Introducing the New Literistic

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We just finished our new website, and with it, we’d like to introduce you to “Literistic on steroids.”

Our intention from the beginning has been to create a list of deadlines that’s short and sweet. You’re not going to respond to each of the 50+ deadlines that we send you every month. But you might respond to 10 – 15 that are actually relevant to the type of writing that you do. Being presented with a small list of a few highly-qualified deadlines should significantly reduce the amount of time that you spend managing submissions every month. It’s also typically a job preformed by most literary agents. This is what we want Literistic to be.

We’d like to introduce you to the Literistic “Longlist,” or Literistic on steroids as we’ve come to call it. The Literistic Longlist takes the free version of Literistic, offers 30% more deadlines and is tailored to your subscriber preferences. It’s your new literary agent. If you want to receive nothing but fiction deadlines for publications that pay for submissions and are located in the United States, well, you can do that now. If you’re interested in reading more about how you can customize what you receive every month, here’s a blog post for you.

Right now, the Literistic Longlist costs $4.83/month or $58/year (changed . If, after a month or two, you’re not satisfied, you can have your money back. But, if you’ve been keeping track of the amount of time you spend managing deadlines every month and you consider that time to be worth roughly the price of a cup of coffee, it’s an easy to decision to make. We’ll be raising the rate to $48 after a few months, after all of our current subscribers have had time to sign up, and after we’ve released a few more personalization features, so, if you’re interested, click this click to subscribe at the lower price.

There will still be a free version of Literistic (now dubbed “The Shortlist”), and we’ll still put love into it. But our focus will be on making something that sustains the work that we do every month. We want to make Literistic an indispensable tool for writers, and there’s still a lot of ground to cover.

If you have any questions about the Literistic Longlist, send us an email! We’ve also launched a handy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Thanks for listening. We’ll see you on the 1st!

How can I customize Literistic?

We’ve just released the full-featured Literistic, and with it, we’d like to introduce you to the all new subscriber preferences. Subscriber preferences let you tell us what you want to receive every month. If you’re a poet who doesn’t have any money and wants pay for poems, you’re going to love this. Preferences are available to anyone who has purchased a Literistic subscription. Let’s talk about how they work.

Preferences

There are four groupings of checkboxes within your preferences: “Genre,” “Category,” “Money,” and “Geography.” The checkboxes within these groupings function as filters. By default, everything is turned on, which means that you’re receiving absolutely everything that we’re sending you.

The checkboxes under “Genre” allow you to filter out genres that you aren’t interested in. Don’t worry, you’ll still receive listings that have cross over (for example, publications that publish poetry, fiction and non-fiction will still appear if you only have non-fiction checked).

The checkboxes under “Category” allow you to filter out certain types of deadlines. Don’t want to see Grants and Fellowships? Uncheck that box. Think contests are just the worst? Uncheck that one too.

The “Money” section sounds ambiguous and believe us we tried our hardest to make it easy to understand. The Money section lets you filter out unpaid deadlines, deadlines with fees and paid deadlines (why would you want to filter those out?). This section functions a little differently than the others though: checking the “Fees” and “Paid” checkboxes while unchecking “Unpaid” will not show you deadlines that only have fees. Instead, it’ll show you deadlines that pay, and deadlines that pay and have fees. Got it?

The “Geography” section functions like “Genre”: this section allows you to filter out organizations by their location. This is not to be confused with being able to filter out deadlines that only allow work from a person who holds a certain type of citizenship. If a listing is going to exclude you based on where you’re from, we’ll note it in its description.

It’s important that you’re not too zealous with your preferences. You may find yourself only receiving a few listings. But hey— maybe that’s what you want. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below. Alternatively, you can always send us an email.

Ready to subscribe? Well friend, here’s a conveniently placed link for doing just that.

Don’t know how to get to your preferences? Scour your inbox for a Literistic email, scroll to the bottom of it, and click the “Preferences” link in the footer. It’ll look like this.

What does Literistic actually look like?

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We don’t have a FAQ yet and many people are asking for an example of what Literistic looks like. We’ve taken a huge screenshot of March’s list and pasted it below. The list is not totally representative of what we’re going to be sending in the future — this is our first list — but it should give you an idea of how the list is formatted and whether or not it’s something you want to see in your inbox every month. Remember, we query each subscriber about their tastes in publications and fellowships when they sign up, so the tastes reflected below may change in the future. Take a look:

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Interested in subscribing? Head on over to literistic.com.

The Best Advice Neil Gaiman Got But Completely Failed to Follow

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Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech at the University of the Arts in 2012 is incredibly inspiring. Gaiman tells the story of getting his first few freelancing gigs (he lied about being published by a bunch of magazines in order to get employers to pay attention to him), about ignoring good advice, and about his publisher going insolvent and being unable to pay him. Sit back, grab a tissue box and prepare to get a little weepy:

Last Week in Literary Controversies: Raziel Ried Responds to Conservative Critic Barbara Kay

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Every time a critic makes a statement like “I’d not have wasted tax dollars on this values-void novel” it is important to raise an eyebrow. Not only is this type of rhetoric completely false (it postures weakly at a civic good which it reveals itself to not understand), it demonstrates a profound conservatism, a conservative which is often antithetical to literature worth giving a damn about. Last week, Raziel Ried, author of When Everything Feels Like the Movies, a Governor General’s Literary Award–winning book, defended herself against the National Post’s Barbara Kay in an amazing op-ed published in The Walrus. The ensuing conflagration in the comments and elsewhere is well worth the read. Go and take a look.

