Recession Has Been Good to Newspaper Inserts

Rick Edmonds at Poynter.org says the surge in coupon clippers brought about by the current economic crisis has been good for the inserts side of newspaper advertising.

The New York Times was the latest to note the trend in a feature Monday. I especially liked the photo of "coupon queen" Susan Samtur sorting her clippings into an accordion file case. The picture suggests that there is a tactile appeal to clip-and-save, plus a sense of planning and control, quite different from being the passive recipient of a random barrage of online ad messages.

 
Indeed, the Times article, like one in the Wall Street Journal and a Biz Blog post of mine in February, suggests that online start-ups are trying to grab a piece of the action but make up only a tiny half a percent share of redemptions, so far.

Social Networking to Land a Paying Gig: It’s Not Just for Writers Selling Manuscripts

Marian Schembari at Publishing Trends details how she landed a job in publishing, but not by sending out resumes and cover letters.

Of course, advertising yourself to get a job is a little weird, I have to admit. It’s one of those stories you hear about people wearing their resume on a T-shirt or taking cookies to an interview. No one wants to be that person.

Let ‘Em Go

Lyons: "Instead of giving newspapers bailouts, we should be hastening their demise"Newsweek.com
"The weak papers need to die," writes Daniel Lyons. "The strong newspapers need to go into bankruptcy and restructure their businesses with smaller staffs and lower cost structures. Yes, it will be painful. But journalists will find jobs — and they’ll be working in a better, faster medium."
[Poynter Romenesko]

And Then All Hell Broke Loose

Last night, I passed the 92,000-word mark on the first draft of my novel. I have written eleven chapters so far. I have one final chapter to complete. Interestingly, the last two chapters have come along much more rapidly than the middle of the story. I’m not exactly sure why that is, except that I have developed a quirky new habit about my work while I’m plotting chapters and scenes.

Every night, when I’ve ended my final new sentence for the evening, I start a new paragraph and type the words "And then all hell broke loose."

When I begin writing again the next night, the first thing I see is that sentence: "And then all hell broke loose." It spurs me on to ratchet the story up a notch higher than I had the night before. As a result, my writing is more productive and I feel better about the work I’ve already completed.

I don’t know where I developed that habit, or even if it’s original to me. I suspect that it is not my invention. I will say, however, that it works when I’m worried about where the story is going and whether I’m keeping things moving at a good clip in terms of advancing the story.

Try it sometime in your own work.

Celebrate the Freedom to Read

Sept. 26-Oct. 3 is Banned Book Week, which celebrates the First Amendment and freedom of expression while highlighting the harm in censorship. From the American Library Association‘s post on the subject:

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.  Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Along those lines, BookDads posts about one children’s book that has managed to make the Banned Books list three years in a row.

Who Has Time for a Writing Group?

About.com offers some good advice for logistics in making times and places for writing groups, which could be an important part of any writer’s growth.

Writing Group LogisticsNow that you’ve found members for your writing group, it’s time to think about logistics. Restaurants, cafes, and living rooms provide great meeting places. For some groups, the meeting place… [About.com Literary News]

Does It Matter If Readers Can Pronounce Your Character’s Name?

Cheryl Anne Gardner at POD People says it doesn’t matter to her.

Personally — as a reader of a wide range of fiction and non-fiction — if a character name seems appropriate to the story, I don’t care if I can pronounce it or not. I wouldn’t meet someone for the first time and say, “I can’t pronounce your name, it seems odd to me, so, I don’t want to know you.” I don’t do that to fictional characters either. It’s the name the author gave them at birth, the name the author felt suited them, and so I generally respect the choice unless it seems utterly ridiculous for the language, the story, or the character, but in some cases a contradictory name can be important to the overall message, so I try not to pass judgement too hastily.

Readability Problems? Ebooks to the Rescue!

Kassia Krozser at Booksquare ruminates on the age-old problem of readability in the layout and design of books. Her solution? Read the work in ebook format instead.

With print books, there are definite limitations to what you can do to make the actual reading easier. It is amazing how hard people will work to read, despite the challenges. Ebooks are different. Here is how it works in ebooks. I’m going to mess up your book. After you spend all that time on formatting and typesetting and getting the kerning just right, I’m going to mess with it. Not out of malice, of course, but there you have it.

Does Journalism’s Future Come at the Cost of Accountability?

Shirky: The transition to a new news model won’t be seamlessShorenstein Center
"We are headed into a long trough of decline in accountability journalism because the old models are breaking faster than the new models will be put in their place," Clay Shirky said Tuesday at Harvard. || More on the media futurist’s talk from Dan Kennedy and Ethan Zuckerman.

 [Poynter Romenesko]