“Dimitri and I are half-naked when the woman shows up with the dogs. He is sitting up and I am astride him, my dress around my waist. What we had thought to be a secluded park looking out on an all-but-abandoned pond is actually someone’s backyard.”—Sharon Pomerantz, “Ghost Knife”
Here, though, is one simple suggestion for how self-published authors can boost their brand: Stop calling yourself a self-published author. You are an independent author, and you wrote an independently published book, not a self-published book. After all, it’s not as if you chopped down the trees that produced the paper or that you’re churning out copies in your garage, next to your brewery.
More importantly, independence is one of the strongest branding concepts for Americans. An independent contractor or consultant sounds more glamorous than a self-employed freelancer. And indie musicians and film-makers wouldn’t sound quite so hip if they called themselves “self-recorded rockers” or “self-financed film-makers.”
“i think i usually make new blogs because i feel bored, anxious, or inspired. i ‘own’ a lot of blogs right now. i am not ‘using’ most of the blogs i own. some of the blogs i own are being used for ‘experimental’ purposes, some are being reserved for future use, some are being used for specific purposes, some are undeveloped ideas which may or may not develop.”
I thought that that was a really nice way to think about blogging. As if each one were a fresh slate for something new you were thinking about. I think some people spend too much time on one project or another hoping to be consistent, but things got boring a while ago and your readers can sense it. If instead we think of blogging as simply spouting our undeveloped ideas and hoping they flourish (but not worrying about whether they do), then maybe we would be better off.
“For many writers, the world of publishing is fraught with so much uncertainty and anxiety that it can be helpful to take a deep breath and remember that, at the end of the day, we are all working in the service of the same simple and enduring thing: dreams. The writer sits in a room with a piece of paper and tries to spin one that is, in John Gardner’s phrase, vivid and continuous. The agent sorts through the many dreams that are submitted to her in search of the most captivating. The editor does the same thing and then, if he’s any good, tries everything he can think of to bring that dream to the widest possible audience.”—A Q&A With Editor Jonathan Karp
“Go into the Young Adult section of the bookstore and you’ll be bombarded by any number of titles centering on the fashion world (Catwalk, Airhead, Violet on the Runway), as well as characters that are notorious fashionistas (Clique, Poseur, and of course It Girl and Gossip Girl). The super-hip authors name-drop brands, describe clothes in painstaking detail, and lo, a trend is born.”—From Fiction to Fashion Statement
Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals changed me from a twenty-year vegetarian to a vegan activist. I’ve always been shy about being critical of others’ choices because I hate when people do that to me. I’m often interrogated about being vegetarian (e.g., “What if you find out that carrots feel pain, too? Then what’ll you eat?”).
I’ve also been afraid to feel as if I know better than someone else — a historically dangerous stance (I’m often reminded that “Hitler was a vegetarian, too, you know”). But this book reminded me that some things are just wrong.
“Ben Fountain’s rise sounds like a familiar story: the young man from the provinces suddenly takes the literary world by storm. But Ben Fountain’s success was far from sudden. He quit his job at Akin, Gump in 1988. For every story he published in those early years, he had at least thirty rejections. The novel that he put away in a drawer took him four years. The dark period lasted for the entire second half of the nineteen-nineties. His breakthrough with “Brief ” came in 2006, eighteen years after he first sat down to write at his kitchen table. The “young” writer from the provinces took the literary world by storm at the age of forty-eight.”—Gladwell, “Late Bloomers”
“Seven years after his controversial “Reads” disquisition on male vs. female gender roles, Dave Sim has, in Cerebus #265, returned to the fray with “Tangent,” a 20-page essay that further explores his thoughts on the subject. (Briefly: males are superior creative “lights,” females are inferior non-creative “voids” leeching off the males, and modern civilization is being crippled by the “feminist/homosexualist axis’s” attempts to emasculate men and turn them into women.)”—Dave Sim, “Tangent”
“I thought that after I published my first book, I’d embark on a whirlwind tour, flying first-class with all expenses paid. Please, sir, pour the wine fast and loose and yes, I do believe I’ll have another dessert. I imagined reading to crowded bookstores, giving Matt Lauer a hard time and signing hundreds of books and the occasional breast. Turns out, none of this is really true. I pay for my own flights, eat at Taco Bell and have yet to sign a breast. But the readings are real.”—Annie Choi, “SF, Shame on You”