Watch This Incredible Trailer for Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

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Who isn’t a fan of Haruki Murakami‘s novels? His latest book, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, sold more than a million copies in the first week it went on sale in Japan. It looks like Knopf put together a trailer that almost no one noticed (a measly 15,000 plays on YouTube). Anyway, we thinks it’s brilliant. The music is performed by Knopf’s cover designer Peter Mendelsund. Check it out below:

Check out These Stunning Minimalist Book Covers by New Directions

Type and space— that’s all you need for a good book cover. The covers below are a testament to design minimalism and good sense. Thanks New Directions!

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Watch Peter Mendelsund Play Liszt for Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki

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Peter Mendelsund is one of my favourite designers. I have a copy of “Cover” sitting next to me on my desk right now — right next to my Bringhurst — and “What We See When We Read” is, well, a must read. Here Mendelsund performs Franz Liszt’s Années de Pèlerinage, which is featured in the trailer for Murakami’s newest book, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki & His Years of Pilgrimage.

Murder your Spreadsheets: introducing the editors who will keep you up to date on literary submission deadlines

Liam Sarsfield and Jessie Jones, your editors.

Liam Sarsfield and Jessie Jones, your tiny editors.

Most of my literary side projects have gone nowhere. First, it was a poetry blog. Then, it was a publishing company. After that, a magazine. There was an app. I’ve filled more space in my notebooks with writing about what kind of literary institution I want to build than actual “literary” writing.

Up until a few months ago, I had made peace with this impulse and had started the process of convincing myself that none of it would ever get built. Then, I observed a conversation between Jessie and our friend Garth Martens about the spreadsheets they’d created in order to keep track of deadlines for publications, contests and fellowships. They talked for at least twenty minutes while I stuffed myself with onion rings. By the end of it, I could tell that Jessie was envious: Garth had amassed what sounded like a colossal and definitive list and had worked himself into a lather generating the will to maintain it. Walking home, brainstorming ways to keep abreast of deadlines without having to be an ascetic, we had the idea for Literistic. We’ve been hammering away ever since.

A little about us: we met while we were both still lucky enough to be taking classes with Tim Lilburn and Steven Price. We currently work in technology. I’m a designer by trade. Jessie is a copywriter and support staffer. You can follow me on Twitter, and follow Jessie on Tumblr. You can read a little bit more about how Literistic works in our article, “Building Literistic: Humans, Robots & Juvenile Capitalists.” We’re hoping we can make your lives a little easier. Sign up for Literistic here.

Building Literistic: Humans, Robots & Juvenile Capitalists

Sketches for our almost-finished website. Care of the amazing George Bletsis.

“Give the people what they want,” says misanthrope and juvenile capitalist Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, the overseer of News Corp, and one of the world’s most popular television networks, has made his enormous fortune manufacturing carcinogenic fast-food info-tainment for the largest possible audience. His work, or his network’s work, is, for whatever reason, what a great number of people want to watch when they get home from work. Literistic’s success is totally contingent on our ability to give our people what they want. How are we going to do this without being stupid, racist or worse?

We’re going to start by doing a lot of things by hand. Human curation is underrated and we’re going to be doing a lot of it at the beginning in order to make sure that Literistic is actually useful. The internet has made human curation (done well!) a rare and precious thing. It is always easier and less expensive to figure out a way to have a machine do your work for you (where were the machines when I suffered through that Milton class?), but this won’t work for us, especially at the beginning. Human curation done well requires that we have a crystal clear idea of who our subscribers are. Right now, we’re only going to include listings that are relevant to a young, ambitious writer. Maybe this writer is considering MFA programs or has just graduated with a BFA. Maybe they’ve published once or twice in a college journal or some other mid-range magazine. This is the type of person who we want to help.
LiteristicBut okay, yes, we are also going to use some modern technology to get a read on our subscribers. While our understanding of who Literistic is for is sufficient enough to justify the project, it’s still very vague. It’s one thing to think you know who you are curating for and another to actually know. We’ll be tracking the demographics of our subscribers using Google Analytics and Facebook. We’ll be measuring click-through rates to see if anyone is actually interested in what we’ve included. At some point, we may start automating much of the curation using highly-detailed forms — we could serve deadlines based on what each subscriber has specified. Right now, this approach seems slightly inappropriate, given the relatively small amount of people who are interested in publishing literary work in Canada, the United States and Britain. It’s also something that anyone who thinks critically about quality is justifiably skeptical of.

Literistic Spot

We’re also going to try to be hyper engaged with our subscribers. We’re going to try to tweet a lot (omghowamIgoingtodothisIhatetweeting) and to send a lot of emails. We’ll ask each subscriber for a list of publications, contests and awards and compare those lists with our own and with others. We’ll do this over and over again until we’ve identified the repeats and subtracted the outliers. We’ll do this until the list gets super good. Literistic should get better with age.

Finally, we’re going to talk to people and to provoke. We’re going to try to create a community around literary ambition that isn’t compromised by advertisements or sponsorships. Let’s hope it works! Sign up for Literistic.