Saturday, November 19, 2005

Turn your blog archives into a book (and sell it) 

So, you've been writing a blog for quite some time now. You are proud of some of your work. You are particularly proud of some of your old stuff, now burried deep in the archives never to be seen again. Who reads archives, after all? You don't want to repeat yourself over and over again, and have never felt at ease with constantly linking back to your old posts (I never had such qualms). So, what can you do to make your old stuff more accessible and available?

Well, now you can turn it into a book form - yup, the real, physical book - and sell it through your blog, as well as through all the regular online booksellers (e.g., Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's). And it is easy and fast these days to do so. Here, the guy who writes the Coyote Blog describes the entire process - it took him several hours of work and in two days he got his books in the mail.

Apparently, the best and cheapest place to go to publish a book is Lulu.com. Lulu makes it easy for you by providing a ready-made template and tips on formatting, so the whole process appears really easy.

To get the people excited about this, they have now opened a contest - the Lulu Blooker Prize - for books that originated as blog posts, or what they call 'blooks'. As the blooks come in they get listed on the sidebar of the Lulu blog, so you can go and check them out, as well as keep track of the contest on the blog.

There will be prizes for three books, one in each category - fiction, non-fiction and comic strip. The best of those three will get $2000, the other two will get $1000 each. Not shabby for a poor blogger. You can learn more about the contest and see the rules if you are interested.

The judges are not associated with Lulu, but are respected bloggers themselves: Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing, Robin Miller who writes at a lot of places including Slashdot, and Paul Jones, the director of amazing Ibiblio. If you win, they'll write you blurbs for your book!

Well, they don't do pop-up books so I have no idea how can one deal with the links. After all, the link is the currency of the blogosphere (or ATP, if you are a biologist). Coyote Blog guy just copied and pasted, after very mild editing, all his posts from the first year of his blog and - voila - here's the book. But what can you do if your blogging style is profuse linking and building a network? I guess that is just not suitable for turning into book form.

I actually have a backup MSWord file of all my original/substantial posts from my blog (in chronological order, as opposed to blog-traditional reverse chronological order). I don't bother saving one-liners, copyrighted cartoons, linkfests and carnivals. Seeing this whole blook thing unveil, I looked at that file again. It is almost 800 pages long (OK, it's in New York Times 12pt, which can be and should be changed)!

All those posts, even the longest and most "mine", still contain bunches of links. Should I edit the links out, change the fonts (I just did - it is still about 600 pages in Palatino 9pt) and see if it looks like anything? I'd like to have a few hardcopies to send to people who are unable to read my blog (e.g, my mother), though I have no chance of winning a Blooker Prize when Washingtonienne and Belle du Jour have already submitted their stuff. There are so many much better writers than I am, and their blogs are so much more focused. My blog is just too ecclectic, as well as uneven over time, with ups and downs in quality - every reader would like some posts and hate, or be indifferent to, most of the others. Should I go ahead and do it? Would anyone be interested in it? After all, I am most proud of some of my oldest posts - the recent stuff is just so scattershot and scatterbrained.

Actually, what I will do, but not yet, is put together the "Clock Tutorial" posts from Circadiana and publish them as a textbook. I need to work on those much more, though. That may take another year of writing.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday Blogaround 

