April 26, 2011

Book review:

How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead: Your Words in Print, Your Name in Lights by Ariel Gore.

Becoming a famous writer isn’t about selling celebrity secrets or field-tackling literary agents at conventions.  Reading this book was like having a wild, shameless writer grab you by the hand and run into the world of being published. 

Interspersed between bite-sized chunks of advice are almost sixteen interviews with writers of all types, from Dave Barry to Ursula Leguin.  The interviewees provide writing exercises as well.    Gore shows that there is more than one type of success, not just mainstream but also independent and alternative.  The book is separated into five segments: giving yourself a lit-star makeover, mastering craft, publishing before you’re ready, playing with the big dogs and shameless self promotion.

There is a difference between confidence and arrogance, enthusiasm and self-indulgence.  Gore advises to hone your craft while putting yourself out there, instead of waiting for the perfect product to offer up to the publishing gods.  Publish a zine or a blog, submit to anthologies, always work on something new while waiting for submissions to come back.  Promote yourself, because even if you are published by a big press, they won’t have a budget for a debut author’s tour.  Gore includes detailed advice about making your own promotional tour, from catching people’s attention to treating your audience and your hosts with respect.

I purchased this book on a whim, but I will be re-reading it many times.

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