Curating for yourself, curating with others

Replied to The Memex Method – Cory Doctorow – Medium by Cory Doctorow (Medium)

Clay Shirky has described the process of reading blogs as the inverse of reading traditional sources of news and opinion. In the traditional world, an editor selects (from among pitches from writers for things that might interest a readership), and then publishes (the selected pieces).

But for blog readers, the process is inverted: bloggers publish (everything that seems significant to them) and then readers select (which of those publications are worthy of their interests)

I much prefer following people to publications, and curating for myself what’s interesting out of what those people have curated for themselves. There’s a good bit of noise, but there’s also a lot of serendipity — neat things I would never have encountered on my own, that I wouldn’t have thought to investigate.

While news publications focus on appearing neutral, people (bloggers and newsletterers) have opinions and share context often missing from news articles. I *want* others’ opinions, especially from people who are better informed than I am. I’m interested in news and information as it relates to people, not as discrete incidents. I care more about the trends and the roots of an event, which are all too often left out of the news. Individuals are publishing from a rich, deep, broad perspective in a way publications cannot have, the same way corporations and brands are not people (no matter how they exploit their social media managers).

See also:

Article pairing: stop reading the news

Overlapping Communities, “Curated” Discovery between Real People

Finding Personal Websites

Algorithmic recommendations create “curiosity ruts”



(More from the same Doctorow piece.)

Featured Reflection

Reviewing 7 months of Kindle Unlimited

I hate subscriptions for the same reason companies love selling them: recurring expenses. However, I am a heavy fiction reader and am planning to self-publish. Both from a user standpoint and prospective author side, I wanted to try out Kindle Unlimited.

I read and write romance, which is popular on KU, so there is a large catalog to choose from. In particular, I’m interested in science fiction romance, which is poorly represented by trad publishing and primarily concentrated (currently) in self publishing. I also wanted to read a lot of self-published works to understand the market.

How much I read from KU

I tried Kindle Unlimited for two months this spring. I previously tried it for several months in 2022.

This year, over two months:

  • I read 20 KU titles
  • I DNF’d 11 KU titles

Last year, over five months:

  • I read 38 KU titles
  • I DNF’d 9 KU titles
Business Entrepreneurship Featured Relationships Society

Build a reputation instead of a personal brand

Replied to The personal brand paradox (

When we position ourselves as a brand, we are forced to project an image of what we believe most people will approve of and admire and buy into. The moment we cater our creativity to popular opinion is the precise moment we lose our freedom and autonomy.

But rather than manufacturing a personal brand, why not build a reputation? Why not develop our character? Imagine what we could learn from each other if we felt worthy as we are instead of who we project ourselves to be.

I think it’s interesting to look at personal brands through the lens of insecurity. I imagine many people think of it as “positioning” or storytelling, but underneath, those are needed if you’re afraid you won’t be enough on your own.

I think it can be helpful to consider personal branding as a form of self discovery, a tool to help determine what you want to do, but there can be a risk of self containment.

Featured Society Websites

Blogs are a platform for normal people

Replied to Understanding blogs | Tracy Durnell by Murray Adcock.Murray Adcock. (

I am a big fan of categorisation debates, so the concept of trying to define what a “blog” is (or isn’t) piqued my interest.

Further exploring what makes a blog a blog — which I agree I haven’t quite landed on yet:

The fact that blogs take the form of a building argument, not necessarily voicing their intent or conclusion immediately, but instead guiding the reader through the narrative to naturally arrive at that conclusion. I agree wholeheartedly with this take, but I’m not sure that this is the essence of “blog-ness”. I think that’s just how people actually talk when given a platform.

(Emphasis mine.)

This connects back to the democratization of self-publishing, leading to greater influence of oral culture (as you point out).

The word “given” here got me thinking — like the soapbox example, blogging is when people create and claim a platform for themselves. The work is self-motivated. No one’s telling us what to blog about. It’s not fulfilling an assignment. The things people blog about are the things they care about enough to spend their free time considering.

And because it’s not “for a purpose,” because it’s self-directed, a blog post needn’t fit a formal format. A lot of blogging really is ‘talking through ideas’ in text, in real time — the thinking and writing happen together. (Or at least it is for me, though I’m sure it’s not the universal blogging experience 😉) Even when a post is edited before publishing to center a specific conclusion reached through the drafting, a tenor of curious exploration or earnest passion often carries through.

The Internet Writing

A better word for blogging?

Replied to Bring Back Blogging by Chris Coyier (

I wonder if the term “blog” has too much baggage. Too much history for it to really catch on again and make a dent.

Maybe “publish your own feed” is a better framing.

On the one hand, it’s nice to have a specific word for writing on the internet, on your own website… but I agree that for most people blogging likely has a specific connotation that doesn’t reflect the kind of writing they do online. I doubt most people tweeting or writing on Mastodon think of themselves as microblogging.

So how about just calling it writing online? I know a lot of people don’t think of themselves as writers when they post online, but it still could have fewer prescribed notions than blogging.

There’s also simply posting (on your own site) which borrows the language for sharing content on social media, and is medium-agnostic so it could cover writing and photography and video and audio.

I also like explicitly framing posting your own writing on your own website as self-publishing — though the idea of publishing might sound weightier than writing online need be.


Rethinking the way we publish science

Liked The dance of the naked emperors by Adam Mastroianni (Experimental History)

To recap, I argued in my last post that:

1. We’ve published science lots of different ways for a long time, and universal pre-publication peer review is both pretty new and historically strange.

2. That system doesn’t seem to accomplish the goals that it claims to or that we wish it would.

3. It’s worthwhile to try other things.

That’s also why I’m not worried about an onslaught of terrible papers—we’ve already got an onslaught of terrible papers.

