A few days ago, John Scalzi announced the Kindle/iBook release of his book on writing, You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop Into a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing. The book was originally a limited print edition. So on the day in question, I popped over to the Amazon Kindle store and purchased a copy of the book. And before the day was over, I managed to read the whole thing and I really enjoyed it.
The book is broken into 4 chapters:
- Writing advice, or avoiding real work the John Scalzi way
- Yo ho, yo ho, a writer’s life for me
- The schadenfreude needle is buried deep into the red: on writers
- Science fiction, or, don’t skip this chapter you damned writing snobs
The essays contained within each section come from various posts that have appeared on Scalzi’s Whatever blog and were totally entertaining to read. The book is not meant to be a how-to on writing, but more one writer’s guide to the life of a writer. I would put it in the same category as Jeff VanderMeer’s Book Life, although somewhat less formal.
I found essays like “Even More Long-Winded (But Practical) Writing Advice”, “Novelist Money”, “Writing in the Age of Piracy”, “Cover Letters”, “Authors Whining” and “Science Fiction Outreach” to be good, representative examples of the types of essays that appear in the book. Of course, if you have been a long-time reader of Whatever, then you’ve probably read these already, but it is nice to have them collected in a single place, and nice that said place is in easily searchable electronic format.
In some places, the essays get repetitive, but when you write on a topic as much as Scalzi does, that is bound to happen and you can even see a little bit of the evolution of his opinions over time.
The bottom line for me is that it was a fun book to read, and has useful information for writers in all stages of their career. And at a mere $4.99, how can you go wrong?