Right now the collaborative book project is a collaborative pamphlet project June 9, 2010 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Let's talk about the collaborative book project.
posted by orange swan to MetaFilter-Related at 10:00 AM (105 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I'd love to contribute... but I honestly don't have any idea what I could possibly write about.
posted by zarq at 10:11 AM on June 9, 2010


The June 1st deadline for submissions has come and gone and I've received just one (1) submission. Is there still interest in this project? Would people like an extension? I'm just trying to get a feel for the level of interest/commitment to this project, to see if it's worthwhile to proceed.
posted by orange swan at 10:15 AM on June 9, 2010


If you're going tobe prejudiced about wanting articles about illegal activities, then what am I to do?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on June 9, 2010


er, NOT wanting...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on June 9, 2010


Weird. I missed this entirely.

I can think of a couple of fun things, but mostly recipes, and since I don't have the copyright...

I'll give it some thought. Sounds fun, not sure if I can contribute. Do you have a link to the original thread as well?
posted by cjorgensen at 10:24 AM on June 9, 2010


Maybe the best thing to do would be to go through the archives and pick out best answers for "how to" questions on AskMe, then contact the person who wrote it and ask them to write something for the book.

My problem is that anything I know how to do I'm sure somebody here can do much better. I'd hate to submit something and have it be total crap.

I think my answer on how to patch a pair of pants was pretty good. I'd be willing to write up something about that. If you extend the deadline.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:32 AM on June 9, 2010


Original Thread.

First Project: Proposal / Final Wrap-Up
posted by zarq at 10:47 AM on June 9, 2010


Zarq's links go to threads that concern the Metafilter collaborative novel.

This project is to be non-fiction, a collection of how-to articles. The original thread is here.
posted by orange swan at 10:53 AM on June 9, 2010


My problem is that anything I know how to do I'm sure somebody here can do much better. I'd hate to submit something and have it be total crap.

I agree with this; I can do a bunch of things reasonably well, but not so well that it beats what I could find on, like, ehow or someone's blog or something.

In the last thread about this, I think I suggested something about extremely short pieces of fiction or nonfiction. The how-to idea is interesting, but most times, when I need a how-to, I just hit up Google, and I rarely skim how-to books on anything just for funsies. I might be more titillated by how-tos about illegal activities (how to rob a bank or how to find a drug dealer or other "unwholesomeness" would be more interesting to me than how to sew a button or how to brew a wheat-beer), but that's out.

I wonder if a more fertile idea would be a collection of short pieces that are nominally in the style of a bunch of "how-to"s, but not actually useful in any way. Like "how to navigate the 14th level of the astral plane" or "how to get my mom OFF MY FUCKING BACK ALREADY" or "how to do the Kraken, this new dance move I just invented" or "how to fall in love with a Ruby on Rails programmer" -- basically just excuses to tell stories people wanna tell, not at all relevant to actual instructions.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:55 AM on June 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yeah, that's a good idea there, Greg Nog.
posted by Mister_A at 10:58 AM on June 9, 2010


Aw hell. My mistake, orange_swan.
posted by zarq at 10:58 AM on June 9, 2010


I like short fiction cause I do short fiction well and actually enjoy it as opposed to long fiction.


I like how-to.

Also I wanna do the cover please?
posted by The Whelk at 10:59 AM on June 9, 2010


You should absolutely do the cover.
posted by Mister_A at 11:01 AM on June 9, 2010


Saying things emphatically is the best way of saying things.
posted by Mister_A at 11:02 AM on June 9, 2010


IT SHOULD BE A SHORT FICTION HOW-TO!

I DO COVER!

BOOK MAKE MILLIONS DOLLARS (US)!

RICH AS A MONEY HOT TUB!
posted by The Whelk at 11:06 AM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's the spirit!
posted by Mister_A at 11:08 AM on June 9, 2010


You're always covering things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:20 AM on June 9, 2010


I'm like a shark I just gotta keep covering.
posted by The Whelk at 11:23 AM on June 9, 2010


I liked the idea, but I ain't got nothing to offer. I'd have thought there'd have been more response, though, by our more able members. We seem to have a lot of those.
posted by Atreides at 11:29 AM on June 9, 2010


I liked the idea, but I ain't got nothing to offer.

