Preparing the summaries on New Projects - Discussion?

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lubee930
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Post by lubee930 » October 15th, 2012, 7:01 pm

Hi--

I would like to ask for some opinions about writing the Summary blurbs. As both a BC on some projects and as a browser of the Forums, I have encountered some MC's that ask for a piece of original writing. Others seem to accept excerpts from Wikipedia or from the book itself.

Although I truly have no problem with trying to craft a summary in my own words--is it required? Or even necessary? I ask for a number of reasons:
--not all of us are master wordsmiths (and I include myself in this category), and so I suspect that in some cases, excerpts from Wikipedia or from the text itself might be more interesting, intriguing, and/or informative than an original composition.
--I personally have a lengthy list of books that I think would be great group projects and great additions to the LV catalog that I have not yet read from cover to cover--only browsed--so I don't have an in-depth knowledge of the text.
--With the demands of work, family, and (for some) school, I think that many people squeeze LV activities into those precious odd moments that can be grabbed here and there. Time is limited.

In my view, if I can grab a few sentences from Wikipedia or from the preface to the book or from some other PD source--and so get a project up and running, then I'm all for it. (And it appears to me that many--if not most--BC's take this approach without any questions being raised.) But for those that wish to leave a personal imprint by writing their own creative summary, then I say "Go for it!" :)

So I'm wondering--is there a huge problem if a BC chooses to use an excerpt from the book itself or from Wikipedia for their summary? Is there a problem with the PD'ness of a Wikipedia excerpt? (And if there is, then we had better prohibit the use of it, right?) Is there a legitimate reason (other than maybe a personal preference) to ask for a summary written in the BC's own words?

I'm just asking to get a feel for the best way to approach these summaries--not only for myself, but for other BC's and for newcomers as well.

Thoughts, anyone? :hmm:
Kind regards,
Lucretia

annise
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Post by annise » October 15th, 2012, 7:12 pm

Personally I write two summaries for group projects - one to encourage people to read sections, then before I catalogue it one to encourage people to listen.

We have always accepted Wikipedia summaries and acknowledged the source but recently there have been questions raised about the wikipedia license and it's significance in regard to the coverart which have not yet been fully answered so some MCs have decided it is best not to have Wikipedia based ones and others are fence sitting and waiting to find out what the exact situation is.

Anne

lubee930
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Post by lubee930 » October 15th, 2012, 9:04 pm

annise wrote:Personally I write two summaries for group projects - one to encourage people to read sections, then before I catalogue it one to encourage people to listen.

We have always accepted Wikipedia summaries and acknowledged the source but recently there have been questions raised about the wikipedia license and it's significance in regard to the coverart which have not yet been fully answered so some MCs have decided it is best not to have Wikipedia based ones and others are fence sitting and waiting to find out what the exact situation is.

Anne
Well, now that's an interesting thought--two summaries for two different purposes. My goodness, where can I find some more time--? :roll: Thanks, Anne!
Kind regards,
Lucretia

annise
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Post by annise » October 15th, 2012, 9:15 pm

THey aren't necessarily totally different ,- I just change bits, maybe for example say it was easy to read for the pre catalogue one and change it for the catalogue

Anne

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Post by Availle » October 16th, 2012, 1:30 am

Personally, I don't like summaries copy/pasted or even extracted from wikipedia.

First, because wikipedia stuff is NOT public domain, which is important for example for our cover makers - all our covers must be PD. (Although we don't make a big issue out of this.)
Second, because we always link to the wikipedia entry for the book anyway. I don't see much point in duplicating information like that - if I go to wikipedia, it's because I'd want to find out something more.

I do agree that writing a good summary is more difficult for a BC than for a soloist, but you could ask the DPL for help for example. Also, if there is an introduction or preface, you can use bits of that. I also like the idea of taking the first paragraph or other part of the book itself - which is probably more exciting for fiction than nonfiction though... :wink:
Cheers,
Ava.

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Cori
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Post by Cori » October 16th, 2012, 1:48 am

I like quoting from the book -- where it says something relevant about the text itself. The text is public domain and so completely free to use. Wikipedia has a different Creative Commons licence, so even though we do attribute them, it's not public domain as such. I'd love it if all our books had a public domain summary, for consistency and also because Wikipedia tends to tell you the butler did it in the first line, and our summaries should be more enticing and mysterious than that. :D
There's honestly no such thing as a stupid question -- but I'm afraid I can't rule out giving a stupid answer : : To Posterity and Beyond!

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Post by ToddHW » October 16th, 2012, 3:35 am

lubee930 wrote:
annise wrote:Personally I write two summaries for group projects - one to encourage people to read sections, then before I catalogue it one to encourage people to listen.
-snip-
Anne
Well, now that's an interesting thought--two summaries for two different purposes. My goodness, where can I find some more time--? :roll: Thanks, Anne!
I heard from one of my MC's once (I think) that an MC might take and put the first summary into the database all ready for cataloging when the BC first has it posted. And then not notice that the summary is different if you change it later. So if this is true, and if you use two summaries, make it really clear to your MC if you change it!!

