Friday Feast: The Literary Wilderness; The Slut-Shaming of Romance Novels; How to Publish a Book; On Solitude, Compromise, and Publishing That First Novel; And Tips on Writing Book Reviews

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Image: Joe Gratz

My big deadline this week entailed completing and submitting my author questionnaire. In this document, you outline some basic facts, like your name (important), publishing and media contacts (most important, which is sad, because I have none), and digital outreach promotion (your social media accounts and such, also important but not as important as the email and address of a very important book person).

The question that took the longest time to answer was, “How did the idea for this book originate?” So. Much. Ugh.

  • I had to dig deep into a pile of digital and physical journals to remember why I started my novel because it’s been that long. I take comfort in the experience of these writers, who also took a long time in the “literary wilderness.” I might have eclipsed them in terms of years spent wrestling my novel into submission, but who’s counting?
  • In the process of digging deep for the book conception question, I recounted those heady junior high days when I raided my Grandma Ford’s bookshelf and devoured her romance novels. I mentioned that in my answer to the above question because there’s no shame in my romance game. And I agree with Sarah MacLean: Bashing Romance Novels Is Just Another Form Of Slut-Shaming.
  • Comedian Sara Benincasa, author of Real Artists Have Day Jobs (ain’t that the truth), answers the oft-asked question, “How Do I Publish A Book? And other questions writers ask writers.” Good stuff, but the part that made me laugh/cry was re: publishers. “Their math is not your math.” Y’all. I’m already challenged by simple math, so…
  • I was pretty stoked when I saw this interview with Merritt Tierce in Conversation with Anuk Arudpragasam because Tierce’s novel Love Me Back blew me away, so much that I had the notion of asking her to blurb my book (this would be a pie in the sky, never gonna happen — but wouldn’t it be amazing if it did? — moment of debut author nonsense). Then I read the first part of the interview where she says, “I am routinely uncaptivated by contemporary fiction and deeply conflicted about blurbs,” and now I’m deeply sad. Here she is in conversation with Anuk Arudpragasam’s, author of The Story of a Brief Marriage, On Solitude, Compromise, and Publishing that First Novel (that may not get the blurbs you so desire).
  • Literary agent Rachelle Gardner offers her tips on writing book reviews. I’m terrible at writing reviews, so I’ll take all the help I can get. The one review I am proud of was rejected by Amazon because it allegedly contained offensive language. BADGE OF HONOR. (I scrubbed out all my foul language and resubmitted a sanitized version because reviews are important for authors, even if their full awesomeness must be censored.)

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