I was going to say that, too, but then I've answered some AskMe questions on topics I assumed everyone already knew. Check your answer history, and see what helped others, or where you elaborated on what someone else wrote. Do you have hobbies? How did you get started in it? What have you learned?

Question: will there be illustrations per article, or per section? Say there's a section called "The Great Outdoors" - the chapter title page could have a nice little black and white illustration, or if the articles get long enough, there could be a nice little icon-like drawing at the top.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:49 AM on June 9, 2010


Hell I've got half of "How To Date The Whelk" half-written in my head now.
posted by The Whelk at 11:54 AM on June 9, 2010


If people want to submit artwork or photos with their submissions, then yes, we could include them in the book. They should be black and white though, to keep our printing costs low.
posted by orange swan at 11:55 AM on June 9, 2010


I like Greg Nog's idea. I didn't contribute to this round because I didn't feel like I had much to say in the "how to" department. I would like something that caters to those of us who have more interest in writing than any expertise in anything. I am a middling renaissance man who isn't very good at anything, but likes to read and write about lots of things.
posted by Think_Long at 11:57 AM on June 9, 2010


Aw, geez. I completely forgot. And here I am whining about "ohhhh, poor meeee, I have nothing to doooooo..."

"How to Knit" (sidebar: "How to Knit [if you are a dude]") and "How to Kick Ass on Jeopardy" coming right up.
posted by Madamina at 12:07 PM on June 9, 2010


I'd totally contribute to The Whelk's idea of y'all end up going with that.
posted by NoraReed at 12:33 PM on June 9, 2010


If. Not of. I'm really doing a good job of selling myself here.
posted by NoraReed at 12:34 PM on June 9, 2010


I wanna read 'how to date The Whelk'.
posted by jacalata at 12:49 PM on June 9, 2010


speaking of dating, can they be sexy how-to stuff?
If so, I'm in. I'm in anyway. I'd heard about this project and then it fell off my radar. Is there a new deadline date?
I suggest July 15.
posted by angrycat at 12:54 PM on June 9, 2010


Since I've appointed myself czar of this thread, I'll go ahead and say that sexy how-tos are OK for either the original Orange Swan idea or the Greg Nog fictional How-To featuring The Whelk!
posted by Mister_A at 1:01 PM on June 9, 2010


As long as the sexy thing is illegal somewhere, that is.
posted by Mister_A at 1:01 PM on June 9, 2010


That's not fair - what about those of us who are crippled by our repression?!
posted by Think_Long at 1:12 PM on June 9, 2010


can it be a weird sexy thing? i feel like i should PM somebody about this. (NOTE NOT A GROSS SEXY THING)
posted by angrycat at 1:13 PM on June 9, 2010


I'm sure this has been covered elsewhere, but must it be how to? I give a pretty darn cool history of the New York City subway that I'd be pretty jazzed to include, but it's obviously not how to.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:41 PM on June 9, 2010


I think this is symptomatic of what I thought at first: this is a book looking for an idea, not the other way around, and it's always better the other way around. For some reason I can't locate my original comment about book ideas, but that was my gut sense when it was first lobbed out there.

I think the interesting thing MeFites have to offer isn't "how to do stuff" (as others have said, that's why there's Google) but something more integrated with their unique perspectives as people - some creative contribution. I have an idea for that: Travel recommendations would be kind of awesome, since we don't have TravelFilter. I would definitely pay for a travel guidebook that included "ColdChef's New Orleans," "Jessamyn's Vermont," "The Whelk's New York," etc. It wouldn't even matter if 2 users duplicated an area, since they probably wouldn't duplicate exact locations within that area. The appeal would lie in (a) the unique voice of each contributor as a MeFi personality, and (b) the opportunity to find out about cool stuff embedded in local knowledge that you normally can only find if you take a pull at the AskMe slot machine and all three lemons line up.

From the project-management standpoint, I also don't think it will crowdsource itself passively. The guidelines are a bit loose and there isn't enough built-in accountability to give people a meaningful stake in getting something done. I think it needs an editor who will not just be compiler and copyeditor, but who will shape the project from beginning to end. Either sign up contributors now, send them a memorandum of agreement, and then bother them regularly until their due date and beyond, or take on the sourcing of writers for each given topics. In other words, I don't think that depending on MeFites to retain their own focus on the project for a long time without individual communication in between would work out. I think there needs to be much more clarity at the start about who the contributors are, and then some semi-weekly wrangling, reminding, and nudging until they cough something up.
posted by Miko at 2:09 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Otherdraco's New York." That entry is all about the subway.

