What does Literistic actually look like?


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:


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

The Best Advice Neil Gaiman Got But Completely Failed to Follow

Neil Gaiman

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


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


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!

antwerp_cover_new_300_467Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 5.15.27 PM onbooze_300_420-1 The_Literary_Conference_300_478Red_Notebook_300_467

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


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.