Sick burn 😂

But seriously, it is not good for society or science when access to scientific research is limited to academics. This only reinforces the perceived division between academics and the public, and exacerbates anti-intellectualism. And, it is hardly helpful for scientists to be silo’d away from the public either — any insular group will miss out on the perspectives and wisdom of other groups of people with different backgrounds and experience. Shifting the expectation that papers should be readable by laypeople would encourage plainer language and force writers to clarify their explanations.

If science weren’t hidden behind expensive paywalls, people outside academia could draw on the latest research for decisions, and participate in conversations about science. Codesign is on the rise in community engagement and graphic design; improving access could enable communities to give input to projects and future research. Instead of researchers coming up with projects on their own, they could listen to the needs of the community to fill in gaps (for example, the gap in medical research for women).

Also learned a new concept, weak-link problem, from his referenced article The Rise and Fall of Peer Review:

Why did peer review seem so reasonable in the first place?

I think we had the wrong model of how science works. We treated science like it’s a weak-link problem where progress depends on the quality of our worst work. If you believe in weak-link science, you think it’s very important to stamp out untrue ideas—ideally, prevent them from being published in the first place. You don’t mind if you whack a few good ideas in the process, because it’s so important to bury the bad stuff.

But science is a strong-link problem: progress depends on the quality of our best work.

See also: Imagining a better way — for everything


Publishing books online

Bookmarked 10 Reasons Why I’m Publishing My Next Book on Substack by Ted Gioia (The Honest Broker)

The publishing world is changing, but writers can change too—maybe even for the better

I followed for a while someone who was publishing their novel on Substack as a way to make money. She got an astonishing number of paid subscribers — people are willing to pay much more than I’d expect considering serialization makes a story take much longer to read, making for a worse reading experience, and costs much more, being a monthly subscription rather than one-time cost. I have a suspicion a nonfiction book would be better suited to online publishing than fiction.

He makes an interesting point about an accelerating platform. It does feel like the place to be, despite my mixed feelings about Substack. (Alas, I didn’t experience any measure of success with my Substack project Sense Memory, getting fewer than twenty subscribers, most of whom didn’t open the emails, over the nine months of the project 😉) This author, though, has seen incredible success in gaining followers — gaining 1000 readers a week?! It’s a self-feeding process, the more subscribers you get, the easier it is to get more.


Planning a self-pub book launch

Listened Book Launch Plans: The Mega Episode (Reair) by an author from

Episode 130 / It’s back to the archives this week for one of our most popular episodes. Jami and Sara share how they launch a book, covering tactics for low-, medium-, and high-budget launches as well as sharing beau·coup tips about what’s working for book launches right now.

Promo graphics really important for romance

Cover reveals are a big thing in romance

Can ask people to follow you on bookbub

Can ask other authors to do a newsletter swap, post a giveaway on their Facebook page, send them an ARC

Goodreads giveaway, librarything giveaway

Do paid promos in newsletters

Build your list even before you release a book

Fine to do a preorder even if you’re a new author — two weeks even, to give you the promo link to post early

Email your list with the first few chapters as a teaser and a preorder link

Can segment your list and send release reminders on different days

When first starting out, pick just 2-3 tactics to focus on

Advertising romance on Amazon successfully is $$$

Use your back matter effectively and be sure to update with each new release

Entrepreneurship Marketing Writing

Listened to Starting a Series from Scratch

Listened SFA 105 – How We Would Start from Scratch Writing/Publishing Books Today by LindsayLindsay from

On this week’s show, Andrea, Jo, and Lindsay shared what each of them would do if they were new authors starting from scratch today with the knowledge and experience they’ve gained over their ten-plus-year publishing.

If you write across genres / with different pen names, be careful about telling the other genre readers to not ruin your “also boughts” and ARC early reviews

Try to write a reader magnet that will relate to all the books in the series

Write first three books before releasing — especially useful in sci-fi with extensive worldbuilding

Series of three 65-75k books (maybe on shorter side) — rapid release, 3+ weeks apart (or 1 week then 3 weeks) — then release another set of series with a slightly different look / angle to see what works better

Be sure to pick genre that length works

Research keywords to see what people are looking for

Research tropes of the genre and what people like (focus on what readers like rather than what you like)

Don’t do cliffhanger, but have a throughline mystery / story — maybe plan for six book series

Consider single POV for faster writing

At end of book, ask for review, promote newsletter with freebie

Prequel novella — free via newsletter — book funnel

Six-email automation series: freebie, followup to make sure they got it, invite to Facebook group, let them know about next book, ask for a review, invite to ARC team, could have preview chapter for next book

Website – page for each book with a sample chapter

Worth hiring editors — early books maybe do light editing to save money — spend a lot of time getting the story and writing in a good place

Website and newsletter most important marketing pieces when first starting out, could focus on those before social media

Advertising really important now, Amazon really competitive

Pricing strategies: Permafree tie-in story after three books? Permafree first book and two at full price ($3.99 probably for 80k book)? 99c first book, full price next books? 99c current release, full price other books in the series?

Just because you do rapid release doesn’t mean you’ll instantly have success

Entrepreneurship Marketing Writing

Listened to Learning to Reverse Engineer a Book

Listened Learning to Reverse Engineer a Novel with Cecelia Mecca (Reair) by an author from

Historical romance author Cecelia Mecca what she learned when she changed genres and how she now reverse engineers her books before she writes them.

Reverse engineering a book: writing the blurb, choosing the title, thinking of comp titles, clarifying your audience, maybe having an idea of the cover or imagery

I like this, weaving your marketing into the design of what you’re writing. There are lots of stories I’d like to write, so may as well write one people will want to read 😉