How Bestseller Lists Work (Tim Ferriss): Ever wondered what it takes to hit the New York Times bestseller list? Well, the truth is that it’s mostly luck, timing, and making sure you’re on the Times’s radar. I’ve seen lots of books with extremely high sales not hit the list, and I’ve also seen plenty of books with moderate sales hit the list, simply because they launched on a slow week. The takeaway? Hitting the NYT list isn’t as much about sheer volume of sales as it is about playing your cards right, while the Amazon lists are a more accurate representation of a book’s popularity.
How to Gain a Massive Following on Instagram: 10 Proven Tactics To Grow Followers and Engagement (Courtney Seiter for BufferSocial): As I’ve written about here, Instagram is an interesting platform because it engenders engagement, and it isn’t over-crowded (yet). It’s also a place with high conversion from fans to sales, so it’s been the hot new thing in the publishing world lately. Is it better for visually driven nonfiction than for fiction? I think so. I’m still of the belief (more on that here) that Twitter is the best social media home for fiction writers.
I Quit My Job Today (And So Can You!) (Sarah Knight on Medium): Ooo, juicy! Don’t we all love a I-quit-my-job-and-went-after-my-dream story? Chasing a passion over a paycheck is practically the American Dream of the millenial generation. Read Sarah Knight’s story of how she quit her Senior Editor job at Simon & Schuster to go freelance, and check her website out here if you’re an author looking for a top-notch editor.
Will Book Publishers Ever Start Fact-Checking? They’re Already Starting (Boris Kachka for Vulture): “It’s every editor’s nightmare,” says an editor. “You live in fear that someone’s gonna get by you. It’s like working for the TSA. You don’t want to be the guy who let the terrorist in.” Being the editor or agent behind a book that’s found out to be fraudulent truly is what our nightmares are made of, but there are so few systems in place for vetting authors and books. Happy to see that some imprints and private companies are finally filling this gap.
The Clues to a Great Story (Andrew Stanton in a TED talk): This is a Watch, not a Read, but it’s a worthwhile one. Stanton is the writing genius behind smash hits like Toy Story and Wall-E, and if anyone knows how to spin a good story, it’s the minds at Pixar. In his words: “Storytelling is joke telling. It’s knowing your punchline, your ending, knowing that everything you’re saying, from the first sentence to the last, is leading to a singular goal, and ideally confirming some truth that deepens our understandings of who we are as human beings. We all love stories. We’re born for them. Stories affirm who we are. We all want affirmations that our lives have meaning. And nothing does a greater affirmation than when we connect through stories. It can cross the barriers of time, past, present and future, and allow us to experience the similarities between ourselves and through others, real and imagined.”
Eat & Drink:
When I was in college, I studied abroad in Verona, Italy. If you do an Italian vacation right, you should expect to gain a few pounds. If you live there for nearly four months, you can expect to buy a whole new wardrobe. This happened. And naturally, I blame a cookbook.
It was my second day in Verona, and I found a cute little used bookstore in the center of town. It was owned by a couple who were having a very loud, yet half-hearted, fight from opposite ends of the store. They wouldn’t even look up from their desks as they shouted at each other, which was great, because it meant I could tiptoe over to the cookbook shelf.
The cookbook shelf was, how do you say?, not fantastico. It was the opposite of fantastico. All of the books were black-and-white, tattered, and sadder than the remaindered bin at Wal-Mart. There was exactly one full-color cookbook on the shelf, and it was called Pasta. My body is 83% pasta (Yes, I checked!), so this was the easiest sale that’s ever been made. I paid for it while the husband lazily threw a paperback at his wife’s head, then dog-eared it, splattered it, loved it, and never left it.
By far my favorite recipe from Pasta (no author credit; publisher unknown) is this Gramigna rustica con salsiccia, rucola, e formaggio, i.e. a rustic pasta with sausage, arugula, and cheese. I’ve changed just about everything in this recipe except for the general idea, which is that pasta+sausage+garlic+greens = goodness. Give it a try:
Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach
You will need:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, smashed with a whack of a knife
1 extra large sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ pound orecchiette
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup baby spinach
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano
Place a big pot of water over high heat to boil. Then place a big skillet over low heat and add the olive oil and garlic. Allow the garlic to brown slightly, then add the sausage and turn the heat to medium. Using a wooden spoon, break the sausage up as much as possible and cook until nicely browned, about 5-7 minutes.
About this time your water should be boiling, so add the orecchiette and about 2 tablespoons salt. Remove the garlic from the skillet and throw it out, then add the wine (pulling the skillet off the burner first, of course).
Once the pasta is al dente (read the package directions if you’re not sure!) drain it and reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta, chard, and Parmigiano Reggiano to the skillet and toss to combine over low heat. Serve topped with more parmigiano, a drizzle of olive oil, and a last sprinkle of salt and pepper.
If eating this recipe in Italy, repeat 78 times and gain 15 pounds in 4 months. Have no regrets.