“The tanning salon was located in one of the malls alongside Highway 101, its logo a stylized pineapple and its exterior the kind described as “tasteful” in Yelp reviews. You had to be eighteen to tan legally, but this rule, judging by the girls at Tamalpais High School, was a flexible one. As with many discomfiting pastimes specific to adolescence (weed, statutory rape), tanning was technically illegal but widely permitted and often abetted by our elders. Certainly it was my favorite activity of the three.”—Molly Young, “My Phototherapist”
“The son of acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers, award-winning illustrator Christopher Myers credits his appreciation of the importance of images to observing the objects and photographs his parents would bring home from auctions and flea markets: “little histories;” “other people’s memories that get left behind.” His own family images have had quite an impact, as well - as in a black-and-white photograph of his grandfather with a telling smile on his face. “He was a storyteller. His thick, dark, calloused hands told stories. My father tells stories. I tell stories. I’m fascinated with work, what work is, who does work, how much our identities are wrapped up in what we do with our hands. Shoeshine boy, ditchdigger, painter. My grandfather laughed at my father’s hands because they were too soft. Still I think he was proud of the fact that my father didn’t have to work with his back. This is progress.”—Christopher Myers
“The question is asked, and too-often precariously answered, Do book bloggers make a difference? Can they beckon new readers to a book? Do they have the force of persuasion?”—Do book bloggers make a difference?
“Last night, my friend changed all my contacts in my phone. I have been texted by Batman, Donatello, and Hermione Granger. I have no idea who they are, and it doesn’t upset me at all.”—Texts from Last Night
“He left me, alone in the darkness, so that he could track his prey, alone. I’m not sure if it was the first time he left me, or if I ever had him to lose, but it was the last time he walked away from me. He went to chase the wolf that had been attacking our home and all those close to us; he went to save us and to destroy us. The wolf did not tear us apart, he did, he chose to go out into the night alone, away from me, away from the home we made together. The wolf killed him, but he killed me. Martin was mauled, murdered, viciously taken, while I slept silently and never woke up.”—The Night We Died
“What sickens me most about San Francisco is not its dirt, or its large homeless population, or its questionable safety, but that locals and the city government seem to accept these circumstances. Hipsters boast of how disgusting and unsafe their Mission living situations are, as if choosing to live amongst squalor when you have the means not to do so makes you a better person. The wealthy seclude themselves in the Marina, Russian Hill, and Pacific Heights, and lobby against public transportation that would bring undesirables to their pristine neighborhoods. Aging hippies in the Haight argue about marijuana legalization and anti-war referendums when men and women are dying – visibly dying – on the streets of the Tenderloin. It’s as if all parties don’t occupy the same city, see the same shameful sights on the street, and bear the same responsibilities to taxes and charity that might help address these deep-seated and difficult problems.”—So you’re moving to San Francisco
“Why do we demonize publishers as greedy, monopolistic and backward when they are peopled by such idealists and lovers of literature trying their best to navigate a ship that was corroding from decades-old rust well before the economic collapse placed icebergs in the water? Why don’t publishers defend themselves more vigorously — or at all? Why can’t we start talking among ourselves about the forces we face — the burden of preproduction costs in the era of free or too-cheap e-books, the stranglehold of the returnable model, the hidden costs of the highest bidder auction marketplace, to name a few — and share best practices and exchange ideas for the salvation of the industry and the perpetuation of Big and Important Books during this epochal period of transition?”—Can’t we all just get along?
“Now that we are all on Facebook, we are each a sole proprietor. We are all perpetrators and victims of promotion (for the most part that promotion is tediously of the “self” variety). That every consumer is now a retailer is capitalism’s ultimate and most logical evolution. Regulating every last one of us in our tiny, imaginary boardrooms (in my mind, mine is mahogany-paneled and has a Häagen-Dasz fountain) is as ludicrous as not skipping past the advertisements on one’s DVR.”—Choire Sicha, Blogged and Sold
“Since they began in 1997, storytelling nights hosted by the Moth, a nonprofit, have helped aspiring writers try out new material in a nurturing environment. But lately, storytelling has exploded into a thriving genre all its own, a new avenue to prominence for writers and, increasingly, for actors and comedians. In a sense, storytelling has become the new stand-up — a way to be noticed by the literary agents, actors and directors who increasingly populate the audiences.”—Storytelling by the Moth