Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Around the Word

Finished with freelancing? At one time or another most professional speechwriters wrestle with the tradeoffs between working in a corporate environment versus going solo. Our friend Cindy Starks recently went through this process, as she decided to trade the freelancers life to go back in-house, and she recently shared the insights she gained from this experience in an illuminating two-part series on her blog. Check it out when you can -- it's a worthwhile read for any writer-for-hire. And let us know if you have had similar choices to make and struggles to take. P.S. For those of you thinking about making the leap to freelancer, make sure to check out our seminar on the business of freelancing next Monday. 

Penguin takes the social media plunge: Penguin UK is dipping its flipper into the social media pool by launching a small-scale marketing experiment with social media site PeerIndex that we think bears watching by writers. PeerIndex measures social media users' level of "influence" -- mostly through number of Twitter follows, mentions and re-tweets -- and Penguin plans to distribute advanced copies of its newest book to the Internet's top opinion shapers. The new book, Hari Kunzru's Gods Without Men, will be sent to "influencers" on the topics of philosophy, science, politics, music, activism, India, America and science-fiction, reports paidContent. Though the project isn't getting much funding from the Penguin marketing team, the idea certainly has the potential to take off. Could Twitter's most powerful possibly usurp the book reviewer's role?

Book-ing your vacation: Most word nerds use vacation as an opportunity to spend some time with their nose in a book. But what about a whole vacation dedicated to reading? book reviewer Laura Miller explores the trend of "reading retreats," popular with everyone from British bibliophiles to billionaire Bill Gates, who takes two book breaks per year. From a solo (and silent) stay in an English monastery to a book club-style vacation in an Italian castle, reading retreats can take just about any form and fit any budget -- all you need is good light, a comfy chair and a well-stocked Kindle.

Life, and literature, is a beach: With vacation on the brain, Slate has taken a literal look at the term "beach read," replacing the usually fluffy genre books with their more literary beach brethren. Slate writers and editors picked out their favorite novels and short stories set on the beach and during summer vacation, from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Diamond as Big as the Ritz to Ernest Hemingway's The Garden of Eden. Though they may not be as zippy as your typical sand-covered thriller, these books are sure to satisfy your literary cravings as you work on your tan.

Productus marketus! With the last Harry Potter movie out on Friday, it seems just about everyone is thinking about how to cash in our favorite teenage wizard. One of the best meditations we have come across was on HubSpot's Internet marketing blog, which offers a handful of Hogwartian lessons for writers looking to get their creations more attention. So as you shell out $17 to see the last Potter installment in 3-D at midnight, think about what you can do to make your work as magically marketable.

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