This quarantine is killing me. I miss the Institute and the members of our community so much. Even the smallest of interactions, checking out a book, sharing an elevator, raising eyebrows at YOU across the reading room, or just waving at faces I recognize on my way into the building now seem to have a greater meaning in the scheme of life. This separation from you all is a weight on my heart.
Nevertheless, we have to get through the time somehow. I’ve spent a bit of time reading and considering my personal career as a writer. If this experience has taught me anything is that it is now or never - it is time to seize the day!
Are you also ready to get serious about your writing career? Two books I managed to sneak out of the library before we closed are fitting to this subject: Before and After the Book Deal by Courtney Maum and Jane Friedman’s The Business of Being a Writer. I am working on getting e-versions of both these books so keep an eye on our catalog.
Both authors offer a suite of advice for writers who are ready to make the leap from staring at their word processor to opening a business credit line but aim their advice at different subsets. Jane Friedman’s book is aimed at new, career minded “early-career writers looking to develop a realistic set of expectations about making money from their work or for working writers who want a better understanding of the industry.” While Maum’s book is designed for the writer who has a firm vision of her manuscript’s form and is eager to assume the mantle of a professional author.
Some 18 months ago Jane Friedman spoke at Mechanics’ Institute on How to Become a Competitive Creative: Building a Full-Time Career as a Writer in the Digital Age. She has positioned herself as a savvy business strategist for emerging writers. Her expertise is unparalleled, regularly appearing in Publisher’s Weekly, The New York Times and just about every other outlet of interest to the writing community. She is a regular at the San Francisco Writers Conference and her newsletter of publishing industry news and analysis, the Hot Sheet, is essential reading for the writer on the make. The Business of Being a Writer condenses Friedman’s advice that she shares via her columns, website, newsletters, and talks into one beautiful hardbound package.
Maum on the other hand is an expert on marketing, specifically branding. She states on her website that “at various points in her life, she has been a trend forecaster, a fashion publicist, and a party promoter for Corona Extra.” At this moment she’s the gal who names M-A-C cosmetics. This means her voice comes out loud and clear and her unabashed, sometimes hilarious advice inspires the reader to drop any misconceptions about how “real writers” should act. Maum is the kind of friend who will hold your hand when you have an attack of self-doubt and quickly disabuse you of any diva like notions you might be tempted to exhibit. She offers candid advice on writer’s etiquette and how important it is to practice good literary citizenship. She also explains the mysteries and realities of a book tour offering invaluable tips for managing your author appearances at media outlets, stores, or venues like the Mechanics’ Institute.
This is not an either/or choice; you’ll find a lot of value in both books. Why not read them both? May they get your wheels turning about how best to plan your career, your business plan, or book launch. Real life will commence soon, and you’ll want to be ready!