Friday High Five: Speed-publishing and the science of sleep

The secret to publishing success: speed

Thriller writer Russell Blake has sold more than 435,000 copies of his books via Amazon’s self-publishing program. The secret to his success? Speed, says the author, who publishes a new book roughly every five weeks. He wrote one of his books, JET, in just 16 days, and often works from 8am to midnight - on his treadmill desk. ‘Being an author is like being a shark, you have to keep swimming or you die,’ he told the Wall Street Journal. ‘People don’t want to wait a year and a half for the next book in the series, they want instant gratification.’

Why Sleep is Important

Sleep has been in short supply in Melbourne this week, with the solar vortex making houses into hotboxes. The New York Times has published a fascinating article on the science of sleep - and why it matters so much. ‘As your body sleeps, your brain is quite actively playing the part of mental janitor: It’s clearing out all of the junk that has accumulated as a result of your daily thinking.’

Jennifer Weiner: Franzenfreude and Defending ‘chick-lit’

Jennifer Weiner is the ‘chick-lit’ novelist who sells millions of copies of her books, but is best known in some circles for coining the term ‘Franzenfreude’ and publicly campaigning against the publishing industry’s different treatment of male and female writers - and the bias against commercial fiction. In a terrific New Yorker profile, Rebecca Mead explores both sides of Weiner: the novelist and the literary activist.

When Meg Wolitzer told an interviewer that she was disturbed by a rise in ‘slumber party fiction - as though the characters are stand-ins for your best friends,’ Weiner responded that ‘likable’ had become the ‘new code word’ for fiction previously disparaged as chick lit.

Crowdsourced covers for classic fiction

At Recovering the Classics, artists from around the world have had a go at ’re-covering' a range of out-of-copyright classics, from Dracula to Moby Dick. The books will be sold as paperback and ebook editions, printed by the Harvard Bookstore. You can browse the images here.

What’s so good about being published?

Tim Parks looks at the swift rise in status of the published (as opposed to the unpublished) writer - and asks what the shift ‘from derision to reverence’ has on the writer’s work. ‘No one is treated with more patronizing condescension than the unpublished author or, in general, the would-be artist. At best he is commiserated. At worst mocked. He has presumed to rise above others and failed.’ Of course, many published writers would be surprised at the idea that publication has made them ‘revered’ …