Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Saturday, April 27, 2013
- Some of these authors said they write every day, whether it’s 500 or 1,000 words, or more if they are on a roll. Sometimes they just do what they can, or when they are in the zone, they simply go until they run out of steam.
- Sit your butt in the chair or at your desk and don’t get up until you do get those words down, even if it’s just a writing exercise you give yourself to break through the blocks.
- If you run into a block or feel yourself fading or stuck, switch gears, pick up another project or task. Just. Keep. Going.
- Keep in mind that even the best authors experience rejection (with the exception of one of my favorites -- Ann Patchett, who I’ve heard say had her very first short story AND first novel both accepted on first try by a reputable literary journal and publisher, respectively.)
- To keep your name out there and to maintain and expand your platform, write short stories, essays and op-ed pieces in addition to a continuous stream of books. (This is where I started wondering, when do these people sleep?)
- Don’t focus on the book that’s about to come out. You’ve already finished that one. Always be thinking about and working on the next one. Keep the momentum going. (I do recommend taking a break in between, though, because too many books written too fast can drain your creative juices.)
- Stay up to date on changes in the publishing industry. It is changing faster than you can say “New York Times bestseller.” Start thinking “singles,” i.e. 30,000 word pieces published online.
- When you get rejected, get the hell up and back at it. (I’m well acquainted with that one.) To me, persistence and rebounding are the two keys to getting published and staying published.
- Don’t expect that once you write your book that your job is finished, that it will sell itself. If you aren’t big enough for your publisher to send you on a book tour (most of us aren’t), then get to work months in advance to come up with a promotions plan of your own.
- Seriously, and above all, don’t expect to get rich. Books, for the most part, don’t pay much, so you’d better really love the journey, the writing and the writing life. And feel like you couldn’t live without it. And be sure to enjoy the occasional highs and joyous surprises, as I just did, of getting your panel discussion televised live on C-SPAN. Sometimes they come when you least expect it.
New York Times bestselling author Caitlin Rother, a Pulitzer-nominee who worked as an investigative reporter for nearly 20 years, has written or co-authored eight books: Poisoned Love, Deadly Devotion/Where Hope Begins, My Life, Deleted, Body Parts, Twisted Triangle, Naked Addiction, and Dead Reckoning. Her latest book is Lost Girls, about the murder of innocents Chelsea King and Amber Dubois by sexual predator John Gardner. Next up is I'll Take Care of You. For more information, please check her website, http://caitlinrother.com.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
On page 99, my umpire looks outside the domestic ballpark for the first time, and onto the international playing field. Uncle Sam must decide whether to join with Great Britain in defending the right of Spain’s colonies to declare independence. The larger question on Page 99 is whether America should guarantee “international security” to ensure its own–or not?
Here, friends, is Page 99. Tell me. Did I pass the test, or am I fooling myself again?
American Umpire, by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman (Harvard University Press)...
Friday, April 5, 2013
Today, I read J.A. Konrath's tongue-in-cheek blog about how to deal with bad reviews. Which got me to thinking how I deal with reading my own bad reviews.
It used to be a lot more difficult, when I was newer and my skin was as thin and pink as a naked molerat's. I'd read all the Amazon and Goodreads posts and fret.
But I never responded, no matter how much I wanted to. It's counterproductive-- it makes people feel defensive and it makes you, the author, look too sensitive and egomaniacal. If I get a bad review on a blog, sometimes I'll thank them for reading it anyway, because I am happy that the blogger at least looked at it.
These days, I hardly ever read my reviews. If I see a five or four star, and thus know it's completely brilliant critique, I read it. It's just so easy for everybody in the world these days to have a big old fat opinion about everything.
It's like when I watch the news. Every station in the world does this Twitter thing now. They discuss a story, and then the anchor says, "Let's see what people are saying on TWITTER!" and then they broadcast a bunch of Tweets with whatever their hashtag is. As if a bunch of random people have valid, newsworthy opinions about complicated subjects that they can express in 140 characters or less.
I guess allowing everybody to voice their opinions is very egalitarian. But what if they're not basing their opinions on a reasonable critique, but something like, "I wish Dilloway wrote about outerspace instead and left Japan out of it. Or had more recipes. I only like sci-fi and cookbooks. One star"? It's even worse when people who didn't bother reading the book give you reviews. Those should be deleted. If you did not read the book, at least lie about having read it.
Still, I don't say anything. You will never win. People like to argue. It's not just on the Internet. People argue with me during bookclub discussions all the time. They challenge me over imaginary characters-- characters that I wrote. And readers say shocking things to my face all the time-- things you would think they'd only be comfortable with saying on an anonymous Internet forum.
Which brings me to this revelation I've recently had. Once you write a book and put it out into the world, it is no longer yours. I feel this way when I speak at book clubs-- like I'm engaging in a literature class discussion about the book, like I'm no more knowledgeable about the book than anyone else in the world.
So these days, I just take reviews less personally. It's an individual reader experience. I can't force someone else to like anything.
And please, if you read my book and wished it was a different book, then feel free to go ahead and write the book in your head. But don't judge the actual book against the imaginary one.