Put me down for the Jersey Shore and Martha's Vineyard.
posted by Miko at 2:09 PM on June 9, 2010


cjorgensen, recipes aren't copyright-able. At least the basic information isn't. The description of how to do it, if too elaborate, can be, but simply put that part in your own words and you're free to share the recipe with the world.
posted by Toekneesan at 2:30 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The problem is that no one in the original thread wanted to write any how-to articles. There were a lot of people who wanted to get a book of how-to articles, but few who wanted to write it. I think if the scope of the project changed to fiction or poetry or essays or something like that (akin to the comments you see in the blue), there'd be more interest in writing something. And don't forget that everyone who wants to write something would also want to get the book.

Plus creative writing is more fun.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:39 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, I totally love the geographic thing.

And that's how some real important writers got started (via the WPA that funded a book of similar articles).

And being a newish resident of Philly, it really gets me salivating to think about the project of writing about it (through the eyes of a newcomer and all that)
posted by angrycat at 2:57 PM on June 9, 2010


I eagerly anticipate "Weird Sex Things in Philly" by angrycat.
posted by Mister_A at 3:09 PM on June 9, 2010


I wanted to take part in this but then I got, uhhh, distracted by some shit.

I'll be in a better place to write something in the next week or so. I have no idea what, though, as I write best when I'm reacting to something or I've been triggered by a topic that brings up memories.

Or feel free to pull any of my existing comments/answers for the book. Anything. Without reservation.
posted by loquacious at 3:13 PM on June 9, 2010


Yeah, I really think there are several good books that could be made from Mefites contributing stuff, but it needs a more strict focus. Most of the writing that we're thinking came about in response to a particular question or situation on the site (one of scody's stories or pastabagel's rants about something). Having to create brand new content that isn't birthed from the energy of good thread or question is going to be difficult.

I've said it before, but you need to follow a model like Reader's Write from The Sun, where a general topic is chosen by the editor, such as Prayer, Redemption or The Phone Call and people just submit stuff based on that theme. Open up to artists too and you could get something really good from that.

I'm really, really tempted to start that, maybe make it a quarterly thing, depending on how it goes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:17 PM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm in if there is to be swearing.

I mean, ah... Fucking swearing. Damn, I already fail. I guess that's why the guys as the used car dealership lied to me when they said they didn't have any job openings. Because if you take the first no for an answer in a gig lie that then you may as well be unemployed.

Fucking how-to books! How do they work!
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:35 PM on June 9, 2010


Yes, one topic and if you include art you have a fucking magazine. MetaFilter Quarterly.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:37 PM on June 9, 2010


Great, another blog-to-book deal
posted by The Whelk at 3:40 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it's geographic I would totally do Albuquerque.
posted by NoraReed at 3:58 PM on June 9, 2010


After looking through my answers, I was thinking of writing about how I became a cyclist, and combining that with some bike commute how-to tips. Totally not geographic, tho.
posted by epersonae at 4:02 PM on June 9, 2010


Great, another blog-to-book deal

I smell a television pilot, myself.
posted by angrycat at 4:03 PM on June 9, 2010


I'd be extremely happy with a general theme and art/creative writing submissions.
posted by kylej at 4:03 PM on June 9, 2010


I smell a television pilot, myself.

Then how would the whelk do the cover?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:04 PM on June 9, 2010


Then how would the whelk do the cover?!

There could be some mad-men like intro. Like instead of a cutout shape of a dude falling past buildings, there could be cutout shapes of people furiously typing and spitting coffee on their screens as they laugh silently.

Yeah, that sounds boring.

What about: Geographic theme: Fiction or non-fiction, art and photography.
posted by angrycat at 4:09 PM on June 9, 2010


So angrycat—you mean kinda like the "Set in Philadelphia" screenplay competition, only set wherever you want to, and not screenplays?
posted by Mister_A at 4:24 PM on June 9, 2010


Wow, I didn't know about the Set in Phi. thing.

I guess because a) I'm new here and b) Don't write screenplays
posted by angrycat at 4:48 PM on June 9, 2010


Then how would the whelk do the cover?!

