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

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  430 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
Coffee Shop shows the writing life as it is, from the perspective of novelist and writer John Scalzi, who in 15 years as a professional writer has written just about everything: critically acclaimed novels, best-selling humor books, nationally syndicated newspaper columns, magazine cover stories... and ad copy, corporate brochures and Web site headlines, too. His wide rang ...more
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Subterranean Press
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Jason Hough
Oct 24, 2008 Jason Hough rated it really liked it
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
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
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 04, 2012 Ron rated it liked it
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
Aug 19, 2013 Aleksandr Voinov rated it liked it
Shelves: creative-writing
2.5 stars, since largely outdated.
Eric Duprey
Sep 11, 2013 Eric Duprey rated it really liked it
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
Tommy Carlson
Jun 28, 2012 Tommy Carlson rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 01, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it
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
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).
Mar 12, 2015 Hila rated it it was ok
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
Graham Bradley
Jun 18, 2014 Graham Bradley rated it it was ok
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
Jul 21, 2012 Nicholas Karpuk rated it liked it
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
Oct 10, 2011 Eric rated it really liked it
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
Mar 16, 2013 Destina rated it did not like it
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
Dec 09, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
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
Jun 22, 2015 Tania rated it it was ok
so fucking smug and irritating
Mar 05, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it
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
Nov 07, 2012 Jon rated it liked it
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
MM Cordero
Apr 10, 2016 MM Cordero rated it really liked it
I just finished reading John Scalzi’s Your Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop. Scalzi is a professional writer. He writes for money. He makes enough of the stuff to feed his family, own a home, and to top it all off he is not the least bit ashamed of it. In fact, not only is he not ashamed, he has written a book about his experience.

You’re Not Fooling Anyone is a collection of entries from Scalzi’s blog “Whatever“. Curated and collated into a narrative on the life of p
Jan 31, 2015 Steve rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Scalzi is quite opinionated about writing, and the writing business. This book is more about the latter than the former, and in essence boils down to 'if you want to earn money writing, write what people want and don't be a dick about it.'

One of the other bits of advice is to read the submission guidelines for any particular publisher - I had a look at the Tor ones, they seemed perfectly sensible and very clear, and yet in the comments there were lots of people asking questions already covered i
Annabeth Leong
Mar 15, 2013 Annabeth Leong rated it really liked it
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.
Matt Weber
Sep 10, 2012 Matt Weber rated it liked it
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?
Marty Kay
Mar 05, 2009 Marty Kay rated it it was amazing
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.
David Pullman
Jun 06, 2013 David Pullman rated it really liked it
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
May 08, 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.
Oct 12, 2012 Lehaleha rated it liked it
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.
Jun 21, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it
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.
Matthew Borgard
Oct 12, 2012 Matthew Borgard rated it liked it
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.
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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.)
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“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
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