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Best Quora Answer of the Year

Kenyatta Leal has won the Quora Answer of the Year award at the annual Shorty Awards. He provided a moving answer to the question: “What does the first day of a 5+ year prison sentence feel like?

Below, we’ve included links to all five finalists for the Best Quora Answer of the Year award. Leal accepted his award from prison. Here is an excerpt from his Quora essay:

I remember my first day because it was my worst day. I was sentenced to life in prison on September 25, 1995 and about a week later was transferred from the San Diego County Jail to RJ Donovan Prison for intake into the state prison system. The morning of my transfer a deputy came to my cell and told me that I was “catching the chain” to the pen.  I had just made it to sleep as my cellmate and I had stayed up late playing chess and talking. He was a 19 year old 1st termer headed to the joint with a life sentence and every night he would ask me a gang of questions about prison life. I felt compelled to answer his questions in as much detail as possible because I knew he didn’t understand the danger he was headed into and he needed all the help he could get.

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Flesh Out Your Fictional Character on Reddit

At the IAmAFiction subreddit, you can actually take your fictional character out into the world–interacting with readers and answering questions in character to help your writing process.

The group was inspired by real-life interviews on Reddit, giving creators a forum to test their characters. Simply join the group and submit your character as an interview subject. Here’s more about the site:

If you are working on developing an invented character for creative writing, roleplay, or pure novelty, this is the place to expose your character to the world and subject them to questioning to help you flesh them out. IAmA posts work just like a regular IAmA post, except the poster assumes the role of his/her character. Please be a good IAmAfic citizen and comment on other people’s submissions as well as your own. Remember, they’re not real people — so no need to be shy!

Choose Your Own Adventure in the Comments Section

Are you sick of online comment sections filled with trolls, negative thoughts and meaningless responses? One commenter has created an entirely new genre of online commentary.

An online writer named Kimmberlias created a sprawling choose-your-own-adventure-style story in the comments section of a Reddit post. Here is the post that started it all:

The hipster genocide in 2018 was pretty bad, not many hipsters made it out, but they survived by living off the saliva made from looking on Instagram of pictures of food. You can make your own future. A guard is coming by your cell in hipster prison (a former starbucks) what do you do? Hide your iPhone so he doesn’t see your food pictures (turn to page 81), or Quickly check* the hole you’ve been digging, behind your cat poster, with your chipped latte mug (turn to page 17)

LibraryThing Founder: ‘B&N, Kobo and Indies are going to drop and be dropped by Goodreads like a hot potato.’

Ever since the news broke that Amazon will acquire Goodreads, readers, writers and publishing folk have been arguing about what it means.

Some readers already want to change social networks, and AppNewser has a list of non-Amazon alternatives to Goodreads. Amazon has an indirect stake in LibraryThing, a site where readers can share their book collections. Creator Tim Spalding wrote an evocative note about the acquisition:

Now that Goodreads is just Amazon, the time and money publishers spend on Goodreads is like everything else they do with Amazon–good in the short term, but suffocating them in the long-term. The same goes for many other players. With Amazon in the drivers’ seat, you can bet that B&N, Kobo and Indies are going to drop and be dropped by Goodreads like a hot potato. If any non-Amazon “buy” buttons remain, they’re going to be buried deep. And B&N is hardly going to encourage people to use Goodreads now that every item of data Goodreads get goes to build Amazon and the Kindle features Goodreads is promising. In short, we gained a lot of friends today.

(Via Jennifer Howard)

Veronica Mars, Writers & The Fourth Wall

With 28 days of fundraising left on Kickstarter, Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas raised more than $3.3 million, getting financial support from fans to create a movie version of the cult television show.

The Daily Dot described this shift in fan and creator power dynamics in an article about the crumbling of the “fourth wall.”

