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A Literary & Poetry Column
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Authors and Others Can be Listed in the People’s
Encyclopedia Now

    Authors are experienced waiters.

    Even if we never waited tables while we were anticipating our big break, most of us certainly have learned to loiter by the sidelines. Even authors who appear to be overnight successes generally have done their share of dallying in the shadow of others. It’s just that no one talks about it. Overnight success is much more newsworthy

    So here I am, flipping through the pages of Time Magazine’s August and there it is. This article isn’t directed at authors and it doesn’t even suggest that anyone who longs for fame achieve it instantly by adding their name to what the Time editors call “The People’s Encyclopedia.” But there it is. All any of us have to do is go to and add to an entry, correct an entry or, lo! Create a new entry. There are plenty of help links to guide you along. I am no tekky and I was able to figure out how to do it.

    The title, “Wiki” comes from the Hawaiian word for “fast.” I presume this is because a very speedy way to put together an encyclopedia is to let others do it for you—at the speed of net which is darn near as fast as the speed of light.

   Because so many authors (and readers!) are modest—some would argue suppressed is a better word--you may think that you or your book will be immediately edited out. That is not the way this is supposed to work. Of course someone else might come along and edit your material, but the risk isn’t any greater than having your book available for review on Amazon. This editing process is an inducement not to exaggerate your importance. Of course, that’s highly unlikely—because most of us are downright self-effacing. Still, it would be nice to realize a dream right here and now. So have at it.

   If your career isn’t yet ready for Britannica, don’t just sit there! Go for Wikipedia, a free, nonprofit site that has 150,000 entries. I did it just for the fun of it. Do a search on my name or on THIS IS THE PLACE to see what comes up. You’ll notice there are a couple of typos. Being so tech-illiterate, I couldn’t figure out how to fix them. I’m sure you’ll do better!

     Oh, by the way, you can also add articles to Wikipedia. It’s always good to have someone to listen to what we have to say. If we can’t get our spouses to pay attention, Wikipedia will.

Tips and Tidbits

Each month in this box, Carolyn lists a writing or promotion tidbit that will help authors and a tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected books or a sapphire among the newly-published.

Writers' Tidbit: Annette Gisby, author of SHADOW OF THE ROSE, suggests these sites that might be of interest to writers:

Readers' Tip: Have you discovered Amazon’s “So You’d Like to…..Guides?” The best ones are essays that include up to 50 suggestions for books to read that are related to the subject of the essay. What a great way to find reading related to your favorite subjects! You’ll find my essays here:

You’ll also find a list of Amazon’s top 100 “So You’d Like tos” on the site. Some of mine appear intermittently on that list.

2004 Past Columns

Authors and Others Can be Listed in the People’s
Encyclopedia Now

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