There could be some mad-men like intro. Like instead of a cutout shape of a dude falling past buildings, there could be cutout shapes of people furiously typing and spitting coffee on their screens as they laugh silently.


Why do you people make me do these things
posted by The Whelk at 5:16 PM on June 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


Just do a filtering of all the Ayn Rand threads, dig up all the happily favorited rants and weird anecdotes and extrapolations, get The Whelk to throw some graphics together. Call it Meta Shrugged.

I'd buy it.
posted by philip-random at 6:18 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]




Just do a filtering of all the Ayn Rand threads, dig up all the happily favorited rants and weird anecdotes and extrapolations, get The Whelk to throw some graphics together. Call it Meta Shrugged.

I'd buy it.


You people are making this way too easy
posted by The Whelk at 6:42 PM on June 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think short fiction on a theme would raise much more interest... here's my reasoning.

Ask Metafilter is a collaborative place where people's anecdotes join together to reach an understanding on a subject. In a 'how-to' book someone has to become an authority on something, and I expect people will get hung up on trying to avoid being like everything else out there.

However in fiction, we share our unique perspective on life, maybe attempting to be slightly conclusive, but truly just saying what we think!
posted by niccolo at 7:15 PM on June 9, 2010


I'm watching this now; wasn't too interested in collaborative fiction writing, but love the idea of a mixed book (fiction, poetry, how to, essays, art, etc.) around a theme. Mefi cats can arrange themselves into some lovely poses, but probably won't be herded into any prearranged spaces.
posted by Surfurrus at 7:15 PM on June 9, 2010


LOL ... how patient is the editor?
posted by Surfurrus at 7:17 PM on June 9, 2010


The Whelk is singlehandedly steering us toward what we SHOULD be doing with the collaborative book project: METAPARODY.

"My Favorites Year"
Benjy Stone Josh Millard is the junior writer moderator on the top rated variety/comedy show community weblog, in the mid 50s 00s (the early years). Its a new medium and the rules were not fully established. Alan Swann quonsar, an Eroll Flynn type actor blogger with a drinking problem is to be that week's guest star poster. When King Kaiser Mathowie, the headliner, wants to throw Swann quonsar off the show, Benjy Josh makes a pitch to save his childhood hero, and is made Swann's quonsar's babysitter.

Dr. Seuss' "The Tomcatspike in the Languagehat", "Horton Hears a Hurf Durf", "Gerald NOT Boing Boing" and "(Can I Eat This) Green Eggs & Ham?"

"I Can Has Hamburger?", a collection of deeply sarcastic pictures of cute cats.

"Lawrence Whelk's Shampoo Music Makers" (featuring the Lemon Sisters) (yes, mostly stolen from a 1950's Stan Freberg parody, but I had to go there)

"FTFY First Dates"
"Death to Schmoopy"
"GYOFB to the Greek"

The possibilities are endless terrifying.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:28 PM on June 9, 2010


OH SHIT

I didn't even know about this.

It's OK if it's previous work, right? Because I've got a How To Tread Water piece ready with my mother's images, and we've only done really small artist editions, but we have the digital files and can get them to you if I can have the print specs.
posted by klangklangston at 8:08 PM on June 9, 2010


As for the guides, I've got a quasi-real guide to Ann Arbor weird history ("A Situationist Perambulation") and I've written a brief guide article on cocktails here in LA that I can expand with no real work (because I've been drunkener more places now).
posted by klangklangston at 8:10 PM on June 9, 2010


I agree with some of the sentiment above that what I value from MeFites is more the little stories and anecdotes than how-to stuff -- although I value that as well. I'm in the same boat as some others have mentioned for how-to articles: while I know how to do some how-to stuff, I'm not confident enough that a write-up from me is more worthwhile than a write-up from someone else, or anything someone could find searching the internet. It's one thing for someone to post to AskMeFi and for everyone to chime in with what they happen to know, but it feels a bit different, maybe presumptuous, to write an unsolicited how-to; then I start to question how much I actually know about something, and I feel a bit uncomfortable knowing that unlike in AskMe, other people can't provide useful things I might have left out or opposing viewpoints. A how-to feels more objective than a "hey, this way works for me and maybe it'll work for you, too." Also, a how-to feels rather impersonal. I like how-tos, but I would want to read something that gives some insight into the MeFites themselves.

