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Weekly Write-Up: 7th November 2018

by Tom Ashford
Welcome to the SPF Weekly Write-Up, where each Wednesday we’ll be collecting together the writing news of the week so you don’t have to.

This week: James Patterson launches his latest novel via an unusual medium, and something called a Dwarsligger is about to take over the United States.

It makes sense, honestly.

A “Novel” Use of Facebook Messenger

James Patterson is one of the most successful authors in the world, with over 375 million copies of his books sold across the world. If there’s an author who doesn’t need to use cheap gimmicks and tricks to get readers to pick up his books, it’s him.

And yet his latest book, The Chef, is now available via the medium of… Facebook Messenger.

Well, it’s a “digital novel experience” based on the book, at least. Not only can users read the book, but they can interact with the characters and locations with videos and audio clips that tie in to the story. Patterson will also attend live Q&A sessions… and there are even Instagram profiles for some of the characters.

According to Patterson, “exploring new ways to connect with fans is important to me and Messenger’s experience for The Chef not only makes the story more accessible to readers across new generations, but offers an enticing and thrilling read like never before.” It sounds more like a marketing gimmick to me, and only time will tell if it manages to attract to Patterson’s books what it possibly a younger audience than he usually receives. Either way, it could be an interesting and potentially lucrative medium for the future.

And for those who still like books in a format that even slightly resembles a novel, The Chef will be available as a hardcover in February. Not too long to wait.

Little, Tiny Books

If there’s one thing I keep hearing about books, it’s that they’re too big.

Wait, no. Nobody’s saying that.

Even so, Dutton, a Penguin Random House imprint, is releasing a series of “mini books” or “flipbooks”, each the size of a smartphone and not much thicker than their normal-sized counterparts. Their paper is disconcertingly thin. And, again like a smartphone, you “scroll” upwards with the pages to read through – i.e. you hold it landscape, and the text flows horizontally from bottom to top, almost like flipping over the pages of a calendar. It looks as if it would work, though I can’t imagine it wouldn’t take some getting used to.

Having said that, apparently the format has been popular in Europe for years. “Dwarsliggers,” they’re called. Well, get ready, America. The Dwarsliggers are on their way.

There seem to be plenty of mini books in Dutton’s pipeline, though the first batch focusses on a single author: John Green. Four of his novels will be converted – Looking for Alaska; An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars – and will be sold for $12 each or $48 as a boxed set.

Again, it seems as if popular authors are trying to appeal to the ever-scrolling, tiny-screen market. Whatever gets people reading!

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford is a professional copywriter, author of numerous dark fantasy and sci-fi novels, and the Head of Content at the Self Publishing Formula Blog. His books include the Blackwater trilogy and the Checking Out series.

He lives in London with his wife, in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. Find out more about Tom here.