.

Why 1616? In a way the year is more or less random, and looking intently at any one year would probably turn out to be interesting. But 1616, though in some ways more of an average year than an earthshaking one, falls right at the cusp when the world was teetering toward modernity. With a regular trade now established between Asia and the Americas via the Pacific the final piece in a true global economy was in place. Obviously I will have more to say on this topic.

The image above is by Hendrick Avercamp, a Dutch painter specializing in ice scenes. 1616 fell during the global cooling called the Little Ice Age. That cooling was a factor leading to the destabilization and fall of China’s Ming empire. I could go on …

Great opening paragraphs: The Confusions of Pleasure by Timothy Brook

In the summer of 1634, Jean Nicolet (1598-1642) set out from the French colony in Quebec to sort out tribal conflicts on the Great Lakes that were threatening the fur trade, Canada’s small part in the world economy. Nicolet was also instructed to make his way, if he could, to the Mer de l’Ouest. Natives directed him to Lake Michigan, and over this Western Ocean, he was sure, lay China. Determined to make a good impression, he packed what he thought would be suitable for meeting Chinese. How he got his hands on a Chinese damask robe woven with flowers and multicolored birds we do not know, but by 1634 silks had been flowing from China to Europe for a century. He crossed Lake Michigan and put on his robe, only to find Green Bay.

— Timothy Brook, The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China

I write like …

I write like
William Shakespeare

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

… William Shakespeare. Anyway, that’s what it says here. I was scrolling through my feeds and noticed a guy calling himself “Mighty Red Pen” ran a few of his posts through an algorithm that purports to analyze your writing — sometimes he wrote, it said, like Dan Brown, other times like Cory Doctorow, and once like Vladimir Nabokov.

I have no idea how the thing works, but I entered the second chapter of the book I’m working on and got the Will result (which seems appropriate since I’m writing on the early seventeenth century).

I think it’s best to stop now. How disheartening would it be to learn that my second chapter was written like William Shakespeare and my third in the style of Dan Brown?

Links for Friday, July 30, 2010

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

Duly quoted

  • “His ceiling is through the roof.” — NBA player Keyon Dooling on top draft pick John Wall

Friday roundup | Duly quoted

“Honour commercio’s energy yet aid the linkless proud, the plurable with everybody.” — Finnegans Wake

Duly quoted

  • “It’s not about sharing. You know, it’s about everybody having they own spotlight.” — LeBron James


Print vs iPad

According to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group (whatever that is), people read the same Hemingway stories faster in print than on the iPad. Besides supposedly revealing that people read text 6.2 percent slower on an iPad than on the printed page, the study, based on a sample of 24 readers (not sure how that worked), also claimed reading on the Kindle was even slower than on the iPad — 10.7 percent slower than print, though the difference was “not statistically significant” (what difference is, with a sample of 24 people?).

This doesn’t sound like a very reliable study, but if what you care about in your reading is speed, it’s probably a good idea to stick with print — at least you will be a little less likely to take a break to check your e-mail.

Managing the slush

museum of folly bookstore

Here’s one way to cut down on the stacks of unsolicited manuscripts that are piling up all over the office. Independent Portland publisher Tin House Books has announced that unsolicited manuscripts must be accompanied “by a Receipt for a Hardcover or Paperback from a Real-Life Bookstore.” The program, called “BUY A BOOK, SAVE A BOOKSTORE!” is, despite the combination of caps and exclamation mark, a stroke of genius. It’s a feel-good way to score points with independent bookstores while at the same time providing an excuse to return unwanted manuscripts. Who says there’s no creative thinking in book publishing these days?

Of course, allowances can be made:

Writers who cannot afford to buy a book or cannot get to an actual bookstore are encouraged to explain why in haiku or one sentence (100 words or fewer). Tin House Books and Tin House magazine will consider the purchase of e-books as a substitute only if the writer explains: why he or she cannot go to his or her neighborhood bookstore, why he or she prefers digital reads, what device, and why.

Writers are invited to videotape, film, paint, photograph, animate, twitter, or memorialize in any way (that is logical and/or decipherable) the process of stepping into a bookstore and buying a book to send along for our possible amusement and/or use on our Web site.

I suppose the haiku he and/or she might write for this purpose would go something like this:

Brick and mortar store:
I think I’ll drop in and browse.
Wait! Here’s my package!


Image from loungerie’s photostream via the Museum of Folly.


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