For example, I could write how-tos on bookbinding, or cooking, or some aspects of nutrition, but there are probably better things already out there and easy to find. I could write on something more vague and arguably more interesting, like how my particular creative process works -- but that's not exactly a how-to. I like reading about other people's creative processes because even when most of it sounds like it wouldn't work for me, I usually get good ideas from it. But does anyone really feel comfortable putting that in a how-to format? I wouldn't. Same for life lessons from other MeFites. I could tell a story, and then tell you what I've learned from it, and I could even make it fit into a how-to format -- like how to get over some hang-up or other -- but it would feel really presumptuous. I would love to see that sort of thing from other people because that's my favorite kind of MeFi comment -- narrative nonfiction I guess? -- but it gets a whole authoritative aire about it if it's a how-to.

The sort of thing I'd like to see from MeFites, and that I would have less qualms about contributing to, is something more in the format of This American Life. I like Brandon Blatcher's idea of choosing a theme and maybe doing a quarterly thing; it would be broad enough to allow some variety, and if some people can't come up with anything on a particular theme, the next theme might suit them better. And maybe people could contribute fictional or nonfictional answers; I'd love to read fiction inspired by the theme as much as I'd like to read nonfiction related to it.

I would also even enjoy a book of whatever people wanted to contribute, with no coherent theme, because let's face it: MeFi as a site is about all different things and doesn't have a coherent theme, it just changes every day. That's the way in which I'm used to engaging with MeFites. The book format can seem restrictive in that sense because we tend to think of books as having a theme, but we don't have to think of books that way. And even if we want to, the theme of "stuff various MeFites have wanted to talk about more but the opportunity never came up" is good enough for me.
posted by Nattie at 8:56 PM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


What if we pitched story/essay ideas.
posted by angrycat at 9:03 PM on June 9, 2010


It seems like it would have to be things we can't already get on MetaFilter. Answers and short form text wackiness are things we've got in spades.

So what does that leave? Coherent fiction, art, special graphics and layout. Maybe agree on some page format and let people send in TIFFs or whatever, and throw some not necessarily strict subset of it all together in a mad jumble.
posted by fleacircus at 10:28 PM on June 9, 2010


This thread is totally validates my view of mefites.

"Oh yeah...that sounds great, I'm totally in". and then they're not.

Keep working on those grad school apps guys...I mean you do identify yourselves to others as "oh yeah...I'm thinking about a program in..."

nothing.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:07 AM on June 10, 2010


I'm thinking about a program in something! But I'm not telling what.
posted by fleacircus at 2:35 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


zarq: I'd love to contribute... but I honestly don't have any idea what I could possibly write about.

But zarq, you're a parent and spouse. You know how to wake a child up, how to make them smile and laugh, how to give them a bath, how to teach them, how to let them teach you, how to love unconditionally, how to love more than one child. You also know how to make an SO smile and laugh, how to be in a relationship, how to get married, how to propose, how to fall in love, how to live with someone. What about your job, what are the specifics of that? How do you navigate the politics of your particular industry? How do you go through the process of getting stuff done in your industry? How did you find this job? How do you choose where to eat for lunch? Speaking in a general sense, not specifically to you, how does an introvert find a breathing room in extroverted world and workplace?

I think people are too worried about thinking of something deep and unique, say building a nuclear bomb or some such. But what makes Mefite stories shine is their individual take on situation. For instance, I learned how to actually sing at the age of 26. I know How To Sing. Big deal, a lot of people know how to sing, right? But the particular way I came to the decision to take voice lessons at later age in life, how I found the teacher, that teacher's studio and style and manner and personality and background, stories that teacher told, that transformative power of actually being able to listen and sing and hear in whole new ways, that's the sort of story that would make a How To Sing article interesting.

So here's what I suggest people think about:

How did you fall in love?

How did you decide on your prom date? Or how did you decide not go to prom?

How did you learn to stop and smell the flowers?

How did you learn to drive? How did you learn to drive a stick shift?

How did you learn how to ride a bike? How did you avoid ever learning how to ride a bike?

How did you learn to listen to people in general?

How did you learn to survive being a teenager? An adult?

How did you learn to deal with that awful work situation and grow from it?

