More Black Friday software details

So this is the year that Black Friday hit the UK. It’s a thing now. But here’s a benefit of the whole shebang: more cheap software. MacLife has a bigger list than I’d seen before and it includes many I’d recommend:

Well, the big Black Friday sale day is upon us. If you’ve been out this morning beating back hordes for physical bargains on flat screen TVs and whatnot, this will come as a welcome respite. Cheap prices and no lines, no shortages, no riots. And if you skip the whole retailer madness on principal or for other reasons, you can still grab some sweet deals right here still.

Price Drop Black Friday Edition: The Weekend’s Best App Deals, November 28 | Mac|Life

Read the full piece.

Writer’s Notes: how to write a bio

Your editor wants one, the festival you’re appearing at wants something for their brochure, you’re mocking up a new website, the list goes on and each one demands a bio. What a good thing that writers are ego-machines able to trot out a swift self-praising eulogy at the slightest hint of a request.

It is egotistical to write your own biography, even when you’re just talking of a paragraph for a theatre programme. But it is also a writing job. More than that, it’s a selling job. Now, this won’t exactly help you when you sit down to write one but each time you are asked for a bio or you see a place you can send it, you are not actually writing a bio. You are writing a pitch and you are writing a sales proposal and you are writing an advert.

There’s nothing like putting the pressure on you, is there?

If you’re sending a bio to someone along with material, if you’re pitching yourself and your material then your bio is very much part of that. It is factual in the sense that it must be true but it isn’t factual in the sense that it has to be a dry chronological chronicle of your career. I think schools and universities have a lot to answer for with the damage they do to how people write CVs.

Whether you regard yourself as a commercial writer or not, your bio is commercial. It is selling you – and then it is selling them, the editor and the organiser and the producer. Bios need to be something they can pop straight into their brochure or programme and forget about. Know that they will make them, the editor and the organiser and the producer, look good for having got such an interesting writer.

Oh, and it has to look different to the place down the road where you appeared last year.

As with all things sales, too, you need to do every bit of this selling business quickly. The fewer words, the stronger the words – though this is a family show – the better. Twitter is great practice for writing with flair but precision. Poets are fantastic at loading words with enough meaning to fill books. Scriptwriters are superb at dialogue that sounds natural yet conveys immensely important information.

It’s only novelists and academic text writers who are screwed.

For them and for every type of writer, though, do the Three Strikes Bio. I’ve mentioned this before, including in the book The Blank Screen but have only this moment thought of a name for it.

Here’s what you do to dash off a Three Strikes Bio.

1) Decide what and who you need the bio for. What is it selling? Your latest book, your first play, their workshop?

2) With that in mind, look through your CV for two things that are in some way relevant. If you need the bio for your workshop on teaching nuns to write about the ocean, that novel you wrote set in a convent has got to go in there. And so has your round the world yacht trip.

3) Look through your CV for one thing that is not relevant. Not relevant to the thing you’re pitching and not relevant to writing, either. Something that is so not relevant, it is far, far away from anything even approaching relevancy. For that nun ocean workshop, if you’ve once been bodyguard for a daytime TV celebrity, that’s the one.

Write these three things down and do it simply, do it straight. No embellishments, no quotes, no detail. Just third person you did this, you did, you do the other:

Susan Hare wrote first hit novel Convent Sunset while cruising the Mediterranean during her charity round-the-world race. She has also been a bodyguard for Cash in the Attic star Curt Jaw.

That’s a pretty good bio: you’d go see her, wouldn’t you? But it’s straight, factual, easy. I wanted to embellish the first line with the name of her boat but I was just after telling you not to add details, so I didn’t. But between you and me, I think her boat would’ve been called the Pink Baracuda.

Seriously, there is something about being concise that is strong. Too much detail means desperation, I think. It’s like CV: we think a CV has to get us a job but it doesn’t and actually it mustn’t. The job of a CV is to get us an interview. No less, sure, but certainly also no more. People must not be able to consider and then reject you on the information you’ve given them on the CV, they must be tempted to bring you in for a chat.

Bios are true but they are not evidentiary or documentation, they are sales.

Celebrity fame and productivity

I’ve got one of these. But if I were also a famous celebrity, this is what would happen. You’d hear about me a lot on the news and each time I would’ve got a new book out. Or my shocking scurrilous sordid squid sex secret has been revealed. (Delete depending on what celebrity news outlet you read.)

My personal life aside – we’re all adults here, I don’t judge you, you don’t judge me or at least don’t judge me until you’ve tried it – I think that there is something interesting and something that gets forgotten. These people you see relaxing on the BBC Breakfast couch talking about yet another book, yet another success, they have two things going on that they don’t really talk about and that they are not really asked about either.

First, they need that publicity. I don’t mean that they crave it within their souls or that their lifeforce depends upon adulation, I mean that without you hearing about their book, the book doesn’t sell. They want to eat, sure, but they probably also want to keep on writing books and they need us, they need some floodlights put on their faces.

But the second thing is ridiculous. We listen to journalists asking people about their new book and yet we don’t really, consciously think: “They’ve written a new book”. Obviously they have but we tend to think more that it’s “They’ve got a new book out”. That’s subtly different and I think it misleads us.

To get on the telly talking about a book, you have to write the book.

We see celebrities relaxing, talking happily at events and in interviews, but they solely got there because they did the work. It’s back-breaking work but they have broken their backs and done it.

And tomorrow they’re off doing it again.

I’m not fussed about fame and celebrity, I am very fussed about getting enough sales that I can keep writing books. Do the work. Be productive. And you will produce things.

I have no idea whether that will get you on the telly but I know that you don’t get on if you haven’t done the work.

Sales are productive, right? Take a look at Hukkster

This is what should happen. You signup for Hukkster, add a little button it gives you for your web browser, and then tap that button any time you’re shopping online and see something you fancy. It should go into a little list that Hukkster monitors for you and come the day that your item goes on sale, you’re notified.

I’m sure that is what happens in reality too, if you’re in the US. Here in the UK it doesn’t seem to work but the company says there it works on “select international sites” outside America. Nothing seems to happen when I try it on Amazon UK, though.

Take a look at it if you tend to buy a lot of items online. I’m not entirely sure I remember when I used to buy things in shops, but.