The line that separates fans from the creators of their stories is growing ever more thin; historically, fans have called it the “fourth wall,” a firm line that must not be crossed because interactions across it make everyone uncomfortable. But as the Internet increasingly brings everyone together, as fans grow up to be creators and creators openly embrace their own status as fans, it’s harder to see boundaries between the two groups—much less to tell at what point a story stops “belonging” to the creators and starts “belonging” to fans.

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Ideal Image Sizes for Facebook & Twitter

Does your Twitter or Facebook profile look unbalanced?

The strategic communication company Cerebra has created an infographic outlining the ideal image sizes for photos on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Social Times has more information:

In February 2012, Facebook updated the look of its Timeline for Pages to include cover photos and featured posts, among other changes. Twitter’s December 2011 redesign, “Let’s Fly,” included new backgrounds for profiles. YouTube has changed quite a bit in the last year. The latest channel redesign, which will bring branded banners to all users, was announced a couple weeks ago. But it’s only available to select partners right now and is not reflected in this chart. Check YouTube’s channel art guidelines for updates.

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What Writers Need to Know About Goodreads

The New York Times has profiled Goodreads, undoubtedly sending hundreds of writers and publishers flocking to the site. This bustling community of readers seems perfect for writers, but it is very easy to make a bad impression on its members.

After a long Ask Me Anything interview on Reddit, novelist Michael J. Sullivan collected some advice for writers using Goodreads. His advice can spare many writers some bad experiences on the network.

Here is his most important piece of advice: “The most important thing to remember about goodreads is that members of this site REALLY hate self-promotion. Primarily because too many authors come to the site and do drive-by posts and leave. This makes their radar on such matters very sensitive. The key to goodreads is to become a member of the community first…and mention your writing only in context and when appropriate.”

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How Writers Can Use the LinkedIn Alumni Tool

LinkedIn has unveiled a new Alumni tool that will help you find old classmates and discover literary alumni living in your city.

It is a powerful tool for publishing professionals. You can actually narrow your search by field of study, finding fellow creative writing students, English majors or library science graduates around the world.

Social Times has more: “LinkedIn has created an Alumni tool for mapping your college connections that may answer the question, where are they now? The tool shows where your fellow graduates live, which companies they work for, what they studied in school, what types of jobs they have now and what their skills are.”

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Personal Comments on Reddit Drive Sales

Have you ever paid for an online ad or sponsored post to promote your book? One author found success by personally writing to every single reader who responded to his sponsored post.

Self-published author H.A. Goodman took out a sponsored ad on Reddit for a 99-cent sale on his fantasy eBook. Instead of ignoring reader comments, Goodman logged into Reddit and answered every single comment with a personal message–creating a massive 61-comment thread for the sponsored post.

Check it out: “pricing the ebook at 99¢ has helped with sales tremendously. I have a paperback that’s around ten bucks, but I only care about my ebook sales in this day and age, since Amazon has taken enormous control of the the literary industry. I also have a nook and iTunes version, but I really only concern myself with the Kindle sales, which have been doing well – in large part due to my Reddit ad and to this amazing Reddit community. The literary industry is changing rapidly, and every year all publishers – from big to small – learn that marketing and sales techniques change exponentially.”

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What Writers Need to Know About Quora Blogs

The question and answer community Quora has launched a blog network. According to the site, most active writers on Quora get more than one million estimated annual views and now they have a new set of tools. Check it out:

Blogs on Quora are great for people who (1) don’t have a big, established online presence already and (2) don’t want to do the time-intensive, heavy lifting of marketing their blog and slowly building an audience. If you are a good writer but don’t have thousands of Twitter followers or a big audience for your blog, Quora is an ideal place to write. Your blog will be discovered quickly without you having to do any work besides writing. Writing one great post on Quora will attract a big audience, no matter how many people already know or follow you.

Using the simple tools provided by Quora, we were able to create a self-publishing tools blog from scratch in five minutes.  Below, we’ve linked to some other writing blogs on the network, ranging from writing tips to short stories.

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