How did learn to let go and leave that certain crappy situation behind?

If you're not good with computers, how do you learn to live with them, use them?

How did you finally learn to balance a checkbook?

How did you learn to get your financial matters in order?

Have you ever written a will, if so, how did you reach the point of knowing you should and how did you go about doing it?

How did you learn to DTMFA and be ok with doing so?

How do you leave an abusive relationship?

How do you leave a good person who just isn't right for you?

How did you learn that X job or X type of person is or isn't right for you?

How did you learn to forgive?

How did you learn to be happy?

How did you learn to be alone?

How did you learn yoga?

How did you find the perfect coat/pants/shoes/car etc?

How did you make your parents proud?

How did you become ok with the fact that your parents were fucked up and would never be proud of you?

How did you forgive your parents?

How do you show much you love your parents, how much they mean to you, how grateful you are for awesoem they've been?

How do you become a great parent?

How do you become a lousy parent?

How did become best friends with someone?

How did learn to date women? Men? Both?

How did you learn what you like in bed?

How did you learn to masturbate?

How do you learn what your partner likes in bed?

How do you go about getting that special toy to help you and your partner in bed?

How did you learn the artistic medium you eventually fell in love with?

How do you go about buying getting your art materials?

How do learn to play banjo?

Did you got o art school, if so how did you choose the one you went to?

How do you juggle work and school?

How do you learn to sew?

How do you learn to screenprint?

How do learn to play an instrument?

How did you learn to write music, a song?

How did you learn to do that certain tricky move in dance?

Drummers, how did you find a place to practice or make peace with those around you about the amount of noise?

How do you learn to program a computer?

How did you learn to pick flowers for someone?

How did you learn to grieve?

How did you learn to embrace joy and life?

How did you learn to your personal clothing style?

How did you learn French?

How do you be a good sibling?

How did you learn to live with your crazy sibling?

How did you become an accountant? How did you learn to become a mortician? Web designer?

How do you publish a newspaper or book?

How do you edit a book?

How do you manage people?

There's a wealth of stories in all of us, of things we've learned, sometimes happily, sometimes painfully, sometimes without even realizing it until later. Think about it and then tell us the story.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:40 AM on June 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher, that was a wonderful comment, one I hope anyone who would like to contribute to this book will read several times and think about carefully.
posted by orange swan at 5:42 AM on June 10, 2010


Which brings us around to the question: who is going to contribute to the book? There's a bit of a circle stare going on here while everyone waits for someone to determine what the project is about.

OS, if you are still wanting to be editor, perhaps you could manage the project like this:

1. Take the list that BB just created
2. Expand upon it with your own ideas
3. Post it as The Official List of Topics
4. Ask for individual people to sign up for the assignments they are most interested in
5. Source writers for the ones that are not taken by other writers - that is, send a personal invite that you thought they would be good at it, and why
6. Write to all the authors with an agreement and submission deadline
7. Send periodic reminders during the time frame leading to the deadline: "Don't forget, deadline is the 7th of August! Let me know how things are going!"
8. At deadline time, think about whether there needs to be an extension for some people or whether they are lost causes
9. At the REAL deadline, bring the hammer down and see what you have.

It's likely you'll need to source many more writers than you need, because some will inevitably flake out. And it's definite that you'll have to ride them. Without getting paid as an incentive, you will have to rely on their interest in contributing and being all-around swell people to make them meet deadlines. They will need reminders that someone is actually paying attention. I just went through this process as a contributing writer, and the editor managed it very well so that it never fell off my radar.

If this doesn't get a fire lit under people, then I would put forward the idea that we don't need a book all that badly. If we can't figure out what it would be about or who it would be for, what would be its purpose?
posted by Miko at 6:06 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, for those still feeling hemmed in, you really can "manipulate" the How To aspect to just about anything. As I'm sitting here listening to the band Morphine and the time I saw them live in Baltimore, I'm thinking I could turn that experience into a How To Go See A Live Band and Have The Time Of Your Life in Baltimore article. It really doesn't have to be a strict "How to Bake a Cake" but more of "This is how (important person) taught me how to bake a cake and here is how they did it. Hell, it could even be from the reverse angle "How To Pass On A Recipe or How To Bond over Baking or How To Deviate From A Recipe and Still Make An Awesome Cake" Just different angles to consider.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:50 AM on June 10, 2010


I'm working on "How to Watch Avatar Without Cracking Up" story.

