Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
You're Not Fooling Any...
John Scalzi
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  441 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
There are books which claim to teach you how to write. This book is about the writing life: The business of writing. The day-to-day existence of a professional writer. The ways writers interact with other writers. The things writers do to help themselves out -- and the things they do to trip themselves up. Which is to say: This book is about what it's like to be a writer, ...more
Nook, 318 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Subterranean Press (first published December 15th 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Be the first to ask a question about You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jason Hough
Feb 07, 2008 Jason Hough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers who hope to make it their job
Refreshingly honest articles (some may call arrogant, and John would probably agree), all pulled from his blog, on his career as a writer. Not many tips on the writing process, but plenty on the business of writing (he even tells you how much money he makes, and where the money comes from).

I did have an awkward moment - in one chapter, he quotes a rant on the publishing business that was written by a good friend of mine, and then proceeds to destroy his arguments. I wasn't sure who to root for..
Nov 23, 2008 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The four stars apply to the first two (of four) chapters of Scalzi's book on writing. He has a clear and refreshingly practical take on professional writing, and any aspiring writer (or anyone aspiring to make a living publishing anything, really) could learn something from what he has to say. The last two chapters aren't focused as much on craft or business and are therefore not nearly as useful. But they're classic Scalzi, and if you're interested in his opinion on writers and writing and sci- ...more
Alex Ristea
May 08, 2014 Alex Ristea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An honest book about the writing life, not necessarily the craft.

It's not just for fiction—in fact, most of the book centres around writing professional non-fiction, and how Scalzi has gotten to where he is as a successful full-time writer.

It's a cheap book and definitely worth a read for the first few chapters alone on money, writing as a job, and rejection.

Dec 02, 2012 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, ebook
Cute, informative. Irreverent, but not irrelevant. Not heavy reading either.

Crowded a pile of old blog entries between two covers and called it a book. He told us what he was doing, we shouldn't complain.
Aleksandr Voinov
2.5 stars, since largely outdated.
Mar 01, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How you rate this book, I think, depends primarily on what you expected when you sat down to read it. Lets clear up all confusion by starting off with what it -isn't-.

This book is not:
- A how-to guide on the nuts and bolts of writing.
- A how-to guide on getting published.
- A how-to guide on growing potatoes.
- A how-to guide.
- New.

This last I think is particularly important to understand, Scalzi maintains a very popular blog that I myself have read daily for several years now where he covers topi
Tommy Carlson
Jun 28, 2012 Tommy Carlson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of his non-fiction works about writing. He is, after all, a successful writer.

It's a great read. If you're thinking of becoming a professional writer, meaning that writing is your main source of income, then this is a must read.

There's loads of good advice, some you might not want to hear. Scalzi doesn't pull any punches. (Which is one reason I really enjoy his non-fiction commentaries.)

I was also surprised to see how tough it is to make a living at writing. Scalzi doesn't
Eric Duprey
Sep 06, 2012 Eric Duprey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've recently read several of John Scalzi's novels (Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades, The Android's Dream, Redshirts) and find his writing to be accessible and engaging. From Amazon, I learned that he had written a book about writing; as an aspiring writer myself this seemed like the perfect thing to help develop my own skills. It should be noted first that this is a topical collection of posts from John's blog "Whatever". I don't consider this a bad thing, but I know that for some reason, some ...more
Jan 01, 2012 Suible rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book because I like Scalzi's blog and I wanted plenty to read on my Kindle when I went on vacation.

I think this book would be helpful to aspiring writers. The advice is solid and backed up with lots of "real life". That's not why I bought the book. I bought it because I thought it would be interesting, entertaining and I figured I owed Scalzi after reading his blog for several years. It was interesting and entertaining. Yes, you can dig through his blog archive and find the same ar
Dec 09, 2012 Virginia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adam Heine
Although I think the e-book version had some typos and could've benefited from better editing, I do enjoy Scalzi's writing style. These were culled from his Whatever blog and has much to do with the business of writing (both publishing, fiction, non-fiction, business, etc). Very informative and useful. Plus, Scalzi breaks down real numbers (including his).