This is your weekly guide to the writings, musings, observations, contemplations, rants, and reflections of the loose and diverse collection lovingly known as The Liberal Coalition. Read, enjoy, get motivated, get angry, and respond if you feel so inclined.
  • All Facts and Opinions looks at the developing schism in the Anglican Church.
  • archy writes to Bill O'Reilly.
  • Bark Bark Woof Woof takes a bite out of Broward County Public Schools.
  • David at blogAmY finds a miracle cure for Florida citrus. Praise be!
  • bloggg responds to the SCOTUS ruling on IDEA. If you don't know what that is, read this; it's important.
  • Chris hates to admit that he agrees with John McCain.
  • Collective Sigh reports on the Dutch, who know something about flooding, and their response to Katrina.
  • Xan at CorrenteWire reports on the rampant graft in the Iraq contracts.
  • Dodecahedron has a suggestion.
  • NTodd cites Henry David Thoreau and Cindy Sheehan.
  • Echidne thanks feminism.
  • Jane takes on Woodward.
  • First Draft on Bush learning to spot reporters by name.
  • The Fulcrum notes who's really got the influence.
  • Happy Furry Puppy suggests that freezing is actually character-building.
  • iddybud rescues her faith.
  • Left Is Right has some tidbits of good linkage.
  • Liberty Street on the issue of choice.
  • Make Me A Commentator on the Republicans are learning to be careful what they wish for.
  • Michael cheneys Cheney et al.
  • Pen-Elayne has a cool picture.
  • Rook looks at Woodward.
  • rubber hose has a question about security clearances.
  • Coturnix teaches you how to turn your blog into a book.
  • Scrutiny Hooligans says the truth will come out.
  • Don't mince words, Sooner Thought; tell us what you think.
  • Speedkill attacks the attackers of the attackers of Christmas.
  • Steve Gilliard on the arsenal of David Ludwig.
  • T. Rex notes a good move on the part of a church and marriage.
  • The Countess announces the winners of her t-shirt contest.
  • The Invisible Library enters the ID debate.
  • Wanda thinks about family.
  • WTF Is It Now?? has a good one-liner.
  • Steve gets his car back and brings us up to speed on Republican money-shuffling in Texas.
  • ...You Are a Tree puts the end of the week in perspective.
  • Have a good weekend; stay warm if it's cold there, and brace yourself for the holidays.

    Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Target Responds to Plan B Flap 

    From Simon Templar:

    I fired off an email to Target regarding the whole refusal to fill birth control prescriptions controversy (see my entry from Monday. Nov. 14 2005 for details).

    Below is my letter which requests a clarification and gently threatens a boycott call from both of my websites. Following that is Target's speedy (they responded in three hours) response.

    I am writing as a lifelong Target shopper to express my strong concern about your policy to allow pharmacists to deny dispensing prescriptions based on their "personal religious and moral convictions."

    I find it reprehensible that trained professionals in your otherwise fantastic pharmacies would be allowed to play God with people's medications in this way.

    I operate two very well-trafficked websites(with combined subscribers of more than 500 and a combined annual readership of more than 150,000) and I am so incensed about this policy I am considering calling for a boycott of Target.

    This is not something I do lightly--I already boycott Wal-Mart because of unfair labor practices; but have long trumpeted Target's community involvement and policies as being exemplary.

    Please explain your policy to me and my readers.

    I request clarification about this policy, and if you are denying people’s prescriptions, I request you change this discriminatory practice immediately. Your response will be posted, along with this letter, on my websites.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    The reply:

    Dear Alex,

    In our ongoing effort to provide great service to our guests, Target consistently ensures that prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also requires us to accommodate our team members’ sincerely held religious beliefs.In the rare event that a pharmacist’s beliefs conflict with filling a guest’s prescription for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, our policy requires our pharmacists to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest’s prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner, either by another Target pharmacist or a different pharmacy.-

    The emergency contraceptive Plan B is the only medication for which this policy applies.
    Under no circumstances can the pharmacist prevent the prescription from being filled, make discourteous or judgmental remarks, or discuss his or her religious beliefs with the guest.Target abides by all state and local laws and, in the event that other laws conflict with our policy, we follow the law.We're surprised and disappointed by Planned Parenthood’s negative campaign.

    We’ve been talking with Planned Parenthood to clarify our policy and reinforce our commitment to ensuring that our guests’ prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. Our policy is similar to that of many other retailers and follows the recommendations of the American Pharmacists Association. That’s why it’s unclear why Target is being singled out.

    We’re committed to meeting the needs of our female guests and will continue to deliver upon that commitment. Alex, I hope this clarifies Target's situation.

    Jennifer Hanson
    Target Executive Offices
    [THREAD ID:1-17GZPT]

    I say that if a pharmacist cannot do his/her job without bringing their religion into it, they should go into another line of work. I know plenty of soldiers who believe "thou shalt not kill" yet do so in battle because that is the career path they have chosen. Same situation here. If you cannot hack the rigors of the job, then don't do it.

    As for now, I will hold off on the boycott--but I am watching with interest what transpires in the next week or so on both fronts. If you want to write to Target, goto www.Target.com and look under Target Corporation's "Contact Us" section.