I have been putting reader encouragement words under the formal summary since I know that then they won't mess up the real summary stuff. (And someday I'll learn how to do that funny big red flashy letter stuff and smilies...)

Thanks, Todd

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Post by KiltedDragon » October 16th, 2012, 4:35 am

ToddHW wrote:I heard from one of my MC's once (I think) that an MC might take and put the first summary into the database all ready for cataloging when the BC first has it posted. And then not notice that the summary is different if you change it later. So if this is true, and if you use two summaries, make it really clear to your MC if you change it!!
Yes, great advice, Todd. If there is a summary done when the book is launched, I put that into the database and usually don't notice if it was changed later on.
Barry
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Post by Carolin » October 16th, 2012, 8:03 am

if the bc cant come up with a very good summary (and i perfectly understand that, im a terrible writer myself), the best person to turn to is the dpl, since he or she will have listened to the entire book by the time it is cataloged. even better when the preface or first chapter contains a paragraph that sums things up nicely. ive been using such snippets a lot :D
Carolin

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lubee930
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Post by lubee930 » October 16th, 2012, 11:13 am

Well, it appears to me from the posts to date that all three options are acceptable:

--An original composition by the BC
--Excerpts from the text itself or from some other PD source.
--Excerpts from Wikipedia (provided that attribution is made to Wikipedia).

Or some combination of the three. Personally, I do enjoy reading a summary that has an excerpt from the book itself--it kind of gives one a "flavor" for the style of the writing. So I certainly agree with those comments.

Although I understand the rationale behind asking the DPL for help, I really wouldn't want to put that burden on another person. (Being a DPL is quite a job, in and of itself!) If one doesn't merely excerpt Wikipedia for the summary, then it's a bit of work to put something together--at least it is for me! :) You know, save a draft, edit, re-read, pick a different text excerpt, revise, re-read, save a draft--start again. I suppose that this confession speaks volumes about my puny talents as a writer--but there it is. I mean, you should have seen how long it took me to write the original question in this post--I stopped mid-draft and had dinner! :lol:

Anyway, thank you all for replying--just exactly the kind of helpful information that I was hoping to see! :thumbs:
Kind regards,
Lucretia

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Post by Cori » October 16th, 2012, 11:47 am

I would strongly advise that excerpts from Wikipedia are rewritten in one's own words. It's still polite to credit them with inspiring the summary, but that safeguards us against the accusation that it isn't public domain.

Realistically, there are only so many ways one can sensibly summarise Pride and Prejudice or whatever. But since we release our summaries along with Public Domain Recordings and Public Domain Cover Art, it sounds sensible to me to make sure the summaries are as PD as we can make them.
There's honestly no such thing as a stupid question -- but I'm afraid I can't rule out giving a stupid answer : : To Posterity and Beyond!

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Post by Hobbit » October 16th, 2012, 11:53 am

I'd like to suggest starting a stickied thread in the Need Help forum where those who don't want to write their own summaries can ask for somebody who knows the book to write one for them. There are some of us (like me) who love writing summaries and would be happy to help.
Between being a full-time college student and working 20+ hours per week, I'm not able to be involved at LV these days, but I remain a loyal fan and look forward to a triumphant return sometime in the (probably distant) future.

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Post by Darvinia » October 16th, 2012, 12:23 pm

lubee930 wrote: Although I understand the rationale behind asking the DPL for help, I really wouldn't want to put that burden on another person. ...... it's a bit of work to put something together--at least it is for me! :)
You aren't putting a burden on them by asking them. They are free to say no. Perhaps they in fact would like to write a summary but don't want to step on your toes by offering. And perhaps they don't find it work, but great pleasure instead. You don't know until you ask. Communication is key. :)
Bev

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carolb
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Post by carolb » October 16th, 2012, 12:39 pm

Cori wrote:I like quoting from the book -- where it says something relevant about the text itself. The text is public domain and so completely free to use.
Me too - not that I have vast experience...yet!
If the book has an introduction/preface the summary is done for you and all that's required is a preçis.

Carol :)

lubee930
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Post by lubee930 » October 16th, 2012, 3:57 pm

Cori wrote:I would strongly advise that excerpts from Wikipedia are rewritten in one's own words. It's still polite to credit them with inspiring the summary, but that safeguards us against the accusation that it isn't public domain.
Your good advice is accepted, Cori. I will certainly follow your directions when writing summaries.

Darvinia wrote:You aren't putting a burden on them by asking them. They are free to say no. Perhaps they in fact would like to write a summary but don't want to step on your toes by offering. And perhaps they don't find it work, but great pleasure instead. You don't know until you ask. Communication is key. :)
Excellent point, Darvinia. :)

I don't mind preparing the summaries, but am always so short on available time (aren't we all?)--so I look for ways to streamline things. I'm just not very speedy when I write them myself. :roll: I really appreciate the clarification on how to prepare them and the great suggestions from everyone!
Kind regards,
Lucretia

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