I learned quite a bit and was inspired (albeit, in a very practical sort of manner).
Jun 10, 2011 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Scalzi has been a journalist, a paid blogger, an unpaid blogger, an author, and an editor; and he has written corporate pieces and newspaper and magazine columns, as well as fiction and non-fiction. I think that qualifies him to talk about writing, the writing life, and writers. You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing is a collection of posts from Scalzi’s blog, the Whatever, written in 2001-2006. Right off the bat, readers should consider two ...more
Graham Bradley
Lots of authors write books on writing. Louis L'Amour did, and his book is on my all-time Top Ten. Stephen King also wrote a winner. Both of those were basically autobiographical and explained how they grew as individuals, and later how that shaped their writing. King's book had more of a technical side, whereas L'Amour talked about accuracy, detail and propriety of content.

Scalzi takes a completely different approach, talking mostly about the business side of writing, and the attitude a writer
Nicholas Karpuk
The title tweaked me a bit, since I often get work done in coffee shops. The title didn't suggest why he thought it was a foolish practice. I assumed it was a behavior he saw as arrogant, or an affectation. What apparently bothers him about people using their laptops in coffee shops is the assumption that they're trying to get laid.

Really? Because no one has ever so much as started a conversation with me in a coffee shop while I was writing, and I've seen plenty of other people perfectly content
Mar 09, 2014 Hila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Picked up this book thinking it's a happy, fun writing book by that nice, feminist, atheist guy from the Whatever, who wrote Old Man's War and The Android's Dream, which I enjoyed. Shame that I did, because about a quarter of the way in I'd come to the conclusion there was no shaking for the rest of it - this is an egomaniacal jerk who has no way to value anything except monetarily, with a deep disdain for art and the humanities (because they're not profitable, duh) and nothing genuinely interes ...more
Mar 16, 2013 Destina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've read many, many books about writing - books that cover craft, and the practicalities of the writing life, as well as delving into the writer's psyche, and the pitfalls of both vocation and avocation. Some of those books do it with panache; some of them have useful advice. I think Scalzi's book might be useful for someone who knows absolutely nothing about the publishing business, but my god, it was deadly dull. I think he achieved his goal of bald practicality, but he did it at the cost of ...more
I've been reading Whatever for the last two years or so, so I've read a lot of Scalzi without having read these particular essays. Honestly, if you've read much of the blog, you can probably skip this one. It's perfectly well done, but I feel like between other Scalzi essays and other essays on writing, I've read most of this material before. Also, at this point, there's a fair amount of advice that's dated. Changes in the publishing industry are rapidly rendering a lot of good advice somewhat m ...more
Jun 24, 2011 Sandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be an entertaining and practical reality check for any writer entering the business. The book is not about how to write but rather how to support yourself through your writing, which is quite a different set of skills. Scalzi talks about what he has done to put together a successful writing career, gives tips, and wisely counsels that everyone's career will necessarily follow a somewhat different path. His smart, sassy tone make the book fun reading. The last chapters-- conc ...more
Nov 07, 2012 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reminded me how much I love the library. The patron ahead of me returned a copy. "Scalzi on Writing." I like Scalzi. I like Stephen King's On Writing. Sounds like a good time. This isn't something I would have bumped into on my own.

As a non-writer, the financial aspect of the book was irrelevant to me. But Scalzi made it entertaining, so I enjoyed it anyway.

It was repetitive, but it was a collection of essays that weren't intended as a standalone book, so that didn't bother me too much
Feb 18, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-reader
Scalzi turns his scathingly funny eye on the business of writing. This is not your typical how-to book for budding authors. This is about the business of writing. He discusses the not so fun and artistic portion of being a writer -- the contracts, getting them and keeping them, money issues, promotion. Scalzi looks at all of the less than glamorous, slightly boring aspects and provides insight which is not only useful but damned amusing. Everyone will find this amusing, authors will find it espe ...more
Matt Weber
I haven't finished this yet. I'm enjoying it; mostly it's a goad to remind me how much more I should be writing, but that sort of goad is useful.