***SPOILER ALERT***










It involves staples.
posted by Mister_A at 8:13 AM on June 10, 2010


Tell me when and I'm down for "How to Date Me".
posted by The Whelk at 8:15 AM on June 10, 2010


Yeah, make it so! Activate the horde of writers, man!
posted by Mister_A at 8:28 AM on June 10, 2010


I can totally write how to order T-shirts, beginning with "Crowd-source the garment brand and color selection!"
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:05 AM on June 10, 2010


Devil's Ranchers, I actually have some ideas for Metafilter T-shirts

I like the top one best, or maybe a green shirt with yellow spray-painted letters, left aigned


ASK
ME

I'd buy it.
posted by The Whelk at 10:10 AM on June 10, 2010


oops derail -- that's totally Matt's thing. I just print the things and I think he doesn't want a garage full of t-shirts for a while. I like the top one, too.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:13 AM on June 10, 2010


He could use some new designs just sayin'
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 AM on June 10, 2010


He could use some new designs just sayin'

/me rubs hands together in anticipation of designer's fee.
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 AM on June 10, 2010


The June 1st deadline for submissions has come and gone and I've received just one (1) submission.

It is telling that the word "idea" appears 21 times in this thread.

If I were you, I'd invest my attention elsewhere.
posted by cribcage at 11:49 AM on June 10, 2010


The word "by" appears 92 times in this thread. If I were you, I'd go buy something or question my sexuality.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:56 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


okay, here's what i would like to write about. it could be a how-to, generally speaking.

ahem:

How to leave New York City and move to Upper Darby PA and get to know Philadelphia, all whilst wheelchair-riding.
posted by angrycat at 12:17 PM on June 10, 2010


What we should do is start with Brandon Blatcher's list, then have a team of people looking through old AskMe questions for outstanding answers that fit the specific "how to ____"s (or come close enough -- there just needs to be some initial direction). Then, contact those commenters and ask if they'd be willing to expand a bit on their answers as a contribution to this book.

The fact that there was only 1 submission by the deadline shows that people need more of a prompt than just being asked to write about how to do something. We have created a culture on AskMe of well-written, interesting advice -- but we do this in response to specific requests (the questions). That makes it awkward to try to come up with advice on a blank slate, aimed at some general, imaginary audience.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:54 PM on June 10, 2010


I'd read that! I've always wanted to know more about Upper Darby.
posted by Mister_A at 12:55 PM on June 10, 2010


I would way rather read angrycat's tale than angrycat's how-to on fixing a blender or something. I think the idea that was suggested earlier—pick a general topic and let 'er rip— is a great one. When we did the MeFi collaborative novella a couple years back, we started with a really basic concept and just let it run from there. No restrictions, no before-the-fact world building, no rules. We just said, "the theme is, first contact with extraterrestrial beings" and off we went. It was a fun project, and I think it was quite good in spots. But mostly it was fun.

So I would certainly write something on a broad topic like "Home" or "children" or "volcanoes" or "things that start with the letter 'X'." I would also consider writing for a fantastical how-to collection, because it's pretty much the same thing I've just described, the topic in this case being "How to do something."

In any case, remember that this project is for the writers' enjoyment more than anything else, dump-trucks full of royalty payments notwithstanding.
posted by Mister_A at 1:04 PM on June 10, 2010


Oh.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:14 PM on June 10, 2010


I'd read that! I've always wanted to know more about Upper Darby.

It is an interesting amalgamation of 1) Immigrants; 2) West Philadelphians; 3) Angry old white people with flags on their lawns; and 4) a few (hopefully growing in number) starving artists
posted by angrycat at 1:26 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


How did you learn how to ride a bike? How did you avoid ever learning how to ride a bike?

