[Electric Speed] Copy-paste trick | Text-to-audio | Absurd trolley problems

Digital tools and resources for creative people
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Electric Speed from Jane Friedman
A note from Jane

At least once a week (well, more often), I am tempted to get on social media and complain about something.

A challenging client.

A bad experience with a service provider.

A computer-thing that’s not working properly.

Usually I stop myself, because no one really cares unless you can make it humorous or helpful.

The toughest thing to recognize, though, is when you’re offering advice to others (being helpful, right?) that’s in fact airing a personal complaint. In the case of publishing professionals:

Don’t send your materials to an agent on a Friday afternoon or weekend. (Because that really annoys me!)

Please personalize your query. (Because I’m tired of all the batch-and-blast queries!)

Please stop personalizing your queries. (Because sometimes its so personal it can creep me out!)

For writers paying attention to all this, it can be challenging to filter out what is ultimately personal preference from meaningful guidance you can universally apply. Because if you had to abide by the preferences of every agent or editor who tweets out of job frustration, would you ever confidently send a query? Probably not.
Jane

P.S. The most popular blog post at my site this month:
The Building Blocks of Scene

P.P.S. There is more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling!

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Jane’s Electric Speed List
Here are some of the latest things I’ve discovered. (I am not paid to mention any of these resources; there are no affiliate links.)
A trick for copying & pasting web-based data
I mean, wow. Even my Excel-geek husband wasn’t aware of this trick: Whenever you want to copy-and-paste chart or table data from a website, copy the web address, then open Excel and choose "Get Data from Web." Paste in the URL and watch the magic happen. Here’s a screencast.
Find the oldest search results for any phrase
Google and other search engines often prioritize information or websites that have been recently published or updated. But sometimes when doing research, what you really want is old, old, old. Google News allows you to filter results based on year of publication, but you can also try this nifty tool: Oldest Search.

When I tested it on myself, the oldest result is my own website.
How to convert all of your articles into audio
Text-to-speech technology is everywhere now, relatively inexpensive, and high quality. This article suggests five different tools (most with a free option) to easily convert your text-based work into audio format.
Just for fun: Absurd Trolley Problems
Absurd Trolley Problems brings back fond memoirs (yes, fond!) of undergraduate philosophy classes. Something I learned while playing around: people have far more affinity for cats than lobsters.
 
Research Agents and Publishers Like a Pro with Jane Friedman. $25 webinar. Thursday, August 4, 2022. 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Eastern.
NEXT ONLINE CLASS
Aug. 4: Research Agents & Publishers Like a Pro
You have a polished manuscript or book proposal, and you’re ready to start pitching agents and publishers. But how do you figure out who to submit to? And how do you evaluate the quality of the agents and publishers you do find? In this class, you’ll learn not only how to research agents and editors using a variety of online resources, but also how to evaluate fit and reputation, so that you don’t unwittingly end up with a schmagent or a publisher that’s really a self-publishing service.
Your turn: Patreon support
In the last issue, I asked you to tell me about authors you support through Patreon. Heres what you said:

  • I support Jeff Elkins, also known as The Dialogue Doctor. —Carol Painter
  • I support Laini Taylor and Sarah Enni (First Draft Pod), both because I love their work and want to support them, and also because they put up great content. —Brooke Parrott
  • I support Holly Wren Spaulding on Patreon because she is constantly working on ways to make a living as an independent poet and teacher. Holly supports poets through private consults (my introduction to her), online classes, live classes, writing prompts, Instagram posts, bundles of offerings, one-off offerings, videos that feature guest writers, and so on. In all of her offerings, the quality of her thoughts and suggestions shine through. Holly is absolutely amazing. I should up my support level! —Dave W. Russo
  • I support Christopher Dart on Patreon. He is writing an excellent series recalling his bike ride across America over the summer of 2021. His solo trip followed the TransAmerica Bike Route. He relates not descriptions of the country he rode through, but interactions with locals and what he learned about himself along the way. —Janet Dart
  • The one Patreon that I support is Sacha Black. She runs the Rebel Author Podcast and Facebook Community, and is the author of the YA series Keepers as well as numerous writing craft books.
  • I support Jordan L. Hawk through Patreon. I strongly believe that we need more lit with positive queer representation, so I wanted to support a queer author I love not just via purchasing existing books but by helping allow him to continue to create. I love Jordan’s creativity, style, and world-building. Perks range from access to a Discord to advanced copies of ebooks to autographed hardcopies. —Elizabeth Dowden
  • I support the author Mary Robinette Kowal in part because I’m a fan of her novels but also because she offers great fiction writing support (classes, talks, writing dates) to folks who support her through Patreon. She thinks like an engineer about fiction and I find her advice very helpful. —Laura George
  • I support Holly Lisle on Ko-Fi (like Patreon, but the author gets to keep all their funds). I like the way Holly teaches, her honest attitude, how she structures her classes, and the friendliness of the other authors who support us along the way. —Anne

Next question: Is there a digital tool you recently stopped using? Why? For example, not long ago I stopped using Evernote in favor of Notion because the latter is more flexible and aesthetically pleasing. Hit reply to this email with your response, or share on the Discord server for Electric Speed subscribers.
 
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"At electric speed, all forms are pushed to the limits of their potential."
—Marshall McLuhan
Jane Friedman
Created by Jane Friedman
I report on the publishing industry and help authors understand the business of writing.

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