Anyway, the only real reason I'm writing anything here at all is to note that I do not endorse the title. I have gotten some badass writing done in coffee shops. Whether the words were worth the cost of coffee... well, that's not really up to me, is it?
Annabeth Leong
Mar 15, 2013 Annabeth Leong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Acerbic, refreshing, and practical. As always, I enjoy the humorous tone Scalzi uses while laying out blunt, hard-hitting opinions. Since much of the book was written after Old Man's War came out but before it was clear it would be a success, this book captures a really interesting moment in a writer's career. By the end, I'd come to feel it had gotten a bit repetitive (the blog entries from which the book is adapted often cover overlapping topics). However, the book was well worth the time.
Jun 15, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011

A writing book, but a writing book about the publishing industry, rather than another how-to book. Anyone familiar with John Scalzi's blog will recognize the tone (and even some of the chapters) from that internet haven, Whatever.
Сначала было интересно услышать о работе писателя от самого писателя - узнавать как работают механизмы внутри индустрии всегда интересно. Но потом как-то интерес угас, видимо все-таки книга для тех, кто хочет писать и алкает опыта и знаний. А мне, как праздно любопытствующему было сложно, в конце просто пролистывал.
David Pullman
May 28, 2013 David Pullman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a selective gathering of postings from the authors website. Each is short and interesting, and the way they've been put together makes a statement about a writing topic. He has a definite point of view on the occupation and the field of writing (and some opinions about writer, readers, and publishers). Very fun to pick up and read a few entries at a time.
Matthew J. Marlieu
Apr 28, 2012 Matthew J. Marlieu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Scalzi offers up an interesting personal insight on the business of writing. Not on writing, but more so the money side and getting published side of it. It's full of anecdotes and I think many of the chapters available in this short, little book are still up on his blog. You might have to do some digging, but they're probably still there.
Marty Kay
Mar 05, 2009 Marty Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic stuff, and strangley familiar... I wonder why :D
Reprints from Mr Scalzi's blog, with additions, but still fun and enjoyable.

King's On Writing spoke a lot about the doing and being of a writer, Scalzi's book talks a lot on the business side and the life of one. I thought it was a great read full of useful information and Scalzi's brand of snark.
Matthew Borgard
Nice, enjoyable little read. Talks mostly about Scalzi's writing journey as a freelancer and eventual novelist, as well as containing some musings about controversies surrounding other writers. It's unlikely to change your life or perspective in any great way, but it kept my interest.
Jason Horger
Mar 23, 2010 Jason Horger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely hilarious look at trying to crack into the writing game as a full-time career. (SPOILER: it involves a great deal of talent and luck.) Scalzi's fantastic at cutting to the chase and telling you about yourself. Required reading for all writers, amateur or otherwise!
Got this in its first edition, as Subterranean Press is one of my favorite quality publishers and Scalzi's blog had drawn me in as a reader months before. Well worth the read, both for fledgling writers to get some advice and for others just for a good read.
Craig Tyler
Mar 02, 2013 Craig Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
while it is a compilation of previous articles posted on his blog, Scalzi has a wit, honesty and brevity that is great. His insights are his own obviously, but the amount of info he dolls out is interesting and entertaining. Well done.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Where Can I Find This Book? 3 9 Apr 24, 2012 02:28PM  
  • Telling Lies for Fun & Profit: A Manual for Fiction Writers
  • The Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells
  • Storyteller: Writing Lessons & More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers' Workshop
  • What Makes This Book So Great
  • Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer
  • Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life
  • How to Write a Damn Good Mystery: A Practical Step-by-Step Guide from Inspiration to Finished Manuscript
  • 500 Ways to Be a Better Writer
  • Hostile Takeover (How to Succeed in Evil)
  • Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces
  • Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore
  • Page After Page: Discover the Confidence & Passion You Need to Start Writing & Keep Writing (No Matter What!)
  • How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them
  • Drawing Out the Dragons: A Meditation on Art, Destiny, and the Power of Choice
  • We Have Always Fought
  • World-Building
  • Thanks, But This Isn't for Us: The Compassionate Guide to Understanding What's Wrong with Your Writing and Leaving the Rejection Pile for Good
  • On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association
John Scalzi, having declared his absolute boredom with biographies, disappeared in a puff of glitter and lilac scent.

(If you want to contact John, using the mail function here is a really bad way to do it. Go to his site and use the contact information you find there.)
More about John Scalzi...

Share This Book

“What is competent writing? Competent writing is writing that efficiently describes ideas and concepts to an audience, using a grammar that the audience can understand.” 1 likes
More quotes…