As previously mentioned, I would like to write this, as it is one of my favorite personal stories: a blend of pathos and triumph, with practical tips. :) Will start ASAP...new deadline?
posted by epersonae at 3:23 PM on June 10, 2010


Yeah, new deadline or this fucker is never gonna get going.
posted by angrycat at 4:03 PM on June 10, 2010


I'm in JUST the right mood to do some Metafilter-related photoshop Friday stuff on books or logos. Just Sayin'
posted by The Whelk at 5:56 PM on June 10, 2010


You've got like 2 hours here
posted by The Whelk at 5:56 PM on June 10, 2010


Books or Legos, you say?
posted by Mister_A at 5:59 PM on June 10, 2010


I'm already working on a "how I learned to screenprint," sort of. I've been amassing an outline of anecdotes from 25 years of the printing business, and plan to put it together as a sort of informational/yet full of crazy client stories memoir-ish thing/blob. It's amorphous, beyond the epigraph at this point. The "How to order t-shirts" would be a sarcastic take on all the pratfalls of dealing with clients in my industry, and would get me going on this thing. It could be educational as well, done the way I'm thinking -- a step-by-step containing all utterly wrong moves to make, as a custom wholesale shirt-ordering person.

What kind of word & page count are you looking for here?
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:03 PM on June 10, 2010


Like the Atlas Shrugged/Mad Men thing Mister_A
posted by The Whelk at 6:06 PM on June 10, 2010


tick tock
posted by The Whelk at 6:07 PM on June 10, 2010


I wanted to do this (still do). I was in the middle of deciding on a subject when Life Happened. But I've been working on my 750 Words, and I would attempt to take advantage of a deadline extension.

In addition to what Miko suggested, perhaps it would help to have more than one editor to spread out the cat-herding and technical eventualities.

Folks, we need a plan.

And, maybe, a memory-jogging prompt such as, "Explain how to do something that you learned the hard way." Like epersonae described it, "one of my favorite personal stories: a blend of pathos and triumph, with practical tips."
posted by zennie at 7:43 PM on June 10, 2010


(Or, "the unsuspecting/inappropriate/regrettable/slushy/best/ridiculous way".)
posted by zennie at 7:56 PM on June 10, 2010


Perhaps we could call the book "Overthinking a Plate of Beans: A blend of pathos and triumph from the members of Metafilter.com, with practical tips".

All right. If there's really interest in going forward with this, let's set a new deadline.

October 1st sounds like plenty of lead time. And while I would still like to go with the "fixed that for you" theme, please don't think you have to come up with some definitive article on how to do something. Talk about your own experiences in a way that you think would be of interest and of some help to others.

If you are ready to commit to being a part of this project, please MeMail or email me with an email address I can use to send out group reminders and information to you. You can also specify what specifically you intend to contribute. Tell me what you think you might like to write, or let me know if you're interested in working on things like cover design, interior design, printing stuff, and so on. Nothing will be set in stone and I will accept people joining later on as long as they are prepared to be ready for the October 1st deadline, but I do want to get an idea of what people are doing.

I'll get this thing more organized this weekend and post some more definite submissions criteria and so on to the project blog - and of course, I'll email the info to whatever list of contributors I've got by then.

Thanks, everyone.
posted by orange swan at 8:22 PM on June 10, 2010


october 1st sounds like a huge amount of time, might give people more time to waffle and forget about it, unless they're reminded of it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:32 PM on June 10, 2010


I plan to send out reminder emails to people semi-regularly, such as every two weeks, until the deadline.
posted by orange swan at 8:42 PM on June 10, 2010


Good idea. have a nugget to write something like this for another publication (which WILL get rejected) and could use the reminder. E-mail in profile.
posted by The Whelk at 2:57 AM on June 11, 2010


SO just to recap - these are real-life accounts (with heroic or tragicomic embellishments as needed) that center on, or at least touch on, how people have come to hold some sort of knowledge or wisdom. Is that it more or less?

Seems like a pretty loose theme, I like it. If that is indeed it.
posted by Mister_A at 7:39 AM on June 11, 2010


Sure, that's a fair description, Mister_A. Think of it as a mini-memoir. Think of yourself as either a shining light or a horrible example.
posted by orange swan at 8:40 AM on June 11, 2010


Mefite mini-memoirs-- momentous, mellifluously melded memories-- may markedly mend my mutable mind.

"Madness!" misanthropes mutter. "Mushy, mewling, meaningless mulch!"

"Muchly," Matt muses.

Meanwhile, Mefites make more mutual memories.
posted by zennie at 9:48 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Marvelous!
posted by orange swan at 4:48 PM on June 12, 2010


Manly?
posted by The Whelk at 8:32 AM on June 13, 2010


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